Sunday, December 2, 2012

No Safe Harbor

Book Review

No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig is the first volume in Edge of Freedom series. The story is set in New York City in 1897 and right from the beginning there is a foreboding – a foreshadowing. Cara Hamilton arrives on Ellis Island, a brand new immigrant from Ireland. She had been told that her twin brother had died in Ireland. Two years after the death report she received a letter sent from America from her brother telling her to sail to New York as soon as possible. She was given strict instructions to make sure she does not trust or give any information to anyone. Her brother ambiguously said he would find her after she arrives.

Traveling alone, Cara has no connections and little money and has a need to accept help. Her brother was not waiting for her at Ellis Island and she must rely on strangers to recommend a boarding house and guide her to the correct  location in the city. She also receives assistance with finding a job.

Cara must talk with the owner and other women at her boarding house and with only cryptic directions she does not know why her brother told her to trust no one. As the weeks go by she receives no communication from her brother. Out of necessity Cara gains acquaintances including Rourke, a young man who becomes her protector. But as the weeks go by the danger increases and Cara has no idea who she can trust.

Cara’s story is also a testimony to her reliance on God. As a new immigrant to America with no relatives or friends to meet her and assist her she completely trusts God to see her through. As the story progresses the suspense builds. I began to be suspicious of everyone with whom Cara came in contact. Until the end of the book I could not have advised her who to trust and who was an enemy.

No Safe Harbor is an exciting story that is a real page-turner. It is also a good reminder of God’s caring and protection. I definitely recommend this book.

I received this book from the publisher in return for a review. All opinions are my own.

About No Safe Harbor

She came to America searching for her brother. Instead all she's found is a web of danger.

Cara Hamilton had thought her brother to be dead. Now, clutching his letter, she leaves Ireland for America, desperate to find him. Her search leads her to a houseful of curious strangers, and one man who claims to be a friend-Rourke Walsh. Despite her brother's warning, Cara trusts Rourke, revealing her purpose in coming to New York.

She's then thrust into a world of subterfuge, veiled threats, and attempted murder, including political revolutionaries from the homeland out for revenge. Her questions guide her ever nearer to locating her brother-but they also bring her closer to destruction as those who want to kill him track her footsteps.

With her faith in tatters, all hope flees. Will her brother finally surface? Can he save Cara from the truth about Rourke... a man she's grown to love? 

Meet Elizabeth:  
Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author and an accomplished speaker and teacher. Her historical novel Love Finds You in Calico, California earned four stars from Romantic Times. She is the owner and editor of the popular literary blog The Borrowed Book. Along with her husband and two children, Elizabeth makes her home in Orange, Texas.

Elizabeth Ludwig is celebrating her new book with a Kindle Fire Giveaway and connecting with readers at a Facebook Author Chat party on 12/6.

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 5th. Winner will be announced at the "No Safe Harbor" Author Chat Facebook Party on 12/6. Connect with Elizabeth, get a sneak peek of the next book in the Edge of Freedom series, try your hand at the trivia contest, and win some great prizes—gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack (10 copies for your book club or small group)!

So grab your copy of No Safe Harbor and join Elizabeth on the evening of the December 6th for a chance to connect with her and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Breath of Dawn

Book Review

It becomes evident early in the story that Quinn Reilly is running from someone. Kristen Heitzmann’s The Breath of Dawn is a richly developed suspense story that gives vignettes that unfold slowly, gradually giving the reader more information about Quinn’s background. The vignettes build into a crescendo that continually raises the suspense making this a book that is difficult to put down.

Heitzmann also weaves a story within a story telling about the growing love story between Quinn and Morgan Spencer. The two plots are joined together with the Paris wedding of Quinn and Morgan. From that point on the suspense and the love story are one.

Quinn did what she felt was the right thing to do, testifying against a man who was sent to jail. The crime was a white-collar crime, but Quinn had reason to believe he could be violent. At the trial, he told her she was dead. When he is released after four years, Quinn’s nightmare begins. Morgan is a successful businessman who consults with companies that are in danger of failing. Morgan is good at fixing things. His unorthodox solution to solve Quinn’s dangerous problem is for the two of them to marry. Quinn’s baggage from the past and the memories of the death of Morgan’s first wife make the reader believe that this relationship cannot last. And, in fact, there are times when Quinn feels this way too. The story shows how in the middle of Morgan and Quinn’s flawed plan, God has a plan for both of them that is perfect. 

The book gives the reader suspense, a love story, the privilege of observing God’s protection and the plan He has for Morgan and Quinn.   This is a story that is very satisfying.

I highly recommend this book. I received this book from the publisher in return for a review. All opinions are my own.

About Breath of Dawn

Corporate turnaround specialist Morgan Spencer, dubbed the "success guru," has a Midas touch in business. But losing his wife sent him to the brink, and his two-year-old daughter, Livie, is all he's living for--until they encounter a woman whose trouble just might draw him out of his own.

Four years ago Quinn Reilly did the right thing. Now the man her testimony put in jail is getting out. Though she has put up barriers to protect herself and those around her, she has come to care for the Spencer family, especially the winsome Livie and her mercurial father. Unwilling to put them at risk when the threats begin, she requests something she hopes the super-successful Morgan might be able to deliver.

Fixing problems is what Morgan does best, but his counterproposal takes them in a direction neither is equipped to handle. Determined to confront the past, will they survive to build a future?

About the Author

Kristen Heitzmann is the bestselling author of over a dozen novels, including Freefall, Halos, A Rush of Wings, and the Christy Award winner Secrets. She and her husband, Jim, and their family live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she serves as worship leader in their church.

Visit Kristen's Web site at

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Merry Little Christmas

Book Review

A Merry Little Christmas set in 1961 by Anita Higman is a very cozy story. While it is a story set during the Christmas season, it is not a typical seasonal story with Santa, red and green themed rooms, and busy shopping. Christmas is subtle in this book.

A Merry Little Christmas is a love story. Francine Martin is a young woman who owns and operates a farm in Oklahoma. Charlie Landau is a wealthy young man who buys Franny’s farm. There is a spark between them immediately. They find that they share a similar sense of humor and a love of music. The author also deals with a sub-plot that explores the issue of racism in 1961. An older, African-American woman named Noma comes into the lives of Franny and Charlie and plays an important part in the story.

There is a complex web of problems for Franny and Charlie and as the story unfolds the reader sees how things begin to work out for the couple. It could be said that in real life things just do not work that smoothly; but I believe the story should be read with an attitude of watching how God works in individual’s lives – taking a hodge-podge of people and problems and pulling them into a beautiful mosaic design.

This is a perfect book to read curled up in a cozy chair by the fireplace, drinking a cup of Christmas tea. The reader can enjoy watching how our detail-minded God puts together the puzzle pieces of problems for a very likeable young couple and marvel at the beauty He creates, just in time for Christmas Eve.

I received this book from the publisher in return for a review. All opinions are my own.

About The Book

Fall in love with this cozy story about two people from different worlds.

Franny Martin is an Oklahoma farm girl who's preparing to spend the holidays alone...again. Then Charlie Landau shows up one day, all wealth and polish, and offers to buy Franny's farm. Franny has no money to speak of, but she is clever and spirited, and she's more than happy to sell the farm and move to the city.

As Sinatra croons from the radio and Christmas descends upon her charming farm, Franny teaches Charlie the curious and sometimes comical ways of country life. In the process, they unearth some discoveries of the heart-that sometimes love comes when you're least ready for it. Will the holidays bring their most impossible dreams within reach?

Meet The Author

Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She's been a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

Find out more about Anita at

Author Anita Higman invites readers to kick off the season with a spirited holiday tale. Anita is spreading the Christmas cheer by giving away FIFTEEN COPIES of the book

To enter to win A Merry Little Christmas, just head over to THE CONTEST PAGE at Anita's website and fill out the short form. Be sure to put BLOG CONTEST in the Subject Line. That's it. 

Winners will be announced on the Litfuse blog (and notified by email) on 11/9.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My First Handy Bible

Book Review

I often complain about the lack of aesthetics in most churches and ministries today. Once upon a time art in the church was all about giving God the best, not “our best” but “the best”, whether we’re talking about music, art, or even the Sunday morning bulletin.  It’s all a matter of how we view God. 

Is He worthy of the best? 

Let me ask this: if the president was coming to visit our church, would we settle for what we do every week, or would we try to up the ante and maybe hire in some professionals to give him an experience that’s worthy of his visit. 

How much more for the King of Hosts?

Is it any wonder that so many find the world more attractive?  At least they seem to care about and believe in what they’re doing enough to spend some effort and money on it.

This may seem like a strange rant to walk down for a review of a Children’s Bible, but often times I see Christian publishers doing the same thing: just throwing together some half-baked artwork for their cover, and crummy stories that took probably all of ten hours to write, draw, and color for children’s books.  

And then I there’s the Handy Bible. 

The book itself isn’t all that impressive.  Its gimmick is a cheap plastic handle and a cheap plastic latch that keeps it closed.  Imagine a tiny briefcase.  But inside . . . inside it’s amazing!

They hired professional cartoon artist Gustavo Mazali to illustrate the Bible stories, and the scenes and imagery are just gorgeous.  I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was about the artwork.  He has a style similar to Sam Butcher’s Precious Moments, and if you were just thinking about the commercialized version of his work, I’d encourage you to check out the Precious Moments Chapel and some of his finer paintings.  I think Mazali is much better at expression than Butcher was though.

My son loved the stories too, though at three, he wasn’t as excited about the professional quality of the art.  Someday he will be.  I learned to draw by copying out of a picture Bible, and maybe he will too.

At any rate, I highly recommend this book, but also all the other selections from Scandanavia Publishing with illustrations by Gustavo Mazali.

About the Book

As soon as they can talk, most little ones begin asking for a Bible to hold in their very own hands. Now, from Denmark to America, comes My First Handy Bible (Scandinavia Publishing) for babies and toddlers, with all the best stories from Genesis to Revelation. Young children delight in carrying around the compact and colorful Bible—taking it to church, “playing” church or cuddling up in a lap to have it read to them. My First Handy Bible has huge appeal for parents, grandparents, teachers and children’s ministry leaders, but especially for the kids!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


What exactly is a miracle?  If you’re a Bible believing Christian, that’s probably not a question you’ve asked.  If you’re a skeptic, you’ve probably wouldn’t even waste much time pondering that question and dismiss it with a remark about ignorant people.  Yet miracles are part of the universal human experience.  There is no culture on Earth that doesn’t believe in miracles of some kind.

Tim Stafford is a senior writer for Christianity Today and has spent twenty-something years traveling the world and hearing accounts of miracles, which are the topic of his new book aptly titled: Miracles.

He admits that as a reformed Presbyterian, he didn’t have much faith in miracles and mostly leaned toward the position that God had gotten out of using people in His miracle working business after He finished his epic memoirs aka the Bible. (My words not his.)

But when a young man that he knew from his Presbyterian church, who had been bound to a wheelchair, went to a healing service at a more charismatic church and walked away from it pushing his wheelchair in front of him, Mr. Stafford decided to start digging a little deeper.

He found two things: there’s a lot of hyped-up, exaggerated miracles that people just want to believe but probably aren’t even close to true, but there are also real documented miracles happening all over the world.  He gives one example of watching Muslims come to Christ in Mozambique because a deaf man is healed in His name.

What is the thing that separates the real from the hype?  Well, the real are much rarer, usually important to an individual and those who know him/her, they’re life-changing for everyone involved, and most importantly God uses these “signs” as just that--signs that point to Him.

I have to say that I loved this book.

I’ve seen miracles first hand.  When my son was born, my wife went blind from complications because her blood started to clot and hemorrhage and damaged the tissue in her eyes, as well as other organs throughout her body.  It wasn’t certain whether she would live or die, but according to the doctors and the counselors that visited during that time, if she made it, her sight would be impaired for life.

I remember making videos of our son for her with the dim hope that God would heal her someday, and I wanted her to be able to see her son’s face when he was born. I also remember writing about healing during this time in the post Healing and God’s Heart.

People all around the world were praying for her recovery, and our boy was a month and half old when his mom was stable enough to come home from the hospital.  I can’t point to a specific moment when she got her sight back, but the next time we went to the doctor, she had 20/20 vision.

This is one of those examples Stafford would point to as hard to verify.  The medical records show that she was blind and got her sight back, but they chalk it up to the body healing itself.  They can’t explain how it healed itself, but it did.  It happens all the time.  Of course, that’s a skeptic’s response.  I don’t know how it happened, but it wasn’t a miracle because miracles don’t happen.

On the other hand, I’ve heard lots of people in the more charismatic side of things claim healing, but then a week later, they’re suffering again.  Were they healed or not? I’d say, no, and I think Stafford would too.

However, I think his summation is a good one.  If someone tells you they’ve been healed, hope that they have been and praise God.  Rejoice with those who rejoice.  If someone needs healing, pray that they will be, and mourn with those who mourn.  But don’t get so focused on signs and wonders that you forget whom the signs point to. 


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