Monday, December 10, 2012

Giveaway happening on my other blog...

Over on my other blog, I'm giving away this collection of YA nonfiction titles. Come on over and participate!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Three Christmas Books I love to Read with My Kids

I know Thanksgiving is next week, but I'm thinking about the Christmas books I want to read to my kids this year. It's always fun trying to decide which ones we'll enjoy together as a family. Here are a few of our favorites, and I want to know which ones you love, too.

The Velveteen Rabbit: I realized the other day when I picked up a copy at Kohl's that I hadn't introduced my younger two to the story. And the older two didn't remember it. Time to remedy that. The story begins with Christmas, but is really a story of so much more including the power of love. How a stuffed animal becomes real through the love of a little boy. I get sentimental just thinking about the story.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Courageous For Teens

Raising godly teens and tweens is a challenge. Whether you're a young person who wants to grow in your faith or a parent trying to lead your young person as they mature, it can be tricky to find books that will help in that process. Courageous for Teens is one of those books.

The book intertwines scenes from the movie Courageous with scripture and profiles of Bible characters who lived with courage. Abraham movign to a new land. Ruth moving to a foreign land. Add many of your favorite Bible stories to the list. Each chapter then ends with five application questions and each section ends with a page of recap. For example "Joshua found courage through...", "Gideon gained strength by..." When the teen finishes this book, they will have examined courageous faith, leadership, priorities, and influence.

It's a book the teen can tackle alone, in a group, or with their parents. It's easy to read and grasp the concepts. Then the challenge begins of applying those to your life.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Beginner Bible iPad app

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

For Parents: Hot Buttons

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Children of Angels Review

As a homeschool mom, I am always looking for books that will engage my children's imaginations and be something we can enjoy together. Children of Angels builds from the what if question of what if there were still children of angels on earth? What would those children be like? How would being half-angel impact them? Because of the themes of spiritual warfare, bullying, and fights in the heavenlies, this is a good book for parents and kids to read and discuss together. Some plot threads reminded me of another popular tween series with the half-angel kids going to a special school. This is a book that may also intrigue that hard to reach tween boy population.

Children of Angels
“Not my iPod!” Jeremy Lapoint’s day plunges to record lows when Sid Lundahl and his crew stomp the only nice thing he owns-and Jeremy gets in trouble for fighting. With Dad in prison and Mom struggling to scrape by, Jeremy’s life seems hopeless.
Until he has this urge to … fly.
One leap and Jeremy soars through the air. With this and his other new-found powers, life is suddenly amazing, wonderful. Until a real-live demon chases him through the school hallways, terrifying him and making him a freak to his schoolmates. He’s the only one who can see the monster. Jeremy wonders if the flying thing’s worth it.
But during the chase, Asiel, Jeremy’s guardian angel, wields his sword and battles off the demon. Later Asiel explains that Jeremy’s a Nephilim: half human and half angel. Jeremy’s shocked. His quest to uncover how he got like this sends him to the Higher Humanity Institute where he meets other Nephilim like him along with a slew of enemies-both human and … not.
In the midst of his strange and dangerous struggles, Jeremy also receives the peace and love he’s always longed for but never knew. When called to lead an angelic battle for the truth, will Jeremy cling to the One who can win the war or let his old doubts and fears overtake him?
Fun, danger, friendship, mystery, and faith-along with awesome angels and demons-fill the pages of this exciting book. A must-read for kids (and grownups) craving adventure with a life-changing message.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Enchanted Attic Review

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Live to Give Facebook Event

Thomas Nelson Author and Hoops of Hope founder, Austin Gutwein, to host September 6 online event to focusing on themes his latest release, Live to Give. On September 6 at 8 PM EDT, Austin Gutwein will be hosting a live Facebook web event to encourage participants to conquer their fears and use their talents to help others. The webcast will center on the themes Gutwein writes about in his latest release “Live to Give: Letting God Turn Your Talents into Miracles(Thomas Nelson/August, 2012). At the conclusion of the webcast, the winners of a month-long social media fueled “Get and Give” contest will be announced, including the winner of a Kindle Fire and $250 donated to the winner’s charity of choice.

Join Austin on the evening of Thursday, September 6th as he shares about his own experiences and encourages others to conquers their fears and “live to give”. Austin will also be taking audience questions and interacting with participants. PLUS – there will be several “Live to Give” giveaways – books, gift certificates and much more! RSVP today and tell your friends. Based on the John 6 story of Jesus feeding the 5000, in “Live to Give” Gutwein challenges his readers that regardless of age and talent, God can use them to make a difference. Even though God could take care of everything Himself and doesn’t really need our help, He desperately WANTS us to help Him care for others. Gutwein walks young people through discovering and embracing their unique God-given strengths and abilities, then figuring out how to use those talents to help others. Sometimes doing that takes a leap of faith on our part, and often becoming fearless in the process.

More about Austin: At eighteen years old, Gutwein speaks with wisdom and has the experience to reinforce his message. When Austin was just nine years old, he watched a video that showed children in Africa who had lost their parents to AIDS. Gutwein realized these kids weren’t any different from him—except they were suffering. Feeling called to help, he took his love of basketball and decided to shoot free throws to raise money for orphans in Zambia. On World AIDS Day in 2004, he shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned during his day at school. Through sponsorship from parents and friends, Gutwein raised over $3,000 that day to give hope to eight orphans in Zambia. Over the past eight years, Gutwein’s efforts have created Hoops of Hope, the largest free throw marathon in the world. With an estimated 40,000 people in more than 25 countries participating, Hoops of Hope has raised more than $2.5 million to build schools, medical clinics, dormitories for orphanages, and the only computer lab in Zambia. Enter to win a Kindle Fire and have $250 donated to your favorite charity. Click for the banner for details and entry or visit

Learn more about Austin and Hoops of Hope at and

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Winning Balance by Shawn Johnson

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pop-Up Bible Stories Review

Monday, August 20, 2012

Live to Give by Austin Gutwein

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Need Summer Reading? Interview with Author Krista McGee & Giveaway

Today, I'm delighted to introduce you to my new friend, Krista McGee. When we stopped at Thomas Nelson in March, one of the books they handed my daughter was Starring Me. She inhaled the book, with lots of giggles. So I decided I, too, must read it. It was a fun read as I ran on the treadmill. Enough about that though. I'm delighted the publisher is willing to give one reader a copy of this book! Read through to the end for how to possible get one copy of the book. Here's more from Krista...

1) Starring Me has a clever setting with a reality show, but there’s much more to it. How did you get the idea for Starring Me?
This series of books is loosely based on biblical characters. First Date was based on Esther, and in that book, I began with the Esther story and crafted Addy's story around it. With Starring Me, I had my character, Kara, and looked for a biblical story that could parallel hers. I have always loved the romance of Rebekah and Isaac, and I thought that could fit. Because Kara loves acting, I knew I'd have to place her in a situation where she'd have the opportunity to pursue that love, while also being unknowingly pursued by a boy. Isaac was the long-awaited child of Abraham and Sarah, so having him be the somewhat overly-protected only child of older parents worked for my "Isaac"-- Chad Beacon. The "mediator" is the Beacon's assistant, Flora, a quirky character who feels from the start Kara is "the one." And so the stage was set!

2) How did you get the idea for Starring Me?
This story's premise was really a collaborative effort. My editors wanted me to keep going with the "reality TV/ordinary-girl-in-an-extraordinary-situation" theme I had in First Date. I wanted to tell a story that would fit Kara while staying true to my passion as a writer who liberally sprinkles Jesus all through her books. My students reminded me that teens enjoy humor more than sermons. So I sat down and thought through how I could make all of that work. My agent helped me create Flora, and my students helped me come up with the idea for a show-within-a-show: Kara thinks she is auditioning to co-host a new teen variety show, but, in reality, it is her character that is being tested, not her acting skills. Chad's parents want him working with a young woman who shares his faith - tying back into the Isaac and Rebekah story.

3) What was the hardest thing about writing Starring Me?
Finding time to write was the hardest part. I am a wife, mom of three, and an English teacher. I also direct the musicals at my school, and am involved in several different ministries at my church. I was writing this book in the middle of all that. It was crazy!

4) So how exactly did you research what a reality show was like? Have you been on one? I’ve always thought Amazing Race could be fun as long as my husband ate all the weird (i.e. GROSS!) food.
Because this book was more about the auditioning process than the show itself, I drew on my own theatrical experience. I have been in a few dozen productions and directed several, as well. I've never been part of a reality TV show, but I read different blogs and entertainment magazine articles about the behind-the-scenes aspects of those shows. I found that more is scripted than is real, and that people aren't always off-screen what they seem to be on-screen. All of that played into my story and the development of the other characters in the audition.

5) Will we get to see Kara (love her name btw!) and Chad in another book? Or will we see Josh and AXXXX’s story?
Thanks :) Although Kara isn't featured in the next book, she is present.  Right Where I Belong is about a young woman named Natalia who moves from Spain to Tampa with her stepmother (guess what biblical character she is based on?). Natalia attends the same school as Addy, and Addy introduces her to Kara.

6) Why write for this audience? What draws you to teenagers?
I have worked with teens for over a decade, as a youth leader and a Christian school teacher. God used youth leaders and Christian teachers in my life to help me through those difficult years, and I want to do the same for the teens God places in my life. I love helping this next generation see how much God loves them and how He has plans for them that are far beyond what they could ever imagine.

7) What do you hope readers will take away from reading Starring Me?
My desire is that my books be "Escape and Encouragement." I want my readers to laugh and have fun with Kara. But I also hope they will be challenged in their understanding of who Christ is and who we are in Him. Starring Me touches on barriers to belief and serving others, as well as friendship and dating and awkward moments with egotistical boys.

Okay, where can readers connect with you?
Visit my website:, become a fan on Facebook, and/or follow me on Twitter. I looooove hearing from my readers!

Cara again. So if you could be on any reality TV show, which would you pick? Leave a comment with a way to contact you to be entered for a chance to read this fun book. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Starring Me Review

My daughter received Starring Me as an ARC when we were on a trip. The rest of the trip was filled with her giggles as she flew through this story. She liked it so much I decided I needed to try it too.

This story is a delightful story inside a story. Kara wants to be a star, but doesn't know for sure how that will happen. Chad is set to star in a new teen variety show, but his parents have made a requirement that they be allowed to pick his co-star. This story is a treat in the way that the contest to find his co-star unfolds and also in the way that it overlays a Bible story.

Perfect read for teens who want a little bit more in their books.

Here's more about the book:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Review Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

Once you've seen, you can't unsee.

Brielle went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She's come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and an incredible, numbing cold she can't seem to shake.

Jake's the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.

Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what's going to happen. And a beauty brighter than either Brielle or Jake has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices begin.


This is a book that my daughter inhaled. While she devours most books, I wasn't sure she'd like this one because of it's strong supernatural tones. Instead, she loved it precisely for those reasons. This book strikes me as a teenage version of This Present Darkness, a book I loved as a teen because it stretched my imagination and thoughts regarding the struggles that are largely unseen.

The story pulled my daughter in. From the opening pages filled with a tragedy that propels Brielle home to her new gift that allows her to see things others can't. There's also a romance, but one with a twist. It's hard to say too much more without giving the plot away. Let's just say that this book illustrates the concept that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. And my daughter can't wait to read the next installment!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Like Supernatural Fiction? Meet author Shannon Dittemore

Today, I'm delighted to introduce you to a new-to-me author who could become a fun friend. Shannon Dittemore's debut novel releases May 29...just in time for summer reading. I'm delighted the publisher is willing to give one reader a copy of this book, so be sure to leave a comment with a way to contact you! My daughter received this book when we were on vacation and loved it! That was enough for me to know I needed to get to know Shannon. So let's learn more...
Angel Eyes has a supernatural setting — it always fascinates me when authors can think that way. How did you get the idea for Angel Eyes?

I've always been fascinated with spiritual beings. When I was a teen, our church had a performing arts team and I always seemed to land the role of Satan. Whether Satan was biting the dust or getting knocked out in the Champion (thank you, Carman!) I apparently had the whole demonic thing down. I'm the daughter of a preacher and the wife of another one, so the supernatural is something I've grown up knowing about, learning about, believing   in from a young age. To turn my imagination loose on those ideas was very natural.

2) Is there any part of Brielle that might be borrowed from you?

The fear, certainly. I dealt with fear for a time. It's been a journey and I'm so grateful for God's help through it, but I understand what it is to be frozen by anxiety and terror. I've learned that being fearless isn't the absence of fear, but the refusal to let it govern your actions. I don't have it all down, but God's gracious and He's teaching me.

Brielle also references Neverland from time to time. I'm rather fascinated with Peter Pan myself.

3) What was the hardest thing about writing 
Angel Eyes?
Time. I'm certainly not alone in this, but finding the time with two young children at home is difficult. It's another thing God's helping me with.

4) Can you give people a teaser?

Sure! Angel Eyes is about a girl who returns to her small hometown after tragedy has struck. She has all the potential in the world, but grief and fear have taken over and she feels frozen, unable to move forward. Enter the boy next door. Jake's got a few secrets of his own, and there's something about his hands--his blazing hands--that has Brielle paying attention. Jake gives Brielle a gift that opens her eyes in more than one way and that's when all hell breaks loose. Literally.  

5) Will we get to see Brielle and her friends in another book?

I'm happy to report that Angel Eyes is the first in a trilogy of books. The second book is called Broken Wings and will be out next February. The third book is still untitled and I'm not entirely sure when it'll be released.

6) Why write for this audience? What draws you to teenagers?

This one's hard to answer. I'm not entirely sure why I write for teenagers. Maybe because I am still a teen at heart. Everything's still very raw, very real, and very important at that age. I like that. I think I live like that. Sometimes, like in the lives of teenagers, that makes things much more complicated than they need to be, but it's the way I'm wired. God helps me here too. Feeling is very important for teens and as a first class emoter, I understand entirely.

7) What do you hope readers will take away from 
Angel Eyes?
That they are not alone. That even when life throws craziness at you and when you stumble into dark places, you haven't been abandoned. If readers come away with something close to that, I've done my job.

Okay, where can readers connect with you? 

I'm everywhere, I think! I even have an 
Angel Eyes board on Pinterest.

My website and blog:


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pressing the "Hot Buttons"

Today I'm delighted to turn over my blog to my good writing bud Nicole O'Dell. I love her heart for tweens and teens. And my What are Hot Buttons? Well, in the broader sense, the phrase Hot Buttons means a lot of different things, anything really, that can get a rise out people. Something that charges them up and receives an intense reaction. For the purposes of Choose NOW Ministries, I've defined hot buttons as those tough issues that teenagers face--the things parents are often more afraid of and most hesitant to talk about. Some examples include:

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Sex
  • Friendships
  • Racism
  • Internet Activity
  • Faith Matters
  • Divorce
  • Dating
  • Bullying
  • Occult
  • and more

Why press the Hot Buttons?

Why not just leave it alone and let the kids figure it out? We can pray for them and trust it all to work out in the end. In some ways it does work itself out, true. Circumstances happen, pressure hits, relationships change. . .and your teens gets to figure it all out. In the heat of the moment. On their own. Hopefully they'll make the right choice, but it's really hard to know what will happen when the prep work isn't done. Hot Buttons, Dating, Nicole O'DellTake an issue like dating--we talk about the boundaries. We set rules for curfew and other things. We even make sure we apprrove of the date and talk about saying no to sexual advances. Right? And that's great. It really is. But there's something missing. Our teens need to know what to do and what not to do, and what we expect of them, but they also need to understand why that's going to be difficult for them. How does the body respond in ways that make it tough to say no? What will the feelings be like that make it difficult to leave the room or douse the proverbial flames? You see, if we don't hit those truth head on before they become an issue, our teens will think it's a secret, it's specific to them, and we really don't know what we're asking them to say no to. But, if we press those hot buttons in advance, if we have the difficult conversations, then our teens will enter those pressure-filled situations armed with understanding and equipped with the words to say to stay true to their commitments. With every hot button issue, someone is feeding your tweens and teens information--do you really want that someone to be anyone other than you?  

How do I press the Hot Buttons?

Now that you've made the decision to be proactive about helping your tweens and teens battle peer pressure, I love to share the principles behind the Hot Buttons book series and the method of communicating with your teens it prescribes. Hot Buttons, Internet, Nicole O"Dell Each book is topical based on a single Hot Button issue and its surrounding sub-topics. For example, the Hot Buttons Internet Edition deals with social networking, pornography, predators, cyber bullying, and more. The goal isn't to convince parents to keep their kids off the net, but rather to arm them with the tools they need to navigate it in a safe and healthy way. Same with the Dating Edition. It covers early relationships, physical boundaries, date rape, and more. Instead of just handing down rules, parents need to walk their teens through the details and equip them with the understanding of what's out and how to rise above the peer pressure.  

How does Hot Buttons work?

Each book is designed the same way. The first few chapters discuss the hows and whys of tackling hot buttons early and effectively. Part two dives into the topics with statistics and information that every parent should know. Next are the application portions of the book. This is when you put into practice the principles we discuss early on. Strategic Scenarios (up to 15 per book) allow you to walk your teens through a fictional situation and then offer options, choices, as to how they think they'd respond.
Here's an example of the way a Strategic Scenario works:
You really like this one guy at school. You have for a long time, actually. Problem is, your BFF likes him too. And you have to admit, she’s liked him longer, but he seems to prefer you. You just don’t know what to do about it. You don’t want to hurt your friend, but you have to take care of yourself first, right?
Finally, he asks you out. Now it’s decision time. What do you do?
Present the following choices to your teenager:
  1. He obviously like you best and telling him no isn’t going to make him like your BFF. You might as well go out with him and deal with her later. What’s she going to do about it anyway?
  2. You’ll go out with him, but only secretly. Hopefully she'll never find out.
  3. You thank him, and tell him you need a day or two to think about it. Time to have a heart-to-heart with your friend. If she’s okay with it, you’re in!
  4. No, too much is at stake. Your BFF will tell you she’s fine with it, but you know it will break her heart. Then what? It wouldn’t be the same again. Plus, you’re supposed to be the Christian; you need to put her first.
Now let your teen make a choice between the responses without feeling judged or directed. You want the response to be as honest as possible.
Here are some discussion points you can use to lead the conversation after the choice is made:
  • BFs come and go; BFF last a lifetime
  • What would Jesus do?
  • How would you feel in your BFF’s shoes?
  • Talk about this sort of thing ahead of time. Don’t wait until it’s a real issue. Clear the air.
  • Loyalty and honestly are qualities of Christ.
  • A year from now, when you look back on the situation, which choice will make you proud?
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12, NIV)
The final chapters of each Hot Buttons book will lead you and your family through confession and forgiveness and then help you walk into the future with a clean slate, armed with the tools you all need to face those hot buttons. If you're a parent of teens, or you know one, I hope you'll visit to read more Hot Buttons posts each week. Also, the first two Hot Buttons books: Dating and Internet, release on 6/1. Following soon after on 10/1 are the Sexuality and Drug editions.   Nicole O'Dell, Choose HER, Choose NOW ministriesNicole O'Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of Choose NOW Radio: Parent Talk and Teen Talk, is a youth culture expert who writes and speaks to preteens, teenagers, and parents on preparing for life's tough choices. The mother of six, including toddler triplets, she’s author of YA fiction, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, and non-fiction for teens including Girl Talk, 2/1/12, based on the popular advice column she writes with her two daughters. Hot Buttons, O’Dell’s non-fiction series for parents pre-empts peer pressure by tackling tough issues. Visit   

Friday, June 1, 2012

Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavin

At our house right now, my tweens are racing through Andrew Klavan's books. Here's what my daughter says:
Crazy Dangerous is a well-written thriller. Sam is a regular boy who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances. He just wants to be a normal kid, but not pushed around anymore. Jennifer is a school mate with some type of mental illness. She talks crazy and hallucinates. This shouldn't impact Sam but it does because the thugs that are trying to mess up Sam's life are messing with Jennifer, too. Sam has a strong desire to protect Jennifer and stop whatever she's facing.
This was the first Andrew Klavan book I read. I enjoyed it so much, that I've now raced through the Homelanders series. The author's books are great because they are action-packed. They are impossible to put-down. And are perfect for kids who like to read stories about heroic struggles.
My 8.5 year old son likes his books because they are action-packed and heroic. The kid is in trouble the whole way through the book. My husband enjoyed the series because it captured all the angst of the teen years but equipped the main character for the struggles he would face.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Interview with Author Robert Liparulo

Robert, you’re known for writing  creepy and intense books. There’s usually a spiritual idea contained in the book, but it’s not always overt. Is The 13th Tribe different?

My previous adult thrillers were heavy on action, adventure, and the fight between Good and Evil—but light when it came to acknowledging God’s influence in the world and in the lives of my characters. That was fine with me: Before embarking on each new story, I’d spend weeks fasting and in seclusion, praying for Divine guidance. And then I wrote the stories I believe God wanted me to tell in the way He wanted me to tell them.

As I prayed about the next adult thriller after Deadlock, I sensed God’s telling me it was time to go another direction, to take a new, bold stance in proclaiming His sovereignty in everything that happens. To rip down the veil and show His inextricable presence in all we experience—unreservedly and unapologetically.

The result is The 13th Tribe—to me, a very special story that marks my first foray into what many people call “Christian fiction,” though I like to think of it as a faith-filled supernatural thriller.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Restorer's Son Expanded Edition

I loved this series when it originally released...a shock for someone who is not a fantasy person. I'm thrilled that it's been rereleased with additional scenes and lots of goodies added in. If you didn't read this series the first time, do yourself a favor and read it now. It is wonderful! Here's a little about the book...and keep reading for an interview with the author.

The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition

Book two in the groundbreaking Sword of Lyric series, The Restorer’s Son won a Carol Award for speculative fiction.

Plunged again into the gray world of Lyric and Hazor, Susan and Mark search frantically for their teenage son, Jake. All signs hint that a trusted ally has betrayed them and threatens their son. A target of assassins and more political intrigue, false leads and near misses beset their path, which leads them into the dark prisons of Hazor before the One’s purpose is revealed.

Cast out by those he trusts, the new reluctant Restorer prefers to cross swords with the One rather than submit to His will. Pursued by his calling, he journeys to Sidian, where he finds a boy without a home, a king with burning questions, and a nation torn by darkness. As he embraces the tasks the One has set before him, this new Restorer learns that the One requires his all—perhaps even his life.

This new expanded edition of The Restorer’s Son includes an in-depth devotion guide for readers who want to dig into the spiritual themes of the book, bonus scenes providing glimpses of the story through a variety of characters, and fun extras including links to songs and recipes.

Here's Sharon with more.

What was it like developing new material for this new edition?

Books are like children. I treasure each of them in different ways, and among the novels I’ve written, I try not to have favorites. However, I confess that The Restorer’s Son has an extra special place in my heart. Because of that, it was fun to revisit the characters and world of this story. Kieran’s attitudes were loosely inspired by a verse in Judges where Gideon is told God will use him to save his people. Gideon’s response is basically, “If God is for us, why have all these bad things happened to us?” It’s a question many can relate to, and part of the reason that Kieran is such a beloved character. 

The new devotion guide gives readers an opportunity to dig deeper into the Biblical inspirations that helped inform the book, as well as find personal application. About forty pages of new content, including bonus scenes and a new song composed for the book, make this edition a new experience.

How did you decide where to put in bonus elements?

Working with the publisher, we decided it was important to keep the flow of the story intact and free from distractions. So the book is designed with a large back-of-the-book section that can be used either after finishing the story, or during the reading of the main story. Small symbols and page numbers at the end of chapters direct readers to bonus scenes, and QR symbols in the margin invite readers to explore audio files, or recipes, or rules for playing Perish – all without interrupting the story.

It was important to me that people would feel that it was worth the investment to own The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition, even if they had a copy of the original edition, so we packed this book with lots of added value.

Besides an entertaining read, what do you hope people experience in The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition?

My hope is that readers will catch glimpses of the way the One speaks to each of us in the language we understand, and that we can go to Him with our difficult questions. For those who are walking very painful roads, I hope the story will help them feel acknowledged. The journey is hard, heroic, and sometimes frightening. But we are never alone.

Where can people find the book?

To order The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition:

Kindle version:


Sharon writes “stories for the hero in all of us,” about ordinary people experiencing God’s grace in unexpected ways. Known for their authenticity, emotional range, and spiritual depth, her novels include contemporary fiction such as The Secret Life of Becky Miller or Stepping into Sunlight and the groundbreaking Sword of Lyric fantasy series which includes The Restorer’s Son–Expanded Edition. She’s been a Christy finalist and won three Carol awards.
Sharon’s undergrad degree is in education, and she earned an M.A. in Communication. When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking to conferences, retreats, and church groups. She loves interacting with visitors at her website and blog:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Embittered Ruby by Nicole O'Dell

The Embittered RubyThe Embittered Ruby by Nicole O'Dell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This review is from my daughter who inhaled this book: Sixteen year old Carmen finds herself for an escape from her new home in New Jersey. After her parents divorce, her mom moves her and her sisters to an apartment on the wrong side of town. Everything she knows -- from her family to her friends -- is stripped away and she's desperate to somehow recreate what she once had. When all of her attempts fail, it feels like her life is over. She makes a string of bad choices in her attempt to break free. She's willing to do just about anything if it means creating a new family. These choices lead her to Diamond Estates in Colorado. At Diamond Estates she has to confront the consequences of her choices and decide whether to change or continue on her path. All along God's grace is waiting and wooing her...she just has to choose whether to accept it.

While Carmen made a bunch of bad choices, I liked her story because it showed me that no matter what we do God still loves us and won't leave us. No matter what we've done, God won't turn His back on us. He's still waiting for us to turn to Him. Her story pulled me in -- I literally read this book in one night. It hit our house, and I inhaled it. I also enjoyed the return to Diamond Estates...a place I loved in the first book Wishing Pearl.

View all my reviews

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Nicole O'Dell's Scenario books

Have you read any of Nicole O'Dell's scenario books? Then take a few minutes and let her know here. It's a fun way to interact with her!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Girl Talk by Nicole O'Dell

Are you looking for a resource for the teen or older tween girl in your life? One that answers the questions buzzing through her head? This colorful, magazine-like book could be just the ticket. It's like sitting down with a big sister and couple of friends and asking them the questions plaguing you. With its colorful and wisdom filled pages, this book is designed to be a go-to for young ladies with questions about life.

Questions about life stuff–relationships, body image, fashion. . . ? Look no further! This fabulous resource offers awesome advice from popular author of teen fiction, Nicole O’Dell. 180 days of Q&As plus related scripture selections will encourage and challenge your faith walk.

Popular blogging trio--mother, Nicole O'Dell, along with daughters, Emily and Natalie--offer trustworthy, biblically-based advice with a devotional flavor for girls ages 10 to 16. Culled from actual questions they've encountered on their blog site, this fabulous resource offers real-life helps for girls on issues including relationships, character, body image, fashion, gossip, and more. 

Girls will find 180 questions along with answers and related scripture selections that will both encourage and challenge them in their faith walk. Girl Talk, presented in a trendy format that reads like a magazine, is a super tool for girls' small groups or for individual use. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Halflings: in the vein of Percy Jackson thrillers

Halflings is the debut release by author Heather Burch. It is targeted to teens and has strong supernatural characters. I've been waiting for this book since meeting Heather at ACFW in September. My daughter stole the book the moment it arrived at our house. She literally couldn't put it down, reading it in the car, at the gym and everywhere in between.

Here's what she has to say:

Halflings was a really interesting book. It has a Percy Jackson feel minus the Greek mythology. It has a Christian spin with angels, hell hounds, demons, and other supernatural characters called halflings. All are battling over a teenage girl. The halflings are tasked with protecting her from the dark forces chasing her for unknown reasons. Nikki changes from a normal teenager to a girl fighting for her life. When the halflings first save her, she has no idea what they are other than they are gorgeous. Then she learns they are half angels/half human and determined to save her. She's just as adamant about protecting them. The battle is happening in a realm no one else can see. The Halflings look like normal teenagers to her friends.

Nikki isn't a Christian but through the battles begins to believe there could be more than science can explain. This is definitely the first book in a series that ends with the intensity of books like Percy Jackson.

What I liked most was the characters -- they were amazing because they were vibrant and I could picture them easily. Even though there are creatures in it that I've never seen I cared about them. A must read for lovers of mythic books.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Jerk Magnet Review

When this book arrived at our house, my daughter scooped it up immediately. A day later she returned with it and plea for the next book. Melody Carlson is quickly becoming one of her favorite authors. 

Here's more from my daughter:

What if beauty is more than just skin deep?

Chelsea Martin is a teenager who blends in and is tired of it. She wants to be noticed, but isn't sure how to make that happen. In steps her future stepmother with the expertise and her dad opens his wallet. The next thing she knows, she's going shopping, her old clothes are in the trash, and her eyebrows are waxed. She's gone from plain to jaw-dropping, a transformation that changes her life in more ways than she anticipated. The girls start ignoring her while the guys start gawking. She's not sure she likes the transformation.

After she's moved to California and made a friend, she and her friend hide their identity at youth camp. Chelsea transforms back into her original self with her wallflower ways. She learns that beauty is so much more than skin goes to who you are. 

I enjoyed reading this book because it was filled with humor. At the same time Chelsea made lots of mistakes as she worked through her transformation. She learned to moderate her changes as she learned who she truly was. There are lots of lessons in that as we learn how to become who we really are. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Looking for an Alternative to Twilight?

Today, I'm delighted to introduce you to my friend Heather Burch. Isn't that cover incredible? It's for her debut YA novel, HalflingsI got to know her through first time orientation for the ACFW conference last year. Then I got to spend time with her at the conference. I was delighted to win a basket she donated for the silent auction. And part of that is the copy of her book which is winging its way to my house as I type. I could wait to post this interview until I've read the book, but her book is available now, so wanted to introduce you to her as soon as I could!

Thanks Cara for asking me to stop by and answer a few questions.

Heather, Halflings is your debut novel. How did you come up with the idea for this book?

It had been in the back of my mind for a long time. I wanted to someday write a story about teenagers saving the world. I'm also an X-Men fan so the idea of teens with supernatural abilities was too much to resist. One day I was working on a completely different project and the entire multi-book story arc started forming. I fell in love with the characters right away. They took over my thoughts and very quickly I forgot about the other project and gave Halflings my full attention.

I love it when characters become so real to me they take over my thoughts! This book is targeted at the YA audience. What draws you to write for this group of readers?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The River of Time Series by Lisa Bergren

When my daughter started reading Waterfall, my Kindle disappeared for a week until she had consumed the series. Here's what she says about the book.

I usually don't read a lot of medieval books. So I wasn't sure I would like this one. Boy, was I wrong. I really liked the time travel elements of the story. It was really cool because each time they entered a new world -- slipping from modern times to an medieval setting: battles and more. I really liked the she-wolf element -- the heroines are called the she-wolves of Normandy after a severe battle. Gabby and Lia show Marcelo and his friend that they are capable of fighting right beside the men. The book is packed with action with romance threaded in the story and a small dose of faith. These books are thrilling and great for readers (young and old) who love action and adventure in new settings.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: Confessions of a PK

I picked up this book because my mom ordered it for me. I wasn't sure what I'd think, but was willing to give it a chance. I'm so glad I did. It was AMAZING!

Addison Blakely is a very interesting character because she's a PK (preacher's kid) and that makes her special and unique from most characters in the books I read. I'm not a PK and after reading her story I'm glad! There's so much going on in her life. Dating Wes, the pretty much town thug. Surviving high school. Meeting her dad's expectation. And preparing herself for a marriage between her English teacher and dad.

She finally realizes that being a Christian is more than sitting at church because she has to. She felt the burden of all eyes at all times because she carried her dad's reputation and the church's. In the end she finds the freedom of real faith. I highly recommend to junior high and high school girls who want a great story.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Great Devotional for Tween Girls

It's been awhile since I've talked about books. So with the arrival of the new year (Happy 2012), I thought I'd tell you about a couple devotionals my older kids are working through this year. Both are designed for kids in the 9 to 12 year old range. You can take a peek at both of these devotionals here.

The first is Truth & Dare by Ann-Margaret Hovsepian. This book has a great lay-out. At the beginning of each day's devotion, there is one verse for the girls to read. Then there's a short story or illustration to go with it. That's followed by a Dare: a way to apply the Truth to their thoughts that day and then a triple-dog dare that helps girls bring what they've learned down to their everyday lives. At the end of the page there's a short journaling session. The book reads like they're sitting down with a big sister or older friend, and gleaning from her faith and experience. It also deals with the issues that confront them. Everything from fashion to music to touching the world.

My daughter (11) has a hunger to serve God and grow in her relationship with Him. This devotional gives her an opportunity to do that in a way that isn't too much. Instead, she is reading and interaction with the devotions solely on her own and because she wants to. I love that!

Here's more: "Dare to discover the secrets to a life that sparkles for God. You've got what it takes to make an impact on the world. This devotional is filled with powerful wisdom on everything from godly friendship and serving others to getting along with your parents and worshipping God. It's advice for real life from the greatest BFF of all: your heavenly Father."

Friday I'll tell you about one for boys.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Devotional for Boys

It's a new year filled with new resolutions. Many of us are hoping to deepen our faith in and relationship with God. The question is how? Well, if you know any tween boys, I've got a devotional that might help.

Triple Dog Dare is designed to fill a year with devotions for boys. Written by Jeremy V. Jones, it is similar to Truth & Dare, only clearly targeted at the slingshot toting sex. The layout is one verse a day, followed by a summary truth, a short devotional, and a triple dare to apply the truth. Then there's a chance to journal, but without the pretty lines in the girls' version. Each week focuses on a different emotion like Fear, Shame, Pride, etc. and in the bottom right-hand corner, there's a graphic that acts like a flipbook. It's a very cool devotional that will challenge the young men in your life to go deeper with God.

My older son is 8, so hasn't quite picked it up on his own yet, but wants to. A little prompting from me, and I know he'll dive into it. Why?

Watch this trailer and see for yourself:

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