Sunday, January 31, 2010

Songs of Deliverance


Title: SONGS OF DELIVERANCE
Author: Marilynn Griffith
Publisher: Revell
December 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3279-0
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary

They say time heals all wounds—but sometimes, time just isn’t enough.

Years ago, Zeely Wilkins was in love with Ron Jenkins. She “let her bottom rule her mind” and she ended up pregnant. A Bishop’s daughter, Zeely knew that her pregnancy would break her father’s heart, but she couldn’t abort the baby without telling Ron. But when she went to tell Ron, she discovered that her white boyfriend seriously didn’t consider marrying her, it would destroy his future legal career plans if he were to marry a black woman. Heartbroken, Zeely aborted the baby, and has regretted it ever since.

Grace is full of secrets, complete with an assumed name. Now she’s hoping to get her life back on track. But she discovers her caseworker is a man that she knows, one who loves her. Can she trust him with her future when her present is tied up in knots and her past is so ugly?

Zeely and Ron’s paths are crossing again, and Ron realizes that he’s always loved her. But he has another pregnant girlfriend, and the past between Ron and Zeely stand like a huge brick wall between them. Is there any hope of scaling this wall? Or will their past continue to keep them apart?

SONGS OF DELIVERANCE is the sequel to Rhythms of Grace, but it easily stands alone. I didn’t have the luxury of reading Rhythms of Grace, but I easily figured out what was going on in SONGS OF DELIVERANCE. This story is very very real, blatantly so, almost as if it could be a television drama.

Zeely, Grace, Ron, and another male character, Brian, live lives that are entangled in lies, in past mistakes, mistakes that are so heartbreaking that years later they still shape every move and haunt every thought. The story is extremely well written, Ms. Griffith is a very talent author, but the graphicness was sometimes a bit hard for me to take. If you are reading for escape purposes, maybe you should look for a different story. But if you like books that could (and do) happen in cities across the nation, then SONGS OF DELIVERANCE is for you. $13.99. 322 pages.

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She returns to her hometown with a suitcase full of regrets,
and a heart yearning for so much more…

Songs of Deliverance is the latest novel from popular author
Marilynn Griffith, who is known for her rich and heartfelt storytelling that will stir readers’ emotions.

Four childhood friends have been torn apart by the mistakes and tragedies of their past. Now as adults, they are reunited in their hometown of Testimony, Ohio, where they sort through the messy, real-life struggles of secrets kept hidden, lost loves and unknown futures.

Zeely Wilkins is the one with the beautiful voice that earned her the nickname “Birdie,” when she was younger. Now engaged to marry Jerry, her life seems to be back on track, though she struggles to bury feelings for her high school sweetheart.

Grace Okoye can make you hold your breath when she dances, but ever since that night more than a decade ago, she has pushed that dream—like so many others—aside.
Ron Jenkins, the lone white guy who once used to preach in the black church, has returned to Testimony, now as a lawyer. He questions whether he should be here, and when enough is enough when it comes to matters of the heart.

Brian Mayfield, with his long dreadlocks, had walked away from the church awhile ago. Only recently has he started to turn back to God and find strength for healing and patience. He never knew his biological mother but is determined to make a difference in the lives of the students at Imani Academy, with the help of his assistant, Grace Okoye.

Having grown up together, they now must help and encourage one another as they begin to address the pains, heartaches and tragedies of their past—and get a second chance to make things right. Though never easy, the friends experience a spiritual awakening as they begin to face their secrets and sorrows and offer their struggles over to God. They learn the beauty and strength in friendship, and the inexhaustible depth of God’s healing grace and redemption—no matter how hopeless or doomed things may seem at first.

Marilynn Griffith’s fresh voice and masterful storytelling make this rough yet tender story come alive. It is sure to touch readers’ hearts and keep them turning pages until the very end. Fans of Griffith’s previous novel, Rhythms of Grace, will be delighted to know that Songs of Deliverance picks up with that storyline and can be read as a sequel, though it is intended as a standalone for new fans.

“Griffith’s dialogue is engaging and her characters deeply memorable;
she deserves a wide audience.”
— Publishers Weekly


“With poetic description and compelling storytelling,
Marilynn Griffith delights readers with every sentence.”
— Stephanie Perry Moore, author

Marilynn Griffith is a freelance writer and conference speaker whose online columns and blogs reach thousands of women each year. She is the author of the Shades of Style series and Rhythms of Grace. Marilynn lives in Florida with her husband and their seven children.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Worth a Thousand Words


Title: WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
Author: Stacy Hawkins Adams
Publisher: Revell
July 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3267-7
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Twenty-three year old Indigo Burns is a recent college graduate with a well-planned game plan. She is planning on becoming a professional photographer and she has the drive and ambition to make it happen. She has landed an opportunity to intern at a well-known establishment, and graduate school is in her future.

Brian, Indigo’s college boyfriend, unexpectedly proposes, has the potential to change all Indigo’s plans. Suddenly all Indigo’s plans hang in the balance, with no idea whether she’ll even achieve her dreams or even continue with her education. Indigo is forced to make new decisions and find answers. Should she choose Brian and marriage, or should she put him off and concentrate on her career.

But even Brian is battling demons that have the potential to kill his relationship with Indigo. With their families loving advice, and their faith in God, the couple struggles to find answers. But what is there to do when either choice requires a huge price to pay?

I loved the heroine’s name, Indigo, in this story, it was very intriguing, and seemed to fit her personality well. I also thought that the wisdom in WORTH A THOUSAND YEARS was very true and realistic as well. One can make all the plans they want, but that doesn’t mean that they will work out according to plan. And sometimes, one has to let go of all that is familiar and true and set out in the unknown, trusting that it is the way God has for them to go.

WORTH A THOUSAND YEARS is a top-notch romance with enough twists and turns to keep the reader interested in the story. The characters are well-developed, and realistic, and the writing is stellar. This is a book to be considered for your library. $12.99. 268 pages.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Mountain Beyond


Title: THE MOUNTAIN BEYOND
Author: Terry Miller
Publisher: Xulon Press
December 2008
ISBN: 978-1-60791-251-4
Genre: Memoir

Terry Miller grew up in the 40’s and 50’s and he remembers a simpler time, an America that is recovering from the Great Depression, an America at war.

Terry Miller was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the only one of his siblings born in a hospital. He grew up in a small town at the foot of a Maryland Mountain, and he openly shares with us about how when his mother left his alcoholic father, he moved in with his grandmother, and was essentially raised by extended family.

In THE MOUNTAINS BEYOND, Terry Miller takes us along to visit the old swimming hole of his youth, the soda jerk, the boy scouts, a teenage road trip, and Halloween 1950’s style. He shows us homemade fun and hard work.

THE MOUNTAINS BEYOND is a feel-good read, a reminder of a time when people trusted enough to leave cars and houses unlocked, a tie when neighbors knew each other, instead of being strangers passing on the street.

Mixed in with Miller’s recounting of his memories are quotes and reminders that God is still in control, that He answers prayers; and other quotes by some well-known or not-so-well-known philosophers.

If you like to read memoirs, THE MOUNTAIN BEYOND is a book that you’ll want to look at. Available at www.amazon.com, or by direct order at your favorite bookstore. A good book for history buffs, or for those who enjoy reading about the not so distant past. $15.99. 218 pages.

With so much bad news dominating today’s outlook, The Mountain Beyond provides a refreshing escape to a sweeter time when doors to homes and cars were typically left unlocked. This book is the ultimate feel-good read, and it is packed with life’s lessons.

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—In his new book, The Mountain Beyond, author Terry Miller invites readers to join him on a trip back to the America of his childhood in the 1940s and 1950s. As they are transported to a small town at the foot of a Maryland mountain, readers will partake in the events that shaped not only Miller’s own life but the course of a nation’s history. The Mountain Beyond treats readers to a guided tour of some of the most iconic symbols of small town America in days gone by.

Miller revisits the old swimming hole, the soda jerk, the boy scouts, the teenage road trip, and Halloween, 1950s style. The dual themes of homemade fun and old-fashioned hard work are woven throughout the narrative. While work ethics were instilled in the youth of his day, there was still time for fun!

The youngest of three children, Terry Miller was born in the small town of Thurmont , Maryland , in 1939. Thurmont is nestled in the Catoctin Mountains and epitomized the culture of small town America in the 1940s and 1950s. In his new book, The Mountain Beyond, Terry shares the story of his childhood.

“It’s a story full of events that shaped not only my life, but also the culture of an entire era. The unique, simpler time of my childhood cannot be duplicated in our history; yet it brought its challenges, just as we face today,” he says. “These memories are part of a legacy that spans generations that I’m sharing so others can reminisce, relate, enjoy, and even add to them.”

Hard work was a defining family value in Terry’s family. Beginning at age twelve, he held a variety of jobs: washing dishes, working in his family’s greenhouse business, and best of all, crafting perfectly shaped cones at the very first frozen custard shop in town. Terry served his country for over four years in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Bethel , Alaska . After receiving an honorable discharge, he found success in the banking industry. Thanks to his determination, work ethic, and gift for communicating and training others, he quickly rose through the management ranks. In 1994, he founded his own firm, Terry Miller & Associates, which became a major training resource for over 500 banks in the state of Texas .

“I am thankful to have lived in a simpler time when we did not have all the computer games we have today. It made us create our own entertainment, and we had fun doing it. We played outside more and spent better quality time together with friends and family. We enjoyed freedom in many areas of our lives and felt safe to go places, do things and enjoy living!”

The Mountain Beyond
by Terry Miller
Xulon Press
ISBN: 978-1-60791-251-4/218 pages/softcover/$15.99

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Real Solutions for Busy Moms


Title: REAL SOLUTIONS FOR BUSY MOMS
Author: Kathy Ireland
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
April 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4165-6318-1
Genre: Families and relationships/nonfiction

Moms are super busy these days, whether they have one child or twelve, and if you have to balance a career with children and a home, then you need help! You need real solutions right now. Ms. Ireland understands. She is the parent of three children, a wife, and the CEO of an international business, so she draws on personal experience, research, and conversations with other moms across the nation to offer hope and powerful, practical answers.

Ms. Ireland’s advice doesn’t center around beauty tips or how to dress. Rather, she discusses important things such as finances, budgets, raising children, managing a household or career or both, and finding time to take care of themselves.

Ms. Ireland shares stories of her own life and wisdom to bring across the important message “You can do it all, just not all at once.”

I enjoyed reading through REAL SOLUTIONS FOR BUSY MOMS, especially the question and answer sections included in each chapter. Plus at the end of each chapter, Ms. Ireland includes a checklist for you to follow to see how well you are doing and where you need to give extra attention.

I am a homeschooling mom of five, and I found most of the advice kind of common sense, but everyone can gleam a bit of wisdom—and reminders of common sense that might be evading them. REAL SOLUTIONS FOR BUSY MOMS is filled with wisdom, and some of the advice might be exactly what you need to solve a problem that you are struggling with right now. $23.99 hardcover. 221 pages.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

50 Ways To Feel Great Today


Title: 50 WAYS TO FEEL GREAT TODAY
Authors: David B. Biebel, DMin; James E. Dill, MD; Bobbie Dill, RN
Publisher: Revell
December 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3291-2
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/Health and fitness

It is normal for people to feel stressed, worried, or anxious at some part of our life. Sometimes this is due to our circumstances, and sometimes things that are completely out of our control. But we can change how we feel, sometimes, with just a small step.

50 WAYS TO FEEL GREAT TODAY offers suggestions (but medically, and scientifically sound) for giving “blah moods” the boot. The time-tested ideas are simple and often times, free.

Some of the ideas to improve your mood, include (but are not limited to):

> Count your blessings
> Do something spontaneous
> Decorate something
> Exercise your brain
> Go to a water park
> Help someone who needs help
> Work in your yard or garden

Most all these idea are common sense ideas that I knew, but some of them were new to me. 50 WAYS TO FEEL GREAT TODAY will be sure to offer you new ways to get out of your depression, or just your “blahness” and get back to feeling more cheerful and happier about your circumstances. Real life stories are included, as well as scriptural references, and quotes from real people.

If you want to improve your mood, then maybe 50 WAYS TO FEEL GREAT TODAY would be a book to consider. It wouldn’t hurt and might even help. $12.99. 222 pages.

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THE BEST THINGS YOU CAN DO TO BETTER YOUR MOOD:
From taking a nap to decorating your home, authors share scientifically-sound secrets of what will make you feel great.

What does it take to be in a good mood—no matter what the weather’s like, how much cash you have in your wallet, or what side of the bed you woke up on? As authors David B. Biebel, DMin; James E. Dill, MD; and Bobbie Dill, RN, have discovered: Happiness actually is pretty simple.

“We can have a much greater effect on our moods than many of us realize,” the authors say. “Just by doing one or two simple things each day, we can feel better and be less stressed.”

In their new book, 50 Ways to Feel Great Today, the credentialed authors offer sound medical and spiritual advice regarding 50 easy and practical things anyone can do to brighten their mood. Including scientific research, scriptural references and real-life anecdotes, they approach mental health and well-being from both a physical as well as an emotional perspective.

Their collection of the best mood-boosting strategies looks at how a variety of easy, everyday actions can impact the way we feel. Some of their suggestions include:

• Do something creative. It will stimulate your brain and increase memory function.
• Take a nap. A 20- to 30-minute break to snooze has been shown to increase work performance and alertness, relieve work-related stress and lower the risk of death from heart disease.
• Listen to music. Music can offer healing by helping us identify with our emotions. An upbeat rhythm has been proven to reduce stress hormones by as much as 41 percent.
• Decorate something. Our moods can be influenced by our immediate surroundings, so try bringing vibrant colors or meaningful objects into the rooms of your house.
• Offer a helping hand. Giving increases the release of endorphins (which causes a natural emotional “high”) and impacts the way you feel about yourself and the world around you. Studies have also found that volunteering can have a great impact on your health and longevity, even a 44% reduction in early death.
• Start lifting weights. Not only does it help you physically, but getting in shape also improves your sense of body image. In one study, lifting weights helped relieve chronic depression.
• Go fishing. It offers a chance to spend time outdoors, experience some adventure, or encourage quiet time and reflection.

• Remember the good times. Take 20 minutes to walk down memory lane, and your overall mood can be improved, one study recently shows. Consider journaling, scrapbooking or getting together with old friends.
• Have a sense of humor. Laughing has been shown to increase pain tolerance, reduce stress, increase your immunity, and burn calories.
• Make a nutritious meal. Healthy ingredients can boost your immune system, calm jangled nerves or even lessen aches, not to mention engage some creativity when trying out new recipes.

With dozens of other easy-to-implement suggestions like these, readers will be able to select the pick-me-ups that work best for their lifestyles and needs. Plus, because they’re things that people will actually enjoy doing, combating stress, worry and the blues has never felt so good!

About the Authors

David B. Biebel, DMin, is a minister, an award-winning author, a health educator, and the editor of Today’s Christian Doctor. He speaks often on health-related subjects and has been a guest on many radio and TV programs.


James E. Dill, MD, and Bobbie Dill, RN, were among the first husband-wife Christian medical teams to help establish a truly holistic medical practice. Jim is a board certified gastroenterologist and Bobbie is a nurse, certified in women's health. Currently, they reside temporarily in various places around the United States, from Massachusetts to Hawaii, as Jim provides “locum tenens” medical care, often for several months at a time.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

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For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jenna's Cowboy


Title: JENNA’S COWBOY
Author: Sharon Gillenwater
Publisher: Revell
January 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3353-7
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary

Jenna Callahan Colby married her high school sweetheart, but he left her soon after she gave birth to her baby boy. It took a long time for Jenna to get over being hurt at love, but now she and her son are living back at home with her parents, and she is part owner of the family ranch.

Nate Langley is the town’s football hero. He fell in love with Jenna as a teenager, but never dated her. He joined the military after 9-11, and after two tours of duty, he’s home. A war hero. And suffering from “Battle Rattles.” He plans to help his father out, but he also takes a part-time job working on the Callahan ranch.

Jenna and Nate quickly rediscover feelings for each other, but the horrors of war are tearing Nate apart. What will it take for him to be able to become the man that Jenna deserves?

I fell in love with the title JENNA’S COWBOY, I think Jenna is about the prettiest name ever, and couldn’t wait to read a story about a woman named Jenna. Jenna is a realistic heroine and so is Nate. I felt kind of sorry for Nate for his trauma, and for Jenna for taking some tackles when he felt insecure.

JENNA’S COWBOY is very tightly written, and I had no problem with the story until about the middle when it started dragging a bit. But it soon picked back up, and I was anxious to see how Nate would end up solving his postwar disorder. It is a very realistic problem for our military hero to have, and I was glad to read a book with that in it. Most military heroes in books seem to have no lasting effects, and this was a welcomed change. $14.99. 330 pages.

“Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

When Jenna’s cowboy returns to their small hometown in Texas,
she discovers that the memories of the past aren’t so easy to shake after all

Popular author Sharon Gillenwater releases a new novel, Jenna’s Cowboy, set in the beautiful part of West Texas where she grew up as the debut novel in The Callahans of Texas series.

Readers meet Jenna Callahan, who has a young son and is working hard at her father's ranch. She's content with her life. But she never expected to see Nate Langley back in town—the first guy she ever noticed, the very same one her father sent away all those years ago. And she never thought the attraction they felt would be as strong as ever.

Jenna's cowboy has some healing of his own to do, though, after two tours of duty in the armed forces. With the help of good friends, strong faith, and a loving family, he hopes to put the horrors of the past behind him—and become the man Jenna deserves.

With an emphasis on simple acts of love, Jenna's Cowboy gives romance readers what they want most: a love story with a Texas touch. This contemporary novel will appeal to fans of Debbie Macomber and Lisa Wingate.

Sharon Gillenwater was born and raised in west Texas, and loves to write about
her native state. The author of ten novels, she is a member of ACFW and Romance Writers of America. When she's not writing, she and her husband enjoy spending time with their son, daughter-in-law, and adorable grandson. She lives in Port Angeles, Washington.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm So Sure


Title: I’M SO SURE
Author: Jenny B. Jones
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
November 2009
ISBN: 978-1-58554-542-8
Genre: Inspirational/youth

When Bella Kirkwood’s step-dad signs the family up for a reality TV show, Bella’s first thought is: Kill. Me. Now. Her life in Truman, Oklahoma, is getting down to a semi-normal existence, Bella is making friends, and while she still misses Manhattan and her dad’s credit card, she is adjusting. But then a camera crew starts following Bella around.

As if having a ‘tail’ isn’t bad enough, Bella’s editor is insisting she get a job so she can write an article about the trials of a working teenager. But having a job isn’t all Bella thought it might be. She manages to land the most dirty jobs in the township.

And when Bella’s friend, Lindy, becomes the Junior class president, Bella suddenly discovers that someone has a conspiracy against the Truman High prom queen candidates. Bella’s editor, Luke, insists on helping with the story, but it seems the closer they get to the answers, the more danger Bella’s in.

I’M SO SURE is book two in the A Charmed Life series. I was able to read book one first, and I’m glad I did as I was able to get the full story behind how Bella arrived in Truman and all the events that transpired as she relocated and struggled to adjust, but I think book two could have stood alone as Ms. Jones did an excellent job putting in just enough backstory so you know what happened earlier.

Bella is a realistic teenager, funny and sarcastic, and one that I would have loved to have been friends with if I were a teen. I laughed out loud at portions of this book, and other parts were kind of heartbreaking. I thoroughly enjoy this series so far (and so is my teen daughter) and am looking forward to the third book in the series, So Over My Head coming in May 2010. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $12.99. 299 pages.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

So Not Happening


Title: SO NOT HAPPENING
Author: Jenny B. Jones
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
April 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59554-541-1
Genre: Inspirational/youth fiction/contemporary

Bella Kirkwood had a dream life. She was a member of the A-list at her prestigious private school, a dad who gave her unlimited use of his credit card, and NYC in her backyard. But then, Bella’s father, a plastic surgeon, decided to trade Bella’s mother in for a newer model.

When Bella’s mom meets and marries a man she meets on-line—an Oklahoma factory worker—Bella’s life turns upside down. Suddenly, she’s step-sister to two bratty boys, she moves to Truman, Oklahoma, and her dad takes away the credit card!

At least some people in school are pretty cool. Especially the hunky football player who invites her to lunch. But before long, Bella smells something rotten in the town of Truman. And it isn’t the cow pasture. How can a girl go on when her charmed life is gone and God appears to be giving her the total smackdown?

I’ve read all of Jenny B Jones’ youth fiction, and I enjoyed reading them all. SO NOT HAPPENING is the first book in Ms. Jones’ A CHARMED LIFE series, and I am seriously looking forward to reading book two, I’m So Sure which is next on my to-read pile.

Bella, despite coming from an affluent background, is a totally realistic character that I couldn’t help but fall in love with. She is real, witty, and delightfully sarcastic. I laughed out loud as I read this book, and there were even some heartbreaking parts that almost made me cry. SO NOT HAPPENING is a wonderful book for young adults. My fourteen year old is anxiously waiting for me to write the final word on this review so she can grab the book and start reading it. She loves Ms. Jones’ books too. Look for SO NOT HAPPENING at your favorite family bookstore or online at www.amazon.com. $12.99. 326 pages.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Paperdoll


Title: PAPERDOLL
Author: Natalie Lloyd
Publisher: Regal
May 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8307-4784-9
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/Christian life

Real beauty is more than skin deep… (from the back cover)

Everywhere you look you are bombarded by face after flawless face on magazine covers, television, and other media. They all look so glamorous and happy, like modern-day paper dolls, with no insecurities or self-image problems of any kind. Their lives seem perfect, and the message they send is simple: “If you wear what we wear, or are as slim as we are, or if you have all the great stuff we have, then you will be fulfilled!” But is that really true? Is that what real beauty is about?

Natalie Lloyd was the “In Step” devotional column writer for Brio Girls magazine that Focus on the Family published, and she knows girls. She shares, in simple easy to understand language, the biblical story about the girl from Samaria who came to the well looking for something real, and she came face to face with Jesus.

PAPERDOLL will introduce you to the Lord, to the true love that will make you healthy and whole, to be the person you are meant to be.

Each chapter begins with a verse, then a short prayer, then several stories that share what the author hopes to teach us, along with an application about how it applies to modern day life, then it ends with another prayer. These chapters are a bit long to be considered devotionals, but yet they could be, if you spend ten minutes in prayer, Bible reading, and this book. PAPERDOLL is a good book, and I recommend this for teens and college age girls who are pursuing beauty that is skin deep. This book will take you beyond skin deep, and help you have true beauty. $12.99 221 pages.

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life


Title: IT’S A WONDERFUL (IMPERFECT) LIFE
Author: Joan C. Webb
Publisher: Regal Books
April 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8307-4801-3
Genre: Inspirational/devotional

Most of us mothers live in an over-whelmed state. Trying to balance work, home, family, homework, housework, and social obligations into a world that keeps getting crazier and crazier. We gotta start the laundry, we gotta help the kids with English, we gotta do this that and the next time and we don’t have time to sit down and make any times for ourselves. Ms. Webb’s new devotional IT’S A WONDERFUL (IMPERFECT) LIFE is a devotional for us busy women.

Ms Webb starts out with a short verse (written in the NIV) and then tells a short story about her own busy life, and then ends it with a short prayer, and then a short application. As a devotional it is short and sweet and it will encourage you to give up some of the busyness of your life and make time to spend more fun time with your spouse, children, or friends instead of constantly working on the never-ending chore list.

IT’S A WONDERFUL (IMPERFECT) LIFE is not meant to be – or to take the place of Bible study, but for a quick, “God-fix” this is perfect. It won’t even take five minutes out of your day, and it does give you something to think about, something to take into account, and to try to bring about in your life.

As Ms. Webb says, “Learning to be content with ‘good enough’ is the only way to find the rest and balance you long for…Imperfection is just right! Only God is perfect.”

I’ve read one of Ms. Webb’s books before, and noted that she is a life coach. Her profession as a life coach is evident in these devotionals as they are definitely upbeat, and have a positive ‘you can do this!’ feel about them. If you are looking for a short, fit into my busy schedule, type devotional, then IT’S A WONDERFUL (IMPERFECT) LIFE fits the bill. $12.99 192 pages.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Honor in the Dust


Title HONOR IN THE DUST
Author: Gilbert Morris
Publisher: Howard Books
August 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4165-8746-0
Genre: Inspirational / historical

Stuart Winslow wants to lift himself and his widowed mother out of poverty. When Stuart finally secures a place in King Henry VIII’s court, Stuart believes his luck has changed. However, he quickly discovers that King Henry VIII’s court is a wicked cauldron of vices, power plays, and temptation.

Still, Stuart manages to rise in power at court, but then he is asked to find and deliver an enemy of King Henry VIII for execution. This enemy happens to be an acquaintance of Stuart’s, whose sole ambition is to translate the Bible into the language of the common man—William Tyndale.

Does Stuart fall prey to his dangerous ambitions and accept the assignment? Or is he willing to face death at the stake for the sake of Christ?

HONOR IN THE DUST is the first book in A Winslow Breed series, the story of what happened with the popular Winslow family during an earlier era when the Tudors reigned. The story is divided into different parts, with Part One entitled: The Prodigal (1497-1512), Part Two entitled: The Homecoming (1512-1521), Part Three entitled: The Convert (1524-1527), and Part Four entitled: The Fugitive (1528-1536).

Gilbert Morris is a hit and miss author for me. I have loved some of his books and hated others, so I was kind of hesitant to begin this book, especially since it was a precursor to the very long House of Winslow series. Gilbert Morris used a lot of history in this book, using real life people as characters, such as King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and William Tyndale. Since their history is readily available, Morris did an excellent job using them in this story. The story remains true to Morris’ writing style in other books of his that I’ve read. 256 pages. $13.99.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Love Thine Enemy


Title: LOVE THINE ENEMY
Author: Louise M. Gouge
Publisher: Love Inspired Historical
July 2009
ISBN: 978-0-373-82815-9
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Colonial Florida is far removed from the British Colonies, yet, even in the tropics unrest stirs as the loyalists and the colonists begin their preparations for war. Rachel Folger is a mere shop-keeper’s daughter, yet she is a colonist sympathizer, and wants to do her part to help them gain their freedom from the crown. She is attracted to the new plantation owner in her colony, but he is English…and she wants nothing to do with any Englishman.

Frederick Moberly has been appointed to care for this plantation, and he hopes to gain his father’s approval by doing so. But as the youngest of four sons, all wealth will go to his oldest brother. If Frederick fails, he’ll be appointed a position in the Royal navy. And someone is determined to see Frederick fail, including posting outright lies to Frederick’s father.

As war becomes more and more a reality, Rachel’s and Frederick’s attraction for each other grows. But they are still standing on opposite sides of the issue. Will Frederick gain the courage to claim the woman he loves before war tears them apart?

LOVE THINE ENEMY is the first of Ms. Gouge’s historical romances written for Love Inspired. I love her writing style and her historical knowledge of this time period is evident. I’ve read all of Ms. Gouge’s books so far (including her longer stories) and I never fail to learn something when I do.

Rachel and Frederick are both realistic characters who won my sympathy early on. Rachel wants to do her part for independence, but she’s afraid to be too outspoken with all the British soldiers roaming the town. Frederick is English through and through, but even he is dismayed by the liberties the British soldiers take with the colonists, taking whatever they want, whether they need it or not, even if the colonist is obviously poor and struggling. I enjoyed reading LOVE THINE ENEMY and am looking forward to reading future books by this talented author. A letter from the author, as well as discussion questions, are included at the end of the book. $5.50. 272 pages. Available at www.steeplehill.com

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Longview: Last Strategies for Rising Leaders - interview


The Longview: Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders

Author Roger Parrott explains why leaders need measure lasting outcomes as well as immediate results

We live in a quick-fix, immediate-impact, short-view world. But we serve a longview God.

We need to return to a biblical model of leadership that values transformation over turnaround and measures eternal outcomes as well as immediate effectiveness. In his book, The Longview, Dr. Roger Parrott offers a guide to a leadership lifestyle of lasting significance that will revolutionize the way you lead, and provide you practical tools to lead for the longview.

Chapters of the book present hard hitting revolutionary leadership thinking, such as:

· Planning Will Drain the Life from Your Ministry

· Deflate Your Ego to Expand Your Influence

· Preempting the Stickiest Challenge of Long-Term Leadership

· Shepherding a Vision Without Scaring Away the Flock

· Lead As If You’ll Be There Forever

For three decades our culture has increasingly valued short-term producers-from stockbrokers to college coaches-as leaders at every level have indoctrinated us to believe immediate gains trump long-term consequences. And the Church has been swept up into this same leadership pattern, hiring and rewarding people who promote Band-Aid fixes as monumental solutions, creating plans that promise the moon and always come up short, raising funds from unrealistically compressed donor relationships, and touting to boards and constituencies those results that can most easily be measured and applauded.

From health care and the global financial crisis, to the needs of a businesses, local churches, or community based ministries, Dr. Parrott calls leaders to tackle the foundational eroding of leadership. Christian leaders in the marketplace and in ministry need to courageously break the short-view pattern leadership that has kept us on a course of disappointing results and blocks us from capturing God’s best.

Q&A with Dr. Roger Parrott, Author of The Longview

Part 1

Many of today’s ministries suffer from a near-sighted vision. Too often leaders choose easy solutions over principled, long-term strategies. The results can be devastating, as ignored issues become full-blown crises, and small problems become big challenges.

The Longview (David C Cook, October 2009) is a fresh approach to leadership that will transform how readers make decisions and address problems. Author Dr. Roger Parrott offers proven, practical principles drawn from scripture and his renowned career in educational leadership. Parrott issues readers a timely challenge: Defy the trends of short-sighted goal-making for quick returns by learning to lead for long-term significance.

Do we have a leadership void today?

The problem is not that we don’t have great leaders, in fact, we’ve probably never had more educationally well prepared leaders than we have today. The problem is that leaders are caught in an ever tightening vice grip of unrealistic expectations that pressure them into valuing turn-around over transformation. Today’s leaders are expected to find simple solutions to complex problems, and because these quick-fixes only hold for a short time, leaders from presidents to pastors disappoint those they are leading.

I believe this pattern started in American culture in the 1980s with the quest to get rich quick from junk bonds and buy outs, through the dot.coms in the 1990s, and the explosion of “want it now” credit card debt and built into the real-estate frenzy created by leveraged speculators in the past decide. So leaders have been reared, tutored, and equipped to operate in a world that prizes immediate results over lasting significance.

For three decades skyrocketing incentives have been the norm for all manner of short-term producers—from stockbrokers to college coaches—as leaders at every level have indoctrinated us to believe immediate gains trump long-term consequences. This nearsightedness is eroding the foundational underpinnings of organizational quality and severely handicapping the effectiveness of leaders who are robbing the future to pay for today.

How did the Church become caught up on a short view approach and what are the consequences?

As we often do in the Church, we’ve followed the pattern of the world – in this case, the best of business and organizational teaching – but in mimicking the leadership patters of business and politics, we’ve strayed from the Longview leadership model given to us by Jesus. Because this short view corporate culture has so permeated the church today, we in ministry have loosened our grip on the biblical model for leadership. We have grown to expect and even demand an ever-increasing cycle of measureable and immediate results from our leaders.

Our theology and our ministry passion draw us to talk about Longview outcomes as our heart’s desire, but we have been duped into fostering a generation of leaders, board members, employees, and constituencies who value short-term gain over Longview significance. Ministry leaders believe it and act accordingly—hiring and rewarding people who can promote Band-Aid fixes as monumental solutions, creating plans that promise the moon and always come up short, raising funds from unrealistically compressed donor relationships, and touting those results that can most easily be measured and applauded.

Why do you believe rising leaders are the generation who will value a Longview approach to leadership?

For three reasons I’m convinced this new generation of leaders are ready to embrace Longview leadership:

1. They know the short view doesn’t work. This is likely to be the first generation that has not had a quality of life better than their parents. And they know the reason is we are not dealing with Longview solutions in the macro problems of health care, terrorism, energy, and the economy. And they will be the ones to pay the price for patchwork fixes.

2. They are connected to huge networks of real people through social networking, and listen to them rather than public relations messages – and they know from their peers that sugarcoating a problem doesn’t make it go away.

3. This new generation of leaders is much more focused on mission significance and problem solving than on organizational stature and position climbing. They want to make a difference in the world, and they are willing to dig into problems to find lasting solutions.

The challenge for younger leaders is that they have never been given the tools to lead in a Longview pattern. So the book is not just a call to Longview leadership, but mostly is deals with the everyday nitty-gritty issues of leadership from a Longview perspective.

Part 2

America is paying the price of short-term decision making (i.e., sub-prime mortgages, Bernie Madoff, health care costs, General Motors bankruptcy, et al). As more ministries adopt the prevailing short-term pattern, they move closer to the same outcome—the quick payoff—at the cost of a future crisis. In The Longview, Roger Parrott calls for a seismic shift in the leadership attitudes and actions of readers. Parrott is a seasoned, practical leader who is not afraid to challenge younger leaders to lead for lasting impact, not fleeting bragging rights. The book offers practical insights from both scripture and his own experience. Both young and seasoned leaders will uncover a solid foundation for success for any ministry, organization, or business.

How does the Longview approach get lived out in the every-day demands of ministry leadership?

I suggest that leaders begin by leading as if you’ll be there forever. The heart of the Longview does not begin with actions as much as attitude. Imagine that the organization and position you are in right now is what God wants you to do for the rest of your professional life. For many, it might be discouraging to truly feel “locked in” to your job. But contrary to the mantras of popular career gurus, this is one of the best things that could ever happen to you and your ministry, because to lead as if you must remain in that same position forever—and live with the long-term consequences of every decision—will shift your perspective, align your priorities, and build lasting strength in your organization, rather than allowing you to settle for the comfort and accolades of immediate results.

When a leader is thinking, living, and acting in terms of only the short-range, everyone around him suffers and may be handicapped for years to come because the decisions of today will narrow subsequent options and opportunities. The compounding weight of each shortsighted decision speeds the deterioration of the ministry’s foundation, while a long-term perspective strengthens that substructure for a higher reach in the future. Whether new on the job, nearing retirement, or eyeing a climb up the career ladder, leading as if you’ll be in your current position forever will revolutionize the way you lead.

Give us some examples of leadership principles made with the long term in mind.

This book challenges leaders to think very differently about leadership, so some of the section headings can be a bit jarring because we need to radically break free from conventional leadership models if we hope to return to a biblical pattern of leaderships. So I’m suggesting to leaders ideas such as:

· Planning Will Drain the Life from Your Ministry
· Deflate Your Ego to Expand Your Influence
· Policies are for Cowards
· Learn to Work with the “Untouchables” Of Leadership
· Understand the Diagnostic Triggers to Preempt Conflicts of Interest
· Treasure the Four Gifts Found in Your Rearview Mirror
· Learn to Shepherding A Vision Without Scaring Away the Flock

We live in a quick-fix, immediate-impact, short-view world. But we serve a Longview God. To bridge this gap, Jesus became the ultimate example of Longview leadership amid the clamor for expedient results. Of course His sights were always aimed toward eternity (the ultimate Longview), and He lived and thought in that realm. But even in the practical everyday demands of leadership, Jesus showed us the value of investing in Longview solutions as we serve those in our care. And that’s what I wanted to address in the book – how Jesus lived our Longview leadership in the practical challenges of everyday leadership.

If you could summarize the Longview approach in one rule, what would it be?

To boil it down to one rule, it would be this: be prepared to catch the wind of God.

I am convinced one of the core problems of evangelical leaders is that too often we’ve stopped trying to catch the wind of God in our sails because we’ve become fairly effective at creating our own independent power to get God’s work done.

Would we rather set out to achieve a set of sharply defined goals by revving up the engines to create the best programs, the best ministry concepts, and the best future our well-trained minds could imagine? - OR - Would we rather go wherever the wind of God might take us? While the second choice is clearly our desire, too often we live, plan, and work as if our direction is totally dependent on the power we can generate and the best course we can envision.

There is a world of difference between powerboats and sailboats. And those differences are critical benchmarks for each of us in ministry leadership. (I lay out six of them in the book.) Leaders need to be willing to turn off the power of their organization’s agenda and the best ideas that drive them. We may feel proud when powerboats of ministry are big, well built, and polished, even a small, poorly crafted, and worn sailboat will outdistance a powerboat every time—because only the sailboat is able to catch the wind of God.

About the author: At age thirty-four Roger Parrott became one of America’s youngest college presidents. Parrott is currently the president of Belhaven University, an innovative liberal arts institution recognized as the leading evangelical college in the Arts. He earned a PhD in higher education administration from the University of Maryland. Parrott serves in leadership of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Mission America Coalition, and Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He has advised a wide variety of ministries in the US and internationally.

The Longview by Roger Parrott, Ph.D.
David C Cook/October 2009/ISBN: 978-1-4347-6749-3/hardcover/255 pages/$16.99
www.davidccook.com – www.thelongview.info

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Choice


Title: THE CHOICE
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Publisher: Revell
January 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8007- 3385-8
Genre: Inspirational/Amish/contemporary

Carrie Weaver is torn between her father and brother and her Amish community, and the promise of love with her beau, Solomon Riehl. Sol wants her to run away with him, leaving the Amish community they grew up in so he could play professional baseball. But when Carrie’s father unexpectedly dies when a horse kicks him in the head, everything changes. Sol is unwilling to take responsibility for Carrie’s young brother, and Carrie is unwilling to leave him behind.

When Sol leaves without her, Carrie is crushed. And when she sees a picture of Sol with his arm around an English girl, Carrie wants to hurt him as much as he hurt her. So when marriage is offered by Daniel Miller, Carrie is quick to accept, especially since Daniel accepts her brother.

Will this marriage be all she hopes? Now, Carrie is faced with the results of her rash decision, a decision that leads her life in directions she never planned. But could God have this road mapped out in advance?

THE CHOICE is the first book in Ms. Fisher’s Lancaster County Secrets series. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Carrie as she struggles to find herself among many sudden, shocking changes, but I think Carrie definitely came out ahead, learning to lean more and more on God as each event unfolds.

Some of the events in the first third of the book were quite shocking and unexpected and broke my heart. But while I would have liked to not have read about some of the events that transpired, the book ultimately had a happy ending, and I was sad that it ended. I thoroughly enjoyed reading THE CHOICE and am looking forward to Ms. Fisher’s second book in the series, The Waiting, coming in October 2010. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 303 pages.

an interview with Suzanne:

What are you working on now?

I just signed another 3 book contract with Revell for a new Amish fiction series. It's about three sisters--they each take a turn as the main character in the books. The first book is due to the editor by January 1, 2011...which will be here before we know it! So I've already started. I try to write at least 1,000 words a day.

What are some of your hobbies, besides writing?

I raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. We're on our 7th puppy! I've loved my involvement with GDB. Other hobbies are gardening and cooking and tennis. And coffee time with my friends, of course.

Who are your favorite authors?

I've loved Madeleine L'Engle's books--more her non-fiction than her fiction. I read all kinds of books and put little post-it notes in them as I read, to remember a new vocabulary word or to see how an author describes something. W. Dale Cramer is one of my favorite authors right now. I always recommend Summer of Light to others. Beautiful writing! Lynn Austin's Hidden Places was a wonderful book, too.

What is your favorite genre to read?

Historical fiction. It's interesting to learn about different time periods.

What sparked the idea for your last story?

As I was doing the research for Amish Peace, I drove by many Amish schoolhouses in Pennsylvania and saw Amish boys playing softball. During the same trip, I kept bumping into signage for the Lancaster Barnstormers. That’s how the story for The Choice begins…as a baseball scout spots an Amish young man who throws a mean fast pitch.

Readers can find Suzanne's books on-line at Amazon, CBD, and their favorite bookstore.

You can find her on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com or Facebook or Twitter (suzannewfisher). She loves to hear from readers and try to get back to each one.

“Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Measure of Mercy



Title: A MEASURE OF MERCY
Author: Lauraine Snelling
Publisher: Bethany House Books
November 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0609-2
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Eighteen-year-old Astrid Bjorklund has been studying medicine under Dr. Elizabeth Bjorklun’s direction, and is considering going to Chicago to study further and actually become a doctor herself. Astrid’s long term plans include coming back to Blessing, North Dakota and joining Dr. Elizabeth’s practice once she earns her degree.

But when Joshua Landsverk returns to Blessing after a long absence, Joshua and Astrid begin to court and fall in love. Astrid isn’t willing to forgo her education, and so she continues to Chicago for her education. But then she learns that Joshua has left Blessing with an unknown destination instead of waiting for her to return.

When Astrid hears a medical missionary, she believes God is calling her to Africa, instead of back to Blessing. Believing Joshua no longer loves her, Astrid makes a heart-wrenching decision. Will Astrid end up regretting the choice that she makes?

A MEASURE OF MERCY is book one in Ms. Snelling’s newest series Home to Blessing. This series is a sequel to Ms. Snelling’s popular Red River series. I enjoyed getting to know Astrid and the other characters in this book, and watching Astrid in action as she presided in surgeries, some of which were out of her comfort zone.

I have read a few of the books in the previous series, and have enjoyed getting reconnected with some of the characters who reappear in this series. If you enjoy historical romance, you will not want to miss A MEASURE OF MERCY. This book is head and shoulders above some of the others I’ve read recently. I can’t wait to read book two in the series, No Distance Too Far, coming in April 2010. $13.99. 367 pages.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Pastor's Wife


Title: THE PASTOR’S WIFE
Author: Jennifer AlLee
Publisher: Abingdon Press
February 2010
ISBN: 1-426-70225-9
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary women’s fiction

Maura Sullivan couldn’t handle being married to a pastor. Nick Shepherd was more into his congregation than he was her. They called, he was there. But when she needed him, he wasn’t. Now, six years later, Maura is back in the small town of Granger, Ohio, to meet the conditions of a will. In order to inherit a theatre, which Maura desperately wants, and for the church to inherit a sizeable inheritance, then Maura and Nick have to live together for six months.

Nick has never stopped loving Maura, and the church is hesitant to accept their living conditions until they are reminded that Maura and Nick are still married. But as Maura dives headlong into restoration of the theatre, Nick takes a hard look at himself and sees the mistakes he made that drove Maura away. Determined not to make the same mistake twice he goes out of his way to make time for her.

But having Nick married to the church is not the only issue that drove Maura to leave Nick. Is it possible for Maura to face some of the issues she had? And when Nick discovers the real reason she left, what will it take for him to forgive her?

THE PASTOR’S WIFE is a real look at what it is like, sometimes, to be married to a pastor. Life in the fishbowl, being a pastor’s wife is open to all kinds of criticism and trying to push you into a certain mold. When Maura didn’t fit the mold they were trying to push her into, instead of trying to find places she did fit, she turned bitter, and felt an outsider. This is something that most all pastors wives struggle with.

Maura and Nick are both realistic characters which I couldn’t help loving. The whole book was great, and drew me into the small town community of Granger, which I enjoyed visiting via the pages of this book. My biggest complaint about THE PASTOR’S WIFE is that the ending seemed rather rushed. $13.99. 213 pages.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Male Factor



Title: THE MALE FACTOR: Expanded Edition
Author: Shaunti Feldhahn
Publisher: Multnomah
2009
ISBN: 978-1-60242-120-3
Genre: Christian living

Have you ever wondered what men really think about women? Have you ever been passed up for promotion in the workplace, a promotion you feel like you deserved? Or maybe you feel that your male counterparts don’t hear you?

If any of the above situations are true, then you need to pick up THE MALE FACTOR. It will help you understand what men mean when they say certain things, what men think when you respond to them in certain ways, and what men think about what you wear.

Whether you work in the secular work world or the Christian workspace, you need to pay attention to how you respond to men, and what message you want them to receive when you speak.

For instance, you want to look nice for a certain presentation, and you want your male counterparts to take you seriously. So when you go to pick out what to wear, perhaps you should bypass the low-cut shirt that shows off cleavage, and the short tight skirt, and go for something that covers more than it reveals. You may not feel so sexy, but are you trying to sell sex, or your pet project? Men will focus on what you say if you are not dressing in a way that makes him think of what is under those clothes.

THE MALE FACTOR was kind of dull reading, but it was very informative, and for a woman who isn’t around men twenty-four seven, or maybe is single, it is very eye-opening. As a woman who has been married for almost twenty-five years and has two almost grown sons, a lot of the information in this book I knew, but other information came as a surprise.

Men are wired differently than women, and women need to recognize that and not respond to them as they would another woman. This book will help you understand Why he responded that way and will help build a stronger foundation in the working community. $22.99 hardcover. 316 pages.

Summary: Many talented women today risk undermining their careers without realizing it, simply because they don’t understand how they are perceived by their male colleagues and customers.

In What Men really Think, best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn reveals the inner reality behind men’s views — the unspoken expectations that no man would dare to publicly acknowledge, and no woman would learn from an HR department. These revelations include:

• Men’s unwritten ‘rules’ of the workplace
• How men perceive workplace emotion
• What common situations with female colleagues most frustrate men-- and why
• Why revealing clothing can sabotage a woman’s effectiveness
• Why some men think flextime is fine, but equal compensation for it is not

What Men Really Think equips women with the information they need to make informed decisions and compete on a level playing field.

Author Bio:

Shaunti Feldhahn is a nationally syndicated columnist and the bestselling author of For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men and For Men Only, which together sold one million copies. She holds a Master in Public Policy from Harvard, worked on Wall Street and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Unexplainable


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

UNEXPLAINABLE… APART FROM GOD

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

ISAIAH 55:8–9


Excerpt adapted from Unexplainable by Don Cousins

©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. Unexplainable by Don Cousins. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

God is beyond us—able to think and act in ways that defy human logic and surpass human understanding. He’s limitless in power and He’s infinite in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

For the sake of relationship, He lowers Himself to our level in many ways. Yet He often chooses to express Himself in ways that are, well, unexplainable—apart from Him. And He does this to point us to Him.

­­­­­­­­­­~~~~~~~~~~

His Ways Point to Him

If who you are, and the unfolding of your life, are seen as something understandable, expected, common, and explainable in human terms, then your life merely points to you. Like Frank Sinatra, you can sing, “I did it my way.” But if the best and perhaps only explanation for your life is God, then you point to Him and your life plays to the lyric, “I did it His way.”

This is the purpose for which you were created. In fact, to be unexplainable apart from God is completely normal for the Christian. This is the way life ought to be. You, and the unfolding of your life, should be unexplainable apart from God.

Perhaps in moments of quiet reflection you’ve wondered, Is this all there is to life? You have a sense within that there must be more to life than you’re experiencing. Though you’re probably busier than you want to be, you can’t figure out why you’re bored. You think there must be more to life than this.

Well, there is!

God is issuing an invitation to each and every one of us to join Him in the realm of the unexplainable. God wants to take your life beyond you. This is the kind of life He created you for, the life He designed you to experience. He wants it to be unexplainable apart from Him, so that you point to Him.

­­­­­~~~~~­­­­­~~~~~

For Superstars Only?

At this point you may be thinking, But the Bible tells the stories of the superstars of the faith, and I’m no superstar. While this is certainly a common perception, a closer look reveals that the vast majority of the Bible’s primary figures were very common and ordinary folk. They were shepherds, like Moses and David, or ranchers like Abraham, or fishermen like Peter, James, and John, or carpenters like Joseph in the New Testament. They were slaves like the Old Testament Joseph and Daniel, or tax collectors like Matthew and Zacchaeus. Some were even prostitutes like Rahab, and social outcasts like Elijah, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist.

These people lived extraordinary lives, becoming the “Superstars” we perceive them to be only as a result of following God’s leading into the realm of the unexplainable. And this is what God desires to do with you as well. Common people become everything but common when God gets involved.

In most cases and on most days, the results of following God’s guidance will not be dramatic. While we tend to focus on Daniel’s dramatic rescue one night in the lion’s den, what’s even far more unexplainable is how Daniel chose earlier to continue “kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously” (Dan. 6:10), despite the king’s edict that made such prayer a capital offense.

While we focus on David’s unexplainable ability with a slingshot, it’s even more unexplainable that for ten years he served faithfully under Saul, a king gone mad who even tried to kill David on numerous occasions. When the tables turned, and David had a chance to kill Saul, he refused to do so—a decision explainable only by God’s influence in David’s life.

Then there’s Joseph, revered as the dreamer who rose from a pit to a palace. While his ascent is clearly unexplainable apart from God, it was Joseph’s ability to forgive his brothers and to care abundantly for them and their families that truly defies the common and begs for explanation.

Following God into the realm of the unexplainable may produce some dramatic moments, like those experienced by Daniel, David, and Joseph. In most cases, however, you’ll find yourself living the unexplainable in the midst of very common circumstances and ordinary days. To embrace life in God, to experience His presence, and to follow His lead will inevitably place you in the realm of the unexplainable. You’ll find yourself feeling, thinking, speaking, acting, and relating in ways leading unquestionably to the conclusion that “God did it.” This is how it should be in every Christian’s life.

­­­­­~~~~~­­~~~~~

But How?

The question then becomes, How do I get there?

For this to happen, you’ll need to see and approach life differently. Paul makes this truth abundantly clear when he commands our complete makeover in thought and behavior: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). Living in conformity to the world can’t get you into this new realm. You’ll need to undergo a transformation—one that begins with the “renewing of your mind,” and results in conformity to the will of God.

This transformation from explainable to unexplainable is what this book is about. Specifically, I want to encourage and challenge you to make three major shifts in the way you see and approach life. I call them lifeshifts. They’re the sort of thing I believe Paul had in mind when he told us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” These lifeshifts will dramatically alter the way we seek to fulfill three of the deepest longings of the human heart—contentment, success, and significance.

The first lifeshift is from outside-in to inside-out—and it opens the door to experiencing the kind of contentment that is unattainable and unexplainable apart from God.

So, if you’re ready, turn the page … and begin your journey into the realm of the unexplainable.

­­­­­~~~~~~~~~~

Unexplainable: Pursuing a Life Only God Can Make Possible by Don Cousins
David C Cook/September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6805-6/softcover/256 pages/$16.99
www.davidccook.com ~ www.doncousins.org

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Whiskers, Wit, and Wisdom


Title: WHISKERS, WIT, AND WISDOM
Author: Niki Anderson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
July 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4165-9068-2
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

In WHISKERS, WIT, AND WISDOM, Ms. Anderson shares a collection of heartwarming stories about cats and their feline wisdom. In the very first true story in the book I was at the verge of tears when I finished the story. But there is a little box entitled “kitty wit” that made me laugh out loud.

Each chapter – or true short story starts with a Bible verse, then the recounting of a true story involving cats, then includes a small bit of “kitty wit,” “the tail end” where some bit of wisdom (not necessarily cat related) is shared, and then the bio of the author who wrote that particular story.

I am not a cat owner, we have a large dog which would look upon a cat as a puppy biscuit. But I did enjoy reading these stories. They will make you laugh, cry, or sit in quiet thought as you try to grasp what was shared in a story.

WHISKERS, WIT, AND WISDOM is a book that will be going on my keeper-shelf, as my whole family will enjoy it. I had to kidnap the book back from my nineteen year old son several times as I was reading it because he wanted to read it himself, or share the story with someone else. This is a book that you, your whole family and your friends will love whether they are cat-lovers or not. $15.99 hardback. 179 pages.

***

Niki Anderson delights cat lovers with a new release of 45 kitty stories filled with wisdom, both feline and divine. Tales of mischief and narratives of compassion serve as a bridge to the heart of cat owners among the 90 million cats in America. Each true account points the reader to a loving God. Biblical concepts spring naturally from every story and focus on themes like service, trust, opportunity, and courage.

This charming collection of pussycat purr-spectives, enhanced with full page photos of cats and kittens, offers the refreshing surprise that lessons abound in good and not-so-good experiences with cats. Feline fur-iends like Maxwell, Lily, and Cinnamon, shed wit and wisdom on human challenges.

Worried about a teen? Through a kitten named Lucky, readers observe God's mercy on the young and reckless. Waiting for a break? Like Kitty, leap on opportunity. Put off by tough types? Try offering friendship, like Danger.

Numerous truths unfold from the antics, habits, and endearments of cats in their various predicaments and services

living in a tree

facing death in a snow bank

bringing cheer at a prison

surviving 9-11

comforting the cancer-stricken

leaving a memorial after Hurricane Katrina
Each story begins with a Bible verse and a sentence Purr-rayer that launches the story (Dear God, deliver me from the arrogance of unfounded and arbitrary judgments).

Included is a humor quip of Kitty Wit (The house belongs to the cat; we just pay the mortgage), and a snippet of fact in The Tail End (A tabby cat is not a breed, but a color pattern of stripes or whorls or even spots), and a biographical note describing the cat’s owner, like Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditerod.

“With a researcher’s verve, a journalist’s precision, and a contemplative’s heart, Anderson teaches as well as entertains,” says consulting editor and reviewer Laurie Klein. “Each story opens with a fetching photo-op…and closes with musings that never wag a finger.”

In stories that portray the nature of cats and reveal the character of God, readers gain practical help from the fur-coated tutorship in Whiskers, Wit, and Wisdom.

______________________

Best known for her cat books, Niki Anderson is the author of bestseller, What My Cat Has Taught Me About Life, and has received three Angel Awards for literature that promotes ethical and moral excellence. She composes unusual and factual stories that enamor readers and offer insight for wise and godly living. Her books of meditations for cat fanciers have sold over 340,000 copies in the US and are translated in Japanese and Thai.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Love Finds You in Revenge, Ohio


Title: LOVE FINDS YOU IN REVENGE, OHIO
Author: Lisa Harris
Publisher: Summerside Press
September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-934770-81-8
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

The only thing worse than being a spinster is being a twice-jilted spinster. (from the back cover)

Catherine Morgan is twenty-five, and sole caregiver of her three younger sisters, since her father abandoned them and their mother died. She’s a successful business woman, and she has no time for frivolous activities, such as looking for a husband. Especially since she’s already been jilted, twice.

But while visiting her recently married younger sister, Emily, on her ostrich farm, an ostrich attack by an enraged ostrich leaves a farmhand wounded, and the new sheriff, Corbin Hunter, riding to the rescue. Corbin was the first man to jilt Catherine, and she is horrified that the returned to Revenge to find her still waiting.

Corbin is not remotely interested in renewing his dead relationship with Catherine, but something about being in the small town together seemed to make him unable to get away from her. Especially since she owned the only telephone service in town, and there was a mystery to solve…

LOVE FINDS YOU IN REVENGE, OHIO, is the newest book in the Love Finds You series. I enjoy reading the stories set in different towns across the country, and especially the bits about each town that is included in the book, as well as photos of the town or what remains of the town. It was nice getting to know Catherine and Corbin and all the secondary characters as they moved and breathed around a town that no longer exists.

LOVE FINDS YOU IN REVENGE, OHIO, is a well-told story that held my interest from beginning to end. The setting is well described, the historical aspects seem accurate, and the characters are well-developed. Don’t miss LOVE FINDS YOU IN REVENGE, OHIO. Available now at your favorite family bookstore. $12.99. 312 pages.

Monday, January 11, 2010

On the Loose


Title: ON THE LOOSE
Author: Jenny B. Jones
Publisher: THINK Books
2007
ISBN: 978-1-60006-115-8
Genre: Inspirational/young adult

Katie Parker has been with her new foster parents in In Between, Texas, for six months, and things are just beginning to get a groove. But when a tornado spins through In Between, nothing remains the same. When Katie’s foster mother, Millie, is taken in for stitches she sustained during the tornado, the doctor discovers a lump in her breast which ultimately leads to a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Millie’s mother, Maxine, Katie’s foster grandmother, is left homeless as a result of the tornado, and she moves in with Katie. Katie isn’t overly thrilled with having to share a bedroom with her wacky foster grandma, but that isn’t the worst of it.

Add in a best friend with a speech-robbing crush, a science fair project, and a leading role in the drama project and it adds up to a dizzying schedule. But when someone in the school has a vendetta against Katie, it is going to take more than Katie’s got to prove her innocence. But will help come in time?

ON THE LOOSE is the second book in Ms. Jones’s Katie Parker Production series. I had the privilege of reading book one and book three, but I missed ON THE LOOSE when it first came out so I wanted to go back and see what I missed. I recommend reading the books in order because the story line will make more sense if they are read in the correct order.

Katie is an incorrigible high-schooler who I can’t help but love. I also can’t help but love her foster parents and her foster grandmother. There are several laugh out loud moments in the book, especially in regards to Katie’s best friend’s predicament, though Maxine added a few colorful moments of her own. Don’t miss ON THE LOOSE, or any of the other books in this series. $12.99. 367 pages.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Promise for Breanna


Title: A PROMISE FOR BREANNA
Author: Al Lacy
Publisher: Multnomah
June 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60142-244-6
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Breanna Baylor is a certified medical nurse who is used to being on her own and taking care of herself, as well as others. When her love, Frank Miller jilted her to marry another woman, Frank destroyed all Breanna’s faith in men. But when a tall, dark man in black rescues Breanna and saves her life, Breanna reluctantly allows John Stranger into her life.
But when she starts developing feelings for John, Breanna sends John off, telling him that she no longer wants him in her life.

John Stranger honored Breanna’s request and went away, and instantly Breanna instantly realized her mistake. She loves John. But John is gone, and while Breanna dreams of John coming back into her life, he doesn’t.

Instead, the man who broke Breanna’s heart is back. But this time, Frank isn’t after Breanna’s heart. He’s after her life.

A PROMISE FOR BREANNA is the first book in Mr. Lacy’s Angel of Mercy series. It was explained that so many readers fell in love with Breanna in some of his earlier books that he was asked to write a book with Breanna as the heroine. So, this series is for those of you who loved Breanna.

I have never read any of the books by Mr. Lacy in which Breanna played a role, but from reading this book I could see why readers would love her. Breanna is a realistic heroine, kind, considerate, and willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. She is a real sweetheart. John is larger than life, a man’s man, who seems to have nothing that he is not talented or gifted with.

I enjoyed reading A PROMISE FOR BREANNA. The book did start slow with all the back story between John and Breanna brought up early on, and there is quite a bit of telling. But once the story got going, it got more interesting, and held my interest. I hoped that John and Breanna would meet up again and that she would be able to make right the wrong she did. Originally published in 1995, this is a reprint.. $6.99. 319 pages.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Scent of Murder / Shadows at the Window / The Glassblower

Three books for your consideration -- two romantic suspense and one historical

Title: SCENT OF MURDER
Author: Virginia Smith
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
June 2009
ISBN: 978-0-373-44343-7
Genre: Inspirational/romantic Suspense

Caitlyn Saylor is in Little Nashville, Indiana, for a wedding. She and friends are supposed to perform at this wedding, where Caitlyn is supposed to play the flute. Caitlyn decides to go up to Indiana a bit early to spend time sight-seeing. And one of the first stops she makes is at a candle factory where she purchases a couple candles.

Chase Hollister is the owner of the candle factory, and he is instantly fascinated by the beautiful blond. But the timing couldn’t be worse. Chase had just discovered a body in the park where he goes jogging, and the police are treating him as a suspect in the case. Still, his mother convinces him to invite Caitlyn to a gospel concert at his church.

But now someone has targeted Caitlyn. And it is linked to Chase and his candle business somehow. Is Chase involved in drugs? Or is it someone in his employment? And will Caitlyn even survive long enough to play at the wedding?

SCENT OF MURDER is one of Ms. Smith’s many romantic suspense books. I fell in love with Ms. Smith’s voice with her first Love Inspired Suspense, Murder by Mushroom, and I’ve read most all of her books since.

Caitlyn is a realistic heroine, and Chase a great hero, both of them kind and considerate, though I think that Chase was a bit cavalier regarding some of the people in his employment. It was fairly easy to discover “who-dun-it” in this story, but I had to keep reading to see how Chase would figure out what was going on behind his back. If you like romantic suspense, well scented with candles, then don’t miss SCENT OF MURDER. Burn your favorite scent while you read and settle down with your favorite beverage. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.50. 208 pages.

***

Title: SHADOWS AT THE WINDOW
Author: Linda Hall
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
July 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-44297-3
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Lilly hasn’t always been the fine, upstanding citizen she is now. She used to live with an abusive boyfriend, took drugs, and did other shameful things. When her boyfriend, “Mudd” is allegedly murdered, Lilly ran away and started a new life. Now she’s a college student, and almost engaged to youth minister Greg Whitten.

But someone knows the truth about Lilly’s past. She has gotten an email with a picture of her in her former life. And Lilly is panicking. Should she stay, or should she run? Who knows the truth, now that “Mudd” is dead…or did “Mudd” survive?

Now Lilly’s worst nightmare is coming true, and even Greg and their church are getting pictures of Lilly in her former life. And if Lilly wants to live at all, she’ll need the support of her friends and Greg, more than ever.

SHADOWS AT THE WINDOW is not the first book by Ms. Hall that I’ve read, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. The story is told in first person, but it is rather dark, and in I got kind of tired of being right there for all the indecisiveness that Lilly suffered from.

Gregg is a kind, considerate hero, acting in an appropriate minister-type way through the whole book. Lilly is running scared, and while wanting to trust Greg and her best friend, Bridget, with the truth, she’s afraid that if “Mudd” really is alive that their lives will be in danger too. I can find her behavior believable. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.50. 214 pages.

***

Title: THE GLASSBLOWER
Author: Laurie Alice Eakes
Publisher: Heartsong Presents
December 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60260-674-6
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Colin Grassick is a master glassblower from Scotland and he’s been paid well to relocate to America to work. The owner of the Glassworks, Mr. Jordan, has given him a large house and paid well for his trip over. Right away Colin is put to work making goblets for Mr. Jordan’s daughter and windows for the school house.

Margaret Jordan is looking forward to starting a school for the area poor and uneducated children. But the building she’s been provided is cold, and she wants windows to keep out the vandals and keep the children warm. But even after windows are put in, vandalism keeps occurring.

Margaret is fascinated by the new glassblower, a forbidden man, since she’s been promised to her father’s friend, a man Margaret doesn’t love. How can Margaret possibly marry the man she loves when her father forbids her to even talk to him?

THE GLASSBLOWER is the second Heartsong Presents historical novel published by Laurie Alice Eakes, and personally, I think it was even better than her first. Laurie Alice is a talented author who has the gift of bringing the historical time period she writes in to life.

Margaret is a wonderful heroine, kind and gentle and beautiful, and she certainly bends over backwards to fulfill her promises to her deceased mother and her father, even at the risk of her own happiness. I couldn’t help but hope that Margaret would find a way to be with the man she loved, even if he were a common laborer, and her a lady of influence and wealth. I’m looking forward to Laurie Alice’s upcoming releases. $4.95. 169 pages.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Simple Compassion


Title: SIMPLE COMPASSION
Author Keri Wyatt Kent
Publisher: Zondervan
October 2009
ISBN: 978-0-310-29077-3
Genre: Inspirational/devotional

SIMPLE COMPASSION is a fifty-two-week devotional designed to help you come up with creative compassion. Ms. Kent shares some personal stories, along with biblical stories to help you learn how small acts of ordinary women can lead to meaningful change.

Ms. Kent intends to show a clear vision of God’s heart for the poor and marginalized, and hopes to help you to move beyond asking “What difference can I make?” to actually making a difference.

A leader’s guide is included at the end of the book with scripture references, outlines, and other notes, making this ideal for a small group study.

Ms. Kent says in her book, on page 21, “I’m not looking to pick a fight with conservatives. Well, okay—maybe I am.” That statement turned me off right there. I am unabashedly conservative, and well, at that point I had to force myself to not look for potential differences in our beliefs.

The book does have some really good community (and global) compassion acts mentioned in the book, such as, every time you want to drink a beverage other than water, forgo that beverage and put the money it would cost in a jar and then donate it to a charity that helps provide clean water for people. There are other good ideas too.

If you are looking for ways to be more compassionate to others, or are looking for a book for your small group, then SIMPLE COMPASSION is a book you should consider. I would appreciate it if the scripture readings were included with the devotional, instead of at the end of the book, and if there were lines included for note-taking, but one could use a spiral notebook just as well. $12.99. 255 pages.

Simple Compassion Challenge:
Take the ideas from Simple Compassion to the next level by implementing them. Choose to intentionally perform one "act of compassion" per week for the month of January. It could be as simple as writing a note of encouragement to a friend or as involved as giving up a Saturday to take sandwiches to the homeless in your area. Feel free to be creative, the only stipulation is to be intentional. Then tell us about your experience(s) either on your blog or at SayitFacetoFace.com (details on how to post your video there will be found on our tour site).

Simple Compassion: Devotions to Make a Difference in Your Neighborhoods and Your World (Oct. 2009) encourages readers to start small, think big and work together to change the world - one act of simple compassion at a time. Author and speaker Keri Wyatt Kent inspires readers to make a difference in their own lives and initiate a ripple effect touching their families, communities, cities and the world.

Through 52 weekly readings, Kent provides a blueprint for a compassionate life. Readers who embark on this year-long journey and commit to living out the weekly devotions will radically change their lives and the world around them. Simple Compassion is an ideal resource for individuals and small groups who want to make a difference but don't know where to start. Kent empowers readers to take small, manageable steps towards a more compassionate world.

"I wanted readers to know that making a difference is not as hard as they think it is: anyone can take just a small step," says Kent. "The problems of the world may seem overwhelming. But if each person were to help one other person, it would make a huge difference. It would change the world..."

Shane Claiborne, author of the bestselling The Irresistible Revolution says, "True devotions are not just books filled with fluffy stories and neat anecdotes, but books that should stir us to devote our lives to something bigger than ourselves... Simple Compassion is a weekly reminder that things are not right in the world, that this matters to God and perhaps strangest of all, that God doesn't want to change the world without us."

Simple Compassion is divided into four sections. The first helps the reader understanding their worth and the worth of others. The second looks at simple ways to show compassion to the family, friends and strangers in their communities. The third goes broader and focuses on showing the love of Christ to their cities and towns. The last section offers steps of compassion and social justice on a global scale.

Each weekly reading ends with two application steps, one for individuals and one to help groups reading the book together connect and encourage one another. These include elements of self-reflection, studying Biblical stories and honestly engaging with group members. She also challenges readers to take practical steps toward compassion, such as bringing someone a cold bottle of water, hanging anti-human trafficking posters or highlighting lower income areas on a map of the reader's town and spending time praying for the marked areas, then visiting a church in the area to listen and ask questions.

A leader's guide is included with insights and additional suggested Bible verses for each week.

Simple Compassion
By Keri Wyatt Kent
Zondervan
ISBN - 9780310290773
272 Pages
PUB DATE: October 2009

Author bio: Keri Wyatt Kent worked as a reporter for fifteen years before writing her first book and is the author of several books, including Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity (Zondervan) Breathe (Revell) and Listen (Jossey-Bass). When she's not busy traveling around the country to speak and lead retreats, she's writing. She's a regular contributor to several magazines, including MomSense and Outreach magazine, as well as several websites and blogs. She's a member of Willow Creek Community Church, where she has taught, led groups and volunteered in a variety of ministries over the last 22 years. She and her husband Scot have two teenage children and live in Illinois.

Learn more about Keri at http://www.keriwyattkent.com.
IMPORTANT LINKS:
Simple Compassion on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310290775

Keri Wyatt Kent’s Website: http://www.keriwyattkent.com

Keri Wyatt Kent’s Blog: http://keriwyattkent.com/soul/

Sign up for Keri’s monthly newsletter: http://www.pcpublications.net/kwkent/sub-unsub.htm

Keri Wyatt Kent’s Facebook Profile: http://www.facebook.com/keri.wyatt.kent

Follow Keri Wyatt Kent on Twitter: http://twitter.com/KeriWyattKent

Simple Compassion on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3iyksc3oOI

List of all participating bloggers: http://blogtourspot.com/kkent-simple-tour/kkent-simple-tour-stops

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Forgiven


Title: FORGIVEN
Author: Shelley Shepard Gray
Publisher: Avon Inspire
August 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-147447-7
Genre: Inspirational/Amish/contemporary

Winnie Lundy is awakened on evening by strange noises. When she and her brother, Jonathon goes to investigate, they find their barn on fire. Winnie is trying to rescue the goats when part of the barn collapses on her, badly burning her feet and breaking a leg.
Jonathon is able to pull her to safety, but Winnie is forced to spend several days in the hospital.

Samuel Miller is a former Amishman, and a family friend of the Lundy’s and when Winnie is hospitalized near his home, he makes it a point to go in and visit her on a daily basis, and cheer her up. Soon Samuel and Winnie start to develop feelings for each other. But a relationship between them is impossible, since Winnie is a member of the Amish community and Samuel is not.

Jonathon doesn’t mind the friendship between his sister and Samuel, but he is having trouble forgiving the unknown individual who accidentally set fire to the barn by smoking in it. Will he be able to find the forgiveness he needs to demonstrate? And what about Samuel and Winnie’s relationship? How can they find a way to make it work?

FORGIVEN is the final book in Ms. Gray’s Sisters of the Heart series. I think this story was the best in the collection. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Winnie and Samuel while catching up on the other characters who’s romance was featured in the previous books. FORGIVEN easily stood alone, so even if you are new to this author you should have no trouble understanding what is going on.

Winnie was a realistic heroine, a hard working Amish woman who had a hard time being confined to bed or a wheelchair. I was a bit bothered by how easily Winnie accepted some Englisch means of entertainment, but that caused me to do some research on the Amish and I discovered a lot of previously unknown information. We’ll just say that they are not as separate as we are led to believe.

FORGIVEN is a very excellently written story that held my interest from beginning to end. Discussion questions and a preview of the first book in Ms. Gray’s newest series, Winter’s Awakening, is included. I am looking forward to reading this next book. Don’t miss FORGIVEN. It is truly a great read. $12.99. 246 pages.