Be Blessed In 2017

January 1st, 2017
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Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:2-12

For Unto Us

December 25th, 2016

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For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Feliz Navidead Giveaway

December 13th, 2016
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Feliz Navidead

December 13th, 2016

Feliz Navidead

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By Ann Myers

Holly, jolly, and downright deadly—the third Santa Fe Café mystery unwraps surprises both naughty and nice . . . It’s the most picturesque time of the year in Santa Fe, and Chef Rita Lafitte of Tres Amigas Café hopes the twinkling lights and tasty holiday treats will charm her visiting mom. Rita is also planning fun activities, such as watching her teenage daughter, Celia, perform in an outdoor Christmas play.
What she doesn’t plan for is murder.

Rita discovers a dead actor during the premier performance but vows to keep clear of the case. Sleuthing would upset her mom. Besides, there’s already a prime suspect, caught red-handed in his bloodied Santa suit. However, when the accused Santa’s wife begs for assistance—and points out that Celia and other performers could be in danger—Rita can’t say no. With the help of her elderly boss, Flori, and her coterie of rogue knitters, Rita strives to salvage her mother’s vacation, unmask a murderer, and stop this festive season from turning even more fatal.

ISLAND BREEZES

A very interesting Christmas indeed! Someone killed the devil – at least one of them. Rita’s daughter, Celia, is still alive, but she may well be in danger.

The traditional Santa Fe Las Posadas and and Celia’s part in it is a surprise to Helen, Rita’s very conventional mother. Helen has the exact same Christmas every year. Until now, that is. Rita’s sister is spending Christmas at the beach, and Helen is here to celebrate a Santa Fe Christmas.

Toss in Las Posadas, a dead devil, an ex-husband, a bunch of bones, a knitting group, disappearing objects, Indian curses and secretive teens. Mix them all together and you have a most interesting mystery on your hands.

Bonus #1 If you’re a knitter, you’ll find some yarn bombing ideas here.

Bonus #2 If you want to tantalize your taste buds, there’s some really good recipes at the back of the book. I’ve been drooling over Lorena’s Gingersnap Pumpkin Pie. I think that will have to be part of our family’s Christmas.

Thank you, Ms Myers, for introducing me to Rita Lafitte. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her.

***I received this book free of charge from Partners In Crime, and am giving my honest opinion.***

Read an excerpt:

Mom stopped mid-stroll, thumping one hand to her chest, gripping a hip-high adobe wall with the other.
“I need to catch my breath, Rita,” she declared, rather accusatorily.
I murmured, “Of course,” and issued my best good-daughter sympathetic smile.
I did, truly, sympathize. At seven thousand feet above sea level, Santa Fe, New Mexico, can literally take your breath away, and my mother had flown in only a few hours earlier from the midwestern lowlands. Adjusting to high altitudes takes time. About a week, the experts say, although I’ve called Santa Fe home for over three years and still blame the paltry oxygen when I pant through my morning jog and puff under overladen burrito platters at Tres Amigas Cafe, where I’m a chef and co-amiga. I’ve even postulated that the thin air makes my thighs look larger. Lack of atmospheric compression, that unscientifically tested theory goes. The more likely culprit is my steady diet of cheesy chiles rellenos, blue corn waffles, green chile cheeseburgers, and other New Mexican delicacies.
Mom took deep breaths beside me. I wasn’t too worried. If Mom was at risk of anything, it was overacting. I strongly suspected she was making a point, something she likes to do indirectly and with drama.
Things Mom doesn’t like? High altitudes, dry climates, hot chiles, and disturbance of her holiday routine. I knew she wasn’t thrilled to spend Christmas away from home. My goal was to win her over, and lucky for me, I had Santa Fe’s holiday charm on my side.
I leaned against the wall, enjoying the warmth of solar-heated adobe on my back. A group of carolers strolled by, harmonizing a bilingual version of “Feliz Navidad.” String lights and pine boughs decorated the porticos along Palace Avenue, and pinon smoke perfumed the air. To my eyes, the self-proclaimed “City Different” looked as pretty as a Christmas card. Once Mom got over the initial shock of leaving her comfort zone, she’d come around.
I hoped . . . Mom reached for a water bottle in her dual-holstered hip pack. “Hydration,” she said, repeating a caution she’d first raised nearly two decades ago, when I embarked for culinary school in Denver and its mere mile-high elevation. In between sips, she reminded me that proper water intake was the key to fending off altitude-induced illnesses ranging from headaches to poor judgment. She tilted her chin up and assessed me through narrowed eyes.
“You’re not drinking enough, Rita. I can tell. Your cheeks look dry. Your hands too. And your hair…”
Mom made tsk-tsk sounds. “Perhaps a trim would keep it from getting so staticky. You do look awfully cute when it’s short.”
I patted my shoulder-length locks, recently cut into loose layers that emphasized my natural staticky waves. I could use a drink. A tart margarita on the rocks with extra salt would do. My mouth watered. Behave, I chastised myself. It wasn’t even two in the afternoon, way too early for tequila. Plus, I loved my mother and her cute silver-flecked pixie cut. Most of all, I was delighted that she’d come to visit me and my teenage daughter, Celia. It was nice of Mom. No, more than nice. The visit bordered on maternal sacrifice.
As far as I knew, my mother, Mrs. Helen Baker Lafitte, aged sixty-eight and three quarters, of Bucks Grove, Illinois, had never left home for Christmas before, nor had she wanted to. Mom is a retired high school librarian, a woman of card-catalog order and strict traditions, otherwise known as doing the same thing year after year. Under usual circumstances, Mom keeps our “heirloom” artificial Christmas tree perpetually decorated and stored in the garage until the day after Thanksgiving, when she takes it out, dusts it off, and installs it to the left of the living-room fireplace. She places electric candles in each front window, hangs a wreath on the door, and wraps the holly bush in tasteful, nonflashing white lights. All of her holiday cards are mailed by the twelfth of December. Food traditions are similarly strict. The Christmas Day lunch begins promptly at noon and is typically attended by my Aunt Sue, Uncle Dave, Aunt Karen, and younger sister Kathy and her family. Kathy’s husband, Dwayne, watches sports in the den, while their three kids hover between completely exhausted and totally wired from their morning gift frenzy. My mother and aunts whip up a feast of roasted turkey and stuffing, scalloped potatoes, sweet potato casserole with mini-marshmallows, Tater Tot hot dish, amazing monkey bread, Aunt Sue’s famous (or infamous) Jell-O surprise featuring celery and cheese cubes, and my favorite dish: pie, usually apple, mincemeat, and/or pumpkin. It’s a lovely meal, which I truly miss when I can’t attend. However, I also love Santa Fe and want to make my own traditions here.
“That’s one benefit for your sister,” Mom said, polishing off her second water bottle. I swore I heard her stomach slosh. “The beach is at sea level.”
“Yep, that’s the beach for you,” I replied in the perky tone I vowed to maintain for the rest of Mom’s visit. “Kath and the kids must be loving it. What a treat! A holiday to remember!”
“I warned Kathy about jellyfish,” Mom said darkly. “Rip currents, sharks, sand, mosquitoes. . . . It simply doesn’t seem right to be somewhere so tropical for Christmas, but Dwayne went and got that package deal.”
Mom’s tone suggested Dwayne had purchased a family-sized case of hives. I gave Mom another sympathetic smile, along with the extra water bottle she’d stashed in my purse. Of course she was out of sorts. Once the kids learned that they’d get to open their presents early and go to Disney World and the beach, Mom and the holiday hot dish hadn’t stood a chance. I, meanwhile, saw my chance to get Mom to Santa Fe. I employed some of the guilt she usually ladled on me, telling her truthfully that Celia and I couldn’t get away this year between my work and Celia’s extracurricular activities.
Mom, the master of loving manipulation, countered with how much my Illinois relatives would miss us. I was also single, she needlessly pointed out, implying that I could easily uproot. Furthermore, I lived in a casita, a home with tiny in its very name. She wouldn’t want to put me out, she said. Mom then played her wild card, namely Albert Ridgeland, my junior prom date. Wouldn’t you know, Mom had said. She’d recently run into Albert and he was divorced just like me, and with his own successful dental clinic and a mostly full head of hair and he sure would love to catch up. Mom might be indirect, but she’s never subtle. Ever since my divorce from Manny Martin, a policeman with soap-opera good looks and accompanying philandering tendencies, Mom’s been after me to move back “home.” She sends me clippings of employment ads and monitors eligible bachelors. Peeved that Mom had dragged a divorced dentist into the debate, I went for the guilt jugular, reminding Mom that she was retired yet hadn’t visited in nearly two years.
My tactic worked, possibly too well. Mom was staying for nearly three weeks—to get her money’s worth out of the flight—and I’d feel terrible if she didn’t have a good time. I looked over and saw Mom eyeing a brown paper lunch sack perched a few feet down the adobe wall. The bag was open at the top and slightly singed on the sides. I could guess the contents. A votive candle nestled in sand. Mom stepped over to peek inside.
“It’s a wonder this entire state doesn’t burn down,” she declared. “Remember when your middle school band director, Mr. Ludwig, put on that world Christmas festival in the gymnasium? He almost set the bleachers on fire with one of these . . .” She paused. “What do you call them?”
“A farolito,” I said, proud to show off my local knowledge. “Some people call them luminarias, but Santa Feans are very particular about terminology. Here, luminaria refers to small bonfires. Farolitos are the candles in paper bags. There are electric farolitos too. You’ll see a lot of those along the rooflines of hotels and businesses. They’re pretty but nothing compared to the real ones on Christmas Eve. You’ll love it, Mom. You’ve never seen anything like it.”
Mom shuddered, likely imagining Santa Fe bursting into a spontaneous inferno rather than aglow with thousands of flickering lights. I decided not to tell her about the amazing three-dimensional paper lanterns I’d once seen soaring above the adobe city, lifted by the energy of the candles burning inside them. I needed to work on Mom before I exposed her to flying flames or peppers for breakfast. Mom was rooting around in her hip pack.
“I thought I had a granola bar. This time change and the lack of air are making me light-headed. You need to keep eating too, Rita.” Eating, I always had covered. I also had a better idea than a squished fanny-pack snack.
“It’s the holidays, Mom. Let’s get some pie.”

Ann Myers

About Ann:

Ann Myers writes the Santa Fe Café Mysteries. The first book in the series, Bread of the Dead (2015), introduced café chef and reluctant amateur sleuth, Rita Lafitte. Rita and her friends stir up more trouble in Cinco de Mayhem (March 2016) and Feliz Navidead (October 25, 2016). Ann lives with her husband and extra-large house cat in southern Colorado, where she enjoys cooking, crafts, and cozy mysteries.

You can find Ann online on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AnnMyers.writer/ and her website http://www.annmyersbooks.com/

Good Like God

December 10th, 2016

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Loved ones, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.

3 John 11

Michèle Phoenix’s ‘Of Stillness and Storm’ Bookworm On-the-Go Prize Pack

December 7th, 2016

A tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry—don’t miss Michèle Phoenix’s new intimate and bold release, Of Stillness and Storm. It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. When a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again, the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past might be too much. Will it be the family’s undoing?

Take Michèle’s new book with you on your winter vacation and enter to win her Bookworm On-the-Go Prize Pack (because you can’t take a stack of books with you when you travel).

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One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on December 31. The winner will be announced January 3 on Michèle’s blog.

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of stillness and storm

December 6th, 2016

of stillness and storm

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By Michèle Phoenix

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

 
“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”

 
It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their
dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.

 
At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

ISLAND BREEZES

Sam was gung ho from the beginning. Lauren wasn’t so sure for awhile, but made the committment. Ryan was dead set against moving to Nepal.

Sam would disappear into the remote mountain reaches three weeks out of every four. He soon became a stranger to his own family.

After two years Lauren needed Sam home more to help with Ryan. What she really needed was to take him back to the States. Ryan was becoming a surly, distant handful for Lauren.

After a friend kept urging Lauren to join facebook, she finally did, and doing so, discovered a new life for herself. A dangerous life for her fragile emotions. Aiden needed the connection as much as Lauren.

But can Lauren’s relationship with her son and husband survive this secret life of hers?

Thank you, Ms Phoenix, for this very touching story. I look forward to reading more of your work.

***I received this book free of charge from Litfuse, and am giving my honest opinion.***

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Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michèle Phoenix is a consultant, writer, and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids.

 
She taught for 20 years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michèle travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies and paths to healing.

Pursuing Gold

December 5th, 2016

Pursuing Gold

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By Cynthia L. Simmons

With his father dead and his business partner incapacitated, Peter Chandler inherits the leadership of a bank in economic crisis.
With only a newly-minted college degree and little experience, Peter joins his partner’s daughter, Mary Beth Roper, in a struggle to keep C&R Bank afloat while the Civil War rages around Chattanooga. Political pressure for unsecured loans of gold to the government stirs up trouble as tempers and prices rise. Their problems multiply when Mary Beth discovers counterfeit money with Peter’s forged signature. Can they find the forger before the bank fails? The two friends must pursue gold on behalf of their business, as they learn to pursue their heavenly Father to find hope and peace.

ISLAND BREEZES

This book has two new bank partners struggling with their new duties. They had no idea what kind of mess they were walking into.

Peter and Mary Beth were friends before becoming partners in a bank that just might go under.

There’s the Civil War nearing their door step. Then a murder. Now forged paper currency printed on their bank – a bank which has always dealt in gold and shunned paper currency.

The two must pursue gold as well as find the forgers and their cache of the false currency before it’s distributed and causes the bank to fail.

Will they also have a chance to pursue a budding romance?

Thank you, Ms Simmons, for this novel. I love historical novels and almost always learn something new in its particular time frame.

***I received this book free of charge from Litfuse, and am giving my honest opinion.***

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Cynthia L Simmons and her husband, Ray, have five children and reside in Atlanta. She has taught for over thirty years as a homeschool mother and Bible teacher. She’s a columnist for Leading Hearts Magazine and she directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference. Cyndi has a heart for encouraging women in today’s crazy, upside-down world. She loves history and peppers her speaking and teaching with fascinating vignettes from the past. Her first book, Struggles and Triumphs, was nominated for 2008 Georgia Author of the Year. She co-founded Homeschool Answers and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio.

Warning Against Deceivers

December 3rd, 2016

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For many deceivers have gone out into the world – those who do not acknowledge Yeshua as Messiah coming in human flesh. This one is a deceiver and the anti-messiah.

Watch yourselves, so you do not lose what we have worked for but receive a full reward.

Anyone who goes too far and does not remain in Messiah’s teaching does not have God. Anyone who remains in this teaching has both the Father and the Son.

2 John 7-9

The Remnant

November 29th, 2016

The Remnant

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By Monte Wolverton

What if there were an Apocalypse and Jesus didn’t return? What if the survivors found themselves living in a world ruled by a totalitarian government, where religion is forbidden and all religious texts have been destroyed? In The Remnant, award-winning author Monte Wolverton tells the tale of a band of concentration camp escapees who trek through the lawless American wilderness on a quest for authentic Christianity, only to come face to face with an unthinkable dilemma. The Remnant is a fast-paced story punctuated with dry satire, memorable characters and hard questions about religious institutions.

ISLAND BREEZES

It’s a big, scary world out there. But it’s also a world of freedom. Most people in the concentration camps have been there too long to have expierenced freedom. All they know is the one world government.

Then there’s the Safe Zone where the inhabitants are both protected and have more freedom of movement.

Outside these two areas is the “wild, wild west.” It’s not a very safe place.

One family along with friends who are fellow Christ believers decide to esvcape and find a place where they can freely worship/ They are armed only with the Remnant to guide them in their faith.

It’s a long and dangerous journey, and just when they think they’ve found what they’ve been looking for, their world is turned upside down.

In the end we are left wondering. Don’t even think about reading the end first. It won’t make much sense. Mr. Wolverton, please give me a follow up book soon. I really want to know the decision.

***A special thank you to litfuse for providing a copy without charge.***

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Monte Wolverton is an award-winning author and syndicated editorial cartoonist. He is associate editor of CWR magazine. He is an ordained minister and holds a MA from Goddard College in Vermont. Along with his wife, Kaye, he makes his home in southwest Washington State.