Striving to create a home strong in the foundations of love, respect, and God's truths ...

Friday, February 25, 2011

"The Miracle of Mercy Land" by River Jordan - GIVEAWAY!


Mercy Land has arrived.  Born in a bolt of lightening on the banks of Bittersweet Creek, she has moved to nearby Bay City and has found her niche - working as the assistant to Doc, the local newspaper editor.  When a mysterious book arrives on her boss's desk that threatens her dreams, Mercy must decide what to do with the book.  Mercy's life is further complicated when Doc suddenly decides to retire and brings in John Quincy as his replacement, a newspaper novice who seems to know more about Mercy and Bay City than he's telling.  Can Mercy determine the book's purpose before it disappears?  Can she solve the mystery of John Quincy before losing her shot at the job of editor?

Jordan is a gifted storyteller who draws the reader in with her descriptions and flowing language.  Her characters are alive in this book and kept me cheering them on throughout the story.  The issue of the mysterious book, however, was something else.  The blurbs I read made me think that this was a book about time travel - which it isn't.  Doc seems to think that the book will give him a chance to right an old wrong - but never in their contact with the book do they do more than lose track of time and gain information about people around them.  Since they cannot choose whose name will appear to them or travel in time, I'm not sure how he expected to use the book to change a life.  That part left me confused; it was a bit raw, I think.  There were also connections between a few characters that were never fully explained.

In the end, Jordan makes the point that we are all connected; all of the choices that we make individually affect the human population as a whole.  Forgiveness is also a major theme in this book.

I couldn't put book down because I just had to know how Mercy was going to save the day; but now that I know the ending, I don't know how soon I'll pick it back up again.  It's a good read, but not one that I need to dust off and make part of my regular reading list.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Blogging for Books  program in exchange for an honest review.

I'd love to know what YOU think of The Miracle of Mercy Land.  I'm randomly giving away one copy of this book on Wednesday, May 18th.  To enter, do one or more of the following and then leave a comment telling me which you did.  Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  Be sure to leave an e-mail address so that I can get in touch with you if you win!

1.  Rate this review.
2.  "Follow" this blog.
3.  Share about this giveaway on Facebook or your own blog.
4.  You can also rate* my other Blogging for Books reviews for more chances to win this book.  You can read about and rank Sun Stand Still by Stephen Furtick, Indivisible by Kristen Heitzmann, When Sparrows Fall by Meg Mosely, or Lillies in Moonlight by Allison Pittman.  Each time you rank a review, just leave a separate comment telling me you've done so for added entries!

*Last week there were some issues with Google Chrome and the new ranking software.  I believe that it's all been fixed, but if you have issues, let me know!

Good luck!


"... though you will have food to eat, you will not be satisfied."  ~ Lev. 26:26

Like many other women around the country, I'm reading Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst right now.  I'm working through it with my Bible study friends - we just met last night - and I'm studying it online with Melissa Taylor.  I've watched all the webcasts and have been reading Lysa's blog for a few years, so food messages are about to come pouring out of my ears right now.  That's okay, though - I obviously need them.

This morning as I was reading along in my Bible, plodding through Leviticus with Wendy Pope (I really like these Proverbs 31 ladies - can ya tell??), something suddenly jumped out at me.  God was telling the people how important it was to maintain the new covenant and what He would do if the Israelites didn't uphold their end of the bargain.  (They didn't, of course.  They messed up over and over and over and over ... well, you get the idea.)

God said that He would mess with their food, to use Lysa's words!  He says to obey His laws or, while food will be hard to come by and will be rationed, there will be food to eat - but they won't be happy with that.  They won't be satisfied.

Now, I'd think that if I messed up so badly as to cause the God of the Universe to reach down His hand and create droughts and bring in neighbors to steal my crops and change the world's weather patterns, the little matter of happy taste buds wouldn't be that important.  I would think that I'd be stressing more about finding enough water or the proper nutrients for my kids, but God knew something that I'm too dense and stubborn to figure out:  He knew that keeping my taste buds off balance would just send me into a tailspin.  Remove a Hershey's kiss or two and I'll deal.  Take away ALL of  my chocolate and my cheeseburgers and I'm one cranky girl. You'll get my attention this way. 

And guess what? There's no 'if' I were to mess up this badly.  I HAVE messed up this badly.  I DO mess up this badly.  I'm just as stubborn as the Israelites - I keep messing up over and over again.  What does this mean for me?  Unlike the Israelites, we are covered in Jesus' grace.  That first covenant has been fulfilled and we're operating under a different umbrella.  I don't think that gives us a 'get-out-of-jail-free' card, though.  He still wants our attention.  I think He's still using food to get it.

I looked up 'satisfied' in and got the word 'content.'  When I looked up UNsatisfied, I found the word 'ungratified.'  I looked that up to get the official definition, and found that 'gratified' means 'receiving what was desired.'  A note comes with that definition, though, that changing the form of the word 'gratified' will give you 'grateful,' which  means having or showing thanks.

In a rather roundabout way, doesn't this mean that when we are ungrateful, we become disobedient?  When we become disobedient, we reveal our distance from God.  When we aren't listening and staying snuggled in close to God, He knows that messing with our food will create cravings in us - cravings that we might mistake at first for a hot fudge sundae, but that we'll soon figure out are solely for Him.  When we stay closely connected to Him, we can revel in His peace and those crazy cravings go away - because we have what we REALLY desire most of all.

I haven't read all of the book yet - I'm trying to be patient and study it as I go - but this verse really jumped out at me today.  I'm sure Lysa already knows all of this, but for me, this was a revelation kind of moment.  God knows IN ADVANCE what He's going to do to get our attention (of course - He knows everything).  He has His heavenly behavior modification plan all mapped out.  He's been warning us for thousands of years that He'll mess with our food if we stray too far.  Why does it surprise me when He does what He says He'll do?  

More importantly, how can I stay tucked in there closely  - how can I keep my attention on Him and not on  chocolate cheesecake - so He doesn't need to do it again??

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"The Promises She Keeps" by Erin Healy

Promise, a young singer trying to make her mark on the world before succumbing to a terminal genetic disease, actively pursues her singing and modeling career - and isn't sure how she continues to survive the freak accidents that suddenly follow her.  Porta, an aging sorceress hears about these accidents and decides that Promise holds the key to immortality for which she's spent a lifetime searching.  Chase, an autistic artist, suddenly changes his routine and reaches out to strangers, bringing a new understanding of life and love to everyone who knows him.

I couldn't decide at the beginning of this book who I wanted to cheer for.  Most stories have a clear hero and a clear villian, but several times these characters got a bit murky.  The reasons for some of their actions are unknown  at first, and I started to be a bit disappointed in this character or that one - until I realized that each one was only 'human.'  The interrelationships between the cast of characters becomes more and more clear throughout the story, as do the themes of love and what eternal life really means.  This book is in no way preachy but shows simply how to live out one's faith - how to internalize what you believe until it just oozes naturally out your pores.

The Christian faith is not based on sunshine and roses, and Healy shows that while we live in a dark and fallen world, and may even dive pretty deeply into the nasty parts of this world, we don't have to stay there.  Redemption and love belong to everyone who chooses to accept them  - and I love the way that Healy shares this message through Chase and Promise.  If you're looking for a story that will stretch your imagination and yet bring home a sound message, this is the book for you.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program in exchange for an unbiased review.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Indivisible" by Kristen Heitzmann

Chief of Police Jonah Westfall typically fights only small-town crime in Redford, Colorado, but a series of animal mutilations and a rising drug problem bring about new challenges for his small  force.  Westfall struggles to hold onto his sobriety while he continues to make peace with his past, which includes Tia Manning - a childhood friend with whom he shares a stormy history.  Can Westfall restore peace to his beloved town - before someone gets hurt?

I LOVE the way that Heitzmann weaves this story!  The cast of characters grows slowly, as do their connections, which truly brings to life each person and their own personal story.  The characters each have his/her fatal flaw, which serves to make them seem real, instead of packaged and plastic.  Each one has his or her own well-developed style and story to tell, yet all cause the reader to ponder one main question: how do we deal with the pain of being hurt?  Each character in the story reacts in a different way to past pain, and seeing the consequences of each can be eye-opening.  Past mistakes are not glossed over or seen as 'acceptable' sins, but are viewed for what they are - dark problems with far-reaching consequences.

For a Christian book, there is very little so-called Christian 'stuff' here.  There is no preaching or outright teaching, but the faith of the author - and the characters who have it - is evident in the twist of the story.  Manning and Westfall do discuss their faith a few times, but those discussions are used more as a springboard for solving relationship issues and understanding the choices they had made in the past few years.  Someone looking for a Bible verse on every page should, perhaps, look elsewhere; but for someone who wants to read an incredible, suspenseful, realistic story about people who have faith, this is the book to read.

I received a free copy of this book from Multnomah's Books for Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.