Saturday, December 7, 2013


Hello friends, it really is me....apologizing for my long absence from this blog.  The past few months have been a true testing of not only my life in numerous ways, but of my family, my mother, my church and my personal computer.  First of all, I turned 75 in October and am wondering if the Lord decided to test me to let me know I'm still capable of coming to the fore and meeting new challenges.
Plans had been made for my daughter and I to visit my mother during the month of November for the purpose of celebrating her 95th birthday and Thanksgiving.  We arrived in Portland, Oregon from Texas, met mama and my brother at the airport and stopped for a lovely dinner at Appleby's before going to mama's home where she and my brother live.  We settled down for the night completely unexpecting to be awakened early in the morning to mama having a stroke.  We rushed her fearfully to the emergency room at Providence Hospital in Portland beginning to realize that it truly was providential that we were there with mother.  Five days in the hospital, praying diligently for answers.  God blessed my mother with grace to continue her life, only quite different from what she was accustomed.  Her balance and ability to walk without help was drastically changed - and physical/occupational therapy began before leaving the hospital and will continue indefinitely at home.
Now...became a tougher test for me in particular.  Over the past twelve years of personally experiencing illness and physical setbacks, I became somewhat physically immobilized - enough that my husband became my caregiver, cook, housekeeper, chauffeur and encourager.  In Portland, God blessed me with a supernatural strength to nurse mama, cook, etc for the entire month of our visit.  It was difficult, to say the least - and oh, how grateful that I was able to help in this crises.  My daughter was extremely helpful during all of this time and has my loving appreciation.  And yes, we celebrated mama's 95th birthday and were very thankful at Thanksgiving.  Of course, now that I am home again, my husband is convinced that he will be the recipient of home cooked meals from his wife again.  So, Lord, hear my prayer!!
Before leaving for Portland, my personal computer gagged, hiccuped and passed out.  One of my sons is a computer specialist and lives in Illinois.  It's not possible for me to explain the logistics of how he was able to work on my computer in my absence from Texas....but I'm relieved to announce that during the coming week, my computer will show up on my desk once more.  In the meanwhile, I've been using an aged laptop, my Samsung tablet  and cell phone to communicate with the world.  Those authors who had requested my reviews kindly understood why I could not finish my work during this time.
However.....the testing isn't over yet!!  We arrived home hours before the ice age took over and we are still housebound.  But, this too shall pass and we know not what plans the Lord has in store for us - so our prayers rise to the heavens like mini-clouds of breath. Sure hope they aren't delayed by icicles hanging from their ascension.
Well friends, I can't promise a definite date when I'll be blogging, reviewing and writing again......but....I'll be back when the Lord assigns the time.  Stay safe during the rush and busyness of this season of celebrations.  Be blessed with the grace of Jesus at this festive observance of His birth.

Monday, October 28, 2013


It seemed a normal spring morning in Savannah until Jonathan Rayburn heard an angelic voice on Monterey Square. Within moments of setting eyes upon the exceptionally beautiful Keri McGuire, he welcomed her to his beloved city and into his heart. In the days ahead, his faith is severely tested because of one homeless man and a civil lawsuit. Daniel Stanton, a busy attorney in St. Augustine, arrived at Mrs. Quinn’s home, questioning why his father’s client has requested his legal advice. One portrait upstairs caught his attention; one nearly identical portrait in the music room captured his wishful thoughts. Never in his life had he been so disappointed when he actually met the granddaughter from Milwaukee. While Laura Martin challenged his ethics, he prayed to be a man of conviction.


It was a surprise to me that more reviews hadn’t been written on this beautifully composed story about Springtime in Savannah by Gail Warner.  Truly, this story does not stand alone – but of several stories skillfully intertwined to keep the reader drawn in.  Each story has the possibility of being complete as one – but to include so many well defined characters, each with different personalities and problems, was done with proficient cleverness by Ms. Warner.

The author went deep into research on the history of Savannah, as well as interesting facts that I would never have known without reading this novel.  At times, I felt I was reading a travelogue which made the scenery in my mind vivid through the color of illustrious scripting.  The story is lengthy – and never boring.

What can I say about this story that wouldn’t add spoilers to future readers?  My heart was warmed by the conversions to faith in Jesus.  Some of the characters were idiosyncratic and unlikeable.  I fell in love with those characters that were fun in spite of themselves.  My compassion lay with the emotionally and physically abused with admiration for their passion to change their lives through Christ.  The love interests were enthralling and romantic.  Budding romance was proven unpredictable in the length of time and adversities the couples faced.  I sensed this author was emotionally involved with her characters, as I also felt.  Her characters and situations were so real that I found myself praying for those in the story that continued to sin and live evilly.  It felt silly to pray – Gail had already decided their outcome!  Will there be hope for these individuals in Gail’s story?  You’ll be amazed as you watch God working in the lives of all under the pen of Gail Warner. 

Ms Warner shows herself a person of deep faith in God; in tune with reality of our world today and historically, and that she is intelligent and capable of sculpting words with such an inspiring touch.  Gail is an accomplished author that I will follow and look forward to her future publications.  Whew, I got through this review without spoilers….so if you want to meet the characters, learn the answers, take a guided tour of Savannah – history included -  you’ll need to get you own copy!


Gail Warner's parents joined the family of God five years before she was born, and they faithfully attended a large rural Nazarene Church named Richfield, near Flint, Michigan. For thirty-five years, Gail's varied roles as a minister's wife brought her great fulfillment and opportunities to witness for Christ. With fond memories, she recalls the years in a parsonage setting, where she and her husband, Richard, raised three outstanding daughters. Gail finds joy in traveling with their family, singing in a quartet, working in her flower garden, participating in Beth Moore Bible studies, and connecting with friends on Facebook. Though she is a five-time cancer survivor, she thanks God for giving her good health. Gail lives with her husband in Illinois, but because of Eugenia Price's novels, she has a love for historical places.


Friday, October 4, 2013


Sarah Cummings has one goal in life--to break into Chicago's high society. Desperate to stop serving dinner and to start eating at society tables, Sarah alters cast-off gowns from the wealthy Banning women to create lustrous, flattering dresses of her own. On a whim at a chance meeting, she presents herself as Serena Cuthbert, weaving a fictitious past to go with her fictitious name. But as she gets closer to Simon Tewell, the director of St. Andrew's Orphanage, Sarah finds that she must choose between the life she has and the life she dreams of. Will she sacrifice love to continue her pretense? Or can Simon show her that sometimes you don't have to pretend for dreams to come true? Olivia Newport brings us back to Prairie Avenue to explore the place where class, social expectations, and romance come together. Readers will enjoy following the intrepid Sarah as she searches for true love in a world of illusions.

MY REVIEW..............

Feeling somewhat at a loss having not read the first two books in this series, I nevertheless enjoyed The Invention of Sarah Cummings as a standalone story.  Olivia Newport was unfamiliar to me as an author and I presently regard her highly as a fine writer and am excited to read her future works.  The time period of late 1800’s is a favorite of mine in this historical genre.

It was difficult at times not to be a tad judgmental of Sarah’s choices; but learning her background definitely gave me more understanding and compassion toward her as an individual.  She was impetuous, to say the least and at first, quite unlikeable.  Without that compelling characteristic, the story wouldn’t have taken hold of my interest as it did.  Ms Newport’s story is rich in history around the 1800’s time frame, including the political tensions on all sides of the presidential election between William McKinley vs. William Jennings Bryan.  The author obviously is a deep researcher into historical facts which lends completely in writing truth into fiction – a very admirable quality.

Chicago high society in that day is snobbish and discriminating – developing a wide gap in expected behavior between the rich and the poor, particularly those in service to the “polite society.”  Sarah Cummings became an orphan in her early teens through a tragic loss of both parents.  Without anyone to take guardianship over her, she was placed in St Andrews Orphanage, where she met Simon Tewell, the director of St Andrews who had a secret affinity for Sarah.  Sarah had no faith in a God that would allow such misfortune and unhappiness in her life.  She was empty and developed some vindictive conniving habits that she felt deservedly would take her where she wanted to go.  A chance meeting in a hat shop with a young lady of culture, Lillie Wagner was the beginning of Sarah Cummings new identity as Serena Cuthbert with an impressive new history of living the life of wealthy infamy.  Lillie and Serena became instant and fast friends.

So – here we go, hold onto your hat!  Lillie takes Serena in hand and introduces her to the society of Chicago and Prairie Avenue, where coincidently Sarah was in service as a maid to the Banning family.  Sarah, talented with a needle and thread and could fashion her own clothing from hand-me-downs with an aura perceived as high fashion readily disguising her as the wealthy young woman of good grace named Serena Cuthbert.  Story tension builds when Serena meets Bradley Townsend and targets him as husband material.  Bradley is involved in the political scene with a life of his own that caused the infrequent dates that was frustrating to Serena.

Serena exploited others unwisely in her endeavors to exist in her disguise.  Serena’s antics at being in two places at once, her deceptions, her unique contriving  routes of travel, and lies was dizzying.  I felt I needed to keep a score card going page after page of Sarah’s demise as Serena could head for a downfall at any time.  In my mind, I fathomed Ms Newport still held a few surprising shocks ahead, which kept me involved.  Would waiting for Serena and Sarah to meet the real Creator be fulfilled?  Candidly, there is nothing further I can share with you about this finely structured tale without ruining your own joy in reading Sarah/Serena’s story.   Olivia Newport has written a story of what can happen to anyone without proper respect and value for God’s love, grace and tender mercies.  Great lessons can be learned from this worthwhile and imaginative writing skill of Ms Olivia Newport’s Invention of Sarah Cummings.

About the Author..................

Olivia Newport is the author of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning and The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow. Her husband and two twentysomething children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is. Olivia Newport's novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet.

Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

I received this book through Revell's Blogger Tour, and was not required to give a positive review.

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Friday, September 6, 2013



Scarlet isn't sure if she has just the right ingredients for true love--or utter disaster

Scarlet Lindsey is busy making her dreams come true. She's moved her bakery to a prime spot on Galveston's most popular street, she's planning an extravagant cake for her best friend's wedding, and she has a great relationship with Bella Neeley, the island's most popular wedding coordinator. Business is booming and Scarlet is enjoying the ride.

But when Bella's dangerously handsome brother Armando breezes into her life, Scarlet is faced with a sticky situation. Should she stay with the safe, sweet guy who's been a fixture in her life for years? Or will this brash Italian hunk melt her guarded heart?

Fan favorite Janice Thompson is back with more wit, more weddings, and more of what you love best--bridal-business drama laced with laughs.

"Not only does Janice Thompson know how to spin a delightful tale, she knows weddings and wedding cakes. If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes, take a big bite of this sweet, romantic story. It will leave you laughing and looking for the nearest confectionary!"--Lisa Wingate, bestselling author of Firefly Island and The Prayer Box

"Janice Thompson has done it again! From characters that will jump right off the page and into your heart to a story that had me laughing even as I cheered them on, The Icing on the Cakeis a sweet treat. I urge you to indulge--you won't be sorry!"--Kathleen Y'Barbo, bestselling author of The Secret Lives of Will Tucker series


Before I opened “Icing on the Cake” written by Janice Thompson, I anticipated lots of fun and many surprises.  Janice’s sense of humor and tongue in cheek quotations at the beginning of each chapter were so entertaining – my favorite being “Families are like fudge, mostly sweet with a few nuts.” (Author unknown)  Having read the prequel “Picture Perfect,” in this series – Weddings by Design -   many of the characters were familiar to me in the beautiful setting on Galveston Island.  Janice’s stories are written ingeniously around wedding productions created by Bella Neely and Club Wed; and the whole cast of characters from Bella’s odd family; Scarlett’s family and other familiar characters like Hannah and Drew whose wedding is being planned in this episode.  There is not a family on this Island that isn’t sweet with a few nuts!

Our main character Scarlett Lindsey had just opened her own bakery, Let Them Eat Cake, on the popular Strand.  Her friend Kenny worked in the bakery and had a crush on Scarlett, however she was a bit of two minds where romance with Kenny was concerned.  Little did Scarlett know what she was in for when her spinster Aunt Willy, an infamous first-rate chef, financed Scarlett’s venture.  Not only was Scarlett planning an elaborate wedding cake for her best friend Hannah’s wedding, she was in charge of planning the church fund raiser. 

We met Armando, Bella’s brother, in “Picture Perfect” as the problem child of the Rossi family with a reputation of being a real womanizer.  He swept in and out of the first story like a bird on the fly and had a dislike for staying on the Island.  Scarlett had issues with her self-image because of being overweight.  Many, including “moi” can relate to her inner feelings and insecurities.  Let Them Eat Cake was located next door to John’s Pizzeria where Armando worked in his family’s business.  Scarlett and Armando found themselves pushed together at a Rossi family event – not at all to Scarlett’s liking.  An indefinite relationship sets in motion…and Scarlett begins to perceive Armando differently.  He volunteers to help solve the sound problem at the church which meant more time spent in each other’s company.  When Scarlett fills in for Armando’s mother on a Food Network competition with a secret recipe for Italian Wedding Cake, she decides to drop a few pounds so she’ll look better on camera.  Now the real fun begins, so hold onto your hat!

Ms Thompson has an innate talent at developing a plot that serves the heart in hilarity to sentiment along with beautiful spirituality throughout.  What does “sticky buns” and “Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy” have to do with Scarlett’s anxiety?  It was entertaining as the author allowed the reader into Scarlett’s inner thoughts and I laughed loudly at the zany debates she argued with herself.  One never knows what to expect in the stories Janice Thompson writes.  She is perceptive in creating characters that are well rounded and real.  Her characters build as the story moves forward and can be loved in one chapter and disliked in the next.  Scarlett reminded me so much of myself that that I wondered who might have been the role model for Janice.  Honestly, I’ve never met Janice Thompson in my life….although I’d consider it an honor to do so.


Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner. She is the author of the Weddings by Bella series and the Backstage Pass series, as well as Picture Perfect. She lives in Texas. 

Visit for more.

This book was provided for review by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013




The red warning light on her car dashboard drove Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico. But as she encounters the people who make Last Chance their home, it's her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. 

These people are entirely too nice, 
too accommodating, 
                          and too interested in her personal life for Lainie's comfort--especially since she's on the run 
and hoping to slip away unnoticed.

Yet in spite of herself, Lainie finds that she is increasingly drawn in to the dramas of small town life. An old church lady who always has room for a stranger. A handsome bartender with a secret life. A single mom running her diner and worrying over her teenage son. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little hick town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?

Cathleen Armstrong pens a debut novel filled with complex, lovable characters making their way through life and relationships the best they can. Her evocative descriptions, observational humor, and talent at rendering romantic scenes will earn her many fans.


What goes on in a small town?  Plenty!  Lainie Davis was about to find out that dark desolate night her crippled used Mustang rolled to a dead stop in Last Chance, New Mexico, abruptly ending her escape from life in Palm Springs to El Paso where she would be safe with her friend Lindsay…at least for awhile.  Her phone was also dead and the only light was in the High Lonesome Saloon across the parking lot where her car had given up the ghost.  Was this a dead end to her running as far as possible from the threatening dangerous ex-boyfriend, Nick?

The bartender Ray wasn’t too warm toward frazzled Lainie when she dragged into the bar to ask for answers about what to do next.  The town’s only motel was closed while the owner was attending a mayor’s convention.  She would need to wait until morning to contact the only mechanic in town.  While in the bar, the town drunk Les tried to “be friendly” with her and Ray squelched that, telling Les to go sit in the truck and wait for him to take him home after he closed the bar.  Lainie appeared brazen when she asked if Ray had an empty spot for her.  In desperate resolve she slept in her car.

Lainie began to experience the kindness offered to strangers when she entered the Dip ‘n’ Dine café across the street from the High Lonesome Saloon the next morning.  Fayette, the owner, recognized immediately that Lainie was in desperate straits and offered her a shower, breakfast and even called Elizabeth to ask if Lainie could stay with her while the car was being fixed.  That arranged. Lainie was uncomfortable over Elizabeth’s insistence that members of her household attend church.  However she trudged on to meet this unusual woman with momentary promise of rescue.

After showering, Lainie found something hidden in her backpack that sickened her and filled her with fear.  The package she found was evidently put there by Nick.  During her time in the café, she was able to contact her friend Lindsay and heard frightening news that Nick had called Lindsay looking for her.  Never before had Lainie had so many people, strangers at that be so concerned for her well being.  In a way it caused her to feel like running “like the wind.”   She noticed a police car pulling up to the café and wasn’t sure what to do by then, so she slapped a ten dollar bill on the counter and headed for the door when Fayette called out that she had change coming.

And indeed, Lainie had many changes coming!    Last Chance was certainly a town where everybody – all 743 - knows your name….and your business.  Cathleen Armstrong wrote her characters well with defining qualities about each one.    Everyone has a personality that’s either strong, weak or somewhere in between.  It was an engrossing read, so much so that it kept me from getting my needed rest at night.  Having been born and raised in a small town, I could identify with those things considered normal or unusual that happens in Everytown, USA.

Ms Armstrong writes strongly with color and conveys vividly the beauty of the country around Last Chance; romance with caution between the characters; the true Christian nature of the Last Chance residents; and problems in single parenting a self-indulgent child.  Lainie wasn’t familiar with Christian principles and values, but surprised herself when she sought to know more about God….and particularly when she began singing in the church choir. Cathleen Armstrong left a few conclusions unwrapped and hopefully this fine author will give another chance at a sequel to Lainie’s last chance.

About Cathleen Armstrong

Cathleen Armstrong lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi. Though she has been in California for many years now, her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives. After she and Ed raised three children, she returned to college and earned a BA in English. Welcome to Last Chancewon the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for Women's Fiction.

“Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

I received this book through the Revell Book Blogger's Tour, and was not required to give a positive review.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


"My Dearest Emily... When you were a little girl, a change occurred in you. You lost a piece of yourself somewhere....But when you were here in Plaster Rock, you bloomed........
The stories we told with these buttons made you smile. With your smile came hope..............

Repeat the stories you've been told to your own children, never forgetting that God was there in every situation, in every story held inside this box..."

Growing up, Emily Evans of Run, River Currents had always shared a special understanding with her grandfather, John Polk, even when she couldn't fully see beyond the darkness of her father's abuse. Yet John looked to the future in faith to what his God could do.

Years after her grandfather's death, the unexpected delivery of the decorated tin, still brimming with odd-colored buttons, unlocks the joyous memories and lets Emily realize she has finally discovered the secret her grandfather promised lay within the stories of the worn button box.

Told through the eyes of a godly grandfather, The Button Legacy laces together a godly heritage and the power of one man's prayers, offering a lesson of how God's grace can be seen even in the simplest thing--a button.


Ginger Marcinkowski’s stories about buttons that reveal family memories is my first read from this fine author.  I was immediately drawn into the Polk family saga and recalled the “buttons” in my own life.  Both of my grandmothers saved buttons in lovely old tins, as well as an elderly next door neighbor lady that I visited often.  How I loved going through those buttons and admiring the sparkly ones mostly, but bright colors and odd shapes piqued my imagination over and over.  I wonder if all my questions about these peculiar items were a nuisance to their collectors.

Back to the story at hand, John Polk’s family was ordinary, in that their ups and downs, dreams, tragedies, and faith in God were much like other families.  The subtle difference was the loving Christian characterization of John Polk.  I felt like part of the family around the blazing fire listening to John reveal memories through a button picked from an old tin box by one of his two daughters, grandchildren or himself
John’s daughters were different from each other in their reactions to John’s revelations.  Maureen, the oldest, displayed boredom with indifference.  Carol, the youngest, more like her gentle mother Ellen, was always caught up in the story and grasped the value of God’s ultimate message.  Maureen was becoming rebellious in her identity and a worry to her parents.

In fact, John had displayed rebellion in his youth that led to a drunken experience ending in tragedy; ultimately realizing the need for God’s love and forgiveness in his life.  This story began in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, Canada 1956 – nostalgic to my own years of being a teen and related easily to the years that followed to 1997 when this story concluded in a poignant intention of carrying on this family tradition.

When I began reading this sweet novella, I was unaware that it is a sequel to Ms Marcinkowski’s Run, River Currents.  Wishing I had read it before The Button Legacy, I intend to read Ginger Marcinkowski’s Run, River Currents soon.  The character of John’s granddaughter, Emily, was bittersweet and the favorite of her “Grampy” John.  Emily Evans, being the daughter of Maureen, might have followed in her mother’s footsteps; however Grampy John was wise in the Lord, and effective in teaching a lesson of trust.

Rich and deep in meaning of God’s love are Ginger Marcinkowski’s words – so compelling in faith and knowledge of God’s Word.  The humor is addictive, causing giggles so hard my bed shook.  The button stories gather personal emotions of happiness and tears.  How our lives parallel our neighbors as well as in the generations before us are awesome and amazing to witness God’s touch throughout.  Well done, Ms Marcinkowski.  Thank you for writing loud words of joyful noise.

I received a free kindle copy of this story from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my honest review.


Instructors of Creative Writing repeated the words, "The first book any new writer pens is the book that had to be written." I now fully understand those words. For three gut-wrenching years, my debut book, Run, River Currents, begged to be put to paper. My intent was to write a humorous biography about my mother, a woman who raised a boat-load of children on her own. But for some reason, I could not make the stories resonate, so the humor turned to heartbreak as the story was released from me...coaxed by a writer whose own heart somehow understood the story that was within.
The Button Legacy tells the much happier "rest of the story," as well as the background of my godly grandfather, whom God used in Emily's life to ultimately lead her to Himself. Lacing together a godly heritage and the power of one man's prayers, The Button Legacy offers a lesson of how God's grace can be seen even in the simplest thing--a button.


Ginger Marcinkowski was born in northern Maine along the Canadian border, a setting that plays a prominent role in Run, River Currents. She is a daughter of divorced parents and is one of eight siblings.

Her debut novel, Run, River Currents, was published in August 2012 and was a 2012 semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis Awards, also winning honorable mentions in national awards and festivals. The Button Legacy, published in June 2013, was written as a prequel / sequel to Run, River Currents.

Ginger has been a public speaker and visiting lecturer for many years. She has been a professional reader for the James Jones First Novel Award ($10,000 prize), and is currently a judge for the East-West Writer's Contest and a reader for the ACFW First Impressions award.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013



Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming and hanging out with friends—until that day. Her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a great quarterback, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals pay.

Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture. A clue sends them deep into the woods behind the school where they overhear drug dealers discuss Sean.

Time and time again they walk a treacherous path and come face to face with danger. Even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.

MY REVIEW.......

Gail Pallotta has written an important story of fiction concerning several realistic situations.  This exceptional story is the first I’ve read geared toward teens and young adults; and an enlightening book particularly for parents of teens to read regarding the evil existence of drugs and steroids found in and around our school systems.

Written as a teen mystery, I was quickly drawn into the story as Margaret McWhorter hears her brother Sean explaining to his father that he was replaced as a quarterback on the high school football team.  Dad begins chastising Sean about failing to live up to his high standards of athleticism expected.  After all, dad still rode on his laurels of being a star college quarterback.  Margaret herself is a champion swimmer on the Meriwether School swim team, and feels the sting of criticism for her brother, being familiar with this drill of denigration herself.  Margaret is a typical teen as a freshman in that she wants to have fun, good friends, a boyfriend, make good grades, and to experience all the excitement in life possible within the barriers of parental constraint.  She and Sean have a close relationship – Sean being the quieter, more reserved of the two.

Ms Pallotta’s story rapidly suspends into shock and grief when Margaret receives a call from her mother that Sean has suffered a stroke and is comatose in the hospital.  Sean had taken a Steroid called Winstrol V, intended to increase athletic prowess, which he had apparently obtained illegally.  In researching Winstrol V, to find out if it was fictional or an actual drug, the evidence proved it is real and very dangerous to use unprescribed or if the program isn’t followed with the help of an instructor. She and her parents meet Detective Garrett in Sean’s hospital room.  He is an undercover cop and told Margaret he would be hanging around the favorite teen grill during his investigation and asked her to keep her eyes and ears open for any pertinent information that would help his investigation.

Margaret spent many frustrating hours alone worrying about Sean while her parents were at the hospital.  Even though she continued attending her classes and swim meets alone, her anger at the unknown drug pushers that sold Sean the drug haunted her until Margaret began a plan along with her best friend Emily - a Buddhist, and her school crush Jimmy to solve this mystery.  From this point in the story – I was compelled to work along with Margaret to solve this crime…..Gail Pallotta did a superb job of keeping it mysterious to the end.  I held my breath in many instances of danger for the kids.  It was obvious from the beginning that Margaret was blaming her dad for Sean’s bad choice of taking the drug.

When does a child first become aware of God being there for them?  The beauty of Margaret’s spiritual growth and trust in God grew like a beautiful fragrant flower.  Her mother was a believer and she learned much about the Lord from her; however she didn’t understand the behavior her dad displayed toward attending church and spiritual beliefs.  She didn’t expect miracles, but she prayed for one…...or two.  Gail Pallotta has my admiration and some jealousy toward her creative talent of character development.  They are as finely tuned as a lovely stringed instrument, each having a different song to play in the story.

As a parent, grandparent and a great-grandparent – this story jolted me into a fresh awareness of what seems to be a never ending problem of family dysfunction and drugs, a battle my family has dealt with in the past.  Bad decisions lead to disastrous outcomes; however Ms Pallotta’s story reveals faith and prayer as the favorable choice to change behaviors and attitudes.  Thank you, Gail, for asking me to read your wonderful book.  God’s grace certainly flows from your quill.


Best-selling, award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator and an
after-school literary instructor. 
A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her new teen novel, Stopped Cold, is a best-seller on All Romance ebooks. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. 

Readers can find her on the internet on the staff of Clash of the Titles, 

Thursday, July 4, 2013



The Lewis Legacy Series, Books 1-3:

A Christian Romance Boxed Set

by JoAnn Durgin

The Lewis Legacy Series Boxed Set collects the first three books--Awakening, Second Time Around, and Twin Hearts--in JoAnn Durgin's popular Christian romance series. 

A God-fearing man. A God-seeking woman. For Sam Lewis and Lexa Clarke, it proves a combustible combination. You’ll keep turning the pages of this sweeping romantic adventure. With great characters, plenty of humor, enough emotion to make you shed a tear or two, and an ending that’ll have you cheering, Awakening will leave you breathless. Hold on tight.

Second Time Around:
Newlyweds Marc and Natalie Thompson have it all, but two months after the wedding, Natalie suffers a horrible fall. Not only does she not remember their life together, but now Marc has a personal timeline to reconnect with her—seven months. You’ll root for them as they fight against the odds to find their way back to one another...the second time around.

Twin Hearts:
Joshua is a man redeemed. It’s been more than four years since the fateful events in San Antonio when Sam threw him out of the missions camp, and he’s still haunted by the bittersweet memory of his final meeting with another volunteer. When he also seeks her forgiveness, he gets the shock of his life. Could turning his deepest sin into his greatest blessing be God’s answer for his hurting heart?

Get ready for romance, adventure, friendship, faith and family in each installment of the Lewis Legacy Series with Sam and Lexa Lewis and their lively TeamWork Missions volunteers.

Don’t forget to download Daydreams, Book Four in the Lewis Legacy Series, now available!


JoAnn Durgin’s writing began reflecting who she is in Christ with the first novel in this trilogy – The Lewis Legacy.  What fun and imagination she wrote into “Awakening,” the story of Lexa Clark and Sam Lewis and the beginning of their romance…in fact a hint of several romances being shaped through God’s plans.  The thought occurred to me often that this possibly was actually a recounting of the truth about a real romance written as fiction.  It takes place in Sam’s TeamWork camp, a Christian mission summer setting with interesting characters to know and love as this trilogy continues.  I recall this book was one of the first I reviewed ever…and I simply wrote:  “A delightful and heartwarming story about Sam Lewis and Lexa Clark in their romantic duel.  You’ll need to read this sweet book to find out who won!”  My rating was five stars.  So with that noted, let’s venture on to JoAnn Durgin’s next five star stories…….
The Second Time Around was written on a more serious tone including mystery and adventure about Sam & Lexa’s friends, newlyweds Mark and Natalie.  JoAnn was right on target immersing her love of the Lord in His many ways explaining WWJD (What would Jesus do?) in the numerous sub-stories.  Each of JoAnn’s writings indicates her development of writing skills and obedience to God’s Word.  She definitely listens in her still small moments for God’s voice.  My review quote – “JoAnn's second book, "The Second Time Around," builds on the story of other friends of Sam & Lexa,  newlyweds Mark and Natalie. This book involves the trust and renewal of faith in God as well as suspense involving the amnesia of one of the partners early in the newlywed's marriage due to an untimely accident. Guilt preys on the mind of the other partner because the accident could have been prevented had they performed a needed repair on rotten wood steps. The couple struggles painfully to renew the marriage and bring back the memory of the injured spouse being married to the other. Sam & Lexa are the catalysts of friendship who help the couple find solutions. An engaging story you'll not be able to put down until you find out what happens... mysteries will be answered with God's help.”

“Twin Hearts,” - again, JoAnn’s increased skill at good clean Christian writing is about the redemption of the sins of a former TeamWork member.  It is a tear jerker, a heartwarmer – a “can’t put this book down” read regarding the surprising blessings that occur in Ms Durgin’s quality writing about sin and redemption.  Again, JoAnn listens to that still small voice within that develops an even more interesting story from one talented writer.  JoAnn is an extraordinary story teller.  She never stoops beneath the line of dignity to enlighten a story about matters not easily discussed.  Twin Hearts received my 5 star rating and this review: “ JoAnn Durgin and God were in constant consultation while this book was being written. Twin Hearts is JoAnn's finest and most tender story, in my estimation. The characters come alive off the page, she develops them so vividly. She writes the details so clearly I felt myself wanting to enter into verbal conversation with the characters. JoAnn wrote in perfectly ethical situations and outcomes. I love the people and characters in this series of books. I can't wait for her next work. I know it will be a clear collaboration with our Abba father. With that kind of guidance....JoAnn can't go wrong!”

Oh yes, it’s easy to recommend all of JoAnn’s writings.  Her very soul and love for Jesus appears in every page.  From the moment of our friendship until this day – I am blessed knowing JoAnn Durgin in a more personal way, sharing about our lives and supporting one another in love and prayer.  JoAnn’s sweet soul appears in each new writing.  It has been my privilege to review her recent awesome publishings; and encourage you to read everything she writes in the future and catch up on her past novels.  God has truly blessed JoAnn with many fruits of the Spirit that makes her an inspiration to me, and a respected friend.

About the Author:

JoAnn Durgin lives with her husband, Jim, and their three children in southern Indiana and works as a full-time administration paralegal in Louisville, Kentucky. She’s a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Louisville Christian Writers.

Please visit her at or at Author JoAnn Durgin on Facebook.

Saturday, June 22, 2013




Every year, young Amish men descend on the cozy little town of West Kootenai, Montana, arriving in the spring to live there for six months and receive 'resident' status for the hunting season in the fall.  They arrive as bachelors, but go home with brides!  In The Promise Box, the second book of best-selling author Tricia Goyer's Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series, Lydia Wyse, a book editor from Seattle who grew up Amish, returns to the small community of West Kootenai to give comfort to her father after her mother's death.  She is drawn back to the familiar Amish ways after finding her mother's most precious possession, a Promise Box of prayers and scripture.  What her publisher sees, though is an opportunity for a sensational 'tell-all' book about the Amish.  Lydia soon finds herself falling in love with Amish bachelor Gideon Hooley.  She wants nothing more than to forget her past and look forward to a future as an Amish bride.  But will the pain of her childhood---and her potential betrayal of her community---keep her from committing her whole heart?

MY REVIEW.......

Each of Trish Goyer’s latest novels I read is better than the last, and I marvel at how she can do that!  The Promise Box is no exception – it is my favorite so far of her series “Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors.”

Lydia and Gideon’s story has a sad beginning.  Lydia Wyse, adopted by Amish parents at birth, left that upbringing to enter the English world and became a book editor in Seattle.  She returned home to West Kootenai, Montana upon the death of her mother to care for her dat during the funeral and for an unplanned time afterward.  Gideon Hooley, an Amish bachelor who has come to the community temporarily for the hunting season, which is a popular draw of young Amish bachelors to learn the skills of this sport.  Gideon has ghosts of his own from the past that haunt and puzzle him.  He hopes to find answers in the town of what happened there years before while his family visited and a tragedy involving Gideon occurred of which he has no memory.

These young folks had an eventful and humorous meeting which kindled Gideon’s mistrust of Lydia’s English appearance and snapping pictures (not Amish approved) of him while he was in a horse training session with Blue, an untempered equestrian beauty.  There were definitely sparks – some of anger, while some were instant attraction between the two.  Gideon did not know who Lydia was, and that she was also taking pictures of her home in the background and familiar scenes to her.

Ms Goyer’s story is extremely emotional and heart rendering.  Lydia struggles with a decision about returning to the Amish life, being accepted and not shunned by the community, and wanting to clear up the mystery surrounding her adoption.  She yearns to be a writer and considers the notion of writing about her returning to the Amish faith.  She fights temptation from her Seattle editor and friend who encourages her in this respect.  Life is full of unknowns and uncertainties for Lydia and Gideon.  Both young people are caught in the time of their lives when their choices could alter their lives destructively.

Personally, I can relate to the adoption issue for Lydia because I have three adopted children, now grown.  I cheered and thanked God for Lydia’s mem’s box full of God’s promises and letters to Lydia.  Will Lydia find her way through her mem’s words and confidences?  How about Gideon…can he express his love and possibly marry an Englisher?  Are they the mates God has chosen for each other?  What will happen to dat if Lydia chooses not to stay and care for him?  Will Lydia learn who her birth parents are?  What will Gideon do about finding the answers to the mystery in his life?  Will pain heal?

The sub-title for Trish Goyer’s Promise Box might have been The Englisher and the Horse Whisperer.  Trish writes a wonderful story with much depth on each page.  It is realistic for today’s world concerning Amish communities and lifestyle.  Pay close attention to the answers God graces Lydia and Gideon with during their confusion and hunt for reasons to turn their lives completely to Him.  Trish Goyer is a strict master author on God’s interventions and I admire her own faith.  She is indeed an artist at painting God’s word into her writings.
So, for the answer to all the questions above, you will not hear the answers from me.  You’ll need to get the book on your own and read, read, read.  Oh, don’t forget the tissues while reading.  And….this is only Book Two, so far, and I’m watching for Book Three to see how she could possibly write a better story than The Promise Box!


Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of one, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. A bestselling author, Tricia has published thirty-three books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee. In 2010, she was selected as one of the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Twitter by Tricia is also on the blogging team at, and other homeschooling and Christian sites.

In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. She is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, and she currently leads a Teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, AR. Tricia, along with a group of friends, recently launched, sharing ideas about simplifying life. She also hosts the weekly radio podcast, Living Inspired. Learn more about Tricia at

Thank you Litfuse for providing a review copy.  Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.