Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Irishwoman's Tale

Author: Patti Lacy
Publisher: Kregel Publications
ISBN: 978-0-8254-2987-3
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Mary Freeman isn’t happy, despite the family farm, her loving husband, and her two beautiful daughters. Instead she is haunted by the voices in her head. Voices from her past, when she was a five-year-old living in Ireland. When a new friend, Sally, forces Mary to face her past after a crisis in Mary’s youngest daughter’s life, Mary travels to Ireland to discover the truth about her past.

When five, Mary was forced to leave her family and was taken on a plane, across the ocean to the United States, where she was raised by an adoptive mother. Mary now cares for her adoptive mother in her home, but she is confused why her mother is cold toward her. What Mary discovers in Ireland will force her face-to-face with God.

AN IRISHWOMAN’S TALE is based on a true story which makes it all the more interesting. There are two stories in one in this book, one of a little girl who tragically gets her heart broken, and one of a grown woman with a life of her own who is bitter, and struggling to understand why. This debut novel is strong and powerfully written and will stay with the reader for a long time to come.

Ms. Lacy’s voice is perfect for this tale, as we travel across the Emerald isle to Ireland—and back again. When you pick up AN IRISHWOMAN’S TALE, make sure you brew yourself a cup of Irish Breakfast tea, and settle in a cozy seat. Once you start this book, you won’t want to put it down. I’m looking forward to reading more by this talented new author. 311 pages. $13.99

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Case of the Bouncing Grandma

Author: A. K. Arenz
Publisher: Sheaf House
ISBN: 978-0-978-0-9797485
Genre: Inspirational/ Cozy Mystery

Glory Harper is reduced to spending time in a wheelchair, due to a skateboarding accident which caused a three car pile-up, and a broken bone. Now, her amusement seems to be focused on watching her new neighbors move in. She certainly doesn’t expect to see a foot dangling out of the end of a rolled up carpet. The trouble is that no one believes her. Not her sister, Jane, or even the cute detective that was sent out to investigate the case…but seems more interested in Glory than the foot in the carpet.

When Glory learns that the people who moved in next door had won the lottery and had millions of dollars, she was even more confused why they would move themselves, move into her neighborhood, and buy used furniture. And what about the stipulation in her former neighbor’s will that the house could only go to family members?

The more Glory learns, the more she’s convinced that she’s stumbled into something much more complicated than simply getting new neighbors. But how can she convince the police that she really did see a body—well, a foot? And has she made enough enemies in her snooping to put her life in danger?

THE CASE OF THE BOUNCING GRANDMA is the first published novel by talented writer, A. K. Arenz. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Glory and her family, and the mystery had me completely from page one. It certainly is a unique twist, having the heroine confined to a wheelchair and yet stumbling across a mystery simply by watching the neighborhood.

There were some thinly veiled slams in this book toward the home school community, but as Glory was a teacher, it was probably just her opinion. I couldn’t help but root for the gutsy Glory as she attempted to convince her family she really wasn’t insane, ward off romantic advances from the handsome detective, and keep her sense of humor intact. Parts of the book were laugh out loud funny. A sample of Ms. Arenz’s next mystery A Case of the Mystified M.D. is included at the end of the book. $12.99. 261 pages.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Not-So-Simple Life

Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Multnomah Books
July 2008
ISBN: 978-1-60142-117-3
Genre: Inpsirational/youth

To the casual observer, Maya Stark would appear to live an enviable life. A mansion in Beverly Hills, a Mom who lets her do whatever, and a Dad who is a star. But appearances are deceiving. The house has been mortgaged so much, it’s unclear who owns it. Maya’s parents are divorced. And money? Well, what little there is funds Maya’s mother’s drug addiction.

Out of self-desperation, Maya goes “green.” She grows her own garden. It beats starving! And she takes a job to pay for the items she must buy. But when Maya’s mother vanishes for several days on end, it paves the way for Maya suddenly finding herself living with relatives. A biracial child, Maya is struggling with identity problems anyway. Will living with relatives help her find the answers she’s desperately seeking?

A NOT-SO-SIMPLE LIFE is book one in the Diary of a Teenage Girl—Maya series. I sympathized entirely with Maya, and grew to know and love her through the pages of her diary. In spite of her lifestyle, Maya is real, someone that any mother with a heart wants to reach out and love on, and a girl that teens and preteens will relate with.

I was a bit irritated at the implication in the pages that only dead-beats would home school their children, but that was Maya’s thoughts, because her mother is a dead-beat and that was a reason Maya was forced out of school. Otherwise, the book is extremely well-written, deals with realistic gritty subjects as only Melody Carlson can, and held my interest. Don’t miss A NOT-SO-SIMPLE LIFE. Perfect for your favorite preteen or teen girl. $12.99. 248 pages.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sweetwater Gap

Author: Denise Hunter
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
December 2008
ISBN: 9781595542595
Genre: Inspirational/romance

Josie Mitchell fled from the memories of her hometown years earlier. Rejected by her father, and feeling guilty over the death of their farm manager’s son, Josie left home at eighteen and never returned. Not even for her father’s funeral. But now, her sister Laurel is about to deliver twins, and Laurel’s husband, Nate, thinks Josie should go home, carry her weight on the farm, and spare Laurel the work. Plus, he hopes Josie will be able to talk Laurel into listing the orchard for sale.

Grady Mackenzie isn’t too thrilled with the arrangements. The last thing he needs is a troublesome woman showing up, telling him how to do his job, and then running back to the city. And Josie is everything he fears. Trouble. But Josie doesn’t try to tell Grady how to do his job, and she helps the migrant workers pick apples—except they are picking circles around her. Is she out of shape, or is it something more? And what will it take to bring Josie home for good?

I was looking forward to reading SWEETWATER GAP so was glad when I received a copy in the mail to review. The book was everything I imagined. I could almost smell the scent of the apples and taste the crispness as I read this book. Grady is a wonderfully delicious hero, the stuff of dreams. Josie had a lot of baggage to work through, but one couldn’t help but cheer for her, relate to her, and even want to throttle her.

The faith message really wasn’t as strong as I would have liked. That was resolved entirely too quickly and really didn’t have the resolution I would have liked. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and every moment spent reading it. Make sure you pick up your own copy of SWEETWATER GAP, and a bag of apples to enjoy with it. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 320 pages.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas newsletter...

December 2008

Dear Friends and Family:

Music school, for two weeks in June. Michael took piano, Loundy guitar.

Earned driver’s license gives Michael driving privileges. Stay off the roads!

Rinsing dishes, oh what fun. Michael took a second job as a dishwasher

Realization that hurricanes are really quite violent in Arkansas…sometimes.

Young children celebrated birthdays, Jenna is six and Kaeli is three.

Cancer and chemo touch our life with the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Homeschool goes on, with two Juniors and three in grades below.

Rebuilding the deck was good construction experience for my guys. Nice job!

Irene, my mom’s sister, goes to her eternal reward in May.

Steve earns Team Worker of the Year Award at his job! Bravo!!!

Tire blowout on the way to a pulpit supply church showed God’s still working miracles

Mail – packages, cards, letters and more. What wonderful surprises were in store!

As always, Loundy is the dishwasher at K's Kitchen. Called in for extra shifts.

Saddles may never be the same with Michael working for a Saddle Shop.

With love,

The Hiltons

Steve, Laura, Loundy, Michael, Kristin, Jenna and Kaeli

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

O Little Town

Author: Don Reid
Publisher: David C. Cook
October 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4347-9930-2
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary

A small town isn’t exactly picture perfect. Not even in 1958.

Buddy is struggling. His old lover has moved back to town and while he hasn’t engaged in a physical affair, he’s in the midst of an emotional one. His wife and daughter have struggles too, especially when Buddy’s sixteen year old daughter announces she’s pregnant and wants to keep her baby.

Millie, the pastor’s daughter, has been caught shoplifting. While she’s belligerent to the police officer and the store owner, she acts like a wronged angel to her mother, Dove. Dove doesn’t quite know what to think. Is Millie actually being mistreated by the town? Or is it a cry for attention from an angry teen? Dove is unhappy in this town anyway, and is pushing her husband to find a new pastorate.

Walter is dying, but he has his daughter’s and his memories. Are they enough on his last Christmas on earth?

O LITTLE TOWN is written by a famed songwriter, Don Reid, of the Statler Brothers. O LITTLE TOWN is his first novel. I didn’t see much in the story that was inspirational, except for the fact that it contained a pastor’s family, yet it is being promoted as a Christian book. The novel definitely has all the makings of a country song. Illness. Marriage. Bad decisions. Friendship.

Set just two days before Christmas, we go with the three main families through their trials and memories, watching to see how they pan out. We can’t help but cheer for some of the characters, yet at the same time want to throttle them. O LITTLE TOWN is a perfect book for a Christmas read. Available in hardcover, it’s also great for gift-giving. $16.99 hardcover. 256 pages.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An Uncertain Dream

Author: Judith Miller
Publisher: Bethany House Books
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0278-0
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Olivia Mott is lucky to be employed. Pullman Car Works employees have gone on strike due to unfairly high rent and extremely low wages, and thousands of families are starving when the father isn’t even making enough to pay the rent. Olivia’s friend, Fred DeVault is asked to act as a delegate to the national convention of the American Railway union, but delegates vote for a boycott of the Pullman sleeping cars. How will this affect Olivia’s and Fred’s growing relationship?

Lady Charlotte Spencer is faced with tragedy when traveling to England to reunite with her parents. With no other options open, Lady Charlotte decides to return to Chicago to hopefully restart life. However, interest from reporter Matthew Clayborn makes Lady Charlotte wonder if he’s only interested in her for the information she knows.

AN UNCERTAIN DREAM is book three in the Postcards from Pullman’s series. Readers will want to read the three books in order, and I would recommend, close together. I’ve read the two books prior to this one in the series, but it’s been awhile been books, and I struggled to remember what happened in the earlier books, leaving me feeling rather lost for a while in AN UNCERTAIN DREAM. However, once I got into the story, and it had progressed enough past the previous happenings, I began to enjoy it more.

Ms. Miller has a reputation as a author who does her research, so it was fascinating reading about the strike of the Pullman Car Works. The story is set tin a real town that has a Pullman museum. Yummy sounding recipes are included at the end of the book. Don’t miss AN UNCERTAIN DREAM. It provides a glimpse into America’s history and provides entertainment as well. $13.99. 376 pages.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Beautiful Fall

Author: Chris Coppernoll
Publisher: David C Cook
October 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6852-0
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Attorney Emma Madison doesn’t have time to celebrate her latest courtroom victory—instead she gets a phone call from the past—a place she ran from twelve years earlier and hasn’t gone back to since. Emma’s father has had a serious heart attack and may not survive long enough for Emma tot get home.

Emma drops everything and flies from Boston, down to Juneberry, SC, and rushes to her dad’s bedside. Her dad did survive surgery, but he was going to need more than just a weekend trip from Emma.

When Emma sees Michael Evans, the past merges into the present. Michael was the one Emma planned to marry once upon a time—before law school and her big city career took over her dreams. Now Michael is a construction worker in Junesberry, and he’s prepared to pick up his friendship with Emma where they left off. Will Emma chose her successful law career in Boston—or the love she left behind?

A BEAUTIFUL FALL is the first story I’ve read by Chris Coppernoll. I can’t really say that A BEAUTIFUL FALL is a well-written story. It starts out in the narrator’s point of view, and proceeds to “head-hop” all the way through. I also felt that some of the situations seemed a bit contrived.

I didn’t see much of a faith message in A BEAUTIFUL FALL, but it does have plenty of down-home flavor and closeness of family and friends, even if the family hasn’t been “close” in the twelve years separation. There is also some interesting court room scenes. $13.99. 304 pages.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Killing Frost

Author: Hannah Alexander
Publisher: Steeple Hill Books
January 2009
ISBN: 978-0-373-78640-4
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Dr. Jama Keith is haunted by a terrible secret. She never wanted to return to her hometown of River Dance, Missouri, but now she must, risking exposure. River Dance has financed her dreams of becoming a doctor, now she owes the community a debt of gratitude. If only she could avoid her former boyfriend, Tyrell Mercer.

When Tyrell’s niece, Doriann, is kidnapped by two of the FBI’s most wanted, notorious killers, Jama can’t refuse to help. After all, she’s been closely involved with Terell and his family for years. Will Tyrell and Jama find Doriann before its too late, or will the danger cost Tyrell and Jama the ultimate price—their lives?

A KILLING FROST is the first book in Hannah Alexander’s newest series with Steeple Hill, A River Dance series. Full of medical terms and page turning suspense, Hannah Alexander fans will not be disappointed.

I enjoyed getting to know Jama and the other characters in the book, and getting to know a new community in Missouri. As always, Ms. Alexander’s characters are expertly developed and three dimensional. Don’t miss A KILLING FROST. $13.95. 368 pages.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society

Author: Beth Pattillo
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7394-8
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Hannah is thirteen years old, and already a problem child. When the town librarian, Eugenie, catches Hannah defacing a knitting book, it doesn’t take long for her to sentence the sullen teenager to community service time at the library after school, and into joining the knit lit club that meets in the basement of the church once a month. Hannah isn’t at all happy about the arrangement, but it beats hanging out at home where her mom doesn’t even know she exists, or making out with some loser in the cemetery.

Each of the members of the knit lit society have their own sets of problems. Esther’s husband is in love with Esther’s sister, Ruthie. Merry is having a baby—and she feels she’s losing herself. Camille’s mother is dying. And Ruthie isn’t sure what to do. Live a life she despise or run.

As Hannah is stitched into their lives, the women discover that they can still be the heroines of their own stories.

I wasn’t real sure what to expect from THE SWEETGUM KNIT LIT SOCIETY, but it wasn’t what I got. I didn’t expect these ladies from a knitting group to reach out and enfold me into their stories, their lives, and their midst. I thoroughly fell in love with each one of the main characters, and couldn’t help but feeling for them. Even Esther’s husband won my heart. I almost wished I knew how to knit so I could join these ladies once a month.

I was real sorry when this book ended. I loved the hint of happiness that the book ended with for some of the characters, but wished I knew for sure what happened in some situations. I loved this story and hope that I can read more about these characters sometime in the future. This book is a heartwarming book that will draw you in and let you snuggle in the warmth of the knitted shawls and friendship. Discussion questions and instructions for a basic shawl are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 335 pages.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Little Girl

Authors: Tim McGraw and Tom Douglas
Illustrator: Julia Davis
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-4003-1321-1
Genre: Inspirational/childrens

Katie is excited when her daddy promises her a spectacular day out, just the two of them. Katie envisions all kinds of fun things, a trip to the Jungles of Africa, a royal ball, or maybe even the ballet. So, Katie dresses for everything! A tiara and a ball gown, tights and a tutu and jungle boots.

When Daddy announces that they aren’t doing anything special, Katie is stunned. What could be fun about just running boring errands with Daddy. But the co-op has baby bunnies and chickens, and then they spend time cloud gazing and swinging on a tire swing. Katie learns that a day doesn’t have to be spend doing exotic things, when it’s spent with Daddy.

MY LITTLE GIRL is a charming picture book with adorable colored pictures that my little girls, ages three and six, immediately fell in love with. The wording is engaging and the story line is sure to be a winner with any family. At the end of the story are lines available for you to write your own special Daddy/daughter story.

I really think MY LITTLE GIRL is a winner for families with small little girls. They will enjoy hearing about Katie and what she and her daddy do for outings and comparing it to their special times with their dads. This book will make an excellent book to wrap and put under the tree for a special little girl in your life. $16.99 hardcover.

My Little Girl:http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/custom/top20/My_Little_Girl_Tim_McGraw_Tom_Douglas.asp

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Home Another Way

Author: Christa Parrish
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0523-1
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Sarah Graham is broke. She hates her father for killing her mother, and is determined to get his money when he dies, without living out the terms of his will. His will is unfair anyway. He wants her to live in a nowhere town of Jonah, New York, for six months in a cabin that has been boarded up for years.

Sarah’s arrival in town in par for the course. In twenty-four hours, her car is stolen and she wakes up in a stranger’s bed. But the inn keeper and her grown children are accepting of her, and in spite of herself, Sarah begins to have feelings for the town pastor, Jack. A man who will have nothing to do with her.

Will Sarah learn that her memories of the past–and plans for the future–are subject to God’s plans?

HOME ANOTHER WAY is the debut novel by Christa Parrish. Sarah is a rude, obnoxious woman at the beginning of the story and I wasn’t real impressed with her. In fact, I couldn’t relate to her at all, she is everything I am not. The town people on the other hand are expertly developed, Ms. Parrish nailed the small town well.

The story is well written, and the faith message is good. I wanted to find something to like about Sarah, so I kept reading, and hoped that she would become someone nicer and maybe even find a place where she belonged. The ending of the book was a huge disappointment to me. I looked, but couldn’t find any information on a sequel. Ms. Parrish is a talented writer, though, so we will be sure to see more books from her in the future. This book is not your normal perfect story, so if you are looking for a definitely imperfect heroine, then pick up HOME ANOTHER WAY. $13.99. 350 pages.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lying on Sunday

Author: Sharon K. Souza
Publisher: NavPress
ISBN: 978-1-60006-176-9
Genre: Inspirational/Women’s fiction

Abbie Torrington has lacked for nothing. A loving husband, two beautiful, intelligent daughters, a dream house. Her youngest daughter, Becca, is celebrating her eighteenth birthday and leaving in a few days for college, and Abbie is gearing up for the empty nest. And waiting for her husband, Trey, to return from a business trip to Dallas.

But Trey never returns. Instead, Abbie gets a phone call stating that her husband died of a heart attack—in another woman’s arms. And not even a half hour after she receives notice of her husband’s death, she is served with divorce papers. Abbie had no idea that anything was wrong with her marriage. Abbie is desperate to protect her children from news about her husband’s infidelity, and to somehow find healing.

LYING ON SUNDAY is a second novel by new author Sharon K. Souza, and it is a winner. Abbie is a real character, so real that I felt as if I’d stepped into her life and was living the story out right beside her. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Abbie, and the secondary characters, and to fight for survival right along side them.

With Abbie not being a religious person, I wasn’t sure about how the faith message would play out. However, it was expertly woven in and wasn’t preachy. The California setting is expertly woven into the story. I loved Abbie’s best friend, Shawlie, and Abbie’s sweet daughter, Becca. The only thing I didn’t love about this story is that it ended. I wanted to keep reading and find out what happened…with Shawlie, with Abbie’s oldest daughter, Bailey, with Abbie… I hope this author has a sequel in the works. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. 427 pages.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Title: SKID
Author: Rene Gutteridge
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7159-3
Genre: Inspirational/humor

First Officer Danny McSweeney should have realized that the Atlantica Flight 1945 from Atlanta to Amsterdam was going to be anything but normal. After all, he will be co-piloting with an eccentric female captain, and the lead flight attendant has an attitude that exceeds the limits for carry-on baggage.

But that weren’t the only warnings. Add a woman with a disability and a “Seeing-Eye” Pig. A man who apparently has stomach ulcers, and an unexpected airline inspector. If these things aren’t enough, what else could possibly go wrong on a trans-Atlantic flight?

SKID is the third book in The Occupational Hazards series, but it easily stands alone. This book was laugh out loud funny at times. The faith message is expertly woven in and isn’t preachy.

I enjoyed getting to know the different characters, and seeing how they interacted and reacted to different situations. Ms. Gutteridge is an excellent writer who knows how to use the unexpected and turn it into a page-turner. Bravo. You want to read this book—especially before you board a plane into the unfriendly skies. $12.99. 325 pages.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Wiles of Watermelon

Author: Lynette Sowell
Publisher: Heartsong Presents Mysteries
ISBN: 978-1-60260-072-0
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Andi Hartley has married Ben, the man of her dreams, and is ready to settle into life on their newly acquired farmland. Someone had planted watermelons in their field, and when Andi’s cat, Spot, escapes, Andi chases her to the watermelon field and finds a skeletal finger, still attached to the hand…

The bones turn out to belong to Andi’s Aunt Jewel, a woman believed to have run away with her boyfriend over thirty years earlier. The very next day, Ben’s boss turns up dead. Ben is considered a suspect, because he is the one who discovers the body. Andi knows her husband wouldn’t have killed his boss, and she is convinced that the crime was done by someone who holds the secrets to what happened to Aunt Jewel all those years earlier. Is Andi about to unearth a murderer?

THE WILES OF WATERMELON is the second book in Lynette’s A Scents of Murder Mystery series, but it easily stands alone. I enjoyed reconnecting with Andi and getting to know her and the other characters a little better. Usually I have no trouble figuring out who-dun-it early on, but this time I figured out who-dun-it, but not who that person really was. It made for an interesting twist.

The faith message is rather weak, but still present, and I don’t really feel all the strands were neatly tied up at the end of this book. I still have some questions about what happened. However, it was an enjoyable read and I am looking forward to the third and final book in this series. $6.95. 254 pages.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cry in the Night

Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
February 2009
ISBN: 9781595542489
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Bree Matthew doesn’t know what to think when her eight-year-old son, Davy, says he’s seen a Windigo bury a baby in the snow. He swears the Windigo looks exactly like his deceased father, Rob. Bree had hoped that Davy would have gotten past missing his real dad, especially since Kade was trying to adopt Davy.

When several babies in the area go missing, officials worry that a black market ring selling babies is in the area. A couple women in the small northern Michigan community are murdered, and when looking for a missing woman, Bree discovers not only the woman, dead, but also a baby hidden in the snow. The baby is still alive.

Bree takes the baby into her home, hoping that the relatives will never be found and the baby will be hers forever. But as Bree searches for the real parents she uncovers unsettling information that the baby is tied to what happened to her first husband. The shock waves could shatter her marriage to Kade.

CRY IN THE NIGHT is the fourth book in the popular Rock Harbor series set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I loved this series the best of all the books Colleen Coble wrote, so I was excited that the series is being continued.

It was nice to revisit Bree and Kade and the residents in this small Lake Superior town on the Keweenaw Peninsula. The faith message is expertly woven in. The suspense wasn’t really that great, I had figured out what was going on and who was behind it within a few chapters. Don’t miss CRY IN THE NIGHT. It is a book you will not want to miss, especially if you’ve read the others in the series. $14.99. 304 pages.

Friday, December 12, 2008

See You in the Funny Pages

Author: Pam Kumpe
Publisher: Smith Street
November 2008
ISBN: 978-0-615-24326-9
Genre: Inspirational/humor

SEE YOU IN THE FUNNY PAGES is a humorous look at life. With humor laced in with the realism, Ms. Kumpe addresses the issues that all of us face in day to day life, whether it is being stuck in traffic with no air conditioning, a car that is spluttering and smells like burnt rubber, or yawning in church.

The chapters each contain one story, and are short and easy to read in short breaks. Using everyday situations, Ms. Kumpe teaches us how to respond as Jesus would.

Chapter titles include:

. Where are the Missionaries?
. The Back-Seat Driver
. Firefly for God
. Lost, but Now I’m Found
. Stealing Baby Jesus
. Plus much more…

I enjoyed reading through this book and highly recommend SEE YOU IN THE FUNNY PAPERS for anyone needing a little bit of humor in their day. This book is sure to spread cheer around. Pick up a copy for yourself and a friend today! $14.99. 202 pages.

See You in the Funny Papers on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0615243266
Pam Kumpe’s Website: http://pamkumpe.com/
Pam Kumpe’s Blog: http://www.pamkumpe.blogspot.com/
Subscribe to Pam’s Daybreak Devotionals: http://archives.zinester.com/17382
See You in the Funny Papers Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/v/DAT50KRqYU0
Follow Pam on Twitter: http://twitter.com/pamkumpe
List of all participating bloggers: http://blogtourspot.com/Kumpe-blog-tour/Kumpe-blog-tour-stops

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Personality Predicaments

Title: Personality Predicaments: Smore Seed Packet
Enriching the lives of single moms
Author: Gail Cawley Showalter

Parents have always found it difficult to know what they are doing when they find themselves responsible for a new little life, but when you are a single mom, things are suddenly doubly difficult. You see a maze of duties that you must accomplish every day. Time passes, children grow, and you merely exist.

Even though you may not think you have time to find out who you really are, Ms. Showalter maintains that you do have a distinct personality, and you need to decide what type personality you are in order to get the most from your life, your relationships, your work environment, etc. The book rather lightly dips into the Littauer model, to identify the four personality types: Popular Sanguine, Powerful Choleric, Perfect Melancholy, and Peaceful Phlegmatic. It is general agreed that individuals have a dominant personality style with a blend of a secondary style. If you find yourself making choices and then wondering why, your personality profile will reveal the answers.

The booklet doesn’t really go into a lot of detail about the personality types, but does give some interesting examples that some mothers might use to reach their children without spending a lot of money. It also has a lot of real life stories from women who rose above their circumstances to do something outstanding.

Personality Predicaments really doesn’t seem to be written with thought – sometimes the topic shifts are rather disruptive and pulls the reader out. But even if you are not a single mom, but instead either a working married mom, or a stay at home mom, there are a lot of aha moments in the book where you think, what a great idea! This booklet is great as a study guide for women’s groups, MOPS groups, or other discussion groups. Information is included on how to order the booklets in this packet for your group, or what other topics they offer. Visit the website at: http://www.smoreforwomen.org/

Thank you for the opportunity to share my passion for single mothers. In the United States, alone, there are over ten million mothers raising children alone. Over one third of them live in poverty. After years of being on my own as a mother of three, I came to realize how little is done in our communities and churches for this group of children with absent fathers and women with no husbands. The vast majority does not attend church, but our neighborhoods are filled with single moms.
I’ve created and implemented, along with an eleven member board, a detailed plan for encouraging, inspiring, and blessing single mothers. If you have ever wondered what you could do to make a difference for even one of the moms, this is the answer. It is easy, inexpensive, and exceedingly worthwhile.

Interview Questions

You have established a ministry plan for single mothers. What motivated you to do this?
For sixteen years I was a divorced mother with three children. I was fortunate to have family support and yet the disappointment, emotional pain, and daily difficulties were devastating. I’m happily remarried now for twelve years and my passion for the over the ten million single mothers remain strong.

Why do you think a ministry plan is needed?
Single mothers have a difficult time day-in, day-out. I think churches want to provide supportive programs for them, but –though there are some successful ministries—much still needs to be done to minister to single moms. Often what you see on the outside doesn’t reveal the heartache and fear she is experiencing on the inside. Church leader I’ve spoken with have expressed genuine interest in implementing this plan.

What do you call the ministry?
SMORE for Women. SMORE is an acronym for Spiritual Ministry Offering ReTREATs and Encouragement. Our program assists churches in providing Saturday reTREATs in a home or intimate church environment.

What is the ultimate goal of SMORE for Women?
Our mission is to inspire and encourage women, especially single mothers, to discover and develop their abilities and inner strengths. Ultimately I hope to see churches across the country implement these programs. And in the process develop ongoing programs and activities for single mothers in their communities.

How do you convey this information to church leaders who want to provide a program for single moms?
The plan is laid out in detail in print in a guidebook titled Encouraging Single Moms to Grow Their Strengths and with forms on CD’s. I serve as a facilitator when a church implements their first reTREAT.

Tell us why you prefer that the reTREATs be in homes?
Homes provide an intimate, friendly, and non-intimidating environment. Homes also have the amenities for several of the pampering areas. A reTREAT can also take place in a church or other facility.

What do you mean by pampering areas?
At each reTREAT each mom is treated in several areas. Depending on the home she may use a hot tub or swimming pool. She will receive a brief massage, and even have a quiet private prayer time.

Is there any charge or fee to the church for you as a facilitator?
I am available as a facilitator via long distance conference calls. For as long as I can I only ask for a love offering which helps sustain my expenses. If I must travel a long distance I ask for travel expenses. AND if a reTREAT date is on the 2009 calendar by January I will facilitate (via long distance) free of charge. The guidebooks are $20 and each of the Seed Packet booklets for the moms is $10.

What are the costs of implementing a reTREAT?
There is a nominal budget. It is similar to hosting a dinner party. Usually the volunteer hostesses contribute food. Church members donate gifts and invitations can be printed on a home computer, ordered, or printed at church. The ministry is a collaborative endeavor. Our reTREATs are very small with only six to twelve guests.

Are all reTREATs the same?
A. No. We have eight themes for encouraging moms to discover her inner strengths.
They are
· Personality Predicaments
· Money Matters
· Bonding and Boundaries
· Job Jump Starts
· Dating Do’s
· Nutrition and Manners Matter
· Family Fun
· Grieving a Loss.

Where can we go for more information about the SMORE for Women ministry?
A. We have a web site which is http://www.smoreforwomen.org/ and a blog which is http://www.seeinguthrough.wordpress.com/.

A Retreat can be hosted by a small group of compassionate women. The guidebook, Encouraging Single Mothers to Grow Their Strengths, includes step-by-step guidance for planning and hosting a reTREAT. Once you’ve experienced one Saturday reTREAT filled with joy you will want to plan another and another. In the process you will get acquainted with some remarkable women and you might inspire them as they see Christ in you. Please visit SMORE for Women at http://www.smoreforwomen.org/.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Bell Messenger

Author: Robert Cornuke with Alton Gansky
Publisher: Howard Books
September 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4165-4981-9
Genre: Inspirational/thriller

Gary Brandon’s uncle gave Gary a strange graduation gift, an old Bible and some trinkets that he allegedly unearthed in a cave in Saudi Arabia. As Gary starts thumbing through the Bible, he discovers that it originally belonged to one Elijah Bell, a young fourteen year old boy who was killed in the Civil War by a Union soldier. A letter in the Bible says that the Bible was given to Jeremiah Tate, the man who killed Elijah.

Jeremiah Tate takes the Bible with him to California after the war, and discovers that the Bible gives live and saves lives. The history of this Bible will take you to the building of the Pacific Railroad, to the holding of Chinese slaves in California, to the trenches of World War I. As Gary Brandon researches the history of the Bible, he will learn of the lives the Bible has saved, the deaths it has caused, and the history it has changed forever.

THE BELL MESSENGER is a fascinating account of a path that one Bible took and the lives it changed. I enjoyed some parts of the book more than others, Jeremiah Tate was a fascinating person to read about, as was a character named Frederick Von Scherling. I enjoyed reading this book and getting to know the characters and as well as the history behind the Bible. The ending kind of disappointed me a little. Parts of it was good, but part of it just seemed wrong.

If you are someone interested in the history of Bibles, then THE BELL MESSENGER is a book you will want to read. I was interested to discover if this was based on a true story or simply the product of the author’s imagination, but I couldn’t find anything out about that when I visited Mr. Gansky’s website. Mr. Cornuke’s website is still being developed. I understand that a second novel by Mr. Cornuke will be coming out sometime some time in 2009, but I couldn’t find any information on that either. Don’t miss THE BELL MESSENGER. It is a fascinating read, but does have considerable violence—and if it were a movie, it would be rated R for violence. 304 pages. $12.99

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Controlling Interest

Author: Elizabeth White
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 978-0-310-27305-9
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Matt Hogan thought that having someone invest in his detective agency would be a wise step and keep him from going bankrupt. Instead, the wealthy businessman who invests, as a tax write-off, also sends his daughter in to work as partner in the business. A partner wasn’t what Matt had in mind. Especially not a fresh out of criminal justice school clerk.

Natalie Tubberville knows she can make it in detective work, but the police force won’t give her a chance. So she is thrilled when her father buys a struggling detective agency and puts her in place as a partner. Especially when the first case is a run-away bride case and her groom and family are desperate to find her.

When Natalie and Matt are hot on the bride’s trail, they discover that the case is nothing as simple as pre-wedding nerves. Instead, it is a matter of international importance.

I’ve read all of Ms. White’s books, since her first, and I’ve loved every one so far. CONTROLLING INTEREST is no different. Strong characterization, unique situations, and a setting that is so expertly developed, and so important to the plot that it takes on a life of it’s own.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Natalie and Matt and their distinct personalities, and the case as they chased after the bride. Even the secondary characters were extremely well developed. Don’t miss CONTROLLING INTEREST or any of Ms. White’s books. You won’t be disappointed. $13.99. 324 pages.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Forgotten Gospel

Author: Mark McGrath with Pat Russo
Publisher: Field’s Pond Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9790362-0-0
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/Evangelism

Does witnessing people make you feel inadequate, unprepared, or nervous? Are you worried about alienating friends and relatives so you avoid mentioning your faith? If so, then A FORGOTTEN GOSPEL is for you.

Mark McGrath maintains that ten percent of people are willing to go out and witness, street evangelism, or whatever means they can. They other ninety percent are scared. Forcing them on the community is usually disastrous to the unbeliever as well as the believer. So how does one who doesn’t have the gift of evangelism reach out to his co-workers, friends, and relatives?

In A FORGOTTEN GOSPEL, Mark McGrath takes the principles he talks about in his seminars and has them in printed form in order to reach a wider audience. You will learn to use an easily remembered, flexible approach to effectively communicate the good news.

Readers of A FORGOTTEN GOSPEL will no longer worry about what to say or how to say it. If they apply what they learn in the pages of this book, they will be ready to clearly and confidently share their faith without worry of alienation. With only 72 pages of easily read text, this book won’t take long to work through. Pick up a copy for you are a loved one today.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Other Side of Darkness

Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Multnomah
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7081-7
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Ruth seems to have the perfect life. But in reality she suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and a desperate need to belong. Ruth’s husband is upset that Ruth seems to give so much time, money, and energy to their church and the Christian School, but since Ruth doesn’t want her children to fall into evil, she believes it’s all necessary to protect them.

As the church starts drifting further and further from the truth, Ruth is caught up in the current of cultism. And Ruth’s family ends up threatened to be torn apart by the very thing that should have held it together.

THE OTHER SIDE OF DARKNESS is another powerful read by Melody Carlson. She is known for writing potentially edgy fiction and as such is a hit and miss author for me as some of the edgy stuff is also very depressing.

THE OTHER SIDE OF DARKNESS is an especially difficult one, and as such may be considered one of her most influential ones, since it deals with cultism and OCD. Ms. Carlson definitely has the ability to write realistic characters, settings, and trials, and her books are guaranteed to be a good read – if you can handle the extreme realism in your fiction. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 383 pages.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Author: Sharon Carter Rogers
Publisher: Howard Books
September 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4165-6649-6
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Lehigh. West Virginia, is facing the insidious threat of a sadist cult bent on eliminating all “unpretty” things in the world. (from the back cover)

Eight people are killed when a bomb goes off at the Conklin Art Gallery when a Michelangelo exhibit is on display there. Aspiring artist, Hummingbird Collins, is the only witness to see the bomber and now she is receiving threatening cassette recordings fill with the ramblings of a madman.

The madman, known only as Number 26, leads a cult known as the Michelangelus Movement, which has been known to kidnap and torture people for use in their bizarre artistic experiments.

Hummingbird is afraid to speak, but eventually she does share her news with her brother, a police officer, Detective Buck Barnes, and another friend, Ready Robinson. But then Hummingbird is abducted. Will her family and friends have any idea where to look?

UNPRETTY is a rather scary book based in the world of art, and cults. I am not really into books this frightening being a member of the “chicken club” so I really can’t say that I am the best person to review this book. As a quote says in the beginning of the story, “There is a monster at the end of this book. Oh, I am so scared! Please do not turn the page. Please, please, please…” (Jon Stone)

I found the reference of characters by numbers instead of names rather confusing. I also thought the faith message was rather weak. UNPRETTY is not really a book I recommend, but then again, I am not a fan of this genre. Discussion questions and a reading guide are included at the end of the book. 336 pages.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Long Journey Home

Author: Sharlene MacLaren
Publisher: Whitaker House
ISBN: 978-1-60374-056-2
Genre: Inspirational/romance

Callie May is still recovering from her marriage to an abusive husband. Thomas left her when he learned that she was pregnant, and moved from Illinois to Florida. Callie hopes he’ll never return. Now here daughter, Emily is eighteen months old, but Callie is still skittish around men.

Dan Mattson left his pastorate in East Michigan to move to Chicago and work construction when his wife and young daughter died in a terrible accident. He’s angry at God and has turned to alcohol to dull the pain. But the lovely Callie and her adorable daughter are worming their way into his heart.

When Thomas starts contacting Callie again, demanding money, Callie is worried and not quite sure what to do. She is barely making ends meet with a baby and her expenses and paying all her ex-husband’s debts. Besides, Dan’s anger is a big turn-off. Will Dan come to find God again? And is this enough for them to take a chance on love?

LONG JOURNEY HOME is the first contemporary book I’ve read by Ms. MacLaren, though I have read a few of her historical ones. I enjoyed getting to know Callie and Dan. Their situations are sadly realistic, and I found myself hoping they’d get past their hurts and negative behavior to find God.

The story is well-written with a strong faith message. Readers suffering through the ending of a marriage – either by death or divorce – will identify with these characters and possibly even find healing. Don’t miss LONG JOURNEY HOME. $9.99. 338 pages.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Reconstructing Natalie

Author: Laura Jensen Walker
Publisher: WestBow
September 2006
ISBN: 1-5955-4067-9
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Natalie Moore thought everything was pretty well perfect—until she discovers a mystery lump in her breast during a routine breast exam. When she visits her doctor, she learns it’s the dreaded C word. Natalie is crushed, and her boyfriend doesn’t want anything to do with her when he learns she has breast cancer. Even one of Natalie’s best friends starts staying away, like breast cancer might be contagious.

Now, Natalie is obsessed with breasts. Her mother’s, her friends’, her co-workers. It doesn’t matter. Especially when she learns that her type of cancer is more aggressive than the doctor originally suspected and Natalie has both breasts removed. Natalie fears that her love life is over before it ever began. What man will ever want to marry her now?

Recovery is more painful than Natalie thought and her parents are coddling her. Not to mention her divorced neighbor Paul who seems to think its his job to babysit her when her parents aren’t around. Will Natalie discover that there are men out there who might still love her anyway?

RECONSTRUCTING NATALIE is a wink and a smile approach to the more serious subject of breast cancer. Laura Jensen Walker is a breast cancer survivor and she approaches this book with almost gut-wrenching honesty, and in parts almost TMI. However, the book is inspiring and entertaining and I learned a lot about what some women with breast cancer experience.

I loved Natalie and her friends, but the character that I really warmed up to was the sixty-year-old Grandma in Natalie’s support group who flashed the gathered crowd with her newly constructed breasts. I totally admired her free-spirit, and her embarrassment when she realized that there was a stranger in the room was so realistic. RECONSTRUCTING NATALIE is a book you won’t want to miss. I also recommend this book for anyone you know who is diagnosed with breast cancer. I read it over the second time when I was diagnosed. $14.99. 320 pages.