Thursday, July 31, 2008


Title: BELLA
Author: Lisa Samson (from original screenplay)
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
May 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59554-601-1
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Nina didn’t expect life to turn out the way it did. Pregnant with an unwanted child, she has only one option open to her. An abortion. But she didn’t know how she’d pay for it. Rent was due, and the baby’s father only offered to pay for half the cost of the abortion. Now, she was late to work for the third time, and her boss was very unforgiving with the third offense.

Jose works as a cook for his brother’s restaurant. He had soccer dreams that died violently and prematurely. The weight of broken dreams gets heavier and heavier, but Jose doesn’t know how to handle the situation. When Jose learns of Nina’s pregnancy, he tries to talk her into keeping the baby, but ultimately promises to go to the abortion center with her, since the baby’s father doesn’t want anything to do with either Nina or the pregnancy.

But a series of unexpected events changes everything.

BELLA is based on the top movie of 2007 and was rewritten in book form by Lisa Samson. The reader can tell that this was originally a movie first, as it doesn’t read as smoothly as novels normally would, but Ms. Samson did a much better job writing this as novel form from the movie than other authors have done in similar situations.

It took me a long time to figure out what Jose’s story was, why he did the things he did. Nina’s situation was easier to understand, her motivations clear from the beginning. I never saw the movie, so I was going into the book without a clue what it was about, but I did enjoy the book, and read it through in one sitting. Pictures from the movie are included at the end of the book, as well as a reading guide, information about the actors, and information about the movie. $14.99. 201 pages.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seeing Through the Lies

Title: SEEING THROUGH THE LIES: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe
Author: Vonda Skelton
Publisher: Regal Books
February 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8307-4501-2
Genre: Inspirational/Christian Living

Who put a stop payment on my reality check? (from back cover)

Women are in an unbeatable fight to attain the world’s standard of beauty. Do you feel inadequate, ugly, not good enough, or worthless? In SEEING THROUGH THE LIES, Vonda Skelton humorously brings to light the lies that our culture endorses, while steering us toward the truth.

Ms. Skelton will help you:

Ø how to identify when you’re being deceived
Ø how to unmask the lies you believe
Ø identify lies that seduce women into a false reality about life, love, and living for Christ
Ø identify lies about physical beauty
Ø identify lies women believe about their checking account,

Plus much more.

Each chapter is written in a short, easy to follow format, with scripture references to look up over a period of five days while you meditate over what you read. Ms. Skelton recommends that you read this book with your Bible and your journal close at hand, because you will want to write down thoughts, truths, and other observations as you read this book. Discussion questions are included, making this ideal for a small group study as well. $12.99. 194 pages.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Taming Rafe

Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
December 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4143-1018-3
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Two-time World Champion Bull Rider, Rafe Nobel lost his title, his career, and his best friend all in less than eight seconds. And after a car accident that alienates his agent, his sponsors and has everyone and his brother suing him, he’s forced to go home to Phillips, Montana and the family ranch to recuperate. And to figure out what he’s going to do next.

Katherine Breckenridge wants to make a difference by running her mother’s charity foundation. But somehow, over half a million dollars has evaporated. In hopes of saving the foundation, Katherine plans an elaborate benefit at the five-star hotel she owns in New York—but before even a penny is donated, the party is crashed by Rafe Nobel, and a car accident caused by reckless driving.

Desperate to get Rafe to pay up, Katherine heads to Montana, and the Noble family ranch. But Rafe is broke—in cash and spirit—and helping Katherine raise the needed money could cost him his life.

TAMING RAFE is the second book in the Noble Legacy series, but it easily stands alone. I enjoyed getting to know a bull rider in the pages of this book, and the idea of a wealthy heiress and a bull rider seemed an impossible idea. I was interested in seeing how this would work out.

Rafe is an interesting, loveable hero, despite his demons that he wrestles with, and the reader can’t help but cheering for him. Katherine, while wealthy beyond most American’s dreams, is also realistic and easily related to. The faith message is expertly woven in, and the story settings of rural Montana and bustling New York City are well developed. Don’t miss TAMING RAFE, as well as the first book in the series, Reclaiming Nick, and the third book, available in June 2008, Finding Stephanie. An excerpt of Finding Stephanie is available at the end of TAMING RAFE. $12.99. 370 pages.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Desert Medicine

Author: Judy Alexander
Publisher: Kregel Publications
November 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8254-2008-5
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary women’s fiction

Laurelle is recovering from the end of her eight-year marriage. She has five-year-old twins and two plant care businesses to keep her busy, but she still is hurting. She doesn’t want to join a divorce recovery group—after all, she’s not needy and doesn’t want to listen to others whine about their problems.

Recognizing her children’s need for structure, Laurelle visits the local church, even though she doesn’t believe in God. The pastor tells her to visit an old, homebound woman of his congregation who is dying from cancer. Laurelle has no intentions of doing so, but the pastor keeps mentioning it, so she finally drives out to visit the woman.

Rhoda, even though she is dying, loves to tell stories, and keeps Laurelle entertained by her life story that spans from Depression-era Texas to Calexico, California. Internally broken, Laurelle begins to find healing in Rhoda’s quiet strength and begins to hope again.

DESERT MEDICINE is the first book I’ve read by Judy Alexander, but I’m sure it won’t be the last. Laurelle is hurting and realistic, working multiple jobs to support her husband when her dead-beat husband lives it up with another woman, and not sending so much as a penny in child support.

The story is in Laurelle’s point of view, but starting in the third chapter, Rhoda’s stories are intercepted in, written in her point of view, but in a different font, so the reader is easily able to tell the difference. I enjoyed reading both Laurelle’s and Rhoda’s stories, even though their lives were hard and disappointing, this is not a depressing book. The ending of the book did throw me a bit, not as firmly wrapped up as I would have liked, but it was still somewhat satisfying. Pick up DESERT MEDICINE today. Discussion questions are included at the end. $14.99. 420 pages.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fudge-Laced Felonies

Author: Cynthia Hickey
Publisher: Heartsong Presents Mysteries
December 2008
ISBN: 978-1-69269-181-9
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Summer Meadows is angry when she gets home from vacation and finds out that her prize rosebush is dead. She’d asked Ethan Banning to water her roses for her, and he obviously fell down on the job. Wanting to make it right, Ethan takes Summer and they buy another rosebush. When Ethan digs up the dead plant, he discovers that someone had buried a bag full of diamonds, a rusty can full of cash, and a bloody gardening glove.

Thrown into a mystery by the act of the criminal, Summer sets out to discover what the meaning of it all, but then discovers that someone is targeting her. People are turning up dead, and Summer is beginning to fear she’ll be next.

Ethan begs Summer to let the police do their job, but that doesn’t stop her from throwing herself into harms way. Still, he can’t back off, he’s there for Summer and she can’t help but falling in love. But will this crime spree push Summer away from him for good?

FUDGE-LACED FELONIES is the first book in Ms. Hickey’s A Summer Meadows Mysteries series, and it’s a winner. Summer is a slightly klutzy, totally loveable heroine who stumbles into messy situations she can’t get out of easily. The reader can’t help but cheer for Summer and hope that things will work out for her.

The faith message is expertly woven in and isn’t preachy, and the setting is well-woven into the story. The opening lines of the book are really excellent. Readers are going to see a lot more of Ms. Hickey and her books – and, as Ms. Hickey’s critique partner, I know that the second two books in this trilogy are every bit as wonderful as the first. Don’t miss FUDGE-LACED FELONIES. $6.97. 244 pages.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Sister's Hope

Author: Wanda E. Brunstetter
Publisher: Barbour Books
July 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59789-273-5
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Martha Hostettler wants to make her dog kennel business a success, but it seems as if someone else has different ideas in mind. Her family has been under attack for sometime now, and recently the innocent victims in the crimes have been the new puppies that are born. So far the attacks have been mostly mean pranks, but what if the crimes become more vicious?

Luke Friesen has been infatuated with Martha for sometime, but their relationship is doomed. After all, Martha’s father, Reuben, fired him for being a lazy know-it-all. And not only that, but Rueben believes Luke is behind all the attacks on his family.

Martha is more than a little interested in Luke, and when he suggests they form a partnership to prove his innocence and find the real criminal, Martha is quick to jump at the chance. Will Luke be found innocent? Or is he actually the one committing the crimes?

A SISTER’S HOPE is book three in the Sister’s of Holmes County series, but it easily stands alone. It was nice to revisit some of the characters in the other books in the series to see what has been happening since the stories ended.

Martha is an interesting heroine, and Luke a flawed hero. The story has multiple points of view in it, so one always knows what the other characters are thinking. The faith message is expertly woven in.

Ms. Brunstetter’s books are vastly different from the portrayal of the Amish as Ms. Lewis’, but they are still a good read, and each author has her own loyal following. If you like sweet romances with just a touch of conflict, and the stories neatly wrapped up at the end of the book, then Ms. Brunstetter’s your author. Don’t miss A SISTER’S HOPE. $10.97. 304 pages.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Introducing Suzanne Eller - and CONTEST

The Contest

1. During this blog tour, any reader who responds to Twila Belk at with the name of a church or organization that is interested in having Suzie in as a guest speaker, will receive all three of Suzie's books (up to 10 sets will be given away on a first come first serve basis).

2. If any of your readers contact Twila regarding a Bible study group or book club wanting to use Suzie's materials, their groups will receive conference calls from Suzie to kick off or conclude their studies.

3. All readers who post a comment regarding Suzie's books will be placed in a grand prize drawing on August 2, 2008, for a delightful gift basket (see description to left).

The Mom I Want to Be
Harvest House Publishers
Author: T. Suzanne Eller
ISBN: 978-0-7369-1755-1
Retail: $11.99

The Mom I Want to Be

Being a mom is a great joy and a great responsibility. But what if you have a painful past, a background that didn't include a good role model for parenting? What if your experiences have given you an unhealthy view of motherhood? How can you be the parent you want to be without dragging along your history?

Suzie Eller knows from experience that a mother is influenced by the mothering she received as a child. In her book, The Mom I Want to Be, Suzie shares from the brokenness of her own growing-up years and compassionately discusses how bitterness and anger can be transformed into hope and determination when a woman turns her past and her future over to God's care. Suzie draws attention to a rarely addressed topic, detailing how to put shattered legacies back together, restore broken images of motherhood, forgive the unforgettable, set boundaries that make sense, and let go of yesterday so a new today and tomorrow can be embraced.

The author says, "This is a book for women and moms, but especially for women who want to find wholeness, healing from the past, and specific helps to give their children better memories than they received as a child." She wants her readers to know they don't have to repeat the unhealthy patterns from their childhood. With God's healing power at work in their lives, women can become the moms they want to be.

What Others Are Saying
"I truly believe all parents WANT to be good parents, but some lack the skills or are themselves weighed down and stagnated by an injured inner child. This amazing book offers thoughts and direction to overcome hurtful memories and improve your parenting skills. It is positive and liberating."
Brenda Nixon, author of Parenting Power in the Early Years

The Woman I Am Becoming
Author: T. Suzanne Eller
Harvest House Publishers
Retail: $11.99
ISBN-10: 0736920307
ISBN-13: 978-0736920308

The Woman I Am Becoming

Overarching themes such as identity, relationships, faith, and destiny provide readers a fresh approach to finding their way in this world. Author, speaker and mentor Suzie Eller offers young women an honest and faith-filled look at the journey to completeness. In The Woman I Am Becoming: Embracing the Chase for Identity, Faith, and Destiny, she acknowledges the pressures to look and act a certain way, and helps women explore key questions:
What is a real woman?
Where do I fit?
What should I look like?
Who should I be with?
Where am I going?
What about my faith?
Suzie shares her own story teamed up with life applications, as well as real-life advice from women further along in the journey who are still in the process of becoming. Concluding questions help readers assimilate what they've read into their own lives. As twenty-somethings absorb the book by owning their emotions and meet God in a new way, they'll begin to understand the woman they're becoming.

What Others Are Saying
Wow, is this a much-needed book! Since I, like most women, ventured into my twentysomething and married years far from home and the influence of older women who had been around the block, I so appreciate Suzanne's heart to create a way for young women to gather and receive that sort of input and counsel.~ Shaunti Feldhahn, Author of For Women Only and Coauthor For Young Women Only
Real. Raw. Relatable. For women from all backgrounds trying to figure out this thing called life.~ Kerri Pomarolli, nationally known comedian and author

Making It Real:
Whose Faith Is It Anyway?
Publisher: Kregel
Retail: $11.99
168 pages - paperback
ISBN 978-0825425431
Making It Real: Whose Faith is it Anyway?
A recent statistic said that over 80% of Christian teens abandon their faith for a season. Author T. Suzanne Eller says, "As someone who has ministered to teens for a long time, I believe that teens leave a support system only to have to find out what they believe, as opposed to what they've heard in a sermon or celebrated as a family." Making It Real starts that journey now, rather than later so that they are not one of the 80% who aren't sure what they believe anymore. Whether the reader is a first-time Christ-seeker or a seasoned believer, the book is for teens wanting to know God on a personal life-changing level.

Making It Real helps teens grow their faith, no matter where they are spiritually--into a dynamic relationship with God.

For teens asking questions about their faith, like:

How do I make my faith more personal?
How do I turn to God in both good and bad times?
Where is God leading me?
Is my faith a relationship or tradition?
Family faith is awesome. Youth church is a place where teens can grow. But personal faith is a one-on-one journey. Making It Real is great for individuals as well as small cell or discipleship groups or Sunday school classes.

What Others Are Saying
Making It Real will engage you and take you on a faith-building and life-changing journey,leading you daily to a powerful one-on-one encounter with God. This book connects this generation with a message that is relevant, inspiring and definitely needed.
~ Beau Herbert, President
About the Author
T. Suzanne (Suzie) Eller is the author of five books and over 600 articles and columns. She is a contributing writer to Today's Christian Woman,, and Enrichment Journal. Suzie is a youth culture and parenting columnist, and a community mentor in The Woman of Vision program. Her books include The Mom I Want to Be, The Woman I Am Becoming: Embracing the Chase for Identity, Faith, and Destiny and Making it Real: Whose Faith is it Anyway? Suzie is a sought-after inspirational speaker who ministers internationally to groups of all sizes. She has been featured on hundreds of radio and TV programs. Suzie and her husband have three children and make their home in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. For more information, visit
Author/Speaker Available for Interviews

The Woman I Am Becoming

Describe the passion or burden behind writing The Woman I Am Becoming.

I've worked with teens in different ways for nearly two decades. I'm lucky, because that means I now have a lot of connections and friendships with twentysomethings and even those in their early thirties. I don't have all the answers, and that is not what this book is about, but I have had the privilege to come along side these amazing young women as they ask tough questions.

We're encouraged scripturally as older women (that's me!) to teach the younger women. For me, the definition of teaching is to talk about the issues that matter to them. First, I need to know exactly what that is, rather than assume that I know. Second, I need to be open to a dialogue, a conversation between women at different stages of life, and I love that part of this book. I also love that in real life. It's not a one-sided relationship, but I learn from them and perhaps I can share insight gained through experience, or through bumps (or crashes into brick walls) and thus we all are stronger.

I receive e-mails from all over the nation, and even from as far away as Nigeria or South Africa or West Africa and other parts of the world from young women who say, "I read your book today and it answered a question I have been praying over." That's priceless to me. Many have become Facebook friends and we continue to stay in touch.

You made sure to gather the input of several young women (twentysomethings) for the book. What was the common thread or theme in their stories?

Transition. They were making every critical decision in their lives: who to love, where to live, what to do, wondering what God expected or wanted from them at this stage. This was true, regardless of whether they were 21 and in college or 28 and a wife and mom to two. It was just different in intensity.

If you could give sort of a coming-of-age speech to women in their twenties who are just now finding their way in this world, what would be your three main points?

You are a work in progress - be patient with the process. Learn from it.
You fit - we are not all alike and aren't meant to be, and there is a niche for you. I can't take your place, you aren't meant to take mine, but together we can make a difference
Your "calling" is to love and know God daily - we make it too complex. We are looking at the five-year or ten-year plan, and many times we miss the opportunities all around us--right where we are right now.
This age probably has the hardest time fitting in at church. The women's groups seem to be more for married women with children, and the college and career class is starting to feel too immature. What do you recommend for women who want to be involved at church, but don't feel like they fit in?

Margaret Feinberg, author of Twentysomething, says, "What makes a difference for twentysomethings who grow in their faith and one who grows stagnant or falls away? Without fail, relationships and community are most often cited as the determining factors for growth."
Community is a word that is strong among twentysomethings. They have left or are leaving the familiar world of family. Even if they are still close to family (distance or otherwise), the way their family perceives them may remain the same, but the reality is that they are changing. They are no longer the rebellious 16-year-old or the really smart cheerleader or the screw-up or the good daughter. Labels have fallen away as they are educated, make new friends, attempt to find a spiritual community, make relationship choices or face heartbreak, live financially on their own, work their way up the career ladder, have babies or wait to have babies, etc. They have moved from child to adult. Family is just as important to them, but they are looking for new sources of strength and encouragement.
The same difficulties arise in finding a church. Where do you find your niche? It's like a black hole in ministry among many churches. The twentysomething comes home and finds out that the youth group is mostly 13-year-olds and definitely not a good fit, or the singles group is comprised of mostly divorced men and women in their 40's with very different needs. Where do they fit?

So, I ask twentysomethings to redefine community as becoming a part of something larger. You contribute. You take. These people matter to you.
I encourage them to create community right where they are. For some, the biological family remains the primary community. Others find community in small groups or their community becomes four or five couples who meet in their home or at Starbucks, or four or five close friends who remain connected and close. The secret is that one community does not take away from the other. But it's still vital.
The Mom I Want To Be

This book isn't the typical lighthearted motherhood book. What sets your book apart, and how does it explore territory seldom covered in books designed for mothers?

It's definitely not a fluffy book! This is the book I didn't want to write. I've taught "Pushing Past Your Past" for the past five years at parenting conferences. At one, I was approached by the director and also by their publisher and asked to consider writing a book for women. I hesitated because it's one thing to share my childhood experiences, and what God has done in a workshop or keynote, but another to publish it and put it in the hands of women across the nation. If it helped many women, but destroyed my mother (by telling our story) it wasn't worth it.
And yet she encouraged me to write it. I invited her to join me, to share her story and to show how generations of dysfunction can continue if there is not healing, as well as practical helps and tools. I believe she added depth and wisdom, and it has ministered to many women, whether they were the victim of abuse or neglect, or the ones who are trapped in dysfunctional parenting methods and want help.
The Mom I Want to Be addresses the past, the present, and the future. It shows how to learn from the harm of your past, how to let go, how to forgive, how to trust again, and how to view the world from an adult's perspective, rather than that of the once-harmed child. It shares very practical steps on how to shape your children's memories now rather than focusing on the memories of your past, how to set boundaries for parents or people who are still dysfunctional, how to parent with resources and healthful parenting methods as opposed to familiar patterns from the past, and much more. It offers a lot of interactive study and questions and encouragement, as well as a 12-week small group study for women who want to take this to their church or friends or MOPS groups, etc.
It's still the book I didn't want to write, but I'm so glad I did.
Why did you feel the need to address these issues?

The first time I shared my "Pushing Past the Past" workshop I looked out over the crowd. They looked like women who had it all together. And yet as I spoke, I could see the defenses lowering and we connected as women with a painful past. After that first workshop, women lined up down the aisle, out the door, and around the corner, all who wanted to share a little bit of their story, or to ask questions, or to request prayer, or just to hug me and cry as they said, "you just told my story."

Did you find this book required an extra dose of raw transparency on your part?

It's so raw. But it's just as raw about God's amazing grace and transformation in my heart and for my family as it is about the hard times.

Did this affect any of your own relationships?

In good ways. My brother read this book and I'll never forget his words: "I've read other books and wondered if they understood what I went through. As I read my own sister's book, I knew that not only did you understand, but I know how whole you are. I knew that I was reading truth that could change me." That was worth the pain of writing the book--a thousand times over.

It also affected my mom's and my relationship. At this time, we were close and had been for a long time. But I learned about things that she had never told anyone--that she was molested at five, the insecurities she had when she was a suicidal mom and crying for help and no one was listening. It added a deeper level of compassion for the person who is my mom.

One of the issues you mention in the book is forgiveness. What's the hardest part of forgiveness to get right that's also the element that causes the biggest victories?

To let go. A lot of times we hold on to unforgiveness, waiting for someone to change, or someone to say they are sorry. Maybe they will one day, but maybe they won't. I want to be whole today, for my children and me. I let go because it cuts the tendrils of the past that keep me from growing. It starts the process of removing bitterness or rage or sorrow from my heart and mind.

I want to fly, and if letting go is part of that I'm willing to let go.

How can a mother let go of her past in order to give her children a better present and future?

First, go back and take a good look at what harmed you. Put it all out on the table. Learn from it. I didn't know my biological dad as a father, but I still learned from him. He was absent, so I learned the joy of being at my kid's ball games or feeling the soft touch of a baby's hand on my cheek. I was fully in the moment when my children walked down the aisle (my children are all newlyweds) and married their spouses.
My biological father chose not to be a part of my life, and I can't change that, but I'm willing to learn from his mistakes and do better with my own children.
Second, many women have faced things that are so grievous. Letting go doesn't make those injustices right or okay. It simply says, "I won't let the past continue to burden me or harm my relationships with my children or spouse." If you were neglected, abused sexually or physically or emotionally, you may find it difficult to let go. I did. But I was willing, and that was the first step. I invited God into the process. It took time. Healing is often a life-time journey. I would encourage women to seek counseling if they need help during that time, but also to open their minds to the possibility of what God can do with a willing heart.
Making it Real

How can teens own their faith rather than inherit it from their families?

At some point we all need to make a decision as we ask this question: Whose faith is it anyway? It's especially crucial for teens because they leave a support system and their faith is questioned, or they hit challenges and obstacles and dig deep for God and come up with a 1,000 sermons or their parent's belief system and it's often just not enough. Statistics say that over 80% of young adults walk away from their faith for a season. For some, that's just a statistic. To me, it's names. I could sit with you for hours and talk about the young adults who abandoned their faith for a season, and those who have never come back, and those who lost their way and are now in situations or circumstances that they never expected to be in.

Faith is so much bigger than hanging out in a church. It's knowing and loving God, and being loved and known by Him.

You talk about four "faithbusters." What are they?

Living your faith by feelings - Teens get tripped up when God is only as big as their last experience--whether an awesome camp moment or a colossal mistake. Living by feelings is roller-coaster Christianity at it's best. You are close to God and you are up. You make a mistake and you bungee down. The problem with living faith by feeling is that you turn to what feels good at the moment, instead of God when you don't feel Him or feel worthy.
Confusing tradition with faith - Traditions are amazing, but intimacy with God is making Him more than a habit. Going to church doesn't take the place of seeking God, or being honest with Him about your life, or carving out a part of your day to hang out with Him. It's not a to-do list. It's relationship.
Making faith a group activity only - I've worked with teens for a long time. I can tell you every gross food game; I can proudly say I've conquered mud mountain; I've watched teens connect with God in a beautiful way as a group in worship or service. But sometimes teens wait for the music or hype or youth pastor to tell them when to worship God. Worship is more than a song. It's becoming a follower of Christ, even if no one else chooses that path. It's knowing where to turn if the people you trust, like your youth pastor or believing parents, walk away from their own faith.
Living on borrowed convictions - A lot of teens (and adults) start thinking about education at a young age. It's a goal. But are we as educated about our beliefs? Too often Christians have enormous amounts of education, but only a 6th grade knowledge of their faith. I don't say that to be condemning, but to encourage believers to dig deeper. Do we know who God is? Do we understand the act of the Cross? Do we understand scripture and how it applied then, and how it applies today? When you live on borrowed convictions and you have to live them out in the real world, it's tough. That's why I wrote Making It Real. I love discipleship. I wanted a resource that a teen could take and it be relevant and real and deep, but not complex.
Isn't it scary for a teen to doubt his faith, or to ask the tough questions?

Many parents are fearful when a teen questions their faith, but let's look at it another way: they are trying to make it personal. They need to understand why they believe, and as they do their faith becomes a life-long journey, as opposed to just going to church.

If your teen came to you and said, "I don't get calculus," you'd most likely try to help them by giving them additional resources or support or encouragement. You wouldn't react with fear or anger.

So, what do you do when a teen is trying to "make it real"? During that time, you still go to church as a family, but you understand that Christ didn't drag any of us to the foot of the cross. You let your teen know that you trust that he or she will find their way and that you are praying for direction. You offer resources. It's important that your faith remain vibrant and intimate, as you turn to God and pray for your child. The average teen hears a thousand messages about spirituality or skewed perceptions of Christianity. My daughter once said, "when I thought about it, Mom, I thought about your relationship with God and I knew it was real and that was enough for me." Your influence spiritually is so much greater than you realize. Trust God. Pray. Ask for guidance. Continue to honor God as a family, but encourage the individual journey of your child. His or her faith may not look exactly like yours, but if the foundation is Christ, then they are well on their way to an intimate relationship.


It seems your life calling has taken on so many different themes. You have a heart for student ministries, young adult women, and mothers. What's it like writing and speaking for three different people groups? How are the dynamics different, and what one thing remains the same no matter the group?

The overall theme of my ministry is "becoming." If you look at what I teach or write, you'll see that theme stamped all over them. I dare to believe that God is who He says He is, and I want to become all that I can be as I follow Him. I love to share that same theme with others, no matter their gender or age.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Talk of the Town

Author: Lisa Wingate
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
February 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0490-6
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary women’s fiction

Mandalay Florentino was supposed to be planning her wedding, not traveling off to Daily, Texas to have a surprise “reunion concert for the American Megastar, Amber Anderson—only everyone in Daily seems to know that Amber is a finalist, even though it was supposed to be a secret.

Plus, this gorgeous cowboy seems to be everywhere Mandalay goes. He appears to be a simple country boy visiting the area. But he could be paparazzi. Or a record producer. To make matters worse, Mandalay’s boss is demanding absolute perfection in an impossible situation. Could anything possibly go right in this Tumbleweed Town?

TALK OF THE TOWN started slow. Very slow. Which disappointed me because I was looking forward to reading this book. However, I forced myself to keep going, and it soon picked up. By the time I reached the middle of the book I’d laughed out loud several times, and even shared tidbits with anyone within hearing range.

Mandalay is an interesting character, a real fish out of water in the unique small town of Daily. The other main character, Imagene is about as real as she could get, full of southernisms and charm. I totally loved her. The conversation is a bit hard to read at times, since it was written in the way it sounds, and imagine Texan written the way a Californian would hear it. At times I almost had to read the conversation out loud to understand it, even though I live in the south. It did draw me out of the story.

By the time I finished the book, Ms Wingate had a new fan. This is the first book of hers I’ve read, but I am definitely hoping to read more. TALK OF THE TOWN is an amazing story full of small town charm. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 359 pages.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Author: Donna Fleisher
Publisher: Zondervan
November 2007
ISBN: 978-0-310-27256-4
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Chris McIntyre loves her new home on Kimberley Street in Portland, Oregon. Now that they’ve reclaimed the streets from the gang that roamed this neighborhood, it is a peaceful place to live, to work, to play…

Until Chris is outside working in the yard behind the community center and is caught in the middle of two rival gangs. One of which is one of the most dangerous gangs in Portland. Chris isn’t sure whether the one gang member did something to anger the Eastsiders, or if the Eastsiders were looking to expand their territory. Either way, Chris is not going to let her neighborhood go without a fight.

The Eastsiders get increasingly violent, threatening everything and everyone Chris holds dear. Chris somehow manages to be in the middle of every conflict. Can God protect the ones Chris loves even in a world where a child kills with no mercy?

STANDING STRONG is the fourth book in the Homeland Heroes series. I had the privilege of reading the first book in the series, but didn’t read books two or three. Even so, I had no trouble reading STANDING STRONG and I really don’t think I missed anything vital. The story easily stands alone.

Chris is a realistic heroine, strong in the face of danger, and really admirable. The faith message is strong, but not preachy, and the setting in an important part in the story. Out of the two books in this series I’ve read, Wounded Healer and STANDING STRONG, STANDING STRONG is definitely my favorite. There is action, outstanding characterization, and wonderful story-telling here. Even if you haven’t read the other books in this series, you can’t miss STANDING STRONG. $14.99. 315 pages.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rain Song

Author: Alice J. Wisler
Publisher: Bethany House Books
October 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0477-7
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Nicole Michelin loves her family, especially her grandmother Ducee, who raised Nicole after her missionary mother died in Japan. Now, Nicole avoids airplanes, motorcycles, and everything Japanese--except for the doll her mother gave her.

Now, a column Nicole had written for an on-line site, Pretty Fishy, is generating interest from a Harrison Michaels in Japan. His e-mails are friendly, and tug at Nicole’s heart. Even when she wants to end the friendship because of his locale, she finds she can’t. But when Harrison reveals that he and his family knew her as a child, Nicole will have to face her fears in order to discover her past and take a chance on love.

RAIN SONG is the debut novel by Alice J. Wisler. Written in first person, Nicole goes around amongst her North Carolina relatives, interacting, yet wondering if there is something wrong with her. After all, she turns down a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, and she has no desire to date. But a man from the forbidden island across the sea tugs at her heart.

I never did get into RAIN SONG the way I would have liked. There was a lot of telling in the book, and not much showing, so I didn’t get to know Nicole very well, but only in bits and pieces. Yet, there is something compelling about the story that draws the reader in and keeps them reading, despite the lack of caring. I’m sure we’ll see more books by Ms. Wisler. And RAIN SONG doesn’t seem geared for any particular age group, though I think the intended target group is older rather than younger. $13.99

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Face

Author: Angela Hunt
Publisher: Mira Books
November 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7783-2727-1
Genre: Women’s fiction

Dr. Renee Carey is cleaning out her deceased mother’s storage unit, when she discovers a box of files. In going through these files, she is stunned to learn that her deceased brother, Kevin, worked for the CIA and that the child his wife had given birth to days before she died, wasn’t stillborn as Renee always believed, but instead Sarah Sims is somewhere in the world, alive, but with a birth defect so rare that Renee had never heard of it.

Sarah has undergone numerous surgeries to give herself the face she was born without, but now it resembled that of a female Frankenstein. She’s twenty years old, and lives in a former nun’s convent, working for the CIA on detailed computer programs.

Renee does whatever she needs to do to try to reach out to Sarah, but the CIA seem determined to keep them apart. When Renee does break through the barriers, is it going to be everything she expects? Or will freeing Sarah from the compound she’s held in mean paying a higher than expected price?

When I see Angela Hunt as the author, I know that she is going to be thinking outside the box. Ms. Hunt is a hit-or-miss author for me. I am going to say that I did enjoy reading THE FACE very much, however, I didn’t care much for the ending, and that did overshadow my earlier impression.

I enjoyed learning about Renee and Sarah, and hoped that it work out for them. There is also a lot of information about the birth defect Sarah was born with and was surprised to learn that it really exists. THE FACE is not an inspirational book, per se, but since Ms. Hunt is an inspirational author, there are some small mentions of her faith that Christian readers will pick up on. If you are a fan of Ms. Hunt, you will not want to miss THE FACE. $6.99. 384 pages.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Halloween Treats

Author: Jane E. Gerver
Illustrated by Pattie Silver-Thompson
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
July 2008
ISBN: 978-0-316-00267-7
Genre: children’s/holiday

It’s Halloween—Come join the fun!

MY HALLOWEEN TREATS is a fun, colorful Halloween treat all it’s own. There is only a few pages, but each one is covered with colorful pictures, entertaining text, and a flap to lift, with a scratch-and-sniff picture underneath the flap of popular candy given out on Halloween.
If you are looking for a special Halloween gift for the special child in your life, look no further. MY HALLOWEEN TREATS is the perfect gift, and it doesn’t promote tooth decay! Ideal for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, the book was an instant hit with my three-year-old and even my six-year-old enjoyed looking at it and commenting on whether or not the scents were realistic. 10 pages. $5.99 hardcover, with an easy-carry handle

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sister's Ink

Author: Rebeca Seitz
Publisher: B&H Fiction
February 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8054-4690-6
Genre: Inspirational/ contemporary women’s fiction

Tandy Sinclair isn’t sure where her job as an attorney is going. When she refused to represent one of her clients because he admitted guilt in the crime he’d committed, she angered her boss, and Tandy knew she was fired. It surprised her when, instead, she was let go on a two-month leave of absence.

With nothing to do for two months, Tandy doesn’t hesitate to sublease her apartment and heads to Tennessee, where her father and three sisters live. She’s looking forward to spending time scrapbooking and sharing time with her favorite people.

But her hometown isn’t as sleepy as she remembers. Daddy’s seeing someone, the sisters are busy, and an old flame is back in town. Can a girl go home again?

SISTER’S INK is another winner by new author Rebeca Seitz. Tandy is realistic, loveable, and searching. I was a bit confused by some of the things that occurred in the story at first, but by chapter four I was beginning to put the pieces together.

I couldn’t wait to see how this story played out, and I read the whole book in a few hours. A yummy sounding recipe is included at the end of the book. Don’t miss SISTER’S INK. It combines chocolate, close friends, and scrapbooking in a surefire win of a combination.
$14.99. 337 pages.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Daughter's Inheritance

Authors: Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
January 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0364-0
Genre: Inspirational/historical women’s fiction

Fanny Broadmoor feels as close to her cousins, Amanda and Sophie as if they were sisters, even through Fanny lives with her grandfather since her father committed suicide when she was eleven. When Fanny’s grandfather dies, Fanny is still not an adult, but she inherits her father’s one-third of the estate.

The family is in an uproar when they discover that a minor has inherited a third, and the terms of the will has the entire clan angry at Fanny for some of the clauses in the will. Such as the one where the family must continue to spend summers on the Island. Fanny is the only member of the family who actually enjoyed the time spent on the Island.

Fanny has had a long-time crush on her family boat-keeper, Michael, but the inheritance shows her how oppressive society is…and that she may be trusting the wrong people.

A DAUGHTER’S INHERITANCE is book one in The Broadmoor Legacy series. I enjoyed looking over the family tree included in the beginning of the book, and trying to guess how all the people might come into play in the story.

Both Miller and Peterson are master story-tellers, and in spite of such a large cast, they expertly wove all the different personality types and different stories into a book that is good for hours of reading. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, and hoped Fanny would not end up losing all her extended family with her grandfather’s death.

Fans of both Miller and Peterson won’t want to miss A DAUGHTER’S INHERITANCE. Available now, at your favorite bookseller, or on-line. $13.99. 383 pages.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lady of Milkweed Manor

Author: Julie Klassen
Publisher: Bethany House
January 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0479-1
Genre: Inspirational/historical/regency

Charlotte Lamb is no longer the privileged daughter of a vicar, but instead a fallen woman, a woman who has sunk beyond disgrace, and has been kicked out of her home. With no where to go, Charlotte heads for Milkweed Manor, a home for unwed mothers. There, she’s forced to share a bed with two other pregnant women and work for her keep.

Charlotte is mortified to discover that the physician on duty at the manor is none other than Dr. Taylor. A man who was her suitor years earlier, until her father deemed him unsuitable. But now, both are harboring deep secrets. Will they be able to protect those they love?

LADY OF MILKWEED MANOR is the debut novel by Julie Klassen. Written in the style of Jane Austin and Lawana Blackwell, this author is sure to develop a loyal following.

I felt sorry for Charlotte, being forced out of her home, and was a bit frustrated with the author for being too vague about things that came out anyway. Written with a very descriptive voice, the reader definitely gets a handle on the setting, almost seeing and smelling the gardens, the damp rooms, and the crowded conditions at the home for unwed mothers.

Don’t miss this stunning first novel by Julie Klassen. You will be sure to have a new favorite author on your shelves. $13.99. 308 pages.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oh, Baby!

Title: OH, BABY!
Author: Judy Baer
Publisher: Steeple Hill Café
June 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-78619-0
Genre: Inspirational/chick lit

Molly MacKenna is every woman’s dream, a birthing coach, she is all about what the woman needs when she gives birth. Her services are popular, and Molly has a dream to make her services, and those of all doulas, more accessible, by opening an office, preferably on the campus of one of the major hospitals. It seemed her dream was within reach until Dr. Clay Reynolds arrives on staff in the Obstetrician ward.

Clay is the grandson of the founding member of the hospital, and seems a throw back to the 1940s. He doesn’t want anyone in the delivery room except the mother to be, the nurses, and himself. Medical midwives and birthing coaches are not welcome. In spite of Molly’s many negative run-ins with Dr. Clay, she has to admire his bedside manner. He is a wonderful doctor, even if he is unkind to nurses, and everyone else who dares cross him.

Is there any hope that Molly will change Clay’s attitude about doulas?

I’ve read and loved all of Judy Baer’s chick lits, and OH, BABY is no exception. I enjoyed reading this fun, quirky story about a woman in an unconventional career, struggling to make her dreams a reality. I wasn’t real sure what a doula was about until I read this story, and Ms. Baer explained it all wonderfully. I used midwives for my children’s births, and they seem to have a lot in common with birthing coaches.

I also loved the messages of hope, and of waiting on God in this book. They really ministered to me as I’m facing a difficult time in my life, of hope deferred, and so OH, BABY was an encouragement to me. While not preachy, God is not a taboo subject in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading OH, BABY, and am looking forward by many more stories by this talented author. $6.99. 352 pages.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Author: Cathy Marie Hake
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
January 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0318-3
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Hope Ladley is a traveling housekeeper. She goes where God sends her, helping farmers out as a cook/housekeeper during harvest. When she rides her mule onto the Stauffer farm, Hope is positive that this is where the Lord wants her.

Jakob Stauffer was looking to hire someone to help during harvest and to assist his pregnant sister, and Hope came with glowing references. However, she seemed to have unconventional methods of keeping house. Several times, Jakob comes close to asking her to leave, yet he has to admit that Hope’s sunny disposition is making a difference to his abused sister.

How hard will it be to let Hope go when harvest is over?

Historical novels usually aren’t my favorite for light reading, but FOREVERMORE definitely was an easy read. I started it in the morning, and in spite of numerous breaks to do my housework and work with my five children, I easily finished this book by bedtime. I loved the humor, the quirkiness of the heroine, Hope, although at times I sure her chattiness would have been on my last nerve if I had been really there. All the characters were extremely well developed, and while the setting wasn’t as much a part of the story as others I’ve read, the faith message more than made up for that lack.

FOREVERMORE was laugh out loud funny in spots, and always good for a smile. My only real complaint is that it came to an end, although the story is expertly wrapped up with no loose ends. I loved FOREVERMORE. It is a historical fiction that I can easily recommend. Kudos to Ms. Hake. $13.99. 352 pages.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Off to camp

Today my oldest daughter went to camp for the week. Even with five kids, it is amazing how one missing makes the house so quiet. Last week my two sons were at camp all week, and it seemed like no one was home, although I know that the three girls and I were here, and my husband was home from time to time (when he wasn't at work or fishing.)

Right now, L is at the lake, going swimming, and M is at work. I will be picking him up in a few minutes. J and K are playing on the floor in front of me, with some packing materials. I received a BIG box of books in the mail today. More to review! How fun!

I need to go grocery shopping as soon as I pick up M. And look at shoes. J has outgrown all her shoes. L lost his sandels to the river the week he was at camp. So I need to buy a few shoes. Hope I find some good sales!

Blessings on your day!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Relief of Imperfection

Author: Joan C. Webb
Publisher: Regal Books
January 2008
ISBN: 0830744819
Genre: Nonfiction/Christian life/women

Joan C. Webb is a self-pro-claimed recovering perfectionist, and now she has a mission to help women let go of perfection and relax in imperfection.

THE RELIEF OF IMPERFECTION’s chapters include:

>The Relief of Imperfect Relationships and Families
> The Relief of Imperfect Churches and Culture
> The Relief of Imperfect Life-Work and Service
> The Relief of Imperfect Dreams, Plans, and Decisions
> The Relief of Imperfect Faith, Prayers, and Spirituality
Plus much more.

In THE RELIEF OF IMPERFECTION, Ms. Webb encourages us to believe the truth about God, others, yourself, and reality, and that will help release you from trying to appear perfect. She will teach us how to stop pretending to have all the right answers and enjoy authentic relationships.

Relief Guides are included every few chapters, including questions to answer and exercises to complete. In the letter to the readers, Ms. Webb recommends doing the book as a group study to get the most out of it, but if you are unable to do that then find an on-line friend to work through it with you (although you can do it on your own) and she also suggests starting a “Relief Journal” to record your discoveries and responses. If you want to do it as a group (recommended!) then you can access additional questions, ideas, and exercise at and click on Facilitator Tips or Group Discussion drop-down menu.

This book, as it says on the cover, will help you breathe. Calm down. It doesn’t have to be perfect. $14.99. 276 pages.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Author: Jill Marie Landis
Publisher: Steeple Hill Books
July 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-78624-4
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Eyes-of-the-Sky has been kidnapped by the Comanche, so long ago that she no longer has any memory of her parents, or even how to speak her native language. The only life she remembers is Comanche. When the Comanche is attacked by the White Man, she runs, and is terrified when her family is shot down around her…and she is taken into custody by the White Man.

Joe Ellenberg is horrified when his mother and he are approached about taking in a white woman rescued from the Comanche. After all, his father and sister were killed by the Comanche, and he didn’t think they could handle having a woman in his sister’s room who didn’t speak their language, know their ways, and would be a constant reminder of all they lost. But his mother took one look at the girl, renamed her Rebekah, and took her in.

But now Rebekah Eyes-of-the-Sky is confused. One look in the mirror, and she knows she’s not who she always believed. Who is she? And will she ever find out?

HOMECOMING is a moving story that is not easily forgotten. While it starts out rather violently, the rest of the story is calm and peaceful, letting us get to know the characters. Rebekah Eyes-of-the-Sky has been through a lot, and the reader instantly sympathizes with her. Joe is bitter, angry, and has a lot to work through, but as the book goes on he softens, and becomes likeable.

I enjoyed reading HOMECOMING and recommend it to historical readers. The faith message is expertly woven in, and readers will come away with a message. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $6.99. 320 pages.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Rogue's Redemption

Author: Ruth Axtell Morren
Publisher: Steeple Hill Books
February 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-78600-8
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Miss Hester Leighton is amused by the London ton. She’s accompanying her tradesman father on a business trip to London, and he’s hired a woman to take Hester around and introduce her to the town. But one of the first people Hester meets is Major Gerrit Hawkes, and according to her charge, he is totally unsuitable.

Gerrit knows he shouldn’t be seeking out Hester’s company. After all, she’s returning to Maine, and she deserves more from a future mate than a penniless soldier haunted by his memories of Waterloo. But she’s wealthy—and her money, looks, and attitude are very appealing.

When Hester returns home to Bangor, Maine, Gerrit misses having her on his side of the ocean. Will Gerrit risk everything for a chance to earn a home in Hester’s heart?

THE ROGUE’S REDEMPTION is a fun story, with a spunky heroine who isn’t even worried about impressing the ton, but just wants a good time when she’s in the England. The hero is rakish, and needs a woman to save him from himself, but he’s loveable in his own right.

The faith message is expertly woven in and isn’t preachy, and the setting is an important part of the story. I laughed out loud at a few lines in this story, and thoroughly enjoyed the tale. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. Don’t miss THE ROGUE’S REDEMPTION. $6.99. 407 pages.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Successful Small Groups

Author: Teena M. Stewart
Publisher: Beacon Hill Press
November 2007
ISBN: 978-0-8341-2337-3
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/ministry

Many churches are beginning (or thinking about beginning) small group ministries, but not all small groups are successful. Sometimes they begin, but for whatever reason, they shrivel up and die. If you’d like to improve your churches small group ministry, then SUCCESSFUL SMALL GROUPS is the book for you.

Topics included:

> Methods for training, mentoring and equipping leaders
> Innovative teaching techniques
> Ways to keep groups energized and fun
> Thinking outside the box

And more!

SUCCESSFUL SMALL GROUPS is a great guidebook and includes sample fliers, announcements, and outreach ideas. Also at the end of each chapter is a series of questions for the reader to think about and answer, with plenty of space provided to write your thoughts. Resources, endnotes, and appendixes are included at the end of the book. $15.99. 190 pages.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wiser Than Serpents

Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Steeple Hill
June 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-78620-6
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

FSB agent Yanna Andrevka isn’t totally thrilled when her sister finds an internet boyfriend. But when Elena and their friend, Katya, disappear when flying to America to meet and marry their boyfriends, Yanna is concerned and believes that Elena and Katya have been picked up by criminals looking to sell the women into slavery.

So, Yanna Andrevka arranges her own kidnapping into Taiwan’s sex-trafficking trade, hoping that there she would find her sister. What she finds instead is an impossible situation, with no way out.

Delta Force Captain, American David Curtiss is after the kingpin of the organized crime syndicate that holds Yanna and hundreds of others, but instead he finds himself in hot water, forced to turn on friends, and relying heavily on God and each other to outwit their enemy….

WISER THAN SERPENTS is the newest book in the Misson: Russia series, but it easily stands alone. The action starts immediately in the prologue, though I was thrown a bit to discover that the actual story begins before the prologue. Otherwise, I had absolutely no complaints about this story.

Susie knows how to write a delightful story, with compelling characters, and nonstop action. The faith message is very much a part of this story, woven into every scene with excellence. Yanna and David are real and the reader quickly grows to care for them. Don’t miss this new winner by award-winning author, Susan May Warren. You won’t be disappointed. $6.99. 352 pages.

** Susan is donating 15% of the books royalties to the International Justice Mission (!

A note from Susan:
Did you know that there are 27 million people around the globe held as slaves today – more thank 80% of them women and children, and up to 50% minors. In fact, there are MORE slaves today than were in the time of William Wilberforce. That leaves me horrified, and it was those stats that compelled me to write a story with a human trafficking plotline.

Wiser than Serpents is a continuation of the Mission : Russia series, a thriller about Yanna, whose sister is snatched through a Russian dating service, and disappears. Yanna enlists the help of Delta Force Captain, David Curtiss to find and rescue her. Readers who’ve read, In Sheep’s Clothing and Sands of Time will recognize Yanna as the tech expert, and David as the solid Christian of the group. (Read the 5-Rose Review here!)

The book is written from the point of views of the rescuers, not the victims, and offers hope and empowerment, instead of feelings of helplessness. It raises awareness without lowering the standards of Christian fiction.
However, the world is real, and the need to get involved is great. I so greatly admire people who take their beliefs and put action to them –hence why a portion of the proceeds of Wiser than Serpents is going to help the International Justice Mission, (, an organization dedicated to rescuing victims and fighting the scourge of slavery.

About Susan: Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia , was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia , Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota .

Book Link:

Susan’s Website:

Susan’s Blog:

Contest Info! Susan will be giving away 3 SIGNED sets of the Mission: Russia (In Sheep’s Clothing, Sands of Time, and Wiser Than Serpents) series. To enter the contest…click on over to Susan’s blog tour post here ( and tell us which ministries/charities you support and why! Susan will randomly select three winners!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Act Two

Title: ACT TWO
Author: Kimberly Stuart
Publisher: David C. Cook
May 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0011-7
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Sadie Maddox is a has-been in the opera world, though she doesn’t want to admit it. A New York diva, she is stunned and dismayed to learn that her CD sales are sagging, she has no performances lined up, and her agent has arranged for her to teach voice at a small college in rural Iowa. Needing the money, and hoping for a positive change, Sadie agrees to go.

But Sadie’s new colleagues are intimidated, her students aren’t impressed, and she has some close encounters with farm animals. Then Sadie meets Mac, a veterinarian, whom she has nothing in common with (after all, he’s a country music fan) and she’s counting the days until she can move back to New York. Is it possible that maybe her future is in Iowa?

ACT TWO is a fun novel with a high-maintenance heroine who is extremely well-developed. I enjoyed getting to know Sadie and how she reacted to leaving snowy Manhattan streets for the equally snowy fields of rural Iowa.

The faith message is expertly woven in, and the setting is excellently described. Sadie wasn’t loveable to me at first, but as I continued reading, she began to grow on me. ACT TWO is definitely not your run-of-the-mill chick lit. It is new and different, laugh-out loud funny in spots, and readers will enjoy this story. Some funny “after words” are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 241 pages.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

The Homeschooler's Book of Lists

Author: Sonya Haskins
Publisher: Bethany House
October 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0443-2
Genre: Homeschool/educational

THE HOMESCHOOLER’S BOOK OF LISTS is much more than a reference book. It is filled with facts and information that will supplement any curriculum.

Organized by subject, the lists can be used however you and your child wishes. It will help you customize and enrich unit studies, encourage memorization work, answer questions immediately, and much more.

There are more than 250 lists included in THE HOMESCHOOLER’S BOOK OF LISTS including great people, important dates, presidential races, mathematical formulas, word origins, scripture to memorize and more. The author has also included checklists and ideas to aid lesson preparation.

THE HOMESCHOOLER’S BOOK OF LISTS also includes a CD which is a great addition to the book. You can print off any list from the CD in a manner of minutes. This is one book that the serious homeschooling parent will want on their bookshelf, no matter what curriculum they use, what approach they use to homeschool, or what learning style their child has. Highly recommended. $19.99. 556 pages.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Forbidden

Author: Beverly Lewis
Publisher: Bethany House Books
May 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0311-4
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Nellie Mae Fisher and her love, Caleb Yoder, are separated by a church split. Caleb’s father is not allowing Caleb to see Nellie Mae anymore since her father has left the Old Order Amish Church and started attending a New Order one. Nellie Mae assures Caleb she intends to stay Old Order, but she can’t deny the pull she has toward the New Order church her parents attend.

Caleb can risk everything if he disobeys his father and continues seeing Nellie Mae. Nellie is worth it to Caleb, but he doesn’t know how he can support a family if his father takes his inheritance away. He promises Nellie Mae that he will find a way for them to be together, but it is getting more difficult. How can Caleb and Nellie remain true to each other, yet satisfy the expectations of the People?

THE FORBIDDEN is the second book in The Courtship of Nellie Fisher series, and readers will want to read these books in order, starting with The Parting. The final book in the series will be available in September 2008.

I love this series, and enjoyed reconnecting with Caleb, Nellie Mae, and the other characters. It has been a while since I read The Parting so it took me a few pages to remember what happened with Nellie and Caleb so I could get back into the story. The secondary story involving Roseanna and her cousin Kate, took me a little longer to remember. But once I could recall the previous story line, I thoroughly enjoyed THE FORBIDDEN.

Ms. Lewis is a wonderful storyteller, and her writing just keeps getting better. I couldn’t wait to read this book, and now that it’s finished I’m disappointed as it will still be several months before I can read the next book in the series. The faith message is an important part of this story, and the struggle between two different cultures. Beverly Lewis is one of my favorite authors, her stories as detailed as some of the Amish quilts I’ve seen. You’ll not want to miss THE FORBIDDEN or any of the books in this series. $13.99. 350 pages.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Church That Multiplies

Author: Dr. Joel Comiskey
Publisher: CCS Publishing
July 2007
ISBN: 978-0-9790679-3-8
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/church growth

Joel Comiskey believes that North American churches can experience the same successful church growth through cell ministries as churches are in Korea and Columbia, and in THE CHURCH THAT MULTIPLIES, Dr. Comiskey proves the cell church concept does work but also exams churches that are successfully using the cell strategy.

Written for pastors, lay leaders, and church planters, Dr. Comiskey wants to encourage the “little guy” who doesn’t have the charisma to emulate the large-church pastors. Cell groups are essentially small groups (but not all small groups are cell groups) which exist for the purpose of evangelism, community, and discipleship, with the ultimate goal of church growth.

Several examples of successful cell churches in America and Canada are given, with sizes of the church varying from small (less than 100 members) to large (over 3,000 members) showing that this type of ministry can be successfully used in churches of all sizes. If you are interested in church growth, you should seriously consider buying a copy of this book and studying the strategies, or giving the book as a gift to your pastor. $14.95. 180 pages.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Mommy Pick-Me-Ups

Authors: Edna Ellison and Linda Gilden
Publishers: New Hope Publishers
April 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59669-218-3
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/devotional

MOMMY PICK-ME-UPS is a devotional for busy mom’s facing the reality of too many dishes in the sink, sticky peanut butter and jelly children, and laundry piled sky-high. We all have the blessings of a baby or toddler, but not too many of us are prepared for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual changes.

MOMMY PICK-ME-UPS is designed to break through all the busyness in your life, and help you have the spiritual encounters that you need to keep your faith alive and renewed.

Each devotional starts with a short story that moms will relate to on some level, then shares a relevant verse, and finally suggestions for sharing what you learned with your children, or suggestions on how to make a special family occasion out of the devotional.

I enjoyed reading MOMMY PICK-ME-UPS, but as it is entitled, it is designed for brief pick-me-ups, and not a fulfilling study with meat. There are excellent points made in this devotional, and the creative parenting part was especially interesting, with some real good suggestions in there. I highly recommend this devotional for busy moms with small children. $10.99. 171 pages.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

On Sparrow Hill

Author: Maureen Lang
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
February 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4143-1346-7
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Rebecca Seabrooke is the curator was Quentin Hollinworth’s family estate. She’s had a crush on Quentin ever since she was a little girl, and now that he’s a handsome and kind adult, it is still difficult to remember that the different social classes don’t mix. Now, she just wants to make Quentin’s estate the most successful historic home in England.

After receiving an email from family in America, Rebecca and Quentin head to the family vault to see if they can find any information on this line of the family. What they uncover instead are letters written by Berrie Hamilton, one of Quentin’s ancestors. While reading the letters, one of Quentin’s cousins, Dana Martin Walker comes to visit, and she is concerned that her baby may be mentally challenged. Will Berrie’s ancient letters hold the keys to both Dana’s and Rebecca’s futures?

ON SPARROW HILL is another winner by talented author, Maureen Lang. This book is the sequel to The Oak Leaves. Both books stand alone, but readers might want to read The Oak Leaves first to learn a bit more about the fragile X syndrome, which is key in both of these books.

I enjoyed getting to know Rebecca, Quentin, and Dana, and visiting this historic estate in England through the pages of ON SPARROW HILL. The time period is a bit confusing at first as one chapter is written in modern times and the next is written in historical, in Berrie’s point of view. Both stories are interesting and they do tie together seamlessly. $12.99. 400 pages.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Only Uni

Author: Camy Tang
Publisher: Zondervan
March 2008
ISBN: 978-0-310-27399-8
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction/Asian chick lit

Trish Sakai is the senior biologist at her job, but too bad her career smarts don’t transfer over to her private life. She’s caught her dad in an affair, her loser ex-boyfriend, Kazuo is her grandmother’s top pick for Trish’s mate, and Trish wants nothing more to do with Kazuo, even though he is dangerously tempting.

When Trish’s mother ends up in the hospital after a heart attack, Trish enlists the help of her three best friends (and cousins) Venus, Jen and Lex, hoping that they will keep her on the Christian straight-and-narrow. But life has a way of throwing curve balls, and Trish doesn’t know which way is right. Instead of being a virtuous woman for God, she’s going nuts. Will Trish figure out what God wants her to do?

ONLY UNI is the second book in the Sushi Series but it easily stands alone. Trish is a member of the same loud, huge, and pushy as her cousin Lex in book one, but unlike Lex, Trish hates making scenes, and instead of infuriating her matriarch grandmother, she usually does what Grandmother wants. But now, Trish doesn’t want what Grandmother does, and it means that Trish is being forced to stand on her own two feet and make her own way in life…even it means that Grandmother disowns her as a member of the family.

I enjoyed both books in the series, Sushi for One, and ONLY UNI. The characters are flawed and realistic, and the faith message is expertly woven in. I don’t understand all the family dynamics, but the extended family is very close, and everyone is expected to be present and accounted for at all events. The tone is sassy, and includes all the ingredients of solid chick lit, even though it is written in third person. A sample chapter of the third book in this series, Single Sashimi is included at the end of the book. $12.99. 367 pages.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Reluctant Smuggler

Author: Jill Elizabeth Nelson
Publisher: Multnomah Books
January 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59052-688-0
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Desiree Jacobs is hired to steal an ancient Mayan artifact, in order to prove that the existing securities either work—or they don’t. While she gets away with the artifact, she discovers that someone has informed the other security company about the heist—and that the artifact she’s stolen isn’t real, but a well-designed fake.

Desiree turns down the security job at the Mexican museum, but instead lands a job working for the Mexican government, wanting her to find the missing artifacts. But before Desi has even been in Mexico twenty-four hours, she is robbed three times, and corpses are piling up fast.

But when Desi gets the news that her fiancé, Tony Lucano, has been in an accident and may not survive, Desi drops everything to be by his side. But why does trouble follow her back to Boston? What does she know? And is Tony’s case somehow wrapped up with hers?

RELUCTANT SMUGGLER is the third and final book in her To Catch a Thief series. Readers will want to read the first two books in this series before reading this one, as all of these books are tied together, with the series neatly wrapped up in RELUCTANT SMUGGLER.

Desi and Tony have plenty of action between them to keep the story moving, though I did think the middle of the book dragged a little. I wondered for awhile if the action would start again. It did, and in an unexpected way. I enjoyed reading the To Catch a Thief series very much, and RELUCTANT SMUGGLER is a satisfactory ending to the series. $12.99. 352 pages.