Sunday, September 30, 2012

Doggie Facts


When we first starting writing “Things Your Dog Doesn’t Want You to Know,” we tried to address the big questions that all dog owners have:  “What We Do When You’re Gone,” “Why Do I Stick My Head Out The Car Window,” and “What Do I Think of Elevators?” 

The initial idea was to keep them generic, in a sort of Everydog persona.  But we soon realized that the humor was in the specifics.  It was funnier if the dog had a real personality, and even funnier if we invented a variety of “dog bloggers” with radically different personalities.

We wound up creating eleven dogs, from tiny and obnoxious (Tinkerbell, author of “My Life in Your Purse”) to large and dumb (Axelrod, author of “The Reason I Ate the Sofa”).  And we gave each dog an arc, which is a writerly term for “all the little stories add up to something.” For example, Sarge is a German Shepherd and a working dog.  In each of his stories, he gets a new job and it always winds up being a disaster.  By the time Sarge tells his tenth story, he has finally been adopted by a great family.  But he still thinks it’s a job, and this one he doesn’t want to lose.

Even though we have 115 different stories in the book, every dog has kept a few secrets to himself.  Here, in an exclusive story for “The Love of Books,” each of our canine correspondents reveals one little known fact about their lives.

Sophie (Cocker Spaniel)
When you call me, I’m actually counting.  One Sophie means “Hello”.  Two Sophies mean, “Excuse me for not saying it loud enough the first time.”  Three Sophies mean, “Please come here if you don’t have anything better to do.”   By eight Sophies, I’m actually thinking about coming.

Dimples (Boxer)
That pain in your right arm is not arthritis.  It’s what we call Puppy Elbow.  This occurs when a puppy pulls you in one direction and then suddenly decides to go in another direction.  As far as we know, there is no cure.

Bandana (Border Collie)
Okay, digging the first hole in the backyard was a mistake.  But don’t blame me for digging the other six. I was trying to get the extra dirt needed to fill in the first hole. And then everything just got out of paw.

Charlie (Miniature Schnauzer)
Dogs have fifteen different words for poop, from hard and old to loose and stinky. That’s pretty good for an animal that has no language.

Sarge (German Shepherd)
Why do I like to carry sticks? Because it shows you how big and strong I am. There’s an expression we have. “Bark softly and carry a big stick.” This refers to the fact that we can’t bark loud when there’s a big stick in our mouth.

Axelrod (Yellow Lab)
When I’m up in the woods and I hear you shouting “Axel, come here!  Doggy treat,” you probably don’t realize that I’m busy eating deer poop – which tastes so much better than doggie treat, so why should I come? Would you?

Rufus T. (Bloodhound)
You probably don’t know, but dogs are very cultured. Take poetry. My favorite is “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, especially that part about peeing on all the trees. I think that’s in there. My least favorite is “The Road Not Taken.”  Who would pass by a road and not run down it? That doesn’t make sense.

Tinkerbell (Chihuahua)
My monthly birthday will be here in two weeks, so I thought you might like a list of my favorite toys. Dog tags are fun to chew, so you might want to get me new ones. Left shoes are good, but just the left ones. And I can use a few new wastebaskets filled with smelly stuff.

Orson (Bulldog)
How can I spend five minutes smelling the same tree? Well, how can you sit and stare at that box on your desk for hours?  With a tree, at least there are smells, and then there are the other smells. And then sometimes I zone out for a second and forget where I was and I have to start all over.

Gabby (Dachshund puppy)
I know you’ve been wondering. Does a puppy keep playing when there’s no one watching?  Well, maybe infant puppies who don’t know better. But the whole point of play is to make you realize we’re so adorable. And we certainly know when there’s a video camera. I went viral twice this year, three times if you count the ear infection.

Moonbeam (Mixed Breed)
Why do we dogs chase each other in big circles? That’s a dumb question. The reason is that chasing each other in a straight line is impractical. I tried it once with a friend and we didn’t get back home for days.

Now for the giveaway...I have a copy of this featured book to giveaway to one of my blog readers. Leave a comment telling me your favorite breed of dog; maybe it is one listed above maybe it is a different one.  The winner will be chosen by random using rafflecopter so be sure fill out the form as well as leave your  comment to this post.  Make sure there is a way of contact.  This giveaway is restricted to the U.S. and Canada residents only please.  I will leave this giveaway open through Oct. 12th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Learn more about this featured book here.

A copy of this book was provided in exchange for this review by


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know by Jeff Johnson & Hy Conrad

Why do dogs eat furniture when there are endless chew toys nearby?
Why do they always dash to a rug when they have to throw up?
And why are they always absolutely starving?

Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know answers the questions that dog owners have asked for centuries. The book is a collection of 115 humorous essays that reveal the truth behind some of the most baffling canine behavior, their hopes and dreams, their grudges and pleasures, and what they really think about us humans. Peppered with lively, clever stories and visually appealing photographs, Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know is a verbal and visual delight that is laugh-out-loud funny. If you have dogs, love dogs, or have ever been baffled by a dog, this book is a must-have.

Topics include:
  • My Life in Your Purse by Tinkerbell, the Chihuahua
  • Waiting by the Table (for food scraps, of course!) by Orson, the bulldog
  • The Bed Rules (Rule #1-It's my bed) by Dimples, the boxer
  • The Reason I Ate the Sofa (leather tastes a lot like rawhide) by Axelrod, the yellow lab
  • I Can Poop the Second I Start My Walk (but choose not to) by Sophie, the cocker spaniel
Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, Target, on e-books and at independent bookstores everywhere. For more information, go to where you can also ask questions about your own dog's behavior and learn the secrets they have been keeping from you!

If you want to hear it straight from the dog's mouth than this is the book you need to read.  This book is jam packed with dog facts right from the dog; some of the stories are humorous and will have you rolling on the floor laughing and others will have you saying is that so? and scratching your head in wonder.  Of course there were some stories that I didn't care for as much as others.  The lay out of the book is a scrapbook type layout:  colorful boarders, different fonts according to the dog's personality,  cute pictures.  Be sure to visit the guest post here where you'll get to meet the dogs and learn some interesting facts you may or may not have known about dogs as well as a chance to win a copy of this book. 

You may also head over to Sweeps4Bloggers and get a chance to win the book on her blog as well.  

About Hy Conrad:

Best known for his work in mysteries, Hy was one of the original writers for the groundbreaking series, Monk, working on the show for all eight seasons, the final two as Co-Executive Producer. In a related project, Hy was Executive Producer and head writer of Little Monk, a series of short films featuring Adrian Monk as a ten-year-old. His latest TV work was as writer and Consulting Producer for White Collar.

Hy is also the author of hundreds of short stories and ten books of short whodunits, which have been sold around the world in fourteen languages. Hy's first mystery novel series, Abel Adventures, will debut in 2012 with the publication of Rally 'Round the Corpse. And his first full-length comedy/mystery play, Home Exchange, premiered at the Waterfront Playhouse in May 2012. He lives in Key West with his partner and two miniature schnauzers. (

About Jeff Johnson:

Jeff spent most of his working life in advertising agencies, currently as General Manager of Cramer-Krasselt in New York City. He is the author of The Hourglass Solution: A Boomer's Guide to the Rest of Your Life and co-authors (with Paula Forman) a national online advice column called Short Answers, which also appears in newspapers all along the east coast (from Massachusetts to Florida). Jeff lives in Vermont and Key West and is on the Board of Directors of the Waterfront Playhouse and the Florida Keys SPCA.

A copy of this book was provided in exchange for this review by


Friday, September 28, 2012

Walk with Me by Annie Wald

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Walk with Me
River North; New Edition edition (September 1, 2012)
Annie Wald


Along with being the author of Walk With Me (forthcoming September 2012, River North/Moody), my fiction has been published in numerous journals including Image, The Southern Review and The North American Review and included in the anthology series, Not Safe But Good, edited by Bret Lott and published by Thomas Nelson. I’m also the author of a young adult novel, The Counterfeit Collection (Tyndale) and I’ve written feature articles for many publications such as Guideposts, Leadership, and Partnership.
Before writing full-time, I worked in book publishing as an acquisitions editor and then as Editor-in-Chief at Princeton University Press. Since 2000, I’ve lived in Morocco where my husband is the pastor of Rabat International Church. We have two married daughters and four delightful grandchildren.

A Word from Annie:

If you still want to know more about me, you may be interested to learn:
On the Myers-Briggs scale, I’m not an I for introvert. I’m an H for hermit.
But I’ve been known to say, “We’re having a small gathering; only 10 people.”
I love Easter sunrise services in cemeteries.
I live on the west coast — of Africa.
My favorite Moroccan meal: Zahara’s beef couscous with raisin sauce, and tchouchouka.
J’adore le francais.
I once told God I’d marry anyone except the man who became my husband.
I prefer to make things up rather than do research, although I have been described as an ‘infomaniac’.


Peter and Celeste choose to travel as one on the lifelong journey to the King's City. They are blissfully in love and bound to each other by the Cords of Commitment.
Shortly after visiting the Moon of Honey they discover that the journey proves much more difficult than they expected. When they find themselves laboring through the Swamp of Selfishness, crossing the dismal Plains of Distance, and nearly becoming separated by the River of Unfaithfulness, their love for each other and for the King is challenged. They must choose whether to continue on together, not knowing if they can be warmed again by the Kindling of Affection, or visit the Valley of Cut Cords to journey alone once more.

If you'd like to read a chapter excerpt of Walk with Me, go HERE.


Two Destinies by Elizabeth Musser

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Two Destinies
David C. Cook (September 1, 2012)
Elizabeth Musser


Elizabeth Musser, author of acclaimed novels such as The Swan House, grew up in Georgia, but now lives in Lyon, France, where she and her husband serve as missionaries with International Teams. Look for Two Testaments, her sequel to Two Crosses, in stores now, and Two Destinies, the third book in the trilogy, set for release in Fall 2012.

A word from Elizabeth:
Recent exciting news is that, finally, the whole trilogy is going to be published in 2012. Many readers have written to me throughout the years to encourage me to keep pursuing getting Two Destinies into print. In a fun twist of fate (really the Lord's perfect timing), David C. Cook (who originally published Two Testaments) has offered me a contract for all three novels. The Secrets of the Cross Trilogy will be published in June 2012 (Two Crosses and Two Testaments) and in September, 2012, Two Destinies will be in the bookstores for the first time!


Now 1994, France faces unrest and rising poverty while neighbor
Algeria is in the midst of a blood civil war. Risléne Namani, a French
woman born to Algerian parents, converts to Christianity and falls in
love with Eric Hoffmann, a Christian, committing the unpardonable
sin in the eyes of her Muslim family. Eric must find a way to rescue
her—from a forced marriage in Algeria, or even death.

A powerful, relevant tale of social struggle, heartache, cultural conflict,
and faith put to the ultimate test.

If you would like to read the first chapter excerpt of Two Destinies, go HERE.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

She's Got Issues by Nicole Unice

We all have issues in life and Nicole has nailed it down to 5.  She has found that most women have at least one of the five issues in her life.  In her book She's Got Issues she discusses the 5 issues over 10 chapters taking two chapters per issue.   The first chapter she helps the reader define the issue along with an assessment to take to see if you have a problem with the issue. and the second chapter she explores effective ways to deal with the issue.  Each chapter has a prayer, journal exercise and group discussion there is also a web link you can connect to and Nicole gives a few minute encouraging talk on the issue.  There are scriptures listed to help with the issue as well as questions for personal reflection.  The DVD has a participates guide that can be downloaded for groups to use also each issue has a character interview to watch (5 min) a journal inventory entry time as well as a 20 min. session where Nicole will go over the issue with biblical principles added.  There are also bonus discussion questions to use in the group setting.  I haven't found anything not to like about this book and DVD curriculum.  It would make an excellent fall ladies study.

The 5 Issues discussed are:
  • Control
  • Insecurity
  • Comparison
  • Fear
  • Anger/Unforgiveness
Some issues I could easily relate to where others I found were less of a problem for me in my life because they had already been dealt with.  

Get more information through links below:

Buy the book and DVD here

A copy of this book and dvd was provided in exchange for this review by...

Review For The Tyndale Blog Network


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Autumn Winds by Charlotte Hubbard

The leaves are falling and there’s a chill in the air in Willow Ridge, Missouri, the quaint, quiet Amish town where love, loyalty, and faith in the Old Ways are about to be put to the test …
Winds of change are blowing through Willow Ridge, and they’re bringing a stranger to the Sweet Seasons Bakery. At first, widowed Miriam Lantz has misgivings about Ben Hooley, a handsome but rootless traveling blacksmith. But as she gets to know the kind-hearted newcomer, she wonders if his arrival was providential. Perhaps she could find love again—if only there weren’t so many obstacles in the way. With Bishop Knepp relentlessly pursuing her hand in marriage and the fate of her beloved café at stake, Miriam must listen to God and her heart to find the happiness she longs for and the love she deserves.

The winds may blow, but it generally leaves a mess behind.  Charlotte has definitely given us a page turner in this book with every turn of the pages the winds are blowing.  This is the second in her series.  yes, I read the first and couldn't wait for this one.  Autumn Winds is just as awesome as the Summer of Secrets.  The twists and turns that appear with each turn of the page makes for an exciting and wonderful read.  I can't wait to see what changes will take place with each change of the season.  Autumn Winds is a wonderful and delightful fall time read. 

Book Excerpt:

Lord, if this rain’s gonna cause another flood like ya sent Noah, I hope You’ll give me a sign to get to higher ground. Can’t have my bakery blowin’ off the face of the earth in this wind, either, as we’re countin’ on these pies and cakes for the big party tomorrow!
Miriam Lantz slammed the whistling window shut. When was the last time they’d seen such a fierce wind? Rain pelted the roof of the Sweet Seasons Bakery Café, not quite drowning out the troubling thoughts that had wakened her in the wee hours. Too often these past weeks she’d dwelled upon Bishop Knepp’s vow to somehow get her out of this business and into his home. Ordinarily it wasn’t her way to fret so, but Hiram Knepp could stir up more trouble than a nest of ornery hornets, if he had a mind to. It hadn’t made him one bit happy, when an English fellow had outbid him to buy this building a month ago.
Miriam sighed. It wasn’t her way to start the day’s baking at one in the morning, either, but lately she’d felt so restless . . . as unsettled as the weather they’d had all during September. Now that she and her partner Naomi Brenneman wouldn’t lose their building—or their booming business–she should be focused on her daughter Rachel’s wedding, set for October twentieth. Such a happy time, because Naomi’s son Micah was the perfect match for her daughter! But even kneading the fragrant, warm dough for the cornmeal rolls on today’s lunch menu didn’t settle her.
Miriam pushed the grainy dough with the heels of her hands, then folded it over itself and repeated the process time had so deeply ingrained in her . . . sprinkled more cornmeal and flour on the countertop, and then rolled the sleeves of her dress another fold higher. “Awful warm in here,” she murmured.
The oven alarm buzzed, and she pulled out six thick pumpkin pies. As she replaced them with the large pans of apple crisp on today’s menu, Miriam paused. Was that a horse’s whinny she’d heard outside?
Not at this hour, in this storm. Who’d be fool enough to risk life and limb–not to mention his horse—traveling the dark county blacktop that runs through Willow Ridge?
She inhaled the spicy aromas of cinnamon and cloves, imagining the smiles on folks’ faces after tomorrow’s preaching service at Henry and Lydia Zook’s, when they surprised the bishop by celebrating his fifty-fifth birthday. These pies, made from her sister Leah’s fresh pumpkins, would be the first to go—but their hostess, Lydia, had also ordered a layer cake and sheet cakes from the Sweet Seasons for the occasion.
And if Hiram gets the notion I baked all these things especially to impress HIM, he’d better just find somebody else to court. And to raise his kids, too!
Miriam chuckled in spite of her misgivings. If anyone could think of a way to dodge the bishop’s romantic intentions, it would be her and her girls! It was no secret around Willow Ridge that Hiram’s young wife, Linda, who’d died of birthing complications, had borne more than just the burden of being married to their moral and community leader. While Miriam believed she could live the more upright life required of a bishop’s wife, serving as an example to their Old Order Amish community, she had no illusions about sharing the same house with Hiram and his rambunctious kids—not to mention his daughter, Annie Mae, who was in the throes of a rumspringa no stepmother wanted to deal with!
A loud crash out in the dining room made Miriam jump. Glass tinkled over the tables and a sudden gust of wind howled through a jagged hole in the window before the power went out.
The bakery grew eerily quiet, what with the freezers and the dishwasher shutting off. This storm was a reminder of how her gas appliances at home had an advantage over the electric ones required by the health department and installed by the Schrocks, the Mennonite quilters she shared her building with. Miriam was no stranger to the darkness, as she started her baking at three every morning, but this storm had set her on edge. And when had she ever seen a huge tree limb on the table closest to the road?
“Lord a-mercy, what’s next?” she murmured as she warily made her way through the darkness, between the café’s tables. “Better have Naomi’s boys clean this up before folks come in for the breakfast—”
Again a horse neighed, right outside the window this time.
“Whoa, fella! Easy now!” a male voice coaxed.
A bolt of lightning shot across the sky, to backlight a frightening silhouette of a huge percheron rearing up, frantically pawing the air. The horse’s handler stood near the damaged tree, struggling with the reins, still talking as calmly as he could while dodging those deadly hooves. “Pharaoh, take it easy, fella! We’ll wait out the storm right here, so—”
But another ominous flash filled the sky and in his frenzy, the horse tipped forward to buck with his powerful back legs.
Miriam heard a sickening thud as those hooves connected to a human body, and then a cry of pain and another thud when the fellow struck the café’s outside wall. The huge percheron galloped off, whinnying in terror, its reins flapping behind it.
Things got very quiet. Only the patter of the rain and some rapidly retreating hoof beats punctuated the darkness. Miriam rushed to unlock the café’s main door, afraid of what she might find: her husband, Jesse, had been trampled to death by a huge stallion that spooked while Jesse was shoeing him, so frightening images rushed through her mind as she stepped outside.
The poor man lay sprawled against the foundation of her building. She considered herself a fairly stalwart woman, able to heft fifty-pound bags of flour and such, but for sure and for certain she wouldn’t be moving this stranger—
Best not to shift him around anyway, she reasoned, noting that his head was up out of the puddles. Should she find something to cover him, and then call for help? Or hurry straight to the phone shanty in the back? Best to call 911 and then . . . but what if he got kicked in the head? What if he’s not gonna come around?
Miriam hesitated but a moment. If the fellow was unconscious, at least he wasn’t in pain, and if he was already gone, well, the paramedics had better come to make sure of that. She started back inside but before she reached the door, the man groaned loudly.
“Don’t try to stand up! Ya got kicked mighty hard, by the sound of it.” Miriam sensed that he, like most injured fellows, would ignore a woman’s instructions, so she hunkered down beside him. The cold rain soaked through her kapp and the back of her dress, but that was a minor discomfort compared to what her visitor must be feeling. “Where’d he kick ya? A horse that big—and that scared—could’ve killed ya, easy.”
The fellow winced, shifting. “I should’ve known better than . . . just wanted to get one town farther along, ya know?” he rasped. “Should’ve just stayed with my wagon instead of thinkin’ Pharaoh would get over bein’ spooked by this lightning. Smarter than I am, that horse is.”
Miriam looked all around. She moved closer, under the eaves, where she wouldn’t get quite so wet. “What kind of wagon are we talkin’ about?” she asked. Maybe this man was half out of his head after being kicked so hard. He had the nicest voice, though. And even if he was in horrible-bad pain, he was thinking of his horse’s welfare.
“Smithy wagon. I’m a travelin’ farrier.” He looked at her then, gingerly rubbing his chest. “Lookin’ to find some reasonable land for a mill, so’s I can settle down. I came to these parts on account of the rapids I heard about on the river.”
Miriam’s heart played hopscotch in her chest. “A travelin’ blacksmith?” she asked in a thin voice. “We’ve got an empty smithy right behind the café building here. Belonged to my Jesse, but he’s passed now, and . . .”
Had she said too much? It wasn’t her way to speak of her widowed state to strangers, yet this fellow seemed willing to reveal his own hopes and dreams to her. So what could it hurt?
“I’m sorry to hear that, ma’am.” He inhaled, testing the pain in his chest. “Ya know, I think I if I could sit up against the building—”
“Here, let me help ya!”
“–and draw a few gut, deep breaths to clear my head—”
“Don’t try to stand up just yet!” Miriam knew she sounded like a mother hen clucking instructions, but she didn’t want him falling over, did she? “If ya can wait here, I’ll call the ambulance and—”
“You’ll do no such thing!” He grabbed her arm, and then managed a tentative smile despite the rain that soaked him. His other hand remained on his chest, massaging where the horse must’ve kicked him. “A fella in my line of work gets some sense knocked into him every now and again. Probably a gut thing.”
Oh, but that smile and his touch set the butterflies to fluttering inside her! Miriam drew back, and he released her arm. She chuckled nervously and he joined her, a happy sound, even if the thunder still rumbled around them. “All right then, since you’re a man and you’ll do as ya please anyway, can I at least bring ya out a chair to pull yourself up with?” she asked. “Better than sittin’ in this puddle, ain’t so?”
“Right nice of ya to look after me this way.”
Miriam scurried inside and grabbed a sturdy chair from the nearest table. Part of her wanted call the Brenneman boys–her Rachel’s fiancé Micah would be here in two shakes of a tail–yet she craved some time with this stranger. She told herself she was giving him a chance to recover before anyone else saw him in this sorry state—
“If ya don’t mind my drippin’ on your floor, I’ll just rest here for a few.”
Miriam jumped. Why wasn’t she surprised that the man had already stood himself up and come in without her help? He eased into the chair she’d pulled out.
“I’d ask what ya were doin’ here at this crazy hour, in the pitch dark,” he murmured as he looked around, “but I guess that’s none of my business. I’ve got to tell ya, though, it smells so gut I must’ve passed through the pearly gates and into heaven.”
Miriam laughed again in spite of her agitated state. “I’m bakin’ pies and decoratin’ cakes for the bishop’s surprise party tomorrow. Getting the day’s breakfast and lunch started, too,” she replied. “Welcome to the Sweet Seasons Bakery Café. Can I get ya some coffee, or—”
“Seems Pharaoh knew more about where to drop me off than I gave him credit for.” Her visitor leaned toward her, smoothing the wet hair back from his face. “I’m Ben Hooley, by the way, originally from out around Lancaster County. I appreciate your takin’ a chance on a wayfarin’ stranger.”
“And I’m Miriam Lantz. So I guess we’re not strangers now, ain’t so?”
And where had such boldness come from? Here they were in the dark without another soul around, chatting like longtime friends. At three in the morning, no less!
Oh, the bishop’s not gonna like this! Not one little bit!
The fellow extended his hand, and as Miriam shook it the kitchen lights flashed on. The refrigerators hummed, and for a moment she could believe it was the little spark of electricity passing from his hand to hers that had restored the building’s power.
Ben’s laugh filled the empty dining room. “Well, now. What do ya think about that?” He looked around, smiling. “The Lord’s watchin’ over me for sure and for certain, bringin’ me here to your place on such a nasty night. A port in a storm. Just what I’ve been needin’ for a while.”
Miriam smiled at that . . . at the sound of his mellow male voice and the way it seemed to make itself at home in her little café. Then she blinked, remembering the reality of this situation: she knew nothing about this Hooley fellow, except that his clothes and speech announced he was Plain and that he’d been kicked by his horse. But now that he was recovering, and the power was back on in her kitchen—
“If you’ll point me toward a broom, I’ll clean up this mess and get that branch back outside where it belongs,” he offered. “It’s the least I can do, seein’s how ya got me in out of the rain.”
She’d been so busy following the lines of his clean-shaven face when he talked, she’d made a fool of herself: there was a huge section of maple tree covering two of her tables and she’d all but forgotten it. “Oh, but ya surely must be too sore to be heftin’—I can get a couple of our fellas—”
“Comes a time when I can’t move that tree limb or push a broom, ya better just bury me.” Ben scooted to the edge of his chair and slowly stood up, testing his balance. “See there? I’m gut as new. A little soggy but movin’ around’s the cure for that, and a way to keep from getting stiff, too.”
Miriam didn’t know what to say . . . didn’t think it proper to examine his chest, even if he probably had a huge, hoof-shaped bruise where his horse had kicked him. It was the first time she’d been alone with a man since Jesse had passed—except for Bishop Knepp, and she’d ducked out of his embrace–so she felt acutely aware of Ben’s broad shoulders and how his wet shirt clung to them. He was a slender fellow but muscular–
And what business do ya have gawkin’ at him? He can’t be thirty yet. More Rhoda’s age than yours!
Thoughts of her grown daughters–how they’d be here with Naomi in a couple of hours to prepare for the breakfast shift–steadied her resolve. She smiled at Ben but she stepped back, too. It wasn’t proper for an Amish woman to behave this way even when no one was watching—except God, of course. “If you’re up to that sort of work, I’d be grateful, as I’ve got my bakin’ to get back to,” she replied. “But if ya feel woozy or short of breath, like ya need a doctor—”
“Your kindness has already worked a miracle cure, Miriam. Right nice of ya to set aside a few of the Old Ways to help me out.”
Had he read her mind? Or did he just know the right things to say? A traveling blacksmith surely knew all sorts of ins and outs when it came to making deals for what he needed . . .
And what sort of fellow, in a trade every Old Order Amish family relied upon, didn’t settle in one community? And if Ben knew about the rapids in the river, what else had he checked up on? What if he was making up this story as he went along, to gain some advantage over her–or whomever he met up with–in Willow Ridge?
And what if you’re spinning all this stuff out like a spider, about to catch yourself in a web of assumptions? Just because he’s got a nice smile–
He did have a nice smile, didn’t he? Miriam quickly fetched a broom and dustpan from the closet, relieved that Ben had already stepped outside to see about pulling the big tree branch from her window. She set the tools where he would find them and then returned to her kitchen, where the lights were brighter and the serving window served as a barrier between this good-looking stranger and her work space.
Jah, he is gut-lookin’. And that’s not his fault, is it?
Miriam laughed at herself. No, Ben Hooley’s looks and manner were gifts from God, same as the way Rachel, Rhoda, and Rebecca favored their handsome dat.
“And what do ya think of all this, Jesse?” she whispered. Every now and again she asked her late husband’s opinion, or thought about how he would have handled situations she found herself in, even though her confidence had increased a lot during these past months of successfully running her business.
Miriam stood quietly at her flour-dusted work table . . . just letting the hum of the appliances and the aroma of spicy pumpkin pies kept her company.
Wait for the promise of the Father.
She blinked. Was that still, small voice she relied upon for guidance–be it Jesse’s or God’s—implying the heavenly Father might have made a promise to her? And that He was about to keep it? As glass tinkled onto the cafe floor and that tree branch disappeared out the gaping hole in the window, she wondered if this had been a providential morning. Meant to be, for both her and Ben.
For sure and for certain, this stranger was giving her a lot to think about.

I’ve called Missouri home for most of my life, and most folks don’t realize that several Old Older Amish and Mennonite communities make their home here, as well. The rolling pastureland, woods, and small towns along county highways make a wonderful setting for Plain populations—and for stories about them, too! While Jamesport, Missouri is the largest Old Order Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River, other communities have also found the affordable farm land ideal for raising crops, livestock, and running the small family-owned businesses that support their families.
Like my heroine, Miriam Lantz, of my new Seasons of the Heart series, I love to feed people—to share my hearth and home. I bake bread and goodies and I love to try new recipes. I put up jars and jars of green beans, tomatoes, beets and other veggies every summer. All my adult life, I’ve been a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and we hosted a potluck group in our home for more than twenty years.
Like Abby Lambright, heroine of my new Home at Cedar Creek series, I consider it a personal mission to be a listener and a peacemaker—to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. Faith and family, farming and frugality matter to me: like Abby, I sew and enjoy fabric arts—I made my wedding dress and the one Mom wore, too, when I married into an Iowa farm family more than thirty-five years ago! When I’m not writing, I crochet and sew, and I love to travel.
I recently moved to Minnesota when my husband got a wonderful new job, so now he and I and our border collie, Ramona, are exploring our new state and making new friends.
To find out more about Charlotte, please visit her at
Visit her on Facebook at:
On Goodreads at:

The copy for this book was provided in exchange for my honest review by Pump Up Your Book tours


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Still Life in Shadows by Alice Wisler

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Still Life in Shadows
River North; New Edition edition (August 1, 2012)
Alice Wisler


Alice was born in Osaka, Japan in the sixties. Her parents were Presbyterian career missionaries. As a young child, Alice loved to walk down to the local stationer's store to buy notebooks, pencils and scented erasers. In her room, she created stories. The desire to be a published famous author has never left her. Well, two out of three isn't bad. She's the author of Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation (all published by Bethany House).

Alice went to Eastern Mennonite University after graduating from Canadian Academy, an international high school in Kobe, Japan. She majored in social work and has worked across the U.S. in that field. She taught ESL (English as a Second Language) in Japan and at a refugee camp in the Philippines. She also studied Spanish at a language institute in San Jose, Costa Rica.

She has four children--Rachel, Daniel, Benjamin and Elizabeth. Daniel died on 2/2/97 from cancer treatments at the age of four. Since then, Alice founded Daniel's House Publications in her son's memory. This organization reaches out to others who have also lost a child to death. In 2000 and 2003, Alice compiled recipes and memories of children across the world to publish two memorial cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle.


It's been fifteen years since Gideon Miller ran away from his Amish community in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as a boy of fifteen. Gideon arrives in the Smoky Mountains town of Twin Branches and settles in at the local auto mechanic's garage. He meets a host of interesting characters -the most recent acquaintances are Kiki, an autistic teen, and her sister Mari. Known as the "Getaway Savior" he helps other Amish boys and girls relocate to life in modern America.

One day the phone rings. On the other end is his brother Moriah calling from Florida. Of course Gideon welcomes his brother to stay with him and offers him a job. But Moriah is caught in a web which ends in his death and forces Gideon to return to the town of his youth, with his brother's body in the back of a hearse and Mari and Kiki at his side. He must face not only the community he ran away from years ago but also his own web of bitterness. Will he be able to give his anger over to God and forgive his father?

If you would like to read the first chapter excerpt of Still Life in Shadows, go HERE.


Teaser Tuesday ~ A Man of Honor

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought I would play for fun! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

Book Excerpt:

Dusty stifled a  yawn and deployed the Harley’s kickstand. Grumbling under his breath, he stowed his helmet, and, after squeezing rain from his ponytail, pulled up the rain-soaked hood of his sweatshirt.

A fat raindrop oozed from a leaf and landed on the tip of his nose, then slid to the blacktopped footpath, where it gleamed like a new dime.  Up ahead, the red and blue strobes of emergency vehicles sliced through the gray mist, and the whoop of sirens silenced the usual chirp of tree frogs and crickets. If that didn’t lend gritty balance to the postcard-pretty scene, Dusty didn’t know what did.

Melissa Logan, age sixteen, hadn’t been home since the night of her prom. Last seen a few miles west of the her high school, her disappearance had sparked an intensive dusk-to-dawn manhunt that left everyone scratching their heads. And this morning, when a jogger’s German shepherd started acting spooky, the dominos began to fall…starting with its owner’s 9-1-1 call and ending with another search, here at Gunpowder State Park.

“It’s been nearly a week since she went missing,” Jones warned, “so prepare yourselves.”

Meaning, dead or alive, Melissa Logan wouldn’t look very pretty, even in her fancy prom gown.

 ~taken from A Man of Honor by Loree Lough

Visit the book tour here for a chance to win a copy of this book.


Monday, September 24, 2012

The Deliverer by Kathi Macias

In book three of the “Freedom” series, the main character, Mara, finds herself the object of her uncle's revenge. From a life sentence in prison, Uncle Jefe, who held her as a sex slave in his San Diego brothel, uses his underground connections to kidnap and drag Mara back into the dark shadows of human trafficking.
Now in the struggle for her life and her ultimate freedom, Mara finds herself kidnapped and experiencing something she never dreamed possible. She finally finds herself yielding to the One who can truly set her free—not only from her past life and all the fears and scars that go with it, but from herself and her own sin. This time her choice delivers her from the shadow of her name's meaning, "bitter" and into the light of true joy.
At New Hope Digital ( you can find study questions for each book in this series and an “ideas and resources” list to help educate readers and enable them to apply what they've learned and become actively involved in this massive and ongoing human tragedy—Trafficking in Persons.

I have been a Kathi fan for many years now.  I think she was one of my first authors I wrote blog review on.  She's an awesome writer and The Deliverer is no exception.  I hated to see this series come to an end, but I guess she has to move on to other things and if you read her interview below you'll get a glimpse of what she has in store for us in 2013.  I can't wait!  Though this book is in a series Kathi does a good job writing it that if you haven't read the first two books you won't be in the dark; however, I do recommend the first too books so you see how Maria (Mara)'s live progresses.  If you are interested in human trafficking and all this is an excellent series to read giving you some insight.  And if you aren't interested if you read this series you may get interested real quick like.  Kathi has done a wonderful job at portraying the evil of human trafficking in this series. You just fall in love with all her characters and feel for them and the situation that they have had forced on them, many at a very young age.  Human trafficking isn't always a pleasant topic but one that needs to be put in the forefront so people can become aware of the issue that is happening right here in the US.  The stories just break your heart for those that are forced into this immoral act.  

WIN a COPY of Kathi's BOOK.....
I have a guest post by Kathi "Let My People Go" and book giveaway for this book featured here.  Follow the link and enter in a chance to win Kathi's book The Deliverer.  


CSS is giving away a complete set of THE FREEDOM SERIES by Kathi Macias (all three books - Deliver Me From Evil, Special Delivery, & The Deliverer) on September 24. you must post a comment on their blog to enter at

While this is the third and final book in the Freedom Series, I’m sure there are people who are just learning about it. Would you please share what prompted you to write these books on such topic as relevant and difficult as human trafficking?

I was finishing up my previous fiction series for New Hope Publishers (the Extreme Devotion Series, dealing with the persecuted Church around the world) when Andrea Mullins (the publisher at New Hope) asked me what topic I wanted to tackle next. We discussed a few possibilities, and then she suggested human trafficking. I was aware of it and thought it was terrible but had no idea how widespread it was. I agreed to do some preliminary research and get back to her. When I discovered there are more than 27 million people held in various forms of human trafficking (sexual slavery, forced labor or military conscription, involuntary donation of body parts/organs) and that many of them are children (including an estimated 100,000—300,000 MINORS held in sexual slavery in the US today!), I was horrified. I was also convinced that I had to do everything possible to help educate others about this widespread horror and to call them to join the fight. Not only have I now written/released the Freedom Series on human trafficking, but I’m speaking on it everywhere/every chance I get.

What was your original objective in writing these books, Deliver Me From Evil, Special Delivery, and The Deliverer? And, what are you hearing back from people who have read the books? How are they taking action?

Originally my plan was to see the books alert readers to this horrific crime and, hopefully, challenge them to get involved in fighting it some way. That seems to be happening, but on such a larger scope than I had imagined. The response from readers is overwhelming! Pastors have written to say they are challenging their entire church to get involved on some level, and I’m being invited to speak all over the country on this topic. I am thrilled to see the Light being shined in this terrible darkness at last! As for specific actions, pastors and civic leaders are inviting me (or others in this ministry) to come and speak to their congregations/groups to help educate them on this massive tragedy. Readers tell me they are posting about my books all over the net to help snag people’s attention. I’m getting invitations to speak on radio and TV as well. I’ve also been contacted by readers who are getting involved in setting up safe houses for rescued victims, which is a huge need. I was even contacted by the Department of Homeland Security and invited to participate in group conference calls on the topic. Overall, I’m thrilled at the way God is using these books to help sound the alarm and to “rescue the perishing.”

It seems there is always someone in your books who is an intercessor. Why is that important for you to include?

This is vital to me, and as you said, I almost always include an intercessor in my novels. I know there were intercessors in my own life who prayed me through some incredibly dangerous and difficult times, and I appreciate those heroes of the faith more than I can express. Highlighting their importance in my books accomplishes two things: it enables me to honor those faithful intercessors who often get no recognition in this world, and it also calls others to get involved in intercession as well.

You write books as you often call them, parables with a purpose, on topics such as human trafficking, the persecuted church, illegal immigration, and your Christmas 2012 book is about homelessness. Some might call you an advocate. Why is it important for Christians, and the church as a whole, to discuss these issues?

You’re right that I call my novels “parables with purpose,” because I believe Jesus is our example and that’s what He told to His followers—parables with purpose. He didn’t just tell them “nice stories” to entertain them. He told stories that would grab them right where they lived, and then challenge them to change their hearts, their minds, and their lives. The Church has always been at the forefront of serious social change, leading the charge to abolish slavery for instance, and leading the charge on these other issues is right where the Church needs to be now. The first step is to discuss the issues, to make people aware of them, and then to call them to action. I believe gripping fiction is one of the most effective ways to do that.

Will you give us a glimpse, a taste of things to come -- without getting too far ahead -- of what’s in store for your next series and books on the horizon?

In addition to the 2012 Christmas novel, Unexpected Christmas Hero, dealing with homelessness in America, I will be releasing a new series starting in January. The first of the three novels is called The Moses Quilt, and it deals with a contemporary interracial romance, set against the background of a quilt that tells the story of the courageous, faith-filled woman known as Harriet Tubman. A contemporary novel dealing with the issue of abortion will follow, with the first woman doctor in America, Elizabeth Blackwell, as our backdrop heroine. The final book will be built around the much beloved Fanny Crosby, as we deal with the issue of people with disabilities. That series is from New Hope Publishers, but I also have a book releasing in the Spring of 2013 from B&H Publishers called Last Chance for Justice. It’s part of the multi-author Bloomfield Series, and I’m very excited about it.

You also write a devotional blog. Can you tell us what the focus is and where we can find it?

I started writing a weekly devotional several years ago, in response to a request from the then newly formed group CAN (Christian Authors Network). I sent it out as a group email and had about 40 recipients then. The devotional mailing quickly grew and expanded beyond the CAN group, with countless readers signing up to receive it. I also started posting it each week on my devotional blog (, which is part of my primary website (, where you will also find my “Easy Writer” blog, which is more writing-related. (You can also sign up there to receive the weekly devotional in your inbox.) Over the years the devotional has been picked up by Crosswalk, Black Christian News, Latino Christian News (I offer it in Spanish as well as English),, Christians in Recovery, etc., so the readership has mushroomed beyond anything I ever imagined. God is amazing, isn’t He?

Finally, we know you as an award-winning author, but you also enjoy speaking for women’s events, and other groups, as well. On what areas or topics do you focus your speaking presentations? How can a church or group find out more about having you speak for their event?

I speak on various topics, including the issues I address in my books, but on other topics too. One of my most requested topics is “When Passion and Purpose Collide.” That, along with several other popular topics, can be found in the speaking section of my website ( To see my current speaking schedule and/or to explore the possibility of having me come and speak, just go to and click on the Christian Speakers Services button to make contact. You can also see some of my speaking endorsements at

For more opportunities for free copies of The Deliverer by Kathi Macias, please visit

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al.


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