Thursday, June 17, 2010

Love on a Dime ~ by Cara Lynn James

If you’re looking to add to your summer or beach reading list, this book should definitely be on it! Author Cara Lynn James has written a positively delightful debut novel, and Love on a Dime is the first in the Ladies of Summerhill series. It was fun, light, humorous and easy, but it was also well written and had great object lessons. The characters were well-developed and likeable. The story was charming and intriguing, and moved along at a comfortable, yet quick pace.

Love on a Dime was thoroughly enjoyable. I simply did not want to put it down. I really liked the characters and was even a bit disappointed when it ended, because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to them. I can’t wait to meet them again in the other books of the series, and am eagerly anticipating the release of the other books in the series! Cara Lynn James is definitely an author to keep an eye on for future good books. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical, Christian, romantic fiction. I assure you, it does not disappoint!

This book was provided to me for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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Love on a Dime

Cara Lynn James

Turn of the century novelist Lilly Westbrook learns that being faithful to her calling means more than just putting pen to paper.

It's the summer of 1899 in Newport, Rhode Island, and Lilly Westbrook is struggling to conceal her career from family and friends because of the stigma attached to dime novels. Lilly feels good about her secret—after all, she’s enlightening working class girls with her books and honoring God by using her talents to His glory.

But her secret is threatened when Jackson Grail, a former suitor, becomes Lilly's new publisher. He's determined to revive his floundering publishing house by maximizing their most promising--and most secretive--author. His plan? Find “Fannie Cole” and convince her to go public.

When a gossip columnist discovers Lilly’s true identity, she finds that being faithful to her calling involves more than just putting pen to paper. It requires that she stand up for her faith and for herself, no matter the consequences.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

They Almost Always Come Home ~ by Cynthia Ruchti

This is a blog tour of a fantastic book, by first time novelist Cynthia Ruchti. They Almost Always Come Home is a stellar debut novel. It is deep, thought provoking, humorous and wonderfully complex. It is one of those rare books that is a page turner and it will stay with you long after you finish. I highly recommend They Almost Always Come Home and look forward to more books from this talented author.

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About the Book:

(Wausau, WI) – At the foundation of each relationship resides the need to know love can survive even when feelings fade. In Cynthia Ruchti’s debut novel, They Almost Always Come Home, readers feel the desperation of this foundational yearning in a marriage clearly pulling loose from its moorings. Compounded by other issues—an unrewarding career and mismatched dreams—it’s enough to drive a man into the arms of the Canadian wilderness. When Greg Holden doesn’t return home from a wilderness canoe trip, his wife Libby wrestles with survivor guilt, a new layer of grief, and the belief that she was supposed to know how to fix her marriage. She planned to leave him—but how can she leave a man who’s no longer there? He was supposed to go fishing, not missing.

Libby has to find him before she can discover how their marriage ends. She plunges into the wilderness on an adventurous and risky manhunt, unsure what she will do if she finds him…or if she doesn’t. She expects to meet hardship, discomfort, and danger in the wilderness. She doesn’t expect to face the stark reality of her spiritual longing and a faint, but steady pulse that promises hope for reviving her marriage. If Greg’s still alive.

They Almost Always Come Home provides a glimpse into common, however uncomfortable, marital conflicts. Cynthia weaves a page-turning story, suspense building scene by scene. Her characters mirror ordinary people, living real-to-life situations, allowing readers to relate and sort through a myriad of emotions and life decisions. If fiction can contain adventure, riveting self-awareness, and romance all between the same covers, this is the book!

About the Author:

Cynthia Ruchti writes stories of “hope that glows in the dark.” She writes and produces The Heartbeat of the Home, a syndicated drama/devotional radio broadcast, and is editor for the ministry’s Backyard Friends magazine. She also serves as current president of American Christian Fiction Writers. Cynthia married her childhood sweetheart, who tells his own tales of wilderness adventures.

The Interview:

1. How would you describe your book?

The tagline for the book is “She’d leave her husband…if she could find him.”

When Libby’s husband Greg doesn’t return from a two-week canoe trip to the Canadian wilderness, the authorities write off his disappearance as an unhappy husband’s escape from an oatmeal marriage and mind-numbing career. Their marriage might have survived if their daughter Lacey hadn’t died and if Greg hadn’t been responsible. Libby enlists the aid of her wilderness-savvy father-in-law and her faith-walking best friend to help her search for clues to her husband’s disappearance. What the trio discovers in the wilderness search upends Libby’s assumptions about her husband and rearranges her faith.

It’s my prayer that this fictional adventure story and emotional journey will reveal its own hope-laden clues for those struggling to survive or longing to exit what they believe are uninspiring marriages. How can a woman survive a season or a lifetime when she finds it difficult to like the man she loves?

2. How were you different as a writer and as a person when you finished writing They Almost Always Come Home?

This book changed me in a profound way. It forced me to take a more honest look at myself and my reactions to crises so I could write Libby’s character with authenticity. Libby is a composite of many women. I haven’t experienced what she did, but I identify with some of her struggles and longings, as I hope my readers will. I see my friends in her eyes and know that her tears aren’t hers alone. Her shining moments feed my courage. Libby speaks for me and for many others when she discovers that she is stronger than she realized and weaker than she wanted to admit.

Writing her story was a journey for the author as much as for the character.

3. What did you feel the tug on your heart to become a writer?

My journey toward a lifetime of writing began by reading books that stirred me, changed me, convinced me that imagination is a gift from an imaginative Creator. As a child, I read when I should have been sleeping…and still do. I couldn’t wait for the BookMobile (library on wheels) to pull up in front of the post office in our small town and open its arms to me. Somewhere between the pages of a book, my heart warmed to the idea that one day I too might tell stories that made readers stay up past their bedtimes.

4. What books line your bookshelves?

My bookshelves—don’t ask how many!—hold a wide variety of genres. The collection expands faster than a good yeast dough. I’m a mood reader, grabbing a light comedy one day and a literarily rich work the next. Although I appreciate well-written nonfiction, I gravitate toward an emotionally engaging contemporary women’s fiction story.

Something Extra From the Author’s Heart:

Ten years ago, my husband almost didn’t come home. His canoe adventure with our son Matt soured on Day Two when Bill grew violently ill from what we presume was either pancreatitis or a gall bladder attack. He’s an insulin-dependent diabetic, so any grave illness is a threat. One in the middle of the Canadian wilderness is morgue material.

With no satellite phone with which to call for help, Matt took turns caring for his father and watching the shore for other canoeists happening past their hastily constructed campsite. The few other canoes were headed deeper into the remote areas of the park, not on their way out. None had a satellite phone. And none of them were doctors.

As my husband grew sicker, his diabetes went nuclear. He couldn’t eat, yet needed insulin because his liver thought it should help out by dumping vast quantities of sugar into his system. Even in a hospital setting, the situation would have been difficult to control, and the nearest hospital was light years away across vast stretches of water and woodland, through peopleless, roadless wilderness.

Our son stretched a yellow tarp across the rocks on shore and wrote S.O.S. with charcoal from a dead fire. He scratched out countless notes on pieces of notebook paper torn from their trip journal:

Send rescue! My dad is deathly ill.

Read the rest of the story at the KCWC BLOG

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There is a giveaway drawing to be held for this blog tour. Please leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. The blog tour giveaway includes:

North Pak 20 inch cinch sack (lime)

Day Runner journal

Canoe Brand wild rice

Canada's brand blueberry jam

Coleman 60-piece mini first aid kit

Wood canoe/paddle shelf ornament

Six original photography notecards from video trailer

"Hope" hanging ornament

Mini Coleman "lantern" prayer reminder

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Raising a Modern-Day Princess ~ by Farrel and Hanna

As I go about the daunting task of raising my daughter, I am grateful for sound, moral and godly advice that I can glean from others through various resources. The book Raising a Modern-Day Princess by Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna is just such a resource. It tackles the importance of training up our daughters to be strong and principled, full of purpose, grace, kindness and good self-worth. We are encouraged to raise them up confident in the knowledge that they are our much beloved daughters, and also much beloved daughters of the King.

The author’s do a great job of sharing stories from their own lives, and also share stories from the lives of others. They expound key concepts including how valuable the father-daughter and mother-daughter relationships are, but in different ways, the significance of mentors, and how important and special a “coming-of-age” celebration is to a young lady.

Raising a Modern-Day Princess is a great resource for those who have daughters, for fathers and mothers, or for those who work with, spend time with, or want to have a good influence on girls (teachers, youth leaders, family members, neighbors, etc.) Got girls? Get this book!

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

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Raising a Modern-Day Princess

Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna

In the same tradition as Raising a Modern-Day Knight, this book is designed to equip parents to cultivate strong relationships with their adolescents. Raising a Modern-Day Princess stresses the importance of creating a rite of passage for teen girls—a defining moment in which girls can be blessed by significant adults in their lives, and a call for their families and communities to celebrate and support them as they enter womanhood. This book offers practical help in raising a generation of women to see themselves as God sees them—as daughters of the King.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Shattered ~ by Frank Pastore

This was a great book! I must confess, I’d not heard of Frank Pastore previous to being offered to review his book Shattered, but it looked interesting so I took it. It’s a memoir, sports story, inspirational book, self-improvement manual and romance novel all rolled into one! Travel with Frank as he journeys from brokenness to wholeness, from pudgy and awkward boy to professional athlete, and from success to failure and back to success again. The journey is filled with drama, betrayal, dysfunction, love, joy, peace, excitement, hard work and do-over’s. It is a thrilling ride from life in professional sports, to life in ministry, to life in radio.

Shattered will speak to anyone who’s been hurt by family, in school, by friends, in ministry, or simply in life. It will resonate with anyone who’s been broken and beat down by life, then lovingly and beautifully restored by God. It is an easy read, a bit of a page turner, and thoroughly enjoyable.

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

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Shattered: Struck Down, but Not Destroyed

Frank Pastore

With Ellen Vaughn

Like its author, Shattered is “fun, fast, and real” and an intriguing mix of paradoxes. Frank Pastore was a physically awkward kid who became a professional athlete. An okay student who goes on to earn two masters degrees in philosophy. A former atheist who ends up hosting the biggest Christian radio talk show in America.

Shattered is part sports book, because you’ll go on road trips, enter clubhouses, and walk on the fields of professional baseball. It’s part romantic novel, because you’ll journey with two young kids who fall in love and eventually elope, evading not only her family, but the law as well—for she was only 16.

It’s also a story of brokenness, betrayal, and burn-out. If you were raised in a dysfunctional family, if you’ve ever had your dreams fall apart, been betrayed by close friends, or hit the psychological “wall” in your professional career, this is your book too. But, most of all, this is an uplifting story of how an unpredictable God can surprise any of us with His goodness and love when we allow Him to make beautiful the shattered fragments of our lives.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Anatomy of the Soul ~ by Curt Thompson, M.D.

The brain, or mind, is wonderfully complex, mysterious and amazing. And despite what science has attempted to prove throughout the (recent) ages, neurology and spirituality are connected. Dr. Thompson does a great job of communicating the complexities of this subject in a way that is not difficult for the average person to understand.

We all have pasts, and those pasts have helped to shape our present time. Many times in a negative way and we don’t even realize it. By rewiring our brains, we can become happier, have more peace and experience more freedom. It can radically change our lives and our relationships. Dr. Thompson uses Scripture and science to show how it works together. He helps us to realize how much God loves us, and how to become more like the person He created us to be. With this book it is easy to see how truly fearfully and wonderfully made we are.

This wonderful book is a great tool to have and to use. Dr. Thompson includes examples and exercises to be used to help us to apply the material to our own lives. I liked it very much.

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

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Anatomy of the Soul

Curt Thompson, M.D.

Do you want to improve your relationships and experience lasting personal change? Join Curt Thompson, M.D., on an amazing journey to discover the surprising pathways for transformation hidden inside your own mind. Integrating new findings in neuroscience and attachment with Christian spirituality, Dr. Thompson reveals how it is possible to rewire your mind, altering your brain patterns and literally making you more like the person God intended you to be. Explaining discoveries about the brain in layman’s terms, he shows how you can be mentally transformed through spiritual practices, interaction with Scripture, and connections with other people. He also provides practical exercises to help you experience healing in areas where you’ve been struggling. Insightful and challenging, Anatomy of the Soul illustrates how learning about one of God’s most miraculous creations—your brain—can enrich your life, your relationships, and your impact on the world around you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bringing Up Girls ~ by Dr. James Dobson

It is a scary time to be bringing up a child. Nonetheless, we are doing it. So I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to read and review Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson. In his long awaited and highly anticipated follow-up to Bringing Up Boys, Dr. Dobson tackles the issues that are plaguing girls today. He discusses the importance of safe, healthy and nurturing familial relationships (with an emphasis on mothers and fathers in different ways) and the ways we can help our daughters to grow up well in this oftentimes difficult and dangerous world.

Girls today are dealing with drugs, alcohol, bullying (emotional, physical and cyber), immodest and immoral behavior, clothing and expectations, and for the most part, an over-sexed and largely morally bankrupt society. By default, many of their hero’s are celebrities who at best are out of touch with reality and at worst are immoral, shallow and typically “bad girls” who appear to be hell-bent on their own destruction. Adolescence (and even pre-pubescence) for many girls is a cesspool of pain and trauma. In their pain they drink and do drugs, have eating disorders and are involved in cutting or other self-mutilation tactics. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Dr. Dobson shines light on the issues and offers sound advice. He reassures the reader that we as parents are not without control. We have more power than we may realize and our children love and listen to us. He offers statistics and cites other great sources to back up his claims. In addition to his own book, he offers parents many other resources to refer to – some that are his, some that are not. His words are real, sometimes somber and other times humorous.

If you have a daughter, this book will speak to your heart and offer you wisdom and encouragement – especially when it comes to dealing with emotions and hormones! It will help you to navigate the murky waters of feminine maturation. If you don’t have daughters, but know someone who does, this would be a great gift that may be appreciated more than you could even know.

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

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Bringing Up Girls

By Dr. James Dobson

Bringing Up Boys by parenting expert and best-selling author Dr. James Dobson was, and continues to be, a runaway hit, selling more than 2 million copies to date. Now, Dr. Dobson presents his highly anticipated companion book: Bringing Up Girls. Based on extensive research, and handled with Dr. Dobson’s trademark down-to-earth approach, Bringing Up Girls will equip parents like you to face the challenges of raising your daughters to become healthy, happy, and successful women who overcome challenges specific to girls and women today and who ultimately excel in life.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Heart Mender ~ Andy Andrews

A true story told as fiction equals FANTASTIC! What a wonderful (and enlightening) story this is! The Heart Mender is the latest book by celebrated author Andy Andrews. He admits in the Author’s Note, that this story, for the most part, is true. And he admits that it is both his favorite of the books he has written, and that it is his greatest disappointment. It was previously released as Island of Saints and for some reason was not well received at all. This time is far different.

It is a provocative and engaging story, with tragedy and triumph, hate and love, anger and forgiveness, despair and hope, as well as drama and peace colliding in the way that only real life can. It is also informative: I had no idea that during WWII, German U-boats patrolled the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. and the Gulf of Mexico, sinking supply ships and disrupting commerce and the supply chain for Allied troops (I suspect many people don’t know this as it’s not widely reported or taught about). It is a story about the power of love and forgiveness between God and people, and people and people, and how that power can overcome the worst of situations. Great book, great story, great job, Andy!

This book was provided to me for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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The Heart Mender

By Andy Andrews

A unique blend of historical fact and engaging fiction showing the power of forgiveness.

While digging up a withering wax myrtle tree beside his waterfront home on the Gulf coast, author Andy Andrews unearths a rusted metal container filled with Nazi artifacts and begins an intriguing investigation that unlocks an unspoken past that took place in his backyard . . . literally.

In 1942, as the country gears up for a full-scale commitment to WWII, German subs are dispatched to the Gulf of Mexico to sink U.S. vessels carrying goods and fuel. While taking a late-night walk, Helen Mason-widowed by war-discovers the near-lifeless body of a German sailor. Enraged at the site of Josef Landermann's uniform, Helen is prepared to leave him to die when an unusual phrase, faintly uttered, changes her mind.

Set in a period simmering with anger and suspicion The Heart Mender offers the very real chronicle of a small town preparing itself for the worst the world has to offer. As cargo from torpedoed ships begins to wash up on the beach, Josef and Helen must reconcile their pasts to create a future.

Blending his unique style of historical accuracy with unparalleled storytelling, New York Times best-selling author Andy Andrews offers a tale of war, faith, and forgiveness illuminating the one principle that frees the human spirit.

Previously released as Island of Saints. Now includes a Reader's Guide and a Where are They Now? section.

Does God Exist? Kit ~ by Focus on the Family

Recently I had the opportunity to review the DVD Does God Exist? Kit: Building the Scientific Case, produced by Focus on the Family, and featuring Dr. Stephen Meyer. I’m so glad that I did! There are two DVD’s with ten 30-minute lessons (plus a bonus extra: The Toughest Test in College), along with a 64-page color booklet with discussion questions. Topics discussed are: Faith and Reason, The Big Bang theory, DNA, Intelligent Design, The Return of the God Hypothesis, and The Moral Necessity of Theism.

For decades now, our society has been embracing intellectualism and the climate is growing increasingly hostile to faith. This series is geared toward young people, to help answer questions (that we all have) and then be able to defend their faith. It is perfect for those who are college-bound, but it is also perfect for those who don’t go to college. It can be taught in a home-school environment, in youth groups or small groups, or even simply as family viewing and learning together. It is not a finished set. There are two additional kits planned for the future. It is a wonderful resource to have and to use.

This kit was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

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Does God Exist? Kit: Building the Scientific Case

Focus on the Family

Del Tackett and Stephen Meyer

In this first DVD set of the TrueU series, Dr. Stephen Meyer plays a “philosophical survival game,” pitting four worldviews against one another in the quest to decide which one gives the best answers. Dr. Meyer examines the evidence and provides the tools needed for students to defend their faith and make it their own. This is the perfect resource for students preparing to enter college and a culture that may be hostile to their faith. Additional discussion guides can be purchased separately, either in singles (978-1-58997-115-8) or in a 10-pack (978-1-58997-116-5).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Bride Collector ~ by Ted Dekker

Gripping, intense, suspenseful, thrilling, fast-paced and page-turning, describes the latest book by the always amazing Ted Dekker! The Bride Collector takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride that leaves them nearly breathless. From the very beginning it is difficult to put down. It takes us to a depth of darkness that most of us, if we’re lucky, will never know. It speaks to the reality of the horrors of abuse and trauma and how deeply and permanently they can twist the mind. But in true Dekker fashion, we’re shown that there can be freedom and healing. In this life, there is a power struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness, but we have the blessed hope that in the end, Good and Light will win. The Bride Collector further solidifies Dekker as a master of suspense. Great read!

This book was provided to me for review by Center Street Publishers.

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The Bride Collector

By Ted Dekker

FBI Special agent Brad Raines is facing his toughest case yet. A Denver serial killer has killed four beautiful young women, leaving a bridal veil at each crime scene, and he's picking up his pace. Unable to crack the case, Raines appeals for help from a most unusual source: residents of the Center for Wellness and Intelligence, a private psychiatric institution for mentally ill individuals whose are extraordinarily gifted.

It's there that he meets Paradise, a young woman who witnessed her father murder her family and barely escaped his hand. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Paradise may also have an extrasensory gift: the ability to experience the final moments of a person's life when she touches the dead body.

In a desperate attempt to find the killer, Raines enlists Paradise's help. In an effort to win her trust, he befriends this strange young woman and begins to see in her qualities that most 'sane people' sorely lack. Gradually, he starts to question whether sanity resides outside the hospital walls...or inside.

As the Bride Collector picks up the pace-and volume-of his gruesome crucifixions, the case becomes even more personal to Raines when his friend and colleague, a beautiful young forensic psychologist, becomes the Bride Collector's next target.

The FBI believes that the killer plans to murder seven women. Can Paradise help before it's too late?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Not a Sparrow Falls ~ by Linda Nichols

I loved this story! Not a Sparrow Falls by Linda Nichols is both a heartwarming and a heart-rending tale. It speaks of loss, love, pain, despair, hope, redemption, new beginnings and happiness. It paints a lovely picture of how darkness is pushed back when Light is welcomed in. It clearly shows how powerful love is, how desperately we all need it, and how much fuller our lives are if we give and receive it. The characters face struggles that are real, relevant and not uncommon to many of us, problems in the world, in the church and in our families. We also see that the secrets we hold can destroy us, but the truth, no matter how difficult or painful it is, can truly set us free. It’s a wonderful book and I highly recommend it!

This book was provided to me for review by Bethany House Publishers.

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Not a Sparrow Falls

By Linda Nichols

In this powerful story of redemption and love, a prodigal young woman from the hills of Virginia flees the men who have lured her away from a godly upbringing into a life of desperation. Taking on a new identity, Mary Bridget Washburn escapes to the bustling city of Alexandria. There her path crosses that of Alasdair MacPherson, a widowed pastor with three young children and daunting problems of his own. Mary Bridget longs to bring happiness to the deeply troubled family, but she seems an unlikely candidate to help. Has she fallen too far from grace to be able to pass it on? A heart-tugging tale about the extraordinary struggles that turn ordinary people into heroes.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Never Say Never ~ by Lisa Wingate

This was such a fun book to read! Never Say Never is the third book in the Daily, Texas series, by Lisa Wingate. It is a light-hearted, easy read, with a bit of romance, a dash of drama, a lot of humor and wit, with a heap of good old-fashioned wisdom thrown in. The characters are quirky and fun and the way they interact with one another is thoroughly enjoyable. This delightful book made me laugh out loud several times and kept me completely interested throughout. Generally I consider a thriller or mystery to be a page-turner, but this book I must say certainly qualified for that description. If you’re looking for great summer reading, this book is a must!

This book was provided to me for review by Bethany House Publishers.

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Never Say Never

By Lisa Wingate

Sometimes life's storms blow in unexpected possibilities

Kai has never put down roots in any one place--and she doesn't plan to. But when a chaotic hurricane evacuation lands her in Daily, Texas, she meets hometown-boy Kemp Eldridge, and she begins to think twice about her wayfaring existence. Until she discovers he may be promised to someone else. But Daily usually has a few surprises in store--especially when Aunt Donetta has cooked up a scheme.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kaleidoscope ~ by Patsy Clairmont

This is the first book I’ve read by best-selling author and Women of Faith speaker Patsy Clairmont. Kaleidoscope: Seeing God’s Wit and Wisdom in a Whole New Light is a fresh new way of looking at Proverbs (my favorite book of the Bible). The book is lighthearted, powerful and deep all at once, while being as entertaining as it is enlightening. Patsy shares many humorous stories and anecdotes, mostly from her own life. The chapters are easy to read and not particularly long, which makes it an easy, light and comfortable devotional.

Kaleidoscope has an Intro and thirty-two chapters. Each chapter has a fun or quirky title, a specific verse from Proverbs, followed by commentary, then Bits and Pieces (which is a section for personal reflection) and finally Held to the Light (the last section, which is other Scripture verses from throughout the Bible). It would be easy to read on the run, which would make it perfect for a gal on the go, or can be read slowly, taking time to savor the nuggets of wisdom contained within. This wonderful book would be great for women of all ages and stages. It would make a great gift for self or others.

This book was provided to me for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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Kaleidoscope

Patsy Clairmont

Acclaimed author and Women of Faith speaker Patsy Clairmont causes womens' hearts to leap and their hopes to lift in this quirky, straight-to-the point look at the Proverbs.

Understanding the Christian life and the Bible can be a daunting task. But maybe God didn't mean it to be so hard. In Kaleidoscope of Proverbs, Patsy Clairmont pieces together some powerful messages from God and reveals new facets of beauty, inspiration, and instruction. Written for busy women, Patsy offers brief, powerful chapters that address the key aspects of their lives, hearts, and relationships.

In the Proverbs, God gives us small gems of hope and truth, and in Kaleidoscope of Proverbs, Patsy Clairmont unveils them for readers with her trademark humor and insightful teaching.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Making Money From Home ~ by Donna Partow

Have you ever wanted to work from home? And be successful at it? Successful author, entrepreneur and ministry leader Donna Partow has been doing so very well for over 20 years. Her latest book, Making Money from Home, is filled with fantastic advice, tips, suggestions and plain old common sense. It covers topics such as: Getting Started, Time Management, Money Management, Priorities, Options, Marketing, Business Basics, Sales, Social Networking and (most importantly) Family Time.

The current economic crisis our Nation is in, has shown us (if we didn’t already know) there is no job security and we are responsible for our own financial well-being. People are starting out every day, and succeeding in, operating a business of their own. There is a ton of information out there on how to, but what is really accurate. It is imperative to find a trusted source and build from there. With Making Money from Home, we find that it is possible to have a profitable business of our own, without being all alone. It is a wonderful resource that will benefit both new entrepreneurs and those who would like to take their business to the next level.

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

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Making Money From Home

Donna Partow

In tough economic times, conventional jobs can be hard to find. A home-based business could be the answer for many people. Making Money from Home compares the cost of working outside the home with the benefits of working from home. It provides readers with the tools they need to run a successful home business, such as time management advice, details on the foundations of a solid business, tips on marketing goods and services, legal issues to consider, and information on how to use the Internet effectively and how to create a business plan.

Her Mother's Hope ~ by Francine Rivers

Wow, what a fantastic book! With her latest book, Francine Rivers has done it again! Her Mother’s Hope is the first book in a sweeping saga, filled with hope, love, tough love, sorrow, drama, dreams dashed and dreams realized. It is a story about the complicated and often emotional relationship between mothers and daughters. The characters are real, they are flawed, and they are thoroughly engaging.

This was a book that I couldn’t put down. It wholly captivated my attention. My only problem with this book is that it ended. I cannot wait for the second book to come out.

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

~~~

Her Mother’s Hope

Francine Rivers

The first in an epic two-book saga by beloved author Francine Rivers, this sweeping story explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over several generations. Near the turn of the 20th century, fiery Marta leaves Switzerland determined to find life on her own terms. Her journey takes her through Europe and finally lands her with children and husband in tow in the central valley of California. Marta’s experiences convince her that only the strong survive.

Hildie, Marta’s oldest daughter, has a heart to serve others, and her calling as a nurse gives her independence, if not the respect of her mother. Amid the drama of WWII, Hildie marries and begins a family of her own. She wants her daughter never to doubt her love—but the challenges of life conspire against her vow. Each woman is forced to confront her faulty but well-meaning desire to help her daughter find her God-given place in the world.

~~~

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS WITH FRANCINE RIVERS

How did you get started as a writer?
From the time I was a child, I knew I would be a writer. Because I didn’t know what I would write, I majored in English (emphasis in literary writing) and minored in journalism (emphasis on who-what-when-where-why). My parents had always been non-fiction readers. Rick’s family loved all kinds of books – and lots of fiction. Mom Edith loaned me novels and I loved them. On a dare (from Rick) I decided to write a combination of my favorite genres and wrote a “western-gothic-romance”. Romance novels were booming in the general market, publishers were on the look-out for new writers. My first manuscript sold and was published. I was hooked! I followed with eight or nine more (of what I call my B.C. (before Christ) books). They are all now out of print, are never to be reprinted, and are not recommended.

When I turned my life over to Jesus, I couldn’t write for three years. I tried, but nothing worked. I struggled against God over that because writing was my “identity.” It took that period of suffering “writer’s block” to bring me to my senses. God was trying to open my eyes to how writing had become an idol in my life. It was the place I ran to escape, the one area of my life where I thought I was in complete control. (Hardly!) My priorities were all wrong and needed to be put right. God first, husband and children second (we had three children by then) and third-- work. I prayed God would change my heart. My love for writing and reading novels waned and my passion for reading and studying God’s Word grew.

Rick and I began hosting a home Bible study. I began working with Rick in his business. The children came along and played in the office, hiding in the shipping popcorn. Writing ceased to matter. I was in love with Jesus and my husband and children. God never stops with the transformation process. We began studying the book of Hosea, and I sensed God calling me to write again – this time a romance about Jesus’ love for each of us. Redeeming Love was the result. It is the retelling of the Hosea story, set in Gold Rush-era California. After I turned it in, I wasn’t sure whether I would write anything more. I had so many questions about what it means to be a Christian, how to live for God, different issues that still haunted me. I felt God nudging me toward using my writing as a tool to draw closer to Him. I would ask my question, create characters that would play out the different viewpoints and seek God’s perspective. I began work on A Voice in the Wind. Writing has become a way to worship the Lord through story – to show how intimately He wants to be involved in our lives.


Christian fiction continues to boom. What would you like to see happen in the field?
I want to see Christian fiction speak to the hard and real issues that tear people’s lives apart. We need writers who are willing to ask the hard questions and go through the soul-searching and agonizing to find answers – and present these stories with skill that surpasses the general market. Some of the greatest works or art and literature were rendered by Christians. I believe God is at work in these areas now. I would also love to see more Christian stories make it to the big screen and into the world of television, and to have the Christian worldview presented fairly. Much of what comes out of “Hollywood” appeals to the basest side of mankind and crushes the spirit. Right now, with war and a failing economy, people are hungry for stories that inspire them, lift them and give them hope. People need to know there are solutions and we can have peace and an abundant life -- even in the midst of trials.


What is your goal or mission as a Christian writer?
I want to whet the appetite for the real thing: the Bible and a personal relationship with Jesus. I try to weave Scripture throughout the story so people receive the Word and see what it might mean in their lives – how the Lord is present and real and passionately interested in each of us. He is not an idea. He is real, all-powerful, all-knowing, the embodiment of love, deeply involved in our existence, and He created each of us for a purpose.


What advice would you give to a new writer?
Write what you need to read. Write from your heart and. Write truth. Sometimes it hurts to peel away the layers of self-deception and see ourselves in the mirror, but it will also draw us closer to Jesus. And your work may minister to others struggling with the same issues. Read the Bible every day so that it will flow naturally into the story. Study the Bible from beginning to end. It is the most exciting reading in the world. It is also alive – and will help you recognize when you are entering into sin and need to realign yourself with the Lord. Keep your focus on Jesus.


Tell us about your current work.
I have just completed the second in a set of two books about mother-daughter relationship over four generations. This was intended to be one long novel dealing with the different ways generations have lived out their faith – but became so long it needed to be divided. Her Mother’s Hope will be released March 16, 2010. Her Daughter’s Dream will follow in September. There are numerous family and personal details woven into both books and I plan to share those things on my blog.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hunter's Moon ~ by Don Hoesel

This was a different kind of book for me. Hunter’s Moon by Don Hoesel is really more of a guy kind of book, with more emphasis on sports, hunting and fishing than what a girl normally reads. But overall, I liked it. It’s a smart book, with multiple layers, complications, twists and turns. It was a wonderful portrayal of the danger and harm that secrets can inflict, even to the point of being a destructive force that seems to take on a life of its own. I particularly enjoyed the honest portrayal of a new-found faith, with both its strengths and weaknesses, along with the symbolic wrestling over moral dilemmas.

It was a bit slow to begin with, but it really picked up and drew me in. And I wasn’t especially satisfied with the end, but I suspect the author finished exactly the way he intended. I would easily recommend Hunter’s Moon to many of my guy friends, and maybe even some women, but all in all, I’d say it’s much more a great read for guys.

This book was provided to me for review by Bethany House Publishers.

~~~

Hunter’s Moon

By Don Hoesel

Every family has its secrets...

Bestselling novelist CJ Baxter is known for writing hard-hitting stories ripped from his own life. But there's one story he's never told. A toxic secret that's haunted him too long.

Now, after seventeen years, CJ is headed home, determined to expose the truth. But a black sheep airing the family's dirty laundry is the last thing CJ's brother, Graham--and his campaign for Senate--can afford. With so much at stake, there's nothing the Baxters won't do to keep their secret...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Murderer's Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers

I’ve just finished reading The Murderer’s Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers. By far, most of my reviews are books for a Christian audience. This one is not. Had I known the content of the book prior to reading it, I wouldn’t have agreed to do so. There is nothing wrong with the writing mechanically. However, I did not like this book. At all. I found it to be depressing, predictable, and full of every cliché imaginable for a dysfunctional family. It is void of hope, healing, recovery, or reconciliation. The characters seemed flat, completely one-dimensional. The dialog was stilted and redundant, while the use of profanity was highly excessive, particularly the use of “Jesus” and or “Christ” as profanity. I do realize there is a gritty realism of pain and brokenness portrayed, but it is so without hope, I found it utterly discouraging. Many people will like this book (as evidenced by the vast amount of stellar reviews it has received), but to me, worse than the waste of money to purchase it, is the waste of time required to read it. I truly hate giving poor reviews and wish I didn’t have to do so here, but I simply cannot recommend this book.

This book was provided to me for review by St. Martin’s Press.

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The Murderer’s Daughters

Randy Susan Meyers

With a plot inspired by an incident from her childhood and, later, by her work with batterers, Meyers weaves a compelling story about two sisters on a journey to overcome the collateral damage of family violence. The book’s protagonists, Lulu and Merry Zachariah, are sisters left orphaned after witnessing their father kill their mother. Following their father’s imprisonment, the girls suffer at the hands of uncaring relatives, a tough-as-nails orphanage and, finally, a foster family ill-equipped to nurture them. As they mature and cope with their traumatic past in dramatically differently ways, their imprisoned father remains a specter in their lives, affecting every decision they make.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Girls Life Application Study Bible ~ NLT

I was so excited to have the opportunity to review this Girls Life Application Study Bible. As the mother of a girl, it is my heart’s desire that she would love the Lord and His Word. This Bible will be perfect for her (she’s still too young now, but I’m keeping it for her)! It is the New Living Translation, so it’s easy to read, with a lot of features that are specific to young girls. The color and design will be especially pleasing to most young ladies. I especially thought “What Now?” (learning how to make good choices in tough times) and “I Survived!” (personal survival stories from older teens about how they made it through) would be especially helpful for today’s young ladies. It is fun, colorful, zany and full of great information in addition to Scripture. It’s hard being young today, especially for a girl, and a stiff, stuffy old Bible won’t speak to girls in a way that can be heard by them, but a Bible like this surely will.

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

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Girls Life Application Study Bible

New Living Translation

An edition of God’s Word created for girls ages 11 and up, based on the best-selling Life Application Study Bible. Packed full of notes and features, the Girls Life Application Study Bible is easy to use and helps answer some of the questions preteen girls have about God and life. Discovering God’s will for their lives has never been this much fun!
Features:

~ “What Now?” Learn how to make good choices in tough times

~ “I Survived!” Personal survival stories from older teens about how they made it

~ “Amazing Facts” Bible trivia

~ “At a Glance”—the lives of famous women in the Bible—good and bad—become lessons for teens

~ “Is It OK?” A reality check on what the Bible says about the questions that are really on your mind

~ 2-color interior; 16 pages of full-color illustrations about Bible times

~ Book introductions and timelines

~ Charts and 3-dimensional maps

~ Unique colored pattern on outside of page edges

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What's In The Bible ~ by Phil Vischer

Phil Vischer, creator of VeggieTales, has a new project for teaching children about God and the Bible. What's In The Bible is a 13 DVD series designed to teach children all about the Bible. It is completely different than the VeggieTales we’ve all come to know and love. Though it does have some animated characters, there are many puppets and a couple of real, and seriously goofy-looking, guys (singers) added to the cast.

Vischer has a passion for teaching kids God’s Word. He does a great job of teaching what’s in the Bible at a level that kids will understand and enjoy. (It will probably teach some adults well too!) Because of the format it will captivate and both younger and older children. It gives history on the books of the Bible as well as stories from the Bible.

It is a lot of fun and greatly entertaining, so children won’t even realize they’re learning. It may be best suited for children ages 3 – 8, but certainly a little younger and older will also enjoy it. I know my 2 year old did! What's in the Bible will be a great series for parents to have at home for their children, as well as for Christian daycare and Sunday School too.

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

~~~

What’s In the Bible?

In the Beginning

By Phil Vischer, Creator of VeggieTales

Presenting a 13-DVD series from the creator of VeggieTales, Phil Vischer! Each DVD is filled with original music, animation, puppets, and creative writing that will teach kids about God and his Word. The first DVD introduces kids to the Bible and the book of beginnings, Genesis. Kids will learn about the key people in Genesis and the important lessons their stories teach us. Approximately 56 minutes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

66 Love Letters ~ Dr. Larry Crabb

66 Love Letters is the latest book by best-selling author and highly-esteemed psychologist and Christian counselor Dr. Larry Crabb. In it, he takes every book of the Bible and condenses it down to one paragraph, and then expands it into a letter, a love letter, from God. I’ve heard many times that the Bible is a love letter from God, and in this book, Dr. Crabb does a brilliant job of sharing it as such. From the very beginning, in Genesis, we’re shown how much God loves us and longs to have a relationship with us. We’re shown how He has a plan for our lives and if we will just trust Him, He will see it through. At the very end, Revelation, we’re shown the promise fulfilled, evil destroyed and a party begun. It is a wonderful collection of letters, to read and reread, to bring comfort and hope. Thank you, Lord, for your love!

The book is broken down into seven parts:

~ Part One: A Fall, A Promise, and the Story Begins (Love Letter One, Genesis – Love Letter Five, Deuteronomy)

~ Part Two: History Gives Away the Plot (Love Letter Six, Joshua – Love Letter Seventeen, Esther)

~ Part Three: Living in Mystery with Wisdom and Hope (Love Letter Eighteen, Job – Love Letter Twenty-Two, Song of Songs)

~ Part Four: A Word to the Foolish (Love Letter Twenty-Three, Isaiah – Love Letter Thirty-Nine, Malachi)

~ Part Five: The Hero Takes Center Stage (Love Letter Forty, Matthew – Love Letter Forty-Three, John)

~ Part Six: Clumsy People Take Dance Lessons (Love Letter Forty-Four, Acts – Love Letter Sixty-Five, Jude)

~ Part Seven: The Promise is Kept: Happiness Forever (Love Letter Sixty-Six, Revelation)

This book was provided to me for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

~~~

66 Love Letters

Dr. Larry Crabb

The story of God written in intimate love letters just for you.

Dr. Larry Crabb knows that if we could see the larger story of God and humanity, our world would never be the same. That story is found in large part in the sixty-six letters of the Bible.

Written in a conversational first person, as if God is speaking directly to us, Dr. Crabb looks at each individual book in scripture and boils it down to a one- or two-sentence message to us from that particular book. He then unpacks each sentence in a short chapter answering the question, What does God want me to hear from this love letter? The book's epilogue then fits all sixty-six pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together into one coherent paragraph and reveals the beautiful picture of what God has been about since the creation of the world. Far from being comprehensive, this is a personal approach to helping readers know God and his great love for them, his message for all mankind, and how their lives fit into His larger story.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Life Recovery Bible ~ NLT

Brilliant! Many of us either have battled issues like addiction, depression, co-dependency, and dysfunction ourselves, or know someone who has. The Life Recovery Bible is a New Living Translation Bible specifically focusing on these types of struggles and more. It offers many features that speak to the struggles faced by people in recovery, including, special devotionals, notes, themes and profiles. What really impressed me though, was that it really speaks to everyone, whether they are “in recovery” or not (we all need help and healing somehow). In addition to being a great personal Bible, it would be an awesome tool for ministry and outreach. I highly recommend The Life Recovery Bible.

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

~~~

The Life Recovery Bible

New Living Translation

The Life Recovery Bible is today's #1-selling recovery Bible and is based on the 12-step recovery model. It was created by two of today's leading recovery experts, David Stoop, Ph.D., and Stephen Arterburn, M.Ed., to lead readers to the source of true healing--God himself.

Features:

~ New Living Translation

~ Recovery Notes: Placed throughout the Bible text, these notes pinpoint passages and thoughts important to recovery

~ Twelve Step Devotionals: A reading chain of 84 Bible-based devotionals tied to the Twelve Steps of recovery and placed throughout the Bible text

~ Serenity Prayer Devotionals: Based on the Serenity Prayer, these devotionals provide an excellent More than 50 Bible-based devotionals create an excellent guide to recovery

~ Recovery Profiles: Key Bible characters are profiled and important recovery lessons are drawn from their lives

~ Recovery Reflections: Topically arranged recovery reflections pinpoint specific Scripture passages at the end of most Bible books

~ Recovery Themes: Prominent recovery themes are discussed at the openings of various Bible books

~ Other Features: Outlines, book histories, topical index, devotional index, book introductions, user's guide, and a new 12-step comparison chart

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Listen ~ by Rene Gutteridge

Wow, wow, wow! I've just finished the book Listen by Rene Gutteridge. This is one of the scariest books I’ve ever read – not because it’s meant to be a horror novel (it’s not), but because it caused me to evaluate the conversations I have – especially the private ones. We are admonished often in the Bible that life and death are in the power of the tongue. This book has a powerful message contained within its endearing story. It shines the light on the damage that is cause by gossip and carelessly spoken words –even private ones. There are great life lessons here that everyone can benefit from. I highly recommend this book!

This book was provided to me for review by Tyndale House Publishers.

~~~

Listen

Rene Gutteridge

Nothing ever happens in the small town of Marlo . . . until the residents begin seeing their private conversations posted online for everyone to read. Then it’s neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, as paranoia and violence escalate. The police scramble to identify the person responsible for the posts and pull the plug on the Website before it destroys the town. But what responsibility do the people of the town have for the words they say when they think no one is listening? Life and death are in the power of the tongue.

The Hidden Flame ~ by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke

I have discovered that I really enjoy biblical accounts brought to life by a fictional story, and The Hidden Flame by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke is one I especially liked. It is the second in the Acts of Faith series (the first one being The Centurion’s Wife). First-Century Jerusalem was fraught with danger for followers of The Way. That’s easy to read, and pretty much gloss over, but reading a story like this really opens the eyes to what the first Christians must have experienced, felt and thought. Signs and wonders, love and sharing, hope and expectant waiting, along with fear and persecution, were as real and natural breathing.

This story (taken from early Acts) was a bit confusing at first because I haven’t read the first book in the series. But I quickly caught on and was then drawn in completely. At nearly 400 pages, it is a long book, however, I read though it quite quickly. I’m sure it is a great read for anyone who enjoys biblical fiction.

This book was provided to me for review by Bethany House Publishers.

~~~

The Hidden Flame

By Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

Abigail loses everything and is left with little promise of a normal life. When she discovers the Messiah and joins his followers, she also discovers new meaning and purpose. Maybe she does have a future after all. But increasing persecution is scattering the burgeoning group "to the ends of the earth." And Abigail may have given her heart to the wrong man.

Two suitors desire the lovely Abigail's hand in marriage. One is a successful Hebrew merchant and widower looking for a mother for his children. On the other side is the Roman soldier Linux, who is captivated by her winsome charm and could offer the sanctuary--maybe even the love--for which she yearns. But her heart has been captured by neither of these. Stephen, one of the leaders of The Way, has a character and a faith that move her deeply, but his outspoken preaching has marked him for assassination. Will her faith and courage withstand a heartbreak beyond comprehension? And then a glimmer of hope appears, one she never would have foreseen.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Love & War ~ John and Stasi Eldredge

The Eldredge’s are back with a new book! Love & War by John and Stasi Eldredge is a fantastic book about marriage. In their humorous, insightful and unique way, this couple opens up about their own marriage and delves into the mystery that is marriage. It is about the journey of marriage, including individual brokenness, More Than Just Roommates, How to Have a Really Good Fight, Learning to Love, Sharing the Adventure, and of course, The Chapter on Sex.

Love & War is refreshingly honest and open, with plenty of references to scripture, and again including scenes or lines from popular movies. I knew it would be a great book when I read in the very first chapter:

This should have been our announcement in the Sunday paper wedding column:

Will Anyone Ever Love Me? was joined in marriage to I Will Never Need Anyone last week. The groom, Mr. Insecure Perfectionist, wedded his bride Miss I Know I’m a Disappointment at the Congregational Church. The lovely train wreck has taken up residence in Monrovia. A public reception and private disaster are soon to follow.

This book should be read by all who are married, have been married or hope to get married!

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

~~~

Love & War

By John and Stasi Eldredge

What the Eldredge bestsellers Wild at Heart did for men, and Captivating did for women, LOVE & WAR will do for married couples everywhere. John and Stasi Eldredge have contributed the quintessential works on Christian spirituality through the experience of men and the experience of women and now they turn their focus to the incredible dynamic between those two forces.

With refreshing openness that will grab readers from the first page, the Eldredges candidly discuss their own marriage and the insights they’ve gained from the challenges they faced. Each talks independently to the reader about what they’ve learned, giving their guidance personal immediacy and a balance between the male and female perspectives that has been absent from all previous books on this topic. They begin LOVE & WAR with an obvious but necessary acknowledgement: Marriage is fabulously hard. They advise that the sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we'll find our way through.

LOVE & WAR shows couples how to fight for their love and happiness, calling men and women to step into the great adventure God has waiting for them together. Walking alongside John and Stasi Eldredge, every couple can discover how their individual journeys are growing into a story of meaning much greater than anything they could do or be on their own.

~~~

To get more information about Love & War, including online purchase options, simply visit

http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780385529808