Sunday, June 15, 2014

Summer Activities for Adventures in Odyssey Fans


Summer is officially here! Don't let your kids' boredom run rampant. Adventures in Odyssey is here to save the day. Below are some must-try ideas for summer fun! Want even more summer fun? For the month of June, you can join the Odyssey Adventure Club for only $5! More details can be found here.

Summer Activities

As a parent you are probably a big proponent of reading. Encourage your kids to dig into a book or two this summer with Adventures in Odyssey's On Your Marks Summer Reading Challenge. Bonus points if YOU create a reading challenge for yourself as you read along with your kids!

Looking for something hands-on? Create Matthew in 3-D! Invite a few of your kids' friends over for a play date, print off the activity sheet, and let them have at it for the afternoon (with the promise of cookies and lemonade once they've finished constructing Matthew).

Maybe your kids aren't into reading, but they love math. If that's the case, have them solve Eugene's Sudoku!

The laundry needs to be done; the dishes need to be put away. But your kids are begging you to take them out to the zoo. Let them take a whack at Matthew's Decoder in the morning, then make an agreement that if they figure out how to use the decoder, you'll take them on an afternoon adventure. That'll give you the morning to finish up your to-do list!

Join the Odyssey Adventure Club for $5!

Are your kids in need of a safe and fun environment where they can explore, create and imagine, all while developing their faith and learning biblical truth? Enter the Odyssey Adventure Club (AOC)!
For a limited time, you can join HERE for only $5 (regular monthly membership costs $15 for up to six users)!

Families will be able to stream the Adventures in Odyssey library, plus listen to exclusive new monthly episodes.  Busy families will find 24/7 access to the content through the Odyssey Adventure Club mobile iPhone app.

Children can also read daily devotions, interact with hands-on activities and view video documentaries featuring a behind-the-scenes look into the production of the Adventures in Odyssey stories. Parents can feel confident their children are safe on the Odyssey Adventure Club website — Focus on the Family staff will be monitoring all comments before they’re publicly posted.

A portion of each Odyssey Adventure Club membership will benefit Focus on the Family partner relief organizations, including Christian Veterinary Mission, Operation Christmas Child and Compassion International. This provides parents with an opportunity to teach children about the value of giving and serving others.

Coming in July, Odyssey Adventure Club members get to listen to the brand new album, "The Ties That Bind," FIRST before it's available ANYWHERE ELSE!

Click here to join for only $5!

Want more summer activities for your kids inspired by the Odyssey Adventure Club? Check out this post.

Wish by Jake Smith Review


James McConnell’s one wish is that his nine-year-old son will finally be healthy enough to play a game of catch. Then he and his wife, Emily, receive news they’ve dreaded: Aaron’s cancer has relapsed.

As the family steels themselves for a draining treatment regimen in yet another hospital, Aaron receives the gift of a lifetime—a personal visit from one of his favorite professional baseball players—and the chance to make a bold request, his wish: to see his dad play in one major league game.

A former college standout, James fears he doesn’t have the talent it takes, even for one game, and that he’ll miss what could be Aaron’s precious last weeks. Yet how can he refuse his dying son’s wish?

Poignant and triumphant, Wish is the story of a father’s love, a family’s perseverance, and the miracles that can happen when you believe in the impossible.
Jake   Smith

  Jake Smith is the editor of several national, award-winning bimonthly magazines. He has also written several outdoor and dog-training books and published more than 150 articles in national outdoor magazines. A former assistant high school baseball coach and two-time All-State high school shortstop, Jake now spends his time on the field coaching his kids' youth baseball teams.

            While researching Wish, Jake talked with current and former Major League Baseball players, children's hospital administrators, pediatric oncologists, and families who fought against childhood leukemia and other illnesses. Their expertise, along with tours of C. S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and "behind the scenes" of Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers) and Fifth Third Ballpark (home of the West Michigan Whitecaps), provided the basis for Wish. Jake hopes this novel will help support children's hospitals, patient and family foundations, and participation in the National Marrow Donor Program's bone marrow registry (

            Jake holds both B.S. and M.S. degrees in wildlife sciences and management and lives in Traverse City, Michigan, with his wife, Vickie, their three children, and their Labrador retriever. Visit him online at 

Cassandra's Review Q&A

What did you like about the book and why?  The story was made to raise awareness of bone marrow donors and the need for them.  It has a powerful story line.

What did you not like about the book and why?  It was so sad. I mean a real tear jerker.

 What did you learn?  That donors make such an impact and that one father had such a huge love for his son that it made this book so good.

To whom would you recommend this book and why? Teens or adults. I would not want my younger children to be sad and think of this at their age as they can not really connect well.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

The Blender Girl by Tess Masters Review

The Blender Girl's Site
The Blender Girl's Tour

The debut cookbook from the powerhouse blogger behind, featuring 100 gluten-free, vegan recipes for smoothies, meals, and more made quickly and easily in a blender.

What’s your perfect blend?
On her wildly popular recipe blog, Tess Masters—aka, The Blender Girl—shares easy plant-based recipes that anyone can whip up fast in a blender. Tess’s lively, down-to-earth approach has attracted legions of fans looking for quick and fun ways to prepare healthy food. In The Blender Girl, Tess’s much-anticipated debut cookbook, she offers 100 whole-food recipes that are gluten-free and vegan, and rely on natural flavors and sweeteners. Many are also raw and nut-, soy-, corn-, and sugar-free. 
Smoothies, soups, and spreads are a given in a blender cookbook, but this surprisingly versatile collection also includes appetizers, salads, and main dishes with a blended component, like Fresh Spring Rolls with Orange-Almond Sauce, Twisted Caesar Pleaser, Spicy Chickpea Burgers with Portobello Buns and Greens, and I-Love-Veggies! Bake. And even though many of Tess’s smoothies and shakes taste like dessert—Apple Pie in a Glass, Raspberry-Lemon Cheesecake, or Tastes-Like-Ice- Cream Kale, anyone?—her actual desserts are out-of this-world good, from Chocolate-Chile Banana Spilly to Flourless Triple-Pecan Mousse Pie and Chai Rice Pudding. Best of all, every recipe can easily be adjusted to your personal taste: add an extra squeeze of this, another handful of that, or leave something out altogether— these dishes are super forgiving, so you can’t mess them up.
Details on the benefits of soaking, sprouting, and dehydrating; proper food combining; and eating raw, probiotic-rich, and alkaline ingredients round out this nutrient-dense guide. But you don’t have to understand the science of good nutrition to run with The Blender Girl—all you need is a blender and a sense of adventure. So dust off your machine and get ready to find your perfect blend.

Tess Masters
Australian-born TESS MASTERS is a cook, writer, actor, and voice over artist. She shares her enthusiasm for plant-based foods at 

As a presenter and recipe developer, Tess collaborates with leading food, culinary, and lifestyle brands. She has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Vegetarian Times, and Zeste and on, Chow, Epicurious, and AllRecipes, among other publications and websites. Away from the blender, Tess enjoys a diverse performance career. She has toured internationally with stage productions, worked in film and television, and lent her voice to commercial campaigns, audiobooks, and popular videogame characters. 

Tess and her partner, Scott Brick, live in Studio City, California, with their West Highland White Terrier (and blender-cuisine maven), Cookie.

Cassandra's Review-  The recipes are easy to make. You will not have to go out and spend a lot of money making them.  I like that the author wrote in an easy to understand way that will have you making blended goodness in a few minutes.

 "I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Mind Static by Jen Naumann Book Blitz and Giveaway

Mind Static by Jen Naumann
Publication date: August 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Keyanna Sanders is about to get everything she could ever wish for on her 18th birthday: a hot guy who’s really into her, the sports car she’s always dreamed of owning, and the party of a lifetime that no one will forget any time soon.

But before long, she’ll understand these wishes are more than a coincidence, and that they come at a steep price. Keyanna is more than just an average high school senior, her best friend is more than the innocent boy next door, and her sudden good fortune isn’t just by chance. When her estranged father suddenly re-enters her life, she’ll have to decide who to trust, and whether or not the man she loves has become the enemy.



Did you always want to be an author?

Pretty much, yes. I remember in 3rd grade writing a story about My Little Ponies and declaring I would grow up to be a writer.  I stuck to my guns and wrote dozens of novels up until college, when I felt overwhelmed in declaring a major. Then I started a family and the writing thing got lost until recently when someone in my family had a major medical issue, and I realized life was too short not to go after what I love. So I was in my 30s before it finally became a reality.

What drew you to the YA genre?

Growing up in the 80s I was obsessed with John Hughes and Stephen Spielberg films, and wrote a ton of fan fiction based on their movies (I just realized a few years ago what I was doing was actually called “fan fiction”). I tried to write an “adult” book after high school, but was still mesmerized by the magical feeling of the teen movies I loved growing up. Preparing to go off on your own into adulthood is such an exciting time! I often think being an adult is boring, and miss the energy of being young, awaiting new challenges with bright eyes.

Are there any books and stories that have influenced or stuck with you from your childhood or young ­adulthood?

I don’t think my parents were aware at the time, but I started reading Stephen King in 5th grade and was pretty much obsessed with his work by high school. I’ve always liked the idea of being scared, and using my imagination to explore what would happen if monsters were real. While I don’t feel I’ve actually dove into the horror genre quite yet, it’s still something I hope to do one day. I'm just not sure I could do it justice.

Do you have any other works published and how do they compare genre/style wise with your current work?

I’ve just completed my 8th book for publication. While all of my YA books deal with some sort of paranormal element, What I’ve Done and Shymers (a dystopian story) are both told by girls who are a bit more gentle, and naive to the world around them. Cheating Death is about a popular girl who makes bad decisions, and deals with some pretty dark subjects. The heroine in Mind Static is confident with a little attitude, giving the story a fun and lighter feel. My favorite YA so far is Paranormal Keepers in which the girl is smart, good humored, and brave. My 8th book, Adam’s List, is my debut as a NA contemporary romance author (for readers 18+) under the pen name Jennifer Ann, and is set to release June 17th.

Do you have any current writing projects? Can you tell us a bit about them?

Although there are at least five other projects I’d rather be working on, I just started the sequel to my most popular book, Shymers. Since I left readers with a big cliffhanger, I’ve felt a tremendous amount of pressure with the second book and kept putting it off. I finally decided I owe it to my fans to finish Olive and Harrison’s story. As with my zombie series, it will most likely become nothing more than a two­part series, although I’ll never rule out more books in the future if I feel like adding to it. It’s just that my ADD won’t allow me to focus on one project for very long. I’m also hoping to get a sequel to my NA romance novel out by the end of the year.

Jen Naumann grew up in southern Minnesota as an addict of such flicks as Indiana Jones and The Goonies until she discovered John Hughes, and spent her high school days locked away writing love stories with a sci-fi twist. Married to a farmer in southern Minnesota, she tries to follow the madness of her four active children while balancing an imagination that never shuts down. As the author of CHEATING DEATH, SHYMERS, AND PARANORMAL KEEPERS, she writes stories with strong female leads who have a good sense of humor and tend to fall in love despite their better judgment.

Author links: 

Open to US/CAN
-Signed copy of Mind Static
-15$ iTunes GC
-Custom bookmark

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$100 Amazon gift card and 2 $25 gift card Giveaway

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Messenger by Laury Falter Book Tour and Giveaway

The Guardian Trilogy
Book One
Laury Falter

Messenger is the first prequel to the bestselling Guardian Trilogy - the breathtaking romantic saga about a love that has lasted centuries between a messenger and her guardian. 

Maggie does not know she is a messenger. She has never met her eternal lover. She has never survived a Fallen One. All this changes when a messenger awakens in the Hall of Records only to die moments later, never to return. 

As Maggie sets out to determine why the messengers are suddenly beginning to die, she crosses paths with the infuriatingly appealing Eran and their story begins. 

In this riveting account of Maggie's first life on earth with Eran, the star-crossed lover's romance transpires amidst treacherous enemies, their friends' resistance, and their own opposing wills. With the odds against her, can Maggie survive long enough to admit the feelings she has so carefully denied? 

He strode to me and crouched at my hip. His shirt was already off and the 

nearness of his well-built chest made it a challenge to stop myself from glancing 

at it. To my astonishment, he seemed not to notice my internal plight, not even the 

tremble that shook me when he tenderly took my chin and turned it toward him.

"You're healing nicely," he observed, concentrating on my forehead. 

"Mm-hmm." It was all I could muster.

This was the closest we had ever been. His lips were no more than a few 

inches from me and drew my attention. 

"I don't think you'll even scar."

When I didn't answer, I felt a shift in his presence and my eyes darted up to 

find him staring back with his striking blue-green eyes.

We froze in place.

Only our chests rose and fell, and they did it more rapidly the longer we 

stared at each other.

As his eyes lowered to my lips, his fingers tightened gently around my chin.

The flare of his nostrils and the intensity of his stare mesmerized me, made 

me want him closer. And it told me that he was struggling too and was in profound 

debate over what we were doing. No ward should be this close to their guardian, 

even if the ward didn't recognize them as one. It was taboo, unheard of, an abject 

insult to the role the guardian had been given. Yet, here he was, looking at me, at 

my lips, tensing at the sight of them. 

And he wasn't alone in the struggle. For the first time, I forgot my urge 

to throw him off balance, my need to establish my independence. I was the one 

quickly losing my poise and forgetting who was dominant. The charm I fought so 

hard to deny, the very one that drew all others to him, took hold of me. And I gave 

into it out of my own free will.

Laury Falter
aury Falter is a bestselling author of young adult romantic suspense and urban fantasy. She has three series out: the Guardian Trilogy, the Residue Series, and the Apocalypse Chronicles.

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1 set of all three ebooks in the bestselling Guardian Trilogy
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JUST DESSERTS by Tawdra Kandle


Available now!

When her friend Julia needed help forming a revenge plan against her ex-boyfriend, Ava was happy to lend a hand. She never expected that in the course of making Liam pay, she'd be the one to fall hard. . .for the one person who was absolutely off-limits. Crushing on the guy who humiliated her best friend is definitely against the girl code. Besides, Ava has goals. Her life is all about graduating with honors and landing the perfect job. And Liam Bailey—sweet-talking, complicated son of a well-known local politician—isn't part of those plans. But Liam doesn't give up easily. And he doesn't intend to let their friends' opinions, his parents' disapproval or Ava's past get in the way of what he wants—Ava's heart.

Buy it today on Amazon/Barnes and Noble/Smashwords/iBooks

  Best Served Cold - Tawdra Kandle

And don't miss Book 1 of A Perfect Dish Duo: Best Served Cold

On sale for a limited time only!


Visit Tawdra at her website. . .

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. . .

And sign up for her newsletter!

-1     Tawdra Kandle has been a writer since the invention of the pen. Her first published work appeared in Child's Life magazine when she was 13. After a brief, thirty-year hiatus, she published a young adult quartet, The King Series. More recently, she's released contemporary and paranormal romances in both the adult and New Adult genres. Tawdra lives in central Florida with her husband and children, of both skin and fur types. And yes, she has purple hair.