Monday, May 31, 2010

Beguiled


Title: BEGUILED
Authors: Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand
Publisher: Bethany House
February 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0628-3
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Rylee Monroe is a professional dog walker to Charleston’s wealthy. The ones who can’t be bothered to care for their own pets. But a thief known only as “Robin Hood” is terrorizing the rich, stealing only one thing, something with sentimental value, and giving it to a non-profit organization.

Since most of the victims are Rylee’s clients, Rylee is considered a suspect in the case. And a local reporter, Logan Woods, wants to solve this crime for two reasons. He wants to be a top reporter, and he is writing a book about this event. A publisher is interested—as soon as the crime is solved. But the police don’t seem to be making any effort.

Logan decides to try to solve this on his own. He realizes that someone is targeting Rylee but the more he digs the more the evidence point to Rylee. She seems to be at the center of everything. Now Logan is left with a choice. Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens it all?

BEGUILED is a collaborated author between prize-winning Gist, and debut author, Bertrand. I can’t say I am impressed with the writing. The passion, fun, and unexpected surprises of Gist’s voice are gone, and in its place is something flat, lifeless, and basic. I don’t like this duo writing together. I hope that Bertrand will do better individually, he does have a book releasing in July of this year.

If there was a faith message, it was rather weak. And as a suspense, this wasn’t terribly imaginative. It was fairly easy to discover who did it. The characters are rather flat, but the careers and motives of the two main characters are well-planned out. They both have conflict, internal and external, that they must work through in order for them to find happiness. So, the basics are there. If you are looking for a Gist book, or a suspense, then maybe BEGUILED is a book to consider. If you are looking for a fantastic, page-turning read, then maybe you should look further. $14.99. 329 pages.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bringing Up Girls


Title: BRINGING UP GIRLS
Author: James C. Dobson, Ph.D.
Publisher: Tyndale
May 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4143-0127-3
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/parenting

At long last, the author of Bringing Up Boys has written a companion guide for those of us who have girls. Dr. Dobson said he was asked for years to write this book, but he doesn’t go into why he didn’t write the book earlier. Just that it took a long time to write.

Our daughters face so many things, such as peer pressure, eating disorders, decisions about sex, love, and romance. Academic demands. Life goals. And it seems that some of these challenges are hitting younger and younger. As a parent, you want to help your daughter to be all that she can be. You want to support her in her decisions, and help her to make wise choices.

Dr. Dobson address these points (and more) in this book:

 Are girls really fundamentally different than boys?
 Whoever said girls are sugar and spice never met my daughter. I need help!
 Why aren’t I best friends with my daughter?
 What is a dad’s role in his daughter’s life?
 Can grandparents contribute?
 What is the best way to educate girls?
 How are girls affected when parents divorce?

BRINGING UP GIRLS is a book for you to consider reading if you have one daughter, still in diapers and waving rattles, or whether your daughter is in the midst of the turbulent teen years. Bound in an attractive hard cover book, this is excellent for gift giving too. Pick up your copy today. Available at your favorite bookseller. $25.99 hard cover. 285 pages.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

So Over My Head


Title: SO OVER MY HEAD
Author: Jenny B. Jones
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
May 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59554-543-5
Genre: Inspirational/young adult

Everyone in Truman, Oklahoma is excited when the Fritz Family Carnival makes its annual appearance. Bella is assigned to write feature articles on some of the workers and her first interviewee is the ‘bearded lady”. But Bella barely gets in a cursory interview and a promise for more after the show. When she goes back later, the “Bearded lady” is dead, stabbed to death in her trailer, with her fiancĂ©’s sword.

The police believe this is a pretty cut-and-dried case, but Bella suspects that there is something else going on. That the case really isn’t this simple. Bella’s boyfriend, Luke, takes Bella off the story, wanting to keep her safe, and assigns his ex-girlfriend to the story in Bella’s place. But the ex-girlfriend clearly wants Luke back, and will stop at nothing to get Bella completely out of the picture.

Unfortunately, somebody else has the same idea. And with Bella on the case, and the carnival in town, all kinds of wacky things start happening. Bella must somehow figure out what is going on while keeping one step ahead of the killer.

SO OVER MY HEAD is the third book in the A Charmed Life series. Both my fourteen year old daughter and I love this series and were excited to get this book in the mail to influence for the author.

Bella is a realistic heroine, sassy and smart, and the action is nonstop. I had to keep reading for two reasons—1. I had to find out what happened next. And 2. If I put it down, my daughter would pick it up. There is some delicious romantic moments included in the pages of this book too. SO OVER MY HEAD, and this entire series, is a must read for teen girls (and their mother). With summer and carnival time coming, this book is great for a pool side read on a hot, lazy afternoon. $12.99. 318 pages.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Download & Go: Davy Crockett and contest


Title: Download & Go Series: Davy Crockett
Author: Amanda Bennett
Publisher: 2010 Old Schoolhouse
2010

Download & Go Series: Davy Crockett is a 83 page lesson plan that encompasses all aspects of learning about the patriot—Davy Crockett. This lesson plan includes:

Daily Objectives
Book Suggestions
Introduction to Lapbooking
Day 1—Who was Davy Crockett?
Day 2—People and places in Davy Crockett’s life
Day 3—Lessons to learn from Davy Crockett
Day 4—Remembering Davy Crockett
Fun Family Ideas

This series is a full color, one-week in length comprehensive teaching tool that requires absolutely no preparation. There are a few inexpensive supplies needed for completion of this program, such as a file folder, glue stick, scissors (or safety scissors, depending on child’s age), brass brads, and either crayons or markers.

In Davy Crockett children will learn about Davy Crockett, the people and geography of the state of Tennessee, the pioneer way of life, the biography of this great American hero, and more about the history of our country. You will also learn about tall tales associated with this great real life legend.

This Series is designed to teach unit studies to all ages of children. The ones I used it on were age eight and age five. I didn’t have any problem making the subject matter adaptable for the five year old, while allowing my eight year old to use the pages I printed. I did make additional photocopies of some of the pages so both girls could use them. An answer key is included, as well as web sites you can visit for more information.

If you are looking for an easy, colorful, relatively cheap answer for unit studies about Davy Crockett then Download & Go series Davy Crockett is something to consider. Available at: www.downloadngo.com/DavyCrockett.

THE PRIZE:

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and Amanda Bennett Unit Studies have teamed up to celebrate the successful launch of Download N Go™ with a Sweet Treat Prize Package in The Adventure Begins ... Giveaway!

They're offering one lucky winner the SWEET chance to go EXPLORING this FALL!


The entire FALL curriculum lineup of Download N Go™ (Wow! That's 19 studies!).
A $25 gift certificate to Baskin-Robbins (yummy ice cream).
A $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com (for those back-to-school supplies).
A $15 gift certificate to Starbucks Coffee (a special treat just for the teacher).
A full year's subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine (encouragement and resources all year long).
A "sweet" blue and brown Homeschooling With Heart tote bag (THE must-have accessory for FALL!).
ENTER HERE!

For more information just click on the icon above! Contest will run May 24 and through June 12

There is also a blog tour for the Download N Go Studies - you can follow the reviews here!

***
DNG has decided to offer a coupon code for 20% off multiple packs of the DNG units! Wow - 20%. Please share this in your DNG blog post/review! Both you and your readers are eligible to use the coupon code!

The code is: DNG20PKS - just use that code at check out and receive 20% off any multiple pack purchase!

About Download N Go™

Download N Go™ studies are the next generation of exciting learning products, where unit studies merge with lapbooks in a fun and easy to use curriculum product. Written by Amanda Bennett and The Old Schoolhouse, Download N Go has a growing following!

Seattle, WA - 5/28/2010 - Download N Go™ studies are daily lessons and lapbook instructions woven together with eye-pleasing pages and interactivity based on exciting themes-ready for immediate use. You can try them out for 20% off (use the coupon code I mentioned above) just in time for your fall lesson plan!

Expand your family's homeschool horizons--add Download N Go™ to your homeschool! All the research is done for you; just dig right in and start learning!

There are no expensive resources required; these units are complete and very affordable.

Download N Go™ studies are a new kind of learning experience! Exactly what will you find in each weekly study?

· Lapbooking activities.

As the student works through the week, he/she is creating a lapbook-a finished capsule of learning.

· Daily lessons.

Each study is one week in length, having five daily lessons with lapbook components for each day. Simple to use, step by step, but complete in content!

· Eye-pleasing pages of integrated, reusable studies.

Studies include history, geography, reading, science, spelling, vocabulary, writing, art, and more in reusable units, printable as needed-use them for your first child now, your second child in two years, and your third in six! Nothing is consumed.

· Resource list for optional further study.

These studies each have a great list of books that you can use to enrich your learning, but they are not required. This study is complete on its own. If desired, find books easily at your local library using the title and ISBN information for suggested optional resources.

· Interactivity built in with hyperlinks embedded right in the study.

All the research and preparation have been done! Enjoy a variety of multimedia selections, such as video clips and animations, plus educational and craft sites. You'd spend all week searching if you had to find all these great links yourself!

· Exciting themes.

Units are theme-based and full of exciting discoveries and motivation to develop lifelong learners. Your students will look forward to the next day's investigation! Designed to allow you to work them into your schedule (holidays are planned a few weeks ahead), plan to do them a few weeks after receiving them, or a few months-it's up to you!

· Ready to download for immediate use.

Download instantly! A few inexpensive materials are needed for the lapbook, consisting of basic art and school supplies you probably already have on hand such as a simple file folder, a glue stick, safety scissors, brass brads, and crayons or markers. That's it-simple, effective, and what a way to learn! The learning process is on GO from that point on-let the fun begin!

Are you planning for fall? Consider these options ...

Studying animals? Check out the animals in Expedition Australia, Dolphin Days, and Whale Tales.

Add hands-on history fun with Amelia Earhart, Davy Crockett, and Ben Franklin.
Travel farther in geography with Expedition Mexico, Expedition China, Expedition Ireland, and Expedition Australia!
There are many more possibilities!
Whether your schooling approach is unit studies, textbook, relaxed, or a mix of different styles, enriching your child's learning is easy with Download N Go™. Print your copy of the handy checklist and start adding learning, fun, and adventure today!

Remember, the more units your purchase, the bigger the savings. (and don't forget to use the coupon code mentioned above!)

The Pick Your Own Four bundle is a good deal.
The 19-week option is a better deal. But the most savings are enjoyed when you purchase the 38-week option!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Almost Forever


Title: ALMOST FOREVER
Author: Deborah Raney
Publisher: Howard Books
May 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4165-9991-3
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Bryn Hennesey volunteers at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter, a job that her husband, Adam, hates for her to do. He believes that the homeless are dangerous. Bryn disagrees, but tries to keep her schedule so that her husband doesn’t know when she is working. Adam is a firefighter, and his hours are long, so this is easy to accomplish. But Bryn is at the shelter when a terrible fire burns the shelter to the ground. Five heroic firefighters died at the scene. Adam was one of them. Now, like the rest of the surviving spouses, Bryn most find a way to begin again.

Garrett Edmond’s wife, Molly, was the only female firefighter to perish in the blaze. Garrett struggles with the loss of his love. He hadn’t wanted her to have such a dangerous job; it threatened his manhood and made him the joke of the community, having a wife who worked as a firefighter while he taught school. But he begins to live again when he meets Bryn struggling to walk a dog—which is really walking her. He helps her get the animal under control, teaches her basic dog training tricks, and they spend an enjoyable afternoon together.

But as Bryn and Garrett begin to forge a friendship, Garrett starts demanding answers to what caused the blaze that took the lives of their spouses. Investigators are stumped. But someone knows the answer…

ALMOST FOREVER is a wonderful new book by Deborah Raney. Some of Ms. Raney’s books require tissues handy to get through, but even though there is the tragedy at the beginning of ALMOST FOREVER, I didn’t cry. If you cry easily, maybe you might need to keep the box handy.

Bryn and Garrett are both realistic characters, and the secondary characters are also well developed. I felt I got to know and love some of the characters, like Charlie, a homeless man, and even Molly and Adam, as we saw them through the eyes of their surviving spouses. If you are looking for a good romance about starting over, second chances, and forgiveness, then ALMOST FOREVER will be great book. Discussion questions as well as an excerpt from Forever After, the second book in the Hanover Falls series are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 326 pages.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Role of a Lifetime


Title: ROLE OF A LIFETIME
Author: James Brown with Nathan Whitaker
Publisher: Faith Words
September 2009
ISBN: 978-0-446-54117-6
Genre: Memoir

James Brown is a well-known athlete and sports commentator, but not everyone knows his personal story. In ROLE OF A LIFETIME, Mr. Brown shares his story of how he became a devout Christian, the disappointments he endured, and the people along the way that helped him become the man he became.

Mr. Brown says that this book is partially self-help and part memoir. To quote from the back cover, “The definition of success and what it takes to be successful has been warped and twisted. Self-promotion and self-importance have become the norms, and the individuals we’re taught to look up to for guidance—the high-profile role models—are often looking for a guiding light themselves.”

The premise of ROLE OF A LIFETIME is the belief that finding and living the role we were meant to play should be our focus. Mr. Brown shares the lessons he learned in his own life so that we can make the most of our roles.

ROLE OF A LIFETIME: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Significant Living, like I said is a memoir. I don’t really enjoy reading these types of books, but Mr. Brown’s style is very friendly, almost like he’s sharing his story over a cup of coffee at the kitchen table. I did enjoy this slant.

If you are a sports fan—or just enjoy reading memoirs—then you will appreciate reading ROLE OF A LIFETIME. Also an awesome gift for sports fans or for Father’s Day. 200 pages. $24.99 hardcover.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Seasons in the Mist


Title: SEASONS IN THE MIST
Author: Deborah Kinnard
Publisher: Sheaf House
April 2010
ISBN: 978-0-982-4832-1-3
Genre: Inspirational/time travel

Bethany Lindstrom is a graduate student studying medieval history. She has finally achieved her dream of living and studying in England for three months, and eagerly boards the plane. While traveling, Bethany meets Sheila Tyrrell, a Cornish woman, who quickly straightens Bethany out about calling Great Britain England, since there is a difference.

Sheila is kind enough to invite Bethany home when Bethany’s ride doesn’t show up, and Bethany is quick to accept when she discovers Sheila lives in a house on the historic register. But when on a tour of the estate, Sheila tells Bethany stories about “the gray lady” which Bethany is quick to discount, since she doesn’t believe in ghosts.

But when Bethany goes exploring on her own, suddenly she finds herself transported back to the mid-1400s. Somehow, Bethany must find her way back to contemporary Great Britain or face a life of falsehoods and peril.

SEASONS IN THE MIST is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Kinnard. She was kind enough to offer in for review when I was bemoaning the lack of historicals not beginning with death. She neglected to tell me this was a time travel which is not my usual read.
However, I was quickly engrossed in this story. It was apparent that Sheila knew something, and that she recognized it in Bethany and the sequence of events leading from modern day to ancient time was believably portrayed.

I could hear the British accent as I read this book, and it was clear that Ms. Kinnard did her research on this time period. I was fascinated, and had to keep reading to find out what happened. There is a romance in this story. A glossary and discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 324 pages.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Morning for Dove


Title: MORNING FOR DOVE
Author: Martha Rogers
Publisher: Realms
May 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59979-984-1
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Luke Anderson was disappointed when Lucy married someone else, but when attending her wedding he notices Dove Morris across the room. Dove is a beautiful woman, but one that Luke’s mother would never approve of because she is a half-breed. Luke isn’t sure whether he is attracted to Dove because she is forbidden fruit, on the rebound from Lucy, or because he truly loves her.

When a wildfire threatens the Morris ranch, Luke joins the battle, and he risks his life to save Dove. He finds himself more in love with her than ever. What will it take for Luke to convince his parents that Dove is a person, more than just a half-breed, and worthy to join the family?

MORNING FOR DOVE is book two in the Winds Across the Prairie series. It is not necessary to read book one in the series before reading book two, but readers might want to since MORNING FOR DOVE refers back to Becoming Lucy several times.

The characterization is a little bit flat, and the story line a bit predictable, but this is a sweet romance that historical romance lovers—or prairie romance lovers—should find to their taste. An excerpt from the third book Finding Becky is included at the end of the book. $10.99. 297 pages.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them


Title: FIVE MINISTRY KILLERS AND HOW TO DEFEAT THEM
Author: Charles Stone
Publisher: Bethany House
May 2010
ISBN: 978-0764207051
Genre: Inspirational/ministry

There are five killers of a ministry, according to Dr. Charles Stone of Ginger Creek Community Church in Chicago. This pastor noticed that a great number of ministers wondered what killed their joy. What robbed them of their passion?

So, Dr. Stone began researching over 1,900 pastors and 1,000 non-pastors in partnership with The Barna Group, LifeWay Research, and NationalChristianPoll.com from Christianity Today, Inc. What Dr. Stone discovered was that the death of ministerial joy comes from one of five categories:

1. Head-in-the-Sand mentality that denies existing problems.
2. Emotional investment in the wrong issues.
3. Unhealthy responses to ministry frustrations.
4. A lone ranger attitude that says, “God and I can handle this.”
5. Attitudes and actions that lead to lonely, hurting spouses.

In FIVE MINISTRY KILLERS AND HOW TO DEFEAT THEM, Dr. Stone promises help for frustrated pastors. He uses his thirty-plus years of ministerial work to craft a four-part organic process that will help pastors sustain and renew their passion for ministry.

There are a lot of graphs and research data included in this hardcover book to help sustain the claims that Dr. Stone makes. This is not a book for laymen, rather it is written pastor-to-pastor, and appears to be used as a kind of teaching tool. It is more of a lecture in tone, not a friend-across-the-kitchen-table style. Although there are some really cute chapter titles in this book.

If you are a pastor and not feeling the joy that you once had or if you are in the ministry of a pastor who might benefit from this book, then FIVE MINISTRY KILLERS AND HOW TO DEFEAT THEM is a book you need to pick up. It can’t hurt—and might just help. $19.99 hardcover, 221 pages.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Prisoner of Versailles


Title: A PRISONER OF VERSAILLES
Author: Golden Keyes Parsons
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
2009
ISBN: 978-1-59554-627-2
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Madeline Clavell, her husband, and their three children have fled from France to Switzerland, hoping to escape the long arm of King Louis XIV. Madeline’s family has plans to flee to the New World, but before they are able to go, her beloved husband dies, and Madeline is left to make new plans. She doesn’t want to leave Switzerland without her husband.

But King Louis XIV has fond memories of Madeline, and wants her and her oldest son, taken back to the palace unharmed. A spy in Switzerland has spilled the location of Madeline for “thirty pieces of silver.”

When Madeline’s past catches up with her, she finds herself a captive in King Louis XIV’s palace. Madeline cannot and will not deny Christ, yet it will take all the hope and faith she can muster to outmaneuver the king. And she may be forced to give up everyone she holds dear.

A PRISONER OF VERSAILLES is the second book in Ms. Parsons’ A Darkness to Light Novel series. The first book in the series was In the Shadow of the Sun King. I have read both books, but its been quite awhile since reading the first book. I had absolutely no trouble following along with what was happening.

Ms. Parsons’ is a talented writer, able to bring to live the tumultuous time period of the French Huguenots to life. Ms. Parsons’ herself is a descendant of these courageous people. Set in 17th century France, the story is rich with historical detail. Readers will cheer for Madeline as she struggles to go on living after the death of her husband and the captivity that follows. Discussion questions are enclosed. $14.99. 357 pages.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Not a Sparrow Falls


Title: NOT A SPARROW FALLS
Author: Linda Nichols
Publisher: Bethany House
2002, reissued February 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0747-3
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary women’s fiction

Mary Bridget Washburn is tired of living life as a druggie’s woman. Her boyfriend spends all his time out in the back shop making “candy” and another man has been eyeing her. Mary knows its just a matter of time before this other man makes his move.
But neither man trusts Mary with money. Maybe they know if she has any she’ll run away. They just give her enough to buy supplies to make meth and no more.

Finally Mary knows the time as come. She hunts around the rusting trailer until she finds the stash of cash from the drug deals, and then runs away, stealing their pick up truck. She abandons the truck in town, and takes a bus to Alexandria, Virginia, where she takes on her mother’s identity and finds sanctuary in the shadow of a decades-old church.

But then a little girl needs Mary’s help, and Mary hopes to help them. Can her past stay hidden long enough for her to give the hope she longs to give?

NOT A SPARROW FALLS was originally published back in 2002, and I’m fairly positive that I read it then, but if I did I didn’t write a review. The book seems very familiar to me. Mary is a desperate woman, tired of living a life on the wrong side of the law, and yet knowing she is too far gone to return to her roots and the innocence she once knew.

The story is very well told, and not so dark as other stories I’ve read. There is an undercurrent of hope in this story, even in the darkness of the beginning, so you know that somehow Mary will be able to dig herself out of the pit she’s in. If you missed this story the first time, you won’t want to skip it now. Pick up your copy of NOT A SPARROW FALLS for an uplifting story of hope. $14.99. 350 pages.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Rewards of Simplicity


Title: THE REWARDS OF SIMPLICITY
Authors: Pam and Chuck D. Pierce
Publisher: Chosen
March 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8007-9477-4
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/Spiritual

Clear out the material and spiritual clutter in your life.

Americans live a cluttered life. Our closets are cluttered, or homes, cars, purses, briefcases, etc., are cluttered, and our lives are cluttered. We don’t have the time to do all the projects we want to do, see all the people we want to see, go everywhere we want to go, and we don’t have time to spend time in reading God’s word and praying.

Mr. and Mrs. Pierce maintain that we need to simplify our lives. In THE REWARDS OF SIMPLICITY the authors will help us

 clear out unnecessary clutter in our homes
 freeing yourself and your family from too much technology and entertainment
 overcoming anxiety
 preserving a Sabbath rest
 freeing yourself from Mammon—the stronghold of materialism—and more

The book is written in two parts, the first portion written by Pam, and the second portion written by Chuck. Pam focuses on Practical and Spiritual Simplicity, and Chuck focuses on Simplifying Life by Overcoming Anxiety.

I know some people who are so stressed out and overbooked that they feel they have to resort to lying to people about why they don’t show up to an event they promised to attend. But even those who keep calendars so we don’t overbook are subject to days when nothing goes as planned and they have to be ten places at once. Not to mention, our jobs, friends, and other important things keep us from tackling the work in our homes and things pile up there which causes more stress and chaos.

I am going to try to implicate some of the ideas found in the pages of this book as I am guilty of letting some things go in order to focus on other “more important” things. This book would be ideal for anyone who has too many “balls in the air” of for those who just want a life filled with simplicity. $13.99. 197 pages.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Eye of the God


Title: EYE OF THE GOD
Author: Ariel Allison
Publisher: Abingdon Press
October 2009
ISBN: 978-1426700682
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Is the curse of the Hope Diamond real, or just a legacy of greed?

Dr. Abigail Mitchell is the director and curator of the Smithsonian Institution. She has had a rash of art thefts recently, and so Abby travels to South American to warn another curator, but she is too late. International thieves rob the premises while Abby is still in the building.

One of the most priceless gems in Abby’s possession is the world famous Hope Diamond. And the international thieves are after this gem. Abby can’t let her guard down at all, but even that may not be enough to save the diamond.

EYE OF THE GOD is loosely based on a real life gem, and about the mystery and intrigue surrounding it. Abby is a realistic heroine, strong and courageous, even while faced with thieves ripping a ring right from her finger.

The story is very well written, full of suspense, that will keep readers turning the pages of this book. The story also flashes back to the story of a man who bought the gem back in the 1600s. Ms. Allison also says that on www.amazon.com you will find stories of other real life historical people who have owned this gem. There is a touch of romance in the story. If you like stories of art heists and the intrigue surrounding them, then pick up a copy of EYE OF THE GOD. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 348 pages.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio


Title: LOVE FINDS YOU IN CHARM, OHIO
Author: Annalisa Daughety
Publisher: Summerside Press
2009
ISBN: 978-1-935416-17-3
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary/Amish

Emma Miller teaches school in her Amish community in Indiana, and she is courted by Jacob, a man everyone always figured she’d marry. But Emma isn’t happy. She dreams of red corvettes, and English clothes, and more adventure. So when she gets a letter from a relative in Charm, Ohio, offering her a job helping with the quilt shop and with Lydia’s small children, Emma is quick to agree.

Emma settles into her new community with ease, making friends with an English girl who is also in Charm for the summer, working in the book mobile. Kelly introduces Emma to her English boyfriend and his friend, Andy, and Emma gets a taste of the English world she’s always longed for.

But there is an Amish man in Charm who has also captured Emma’s eye. He is Lydia’s husband’s relative, and he is quick to offer to show Emma around. Noah and Emma hit it off, but Emma is torn. Should she return home to Indiana, join the English world, or pray for the best in Charm?

LOVE FINDS YOU IN CHARM, OHIO, is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Daughety, but the back cover says she has four books that released in 2009. I’m going to check to see what they are as soon as I finish writing this review.

Emma is a realistic character, and part of the story is also written in Kelly’s point of view as well as Emma’s sister’s Abby’s point of view, so I got to know all three of these women very well. I thought this book was a very sweet romance, a totally delightful Amish story. Readers will not be disappointed. $12.99. 314 pages.

Monday, May 17, 2010

This Fine Life


Title: THIS FINE LIFE
Author: Eva Marie Everson
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3276-5
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Mariette Puttman graduated from boarding school in 1959 and headed home to—what? Her mother believes she should be married off to the first eligible bachelor, and her father says this is a different age. Mariette can go to college, or get a career, or do whatever she wants. But unfortunately, Mariette isn’t sure what she wants.

When her daddy invites her to join her for lunch, Mariette is thrilled to agree, but she expects that her dad will want to talk to her about her future plans. He dreams of Mariette going to college, getting a degree, and then going to work for him.

Who would have dreamed that she discovers the answer waiting for her in the narrow stairwell of her father’s apparel factory exactly between the third and fourth floors?

THIS FINE LIFE does start pretty slow, but it piques my interest when Mariette is on that staircase. At that point I had to keep reading to see what would happen next. The story is written in first person, making it very easy to relate to Mariette, but the prologue is set about five years in the future (from 1959) so you know ultimately how at least part of the story will end. Sort of. The prologue does leave unanswered questions which will be answered toward the end of the book.

THIS FINE LIFE is divided up into parts, with each of the story taking places during a different stage of Mariette’s life, so the story doesn’t really flow smoothly. Still it is an interesting story. The story is promoted as a contemporary romance, and it is, in a way, but I see it as very much women’s fiction. I have read books that Ms. Everson has co-authored, but this is the first book I’ve read with her as the only author. I recommend it as a tender story that will stay with you. $14.99. 343 pages.

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

Eva Marie Everson is a successful speaker, a popular radio personality, and the award-winning author of Things Left Unspoken. She is coauthor of The Potluck Club series and The Potluck Catering Club series. She lives in Florida.
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.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

As Young As We Feel


Title: AS YOUNG AS WE FEEL
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: David C. Cook
March 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6497-3
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Almost fifty years ago, four Linda’s were placed in the same first grade class. The four forged an instant bond, formed a Linda club, and to avoid confusion decided to go by their middle names.

Now, they are reunited at a class reunion, when sadly, one of their classmates drop dead. The four Linda’s spend the weekend together, but all four are now totally different. Janie is a lawyer in New York, trying to decide what to do with her mother’s estate. Abby is a lonely housewife in a lovely empty nest. Marley is struggling to find herself after her divorce, and Caroline’s mother has dementia.

Can the four Linda’s recapture their childhood friendship, and will it last after the reunion?

Melody Carlson is a very prolific author who writes in multiple genres with ease. AS YOUNG AS WE FEEL is the story of four different women, each of them having their own point of view chapters so the reader will be able to identify with at least one of them, and maybe parts of all four.

I found the story a bit slow, and not up to Ms. Carlson's usual standards, but it did read well. The story is character driven, and so the characters do have to be well developed and realistic. In the Afterwords section of the book you will find discussion questions and a preview of the next book in The Four Linda’s series, Hometown Ties. $14.99. 330 pages.

Saturday, May 15, 2010




Operation Kid-to-Kid™ Blankets a Hurting World with God’s Love

Tonight in countries around the world, children will go to sleep hungry and cold, without parents, without homes...without hope. Now your ministry group can send a simple, tangible expression of God’s love to those in need.

Group Publishing, the premier publisher of children’s Bible curricula, including Sunday school and VBS, believes that some of the best ministers to children who are experiencing disaster and hardship are other children. Through the Operation Kid-to-Kid (OK2K) program, Group partners with nondenominational Christian ministries like Biblica (formerly International Bible Society) and World Vision to provide opportunities for children in North America to share God’s love with other children in difficult or disastrous situations. In 2009 alone, Operation Kid-to-Kid reached almost one million children. Since its inception 12 years ago, Operation Kid-to-Kid projects have impacted over 4.5 million kids and their communities all over the world. Highlights include:

· Over 100,000 care kits distributed to countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Albania

· More than 380,000 gift boxes sent to needy children worldwide

· Over 310,000 pairs of shoes and 200,000 pairs of socks given to orphans across the globe

· Over 1.5 million Spanish Bible books delivered worldwide

· More than a million cuddly prayer bears and copies of The Survivor’s Bible provided free of charge to underprivileged children all over the world

“Operation Kid-to-Kid is a great way to teach kids compassion and service,” says Joani Schultz, cofounder of Group and OK2K. “Children learn by doing. It’s one thing to drop a nickel in the offering plate, but when kids make a gift with their own hands, when they can be creative and personal, this leaves a real impression on both the givers and the receivers.”

This year’s OK2K project is a simple no-sew fleece blanket that proclaims “God Loves Me!” right in the fabric. Each 56” by 42” blanket will also include a hidden surprise—a little white heart concealed between the fleece layers. The heart is a sweet secret kept by those who create the blankets, one that symbolizes God’s love for the world and our love for others. Project participants are encouraged to pray specifically for the unknown person who will receive the blanket as they tuck the heart inside.

The OK2K blanket can easily be incorporated into any Sunday school or VBS curriculum. This year, the “God Loves Me” blanket is included as a special activity in Group’s two new 2011 VBS programs, Egypt: Joseph’s Journey from Prison to Palace and High Seas Expedition. The multi-generational participants will learn about the 40 million children around the world who are desperately vulnerable because of the AIDS pandemic and the effects of extreme poverty. Through Group’s partnership with World Vision, blankets created this year will reach children in Africa coping with the pandemic’s effects on their communities or families, including those who have been orphaned. Instructions for delivering the blankets to World Vision for distribution are included with each blanket kit. To make the gift extra special, churches can send a personalized “God Loves Me” coloring book with each blanket.

Over the years, OK2K has become one of the largest forces mobilizing children in serving other children around the world through gifts of school supplies, Bibles, hygiene kits, Christmas gifts, Bible coloring books, and socks and shoes. But the ministry opportunities are not just for kids. Between recent natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti and the lingering effects of the global economic crisis, there are more opportunities than ever for Christians to show the love of Christ to others in need—and not just for a VBS event. Operation Kid-to-Kid can mobilize service projects any time of the year. Because the “God Loves Me” blanket project is so simple and practical, it is a perfect fit for a variety of ministry opportunities, from youth or women’s groups and short-term mission trips to neighborhood outreach initiatives and ministry to the homeless. With a little imagination, a ministry group of any size and age can customize the project to support its own ministry vision.

“For many of us, a mission-focused heart is something that develops over time. Like any aspect of Christ’s character in us, loving others like Christ loves them takes practice. This is a lesson for adults as well as children,” says Schultz. “Hopefully, OK2K service projects like the ‘God Loves Me’ blanket will encourage Christians of all ages to commit greater time and resources to missions.”

To find out how you can get involved, visit www.ok2k.org!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Anonymous Bride


Title: THE ANONYMOUS BRIDE
Author: Vickie McDonough
Publisher: Barbour Books
April 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60260-696-8
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Luke Davis as served years in the cavalry, but now he is out and looking for a job. When he learns that his old hometown has an opening as a marshal, Luke is torn. Return home and get the only woman he’s ever loved out of his system, or run as far as he can in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, duty calls, but Luke’s arrival in town is less than pleasant. Instead, stopping at a water hole, he is accosted by three children who end up knocking him in, forcing Luke to present himself dripping wet. He does manage to capture one of the offenders and haul him into town, only to discover to his horror that the him is a her and her mother is none other than the woman he’s been dreading.

Rachel Hamilton loved Luke, but she decided to give up her dreams of love for riches. But instead she got heartbreak, shame, and a headstrong daughter that she can’t control. Not to mention, her husband is dead, but Luke is back. How can Rachel face him every day, knowing what she did? Rachel begs for his forgiveness, but Luke has none to give.

But then three women arrive each of them claiming to be ordered for Luke through newspaper ads. The only place for them to stay is in the town boarding house. And none of the women are willing to give Luke up! How many brides does one man need? Which woman will Luke choose?

THE ANONYMOUS BRIDE is the first book in Vickie McDonough’s Texas Boardinghouse Brides series. It says on the back that this is Ms McDonough’s debut novel, but anyone that has read Heartsong Presents knows that she has had many books published with them, and has even been named favorite historical author for that line.

Ms. McDonough is a talented historical author. I could almost taste the dust in the trails and see the marshal and his cousins swagger down the road shoulder to shoulder like gun-slingers itching for a fight. I could also feel Luke’s dread in the pit of the stomach as he faced Rachel for the first time, and realized that the bratty child he was man-handling was actually her child.

If you are looking for a good historical read, especially one with an old west feel, you’ll want to consider THE ANONYMOUS BRIDE. I am looking forward to reading the second book in the series, Second Chance Bride, coming in the fall of this year. $12.99. 347 pages.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A History of Christianity DVD, episode 1


Title: A History of Christianity
Episode 1 – The First Christianity
Rated: not rated
Runtime: approx. 60 minutes
Languages: Closed captioned for the hearing impaired; Spanish subtitles
Genre: Historical/Documentary
Starring: Diarmaid MacCulloch
Producer/Directors: Gillian Bancroft & Sian Salt
Screenwriter: Diarmaid MacCulloch
Composer: James Atherton, Johnny Clifford
Studio: Ambrose DVD

A History of Christianity is a six-part series presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch, an Oxford history professor whose books about Cranmer and the Reformation have been acclaimed as masterpieces. Spanning the globe, McCulloch explores not only the actual history of the Christian church, but also posits a very convincing “what if” scenario concerning the Christian church in Asia and the Far East.

While the scenery is breathtaking, and the scholarship is first-rate, I do take issue with some of Mr. McCulloch’s treatment of this most important subject. The series title, A History Of Christianity, could be considered misleading. McCulloch appears to equate the Christian church and Christianity throughout the first DVD. Christianity is treated as just another “religion,” rather than a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The series is extremely ecumenical in scope, and Mr. McCulloch expresses historical skepticism concerning Christian beliefs. A few quotes from the DVD suffice:

“Somehow, the followers of Jesus became convinced that he rose from here [his tomb] to new life. The belief that Jesus could overcome death is the most difficult and troubling affirmation of the Christian faith.”

“The main character here is not Jesus or the Gospels. It is, in fact, the church, the institution of Christian faith that has fought its way through history.”

Positively, Mr. McCulloch has done an outstanding job at tracing the history of the Christian Church, and exploring the tensions that have impacted the church and made it what it is today. And the opportunity to “visit” important areas of the globe in his search for the church makes for a wonderful “armchair adventure.” I’m looking forward to the next DVD in the series, as Mr. McCulloch takes the Western Road from Jerusalem.

Discovering the Surprising History of the First Christians

New DVD series examines Christianity’s global roots.

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—There are two billion Christians in the world today, a third of humanity—Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, Pentecostal, and many more. Though Christians, by definition, are well-versed in the story of Christ and the apostles, many have given little thought to the details of their Christian heritage—the miraculous transferring of their faith from the first Christians huddled at Golgotha, across two centuries worth of cultures and languages, wars, and the rising and falling of empires. How did this small, obscure Jewish sect that preached humility and personal sacrifice become the biggest religion in the world? The answer will surprise you.

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years is a six-part series co-produced by the BBC, the Open University, and Jerusalem Productions and presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch, one of the world’s leading historians and Professor of History of the Church and Fellow at St. Cross College, Oxford. As MacCulloch reveals the true history of Christianity, he explores the question, “What does it really mean to be a Christian?”

While most Christian histories start with St. Paul’s mission to Rome, MacCulloch asserts that the Christianity stayed much closer to its Middle-Eastern roots and that, in fact, the first Christians actually took the eastern road from Jerusalem, spreading their faith across Asia, even to parts of China.

“Today, Christianity is seen as a Western faith. Indeed, many in the Muslim world would see Western lifestyles as Christian lifestyles. But Christianity is not by origin a Western religion,” MacCulloch says. “Its beginnings are in the Middle East, where there still exist churches which have been Eastern since the earliest Christian era. The story of the first Christianity tells us the Christian faith is, in fact, hugely diverse with many identities.”

MacCulloch is one of the most widely traveled Christian historians, and A History of Christianity is the first retelling of the Christian story that is truly global in scope. Filmed in high definition, A History of Christianity takes viewers on a 2,000-year odyssey that reaches the farthest corners of the world, from Palestine in the first century to India in the third, from Damascus to China in the seventh century, and from San Francisco to Korea in the twentieth.

A scholar whose fascination with Christian history was cultivated at an early age, Diarmaid MacCulloch is the last in three generations of Anglican clergy. That personal connection enriches the storytelling, as he describes not only the main ideas and personalities of Christian history, its organization, and spirituality, but how it has changed our views on politics, sex, and human society.

“Religious belief can transform us for good or ill. It has brought human beings to acts of criminal folly as well as the highest achievements of goodness and creativity. I tell the story of both extremes,” MacCulloch says.

The twentieth century brought what many perceive to be the greatest threat to Christianity—skepticism and spiritual apathy. Still, MacCulloch contends that the future of Christianity is filled with possibilities.

The DVD set will arrive in stores, including Sam’s Club, in time for the Easter Season. The series will also be available on Amazon.com.

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years 6 DVD Set presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch
March 2010
www.ambrosevideo.com

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Katie's Redemption / The Cinderella List

Two Love Inspired romances for your consideration/

Title: KATIE’S REDEMPTION
Author: Patricia Davids
Publisher: Steeple Hill Books
March 2010
ISBN: 978-0-373-87583-2
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance/Amish

Katie Lantz ran away from home with her English boyfriend, but when her boyfriend ups and leaves her, claiming she’s backward and trying to force her into marriage, Katie has no place to go, but back home. Nine months pregnant, she takes a bus to her brother’s house, prepared to do and say whatever is necessary to find a home.

Elam Sutter and his family moved to Ohio to find cheap farmland, and to get away from the rumors surrounding their family back in Pennsylvania. Elam is stunned when a young very pregnant English woman stands on his front porch, looking for her brother. Her brother had moved to Kansas. When Katie goes into labor upon hearing the news Elam’s mother offers shelter, against Elam’s better judgment.

Katie is determined to leave as soon as she is well enough, but when her brother refuses to take her in, she doesn’t know what to do. What will it take for Katie to find the family and love she’s always longed for.

KATIE’S REDEMPTION is the first book I read by this author. I really didn’t have to review it, but since I have a slot and I took the time to read it I might as well.  The story does start out a bit slow, but it does pick up as it continues.

Katie is struggling with who she is and where she belongs. She never really fit into the Amish world, and her brother who raised her was very cruel, blaming her for losing his home and the rest of his family. So, it was understandable that she took the opportunity to leave home when she got it. But it was also understandable that with no place to go, home would be the first place she thought of. If you are looking for a shorter Amish story which is pure romance, then KATIE’S REDEMPTION might be the book for you. The author’s letter suggests that she has several other Amish themed books coming soon from Love Inspired. Discussion questions are available at the back of the book. Available from www.steeplehill.com or from www.amazon.com. $5.50. 214 pages.


Title: THE CINDERELLA LIST
Author: Judy Baer
Publisher: Steeple Hill
April 2010
ISBN: 978-0-373-87594-8
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Ever since she was a child, Marlo Mayfield has kept a list of traits her dream man would possess. But she never expected to actually meet a man who came anywhere near her list of expectations. So, after a series of bad relationships, Marlo is surprised to have her dream man walk into the kitchen at a party she’s catering.

Jake Hammond is an architect, and his hobby is breeding purebred horses. He has a dream of starting a riding program for developmentally challenged children, but his father is against it. Jake intends to do what he wants, and he senses that Marlo would be the perfect volunteer. Marlo has always loved horses, and is quick to agree.

However, Jake has this beautiful, super wealthy, and spoiled girlfriend who is quick to warn Marlo away. Not only that, but after Marlo’s boyfriend cheated on her, she was determined to not be “the other woman” to any man. But Jake is determined to show Marlo that he might be the one…

THE CINDERELLA LIST is a really cute story. I have read all of Ms. Baer’s “adult” stories, and loved them. When I saw her name, I looked to see if this might be a “Steeple Hill CafĂ©” story, which is more chick-lit in flavor (and which I love) and was disappointed that it wasn’t. However I couldn’t help but fall in love with Marlo. She is quirky, kind, intelligent, and has this creative way of thinking that is so endearing.

Jake is kind, handsome, and considerate… on and on with whatever traits might have been on your “Cinderella List” as a child. He is practically perfect in every way, except in understanding exactly how a woman might feel about being pursued by a man who has a woman already on his arm. Some might call him a cad, but I think he was just clueless, and I really enjoyed getting to know him too.

THE CINDERELLA LIST is adorable, and I highly recommend this story. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.50. 216 pages.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Indivisible and giveaway!


Leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win a copy of this book
Title: INDIVISIBLE
Author: Kristen Heitzmann
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
May 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7309-2
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary suspense

Piper is walking to work at the bakery when she passes something foul smelling on the ground. She is frustrated at work because the owner has five things he makes and he will not allow Piper to experiment. Still, she does sneak in a dried tomato and cheese croissant before her boss gets to work, and then goes to visit her friend Tia to see what she thinks of it.

Police Chief Jonah Westfall comes wandering by while Piper is visiting with Tia and Piper gives him a taste of the croissant, and tells him about the dead thing on the path. When Jonah goes to investigate, he discovers someone has sewn two raccoons together and left them to tear each other apart trying to get free. Investigating the gruesome act, he hopes to find the perpetrator before crime escalates.

Tia Manning and Jonah go way back, but their fragile history was threatened a decade ago. Now they both are struggling to put their lives back together. But they can’t penetrate every wound or secret –especially one fueled by a love and guilt teetering on madness.

INDIVISIBLE is the newest novel by award-winning author, Kristen Heitzmann. Ms. Heitzmann is a hit or miss author with me, I either love her book, or I hate it. Unfortunately, INDIVISIBLE falls under that miss category with me.

The writing is stellar, the plot-line well-thought out, the characters excellently developed, but I found that the writing is so tight that all the life is drained out of it, and I found the story very dark and disturbing. If you like suspense, and are a fan of Ms. Heitzmann then there is a possibility you might like INDIVISIBLE. $13.99. 325 pages.




www.multnomahemails.com/wbmlt/audio/Kristen_Heitzmann.mp3

Monday, May 10, 2010

It Had To Be You


Title: IT HAD TO BE YOU
Author: Janice Thompson
Publisher: Revell
May 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3344-5
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Bella is planning her own wedding now, but before she can jump full swing into that, first she has to get her Aunt Rosa and Uncle Laz married. They are planning a forties style wedding and it will really be a night to remember, especially since Uncle Laz and Aunt Rosa insist on catering their own wedding.

But when family and friends from Italy begin to arrive for the wedding, things get interesting. Uncle Laz’s brother is married to a girl barely older than Bella, (and she really believes in revealing everything), and an old mobster comes in from New Jersey. Will the mob ties and a past friend drive Laz and Rosa apart? How can Bella keep them together?

IT HAD TO BE YOU is the final book in Ms. Thompson’s Weddings by Bella series. I enjoyed reading this entire collection and learning more about Bella’s loud and boisterous Italian family in the process. I think it must be nice to have a large extended family like that.

IT HAD TO BE YOU is full of humor, well-developed characters, amusing mishaps, and colorful (in more ways than one) parrots, plus a bit of Texas gumption. Bella’s romance, and Laz and Rosa’s romance are sweet too.

If you like romance, you won’t want to miss IT HAD TO BE YOU. The closing chapter is so cute. Sister Bonnie Sue’s Top Ten Swing Dancing Tips are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 326 pages.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Abigail



Title: ABIGAIL
Author: Jill Eileen Smith
Publisher: Revell
March 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3321-6
Genre: Inspirational/biblical fiction

Abigail is a young girl, promised in marriage to a man that she does not love. As Abigail blossoms to maturity, she lives in fear of the day when her betrothed will come and take her away, and so does her family—to the point that they are considering running away, or even canceling the betrothal, leaving Abigail as a “divorced” woman, and shunned the rest of her life.

But then circumstances change, and suddenly Abigail is offered a chance at happiness with the handsome David. Abigail takes a leap of faith and joins his nomadic tribe. Still, her struggles are far from over. David is hardly a faithful husband—how can Abigail share his love with all his other women?

ABIGAIL is the second book in Ms. Smith’s series The Wives of King David but it easily stands alone. I did have the opportunity to read the first book in the series, Michal, and was really impressed with how well Ms. Smith did with her biblical research, her attention to historical detail, and her well-developed characters. I could almost feel the desert sand as I trailed along with Abigail and David through the wilderness.

ABIGAIL will help bring the biblical story of King David and one of his many brides—ABIGAIL—to life. If you enjoy reading biblical fiction, then you won’t want to miss this latest book in the series. Available now. $14.99. 371 pages.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Fence My Father Built


Title: THE FENCE MY FATHER BUILT
Author: Linda S. Clare
Publisher: Abingdon Press
October 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4267-0073-6
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary women’s fiction

Muri Pond is starting over. She’s lost her job as a school librarian, lost her husband to another woman, lost her home, and now she’s on the verge of losing her sixteen-year-old daughter, Nova. Then she learns that her father, Joseph Pond has died, willing his high-desert property to Muri.

When Muri arrives in town, she and her two children stop for lunch at a greasy spoon. There they meet their neighbor, Linc, a man who owns most of the town, and is suing her for the creek. Muri wants to work it out, but apparently according to water laws, since Linc left town and was gone for more than five years he gave up all rights to the creek.

While Muri struggles to put her life back together, and to deal with a difficult neighbor, she also must come to grips with who her father was. What made him build a fence out of old oven doors? And she must discover the faith her alcoholic Native-American father never abandoned.

THE FENCE MY FATHER BUILT has written some other books, but this is the first book of hers I’ve read. It is rather sad how divorce affects families as Muri has struggled with it all her life, and now her children are struggling with it. It did give a rather melancholy beginning to the story.

I wished Muri had had the opportunity to know her father, (the letter he wrote to her when she was five was heart-breaking) but sometimes people have to find out the hard way. There is a touch of a romance included. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 292 pages.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Radical


Title: RADICAL
Author: David Platt
May 2010
ISBN 978-1-60142-221-7
Genre: Christian Living

After a life-transforming trip to Asia, and a soul-searching journey through the gospels, author and pastor David Platt began asking a lot of questions in his book, RADICAL.

Thought-provoking questions like, “Do I believe that Jesus is worthy of sacrifice in our lives?”

Easy-to-answer questions like, “Was I going to believe Jesus?”

Tougher questions like, “Was I going to obey Jesus?”

Proclaimed (in the press, no less) “The youngest megachurch pastor in history,” Dr. Platt (David holds two undergraduate degrees and three advanced degrees, including a doctorate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) found himself in a quandary. The disparity between the soul-shocking sights, sounds and stories he experienced in Asia, and the multi-million dollar facilities, theater-style lighting, and cushioned chairs of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama was too great to fathom. And the disparity between Pastor David Platt, (“the youngest megachurch pastor in history,” I remind you) and Jesus Christ ( in David’s own words, “the youngest minichurch pastor in history); well that, too, was too great to fathom.

David Platt has covenanted with God to answer all three of the previous questions in the affirmative, and challenged his flock to join him in this RADICAL departure from the usual way “church” is done in 21st Century America. And his invitation is open to all who wish to accept it.

Jesus? or The Great American Dream? Which one is worthy of your time, your energy, your talents, your treasure . . . your life? Are you having trouble with the question? Let me put it in terms that I believe David Platt would appreciate . . . “What has America done for you lately?”

The conclusion that David Platt arrives at is both simple and profound: this RADICAL Christianity that Jesus is calling us to is actually the normative Christianity that he has been preaching all along.

Filled with soul-stirring stories, humorous anecdotes, and down-to-earth doctrine from the Word of God, this book cannot help but transform the way you look at your relationship with God, with Jesus Christ, with the world, and with yourself. You have been warned . . . this book is RADICAL! 219 pages. $14.99 softcover.

You can request a free copy of The Radical Question by going to www.WaterBrookMultnomah.com/RadicalQuestion

read chapter one here at www.RadicalTheBook.com

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now



A "Holy Habit" That Will Change Your Life!

Experience true spiritual transformation: invite God's presence into your life! Popular author, theologian, and pastor Gregory Boyd shows you how-simply, practically, and effectively-in this thoughtful and accessible book.

Discover: · How to pray continually · What it means to "take every thought captive" · How to wake up to God's ever-present love

God is closer to you than the air you breathe. He is present in every given moment. Wake up to his presence! Turn off the mental chatter that keeps you from seeing his glory. Embrace the holy habit of inviting God's presence into your life, and be transformed!

Wake Up to God's Presence!

We long to be transformed. Yet our minds are filled with endless trivia and self-centered chatter. To-do lists. Worries about the past. Speculation about the future. We forget to live in the present moment ... and to invite God to be with us there.

After reading classic contemplative authors Brother Lawrence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, and Frank Laubach, theologian and pastor Gregory Boyd longed to experience the presence of God for himself. For two decades, he's attempted to implement the "practice of the presence of God" in his own life ... sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. What he's learned as a fellow pilgrim on his spiritual journey can help you find true spiritual transformation as you begin to practice the discipline of inviting God into every moment.

"I've become absolutely convinced that remaining aware of God's presence moment-by-moment is the single most important task in the life of every follower of Jesus," Boyd writes. "I'm convinced this challenge is implied in our commitment to surrender our life to Christ, for the only real life we have to surrender to him is the one we live moment-by-moment."

Present Perfect
By Gregory A. Boyd
Zondervan
0310283841
176 Pages
PUB DATE: May 2010


Gregory A. Boyd is the founder and senior pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minn., and founder and president of Christus Victor Ministries. He was a professor of theology at Bethel College (St. Paul, Minn.) for sixteen years where he continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor. Greg is a graduate of the University of Minnesota (BA), Yale Divinity School (M.Div), and Princeton Theological Seminary (PhD). Greg is a national and international speaker at churches, colleges, conferences, and retreats, and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows. He has also authored and coauthored eighteen books prior to Present Perfect, including The Myth of a Christian Religion, The Myth of a Christian Nation, The Jesus Legend (with Paul Eddy), Seeing Is Believing, Repenting of Religion, and his international bestseller Letters from a Skeptic.

My review:
Dr. Boyd’s major premise is that, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and heirs to the kingdom of God, we are “missing out” on the one thing that is going to get us through each day; the practice of the presence of God in every moment, every aspect, every fiber of every day that we exist. He claims that the majority of the members of the body of Christ (especially in Western Christianity) are still “asleep” when it comes to a relationship with God, and his book is sprinkled throughout with “Post-It Notes,” asking, “Are you awake?”

I feel the tension that he is expounding; I recognize that my relationship with God desperately needs attention; it needs strengthening, it needs nurturing, and by God’s grace I’m going to grow closer to him every day. But it will not happen as a result of this book.

Dr. Boyd mentions several Biblical principles which it would behoove us to pay very close attention to, and give time and attention to practicing in our lives. Principles such as the Principle of the Vine (we need to recognize the importance of remaining attached to the root; we are called upon to bear fruit, more fruit and much fruit; we can expect some pruning, which is never a pleasant experience), the Principle of the Body (we are all members one of another, and Christ is the head; we cannot exist as a separate part of the body, that is called amputation in medical terms). I commend him upon bringing these principles to the attention of his readers.

But the majority of the text is given over to psychological head-games and what is tantamount (in my opinion) to New-Age mysticism. Dr. Boyd feels that “Despite our sin, our creator thinks we are worth experiencing a hellish death for. In fact, it was for the joy of spending eternity with us that Jesus endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). In other words, Calvary reveals our unsurpassable worth and significance” (p. 45).

Yet Psalm 40:6-8 reveals a different story: “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Psalms 40:6-8 (KJV)

And while John 3:16 DOES express God’s love for all humanity, THAT is precisely where the emphasis ought to stay; on God’s love. That verse ought not to be extrapolated into a polemic upon the “unsurpassable worth and significance” of those who pierced his hands, feet and side, and placed a crown of thorns on his head.

If you truly believe that you can improve your relationship with God, all by yourself, Dr. Boyd’s book just might be what you are looking for. Otherwise, I would humbly suggest that you spend your money buying a good concordance that you can study God’s Word with. The time spent in God’s Word alone will produce infinitely better, and lasting, results. 166 pages. $14.99 softcover

For more informaiton, please visit http://www.gregboyd.org.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

On Guard!


Title: ON GUARD
Author: William Lane Craig
Publisher: David C. Cook
March 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6488-1
Genre: Inspirational/apologetics

Most people will probably never defend their faith to an atheist, but the Bible says that we should always be prepared. And in this day and age, there are many attacks from the “new atheists,” internet infidels, and all manner of Biblical bashers. With this in mind, there is an increased need for evangelical Christians to be trained to defend their faith.

William Lane Craig is a renowned professor at the Talbot School of Theology, and he has established a reputation as one of the most prominent Christian philosophers of our day. He has an increased demand as a defender of the Christian faith at well-televised debates with atheists, with results usually leaving the atheist speechless, and some observers coming to Christ.

If you would like to know how to defend your faith, or even to grow in your knowledge of Christianity, then pick up ON GUARD. It will help you to come out a stronger Christian.

There are several questions scattered through the pages of each chapter for readers to consider, but there are no places inside the book to record your answers. As you study ON GUARD, you will want to have both your Bible, and a notebook handy, the notebook for recording your thoughts and answers.

There are plenty of charts available for study included in the book, as well as some cute cartoonish drawings that help to bring the points across. I highly recommend this book. $16.99. 286 pages.

We are currently experiencing a renaissance of interest in Christian apologetics. Due to the virulent attacks of the New Atheists, the Internet Infidels, and all manner of Biblical Bashers, along with a rising anti-evangelical bias in the media, evangelical Christians are demanding training in how to defend their Christian faith. There is a need for a well-rounded training manual that provides the “how-tos” of defending the Christian worldview. William Lane Craig’s new book, On Guard, intends to be that manual.

A highly accessible, visual, and concise book loaded with helpful figures and interesting sidebars, On Guard is a one-stop guidebook to learn how to defend your faith. Combining the four core arguments for God’s existence with a case for the historicity of Jesus, this readable book also addresses difficult issues such as the problems of suffering and religious relativism.

An interview with On Guard author William Lane Craig

Q: What is apologetics? Why do you think we’re experiencing a renewed interest in Christian apologetics?

Apologetics is the study of the defense of our faith and Scriptures. This is taken directly out of Scripture where Jesus appealed to the evidence of his miracles and fulfilled prophecy as authentication of his claims, and the Apostle Paul does the same:

“As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,’ he said. 4Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women (Acts 17:2-4).

In Scripture we are commanded to:

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (I Peter 3:15).”

Q: Your works are well known in seminary and intellectual circles. What caused you to write a more readable and relatable guide on apologetics?

As I speak around the country and other parts of the world, increasingly, people have responded so positively to what I have said in lectures and debates with atheists that they, too, would like to learn some basic logical principles of reasoning and arguments for our faith. Christianity stands head and shoulders above any other world view, and you can show why with confidence.

Q: Describe how the American culture has slowly but surely become post-Christian. What can we expect as our culture continues on this path?

People in the United States still believe in God, but religious relativism has become the conventional wisdom of the day. Jesus Christ has become politically incorrect. I have seen on campuses where I speak that Christians are now labeled “immoral” because they are not open-minded, but are intolerant and bigoted.

Q: What are some of your experiences as you’ve lectured and debated in the European world, where Christian belief has become somewhat antiquated?

The sobering thing is that where Christianity has retreated, especially in Europe, false views fill this void, and people succumb to views like secularism and Islam. They then find themselves without a proper foundation to fight these ideologies.

Q: What caused you to pursue apologetics with such vigor? Why would you encourage others to consider training in apologetics?

I became a Christian at the age of 16, when I sat down behind a gal in my German class, and, well, she was the kind of person that was always so happy that it just made me sick! I was feeling particularly miserable, and so I asked her, “Sandy, what in the world are you always so happy about anyway?” And to my shock, she replied, “Well, Bill, it’s because I’m saved. I know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord!” To make a long story short, within 6 months, I committed my life to Christ. Then I felt the daunting responsibility of sharing with my family and friends the truth of Christianity. But how? That began my quest for a sound defense.

Q: How do you envision that On Guard might be used?

On Guard can easily be used by pastors in referring the book to students who want in depth answers especially when challenged by their teachers in high school or professors at the university. Youth pastors can use this book to mentor students. I also see groups like Bible studies, Sunday school classes, and home groups learning together these timeless arguments and evidence. I have even received a letter from an Australian Sunday School teacher who uses this material to teach his eight and nine year old students!

About the author: William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology. With earned doctorates in philosophy and theology, he has established a reputation as one of the most prominent Christian philosophers of our day. His publications, debates, and internet presence have made him a highly visible champion of Christian faith. His seminary textbook, Reasonable Faith, is widely considered to be the best book on Christian apologetics today. God is Good, God is Great: Why Believing in God is Reasonable and Responsible (IVP), edited by Craig and Chad Meister, was chosen as Christianity Today’s Book of the Year in the Apologetics/Evangelism category.

On Guard by William Lane Craig
David C Cook/March 1, 2010/ISBN: 978-1-4347-6488-1/286 pages/softcover/$16.99
www.davidccook.com – www.williamlanecraig.com

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Haunted Dream / Nathan Quist and the Curious Affair of the Crescent Earrings

Two books for Tweeners

Title: HAUNTED DREAM
Author: Angela Flatt
Publisher: Baker Trittin Press
2009
ISBN: 978-0-9814893-6-0
Genre: Youth/fantasy

Ruth’s best friend is diagnosed with cancer, and Ruth is lost without Bethany by her side. Ruth and Bethany’s brother, David, travel down to the hospital to visit Bethany, but when Ruth gets home she discovers that no one is home. She goes to bed early and starts dreaming about looking for Bethany.

Finding herself in an alternate reality, she hopes that this strange new world will provide the answers she desperately needs. But feeling alone, surrounded by dark shapes with no faces or form, Ruth imagines a parrot, Parabola, into existence. Together they set off on a quest of discovery. Will Ruth learn the lessons needed about pain, faith, and friendship?

HAUNTED DREAM is the fifth book in the Tweener Time Championship Series. I am not really found of fantasy, and this book seemed a lot darker than the others in the series I’ve read. I did feel sorry for Ruth and hoped that she would find the strength she needed to be a friend to Bethany and to support her through the illness.

If your tweener likes to read fantasy, then HAUNTED DREAMS is a book that will not only appeal to them, but will teach them a few lessons about friendship and faith along the way. Plus, Angela Flatt wrote this when she was only fourteen, so that will appeal to tweeners too, and maybe encourage them to enter the contest for young writers this year. HAUNTED DREAMS is available at www.bakertrittinpress.com or www.tweenerministries.org. $10.95. 79 pages.


Title: NATHAN QUIST AND THE CURIOUS AFFAIR OF THE CRESCENT EARRINGS
Author: Adam Stuck
Publisher: Baken Tritten Press
2008
ISBN: 978-0-9814893-3-8
Genre: Youth/mystery

Daniel Reimer is kind of an average kid. He isn’t very good at sports, he lives in Indiana where “nothing ever happens,” and he loves to read. But when the new school year starts, Daniel meets a foreign exchange student named Nathan Quist. Nathan also loves to read, but not only that but he has an extraordinary talent for noticing things.

When a girl that Daniel likes is found unconscious in the janitor’s closet, the school is stunned. Even more scary, is that Laura was in a coma and for over a month she never woke up. Daniel believes that with Nathan Quist’s talent for noticing things, then he should be able to catch the person who did this to Laura. Nathan isn’t so sure. After all, how can he get grownups to give him access to information related to the case? And what is to keep this person from acting again?

NATHAN QUIST AND THE CURIOUS AFFAIR OF THE CRESCENT EARRINGS is book four in Tweener Times Championship Series. I have enjoyed reading the books in this series, all written by teenagers, and some of them are extraordinarily good.

NATHAN QUIST is a book that flowed smoothly and held my interest all the way through and I know young people will enjoy reading it. There are some words in the book not common in our American language, but Daniel always asked Nathan to reword so the reader (if they need vocabulary help) will know what is being said. (This book will be a help to improve a child’s vocabulary.) There also are some – well several – contrived moments in the book, that wouldn’t really happen, but it is fiction and it helped it come to a more timely conclusion.

All in all, NATHAN QUIST is an enjoyable book, and I recommend it. Available from www.bakertrittinpress.com or www.tweenerministries.org. $10.95. 89 pages.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Perfect Match


Title: THE PERFECT MATCH
Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Tyndale Fiction
December 2008 (reissue)
ISBN: 978-1-4143-1385-6
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Ellie Karlson has something to prove. And now she has landed her almost-dream-job of being interim fire chief in the small town of Deep Haven, Minnesota. She arrived just in time to arrive on the scene of a structure fire where the volunteer fire-fighters are trying to save a family of five trapped in the burning house. As Ellie watches, one of the fire fighters gets blown right off the ladder, landing at her feet.

Dan Matthews is the town pastor and a volunteer firefighter. He is heartbroken when one of his parishioner’s homes catches on fire and frantically tries to save them, putting desperation ahead of safety. He isn’t prepared to land at the feet of a beautiful woman who can only be a dream come true for him.

The dream turns into more of a nightmare as Ellie turns out to be anything but the sweet-tempered woman he’d imagined. Instead, Ellie is a fireball, spunky, and argumentive. But someone is out to destroy Ellie’s dreams of being the new permanent fire chief—as the town as more structure fires in a month than it had in all the previous years. Who is out to get Ellie? Could it be Dan, who’d made it more than clear that he wanted her out of the firehouse? Or could it be one of the other firefighters, none of which react well to having a female boss?

THE PERFCT MATCH is the third book in Ms. Warren’s Deep Haven series, but it easily stands alone. I read this book when it first came out in 2004, and it was a pleasure to get this book in a box to review again.

Ms. Warren’s writing style is very well developed, though I did find this book a bit more introspective, with not near the action as Ms. Warren’s more recent releases. Still, the story telling is excellent, with characters that could almost be real, a setting that one can see, and realistic events. If you are looking for a good romance then definitely pick up THE PERFECT MATCH. $12.99. 324 pages.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Forget Me Not


Title: FORGET ME NOT
Author: Vicki Hinze
Publisher: Multnomah
March 2010
ISBN: 978-1-601142-205-7
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Benjamin Brandt has lost everything he loved--his beloved wife, Susan, and their young son, Christopher, when his family was brutally murdered. Now, Ben has lost his faith, and the only think keeping him going is his determination to find their killers and have them brought to justice. But after three years of only dead ends, his hope is dying.

Then the director at Crossroads Shelter calls Ben, claiming that a woman has shown up at the shelter, and she remarkably resembles Ben’s deceased wife, Susan. Not only that, but she is wearing Susan’s cross necklace, and she was driving a red jag (Susan’s car) when she was hi-jacked and beaten, left for dead. The woman has no memory, and doesn’t know who she is.

As Ben questions this woman, the connections between his Susan and this mystery woman mount, exceeding coincidence. And someone is on this other woman’s tail. Her only hope for survival is to work with Ben, and trust that her memory will return. Will that be enough to save her life?

FORGET ME NOT is the first book I read by this author, but it definitely won’t be the last. The story did start out with quite a bit of violence that made me kind of iffy about the story, but once I got past that, the whole story was well thought out, the characterization excellent, and all the loose ends were neatly tied and clipped by the end of the book.

I literally couldn’t put this book down. I started reading it yesterday while I was waiting for a computer program to open up, and by the time my slow computer did what it was supposed to do, I was hooked. The book was finished by night, even with interruptions by my five kids, and errands to run. I am looking forward to many more books by this author. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. I can’t wait to read book two coming in Spring 2011. $13.99. 329 pages.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

An Eye For An Eye


Title: AN EYE FOR AN EYE
Author: Irene Hannon
Publisher: Revell Publishing
October 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3311-7
Genre: Inspirational/suspense


FBI agent Mark Sanders has been transferred to the St. Louis office to allow the dust to settle following the tragic conclusion to a hostile robbery attempt. While there, he reconnects with his “first love,” Emily Lawson, just seconds before a sniper turns his rifle in their direction.

As Agent Sanders and his fellow operators work the case with their usual professional demeanor, Mark finds himself revisiting, and rediscovering, the relationship that he and Emily shared “that one incredible summer.”

Emily, a clinical psychologist with her own private practice, and enough volunteer work to classify as a second job, is still recovering from the devastating loss of her firefighter husband. Married only six months, Grant died trying to rescue an infant from a burning structure. Emily tells herself that she is not ready to get involved in another relationship with someone in a high-risk profession, even as the embers of the old flame with Agent Sanders spark into a consuming fire.

But there is a sniper on the loose. A sniper who feels that he is the tool that God is using to bring justice to an unjust world. A sniper who lives by the Old Testament passage, “an eye for an eye.” Will Mark and Emily survive the ordeal? And if they do, will they be able to face their own insecurities to forge a relationship not only with one another, but with the true God who can bring all things to pass for good?

Irene Hannon has done it again! This is the second book I have read by this author in as many weeks, (I read book three, In Harm’s Way, before book two, AN EYE FOR AN EYE) and her mastery of characterization and plot, combined with an incredible smoothness and clarity of scene shift will keep the reader on the edge of the seat until the final resolution. Reading Ms. Hannon’s novels is tantamount to actually being there. You experience the highs and lows, the successes and failures, of each of the characters as they work their way through the challenges that face them. To borrow a phrase from Scripture, one will “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Irene Hannon is an author that I will look for anytime I am in need of a “good book.” In fact, I hope to get book one in the series soon. Don’t miss AN EYE FOR AN EYE. $12.99. 303 pages.