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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Review, Shiny Water by Anna Salter

Forensic psychologist Michael Stone is convinced that the children of a prominent surgeon are being sexually molested by him. The doctor’s wife seems emotionally unstable but Stone doesn’t see her as a threat. When Stone is called to testify at the high-profile custody battle between the wife and doctor, she tells the truth, however justice is not served and slick lawyer working for the doctor manages to twist and dodge the truth.  The children end up the custody of their father.
Less than twenty four hours later they are found dead in the home of the mother and all signs point to her as the murderer. Stone is devastated by the news and her reputation is in tatters. Could she have been that deceived by the severity of the mother’s instability?  Did the father kill the kids? And why do the patients she is seeing seem to be digressing instead of making progress?

Anna Salter’s heroine of this novel has a tragic past of her own and she threads the grief Stone experienced from the loss of her own child with the deaths of the two children.

Like John Grisham, who has a background in law, Salter is an expert in her field. She holds a doctorate in clinical psychology. It is this expertise that no average writer could even begin to incorporate into a story line and which lends credibility to the work.  It’s also both fascinating and shocking to learn just how troubled some of the clients are that she sees and the high molestation rate is troubling. It’s also an eye opener, much like the Grisham novels, about the corruption of the judicial system.

She does a good job building the suspense in this mystery. I would love to read more of her work. I give her a 4 ½ our of 5 star rating on this one.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Interview & Book Giveaway with Deborah Malone Author of Murder in Marietta

I'm honored to have author Deborah Malone visiting today. Deborah's book Murder in Marietta is the topic of our discussion. Be sure to read all the way down and enter our free book giveaway.

What is the full name of your book and who is it published by?
“Murder in Marietta” is the second book in The Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery Series. It is published by Lamp Post Publishing.

Give us a short summary. 
Murder in Marietta follows historical magazine writer Trixie
Montgomery on her latest assignment that can make or break her
her new career. The Marietta History Museum’s resident ghosts
are stirring up trouble in historic downtown Marietta, Georgia. Trixie begs her best friend to come along.  Their plans to research the spooky sightings vanish into thin air when a dead body is discovered in the museum. The director of the museum and her boss’ friend, Doc Pennington, shoots to the top of the suspect list when his fingerprints are the only ones found on the murder weapon, a civil war rifle. Unwilling to risk losing her boss’s faith in her journalistic abilities, Trixie and Dee Dee offer to help sniff out the real culprit only to wind up in hot water when they are kidnapped by the real killers. Will they be rescued in time?

How did you arrive at the idea for your book?
I’ve always loved cozy mysteries. So it was natural for me to write a cozy. I’ve written for “Georgia Backroads” a historical magazine for 10 years and had written about Marietta in some of my articles. I loved the area so decided to use it as the setting for this book.

What kind of books do you like to read?
I love this question. I used to only read mysteries. But when I started a blog of my own where I have interviews for Christian Fiction I started reading other genres. I found out I loved reading about other times and places. I read just about anything now.

Could you share a writing tip for writers?
The most important for a starting writer would be to get it down on paper – write, write, write. You can always go back and learn more about editing. If you don’t write then there is nothing to edit.

Where can people purchase your book?
They can email me by going to my website at and I’ll send them a signed copy. You can also get it at and
Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog.


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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Book Review, Secrets of the Wind

This is the first book in the Pine Ridge Portraits series by Stephanie Grace Whitson.
Set in the west during the waning days of Native American uprisings, two cavalry men come upon the grisly remains of a slaughtered white man outside of his burnt out cabin. They are stunned to find a female survivor hidden in the cellar. (We later are introduced to as Laina Gray.) She has been held captive, not by the Indians, but by the deceased man. She is wild, filthy, and nearly insane because of the horrible mistreatment she suffered at the hands of her captor. In a desperate attempt to end her life she nearly succeeds.

First Sargent Nathan Boone, who has suffered a severe loss, the death of his wife, takes her back to the Army post where she is nursed back to health. We learn that she is not only a woman with a past but that she is pregnant.

I applaud the author who successfully avoided the stereo typical western plot.  She surprised me in the first chapter with how events unfolded. Other characters who come on the scene also hold their own secrets. Are they villains or heroes at heart? Boone seems the obvious choice for the man Laina will fall in love with, but again, Whitson avoids the expected  by throwing other relationships into the mix.It works well.

At the heart of this story is the theme of God’s grace and redemption. Though we may feel we have suffered through unimaginable hardships, even when things look the bleakest, if we remain faithful to him, he will remain faithful to us.

I give this book 4 ½ stars. Well done Ms. Whitson.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review, A House Divided by Catherine Cookson

Catherine Cookson remains one of my favorite authors. Though she passed away in . 1998, many of her works have withstood the test of time. Cookson’s main characters often face cruel hardship, and it is their ability to weather them and grow stronger because of them that makes her books so memorable. The two central characters of A House Divided are Matthew Willingham, a wounded World War II hero who is blinded in action, and his nurse, Elizabeth Duckworth.

Willingham comes from a prominent and well-respected military family; Elizabeth is from a family of lesser standing. It is Elizabeth’s compassion that gives Willingham the will to live. She is there for him as he recovers both emotionally and physically.  Though Elizabeth has put us safeguards to protect herself from the men she tends too—falling in love with the wounded is part of the occupational hazard—she and Matthew form a strong bond which develops into something much deeper.

Eventually Matthew recovers enough to return home to his family, and the two become engaged but it is with the knowledge that Matthew will never be able to resume a normal life. His definition of normal has changed and he must find a new vocational path that will allow him to function with his physical challenges.

One of the reasons that Cookson is such a masterful writer is that she continually puts obstacles in the path of her characters. It creates suspense and romantic tension as Elizabeth and Matthew first find multiple reasons to steer away from their attraction for one another, and then must face roadblocks that keep them for being able to live a normal happy life.

I don’t want to spoil the story, but I will say that both characters face increasing danger that jeopardizes their love for one another and their safety. The book comes to a strong, edge of the seat climax with the good guys winning out. I give this 4  ½ stars.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Joint Book Signing & Book Reading at Hickory Coffee Shop

A group of local authors will hold a book signing and book readings on Saturday, December 1 from 10:00 am to 12 pm at Java Journey Coffee Shop. 
Some of the authors represented include Kimberly Rae, Gretchen Griffith, Mary Netreba, Judy Honson, Lucy Wilkes, and myself,Teena Stewart. Genres include, mysteries, romances, Christian Living, children’s books and more. Several of the authors will talk briefly about their books and share readings from their work.
            The public is invited to stop buy and enjoy their favorite beverages while browsing the author tables. Writers will be on hand to sign purchased books. Java Journey is located at 2149 Center Street in Hickory, NC.

Dec.1 Book Reading Schedule

10:00 Gretchen Griffeth reading and questions
10:30 Daniel Morton reading and questions
11:00 Teena Stewart reading and questions
11:30 Kimberly Rae reading and questions

Thursday, November 15, 2012

God Can Make Beautiful Things Out of Broken Messes

Trash to treasure continue to be the recurring theme in my writing, ministry, and art. It seems to be a lesson I am destined to learn over and over. Lately I've been working a lot with broken glass and as I break, shape, and polish the broken pieces, I cannot help but think of how God picks up pieces of our broken messes and makes something amazingly valuable and beautiful from them.

My husband, Jeff and I oversee an innovative coffee shop ministry called Java Journey. We minister to a lot of people in recovery. For people to truly go through transformation in recovery, a person must hit bottom and realize they need to allow God to have control over their lives. However, this attempt at living a new life often suffers setback. Relapses come with recovery and there are usually plenty of them. It can be messy.

This past month I have struggled with my own personality quirks and brokenness. The biggest frustration for me is getting off on tangents or excited about a creative opportunity. I lose focus and wind up with way too many irons in the fire and then I do nothing well. A friend of ours calls this condition ADOS, Attention Deficit--Oh,Shiny! Maybe you can relate.In recovery the personality and weaknesses you personally have to deal with is called your stuff. So these quirks and ADOS challenges are part of my stuff.

The wonderful thing about having a relationship with Christ is that now matter how broken we are or how much we seem to mess up or struggle, we can never be so broken that God can't continue to do a new work in us. We just have to allow him to dust us off, bandage our scrapes, and start anew. God will continue to work on defining and refining us until we are the beautiful gemstone we are meant to be.


Teena Stewart is author of The Treasure Seeker: Finding Love and Value in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father a book that explores how to have an intimate relationship with God so that we become the beautiful treasure he knows us to be.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book Review, Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler

Breathing Lessons centers around a husband and wife who attend the funeral of a friend they've known since high school. Their road trip and eventual reconnecting to many of their high school buddies, allows us to get to know more about who they are and what they are like. Like many couples who have been married for a long period of time, Maggie and Ira struggle with aging, strained relationships with their son and daughter-in-law, and a long distance relationship with their granddaughter. They've also fallen into a life of dull routine, little romance and lack luster existence.

The central figure, Maggie is scatter brained and impulsive. Like many wife/mothers, she wants to have her children and grandchildren close. But this less than ideal set up--Maggie and Ira's son's greatest aspirations are to make it big with his rock band. But when he gets his girlfriend pregnant that quickly unravels.

Determined to salvage the relationship, Maggie gets involved and keeps his girlfriend from having an abortion, then they help raise their grandchild until the relationship hits the rocks again and she moves away with the granddaughter.

The dysfunction of the family is painful. Maggie can't seem to let it go and she creates her own reality by imagining relationships as they could be, and then taking manipulative steps to try to make it happen. But nothing goes as planned.  She seems to grate on everyone's nerves, especially mine and I found her hard to like.

Tyler has created very real circumstances I am sure many married couples face. And her point seems to be that the heart's desire of every mother is for unity and love to exist in the home and extend out to the next generations. Unfortunately, many relationships are exactly as she describes them-painful and less than ideal.

I must admit that I had a difficult time finishing this book because I did not like Maggie, the main character. She's more annoying than a fly in a closed room. Couple that with circumstances are that very real and depressing. Who wants to read about ordinary people in mundane and drab existences.  This one of the less enjoyable reads I've had in a while. I give it two and a half stars

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Spanish Word of the Week, Identico

The Spanish word of the week is identico which means the same. The Spanish word mismo also means same.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Book Review, The Organic God

Margaret Feinberg's book The Organic God presents God from her Judeo-Christian perspective. She's unafraid to ask the questions, "how should we approach God?" and "what is God really like?" Her book illuminates the personal relationship we can have with him as one of his people.

I enjoyed how Feinberg ties in her Jewish perspective to her relationship with God. Particularly poignant was her explanation of Midrash, the Jewish tradition of studying and discussing the scriptures in a push and pull fashion where open dialogue is welcome and sought. Now I can see it in many examples in the Bible and it means so much more to me. It is this style she incorporates into the book. She breaks downs God's attributes and uses examples from real life to help explain his nature.Topics cover his big-heartedness, mysteriousness, his beauty and more.

I always know I've picked up a good book when I mark pages and I marked several in this one. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.