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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The book has was on the New York Times top seller list 10 years ago and remains a favorite. The allegory is similar to Pilgrim’s Progress or Hinds Feet on High Places. Though not Christian in content, the book has a spiritual message of fulfilling one’s destiny. It follows a shepherd boy named Santiago who has an encounter with the King of Salem Melchizedek (from the Bible). He tells the boy that his destiny “personal legend” lies in the form of buried treasure in Egypt near the pyramids. The boy sets off on a quest to find this treasure and suffers setbacks, life changing circumstances, and spiritual advice along the way.

It was interesting to me how the author blends religions. Though I don’t feel the heart of this story is anything new, the individual quest to find and fulfill their true calling and giftedness, it is good to hear it again and be reminded of the difference of living out what we are designed to do makes in our lives. The writing is simple, the characters are flat, but that is to be expected with an allegory. It’s more about the message in the story…. I give this three out for five stars mainly because allegories are not my favorite and I don’t feel he’s really saying anything I didn’t already know, but I needed to be reminded of it, as we all do. I found it motivational and inspiring. It has affirmed my quest to pursue what I am best at despite what other people say.

Here's the link to The Alchemist on

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Book Launch and Giveaway: Cathy Bryant, The Fragrance of Crushed Violets: Forgiving the Inexcusable

Announcing a book launch and giveaway of Cathy Bryant's new book The Fragrance of Crushed Violets: Forgiving the Inexcusable. I'm giving away one digital copy of her book. To enter, just leave a comment below stating why you would love to own a copy. Here's more about the book and author.

The Fragrance of Crushed Violets: Forgiving the Inexcusable
The Fragrance of Crushed Violets: Forgiving the Inexcusable is a companion Bible study booklet on forgiveness written to go along with the spiritual theme of the fifth Miller’s Creek novel, A Bridge Unbroken by Cathy Bryant. The book is designed to work for either individual or group study. A women's Bible study group has been formed on Facebook, and will be studying the topic of forgiveness using this book beginning July 1, 2014. We would love to have you join us at LifeSword: We'd also love to have join a Facebook Book Chat about the book on Tuesday, June 17th from 6-7 p.m. MDT:

Book Description:
What do we do when a loved one, boss, co-worker, friend, or enemy seem determined to bring us down through an attack? How do we handle it when their assault is personal, public, deep, unjust, unfair, and unfounded? Take it one step further. How do we deal with meaningless acts of destruction and death, say in something similar to the Twin Towers incident or a school shooting, especially when the offender shows no remorse? Do we file it in our brains and rack it up to “one more senseless act” and chance to think that God somehow messed up?
In short, how do we move past the hurt and anger to a place of forgiveness?
Join us as we examine relevant scriptures about forgiveness and come away with a scriptural understanding of:
  • what forgiveness is and what it isn’t
  • God’s role in the process of forgiveness
  • what Jesus did at the cross for each of us
  • our mandate to forgive as we’ve been forgiven
  • what gets in the way of forgiving others
  • how to truly forgive
Quotes From the Book:
"Ultimate forgiveness can only be found in God, because all sin is ultimately against God."
"Forgiveness isn't natural; it's supernatural."

“…through forgiveness, we reveal to a watching world the perfect illustration of what Christ has done for each of us.”

Print Version Purchase Link
Kindle Version Purchase Link
About the Author:
Cathy Bryant writes both Christian fiction and devotional materials. She’s written devotions for The Upper Room devotional magazine, two devotional books, and for various online devotional sites including her own website, The Fragrance of Crushed Violets is her first Bible study booklet.

Cathy's standalone novels are set in the fictional town of Miller's Creek, Texas, where folks are friendly, the iced tea is sweet, and Mama Beth's front porch beckons. Her debut novel, Texas Roads, was a 2009 ACFW Genesis contest finalist and has been on the Amazon Kindle Best-Seller list. Since then she's added four other books to the Miller's Creek novels, the latest one released in Spring 2014. Readers have compared her novels to those of Karen Kingsbury and Nicholas Sparks and have called Miller's Creek the Texas version of Mayberry.

A native Texan, Cathy currently resides in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico with her minister husband of over thirty years. When she’s writing, you can find her rummaging through thrift stores, hiking through the wilderness, or up to her elbows in yet another home improvement project in the mountain cabin she calls home.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Book Review: The Blue Last by Martha Grimes

This is my second Martha Grimes, Richard Jury Novel. Inspector Jury is asked by a Mickey Haggerty a DCI with the London City Police to help him solve a mystery surrounding two skeletons unearthed at the site of the Blue Last, a London pub destroyed during a bombing raid during World War II. Haggerty believes the child, now a grown woman, who supposedly survived the bombing is an impostor posing as an heiress to the Tyndale Brewery fortune. Sub plots include Jury's own painful memories of being orphaned during the second world war and the quest by his friend, Ambrose Plant, to help prove or disprove that a painting purchased in an antiques store by a friend is an authentic Masaccio.

Of course, there's a murder to be solved as well, when Simon Croft, a family friend of the Tyndales and son of the Blue Last's owner  is found murdered and a book manuscript he was working on detailing events during WW II is missing. Jury's investigation leads him into danger.

In her usual way Grimes creates memorial characters and sensitive descriptions and interesting plotlines which keep me turning pages. The ending, however, leaves plenty of questions, especially about Gemma Trimm, the mysterious ward of Oliver Tyndale. Grimes picks up those threads in the sequel but to determine how well she does that I'd have to re-read that book, The Grave Maurice, (which happened to be the first Richard Jury I read).

I thoroughly enjoy Grimes' sensitive style. I felt the ending could have been handled a little better...I had a lot of questions at the end. From now on, when I read one of her books, I plan to take notes in order to better track characters and sub plots. It may have helped with this one. I give this three out of five stars, primarily because I felt there we too many unanswered questions, but then, I could just be slow on the uptake.

Here's the link on amazon.The Blue Last

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Win an autographed copy of my book Mothers & Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship.  To enter, just leave a comment below as to why you would like to win this book. That's it!

Mothers and daughters. In perhaps no other relationship are your hopes so high, and the dysfunction so disappointing. You feel locked into a hurtful relationship that you must deal with, and it’s wearing you down. But Jesus knew we would face brokenness in the world, even in close family relationships, and still He promised the Counselor would come alongside us.As a daughter who has struggled to maintain a healthy relationship with her mother, author Teena Stewart will help you name your hurts, face the barriers that stand in the way of a healthy mother daughter relationship and forgive what feels unforgivable. Learn to cultivate a friendship, communicate more effectively, and become a part of the change you want to see. There is hope for restoration and renewal. The book is available at most Christian bookstores including 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book Review: Apron Strings by Mary Marony

 Set in the south in the 1950’s the story is about a family of white children, their family dynamics, and the black maid who cares for them.
Author Mary Morony perfectly captures the attitude and social injustices towards blacks, and the dialects and culture as well. Sallee, the middle daughter, narrates her family’s part of the story and the remaining back story is told through the eyes of their black maid, Ethel.

 I think the author intended to stir in us sympathy for the children whose lives are wedged between an alcoholic mother, who is more into tennis and social teas and inept and aloof when it comes to caring for her offspring, and a loving, entrepreneur of father who can no longer tolerate his wife’s short comings. The children end up, for the most part in the care of Ethel who is also an alcoholic.

The mother’s meanness never felt fully realized enough for me to really summon up any true feelings for Sallee or her siblings. I also felt that bouncing back and forth between Ethel’s narration and Sallee’s helped distance me from caring and that Ethel’s narrative wasn’t all that crucial to the story. I think it would have been stronger without. Of course, not everyone will agree we me. You may think it’s a 5 star book. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.