Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Aloha Rose and Carolina Reckoning

Anyone else feel like the holiday hustle began right after Halloween this year?

It’s been CRAZY at my house. 

But, you know me. I’ve always got time to read a good book. Or two! And I want to share them with you.

I met Lisa Carter in 2010 at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, before she had an agent, or a book deal (or four!). 

I’m so excited to share her first two books with you today. You know you’ve got a someone or two on your shopping list who would love for you to introduce them to a new author. Consider your list a little bit shorter!

Aloha Rose

This is Lisa’s second book. It just came out this month and it is such a sweet story. I generally prefer my books to have a little bit more mayhem and murder, but I couldn’t put this one down!

The only thing Laney Carrigan has to tie her to her birth family is the Hawaiian quilt she was wrapped in as a baby. But that quilt holds the key to everything she’s searching for—the answers to her questions and a reason to put down roots. Of course, Kai Barnes complicates her plans from the first time they meet. He knows there’s more to the mysterious Laney Carrigan than she’s chosen to share with the family. She can’t be trusted. Not with the plantation—and certainly not with his heart.

Aloha Rose is a beautiful story that doesn’t shy away from the painful consequences of sin, the damage unforgiveness can do to our hearts, and the desperate need we all have for grace.

Carolina Reckoning

This is Lisa’s first book and it came out this summer. Lisa uses the tag line “Sweet Tea with a Slice of Murder” (isn’t that the BEST!!!) and Carolina Reckoning met every expectation a tag line like that has.

It’s so very Southern! Set in the Raleigh area of North Carolina, the conflict centers around a historic estate complete with a main house, gardens, and wealthy board members. The characters are as varied as the dishes at a church dinner. There are exotic outsiders, quirky cousins, scary strangers, and let’s not forget the downright creepy psychopaths.

The opening pages of Carolina Reckoning will twist your heart as Alison Monaghan discovers proof that her husband has been cheating on her. She’s going to confront him, but instead finds herself staring into the face of homicide detective Mike Barefoot. Her husband will never come home, but are the people responsible for his death willing to leave his family alone?
Or is Alison next on their list?

Carolina Reckoning will keep you guessing until the climax when … oh, wait a minute. I’m not going to tell you!

Buy the book. Buy both of them. Buy one for your friends. Put one in your daughter’s stocking. Send one to your grandma. Hmm…that’s actually a really good idea. My Granny loves to read…(yes, it’s hereditary). Grab it for your Kindle and read it while everyone is watching football tomorrow.

You can’t go wrong with Aloha Rose or Carolina Reckoning!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

a million little ways - uncover the art you were made to live

We all make art in A Million Little Ways.

Yes, you do, too.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as artistic or creative, after reading Emily P. Freeman’s latest offering, you’ll view everything you do in a new light. Because “art is what happens when you dare to be who you really are.” (p. 21)

While I have no trouble saying that I’m a writer, I’ve never considered myself to be an artist. Art is painting, drawing, sculpture, design. Art it musicals, opera, plays, and concerts.

Or is it?

What if art is so much more and what if all of us make art in a million little ways?

Making beds, writing books, cooking meals, designing clothes, playing with Legos, decorating interiors, and hosting dinner parties, all can be ways you express yourself, ways you create, ways you make art.

The most beautiful thing? God uses us as “we make art with our lives” to reveal different aspects of Himself to a world that desperately needs Him.

A Million Little Ways is divided into three parts:

In Part 1, we see a beautiful picture of God as the Artist and us, as His image-bearers, placed in the world to live art.
In Part 2, we uncover the art we were born to make by looking within, back, up, around, and beneath.
In Part 3, we release the art we were made to live when we show up, wait, offer, wonder, and create.

Emily P. Freeman writes with a transparency and honesty that always leaves me surprised to discover that someone else struggles with the same things I do. Each chapter feels like a conversation with a friend who sees beauty in you. Beauty you may be unable to see in yourself, not because of anything you can do in your own strength, but because you are an image-bearer of The Artist.

There was so much in these pages to digest, to ponder, to consider, to breathe in and live out, that I don’t feel one read-through was sufficient so I’m starting over and reading it again.

Lucky for you, when I attended Allume a few weeks ago, I got to hear Emily speak and the fine folks at Revell gave all the attendees a copy of A Million Little Ways. But I already had my review copy from Revell, so I’m going to share the art with you. Subscribe to the blog through email or leave me a comment here on the blog, on Facebook, or Twitter. I’ll put the names in the random number generator and whoever it picks will win their own copy. Contest ends Sunday, November 24th.

A Million Little Ways is available November 2013 at your local bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing.

The super fine print: I received a copy of A Million Little Ways in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

God Wants Me To Be A Bay Leaf

God wants me to be a bay leaf.

Sounds exciting, right?

Yeah. I’m not so sure about it myself.

I woke up early a few weeks ago, too early to get up. The time of day when I fade in and out of awareness, praying, listening, thinking. On this particular morning, my mind flipped between the things I needed to do before the day ran off and left me and the images that had flooded it for the past few days.

Images of women—old, young, trendy, traditional—women who had gathered in one place to learn, to be renewed, to find new ways to share their message.

Some women had answered life-altering calls. They’d seen a need. They’d decided not to shove it off on someone else. Now, they and their families call new cities in foreign lands home.

They are doing BIG things for God. I want to do big things for God, too.

I was willing. I would have gone. If He’d called me, I’d have packed my bags and learned a new language, and I’d have gone anywhere. I told Him so. More than once.

I’m still willing. But here I am.

I have a great husband and three cool kids and a new minivan parked in the garage of a nice house in a safe part of the world. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t feel like I’m doing big things for God.

I know, I know. Those three cool kids are the future and the time I spend with them is a daily act of worship.


But I feel so small. So insignificant. And as I lay there that morning, I couldn’t help but wonder why God hadn’t called me to more?

While I lay there, wondering if maybe I’d missed something along the way, He spoke.

I want you to be a bay leaf.

No, it wasn’t audible, but I heard it and I can assure you that as I have never, ever aspired to be a bay leaf, it was pretty clear to me that this was God’s voice and not my own. Seriously, God? A bay leaf?

I want you to be a bay leaf.

See, I had spent days surrounded by walking, talking oaks of faith. Singing, laughing diamonds of grace. War-torn but still smiling warriors in the fight for the kingdom.

I was trying to think of ways to be big. God asked me to be small.

Do you know what a bay leaf does? It’s that dried leaf your mom or your grandma always added to the chicken broth or the spaghetti sauce or the vegetable soup. Bay leaves help bring other flavors together, the result of which is a richness, a savoriness that is hard to define, but noticeable in its absence.

I’ve been pondering the idea of being a bay leaf for a few weeks.

Not to diminish the sacrifice of those who answer the “flashier” calls, but I think, sometimes, it’s harder to say yes to being small. To going unnoticed. To being content to add that “little something extra” to the lives of those around us without ever being the main event.

So as I continue to dwell with the idea, I’m praying for opportunities to be a bay leaf. For ways to add some richness and depth to the souls I find myself simmering through life with.

I’ve also started praying that Out of the Boat will be a bay leaf in your life. Something that deepens your faith, enriches your walk, and maybe adds a little something extra to your day.

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Singularity by Steven James

Most of us accept death as a part of life. But not everyone.

In Singularity, the second book in The Jevin Banks Experience, Steven James plunges us into a world where research into brain function and artificial intelligence that is intended to help quadriplegics or children with life-shortening diseases is being hijacked by psychopaths.

Psychopaths who will eliminate any and all obstacles between them and immortality.

In Singularity, illusionist Jevin Banks loses a friend in what the authorities insist was a tragic accident. He knows it wasn’t and he refuses to allow his friend’s death to go unsolved.

Lucky for him, the supporting cast from Placebo, the first book in the The Jevin Banks Experience, is back, and they are as fabulous as ever. Charlene, Jevin’s girlfriend; Xavier, Jevin’s right-hand man; Fionna, home-schooling mom and computer whiz; Fionna’s kids, four of the coolest kids on the planet.

Of course, one of our villains from Placebo is back, too. Derek Byrne, aka, Akinsanya, intends to live forever and his methods are, well, let’s go with extreme. (Gory, sick, disturbing, horrifying—those would all work as well).

As I’ve come to expect from Steven James, the first few chapters are tough. Evil men unleash their power over those who’ve tried to thwart them, and the results are devastating.

From there, Singularity takes us into a world of illusion, organized crime, conspiracy theory, top-secret military research, and prostitution. Set mostly in Las Vegas, Singularity doesn’t shy away from gritty realities. Nor does it glorify them.

If you’re looking for safe, predictable fiction that gives you an interesting enough story but doesn’t make you think or wonder about anything, then Singularity is not for you.

If, however, you’d love to read something that you haven’t figured out by page five, if you’d like a story that reflects the world we live in, that delves deep into questions about what makes us human and why God allows people to do bad things, if you’d like to get to the final page and go “What??!!!” as the whole story gets turned on its ear…

Read Singularity.

Singularity is available as of November 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

The super fine print: I received a free copy of Singularity in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

You can read my review of Placebo here. I highly recommend reading Placebo first. 

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