Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It Had to be You by Susan May Warren Litfuse Blog Tour

About the book: A Christensen Family Novel.

Eden Christiansen never imagined her role as her younger brother Owen's cheerleader would keep her on the sidelines of her own life. Sure, it feels good to be needed, but looking after the reckless NHL rookie leaves little time for Eden to focus on her own career. She dreamed of making a name for herself as a reporter, but is stuck writing obits---and starting to fear she doesn't have the chops to land a major story. If only someone would step up to mentor Owen . . . but she knows better than to expect help from team veteran and bad-boy enforcer Jace Jacobsen.
Jace has built his career on the infamous reputation of his aggressive behavior---on and off the ice. Now at a crossroads about his future in hockey, that reputation has him trapped. And the guilt-trip he's getting from Eden Christiansen isn't making things any easier. But when Owen's carelessness leads to a career-threatening injury and Eden stumbles upon a story that could be her big break, she and Jace are thrown together . . . and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

Learn more and purchase a copy at Susan's website.
Landing page: 
My thoughts:   When does helping and supporting become enabling and avoidance of a personal life?  That is what Eden is struggling with in this novel.  She loves her family and her brother and she has been his cheerleader for so long, that she had gotten used to putting her own desires on the back burner to make sure that she is there for him.  That she attends games and cheers him on and looks out for him outside of the arena starts to take up more of her day than she can afford.  Her job at the newspaper has been a struggle, she loves to write and wants to make a difference, but doesn't see herself doing that while working in the obits department.
Jace has had a reputation since very early in his career, but his frequent fights on the ice have led to migraine headaches that have the potential to become brain bleeds if he doesn't change things.  Unfortunately everyone expects him to keep enforcing for the hockey team, while he misses the time he spent actually making slap shots and power plays.
Eden seems bossy to Jace and Jace seems like a bad boy to Eden, but as they get to know each other while trying to track down the identity of a John Doe at the hospital, they both realize they are holding onto stereotypes that are untrue about each other.  How far should one go to trust and to make things right for someone else, even someone else who is a stranger?
Each of the characters in this book is wrestling with something, some turn to prayer while others sink into despair.  How do you find the balance you need to live the life you are meant to have and to trust that you are being led down the path that is just right for you.
About the Author: Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award-winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit to learn more.

Learn more about Susan at:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Sky Without Stars by Linda S. Clare Litfuse Blog Tour

About the book: In 1951, Frankie Chasing Bear is a Lakota caught between cultures. She wants to raise her son Harold to revere his Lakota heritage, but she knows he will need to become as a white man to succeed. After his father's killed in a barroom brawl, Harold and Frankie move to Arizona, where she begins a Lakota Star pattern quilt for Harold with tribal wisdom sung, sewn and prayed into it.

She distrusts Christians, as her own parents were forced to convert at an Indian School, until she meets BIA agent Nick Vandergriff, a half-Lakota who's also caught between cultures. Nick must convince Frankie that white men and Christians aren't all bad as he tries to win her heart in order to put the stars back into her sky.

Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

About the Author: Linda S. Clare is an award-winning coauthor of three books, including Lost Boys and the Moms Who Love Them (with Melody Carlson and Heather Kopp), Revealed: Spiritual Reality in a Makeover World, and Making Peace with a Dangerous God (with Kristen Johnson Ingram). She is also the author of The Fence My Father Built. She has taught college-level creative writing classes for seven years, and edits and mentors writers. She also is a frequent writing conference presenter and church retreat leader. She and her husband of thirty-one years have four grown children, including a set of twins. They live in Eugene, Oregon, with their five wayward cats: Oliver, Xena the Warrior Kitty, Paladine, Melchior, and Mamma Mia!

Learn more about Linda at:

My thoughts:  Frankie Chasing Bear just wants to make a better life her son and herself.  On her Lakota reservation in North Dakota she got used to having a father who drank too much and a husband who drank too much.  She recalls cold winters spent in a trailer with no bed and just one blanket for warmth, she wants and education for herself and for her ten year old son, but she doesn't want to lose the Lakota ways or be forced to convert to the religion of the white man.  When her son Harold is accused of stealing at the Indian school they are both attending, she is forced to look at what they  need to do to make it in Arizona.  With a car on the fritz and the persistent words of her grandmother in her head that she must finish the Lakota Star Quilt for her son, she tries to do her best to make her way.

Frankie can't decide if she should trust Nick or not, he is a BIA agent but also a half-Lakota who believes in God and prays to him.  He offers her the chance to make friends and use her skill in quilting for employment.  Even when things are going so wrong, she still hears her grandmother guiding her and helping her, even when things look the bleakest.

It is hard to trust that things will work out and that there is a plan.  In hard times it is harder to trust and believe and to have faith in oneself and others, but there is always a plan.  Frankie has to let go of her fear and believe in herself, in Nick, in Harold and in her new friends from the quilting shop that things will work out.  I could not believe how strong she was able to be when things looked bleak for her son, but she held strong and kept believing and praying.   What an example to readers that even those who don't seem to have much might very well be rich if they have friends and love and faith.

About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Wonder by R.J. Palacio


Overview from Barnes and Noble:

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

"Wonder is the best kids' book of the year," said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

Join the conversation: #thewonderofwonder
Winner of the 2013 E. B. White Read-Aloud Award for Middle Reader
My thoughts:  I have wanted to read this book for quite some time.  Each time I have been in a classroom and noticed this book it reminded me to look for it to read.  I checked it out of our local library last week and read it in just a few days.  People can  be so mean to one another, sometimes knowingly, but other times by accident. August Pullman was born with a disorder that caused his head and face to be made differently than everyone else.  He has undergone many surgeries to correct things like a cleft palate, but he is still noticeably different.  When people see him for the first time on the street or out in public they are surprised and this reaction is hard to hide.  August pretends he doesn't notice, but he does.  Most people aren't trying to be mean, he just looks so different that they can't help being surprised.  Most try to hide it right away, but he knows, and as much as he tries to not let it bother him, it does.
He has been home schooled due to his frequent surgeries, but for fifth grade his parents are suggesting strongly that he attend school for the first time.  He is scared of this change, having to deal with all the  staring and possible teasing that he has endured at his visits to the playground and out in public, but he ends up taking the step.  Seeing his strength when things are changing and his classmates are unsure of what to think of him is powerful and heartening.  Academically and intellectually August is just like everyone else, his only  difference is how he looks, but some people can't get around that.  There are parents who thinks he has special needs academically because he looks different, but he is one of the top students.
I think people with differences used to be kept out of the public eye a lot more than they are now, so it is now much more common to run into someone who has physical or mental differences.  If children are exposed to these differences from a young age, they are much less likely to make a big deal out of it or even think that meeting people with differences are unusual.  I think schools are making strides in including students of all ranges in homeroom classes.  Each of my children has been in class with students who have a noticable difference(either physically or mentally), but since they have always been there and have always been a part of the group, they don't even seem to notice.  They accept whatever limitations the person might have, but still count them as one of their friends and classmates.  We need this, there are too many people who are still intolerant of differences.  Like one of the characters in the book says, once you get to really  know someone you stop noticing the differences and they just become the person, not a person with differences. 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375869020
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 2/14/2012
  • Pages: 320

Meet the Author

R. J. PALACIO lives in NYC with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. For more than twenty years, she was an art director and graphic designer, designing book jackets for other people while waiting for the perfect time in her life to start writing her own novel. But one day several years ago, a chance encounter with an extraordinary child in front of an ice cream store made R. J. realize that the perfect time to write that novel had finally come. Wonder is her first novel. She did not design the cover, but she sure does love it.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The A-Z of C.S. Lewis: An Encyclopedia of his life, thought and writings by Colin Duriez (Litfuse Blog Tour)

About the Book:   A Complete Guide to His Life, Thoughts and Writings
Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of C. S. Lewis's death, this complete guide covers all of Lewis' works, from his literary criticism to Narnia.
C. S. Lewis's work is widely known and regarded, but enthusiasts are often only aware of one part of his work-his children's stories and his popular theology; and yet he wrote so much more, including science fiction and literary criticism. This volume brings together all aspects of C S Lewis's life and thought. Arranged in alphabetical order, it begins with The Abolition of Man-written in 1943 and described as "almost my favorite"-to Wormwood, a character in The Screwtape Letters. This book will delight anyone who is interested in C. S. Lewis and wants to learn more about him, his thought, his works, and his life.

Purchase a copy: 
About the Author: 

Colin Duriez was for many years a commissioning editor at Inter-Varsity Press UK. He has subsequently appeared as a commentator on DVDs of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, and BBC television's The Worlds of Fantasy. He is also the author of The Inklings Handbook (with the late David Porter), J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Story of Their Friendship, and Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, and has contributed to definitive reference works relating to Tolkien such as The Tolkien Encyclopedia (Routledge).
Landing page: 
My thoughts:
This is a very comprehensive book covering all areas of the life of C.S. Lewis.  As a reader I am only familiar with his seven books about or connected to Narnia.  I had no idea that he had such a large body of work outside of those books for children.  This book is set up alphabetically, so you can read it from beginning to end or easily go directly to the topic you wish to learn more about.  It was interesting to see how many people touched his life and his belief system.  I could tell that a lot of research went into the making and writing of this book.  This would be especially  helpful to those wishing to do further research or write school reports about the author and his life.  I have to admit, I was expecting a book that elaborated or gave even more detail and depth to the world of Narnia, since that is where I first came in contact with Lewis and his writing, but this created a much more well rounded and fleshed out study of the man behind that magical kingdom.   

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Starry Night: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber

Starry Night: A Christmas Novel

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.

My thoughts:
I love how Macomber releases a short Christmas book each year.  I don't always have a chance to read it before the holidays, but it something I look forward to catching up on every year.  I like that in this one a character from one of her earlier series shows up for a cameo appearance.  It is as if he has been living his life and going along off the page in the years since he appeared in a book!

Carrie is thankful that she was able to find a job at a newspaper, but after four years of work on the society pages she is ready to tackle something different.  She attacks the challenge given by her editor with zeal and manages to find the reclusive author.  Being stranded together in a small cabin in Alaska during a storm gives them a chance to get to know each other, grudgingly on Finn's behalf.  They share meals and play some games and really take the chance to see each other.  Finn does not want her to write the assigned article as he enjoys his privacy.  Carrie writes one, but decides not to publish it.  They share a kiss before she gets on a plane to leave and from there they start to get to know each other long distance.  Telephone calls and texts allow them to get to know each other, but neither is sure if they can make this anything more.  Finn loves his home in Alaska and can't imagine going anywhere else and Carrie wants to continue to work.

Every relationship has it's own hurtles, some that are monumental and some that are not, and sometimes what makes them so hard is one or both parties unwillingness to compromise.  These two have some insecurities and geographical differences to navigate, plus baggage from the past, before they can find their way towards any kind of happily ever after!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345528896
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/8/2013
  • Pages: 256

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Distortion by Terri Blackstock (Litfuse Blog Tour)

About the book: Juliet Cole's life has been dismantled by the murder of her husband. She doesn't know who---or what---to trust when everything she has believed to be true about her marriage has been a lie.

A husband's lies can have deadly consequences.
When Juliet Cole's husband of fifteen years is murdered before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning, then returns home to break the tragic news to her boys. But a threatening voicemail takes this from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack.
Juliet realizes that she and her children are in danger too, unless she meets the killers' demands. But as she and her sisters untangle the clues, her husband's dark secrets come to light. The more she learns, the more of her life is dismantled. Was her husband an innocent victim or a hardened criminal?

Pre-order a copy for just $4.99 on Kindle, Nook, iTunes, or the eBook version on CBD until March 10th.

Purchase a copy: 

About the Author: Terri Blackstock has sold over six million books worldwide and is a New York Times bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, Restoration, and Moonlighters.

Learn more about Terri at:
Landing page: 
My thoughts:  I enjoyed reading this book and discovering the clues to the mystery along with Juliet and her sisters.  Even though it was the second book in the series I had no trouble following the story without having read the first book.
Juliet and her husband have just finished helping her sister move into a home of her own.  Holly  has moved a lot and Bob has gotten frustrated with how often they  have to help her, or so Juliet thinks, as they drive to return the U-Haul they rented for the move.  At the gas station a man drives by and stares at Bob and then, when they return the truck, he shoots Bob.  No money is stolen and Juliet thinks this was just a random crime.  But of course, things are not always what they seem!
What Juliet uncovers about her husband makes her question a lot of things about him and their life together.  Worried for the safety of her two children, she stays with her brother and allows he boss to help her investigate.  The three sisters and their private investigator boss  uncover a lot that Bob has kept from them all!  Some immoral and some illegal, it all paints a totally different picture of the man they thought they knew.
When the DEA takes the case away from the local police force things take a whole different turn.  Through it all Juliet keeps the big plan in view, keeping her children safe from harm and getting through all this so they can live their own lives again without fear.  Every one of them calls out to or prays for guidance and help, as they navigate tricky and dangerous situations.  The book kept you reading as the action reached its peak!   These four siblings, who were raised by a preacher father who ran off with another woman, have all had their struggles with believing in God and the church after what they experienced growing up.  Some of them have found their way back, but they are all struggling on the road to faith and fulfillment.