The Girl in the Gatehouse

The Girl in the Gatehouse is the first Julie Klassen novel I have read, although I believe I own the all!  I read The Maid of Fairbourne Hall shortly after this one, so look for that review next!  

The Girl in the Gatehouse is Mariah Aubrey, who moves into the gatehouse on her aunt's property after a social scandal compromises her status as a "lady."  She must find a way to supplement her father's allowance and therefore decides to pursue her writing and publish some novels.  While living there, the estate changes hands and a Captain Matthew Bryant moves into the main house.  Between writing her novels, a developing friendship with Captain Bryant, and a mystery in the local poor house the plot moves along quickly to a happy ending for all!  
This novel is a clean romance with a Jane Austen feel.  The Christian aspect is rather minimal, but the character development is well thought out and well executed.  The characters are three-dimensional and the setting is clear.  The mysterious character in the middle of the story adds some fun and suspense, and the ending is sweet and ties everything up nicely.  I did enjoy it; however I liked The Maid in Fairbourne Hall more.  I will post my review on Monday!


FIRST Tour: Stand by Me

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson The B&B Media Group, for sending me a review copy.***


As a child growing up on the campus of a Christian school where her parents taught, Neta Jackson began creating imaginary worlds at a young age. Loving horses but not having one, she wrote stories about them instead. By the time she reached high school, she had so honed both imagination and writing skills that when her English teacher submitted one of her stories to a Scholastic magazine writing contest, it won first place. With that first win, Jackson knew beyond the shadow of a doubt she wanted to be a writer. She’s been writing ever since.

After marrying the love of her life, Dave Jackson, the couple chose to settle in the Chicago area where Neta had attended college. Throughout their marriage, the Jacksons have worked together as a team, writing a multitude of books together on topics ranging from medical ethics to stories of gang kids, sometimes sharing the task with other experts who have served as co-writers. Together, they have also penned forty historical fiction accounts of Christian heroes, called the Trailblazer Books, along with another five-volume series called Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes.

These days, both are busy penning their own works of adult fiction. Jackson began her individual effort in 2003 with the Yada Yada Prayer Group series, inspired by her real-life Bible study group, a multi-cultural gathering of dynamic women who have played an important role in her life for over fifteen years. Since publication of the first Yada Yada Prayer Group novel, the seven-book series has sold over a half-million copies and given rise to countless prayer groups across the country and the publication of a personal prayer journal for prayer group participants. In 2008, Where Do I Go?, her first book in the four-book House of Hope series, was published. The second book in the series, Who Do I Talk To?, won a Christy Award in 2010 for excellence in Christian fiction. Recently, the fourth book of the series, Who Is My Shelter?, was nominated for Best Inspirational Novel for 2011 by RT Book Reviews. Stand by Me is the first in Jackson’s new SouledOut Sisters series.

The Jacksons have been married 45 years and have raised two children plus a Cambodian foster daughter. They continue to live in urban Chicago where, together, they enjoy writing, gardening and spending time with their grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.


How does God expect us to get along with those people who are always causing us pain? Are we supposed to keep helping those who repeatedly take advantage of us? Exactly what is the key to living in peace with difficult people? These are the questions award-winning author Neta Jackson addresses in her latest novel, Stand by Me (Thomas Nelson), the first book of her newest series, SouledOut Sisters.

Inspired by her own Bible study group, Jackson began several years ago to write about a multi-cultural gathering of dynamic women in a collection of books known as the Yada Yada Prayer Group series. Since publication of the first Yada Yada Prayer Group novel in 2003, the seven-book series has sold over a half-million copies and given rise to countless prayer groups across the country. Jackson followed the Yada Yada novels with the four-book House of Hope series. Though the series is not dependent upon its predecessors for understanding, Jackson has used the individual lives of familiar characters to introduce some of the more complex issues prevalent in our modern society. By allowing her characters to lead the way, Jackson has shed light on issues like drug addiction, the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and even the racial conflicts that can so easily arise within any culturally diverse group.

In her newest work, Stand by Me, Jackson introduces her readers to Kathryn Davis, a young college student who has left her prestigious Phoenix family behind to move to Chicago after dropping out of medical school against her father’s protests. Her newfound faith in Christ helps temper the realization that she has stepped out of her family’s good graces, but does little to alleviate the pain of their rejection.

When Kat discovers the dynamic multi-cultural membership at Souled Out Community Church, she longs to be part of it. But her unconventional behavior and brash eagerness have not helped her win favor with the church members. And, much to her dismay, Avis Douglass, the one woman in the church whom she most admires and would love to know better, is the one who is the most aloof.

Kat has no idea that, after being confronted by a number of serious problems all at once, Avis and her husband, Peter, are beginning to question God’s will for their lives. Having been recently estranged from her HIV positive daughter and being worried about her welfare, Avis would like nothing more than to quietly retreat into the recesses of her faith and find the answers she seeks. Her attempts to do so, however, are thwarted at every turn by the flamboyant Kat, who has apparently decided to foist herself on their lives whether they want her to or not.

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 13, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548645
ISBN-13: 978-1595548641



Midwest Music Festival, Central Illinois

Kat Davies ducked into the billowing exhibition tent staked down in a large pasture in central Illinois like a grounded Goodyear blimp. She’d been at the Midwest Music Fest three days already—didn’t know it was a Christian festival until she got here—and needed a little respite from the music pulsing morning-till-night on the Jazz Stage, Gospel Stage, Alternative Stage, Rock Stage, Folk Stage, and a few more she’d forgotten.

Besides, she’d be heading back to Phoenix in two days, and sooner or later she needed to figure out how to tell her parents she’d  “given her heart to Jesus”  after the Resurrection Band concert last night. Maybe this tent had a quiet corner where she could think. Or pray. Not that she had a clue how to do that.

Kat had a good idea how they’d react. Her mother would f lutter and say something like, “Don’t  take it too seriously, Kathryn dear. Getting religion is just something everyone does for a year or two.” And her father? If he didn’t blow his stack at what he’d call “another one of your little distractions,” he’d give her a lecture about keeping her priorities straight: Finish pre-med at the University of Arizona. Go to medical school. Do her internship at a prestigious hospital. Follow in the Davies’ tradition. Make her family tree of prominent physicians proud.

Except . . . she’d walked out of her biochemistry class at UA one day and realized she didn’t want to become a doctor. She’d tutored ESL kids the summer after high school and realized she liked working with kids. (“Well, you can be a pediatrician like your Uncle Bernard, darling,” her mother had said.) And the student action group on the UA campus sponsoring workshops on “Living Green”  and “Sustainable Foods” had really gotten her blood pumping. (Another one of her “distractions,” accord- ing to her father.)

Was it too late to pursue something else? Her parents were already bragging to friends and co-workers that their Kathryn had received her letter of acceptance into medical school a few months ago. Feeling squeezed till she couldn’t breathe, she’d jumped at the chance to attend a music fest in Illinois with a carload of other students—friends of friends—just to get away from the pressure for a while.

What she hadn’t expected was to find so many teenagers and twenty-somethings excited about Jesus. Jesus! Not the go- to-church-at-Christmas-and-Easter  Jesus,  the only Jesus  she’d known growing up the daughter of a wealthy Phoenix physician and socialite mother. That Jesus, frankly, had a hard time com- peting with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

But these people talked about a Jesus who cared about poor people. A Jesus who created the world and told humans to take care of it. A Jesus who might not be blond and blue-eyed after all. A Jesus who said, “Love your neighbor”—and that neighbor might be black or brown or speak Spanish or Chinese. A Jesus who said, “All have sinned” and “You must be born again.” The Son of God, who’d died to take away the sins of the world.

That Jesus.

That’s the Jesus  she’d  asked to be Lord of her life, even though she wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. But she desper- ately longed for something—Someone—to help her figure out who she was and what she should do with her life. The guitar player in the band who’d challenged the arm-waving music fans last night to be Christ-followers had said, “Jesus came to give you life—life more abundantly! But first you must give your life to Him.”

That’s what she wanted. Abundant life! A life sold out to something she could believe in. To give herself to one hundred percent. So she’d prayed the sinner’s prayer with a woman in a denim skirt whose name she never learned, and a “peace like a river” f looded her spirit.

Last night, anyway.

But by the light of day, she was still heading in a direction—medical school—that she didn’t want to go.

Big fans circulated the air in the large tent, though mostly it just moved the stif ling July heat around. Thick, curly strands of her long, dark hair had slipped out of the clip on the back of her head and stuck in wet tendrils on her skin. Redoing the clip to get the damp hair off her neck and face, she wan- dered the aisles, idly picking up brochures about Compassion International, Habitat for Humanity, and YWAM. Huh. What if she just dropped out of pre-med and did something like this Youth With A Mission thing. Far from Phoenix and the Davies Family Tradition. Go to Haiti or India or—

“Nice boots,” giggled a female voice nearby.

Kat glanced up from the brochure. A cute brunette with a shaggy pixie cut grinned at her from behind a booth that said Find Your Calling at CCU! Kat self-consciously looked down at the Arizona-chic  cowboy boots peeking out beneath her designer jeans and f lushed. Ever since she’d arrived at the fes- tival, she felt as if she’d walked into a time-warp—girls in tank tops, peasant skirts, and pierced nostrils, guys wearing pony- tails, tattoos, shredded jeans, and T-shirts  proclaiming Jesus Freak. Kat had felt as conspicuous as a mink coat in a second- hand store.

“Thanks. I think.”

The young woman, dressed in khaki Capris and a feminine lemon-yellow tee, laughed. “This your first time to the Fest? Where’re you from?”

Kat felt strangely relieved to be talking to someone else who didn’t look like a throwback to the seventies. “Phoenix. First time.”

“Wow. You came a long way.”


“Detroit. But during the year I’m  a student at CCU in Chicago. I get a huge discount off my festival fee if I sit at this booth a couple hours a day during the Fest.” The girl grinned again and extended her hand across the stacks of informational literature. “I’m Brygitta Walczak.”

Kat shook her hand. “Kathryn Davies. But my friends call me Kat. With a K.”

“Like ‘kitty kat’ ? That’s cute. And . . . blue eyes with all that dark, curly hair? Bet the guys love that.”

Ignoring the remark, Kat glanced up at the banner above the booth. “What does CCU stand for?”

“Chicago Crista University. Usually we just call it Crista U. Located on the west side of Chicago. I’ll be a senior next year. Christian ed major.”

“Christian ed? What’s that?”

“You’re kidding.” Brygitta eyed her curiously. “Mm. You’re not kidding. Uh, are you a Christian?”

Kat allowed a wry smile. “For about twelve hours.”

The pixie-haired girl’s mouth dropped open, and then her amber eyes lit up. “That is so cool! Hey . . . want a Coke or something? I’ve got a cooler back here with some soft drinks. Wanna sit? I’d love some company.”

Brygitta dragged a folding chair from an unmanned booth nearby, and Kat found herself swapping life stories with her new friend. Unlike Kat, who had no siblings, Brygitta came from a large Polish family, had been raised in the Catholic church, “went Protestant” at a Youth for Christ rally in high school, planned to get a master’s degree at Crista U, and wanted to be a missionary overseas or a director of Christian education somewhere.

“Sorry I’m late, Bree,” said a male voice. “Uh-oh. Two gor- geous females. You’ve cloned yourself. I’m really in trouble now.”

Kat looked up. A young man about their same age grinned at them across the booth. He was maybe six feet, with short, sandy-brown hair combed forward over a nicely tanned face, wire-rim  sunglasses shading his eyes. No obvious tattoos or body piercings. Just cargo shorts and a T-shirt that said CCU Soccer.

Brygitta jumped up. “Oh, hi, Nick. This is Kat Davies. She’s from  the University of Arizona, first time at the Fest. Nick Taylor is my relief. He’s  a seminary student at Crista—well, headed that way, anyway.”

Nick slid off his shades and flashed a smile, hazel eyes teasing. “So, Miss Blue Eyes. Has Brygitta talked you into coming to CCU yet?”

Kat laughed and started to shake her head . . . and then stopped as her eyes caught the logo on the banner across the booth. Find Your Calling at CCU.

Transfer to Crista University? Why not?

This one is ready and waiting for me on my kindle now...so review to come!!


Love's Sacred Song by Mesu Andrews

Between Love's Sacred Song and  Love Amid the Ashes, Mesu Andrews has gained a new fan!  I love the combination of rich history and creative imagination in her books.  Love's Sacred Song is about King Solomon and his beloved in the beautiful verses of the book of Song of Solomon.  The verses that are shared at the beginning of each chapter add depth to the story. The characters and descriptions are vivid.  The emotions are strong and heartfelt.  It made me really wonder what their lives were like.  Who exactly was the woman who inspired the verses of Song of Solomon?  Also, now that I have finished the book, I want to go back and read all the Bible has to say about and by King Solomon.  
I would highly recommend this book.  

From the Back Cover:

Wisdom came as God's gift, but sacred love was forged through passion's fire
Standing in the shadow of his famous father, young King Solomon wavers between fear and bravado, longing for a love that is true and pure--a love that can be his cornerstone.
A shepherdess in the northern city of Shunem, Arielah has known since she first laid eyes on Solomon that it was her destiny to become his bride. When her father secures a promise from Solomon to marry Arielah as a treaty bride to help unite the kingdom, it seems her dreams will come true.
But how can this simple shepherdess live as part of Solomon's harem? Can Solomon set aside his distractions to give himself completely to just one woman? Or will he let duty, deception, and the daily routine divide his heart?
Mesu Andrews expertly weaves the words of the Song of Solomon into this touching story of the power of love from a master storyteller.
Mesu Andrews has now made my list of favorite authors!  Visit her website to learn more about her.  See my review of Love Amid the Ashes here.  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review 


You're Already Amazing

I'm just going to start out by saying that I recommend this book to anyone. I think it would be especially great for youth and college age women, or anyone struggling with self-worth, or questioning what you should be doing with your life.

 In You're Already Amazing, Holley Gerth sits you down and explains some basic Biblical truths about who you are and Whose you are.  The back of the book says "With this heart-to-heart message, Holley Gerth invites you to embrace one very important truth--that you truly are already amazing.  Like a trusted friend, Holley gently shows you how to forget the lies and expectations the world feeds you and instead believe that God loves you and has bigger plans for your life than you've even imagined."  Reading this book, truly is like sitting down with a friend or mentor and working through different common questions every women asks at one time or another--questions like "who am I, do I have any strengths, why do I feel the way I do, what does God want me to do with my life, can God really use me?"

Written with the laid-back, down-to-earth voice of intimate conversation, this book is entirely readable and easy to understand.  Activities and questions are given for each chapter to add to your understanding and application of the truths given.  I really enjoyed reading it, and I came away with some great reminders and reaffirmed truths.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 


Mystery of Puzzle Bones

Mystery of the Puzzle Bones is a fun book.  I do not read many books for this age group (8-12); my children are still a little young, but I will keep this one for when they are ready.    The book centers around four young boys who make a hideout in some unused underground sewer pipes.  One day they find a bunch of bones laid out in a pattern in one of the pipes.  The next day, bones have been added, but then they disappear.  The boys soon discover what the bones were and are off on an adventure!  One of the boys, Caleb, shares his faith in the Lord with his friends throughout the book.

The design is great with the fun dog on the cover and the mystery and suspense will appeal to readers.  The writing was fine, (although I think it could have used a little better editing). The plot is fun and fast paced.  The characters are realistic.  The theme is clear and strong, and there are scenes and messages that will make an impact on readers' lives.

 I was a little worried when the boys started talking and worrying about ghosts and demons because I was afraid that it my cause fear in young readers; however, Caleb's strong faith in Jesus is a good example.  This book has a strong Christian worldview.  There is a theme of witnessing, faith, and prayer.  It has action and adventure, as well as friendship and family issues.  It is book 1 in The Adventures of the Boardunders Club, and I believe that kids will love the series.  Although the main characters are boys, it will appeal to both boys and girls (I know my daughter will enjoy it someday--she is only 6).  It would also be a great book to read together, parent and child.  There are a number of great discussions that could stem from the story.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  


Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews

I enjoyed reading this fictional retelling of the Biblical story of Job.  I found nothing in the book that directly contradicted the Bible; however, being a work of fiction, there are added characters and assorted assumptions throughout the story.  The book starts with the death of the patriarch, Isaac and Job taking Dinah home to marry his son.  Dinah is there throughout the devastation that hits Job's household.

"Seeing" Job's actions in the flesh, especially as he reacts to his initial losses provides a powerful example of relying on and remaining faithful to God in the midst of heavy trial.  I also enjoyed the inclusion of Jacob's daughter, Dinah, in Job's life, and I appreciate the author's notes about her research indicating that this relationship was entirely possible.  There is a beautiful scene of redemption for Dinah, that she later shares with other characters.

The book is beautiful with an attractive cover and a synopsis that creates interest.  The characters are well-developed and experience change and growth throughout the story.  The classic plot-line has interesting and emotional scenes as well as a few twists added. And most importantly the theme is strong and has a powerful impact.  I would definitely recommend this book, with the assumption that readers will also read the book of Job and the Biblical story of Dinah.


Blue Moon Promise

I have to admit that I am a fan of Colleen Coble.  I have read many of her books, and I'm pretty sure that if I haven't read it, I have it on my TBR shelf!!  Her books are enjoyable and easy to read.  I found that Blue Moon Promise fits this description as well.  With the interesting backdrop of the old west, the story includes strong characters, honest relationships, a bit of intrigue, and smooth writing.  I would not hesitate to recommend this book.  I am looking forward to the rest of the series!
I received a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

About the book:

Book Number One in the Under Texas Stars series

A love like Lucy and Nate’s only comes along once in a blue moon . . .

Lucy Marsh's worldly resources are running out, but she's fiercely determined to care for her younger brother and sister. When she discovers that their father's recent death was no accident, Lucy is eager to leave town. She accepts a proxy marriage she believes will provide safe refuge. But trouble follows her to Texas where her new husband is surprised to suddenly have a wife and children to care for.

Nate Stanton always hoped he'd marry someday, but running the family ranch meant he had no time for romance. When his father deposits Lucy Marsh—a city girl—on his doorstep, with two siblings in the bargain, he expects ranch life will send her running on the first train out of town. But Lucy is made of tougher stuff than Nate imagined. When danger moves in, Nate finds he'd give anything to protect Lucy and the children he's grown to love. Even if it means giving up his ranch.
About Colleen:
Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.
For more about Colleen and her other books visit www.colleencoble.com 
About the party: 

Blue Moon Promise is a story of hope, romance, and suspense . . . immersing the reader in a rich historical tale set under Texas stars.

To celebrate Colleen is teaming up with her publisher Thomas Nelson for a "BlueMoon Promise" Facebook Chat party where she will giveaway a KINDLE Fire and a Texas-sized gift basket (fabulous Texas treats and fun Lucy-inspired housekeeping products)!

Click the banner, RSVP today for the Facebook Party and mark the date on your calendar!

Invite your friends and don't miss Colleen's evening of chat, trivia, prizes, and more.

Kindle Giveaway and More! Save the Date - 3/13!


The Beautiful Wife

I find it quite ironic that I am posting about a book called The Beautiful Wife, when due to lack of sleep and being busy caring for my sick little one, I am feeling much more like an un-beautiful one(if that were a word!) The subtitle of this book gives me hope: Focused on Christ, Fulfilled in Marriage.  The Beautiful Wife is not a handbook for being more attractive and alluring physically, although the author does touch on beauty and intimacy.  It is a book about how being a Christ-centered woman and wife will transform your marriage. This book offers real advice and examples to get your marriage closer to what God intended.  As with most books in this category, readers need to take the advice and tweak it to fit each individual situation.  I really liked many of the ideas given.  My favorite is to determine a vision for your role as a wife and for your children.  I am currently praying for God's wisdom and direction in doing this for my family.

The Beautiful Wife is an easy-to-read book with some good ideas that any woman can use to improve her marriage.  I also feel that the Mentor's guide and Prayer Journal are useful tools.  The Mentor's Guide includes tips for helping other married women--walking together through the journey!  And I love the Prayer Journal!  It follows the book, chapter by chapter and gives space and topics to pray and journal about, as well as other practical tips to apply.

I did receive this book for free in exchange for my honest review...And now for the fun stuff...

Celebrate with Sandy by entering her Kindle Touch Giveaway and coming to her "Beautiful Womanhood" Facebook Party {3/8}!

One beautiful winner will receive:

  • A Brand new Kindle Touch with Wi-Fi
  • The Beautiful Wife By Sandy Ralya
  • The Beautiful Wife Prayer Journal and Mentor's Guide
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/7/12. Winner will be announced at Sandy's "Beautiful Womanhood" Facebook Party on 3/8. Sandy will be hosting an evening of chat, laughter and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, prayer journals and a live chat with Sandy for your Bible study or small group!

So grab your copy of The Beautiful Wife and join Sandy and friends on the evening of March 8th for an evening of fun.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on March 8th!