Archives For LitFUSE

Margaret McSweeney’s Aftermath

Heather —  August 26, 2012


Have you ever felt totally at a loss to know how to help when someone experiences a loss? Do you sometimes worry about how you will handle loss, or have you experienced the difficulty of losing a loved one?

If so, I recommend this book.

I decided to review the book because I really want to be more able to help others when they experience loss in their lives. I was a bit worried the content would be unsettling and sad, and of course in some ways it is!

Yet, grief touches us all and I want to understand ways to help. I am about halfway through this book, and so far, I feel I have more tools to understand grief and ways to help people who are grieving. I especially like Margaret’s openness about her relationships, the poetry in the book and the tips from grief experts.

The Official Word:

Growing in Grace Through Grief

“Loss is a four-letter word that grips our hearts and gridlocks our lives. Grief can hold us captive until we surrender it to God. How do we find the necessary grace to journey through the mourning process?

Juxtaposed to the outpouring of her mother’s words about grief, the author shares her parallel journey from the emotional abyss of grief after becoming an adult orphan. With candor, the author shares her own emotions experienced along the spectrum of loss after her parents’ deaths: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—adding interactive options for readers.

Five sections cover these common emotions and provide:

  • comfort Scripture lists
  • counsel sections from grief experts
  • chronicling sections with detailed helps
  • tangible handles on dealing with grief during holidays, capturing loved ones’ legacy, and more. ”

Margaret McSweeney is a well-published author often writing online articles for Make It Better (the former North Shore Magazine) and freelance articles for the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. In addition, she has authored and compiled several books including A Mother’s Heart Knows; Go Back and Be Happy; Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace and most recently, Mother of Pearl.

Buy the Book and See the Blog Tour

I received the book Aftermath in order to review. I have given my opinion.

This debut Young Adult Fantasy Story is my daughter’s new favorite book!

This book is brand new in the young adult genre.

I was curious about it and liked the fact that the worldview is said to be Christian.

I gave this book right to my teen to see what she thought. She enjoyed the story so much, she wanted to know right away if there was a sequel. We looked it up, and no, there is no sequel yet. But this is a new author, so we will be watching for more!

Here’s what our teen has to say:

  • “Definitely a good book for highschoolers because of fast paced action and mystery.
  • Pulls you in. You have to read til the end right away.
  • Great imagery.
  • It should be turned into a movie! I know all my friends would go see it.
  • I can relate to Hadley (main character).
  • Even people I’m friends with who aren’t Christian would love this book.
  • Lots of plot twists. You expect one thing and then something opposite happens. It blows your mind.”

The Official Word:

In the mythical city of N’de lives thirteen-year-old Hadlay and her people, the Ramash. Scorned and abused by the unloving and absent Emperor, the Ramash are poor people, placed second to the ruling class of the Oresed. Young but bold, Hadlay rages against the injustice in her city. When she is chosen for the honor of serving the Prince in the Tower, she hopes to find a way to right the wrong… but soon discovers that things are worse than she believed.

Crafting powerful narrative and creative characters, author L. K. Malone spins a compelling tale that combines exciting entertainment and the Christian story. In The Mirror of N’de, readers will empathize with the desires of an oppressed people, will anger at the affliction of a cruel adversary, and ultimately rejoice with the revelation of a Savior.”

See the Blog Tour Schedule

Buy This Book

And, the publisher is sponsoring a $50 giveaway open to my blog readers! To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using @litfuse) about The Mirror of N’de  or share about it on Facebook!

TWEET THIS: New YA fantasy – The Mirror of N’de – compelling narrative and creative characters! @litfuse RT for $50 to @amazon

I received a copy of The Mirror of N’de from LitFuse for my review.

As usual, Susan May Warren does not disappoint.

I think Susan May Warren is a very good student of human nature. Her characters come to life in a few simple lines of text. This just amazes me, how quickly I feel like I know these people, these characters.

When I read her fiction novels, I become immersed in the story. I become engrossed not so much because of the well drawn settings or a particular poignant event, but because I want to see these people triumph over their circumstances, over horrible events and dreary days. I know that Warren’s worldview is one of hope and life…and I just cannot wait to see the storylines all unfold, to see her characters thrive, in the midst of trials, in the midst of fears and change.

Sometimes, some of the events in Warren’s character’s lives do take my breath away because they are so real, so sad. A lost child, an accident… a pain that will never go away. Even for the reader, it hurts for a moment to feel these experiences through the writer’s art.

Honestly, I hesitate a teeny bit every time I open a book by Warren. I know she doesn’t shirk away from writing about pain and I do shirk away from that.

But, after reading a few of her novels, I know that Warren is writing about Jesus in her character’s lives. And knowing Jesus is to know hope and peace, no matter the circumstances. Because Warren is a skillful writer, I expect her settings to be full of the nuances of time and place, and Baby, it’s Cold Outside is a trip back to 1947, complete with the music of that day, WWII tales and Storm Houses.

I do totally recommend this book. I don’t want to say too much about it, because I don’t want to be a spoiler! But, I will tell you, you will find enjoyable history, Christmastime Drama and Joy, a bit of cooking, a bit of kissing, and loads of fun characters in the midst of a giant snowstorm.

The Official Word: “Hope finds the hopeless when a storm hits.  

It’s Christmas weekend 1949, and despite the threat of a storm, the townspeople of Frost are determined to continue their holiday traditions, if only as a means to forget the war that they had all just suffered through. But the suffering hasn’t ended for Dottie Morgan who lost her only son in the war. She’s preparing to wallow in her isolation for the weekend, when Violet, nearly a spinster at age 29, dares to make a request that will force Dottie to publicly revive the memory of her dead son.

When a storm traps the two women at home with a strange young man who has an unbelievable confession and a neighbor with more to do with Violet’s past than she would like, no one can predict how this Christmas will give them all a second chance.”

Read an excerpt here and find out the story behind the novel

 Susan May Warren is an award-winning, best-selling author of over twenty-five novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, the Rita Award, and have been Christy finalists. After serving as a missionary for eight years in Russia, Susan returned home to a small town on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where she, her four children, and her husband are active in their local church.

Susan’s larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She is also the founder, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found

Link to buy the book:  Baby, It’s Cold Outside (When I Fall in Love)

Warm up to Chrismtas early this year with Susan May Warren’s Baby, It’s Cold Outside! To celebrate the release of her new Christmas book with Summerside Press, she and the publisher are giving away a Kindle Fire and hosting an early Christmas Party on Facebook!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One festive winner will receive:

  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Susan May Warren

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. Giveaway ends on 10/26!

But, wait there’s more! Join Susan May Warren on 10/27 for merriment and a few early Christmas presents at her Baby, It’s Cold Outside Christmas party! Grab your Christmas sweaters, socks and pj’s and join Susan and a few friends for a fireside chat about her recent books (Heiress & Baby, It’s Cold Outside), holiday traditions, favorite Christmas recipes, a trivia contest and more! Invite your friends and don’t miss the fun!

RSVP here and we’ll see you on October 27th at 5 PM PST / 8 PM EST!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter


” I received a copy of Baby It’s Cold Outside, from LitFuse for my review. I have given my opinion. There may be affiliate links in this post.”


Gabby, God’s Little Angel

Heather —  September 28, 2011
New Series for Children

New Series for Children!

What a good new series for kids! I really like Sheila Walsh’s stories for children, especially the Gigi ones. This new series is a sweet, comforting one. With this series, Walsh shows her understanding of children as she shares the good news.

Themes of God’s love and protection run all through the tales and there are beautifully drawn and colored illustrations, by Marina Fedotova.

In the midst of a time where there are few things to capture a child’s imagination and teens flock to follow vampire literature just to get a taste of imagination, It is more than good, but imperative to see a child’s book talking about Angels again–and not just at Christmas, but for everyday life.

And, let’s not forget, as my daughter pointed out,

“There are even ponies!”

I asked Em to do this video review for kids. I did not prompt her in any way, so I thought it was sweet that she paid just as much attention to the verse at the end of the book as the ponies:

The Official Word:

What little girl wouldn’t love her very own guardian angel? Parents and children alike will be won over by this humorous tale of Gabby, a guardian angel in training who has much to learn about taking care of God’s little ones. Her new assignment is to protect a young girl named Sophie, but Gabby soon realizes that watching after Sophie is a bigger challenge than she had expected! After a close call while riding her pony, Sophie learns what the Bible says about guardian angels: “He will put his angels in charge of you. They will watch over you wherever you go” (Psalm 91:11 ICB).

About Sheila:

Sheila Walsh is the creator of the award-winning Gigi, God’s Little Princess® Sheila is a Bible teacher, speaker, singer, and best-selling author with more than 4 million books sold. As a featured speaker with Women of Faith®, Sheila has reached more than 3.5 million women by artistically combining honesty, vulnerability, and humor with God’s Word. She is currently completing her Master’s in Theology.

Read more on the Blog Tour.

Go ahead and get the book, Gabby, God’s Little Angel!

Win a copy from Faith, Family and Fun!

Continue Reading…

Dont check your brains

My Opinion:

I can really appreciate the value of this book. Geared for teens, the book is so simple, it is genius. Basically, it is set up in many small chapters, with each chapter discussing a specific “Myth” about Jesus, God, and the Bible, about Christianity and life. Line art drawings and pull out quotes grab reader attention, and each little chapter section ends with a “Brain Food” bit that helps the reader further explore an issue through bible study and thought.

"Brain food" sections prompt research and biblical study

I like how a person can just open it up and read the chapter that they are curious about. For example, all of us have heard all kinds of myths about things like God is just a vending machine in the sky, Jesus as “just” a good teacher…that the Bible is “just” another good book…

Addressing the Humanist Myth

Addressing the Humanist Myth

In this book, authors McDowell and Hostetler take on myths like these and tons more and refute them, giving scripture based, occasionally even scientific details in their reasoning.

I like how the book is set up. Read a myth, get the answer in 5 pages or less. My kind of book to grab when a kid asks a question! Obviously, you can go into lots of depth on many of these myths and/or issues, but this is good for a book kids might actually read and an adult can point to for an answer to a question.

A winner!

The Official Word:

Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door gives teens answers that make sense, even for the toughest of questions. Internationally known defender of the faith Josh McDowell and co-author Bob Hostetler offer clarity laced with humor to expose common myths about God, the Bible, religion, and life to show how Christianity stands up to the test of fact and reason. Teens will be better equipped to stick with their faith as they begin to understand why they believe and why it’s important to make a lifetime commitment to Christ and the church.

  • Josh McDowell wrote the international best-selling apologetics references Evidence That Demands a Verdict and over 120 other books. He travels and speaks with Campus Crusade for Christ.
  • Bob Hostetler is an award-winning and best-selling writer, editor, pastor, and speaker. His books include Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door and The Bone Box.

To celebrate the release of their new book, Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler have teamed up with their publisher,Thomas Nelson, to give away a brand new KINDLE!

Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door answers many of the faith-related questions Christian youth face. It challenges young readers to test gospel truths found in the Bible so they can learn to give an answer for their faith as they mature into thinking adults. A great resource for teens and college-age. Read the reviews here.

Enter 8/8 – 8/18! One “brainy” winner will receive a Kindle prize package worth over $150.00:

  • A Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi and Pearl Ink Screen
  • Don’t Check Your Brains At the Door by Josh McDowell & Bob Hostetler (for KINDLE)

A perfect back-to-school prize package! To enter just click one of the icons below. Hurry! The giveaway ends August 18th. Winner will be announced on the evening of the 18th during the Don’t Check Your Brains At the Door Facebook Party! The authors will be chatting with guests, answering questions on “knowing what you believe and why” (it’s okay if you haven’t read the book – who knows, you might WIN a copy!), testing your trivia skills, and giving away tons of great stuff! (Gift certificates, books, and more!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Bring your friends and join the fun on August 18th at 5:00 PM PST (6 PM MDT, 7 PM CDT, & 8 PM EDT).

Thanks to LitFuse for sending me a copy for review.

myfoolishheart cover sm

Enjoyable and joyful book

Oh, I have had trouble reading lately. Between all the end of the school year activities and my pile of non-fiction “learning” books, I lost my love of reading for awhile.

I was almost buried in nonfiction books around here. At one point, I realized I have a nonfiction book I’ve been trying to finish bit by bit for over a year. Yeah, seriously. How sad is that?? Now, I do have to review it—and I feel bad, because I should probably just say, if it takes over a year to get remotely interested in a book, you should just give that thing away!

I decided not to get any books for awhile. Then, I thought, I need some fiction. Something to bring back my love of reading!

Now to be honest, I’m not a hardcore Christian Romance Novel reader, but when I saw an upcoming book by Susan May Warren, I went out of my way to get a copy. I have read several novels in the past by Warren and they always bring me some joy. To friends, I describe Warren’s books as sweet, thoughtful, positive and well-crafted…and never preachy or boring.

When beginning My Foolish Heart, I was a little distressed by the raw emotional pain of one of the main characters. Isadora, (Issy) had been through a traumatic event and was really struggling. Immediately, the characters and the plot became important to me and I read that book from cover to cover that day.

I’m not going to get into the plot, as you can read that below. But, I will say that Warren has a knack for creating realistic settings and plot lines that really engage a reader. Her themes are those that are lovely to think upon while her characters deal with down to earth issues and struggles. Oh, and the guy is hot!

Warren recently said, “I wrote about God’s perfect love and how this love can impact us right down to our every breath in my new novel, My Foolish Heart. I truly believe that life is a quest of understanding how deep and wide and long and high God’s love is for us…and the sooner we get that, the sooner we stop searching and live each day knowing who we are.

The sooner we find peace and the abundant life we were meant to live.”

Amen! This book is saturated with hard situations that ultimately are covered with God’s abundant blessings. Real life.

Reading My Foolish Heart was definitely a treat. I recommend taking this to the pool or beach…but don’t get sunburned while you’re all caught up in it!

The Official Word: My Foolish heart
“Unknown to her tiny town of Deep Haven, Isadora Presley spends her nights as Miss Foolish Heart, the star host of a syndicated talk radio show. Millions tune in to hear her advice on dating and falling in love, unaware that she’s never really done either. Issy’s ratings soar when it seems she’s falling in love on-air with a caller. A caller she doesn’t realize lives right next door.

Caleb Knight served a tour of duty in Iraq and paid a steep price. The last thing he wants is pity, so he hides his disability and moves to Deep Haven to land his dream job as the high school football coach. When his beautiful neighbor catches his eye, in a moment of desperation he seeks advice from My Foolish Heart, the show that airs before his favorite sports broadcast.
Before he knows it, Caleb finds himself drawn to the host—and more confused than ever. Is his perfect love the woman on the radio . . . or the one next door?”

Read an excerpt or buy the book!

See what other bloggers are saying.

Win a Romantic Night on the Town from Miss Foolish Heart!

Susan May Warren is thrilled to announce the release of her latest Deep Haven book, My Foolish Heart!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

To celebrate this charming novel about a dating expert who’s never had a date, Susan has put together a romantic night on the town for one lucky couple. One grand prize winner will receive a Miss Foolish Heart prize package worth over $200!

The winner of the Romantic Night on the Town Prize Pack will receive:

* A $100 Visa Gift Card (For Dinner)

* A $100 Gift Certificate to a Hyatt/Marriott Hotel

* The entire Deep Haven series

To enter just click one of the icons below. But, hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on June 16th. The winner will be announced that evening during Susan’s Miss Foolish Heart Party on Facebook! Susan will be chatting with guests, hosting a book club chat about My Foolish Heart, testing your Deep Haven trivia skills, and giving away tons of great stuff! (Gift certificates, books, donuts, and more!) Don’t miss the fun and BRING YOUR FRIENDS!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

I received a copy of My Foolish Heart for review by LitFuse.

A Friend in the Storm

Heather —  September 23, 2010


When I began to read A Friend in the Storm, I was captivated by the powerful poetry inside the delicate little hardbound book. The book itself is small, fabric bound and beautifully foil stamped.

afits-cover-150x15096 pages,  a pattern of quotations, scriptures and poetry all combine to support and sustain someone facing pain in this world.

The author, Cheryl Ricker, was inspired to write this particular book by a friend whom she lost to cancer. You can see that story, here.

I sat down to read this little book while I was saddened by the fact that one of my siblings is going through a very tough time right now. I was really frustrated and questioning God about many things–you know, kind of the “Why do these things happen??” Anyway, as I read the poems, I actually felt some of my stress and anxiety melt away. There is a healing found in God’s word (scriptures are included in this book), and I was also drawn into Cheryl’s poetry…little by little, my mind refocused on the goodness of God, yes, in the midst of the storm.

As I understand it, Cheryl’s intent is to attempt to capture a bit of Christ’s voice and love for us in her poetry–to help heal the hurting with sentiments taken often directly from God’s word. The book is not just a collection of haphazard fuzzy notes, either–it has a definite progression, with attention paid to understanding the course of grief…and of working through suffering.

If you are going through a difficult time, I think this book would be a treasure for you. It is also a good book to give to others–especially when you are at a loss for words and just want to empathize with another.

I thought Cheryl gave a fascinating interview, so I have included some portions in this blog post.

How would you describe your book?

“A Friend in the Storm is a personal conversation between God and a hurting person.  It’s a healing treasury of quotes, Scripture and poetry that leads to lasting hope.  It covers forty-five hope-related topics and takes readers on a healing journey through the stages of grief before it crescendos with the splendor of Heaven.”

What is the basic message of your book and what do you want readers to grasp?

I want readers to know that God hasn’t forgotten them.  He feels what they feel.  He’s holding them. He’s not going to waste their pain. He’s crazy about them. It’s illustrated in the poem,


You’re forever on My mind

And in your presence I rejoice;

Singing out your name with angels,

All your sweetness fills My voice.

Keeping loved ones in My keeping,

I embrace a constant calm.

Whole and holy, I will hold you,

ever-after in My palm

What makes you angry?

It bothers me how easily we forget who our enemy is.  The Bible says “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  (Eph 6:12)

Christianity would look a whole lot more appealing if, instead of fighting each other, we fought on our knees for each other.

What are the five stages of grief and how does A Friend in the Storm touch on these?

According to the Kubler-Ross model, there’s denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

The poems in A Friend in the Storm touch on all of these through the reader’s point of view.  Acceptance takes on a new meaning when readers have an opportunity to accept Christ or trust Him deeper.

How is A Friend in the Storm different than other gift books with quotes, Scriptures and poetry?

Most gift books with quotes, Scripture and poetry are written by multiple authors with multiple styles and points of view, so they don’t have the same continuity and flow.  Because A Friend in the Storm is written by a single voice, it flows like a story.  It’s not just a mish mash of broken thoughts and ideas.  There’s a logical progression.

Cheryl Ricker has a degree in creative writing and has written columns and articles for various magazines and newspapers. She’s been writing poetry all her life and her poems have won awards in fine arts and literary magazines. Cheryl lives with her husband and two sons in Rochester, Minnesota

Please check out Cheryl’s amazing website for more information.

You can buy the book, here

See the Blog Tour Schedule

Cheryl is running a fun KINDLE giveaway during the blog tour. Check out the giveaway by clicking below:
Share Your Storm Kindle Giveaway
Share Your Storm Kindle Giveaway

Thanks to LitFuse for providing me with a copy for my review. I have given my unbiased opinion.

Double Trouble by Susan May Warren

Heather —  February 24, 2010


Check out the blog tour for Susan May Warren’s latest release, Double Trouble.

Looking for a break? Read this book:) The book is a fabulous follow-up to Nothing But Trouble and the contest prize package is perfect!

I am in love with this series! With 5 children, one with a newly diagnosed special need, I am hard pressed to focus on anything. Suffice it to say, I am a hard critic. I will not even consider books I know I may not “get” into easily. I am normally a book lover, but with so much going on, I am viewing my reading pile warily—

However, I was hopeful about this book. “I need a break,” my spirit was practically begging.

Anyway…at first glance, I loved the colorful and youthful cover of Double Trouble. And, I have to admit, I was drawn to the title…even as I walk with God, I still tend to find trouble myself. With two hot guys, plenty of drama and a funny, loveable protagonist and heroine, I have to say, the book was exactly what I needed to drag myself out of the doldrums of winter!

I grew up in the South myself and have a fondness for all things warm, polite and hmmm…complicated!

Within the pages of this book, you can follow PJ as she tries to figure out how to solve crimes and protect witnesses. Ironically, as PJ solves the puzzles other people throw at her, she also figures out who she is…and who she wants to be.

The book is a mixture of Mystery and Chick Literature. The Christian message permeates the story and really speaks of God’s love, which suits the characters very nicely (enough said…no spoilers, here). I give this one a high 5.

After reading Double Trouble, I really wanted to read Nothing but Trouble. Lucky for me, the sweet LitFUSE people hooked me up! I really find the whole series endearing. PJ has so much personality and goes through so many struggles, as we all do, to find out who she really is. And, we get to see God walking with her every step of the way. It becomes obvious to the reader, that PJ’s heart is just so in the right place. How Warren also manages such a cast of characters and a mystery at the same time is beyond me.

I have to say, I totally recommend both books and hear there is a third coming out in Spring!!

The Official Word on Double Trouble:
With one solved case under her belt, PJ Sugar is ready to dive into her career as a private investigator. Or at least a PI’s assistant until she can prove herself to Jeremy Kane, her new boss. Suddenly PJ’s seeing crime everywhere. But is it just in her head, or can she trust her instincts? When she takes on her first official case–house-sitting for a witness in protective custody–Jeremy assures her there’s no danger involved. But it soon becomes clear that there is someone after the witness . . . and now they’re after PJ, too.

Comment to get in on this Prize Package!

Enter the Double Trouble Prize Package Giveaway by clicking on the ‘Double the Sass” button below! The author, Susan, is giving away an iPod prize package that is anything but troubling! Check it out!


One Grand Prize winner will receive a $150 SUPER SLEUTH prize package that includes:

* A brand new iPod Shuffle (perfect for those all-night stakeouts)
* A $10 iTunes gift card (we recommend the ALIAS soundtrack)
* A $10 Amazon gift card (why yes, they do sell spy pens)
* A $10 Starbucks gift card (for fuel, obviously)
* A pair of designer sunglasses (be stealthy AND super chic)
* A gorgeous scarf from World Market (can also be used as a blindfold, and/or for tying up bad guys)
* AND signed copies of both Nothing But Trouble & Double Trouble. (romance! danger! intrigue! sooo much better than Surveillance for Dummies!)

They will announce the super sleuth winner on March 1st.

About Susan:
MBT writing headshotSusan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author of twenty-four novels with Tyndale, Barbour and Steeple Hill. A four-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Book of the Year. Her larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder of My Book Therapy, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice. Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota, where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!) A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at:

Check out the blog tour for Susan May Warren’s latest release, Double Trouble.

Go here to purchase your copy of Nothing but Trouble, and here to get Double Trouble.

Special thanks to LitFuse for providing a copy of Nothing But Trouble and Double Trouble for me to read and review!