Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review of What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days by Holley Gerth

It is a privilege to review another book by Holley Gerth. I truly love her easy-going, heart-inspiring way of talking to women. So if you are familiar with Holley and her other books (You Are Already Amazing, You Were Made for a God-sized Dream, and You're Going to be Okay), you will not be disappointed with this one.

However, if you are new to this author, allow me to share a little of what this book can offer you. First, the Publisher's blurb:

Cover ArtWe all have days that make us want to pull the covers back over our heads and eat a dozen cupcakes.

Thankfully, Jesus said we don't "live on bread alone"--that includes cupcakes--"but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). What we really need is truth.

If you're tired, discouraged, or feel a little empty inside, my prayer is that by the end of our time together, you'll be refreshed and nourished in a way that will sustain you through whatever the future may hold.
Remember, you're not alone, my friend.

This book is cute. It is hardcover with bright and fun colours. The book is small, about the size of a photograph (4x6) but jam-packed with wisdom, hope and insightful truths taken from the Psalms. It makes an excellent gift!

Each of the 52 devotions are about three pages long with room to write at the end of each section. She encourages the reader to ask what their heart is saying to God and what they're hearing from God. Also, each entry is titled such as "God will give you courage, not condemnation." Or another title is "God will be with you through the whole process". This allows the reader to pick and choose which entries to read at any given time. Each one is numbered but not dated - lots of freedom here.

Holley uses stories and anecdotes to relate to the issue or topic being discussed, Then she breaks down the spiritual elements using scripture and biblical truths about God's character. Finally she caps it all off with a short prayer of the heart.

Readers will love the way Holley brings hope so effortlessly into the aches and pains we face just by living day-to-day. Pick up her latest encouragement for you and let your soul rest in the unfailing love, peace, strength and joy of our Lord and Savior.

Check out an excerpt of the book, including the Contents page and the first devotional. And don't forget ... it makes a wonderfully cute gift!

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group"

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Christmas giving at its best!

We are too privileged. Too blessed.  And beyond any meaning of the word lucky.


Because we were born here and not there.

I, like many of you have no idea what it would be like to be born in a third world. We can't do any more than re-visualize the photos we've seen of what it would be like to raise our children in slums, poverty and illness.

We are too privileged.

In the midst our affluence we give here or give there; we sponsor children and we pray for them; we send over shoe boxes and useful clothing items, but are we really doing enough? If you were a mother living in poverty forced to giver her children up solely so they could eat, would you think we were doing enough?

I don't know.  But I do know this ... I am convicted that I am not doing enough.

The-Lulu-Tree-125x125Please, please go over to Emily T Weirenga's website and post about a new foundation she's starting because she felt the tug of God to do more.  It is called The Lulu Tree.
And here's my challenge to you, one that I have made myself ... in my blessed affluence, if I should ever offer a gift to someone - a family member, friend or colleague - may it be a gift that gives to the world.  Go to Emily's foundation or others like it and promise yourself that every time you give out of your extra abundance (cuz that what present-buying, coffee-purchasing, movie-watching and shoe-shopping is) that a life can be changed.

And if you haven't had a chance to pick up Emily's book Atlas Girl - go now! Check out my review or visit her website to find out more.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Another amazing book and offer from author Alana Terry

Special Discount ~ Limited Time Only
Special Time-Sensitive Giveaway! The first 25 readers who enter the giveaway below will receive a free audiobook from award-winning author Alana Terry. She's also giving away a $100 amazon card, a hundred free audio downloads, and a free ebook to anyone who signs up! 

About Slave Again: After escaping a North Korean prison camp, Mee-Kyong is hustled over the border and sold into the Chinese underworld. She vows to survive, but sheer determination and willpower won’t save her this time. Is she fated to remain a slave forever?

Slave Again is a Christian suspense novel from award-winning author Alana Terry, whose debut novel, The Beloved Daughter, won awards from Women of Faith, Grace Awards, The Book Club Network, and Readers' Favorite.

NEW BOOK RELEASE: Slave Again by Alana Terry is hot off the press, and both the ebook and paperback are at a steep (30-60%) discount!! Prices will go up soon, so grab your copy today.

 Slave Again book trailer (contains one mildly violent image)

About the Author: Alana is passionate about human-rights issues in North Korea and has devoted her writing to raise both awareness and funds to help North Korean refugees find freedom and safety. You can learn more about her work with Liberty in North Korea at

Check out Slave Again now before the price goes up, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stay tuned! I will be posting a review of the book, Slave Again, here soon.

Friday, September 12, 2014

When The Game Stands Tall triumphs!

Do you know what you are doing this weekend?

I do!

You are going to one of the best movies I have seen in awhile, When The Game Stands Tall.

Sony Pictures/Affirm Films brings to the screen an incredibly inspiring story of a High School football coach who chose to teach a generation of young men about character on and off the field. Based on true events, this movie tells the remarkable story of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport."

Now this movie isn't about the climb to winning all those games - instead it focuses on what became of the 2004 team that dropped the ball and lost for the first time in twelve years. Life isn't about being on the top. Character is built when you fall and pick yourself back up. That is the philosophy of this great inspirational movie.
"Don't let a game define who you are. Let the way you live your lives do that."
Along with some of the other great movies that have come from the sports arena, like Remember the Titans, Rudy, The Blind Side and of course for Christian movie-goers, Facing the Giants - greatness is not found on a scoreboard. Coach Lad made sure to focus his boys on community, personal bests and the connection and preservation of family. This movie goes for an extra touchdown than some of the other inspirational sports movies have in that Coach Lad reminds everyone it is never about winning.

Of course the first question you might be asking if you aren't a sports fan is how much football is in the movie. My answer ... a lot. But please don't let that deter you. The message of the film penetrates so much deeper than the hits, runs, passes and blocks of high school football. As well, I thought the filming of the game scenes were done well. They're high impact and realistic - from my perspective.

This is the kind of movie that leaves you thinking and pondering long after the credits roll. It is incredibly well-rounded and superbly written. The actors are all fantastic and believable. The scene shots are vivid and eye-catching. I have nothing but praise.

As far as the element of faith goes, this movie is not hard hitting and bible thumping. The story takes place at a Catholic private school in California. The producers did not hide this fact at all - there are scenes of prayer, religious based classes and God is spoken of openly as a part of their lives.  Very natural. Coach Lad's faith permeates his life - all the while showing that he is not perfect. In fact, he teaches the boys that you can never be perfect - like have the perfect game or perfect record, but each and every thing you do should be marked by giving:
"A perfect effort from snap to whistle."
And isn't that so true of our our faith journeys. You will never live without mistake or failure but don't quit and don't give up. From snap to whistle.

Families will love this movie. The only aspects for families with small children is there is football violence up close and loud, there is a scene of smoking, a scene of partying and a scene of sexual innuendos among teen boys. These are minimal but definitely present. Check out the Focus on the Family's Plugged In review for more information.

And if I could borrow a quote from another fellow's blog posting titled Why you should see When The Game Stands Tall with your Teens
"It’s a good movie with a message, not a good message with a movie."
Check it out!  Either visiting your local movie theaters or picking up the DVD in the coming months - DON'T MISS OUT!

For those looking for even a little more information here are a few links of interesting things I discovered in my own research I couldn't resist sharing.

Monday, September 8, 2014

God's Not Dead. He is Surely Alive!

I know its only September 8th and if you live anywhere more southern than me (I'm in Canada), you probably haven't even pulled out the "s" word yet. Or even your little mitties. But today I'm watching the "s" word fall.

So ... a snowy Monday seems like the perfect time to talk about movies.

Lately, Christian movie-goers have felt a little like kids at Christmas. Hollywood has heard our cry for family-friendly movies with a strong moral message. We've been blessed with so many movie makers and companies stepping up to the plate. So, let's continue to support those folks with our time and our money.

Unfortunately I have not been able to make it out to the theaters for many of the newest releases as I don't live that close to the kinds of theaters that bring in these movies. So my form of support this summer has consisted of DVD purchases. That also means I might be reviewing a movie you watched in the theaters months ago. Sorry.

God's Not DeadOur latest DVD was God's Not Dead. My whole family squished across two couches this summer to watch it. If you're not familiar with it check out the trailer and the synopsis. (**NOTE: there is a spoiler alert below, if you haven't seen the movie read with caution.)

For starters, I was excited about the premise - the whole idea that my teens raised in a faith-based home might one day have to defend what they believe. Amazingly I actually became a Christian during my university years - but certainly not from anything I learned in the classroom. In fact I found often what I heard in class sounded obscurely opposite (or in contrast to) what I read about God. So needless to say I was excited my teens wanted to watch this movie.

The trailer sets the story up nicely, but I must admit that the movie falls a bit flat beyond that point. There was too much going on in the periphery of the main plot that kept any of the characters from being fully flushed out. Again, something I wish we'd outgrow in Christian movies today is the stereotyped character lines. For example in God's not Dead we have the main character Josh on his very complex and overwhelming task of proving that God is in fact, not dead, yet we do not see much of his home life. We know very little about what he believes or lives out aside from his cross pendant and his egotistical and absolutely unlikable girlfriend. Now in reality we might have some people's whose faith is barely skin deep, but she takes selfish to a whole new level. I'd like to know how the two of them even came to be together in the first place. Unrealistic.

Then there is a side story of a Pastor and his missionary friend. These two men were the comic relief of the story I guess. However, again very flat, two-dimensional characters who, other than cameo appearances in Josh's life and the professor's, added nothing to the plot.

I could go on with the other periphery characters in the story but suffice it to say they were very distracting. The most important part for me was the interactions between the professor and the student. That is what we wanted to see. Unfortunately for me this was not done deep enough. There wasn't anything concrete my kids came away from Josh's argument, other than they can't really prove God is alive but they can point a lot of fingers at the "big, bad, mean teacher".

I knew professors in University who definitely didn't believe in God but none of them were threatening and cruel. I don't know why the movie makers made the Atheist professor the predictable bad guy who ties the good guy onto the train tracks. In fact all the atheist characters in the movie were portrayed as mean, hurtful, and completely unfeeling "bad" people.

Is that what the unbelievers in your life look like?

Lastly I need to touch on the ending. As five of us watched the movie we all unanimously hated the ending. It was paper thin with stereotypical and cheesy overtones. Of course, ****SPOILER ALERT**** Radisson dies in a tragic accident just as he is starting to realize he might believe in God after all. He is ushered into heaven with the sinner's prayer on his dying lips.

God's Not Dead was disappointing for us.

However, I stand wholeheartedly behind evangelistic efforts and most ardently support Christian film making. I have sat through many growing pains of movies made that have poor acting, poor filming or whatever in order to one day produce high caliber and entertainment worthy films with a positive message.  I believe we are on the right road, and I do think this movie is a step in the right direction.

My faith is multi-dimensional. My faith is complex. And my attempts to share that faith with someone would look different every time. Lets see a movie that doesn't kill off the bad guys, tainted and impossible to like because of their unbelief.

Let's try and love them to Jesus instead.

I did like the music though!!! Did you know that Shane Harper, the actor who plays the College student in the movie writes and records his own songs. Check out this song!

BTW, checking out another upcoming movie - this time in the theaters! Stay tuned to hear about When The Game Stands Tall.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Awesome Interview with Author Gina Holmes

Today is a treat for me and for you. For all the book reviews I've done I've only had the privilege of an author visiting a couple of times. So that makes today special. Yet, that's not all. Today our visitor is fast becoming my favorite "go-to" author, Gina Holmes.

I started following her blog, Novel Rocket several years ago. Then last summer I managed to finally get my hands on one of her books, Dry As Rain

Wow! That is my favorite book of all right now. I loved it! So I read Crossing Oceans and love it. I am currently devouring Wings of Glass.

So without any further babble form me, please welcome, novelist, Gina Holmes.  

Gina is the founder of popular literary site, She is a two-time Christy and ECPA Book of the Year finalist and winner of the INSPY, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award. Her books regularly appear on Christian bestseller lists.

Gina, tell us a little bit about your newest release, Driftwood Tides.

Driftwood Tides tells the story of an aging, alcoholic driftwood artist turned beach bum, Holton Creary, and young Libby Slater. Libby grew up with an absent father and a loving but cold, socialite mother. Leading up to her wedding, Libby and her groom-to-be go through genetic testing and she learns her blood type doesn’t match either of her parents. She confronts her mother and is reluctantly told that she’s adopted. She goes searching for her mother, Adele, only to find her husband, Holton Creary lying face down on the carpet of his Nags Head beach shack.

She lies about her real identity until she is finally found out. Holton does not welcome the news. He never knew the wife he had given saint status too had given up a daughter for adoption. Together the two search to find the truth about Adele, Libby’s father and themselves.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

At its heart, Driftwood Tides is really about discovering who we are, whose we are, where we belong and the need to accept and bestow forgiveness.

Why did you set the novel in Nags Head?

Oh, how I love that place! I’m not sure there’s a more peaceful setting in all the world. And the further out I get from civilization, the happier I am. I love the sand dunes, the untouched nature, the quaint towns. Just everything! (Well, except sand in my bathing suit maybe J)

You seem to have a recurring theme in your novels about absent fathers, if it’s not too personal, why do you think that is?

It is too personal, but I don’t mind answering (wink!) When I was 6 years old, I was packed up by my stepfather and driven to my father’s house. Overnight I had a new Mom, new sisters and brother, house and life. It was as traumatic an experience as I can imagine. There were few explanations that made sense to me and I missed my other family desperately. I think ever since I’ve been trying to settle some pretty deep-seated questions. Writing books is wonderful for that.

The novel you’ve written that seems to be a fan-favorite is Crossing Oceans, do you ever see yourself writing a sequel?

I love that book too. Makes me cry just thinking about certain scenes. I would love to write a sequel, prequel or off shoot stories. I love those characters dearly. I’m under contract for three different novels, so I’m not sure when I’ll have the time, but I’d love to explore Craig’s story and of course, Bella’s. I miss Mama Peg very much!

You’ve said that your favorite novel you’ve written is Wings of Glass. Why is that your favorite?

Well, for storyline, I think Crossing Oceans is the strongest. I think my writing in Wings of Glass was my best, plus when I was very young I watched my mother in one abusive relationship after another, and then two of my sisters. I had been there too, despite thinking I was better than that. I know the mindset that keeps a woman (or man) in a relationship like that and I wanted to give insight to those who don’t understand. I’ve received enough letters to know I did what I set out to do.

You’re originally from NJ but write all your novels from the South, why do you set your novels down South if you’re from up North?

Ha, you found me out! Yes, I was born and raised in NJ. As much as I love my friends and family, I am definitely more suited for the slower pace of the South. I’ve lived in Southern VA for half of my life and I plan to spend the rest of my life here if I can help it. I try to write books from settings that make me happy. So I write where I want to be. (Although, I’ve got to say, NJ food is amazing and you’ve got to love a boisterous NJ laugh!)

What do you like most about being a writer? Least?

Most, I like being able to have a platform to share lessons I’ve learned in my life that I know others would benefit from. And more than that, I just love to tell a good story.

Least, would be the unpredictability of the business. Sometimes it seems so random and the lack of control makes me uncomfortable sometimes. (Which is probably right where God wants me!)

Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

My advice is pretty much always the same. 1. Write. So many people want to have written but don’t actually do the work. 2. Get to a writers conference because there’s so much  you don’t know, that you don’t even know you don’t know. If you don’t you’ll be spinning your wheels for years, wasting valuable time. 3. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy yourself a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Then apply it. (Best money I ever spent!) 4. Join a good critique group and get a nice thick skin, ‘cause you’re sure going to need it!

If you could go back to the pre-published writer you were, knowing what you do now, what advice would you give her?

Well, I wouldn’t have told myself how many novels I’d write that would never see the light of day, because I would have given up. I wouldn’t have told myself how little money there is actually to be made or how lonely writing can sometimes be. I wouldn’t have told myself that I’d still have a day job with 4 novels out in stores, including 3 bestselling novels… okay, but that wasn’t your question… I would tell myself to relax. Some of this, most of this is, is out of your hands, and that’s okay. It’s not going to be at all what you think it is, but it’s going to be so much more. You won’t get rich, but you will touch lives. At the end of the day, that’s going to be exactly what will fulfill you.

Where can readers find your books and more about you?

Thanks for asking. My books are in B&N, BooksaMillion, Amazon(ca), Amazon (com), Lifeway, Parable, Family Christian and hopefully a good number of independent bookstores. You can find me at Thanks so much for hosting me!

Thanks for stopping by Gina! It was such a treat getting to know you more. I will definitely be reading Driftwood Tides asap.

Driftwood Tides released this week - so go get one!