Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Illustrator's Notetaking Bible for Teens

Do you like to take notes in your Bible? Are you a fan of coloring? If you said "yes" to both of these questions, then this Bible is for you! It is perfect for Bible journaling.

What was my first impression of this Bible? I loved it! There are over 600 illustrations to color, as well as wide margins for taking notes (or adding your own illustrations, if you're inclined to do so!). 

This Bible is the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible) translation, which is very easy to read and understand. At the beginning of the Bible, there is a description of the HCSB translation, for those unfamiliar with it. There are questions throughout the Bible which help the reader in their study. These include: 
  • How to read and study the Bible
  • What makes the Bible so special?
  • If I can't see God, how do I know He's real?
  • Why does God allow evil?
  • What's your worldview?

The Bible lays flat, making it very easy to read, color, or take notes. It contains twelve pages of "study helps," which includes the bullet notes (something specific to the HCSB Translation). A yearly study plan is listed in the back, as well as numerous colored maps. There is also a beautiful ribbon marker. It is written in 8-point text and contains 1376 pages.  It is the perfect size to allow creativity, as well as be a functional Bible for everyday reading and study.

While this Bible is labeled for teens (ages 11-18, or grade level 6-12), I feel it is appropriate for adults, too :-) It would be a perfect addition for someone wanting to share the Bible journaling experience with their daughter, sister, etc. If you are looking to deepen your spiritual walk, this is certainly a Bible to check out.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher as part of the B&H Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review.

Here's the link to the Bible on the publisher's website, where it can be purchased. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

"Fractured Memory" by Jordyn Redwood

In celebration of her latest release, Jordyn has graciously offered to give away a copy of the book (print copy). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends August 5, 2016.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

A Word from Jordyn...

The beginning of Fractured Memory was actually inspired by a television murder mystery show (Dateline or 48 Hours) where police showed up at a woman’s door one morning and told her a hit had been put on her life and she needed to leave with them right then and there. Can you imagine? Putting your life in the hands of an utter stranger? Of course, I had to come up with my own plot with some medical thriller action thrown in. 

Q & A with Jordyn...

Q:  How did you start writing?
A:  I've always had a love of writing. I started writing short stories when I was in elementary school.  One of my very first stories was about a rabbit who had to go to the "hoppyital" because I couldn't spell "hospital." I guess I was always destined to be a nurse who writes medical thrillers.

Q:  I love that! Hoppyital :) What are your thoughts on the publishing industry in general? In relation to self-publishing?
A:  Hard question but an intriguing question. I'll boil it down to this. I think the most successful authors are consistently doing a lot of the same things. They both traditionally and indie publish. They write in different genres (fiction and non-fiction) and explore different niches within their own main genre (such as a thriller author doing romantic suspense and cozy mystery). They also write and publish novels of varying length — full-length, novella, and short story. James Patterson's recent release of a multitude of what he calls "BookShots" is a testament to this. Many successful authors are co-authoring books. These are my goals moving forward.

Q:  You certainly make some good points! I have seen Patterson's "BookShots," but I haven't picked one up… yet :)  What advice do you have for new authors?
A:  The first draft is your own. Do little editing. Just get the words on the page.

Q:  What is your favorite writing-related book?
A:  I pretty much soak up anything by James Scott Bell and Donald Maass. I also thoroughly enjoyed Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and have gifted it to several other authors.

Q:  I haven't read Gilbert's book yet. I will definitely have to check it out. What can you tell me about your next project?
A:  Currently, I'm working on my first indie novel called The Cipher's String that I hope to release before the end of the year. The plot surrounds FBI CARD agent Arabella Wright, whose job is to find lost children. When her own daughter is kidnapped by a serial murderer, everything in her life unravels. Of course, who is behind these crimes and why has some medical thriller thrown in.

Q:  Ooh, that sounds really good! I look forward to reading it. Fractured Memory is your first book with Love Inspired Suspense. How different was it writing this book than your previous ones?
A:  Very different. I came to Love Inspired Suspense via the Blurb to Book contest, which is set up in three stages. I didn't continue to write on the novel until I knew I made it through to the next round, so finishing and editing the book in about eight weeks was a challenge. Also, I don't consider myself a natural romance author, so I had a lot to learn. Still do.

Q:  I think you did a great job with the romance angle in the book! Now for a few fun questions. What's your favorite thing to do when you're not writing?
A:  I love to cross-stitch to relax.

Q:  Is there a book you wish you'd written?
A:  I would actually love to do a non-fiction book on teaching kids the necessity and importance of failure. That failure is not something to be feared.

Q:  That is a much-needed topic for a book. Which is harder: writing or nursing?
A:  Both are hard in their own way, to be honest!

Q:  Who are some of your favorite authors to read?
A:  Dean Koontz, Lisa Gardner, Harlan Coben, and Linwood Barclay

Q:  Good choices! Finally, what's something about yourself that would surprise your readers?
A:  I'm a definite pen fanatic. Take one of my pens and your life could be in danger! If your dying wish is to have my favorite pen — I might eventually have to stop and think about if I will give it to you. Isn't that terrible? :)

Not at all! I totally understand. I have a few favorite pens myself, and I have accumulated many pens over the years :) Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm sure my readers will enjoy the chance to get to know you a bit better.

Link to my review...
(I rated it 4/5 stars.)

Amazon link for purchase...

About Jordyn...

Jordyn Redwood is a pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense novelist by night. She hosts Redwood's Medical Edge, a blog devoted to helping authors write medically accurate fiction. Her first two medical thrillers, Proof and Poison, garnered starred reviews from Library Journal. Proof was shortlisted for the 2012 ForeWord Review's BOTY Award, 2013 INSPY Award, and the 2013 Carol Award. Poison shortlisted for the 2014 INSPY Award and the 2014 Selah Award. In addition to her novels, she blogs regularly at Redwood's Medical Edge and the WordServe Water Cooler. 

Readers can find Jordyn online at:

Redwood's Medical Edge blog:
WordServe Water Cooler blog:

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tuesday Tip: Split Infinitives

Tuesday Tip

"Happy the man who has never been told that it is wrong to split an infinitive: the ban is pointless. Unfortunately, to see [the rule] broken is so annoying to so many people that you should observe it."
— The Economist Style Guide

The verb you look up in a dictionary is the infinitive form of the verb. It is the present tense form, such as teach, sing, or play.When an infinitive appears with the preposition "to," it forms something called a periphrastic phrase. Many people have been taught to accept this phrase and not separate it with any other words, such as an adverb. In reality, people do this all the time, and it isn't grammatically incorrect. However, to make most readers happy, you may want to  keep the phrase together.

"Correct" form:  The turtle does not want to eat the fish.

"Incorrect" form:  The turtle does not want to quickly eat the fish.

"Best" form:  The turtle does not want to eat the fish quickly.

Friday, July 22, 2016

"Blindsided" by Katy Lee


Veronica Spencer’s fuchsia patent leather boots, useless in the New Hampshire soggy spring, stalled on the backlot pavement of her racetrack. The sound of mechanical whirring and the clang of metal tools came from behind the closed bay doors of a dark, unused garage at Spencer Speedway. This was her garage, she silently staked her claim. She had a plan for it, and it didn’t include a squatter.

The damp, cold, night wind matched her bitter mood and fluttered her signature rose pink silk scarf, also not an accessory for functionality—but in the case of her scarves, glamour wasn’t their purpose either. Mutilated scar tissue from a car fire at three years of age covered her neck and right arm. It was the arm she’d used to reach for her mother, who’d sat in the front passenger seat before the flames killed her. Roni’s burns reminded her of the memory daily. The scarves?

They helped her forget.

They also had a way of putting people at ease when they saw her coming. Gave them something pretty to look at instead.

Roni had no intentions of putting her intruder at ease.

She smiled the first smile since she left her uncle grumbling at his dining room table earlier that night.

You can read my review at the following link…
(I rated it 4/5 stars.)

About Katy...

RITA nominee Katy Lee is the author of six published novels. Her suspenseful romances thrill and inspire the reader — from the edge of their seat. A native New Englander, Katy loves to knit warm woolly things. She enjoys traveling the side-roads and exploring the locals' hideaways. A homeschooling mom of three competitive swimmers, Katy often writes from the stands while cheering them on. Her Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense novels,Warning Signs and Grave Danger, both received the highest 4 1/2 star rating from Romantic Times A book Reviews magazine, making them fantastic keepers!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

"Go Big or Go Home: The Journey Toward the Dream" by Scotty McCreery with Travis Thrasher

My review...

Scotty McCreery captured America’s attention with his appearance on American Idol. This book captures his journey from North Carolina to the big stage as he follows his dreams. The reader gets an insider look into Scotty’s life, and they may feel like they are just hanging out with the boy-next-door.  They will likely feel a bit more inspired after reading this book.

The book is divided into two parts: American Idol and Life After American Idol. The writing and tone is down-to-earth, and it is apparent that Scotty is well-grounded. He realizes his talent is a gift from God. His biography is a quick, easy read, and it contains numerous photos.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy as part of the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.  

Amazon link for purchase...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Writing Prompt Wednesday

If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's something different to try today:

Write the book review you would like to receive.

Happy writing!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Monday Motivation

Some motivation to begin your week:

"I'm always pretending that I'm sitting across from somebody. I'm telling the story, and I don't want them to get up until it's finished."
— James Patterson

What keeps you involved in the books you read? Vivid descriptions? Suspense? Character development? Action? Think about what keeps you engaged and focus on that when you sit down to write. Keep the imaginary listener sitting across from you in mind.

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, July 15, 2016

"Like a River from Its Course" by Kelli Stuart ... and a Kindle Prize Pack Giveaway!

Travel back in time in Kelli Stuart's new novel, Like a River from Its Course, as the city of Kiev is bombed in Hitler's blitzkrieg across the Soviet Union. This sweeping historical saga takes the reader on a captivating journey into the little-known history of Ukraine's tragedies through the eyes of four compelling characters who experience the same story from different perspectives. Based on true stories gathered from fifteen years of research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors, Like a River From Its Course is a story of love, war, heartache, forgiveness, and redemption.

Celebrate the release of Like a River from Its Course with Kelli by entering to win a Kindle Fire Prize Pack.

like a river - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
like a river - prize collage (1) 

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 18th. The winner will be announced July 19th on Kelli's blog.

like a river - enterbanner

My Review...

This story is a bit different from others I have read. It is written in three parts, from the viewpoint of four different characters. It also allows the viewer to see Ukraine, which is a little known side of World War II. It is based on true stories from research and interviews with Ukrainian World War II survivors.

The story chronicles the following characters:

·         Maria Ivanovna, a fourteen-year-old girl forced to work at a German labor camp. She only wants to get back to her family.

·         Ivan Kyrilovich, a father who finds himself mistaken for a Jew and in line to be shot in a “killing ditch.”

·         Luda, a sixteen-year-old girl who is pregnant after being raped by German soldiers and abandoned by her father.

·         Frederick Hermann, a soldier who believes in Nazism and is desperately trying to please his demanding father.

I have read a number of fiction books about World War II, but none quite as engaging as this. It is unique in its perspective (Ukraine), as well as with the diverse POV’s the readers follow throughout the story. Also, none of the main characters are Jewish. This book is Stuart’s historical fiction debut, and it shows that she has a very promising future in this genre. The research is detailed, and she seamlessly weaves in history. This is a gripping, eye-opening tale which puts a face to the atrocities of war. I highly recommend this book!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher as part of the Litfuse blogger program in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tuesday Tip: Subplots

Tuesday Tip

A subplot is a minor, supporting side story for the main plot. It may be connected to the main plot in regards to time, theme, or place. Often, it includes supporting characters. A subplot takes up less of the action then the main plot. The events which occur are less significant and have less impact on the overall story and characters. However, like the main plot, the subplot needs to be resolved by the end of the book.

Shorter books have few, if any, subplots. In general, it is common for novellas to not have a subplot at all, as novellas usually contain around 20,000 words. If the novella contains related short stories, a subplot could be present.

Subplots add depth and interest to the story. However, if they are not kept under control, they could outshine the main plot.

Friday, July 8, 2016

"Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter" by Carrie Fancett Pagels

In celebration of her latest release, Carrie has graciously offered to give away a copy of the book (paperback or e-book). To enter, see the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. (Contest ends July 15, 2016.) If you are the randomly chosen winner, I'll contact you and pass on your information. Good luck!

A Word  from Carrie…

Saving the Marquise’s Granddaughter was inspired by genealogical research on my mother’s side of the family. I discovered an interesting ancestor, Johan Adam Rousch, who had nine of his ten sons fight in the American Revolution! Johan was given a monument by the Sons of the American Revolution. I think his wife, Susannah, deserved one, too!

Q & A with Carrie…

Q:  What would you be doing if you were not an author?

 A:  I was a psychologist for 25 years, working with young people. I trained hard and long and have a Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of South Carolina, one of the top-rated doctoral programs in School Psychology in the country. But my arthritis worsened to the point that I could no longer work as a psychologist.

Q:  What is your favorite writing-related book?

A:  For writing Christian historical romance, I’d recommend anything by Susie Mary Warren and also Julie Lessman’s workbook.

Q:  Who are some of your favorite authors to read?

A:  I love so many! Right now I’m listening to Karen Witemeyer’s new romance. I’m waiting on Tamera Alexander’s next novel and on Julie Lessman’s next historical romance. The Christy finalists in historical romance were amazing this year! I loved Roseanna White’s book of her heart and Elizabeth Camden’s, too!  Julie Klassen’s Regencies. Melanie Dickerson’s Fairy Tale Retellings. I’d have to fill up the page if I add more authors whose work I love, so I better stop!

Q:  How did you decide to write historical romance?

A:  I started out thinking I wanted to write historical then realized I didn’t care for books that didn’t have a romance in them. I definitely wanted romance in my stories because that is what I love to read. But I do appreciate historical detail. So I’ve tried to balance both in my writing.

Q:  What are your thoughts on the publishing industry in general? In relation to self-publishing/Indie Publishing? 

A:  These are amazing times right now! Authors who were waiting forever to get their big break now have the option of indie publishing and selling right to their readers.  It is so difficult to break into the bigger CBA publishing houses. If an author wants to build a following, it seems to me indie publishing is the way to go. I consider myself a hybrid author. I have indie published books, including my novella The Fruitcake Challenge” which was a Selah Award finalist, a Family Fiction Book of the Year finalist, and which earned me RWA PAN status (Professional Author Network) and has almost 100 Reviews on Amazon! I have told my agent, Joyce Hart, and others that I believe every author should do at least one indie book to get a better feel for all that is involved with getting a book out there. On the other hand, it is a ton of work and I am very grateful to have contracts with traditional publishers such as White Rose/Pelican, who published Saving the Marquise’s Granddaughter, and Barbour Publishing, who will be publishing two of my novellas in collections and also a novel. 

Another thing about traditional publishers, something that surprised me with Guidepost Books, who published my short story “Snowed In” in A Cup of Christmas Cheer collection, was just the sheer number of readers they could reach so easily. I guess I should not have been surprised, since I’m also a Guideposts reader! And with Barbour, they have placement in so many stores and with (I’ve heard) Walmart, which is something that the vast majority of indies just don’t have—that placement. I feel very blessed to have contracts with traditional CBA publishers and appreciate all they do for authors. I also think there is a place for indies.

Q:  What can you tell me about your next project?

A:  I am so excited to be part of a fun collection from Barbour!  Gina Welborn spearheaded “The Blue Ribbon Bride Collection” with nine authors. We all have stories set at state fairs, and all of the other authors’ stories sound amazing!!! Mine is called “Requilted with Love” and is about a quilter who has lost two fianc├ęs and now finds herself falling for a balloonist—a really risky profession! It’s set at the Lansing, Michigan 1889 state fair, which was a really special one because they created an amazing fairground, hoping it would become permanent. 

Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog. I'm sure my readers will enjoy getting to know you a bit better!

Link to my review...
(I rated it 4/5 stars.)

Amazon link for purchase...

About Carrie...

Carrie Fancett Pagels is a multi-published award-winning author of Christian historical romance. All three of her Christy Lumber Camp books were finalists for Family Fiction’s Book of the Year. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn't "cure" her overactive imagination! She resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia, which is perfect for her love of history. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time!

Readers can find Carrie online at:

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Writing Prompt Wednesday

If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's something different to try today:

The most valuable thing I own...

Happy writing!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Dwelling Places by Lucinda Secrest McDowell: Season of Refreshment GIVEAWAY

Drown out the busyness and noise of everyday life and find a deeper faith with something as simple as a single word in Lucinda Secrest McDowell's new book, Dwelling Places. Through short and inspiring readings, McDowell unpacks a single word—such as mercy, beauty, gratitude, or grace—to reveal a biblical blessing or challenge relevant to where you are. Full of stories and illustrations to empower you to live the word you have just read, each devotional ends with a benediction, written as if God were speaking directly to you.

Join Lucinda in celebrating the release of Dwelling Places by entering to win her Season of Refreshment giveaway.

dwelling places - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Dwelling Places
  • Dwelling Places necklace handmade by Lucinda
  • A kit full of goodies you'll need to make refreshing lemonade this summer
One second place winner will receive:
  • A copy of Dwelling Places
  • Dwelling Places necklace handmade by Lucinda
dwelling places - collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 5th. The winner will be announced July 6th on Lucinda's blog.

dwelling places - enter banner

My Review...

If you are looking for a way to deepen your spiritual walk but only have a few extra minutes in your day, then this is the perfect book for you. It contains short, inspiring devotions which focus on a single word (such as trust, light, restore, guide, community, friends, and transformed).

Secrest’s book is organized into four seasons: Fall/Dwell, Advent/Shine, Lent/Renew, and Summer/Grow.  Each section contains thirty to forty readings, so the reader can spend more than a day focusing on each word, if desired. Each reading contains a word (title), Bible verse, story, a “message from God,” and is one to two pages long.

I am choosing to focus on Summer/Grow for this review. A few of the words the author focuses on in this section really jumped out at me.

·         Worry: Through Matthew 6:25-26 and a quote from Corrie ten Boom, Secrest reminds the reader that, “Choosing to worry is pointless and makes us weak.” There is no point in borrowing trouble from the next day, as it pulls us away from God.
·         Always: Secrest uses Matthew 28:20 to point out the wonderful truth that God is always with us. This knowledge should make us stronger, braver, and comforted.
·         Listens: Proverbs 15:31 reminds the reader the importance of listening to God’s voice. This requires patience and quiet, which is not always easy but is necessary.

This book would be useful for individual or group study and would make a wonderful gift, as well.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the publisher/Litfuse Blogger Program in exchange for an honest review.