Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Faithful Review of Julie Cosgrove's Baby Bunco

Sleuthing is the Game

Baby Bunco by Julie Cosgrove

Who would leave a newborn baby
in the bathtub
 of a condo in Sunset Acres,
a retirement community, and why? 

And was a young woman slain
behind the convenience store
across the highway it’s mother? 

Janie and the Bunco Biddies
want to find out,
but soon they discover
sleuthing can get a bit dicey.


The Review by Renee Blare:

Book Two in the Bunco Biddies Mystery, Baby Bunco continues the sleuthing expeditions of the retirees of Sunset Acres. It gathers a few pieces of Dumpster Dicing (Book Two) and no, I don't mean the victim in that book, to help keep the reader guessing and tripping along the pages as the mystery unfolds.

The characters are lively and unique. Each one brings the story alive. They capture your heart and soul in a matter of seconds and you can't help but wonder...what you will be like at that age? Well, if you aren't already there, that is. This series is a hopeful reminder that life remains a puzzle, and each of us, no matter where we are in the journey, play a role in its solution with the Lord's help and guidance.

Now, I loved the story, but I did struggle keeping everyone straight, and it had a bit of a slow start. But I read fast, and the plot and characters caught my attention. I recommend this book to all who love mystery and laughter. It's a great read.

I give Baby Bunco four stars. Good job, Ms. Cosgrove.


More about the Author, Julie Cosgrove and Baby Bunco:

Freelance writer, author and speaker Julie B Cosgrove leads retreats, workshops, and Bible studies. She writes regularly for several Christian websites and publications.
Besides freelance writing and helping newbie writers on their path to publishing, Julie has personally published three Bible studies,two inspirational works, a devotional and a novel - Focused (2012), as well as the following through Prism Book Group: Hush in the Storm (2014) and Legitimate Lies (2015- Best 2016 Religious Fiction Award), Freed to Forgive (2015 - Grace Award Finalist) with Greener Grasses, Navy Blues, Hill Country Homecoming and a three book cozy mysteries series, The Bunco Biddies coming in 2016-2017. 
She is a member of North Texas Christian Writers, Texas Association of Authors, Advanced Writers and Speakers, American Christian Fiction Writers, Toastmasters International, Daughters of the Holy Cross and several web-based author groups Julie has one grown son and lives in Fort Worth, TX with two cats. 

Visit her website at 

All books reviewed are either provided for free by the author in exchange for an honest opinion or purchased personally by Renee. Her reviews are not for sale or in exchange for any services or fees.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Having Fun with Ellie Gustafson on the Coffee Corner (Giveaway)

Welcome to the Coffee Corner!

I’d like to introduce you to a fantastic author, Ellie Gustafson. Ellie has written a terrific book called Dynamo. If you’d like to read my review, check it out on my blog, Faithful Reviews, Dynamo by Eleanor Gustafson. I know you’ll love it, I sure did!

I’m giving away a Kindle copy of Beast of Stratton in honor of Ellie being on the Coffee Corner this week! Leave a comment with your email address to enter.
See details after the interview.

But right now, what do you say we get started with the interview?


Renee: Ellie, could you tell us how you came up with the idea for your book?

Ellie: Having loved horses all my life, writing about them seems only natural. They appear in four of my novels, but the horse world takes center stage in Dynamo. Sidebar: A horse I featured in Middle Night was ugly, nasty, but all business. I named him Glue. Dynamo, too, is nasty, but he’s a gorgeous stallion with great show possibilities. Though horses are obviously central, God (along with Maybelle) is actually the major character. Dynamo is, indeed, a dynamic stallion, and his name becomes a metaphor in Jeth’s life.

Renee: Dynamic is an appropriate description for your writing if I do say so myself! By the way, I loved Dynamo. I don’t want you to give away too much now, but what would you say is the favorite part of your book?

Ellie: My favorite parts of the story seem to come when bad things happen, but one scene in particular follows a major jumping-event victory for Jeth. The aftermath of this triumph causes deep soul searching, and Jeth falls prostrate before the Lord. Witnessing this, his boss, Rob, senses a holy presence, and even a horse nickers a welcome.

Renee: How moving…and utterly glorifying. Thank you for sharing that, Ellie. It’s amazing to see the Lord work in others’ lives and you’ve depicted it so well. Is Jeth your favorite character or has another one captured your heart?

Ellie: Actually, my favorite character, Maybelle, is an old lady who serves as Jeth’s spiritual mentor, feeding him verses and guidance at critical moments in his life. She battles the pastor on Jeth’s behalf at the time of his baptism. The pastor wins their contest over which verse should be read, but Maybelle wins the war with her prayer: “Now, El Shaddai, almighty God, clothe Jeth with power from on high—whenever and wherever it pleases You. Amen.” Jeth had felt warmed by the pastor’s remarks, but Maybelle’s last words—whenever and wherever it pleases You—turned his body to ice. He trembled uncontrollably, and it wasn’t because he was wet.

Renee: Maybelle is a mighty woman indeed. I love her! Your readers (or those who are thinking about picking up a copy of Dynamo) will absolutely love Maybelle! She’s one of those people that I would love to have in my corner. And she’s so…cool! Maybe that’s why I love her so much. But then this whole book is cool. Everything about it breathes “read me.” The plot, the characters, the setting. Where did you come up with all of this?

Much of this novel comes from my own backstory. I grew up in a small town that hosted a major horse show each summer. I rode in a few local, amateur classes but got to drink in the fine horseflesh over six wonderful days. One of the most spectacular events I witnessed became the jumping victory mentioned above. I had to use it, had to made it significant in Jeth’s spiritual life.

Renee: Do you have a funny or unique story to share about Dynamo with the crowd?

Ellie: A funny story connected­—not to Dynamo—but to the Sussex County Farm and Horse show. Each year, young women were invited to represent their town, vying for the title of Miss Sussex County. Branchville had not had a candidate for several years, and the town fathers decided to Do Something About It. I and an attractive pair of twins were approached, but I wanted nothing to do with this flesh contest. I expressed my hope that we would be judged on something more substantive than looks. After about three minutes in the vacant lot next to the post office, the local VIPs dutifully chose me as Miss Branchville. Contest night was cold, with each of us riding bare shouldered around the ring in convertibles. Then came the flesh show. We walked the plank before thousands of spectators, with a British judge commenting on looks and figgers. I had been diddled. I was, of course, not chosen as Miss Sussex County, but Branchville, pop. 900 and the locus of this grand event, was represented, and the experience continues to give me many laughs.

Renee: That is well, I hate to say it, funny! Not that you’d been duped but… Sorry, Ellie, but I can’t help but laugh. I guess your favorite spot that night wasn’t in a convertible! Not that I blame you, I don’t think I’d like freezing while people gawked at me either. LOL Still, nothing wrong with memories and a bit of laughter now and then. Hey, do you have a favorite spot now that you can get away from it all (including all those goggling eyes?)

Ellie: My favorite spot—(Mmm, now you didn’t say it had to be real.) Life often gets stressful for me, and I often retreat to a special garden that is featured in my upcoming novel, An Unpresentable Glory. This garden consists of annual and perennial beds, tiny garden “rooms” that may contain a swing or bench for reflection, a miniature troll garden, and a magnificent island gazebo. Much goes on in this garden, especially after its owner, Linda Jensen, discovers a stranger sprawled on the ground near her delphiniums. All this particular garden needs now is a publisher. Would appreciate your prayers for that.

Renee: Well, now…I can relate to a garden like that. I had one of those in my first release, Beast of Stratton! Miles Stratton had a rose garden in his architectural wonder of high-rise building in New York. It had a glass roof and a little pond with a waterfall. I loved to spend time with him in that beautiful place. I can smell the roses right now!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Ellie? I know my readers would love to know where to find you as well as your books!

Ellie: I love to interact with readers, so check out my website and email address. I’d be happy to hear from you!

About Ellie Gustafsom:
Ellie Gustafson began thinking up stories at a young age but did not begin writing and publishing until 1978. A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, she has been actively involved in church life as a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Additional experiences include gardening, house construction, tree farming, parenting, and mouse wars—all of which have helped bring color and humor to her fiction. One of her major writing goals has been to make scriptural principles understandable and relevant for today’s readers through the undeniable power of story.
Book links:


Twitter: @EgusEllie
Facebook: Ellie Gustafson





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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Rising Above by Julie Cosgrove (Amazon Gift Card Giveaway)

Rising Above

Pathways for the Christian Writer

by Julie Cosgrove

Journeying as a Christian writer, like most treks in life, has plenty of hills, dales and winding roads that one can’t see beyond the bend. Years ago, at the prompting of three friends and after much prayer, I became a freelance writer. My late husband moved a great deal for his job, and I figured I could write from anywhere. So I did, for five years. With God’s grace I landed some long-term contracts and many repeat customers. So in thanksgiving I tithed my writing day to Him first. 

The desire of my heart was to write solely for Him, and He has granted that for the past four years by allowing me to have a part time job in a Christian workplace so I had steady income to fall back on. Writing is not steady income!

And in that reality lies a pitfall for most Christian writers (one of two, anyway). How can you put a price on what we write? Still, it amazes me that people expect to purchase an eBook for next to nothing, if not free. Most likely the author and group of editors labored up to a year to produce it. Yet no one blinks much of an eye at a $12.00 pizza or a $4.99 latte which took only minutes to make.  (Plus both are fattening―reading isn’t…unless you have a bowl of M&M’s at your side.) People go on Amazon and buy a mass-produced scarf or a pair of earrings that cost more than an eBook. What if people paid as much per month on books as they did Cable TV?  Maybe some of us authors could make close to a decent salary… is it wrong to hope?

The other pitfall is the popularity game. How many likes, follows, and reviews does a novel or an author possess? Is that how we measure our worth? We can be bold enough to say, “Of course not. I’m a child of the King. That’s my worth.”  But the reality is our publishers bet on making money from our books, or they won’t sign any more contracts with us. And if we Indie publish the correct way, we will pay hundreds of dollars for editors, graphic artists, etc. Not many of us have that type of cash lying around to toss away. We want a return, if not a profit, on our investment.

Then there are marketing costs no matter how you are published. There are hundreds of how to boost your social media “klout” tapes, books and seminars out there. I must get at least one spam in my email per week promising if I rake over $50-$100 they guarantee I’ll get mega promotion on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Should a faith-based author be concerned about such things? Isn’t that God’s job to determine how many souls we win for the Kingdom and how many already-won souls we encourage and entertain with wholesome reads along the way? 

Toby Mac sings that he prays as an artist he will rise above the road that is filled with self-love. That is my prayer, too.  I want to keep things in proper perspective and not fret over sales or reviews. 

Please don’t get me wrong. I really want you to like my books, tell your friends, and buy the next one. Absolutely. It warms my heart when someone stops to tell me either in person, in a text, or a post that they loved one of my books and couldn’t put it down. The quarterly royalty checks are nice, too. They help pay some bills.

But I also want the books, blogs and articles I write to honor God and give Him the glory. I hope that doesn’t sound glib or cliché. You see, I think this is an exciting time to be an author. When else in history has the possibility of something we write had the opportunity to touch a person clear across the world? A person we will never see this side of Heaven? That is both awesome and humbling.  

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to live, and write, in times such as these. Though at times it’s frustrating and I feel as if I am shouting in the wind with so much competition out there, help me stay in perspective as Your mouthpiece, and acknowledge Your power and purpose in the process. Amen.

Julie B Cosgrove


Julie's offering a $15.00 Amazon Gift Card to enable one lucky winner to buy some of her eBooks if so inclined!

Enter this fabulous giveaway by chatting with Julie about her post. Leave a comment below with your email address to be eligible for the giveaway. 
(The winner will be chosen by random draw from eligible comments one week from post date. Contestants are limited to the United States and entries are void where prohibited.)


Freelance writer, award-winning author and professional speaker Julie B. Cosgrove leads retreats, workshops, and Bible studies. She writes regularly for Light from the Word, Faith-filled Family Magazine, Thoughts About God,, Good News Daily,  and The Journey. Julie has published three Bible studies, a devotional, two inspirational guides, and has nine faith-based fiction novels published or contracted to be published by 2017, including a new cozy mysteries series, The Bunco Biddies Mysteries. All can be previewed on her website.
Awarded one of the 50 Writers You Should Be Reading by the Author’s Show in 2015 and 2016, and Best Religious Fiction by Texas Ass’n of Authors in 2016, Julie is a member of Texas Association of Authors, American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and Christian Authors’ Network.

Julie is widowed and lives in Fort Worth, Texas where she is a church secretary, involved in mission funding, women’s ministries, and servant to two house cats. She is mystery aficionado—especially British ones—and loves word games.
Visit her blog: Where Did You Find God Today?
Amazon: Julie B Cosgrove
Twitter @JulieBCosgrove

About her latest release, Baby Bunco:

Who would leave a newborn baby in the bathtub of a condo in Sunset Acres, a retirement community, and why? And was a young woman slain behind the convenience store across the highway it’s mother? Janie and the Bunco Biddies want to find out, but soon they discover sleuthing can get a bit dicey.


“Did you say she found a baby?” Janie stopped mid-roll, the pink and white dice warming in her clutched fist. “Here in Sunset Acres, a retirement community?”
Babs, seated to her left at the Bunco table, nodded. “That’s what Mildred told me as we were walking up to your front stoop tonight. Right, Mildred?”
“I went to collect a few more of my things since I’m staying with Ethel, and no more than three minutes later the leasing agent pounded on my door. ‘Come see,’ she motioned to me. Her eyes grew as wide as those mega donuts at the Crusty Baker.” She thumped her pencil against her score pad and groaned. “It took every ounce of gumption to follow her into that—ugh!—place next door.” She quivered her shoulders. 
Janie shifted her gaze to the woman sitting across from her. “Ethel, you knew about this?”
“I did.”
“And you didn’t tell me?” Her voice elevated to echo-off –the-ceiling volume. She humphed and pivoted to face the storyteller. “Mildred. What happened?”
The other eight ladies halted their Bunco round. Each swiveled to listen in, their eyes fixated on the first card table.
Mildred leaned. “I paused at the steps, determined to not go inside. Only peek in from the front door. Then high-pitched, frantic cries came from the direction of the bathroom. Well, I had to rush to its aid. Every motherly fiber in my being dictated it.”
Murmurs and head bobs filtered through Janie’s living room.
Mildred sniffled. “Poor little thing. Alone, scared and red as a beet from wailing so hard. That house is cursed, I tell you.”
Janie patted her hand. “Now, dear. Just because someone murdered Edwin soon after he moved in there doesn’t mean...”
Mildred shot from her seat and paced, her arms flaying in circles, resembling the duck windmill on top of the antiques barn down the road. “Ever since I relocated into Sunset Acres it’s been one thing after another. Edwin murdered, then my nephew Bobby arrested, and now an abandoned newborn in a bathtub? This is supposed to be a quiet retirement community.”

Read Julie Cosgrove's Bunco Biddies Mysteries today! You may even win a chance to buy this one and more! Comment on this blog to enter the Amazon Gift Card giveaway NOW.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Ashes to Ashes

Dust to Dust


Lives on a beautiful planet with glorious mountains, glistening lakes, blue sky, and amazing oceans. Trods through each day breathing a thin atmosphere in a feeble if not brave attempt to reach the next sunrise. Observes a ball of fire crest the horizon, the new dawn, only to discover the journey isn't over but has just begun.


Whoever said life is easy hasn't lived. Not really. Does that mean living is unbearable? Not necessarily. Miserable? Not necessarily. Grueling? Not...well, you get the idea.

But what does is take to live? Body functions take an enormous amount of energy and power if you think about it. Muscles contract with every breath. Mankind's powerful heart pushes blood around the body from the top of the head to the soles of the feet and back again. And moving the skeletal system with each step includes energy and the coordination of ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

As much as life takes energy, it takes effort. Conscious, physical effort. Not just to plow through the day but to face each new morning no matter what may arise. No matter the cost. But is it worth it?

Now that's the question, isn't it? My answer is yes.

Life is hard. Living on this planet isn't easy, especially in the feeble, weak body called mankind. Trials and tribulations cut and grind until the dawn seems far, far away. The fertile dirt disintegrates likes logs burning to ash in a fireplace and the day grows just as cold. But as the dust scatters across the plains, the warmth of the sunrise brings hope, joy, love, and above all, grace.

So cast your eyes to the skies. Focus your gaze upon heaven.

Hope in the Lord. Take joy in His Name and accept eternal love and life offered to you through His Son Christ Jesus. Celebrate God's almighty grace and dance...


Yes, it's a tough but beautiful life. And praise the Lord, it's only just begun.

A Devotional by
Renee Blare