Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Prayer of Thanksgiving inspired by Psalm 23

This prayer of thanksgiving inspired by Psalm 23 never fails to inspire me. It's written by Randy Vader and Rose Aspinall, who work at PraiseGathering Music Group.  May it inspire you also as you pause to reflect on God's blessings today.


Dear Father in heaven . . .

Thank You for the promise that in You I shall not want.
When I am overwhelmed, You calm my restless heart.

In trials that overpower me as mighty torrents in a raging river,
You call me to rest beside still waters.

In a world that only knows what it means to take,
You bring the peace that restores to me even those things I did not know I had lost.

So many voices call to me, beckoning me to walk another road,
But You—You invite me to walk in paths of Your righteousness in the name of Your Son.

In the inevitability of the shadow of death, I thank you Father that I need not fear the Unknown.
I need only look to You for comfort and protection.

Even in the midst of those things that bring fear— that make me feel alone, You prepare a banquet and Your sure love overwhelms my enemies.
The things that burden me are washed away in Your presence and I am overcome with Your grace.

Abba, I could never ask for that which You offer to me as gift. My heart overflows.
Your goodness and mercy are always with me and I rejoice in the invitation to dwell in Your house forever.

Praise You Loving Father.
Praise You Son of God.
Praise You Holy Spirit.

May my life be a never ending psalm of Thanksgiving.

". . . give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Author Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: Vannetta Chapman

I am very glad to welcome Vannetta Chapman back to The Power of Words today!

It's no secret that I enjoy her Amish fiction, but I wasn't sure what I would think of her newest novel, Hidden, because it's in a genre that I'm not overly fond of - romantic suspense. Well, let me just say that Hidden is an incredible book, and I've figured out that it's simply Vannetta's writing that I enjoy so much, no matter the genre. Please see my review of Hidden here.

Enjoy Vannetta's interview and enter to win a copy of Hidden, which Vannetta is graciously sharing with one of you. Details are at the end of this post.

Q:  With Thanksgiving being this week, what is a past or current family tradition that you cherish?

My dad always bundled up plates of food and took it to shut-in folks. I was always nominated to ride along with him, and I think those experiences really shaped my attitudes about Thanksgiving, gratitude, and kindness.

Q:  Tell us about the book we're featuring today, Hidden.

Hidden is the story of Dana Jacobs—who SEEMS to have it all together, but in fact is held back in her personal and spiritual life by events in her past. Faith is something she stopped having as a small child. Now Ben Marshall is in her life—a steady, calming, faithful presence, and she doesn’t know what to do with him. When they become deeply involved in a case that threatens both their town and their lives, Dana must decide if she’s going to let her past define her. She must decide whether she’s going to live in fear, or live by faith. It’s a fun, suspenseful story that focuses on God’s grace and love for us.

Q:  The setting of Taos, New Mexico almost felt like a major character. What drew you to this location and culture?

Hubby and I honeymooned there 15 years ago! It’s a special place and the dramatic scenery sparked my imagination – even then before I was writing novels!

Q:  What spiritual nugget or thought do you hope readers take away from Hidden? Is there one that particularly speaks to you personally, Vannetta?

The spiritual theme of the story is grace and forgiveness. When we accept the grace God offers us, we’re able to forgive ourselves as well as those who have hurt us in the past. All those things we keep hidden? They’re wiped clean by God’s powerful hand, and we’re able to live victoriously.

Q:  Please share anything you'd like about your writing experience with Hidden - why you ventured into the romantic suspense genre, chose to publish independently, etc.

I read a lot of suspense and I also gravitate toward those types of movies. When they’re done well, we are drawn into this pivotal moment in a character’s life – and we are deeply concerned about what happens to them. I’ll continue to write inspirational romance, but I also enjoy the suspense genre and plan to do  more things there in the future.

Q. Has the "indie" experience been rewarding and would you do it again?

It’s a lot of work! J All of writing is, but when you publish something independently, you take on the role of publisher and marketing firm. All of that is a lot to juggle, but it’s been very rewarding, and I expect I’ll continue to release indie books as my schedule allows.

Q:  What stories can we look forward to in the days ahead?

Murder Tightly Knit will release in December—this is an Amish cozy mystery.
Next year I’ll release another novella (An Amish Cradle) in February, an Amish cozy mystery in (Murder Freshly Baked) in June, and my new Amish romance series (Plain & Simple Miracles) in the fall. Hopefully I’ll also release Protected as an indie. So it’s going to be a busy year!

Q:  How can we support and/or pray for you?

The best thing any reader can do for an author is tell another reader about our books. Most people still buy based on someone else’s recommendation. And tell your library too—I adore libraries! Prayers are always appreciated—that I will maintain the balance in my life that honors God and that I will write the stories he would have me to write.

Thanks so much for having me.



To enter the drawing for Hidden, simply answer the following question that I asked Vannetta:

What is a past or current Thanksgiving family
tradition that you cherish?

E-mail address are required for the drawing and be sure to leave them in a safe format - [at] and [dot]. If you're willing, it's also helpful to share about this giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Please "like" my Facebook page, ThePowerofWordsBookReviews, if you haven't already. And new followers of this blog are always welcome!

  • E-mail required, one entry per person. Odds of winning are based on number of entries.
  • Contest ends at midnight PST on December 5, 2014. Winner will be chosen by and contacted by e-mail. Respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.
  • Eligibility: US residents

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Review: At Bluebonnet Lake

At Bluebonnet Lake
By Amanda Cabot
Texas Crossroads, #1
Revell, 2014


Her life is set to warp speed. His is slowing to a crawl. But love has its own timing.

Marketing maven Kate Sherwood's world is fast-paced, challenging, and always changing. The last thing she wants to do is grind to a halt at Rainbow's End, a dilapidated resort in the Texas Hill Country. Still, she cannot deny her ailing grandmother's request to visit the place where she and her deceased husband spent one glorious week fifty years ago. There, Kate meets Greg, who appears to be the resort's unassuming handyman. But there's more to Greg than meets the eye--billions more, in fact.

Kate isn't looking for romance, but she can't deny the sparks of attraction that fly every time she and Greg are together. Could there be a future there? Or will Kate's long-sought promotion take her back to the big city?

Amanda Cabot invites you to step into a place away from the pressures of the day. You might be surprised by what you find at Rainbow's End.

My thoughts

At Bluebonnet Lake is Amanda Cabot's first contemporary romance and I enjoyed it very much. The same quality of writing and characterization that readers have found in her historical novels are exhibited here also. The characters are well drawn and appealing, and Amanda's writing flows easily with vivid descriptions and an underlying humor.

At Bluebonnet Lake is a story of transformation, healed relationships, and being open to God's leading. It's not a fast-paced book that you keeps you reading into the wee hours of the morning, but rather a steadily developing narrative with a beautiful setting in the Texas Hill Country - and this is often exactly what I'm looking for. There's nothing bland about this book. Even if the ending is a little predictable, the enjoyment is in how the characters get there. At Bluebonnet Lake is simply a comfortable, cozy read - and I loved it.

If I had to choose one main strength, it would be the characters - both leading and secondary. Kate is a workaholic, while Greg is trying to escape that all-consuming lifestyle; Kate craves a promotion/partnership in the advertising firm where she works, while Greg is seeking  whatever God might have in store for him; Kate has a close, loving relationship with her grandmother, while Greg's family relationships need mending. I always love it when older characters are featured, and thought Sally, Kate's grandmother, contributed much to the story - both in her relationship with her granddaughter and then Roy.

This is a story that I really hated to see conclude because there is so much room for further development - with both the Rainbow's End family resort and the ensemble cast. I liked how spiritual growth seemed such a natural part of this story. And I was delighted to discover in Amanda's author's letter at the end that at least two more novels are planned in this series, beginning with In Firefly Valley in the spring of 2015.

Recommended to all who enjoy sweet contemporary romance.

Amanda Cabot

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Texas Dreams series, Christmas Roses, Summer of Promise, and Waiting for Spring. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers Best. She lives in Wyoming.

Connect with Amanda online at, Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.

Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: Son of Hamas

Son of Hamas
By Mosab Hassan Yousef
Tyndale Momentum, 2011


Since he was a small boy, Mosab Hassan Yousef has had an inside view of the deadly terrorist group Hamas. The oldest son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a founding member of Hamas and its most popular leader, young Mosab assisted his father for years in his political activities while being groomed to assume his legacy, politics, status . . . and power. But everything changed when Mosab turned away from terror and violence, and embraced instead the teachings of another famous Middle East leader. In Son of Hamas, Mosab reveals new information about the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization and unveils the truth about his own role, his agonizing separation from family and homeland, the dangerous decision to make his newfound faith public, and his belief that the Christian mandate to “love your enemies” is the only way to peace in the Middle East.

Son of Hamas is now available in softcover with an all-new chapter about events since the book’s release such as the revelation of Mosab’s Israeli intelligence handler’s true identity, and Homeland Security’s effort to deport the author.

My thoughts

I have never fully understood the Israeli-Arab conflict, and don't know if anyone really does, but Son of Hamas provides a lot of insight into both the Muslim faith and the conflict. "Islamic life is like a ladder, with prayer and praising Allah as the bottom rung. The higher rungs represent helping the poor and needy, establishing schools, and supporting charities. The highest rung is jihad."

Yousef is a fascinating character - an Arab who becomes a spy for Israel, and eventually becoming a Christian. His memoir is written in a style that is easy to follow - and more than a tale of espionage, it focuses on his questioning of beliefs with which he had grown up. Parts of this story were uncomfortable to read, while others were moving and inspiring.

Yousef's message is one of loving people on all sides unconditionally, and he closes with these words:  "Truth and forgiveness are the only solution for the Middle East. The challenge, especially between Israelis and Palestinians, is not to find the solution. The challenge is to be the first courageous enough to embrace it."

Son of Hamas is an extremely relevant story for today. Highly recommended.

Mosab Hassan Yousef

For blog updates from Yousef, visit

Thank you to Tyndale House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: The Bound Heart

The Bound Heart
By Dawn Crandall
The Everstone Chronicles, #2
Whitaker House, 2014


One accidental kiss from Lawry Hampton. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt's world upside-down.

Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn't have the time or the desire to fall for her best friend. But with Vance out of the country, and with Lawry at her side nearly every day, teaching her what the world is like through the eyes of a little orphan girl named Wynn--Meredyth can't deny that what's holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from her past.

Will she marry Vance once he returns from Europe? Or will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she's convinced she deserves, and accept that God's plan for her life includes redemption...and, quite possibly, Lawry Hampton?

My thoughts

The Bound Heart is a historical romance set in 1891 New England - from Boston's Back Bay to Maine's picturesque Bar Harbor. The story is beautifully written, with a descriptive prose that is full of feeling, and rich in historical detail. The characters are complex, but so very real . . . storyline is emotionally gripping . . . romance is "swoon worthy," for lack of a better term . . . and the spiritual theme of forgiveness and redemption will touch every reader. The first book in this series, The Hesitant Heiress (reviewed here), is one of my favorite reads of the year, so I picked up The Bound Heart with high expectations and wasn't disappointed.

I'm not sure how to put it into words, but there's just something special about the writing of Dawn Crandall. Her prose is in an atmospheric, first person point of view that harkens back to another era - evocative of the gothic romance style without the scary parts. Each scene has emotional pull and depth. And I love the way Dawn leads into each chapter with a classical quotation that foreshadows the action, which signifies a wealth of literary knowledge.

Meredyth is a character who pulled at my heart strings from the very beginning. Raised in a prominent and wealthy Boston family, she realizes that financial help alone isn't enough, and gets involved in working with orphans. But spiritually, she exemplifies the prison-like and long-reaching effects caused by sin. Feeling that she had failed God and needed to pay the price, Meredyth felt that her only path to redemption was through marriage to a man she didn't love:  "I hated that I felt so bound to Vance, that there seemed to be some invisible, unbreakable thread, stitching us together against our wills."

If I kept a list of favorite male leads, Lawry would be on it. He's compassionate, patient, faithful, steadfast, serves "the least of these," and loves Meredyth with a fierce passion and unconditionally. I prefer characters to be realistically flawed, but Lawry's goodness seemed to fit this story well. My college professor always taught us to look for the "Christ figure" in literature, and I think that description fits Lawry in the way he reflected Jesus to Meredyth and others.

And I have to mention Wynn, the captivating little orphan girl that I hope we see more of in future stories. It just tugged at my heart every time she called Meredyth "Mere'dy."


"Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for
forgiveness, or else forgiving another."
- Jean Paul Richter

Spiritual themes are strong, but fit very naturally into the flow of the story. The Bound Heart vividly portrays the meaning behind concepts like sin, guilt, atonement, redemption and grace - and it's so refreshing to find this in Christian fiction today. As I followed Meredyth into both the literal and spiritual cave of darkness toward the end, the words of this beloved worship song came to my mind:  "My chains are gone, I've been set free!"

Highly recommend, 5-star rating based on my enjoyment level.

Visit to enter the drawing for ebook copies of either The Hesitant Heiress or The Bound Heart. Contest ends on November 24. Book 3, The Captive Imposter, releases February 2015.

Dawn Crandall

        A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and aformer bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit working in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.
        Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.
        The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.

Thank you to Dawn Crandall for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Author Spotlight: Carol Moncado

Meet Carol Moncado and learn about her debut inspirational novel, Finding Mr. Write, a humorous contemporary romance . . .

        When she’s not writing about her imaginary friends, Carol Moncado is hanging out with her husband, four kids, and a dog who weighs less than most hard cover books. She prefers watching NCIS to just about anything, except maybe watching Castle. She believes peanut butter M&Ms are the perfect food and Dr. Pepper should come in an IV.
        When not watching her kids – and the dog – race around her big backyard in Southwest Missouri, she’s teaching American Government at a local community college. She’s a founding member and President of MozArks ACFW, category coordinator for First Impressions, blogger at InspyRomance, and represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency.


        Jeremiah Jacobs moved to the Ozarks for a fresh start. He knows no one and has no plans to get romantically involved with anyone. Ever. He’s already had his heart ripped out once and once is enough. Besides he has contractual obligations that prevent him from talking about work - and what woman would want to be involved with a man who has to keep his job a secret? When he attends his first local writers’ group meeting, he finds the leader so intriguing, his instant attraction to her threatens to complicate his currently uncomplicated life.
        Dorrie Miller has never been good enough. Not for her father or any of the guys she’s dated in the past. She’s pushed beyond her father’s disapproval to have a good career while pursuing her dream of becoming a published novelist. The Christian Authors Network – Dedicated to Inspirational Distinction, or CANDID, is hosting their annual conference in Indianapolis and who’s rumored to be in attendance? The super reclusive, super-star author, Mya Elizabeth Linscott.
        The hunky new member of her local CANDID group, Jeremiah, wants to carpool to Indy. Dorrie can handle not making a fool of herself for eight hours each way. Right? But she never imagined doing a favor for someone during the conference would leave her accidentally married to the gorgeous guy she barely knows. How will she get out of this mess, married to a near stranger? Does she want to? Will her insecurities and Jeremiah’s secrets tear them apart? Or can she trust that, all along, God’s been helping her with Finding Mr. Write?


Q:  Where did the inspiration for Finding Mr. Write come from?

        The inspiration came from a conversation I had with Casey Herringshaw in the comments on Seekerville one day in mid-2011. We were planning for our first ACFW conference and debated whether or not we should stalk Julie Lessman while there. It turns out we didn’t need to, but the idea had taken root. The original concept had a much more Lucy-Ethel tone to it, but I love the way it turned out.
        So why Mya Elizabeth Linscott? Mya... well, the reason is implied in the book so I won’t spoil it here. I don’t remember the inspiration for Elizabeth, but likely just looking for something with an “E” to make it MEL. Linscott comes from my favorite Mary Connealy hero, Tom Linscott in Sharpshooter in Petticoats.

Q:  Where did the inspiration for Dorrie and Jeremiah come from? What about the skin cancer on Dorrie's nose?

        Dorrie embodies pretty much every author I know, myself included. The insecurities. The fears. The rejection. But with all of that comes friendships that transcend writing. Camaraderie. Growth. And I do know of at least one couple that met at a conference and married later. Her journey mirrors mine in many ways (though not the contest final/win - or the random conference wedding!).
        As for the skin cancer... as I was working on a round of edits for this book, I was diagnosed with exactly what she was. Her experience there also very much mirrors my own - from the nickel-sized crater to the second surgery and the lasering. And yes - my eyelids were numb at one point!
        My husband isn’t a writer, but he’s a lot like Jeremiah in a lot of ways. He’s incredibly supportive and I couldn’t do this writer thing without him. I don’t know where the whole “Prince Caspian” thing came from, but came it did. And I loved it!

Q:  What fun, real-life, stories about writers ended up in Finding Mr. Write?

        When Jeremiah talks about worshiping in a room with several hundred other people who get it, that’s very much a real experience for me and many others. I cry during the first worship session at ACFW - Every. Year.
        But my favorite story is about Dorrie and the writer she was talking to in the elevator. At ACFW 2012 in Dallas, a woman walked into the elevator. We greeted each other like long lost friends. About halfway through the elevator ride, we realized we didn’t know each other, but neither of us wanted to admit it. To this day, I can’t tell you who I thought she was. And vice-versa. We ran into each other constantly that year. In Indianapolis in 2013, we hung out a lot on purpose and she joined my critique group (though she fails to see the wisdom in adding dinosaurs to a WWII epic - sigh). This year, in St. Louis, we were roommates with plans for Dallas again next year. I thank God for the best “oops you’re not who I thought you were” ever! Jen Cvelbar is a true blessing!

Q:  Where exactly is Serenity Landing?

Serenity Landing is a fictionalized version of Republic, Missouri - about 12 miles southwest of Springfield. I’ve lived in this area for over 20 years now and wouldn’t trade it for anything! Look for a Serenity Landing website, coming soon! Most (all?) of the books I have planned are connected to this town in one way or another, so you’ll learn a lot more about it as they go on.

Q:  What books are coming out next?

This is the beginning of my “grand opening” as an author! Six books are releasing this year and I’m working to finish them up right now.

Finally Mr. Write: CANDID Romance book 2; November 24, 2014
Falling for Mr. Write: CANDID Romance book 3; December 2014

Good Enough for a Princess: The Montevaro Monarchy book 1; November 17, 2014
Along Came a Prince: The Montevaro Monarchy book 2; December 2014
More Than a Princess: The Montevaro Monarchy book 3; December 2014

Connect with Carol at and on her Inspy Romance blog.

Finding Mr. Write is available for Kindle readers at Amazon for $3.99.