Monday, January 31, 2011

Do You Know Who I Am?


Title: DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?
Author: Angela Thomas
Publisher: Howard Books
October 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4391-6070-1
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? is a book where Ms. Thomas started out asking God if He knows her and loves her—but it turned in a whole lot more. In each chapter she identifies a problem that women everywhere can recognize, such as “I am invisible”, “I am worn out”, “I am undisciplined”, “I am ordinary”, etc. Ms. Thomas asks God each question, and through His word, and thoughts, Ms. Thomas answers the questions, as if God says, “Yes, I know your heart and how you struggle. Do you know who I am?” and she shows us through this book how God is the answer.

Ms. Thomas says in the introduction of this book that this book is one that God laid on her heart and she struggled against it for a long while before she finally gave in. Asking God “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” sounds so boastful, not something you’d ask God. But when she finally gave in to the Lord’s prompting, He took this book to a level that she didn’t anticipate.

I’m glad Ms. Thomas sat down to write this book because it is a book that women everywhere can use. We all struggle with some of the issues included in this book. “I am worn out” for instance—and when I go to this chapter, I am reminded that “He doesn’t grow weary” along with many other biblical truths.

If you have questions and want answers, then this book is one to consider. It is not set up as a devotional, but it could be used as one with your Bible by your side as well as a notebook and pen to write your thoughts and observations. The chapters aren’t overly long, more like four or five pages (more or less) so it won’t take long out of your day. $14.99. 240 pages.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

iShine Bible


Title: iSHINE BIBLE
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
January 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4143 4815-5
Genre: Inspirational/Holy Bible NLT/Tweener

There are many versions and translations of the Bible out there today, and many varied opinions about each of them. There are Bibles made for babies, and large-print Bibles for the vision-impaired. But not all Bibles are designed especially for tweens.

The iSHINE BIBLE is made especially for tweens. It is the typical full length Bible, but it has a really cool, soft cover—the one I was sent to review is pink with stars on it—and it contains the whole Bible, not just the New Testament which impressed me. There is a question and answer section in the front of the Bible with things that kids are tempted by, like lying, gossip, stealing, attitudes, etc. There is also a colored section that will show your tween that she/he is valuable in God’s eyes… with links to web pages that you and your tween can visit.

My family and I are greatly impressed with this Bible (not so much the translation, I wish it came with options about what version/translation you’d prefer) and my three daughters especially are in awe of this Bible. They all think it’s cool (so do I) and everyone wants it! I get the dubious pleasure of deciding which two are disappointed. If you have a teenager, tweener, or well, a daughter or son of any age, who wants a cool looking Bible, then the iSHINE BIBLE is one to consider. The Bible I received is specifically for girls, but there are designs out there for boys as well. $19.99.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Reinventing Rachel


Title: REINVENTING RACHEL
Author: Alison Strobel
Publisher: David C. Cook
September 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6774-5
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Rachel Westing was born in a Christian home and wanted to do everything Christian. She is engaged to a man and making exciting plans for her future while trying to solve all the problems of the teens she knows.

But when Rachel discovers that her fiancé is cheating on her, and that her parents are filing for divorce, Rachel decides to forget God—since He let her down—and she moves to Chicago to be with her childhood friend, Daphne.

When fun-loving Daphne tries to help Rachel get back on her feet, Rachel finds her new life exciting. But then another tragedy hits…

REINVENTING RACHEL is the first book I’ve read by Alison Strobel. I quickly pegged Rachel as a “cookie-cutter Christian”, one who can talk the talk and walk the walk as long as everything is perfect, but when life hits, she crumbles. That disappointed me, but unfortunately there are a lot of Christians like that in the world.

The story is realistic and well-written. Readers will want to keep reading to see what happens with Rachel and find out if she’d turn back to God and develop a real faith that will survive the storms. $14.99. 240 pages.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pearl in the Sand


Title: PEARL IN THE SAND
Author: Tessa Afshar
Publisher: Moody Publishers
September 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8024-5881-0
Genre: Inspirational/historical/biblical

You remember reading the story of Rahab in the Bible. She’s the one that hid the spies in the city of Jericho, and then helped them escape by rope from her window on the wall of the city. She’s also the one that was spared (along with her family) when she hung a length of crimson rope from her window.

PEARL IN THE SAND takes this biblical story to a whole new level, fictionalizing this real life historical event, giving the characters personality and adding a whole new aspect to the story.

Ms. Afshar grew up in the part of the world (or near) where the story takes place so she is familiar with the landscape. She also weaves in a spiritual aspect that readers will be able to take from the book as they read it.

There are some humorous, laugh out loud moments, and the characters are realistically developed. If you like biblical fiction, then you’ll want to read PEARL IN THE SAND. $13.99. 336 pages.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Breaking Free


Title: BREAKING FREE
Author: Beth Moore
Publisher: Broadman & Holman
2007 (reprint from 2000)
ISBN: 1-59328-028-9
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

Do you want to find satisfaction in God, experience His peace, and enjoy His presence? Do you want to make the freedom Christ promised a reality in your daily life?

In BREAKING FREE, Beth Moore introduces the readers to nine different lessons and has several different parts – The lessons are too long to mention here, but the parts are:

I. From Captivity to Freedom
II. Benefits and Obstacles
III. Ancient Rules and Broken Hearts
IV. Dreams Surpassed and Obedience that Lasts
V. Unfailing Love
VI. Freedom and Splendor

This book is a Bible study and a lesson in Christianity that the reader / student won’t soon forget. This is more than a sit down and give two minutes to a devotional type Bible study. This is a pull up a chair, pour a cup of coffee (or tea), grab a pen, notebook and Bible and prepare to spend some time with the Lord. You will be changed as a result. 290 pages.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Summer Secret


Title: A SUMMER SECRET
Author: Kathleen Fuller
Publisher: Tommy Nelson
May 2010
ISBN; 978-1-4003-1593-2
Genre: Inspirational/Amish/young adult

Thirteen year old Mary Beth is tired of boys. With three brothers, she’s tired of their pranks, smells, and irresponsibility. And she’s tired of babysitting and doing more than her share of chores. So when Mary Beth discovers an old abandoned barn, she spends her free time there—even though her dad says its dangerous and tells her to stay away. She just needs a place to call her own. A place free of chores and boys. The barn is her secret place.

Or is it? A page of her journal is bent. Her blanket is folded wrong. Someone is helping themselves to granola bars and juice boxes. And a muddy footprint and a button are discovered nearby. Who is hanging out there besides her? Mary Beth is determined to find out who, but solving this mystery could put her in grave danger…

A SUMMER SECRET is the first book in The Mysteries of Middlefield series for young adults by Ms. Fuller. I’m a fan of her Amish romances, so I was excited to see this book for my girls to read. They are already fans of Beverly Lewis’ collection of Amish young adult books for girls that came out years ago.

I didn’t think A SUMMER SECRET was up to the standards that her Amish romances are, and it kind of bored me listening to Mary Beth whine about chores and brothers—but I’m a mom with five kids of my own and I hear enough whining about both of the above every day around my house.

Mary Beth sounds like a typical teenager and her brothers sound like typical boys. Very realistically developed. This book is not up to Ms. Fuller's other books standards. $9.99. 270 pages.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Never Been Kissed


Title: NEVER BEEN KISSED
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3259-2
Genre: Inspirational/young adult

Elise and her mom have just moved to a new apartment. Her single mom is claiming tight funds, and needing to find cheaper housing. So, now Elise is facing her junior year at a new high school with zero friends—except a fourteen year old neighbor girl.

There is a boy at the highschool, Asher, that Elise thinks is kind of cool, and he seems to be kind of into her too. Elise is really flattered when Asher starts emailing her. And introducing her to the in-crowd at her new school. But just as she begins to find her footing, the world comes crashing down around her—and her whole future might be derailed as a result.

NEVER BEEN KISSED is the newest young adult book by Melody Carlson. Ms. Carlson is known for writing edgier young adult books that apply to the modern world teenagers live in now. I have never heard of issue Ms. Carlson addresses in this book (though that might make me sound naïve) and found it horribly disturbing, but believable that teens might do something like this. My nine-year-old was waiting to read this book as was my fifteen year old, but I’m thinking I’ll tell the older girl to keep it out of her sister’s reach for a few years.

Ms. Carlson did an excellent job developing the characters and even the secondary characters were totally real and believable. I want to say that I enjoyed this book—and I did—it was just that the topic was so disturbing. I’m giving it 4 out of 5 stars, but only due to my naivety. $9.99. 220 pages.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Doctor in Petticoats


Title: DOCTOR IN PETTICOATS
Author: Mary Connealy
Publisher: Barbour Books
July 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60260-146-8
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Beth McCellan is on the way to Mosqueros, Texas, for her sister, Mandy’s wedding. But on the way, the train is stopped because of a bridge being out due to a hurricane. Forced to take the stage, Beth fears she won’t make it to town in time. But she knows she won’t when she is forced to help the stage coach driver control the runaway stage when another stage crashes in front of them.

Managing to stop only because the horses can’t go around the wreckage, Beth gets out to attend to the injured. But even if she is a nurse, she can’t do the doctoring alone. She forces the drunk on the stage with her to get out and help. But Alex Buchanan isn’t a drunk. He’s a doctor, burned out on life, burned out on war, burned out on medicine. He reluctantly helps, but that opens up a door that he never wanted to go through.

Beth thinks Alex is a lunatic when he proposes that they marry and work together. And that is where the real trouble begins.

DOCTOR IN PETTICOATS is the first book in Ms. Connealy’s newest series, Sophie’s Daughters. Written in Mr. Connealy’s trademark humorous style, the story has strong women, men with a painful past, and plenty of humor.

I enjoyed getting to know Beth and Alex as well as Beth’s other sisters. It was also nice to ‘revisit’ Sophie, Belle, and other characters from Ms. Connealy’s previous series. If you enjoy historical fiction, then you’ll love DOCTOR IN PETTICOATS. $12.99. 320 pages.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fatal Judgment


Title: FATAL JUDGMENT
Author: Irene Hannon
Publisher: Revell
January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3456-5
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

U.S. Marshal Jake Taylor has just relocated to his hometown of St. Louis. But he’s no sooner arrived than a shooting occurs at the home of a federal judge. The judge is no stranger to him, she was married to Jake’s best friend. And the case seems cut and dried. The judge’s sister had left her abusive husband. Jake is only involved due to the location of the crime.

Liz is devastated when her sister is shot and blames herself. After all, she asked—no, begged—her sister to leave her abusive husband. And now she possibly might die as a result of her injuries.

Jake is torn in his dealings with Liz. He only met her twice, but had pre-conceived ideas from talking with her now deceased husband—his best friend. And now it seems like the Liz he has to protect and the Liz married to his friend are two different people.

As the danger mounts, it soon becomes apparent that an unknown enemy wants Liz dead. And now the stakes are raised…

FATAL JUDGMENT is the first book in Ms. Hannon’s newest series, Guardians of Justice. I was a fan of her Heroes of Quantico series, and am glad to see some of the characters in that series playing minor roles in this series.

Liz is an endearing character, dealing with demons that came from decisions she made. Jake is adorable, working on pure adrenaline for the first few chapters, since he arrives on the scene majorly sleep deprived. The suspense in this book is nonstop, and it gripped me from page one and kept it to the end. I had to keep reading to see what happened. If you are looking for a good suspense, pick up FATAL JUDGMENT. $14.99. 335 pages.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Gathering Storm


Title: THE GATHERING STORM
Authors; Bodie and Brock Thoene
Publisher: Summerside Press
August 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60936-033-7
Genre: Inspirational/historical

American born Loralei Kepler is the daughter of a missionary family in Belgium. Nazi’s are invading Brussels and the Jews are trying to make a quick getaway. The Kepler family isn’t safe, and Loralei’s father makes the difficult decision to take his two daughters, one eight months pregnant, and his young niece and flee the country. But before they leave, they learn the horrifying news that the German’s have slaughtered everyone on the front lines, meaning its likely that the husbands of both daughters died in the battle.

The harrowing flight of Loralei and her family lead them into the arms of child refugees who have sacrificed everything for their lives, and toward a mysterious figure that guards an ancient secret…

THE GATHERING STORM is book one in the Thoene’s newest series The Zion Diaries. It is a continuation of The Zion Covenant series and The Zion Chronicles series.

The story starts out with a prologue in modern times, written as though Ms. Thoene herself has met with and talked to one of the characters in this book. Then the first part moves on to 1940 when Nazi’s invade Brussels, and the next part goes back further to 1936.

I found the jumping forward and backwards in time disruptive, and I had to take the time to get myself grounded into the story again after the break and the jump. There is also a bit of fantasy in the book which is a bit…weird and also disruptive. The story is written in first person, which I actually don’t mind but I know some people do, so I thought I’d mention it. But over all the whole story was worth it and the Thoene’s have once again written a tale that will stay with the readers for a long time to come. I recommend this book to anyone who has read the Thoene’s previous books. Discussion questions are included at the end. $14.99. 380 pages.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sing


Title: SING
Author: Lisa Bergren
Publisher: David C. Cook
April 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6707-3
Genre: Inspirational/historical

The St. Clair family is scattered in three different parts of the world: Paris, Brazil, and Colorado.

Odessa St. Clair McAllan lives in Colorado on a beautiful ranch, with her husband and new son. But a brutal blizzard brings unexpected devastation. In Paris, Moira St. Clair learns that her long trusted manager has been robbing her, and now she has no options. And Dominic St. Clair works in the boxing rings in Brazil, but he loses the wrong fight and son finds himself shanghaied by a frustrated sea captain.

Will the three of them manage to survive their devastating losses and escape a past menace determined to destroy them?

SING is the second book in The Homeward Trilogy by Ms. Bergren. Other than Ms. Bergren’s children’s books, I haven’t read any of her fiction since she first began as a writer with delightful romances.

SING is more of a historical women’s fiction, and being new to the series, I was quite lost as it began. I didn’t know who any of these characters were or how they got to where they were. It also jumped from one character to another, jarring me out of the story just as soon as I began to get grounded. As a result, it took awhile for me to get into this book. I cared most about Odessa’s story, maybe because she was the one I could most relate to. An interview with Ms. Bergren and discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 400 pages.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Crooked Path


Title: A CROOKED PATH
Author: Annette Smith
Publisher: NavPress
September 2007
ISBN: 978-1-57683-996-6
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary

Manny Ortega’s father abandoned his family when Manny was only twelve years old. When Manny was fifteen he left Mexico for Texas, driven by the need to provide for his mother and siblings. Many years later, Manny lands a job working as a ranch hand for Owen Green.

Over the years, Mr. Green gets worse and his sister comes to take care of him. But when the unexpected happens, Manny finds himself forced to do things he never dreamed of doing. Owen and Manny develop a friendship of sorts, one that is threatened when Owen’s daughter, Chaney comes to visit.

Can Owen and Manny salvage their relationship, or will Manny lose another father figure?

A CROOKED PATH is a moving story. I’ve heard good things about it and wanted to read it for myself, so that is why this review is so long after publication. I had to wait for time to read it. Written in first person, I got to know Manny very well and I grew to care for him. I also loved Mr. Green’s sister.

This is a good story, one that moved me to tears once in awhile. It deals with the subject of racism and how Texans view the Mexicans. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $12.99. 270 pages.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

OZARK WEDDINGS and giveaway


Leave a comment to possibly win an autographed copy of this book. Include your email address so I can contact you. Void where prohibited by law.

Title: OZARK WEDDINGS
Authors: Anita Higman and Janice Thompson
Publisher: Barbour Books
June 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60260-806-1
Genre: Inspirational/Contemporary Romance

The hills are alive with the ring of romance… and love is challenging three women to soar to new heights of hope and faith in the Ozark Mountains. (from the back cover)

Larkspur Dreams by Anita Higman: Larkspur Wendell is happy-go-lucky and she hates to see anyone in a funk. When her new neighbor, Everett Holden, moves in, he is much too solitary, and Larkspur is determined to bring him out of seclusion. Everett moved to the small town for peace and quiet, but that seems to be the last thing on Larkspur’s agenda. Will Larkspur’s attention bring Everett out of his shell? Or drive him in deeper?

The Love Song by Anita Higman and Janice Thompson: Clair O’Neal is painfully shy. She is thrust out of her comfort zone when her boss asked her to go to meet a famous author. The gathering is filled with “the beautifuls”—people Clair is convinced belongs there. She turns to leave but is stopped by image coach Glenn Yves who insists on introducing her to the author. But then Clair falls, making a spectacle of herself. Musician Hudson Mandel helps her up. Both men are attracted to Clair, but since both of them are a member of “the beautifuls” will Clair be able to trust either with her heart?

Castles in the Air by Anita Higman and Janice Thompson: Nori Kelly’s biological clock is not only ticking, it’s alarm is ringing. But men just aren’t interested in Nori, unless they are a member of the “geek” squad. Zachary Martin is a tried-and-true member of the “geek” squad and he’s truly interested in Nori. But what will it take for a nerd to win Nori’s heart?

OZARK WEDDINGS is a collection of three previously published Heartsong Presents romances, all set in Arkansas. I had read these books when they first came out several years ago. It was nice to see these three books as part of the Romancing America series, representing Arkansas.

All three stories were good, but I think the first one, Larkspur Dreams, was my favorite, maybe because it had the most humor. If you are looking for a good three-in-one collection to read, then OZARK WEDDINGS is a book to consider. $7.99. 348 pages.

An interview with Anita and Janice:

Your Barbour Heartsong 3-in-1 collection is entitled, Ozark Weddings. Tell us a little bit about the three stories.
Anita: All three stories are set in Arkansas—Eureka Springs, Little Rock, and Hot Springs. Larkspur Dreams and Castles in the Air are romantic comedy, while the middle story, The Love Song, is more dramatic in tone.
Janice: Larkspur Dreams is a lighthearted, whimsical tale that will appeal to inspirational romance readers, particularly those with artistic leanings. The Love Song reaches into the depths of the reader’s soul, dealing with the topic of overcoming past hurts. Castles in the Air provides a humorous look at the way we are perceived by others, and teaches us that our prejudices (comical as they might be) often keep us from the very thing God has planned for us.

Anita, you and Janice co-authored the three stories in Ozark Weddings. How do writers go about co-authoring?
Anita: There are a number of ways to co-author a novel. One writer might do the research and the other writer may actually write the story. Or co-authors may each choose a character and write from that character’s POV. In the three novels, I guess you could say I wrote the body and wings of the stories, and Janice helped to make them fly. She has a gift for critiquing.
Janice: Working with Anita is a breeze because she conceives and fully plots the stories then lets me add my thoughts/tidbits to give them flavor. She is so quirky and fun to work with, and I am very proud of the stories we have co-produced.

Were there times when it was hard to work together?
Anita: Janice is not only talented, but easy to work with. There were a few times in one of the novels that I found myself writing in a way that strayed from the general concept of a Heartsong romance. Janice made some good suggestions, which steered me in the right direction.
Janice: I can honestly say that I’ve never worked with anyone who was so willing to accept critique and/or take suggestions as Anita. She is a precious friend and collaborative partner. I already knew she was talented (even before we began this project) but had no idea how gracious she would be. Since I’ve written for the Heartsong line for years, I was able to “teach her the ropes” (as it were) and she was a ready learner! That’s not to say she hasn’t taught me a thing or two. I’ve learned much from her throughout this process, particularly as it applies to romantic tension. She’s far better at that than I am, and I’m happy to admit it.

Why did you choose to be a writer?
Anita: Ever since I was a little girl, I had this need to express myself in some sort of artistic medium. I’ve tried a number of things: piano, painting, decorating, and acting. But I’ve never been very good at any these endeavors, except writing. I guess really then—writing chose me.
Janice: Like Anita, I’ve always been artistic. As a youngster, I sang, danced and played the piano. I was also very involved in theater as a young person. I’ve been writing since childhood. I wrote my first novella in 6th grade, then went on to write musical comedies for the stage before turning to books in the mid-90’s. Like Anita, I can truly say that I didn’t choose writing; it chose me. Or, perhaps I should say that God chose it for me, as a gift.

When did you have your first success as a writer?
Anita: After several years of writing, I had some gradual success—books for children, books of one-act plays, and nonfiction for women. These successes were enough to keep me going toward my ultimate goal, which was to write novels.
Janice: This may sound a bit silly, but my first real writing “success” happened my senior year in high school, when I was chosen to help write the senior production. I had a blast, and the scene I crafted (a 1930’s/Busby Berkeley-esque “The Show Must Go On” scene) was a huge success. I can’t tell you what fun I had, or how great it felt for people to respond as they did.

Do you have any special methods of getting into the writing zone, such as favorite scents, music, or certain foods?

Anita: In the past I used to go to a French café, order coffee and scrambled eggs, and then write a rough chapter. The noise, music, and bustle always energized me creatively. But now I’m more of a homebody, so I sit for long hours in my office, working on my stories.
Janice: An "ideal" writing situation for me would involve someplace like Starbucks (or otherwise) with a cup of my favorite hot beverage in my hand (to be discussed below). Ironically, when I'm at home, I can't stand having music going. I find it terribly distracting... something about the "beat" drives me nutty. Having the television on is okay, but it's often muted. Crazy, I know. I'm a fanatic about my Diet Dr. Pepper and several flavors of hot tea. I particularly love Earl Grey and Chai Latte, among others. And I'm nuts about hot chocolate in the wintertime. I'm also crazy about my puppies. I have two red mini-dachshunds named Sasha and Copper. They usually settle in next to me on the sofa, Sasha on my right, Copper on my left. When we're all in place (with a cup of tea or a Diet Dr. Pepper on the end table, depending on the season) I'm ready to begin. Of course, I usually have to weed through several emails (clearing a path) before I can actually start writing. Whew! Sounds like quite a process, doesn't it?! It's a wonder I get anything done at all!

What is your best advice for aspiring writers?

Anita: If you feel called to write, don’t let people discourage you. I’m sure they don’t realize the impact of their words, but negative remarks can undermine our courage and joy. Comments similar to: “Maybe you weren’t really meant to be published.” Or, “Are you making any money at this yet?” Perhaps you’ve heard, “Why can’t you write like my favorite author?” Honestly, I could go on and on here. Writing is a great and honorable profession—one that can challenge, inspire, and change people’s lives. If you love words and love arranging them into stories, then don’t let the battering influence of dispiriting comments shatter your dream. Keep pressing on!

Janice: I often say this to young/new writers: Learn the craft, but don’t necessarily write what the publishers/agents/houses tell you to write. Trends change. Stick with the stories God places on your heart and if He intends them to be published, He will find the right publishing house in the right time.

What are your writing plans for the future?
Anita: I’d love to just keep doing what I’m doing. But I think I’d also enjoy writing novels for the young adult market.
Janice: I’m open to whatever God wants (and I really mean that). If He shifts me in a new direction (women’s fiction, for example) I’m following His lead! If He asks me to lay the writing down for a season in order to accomplish a different task, I’m open to that, too.

We’d love for you to visit our websites at www.anitahigman.com and www.janiceathompson.com. If you’re interested in our Heartsong collection, Ozark Weddings, it can be purchased in bookstores or ordered online at www.amazon.com.
Thanks for inviting us to your blog!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When the Devil Whispers


Title: WHEN THE DEVIL WHISTLES
Author: Rick Acker
Publisher: Abingdon Press
October 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4267-0767-4
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary/suspense

Allie Whitman works for a temporary agency as a CPA. But really she works as a whistle blower for the state, privately going through books of corporate giants and making them pay. But she is involved with a rock star on drugs, and her personal life is anything but happy.

Connor Norman is a clean cut lawyer, suing the corporations who Allie blows the whistles on. And both of them are very good at what they do.

But when Allie is “discovered” suddenly the world starts falling apart. The corporation agrees to keep “quiet” if she blows the whistle on someone else. If she doesn’t then they’ll expose her as the force behind the whistle blowing. What Allie decides could destroy Connor’s trust in her and much much more.

WHEN THE DEVIL WHISTLES is the first book I’ve read by Rick Acker. The writing is clean, stellar, and crisp, and the author has obviously done his research. The chapters are also short enough and has a good enough hook to make the “I’m just going to read to the end of the chapter before I put it down” reader (like me) keep reading for several chapters.

Corporate law is not a subject I’m real interested in, and there was a lot of terminology and abbreviations that I didn’t understand, but over all the plot was really good and kept my interest. The prologue especially was intriguing and I had to keep reading to see how that played into the story—and what happened when it was discovered. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. 14.99. 345 pages.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Sacred Journey


Title: THE SACRED JOURNEY
Author: Charles Foster
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
2010
ISBN: 978-0-8399-4607-7
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

“When Yahweh became a man, He was a homeless vagrant. He walked through Palestine proclaiming that a mysterious kingdom had arrived… He called people to follow Him, and that meant walking.” Charles Foster

As humans, we are prone to wander. The Bible is full of stories of wanderings. History is the same way. Sometimes the reasons are simple. We need a better job, we go where the food is, we need to escape bad weather, wars or plagues. But sometimes people go at great expense—and risk—in the name of God, both to serve Him, or to find a place that feels sacred.

But what if you can’t go? What if you can’t leave due to responsibilities or infirm health? What if the only journey you can go on is no further than school, work, or even the bath room?

THE SACRED JOURNEY is part of The Ancient Practices Series and this is quite an intriguing book. I read it once for review—I’m going to go back and reread this once for me. My husband, who is a pastor, wants to read this book too. I think I’m going to try and get some of the other books in this series.

I was quite impressed with this, especially with some of the stories that they shared in the book, and it shows me that no matter where you are, if we look, our paths lead to God. I loved this book and highly recommend it. $12.99. 232 pages.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Search


Title: THE SEARCH
Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Publisher: Revell
January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3387-2
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Lainey O’Toole had to make a split second decision with far-reaching effects. Now, fifteen years later, she’s on the way to New York to go to culinary school, but her car breaks down in the same town where it all began. Going into a bakery to make a phone call, Lainey instead ends up with a job.

Bertha Reihl wants her granddaughter and her son to come visit, and the only way she can think of to get Bess to Pennsylvania is to claim women’s surgery. Bess is less than thrilled with the idea of spending the summer picking roses, but it beats having to go to summer school to retake algebra. Especially since her grandmother keeps coming up with these odd schemes.

Lainey and Bess’s worlds are about to collide – and the secrets that are exposed will shock them both.

THE SEARCH is the third book in Ms. Fisher’s Lancaster County Secrets series, but it easily stands alone. I enjoyed getting to know Bess and Lainey as well as some of the other characters, like Bertha’s hired hand, Billy, Bess’s father, Jonah, and Bertha. I especially loved Bertha and her wacky sense of humor and mischievous streak.

If you are looking for a great Amish story, then THE SEARCH is a book you’ll want to consider. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. I highly recommend THE SEARCH as well as Ms. Fisher’s previous books (both fiction and nonfiction). $14.99. 300 pages.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pause for Power


Title: PAUSE FOR POWER
Author: Warren W. Wiersbe
Publisher: David C. Cook
November 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7814-0374-0
Genre: Inspirational/devotional

Experience an unforgettable year of spiritual growth.

PAUSE FOR POWER is a 365-day devotional, arranged in a topical manner, covering themes such as love, peace, ministry, and much more.

The devotionals are undated, numbered instead. So you can start on any devotional, or hop and skip around, or follow in order, just however you feel like it.

There is a selected Bible reading, and then the devotional pinpoints one particular verse. It goes on into the devotional part, then includes a point to ponder (or discuss, if you’re doing it in a group.)

In twelve months, if you follow the whole book, you’ll have studied Galations, Job, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Romans, I and II Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, I and II Timothy, Hebrews, James, I Peter, and I John. But more important, you’ll gain insight into God’s word!

I used PAUSE FOR POWER with my family over the course of several days and then read through it on my own, and I highly recommend this book. The devotionals do seem a bit short – but that’s because they are good and leave you hungry for more. This will make you want to turn to the scriptures, and as a result, grow.

PAUSE FOR POWER is done in an attractive hardback with a dust cover. There is a ribbon so you can mark your place, and it would make a wonderful gift for someone on your Christmas list. Available now at your favorite bookseller. $16.99. 368 pages.

About the Author:

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe, former pastor of The Moody Church and general director of Back to the Bible, has traveled widely as a Bible teacher and conference speaker. Often referred to as the Pastor’s Pastor, Wiersbe has offered great encouragement to those with whom he has shared ministry. He has preached and taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States as well as in Canada, Central and South America, and Europe. His published work includes the popular BE series of commentaries on every book of the Bible which has sold more than four million copies. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Dr. Wiersbe and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Voices of the Faithful


Title: VOICES OF THE FAITHFUL
Complied by Kim P. Davis
With Beth Moore
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
December 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8499-4624-0
Genre: Inspirational/Christian life

VOICES OF THE FAITHFUL is written in devotional style, with a short selection of scripture, a true story regarding something a missionary experienced—sometimes written by the missionary—and finished up with a short prayer.

These true stories of missionaries are inspiring, short, and easy to read. They inspired me to pray more for missionaries, especially the ones who wrote that particular devotional, but sometimes God brought others to mind.

As a devotional, these are lacking. I didn’t feel like I grew any as a Christian or was fed spiritually, but these are not the digging deep in the word type. They are more “snack” type devotionals for a quick read, a quick prayer, and I spent a moment with the Lord.

VOICES OF THE FAITHFUL brings amazing stories of hundreds of Christians world-wide who live the passionate, courageous life Jesus challenged us to live.

If you are interested in missions, then this is definitely a book to consider. I recommend it. Would be an excellent start for any missionary meeting at church, or to teach others what missionaries experience. $14.99. 455 pages.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Long Time Coming


Title: LONG TIME COMING
Author: Vanessa Miller
Publisher: Abingdon Press
October 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4267-0768-1
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Deidre Clark-Morris and her husband, Johnson, have longed for children, trying to have them for many years. Deidre has a successful career, but her life would be complete if God gave her children.

Kenisha Smalls has lived in poverty all her life. She has gone from man to man and has children fathered by three different one. Now she’s been diagnosed with cervical cancer.

When Deidre and Kenisha meet, they are not the best of friends. Deidre thinks Kenisha is a bad mom for forgetting to pick her son up, and Kenisha thinks Deidre is a rich woman who has no right to judge her. And Deidre doesn’t initially believe Kenisha’s claims of cancer.

But soon these two women start forging an unlikely friendship. As Deidre tries to introduce Kenisha to God, Kenisha tries to teach Deidre how to stand strong.

LONG TIME COMING is the first book I’ve read by this author. This is a story set around African-American characters, and the terminology used is definitely in their conversation style.

The story is heartbreakingly realistic as I’ve known people in both situations. I felt for both of them. I kind of figured where this story would go just from reading the back cover copy, so the story line is no big surprise, but it was a pleasant reading journey as they went from start to finish. $14.99. 305 pages.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Shall Not Want


Title: I SHALL NOT WANT
Author: Debbie Viguie
Publisher: Abingdon Press
October 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4267-0190-0
Genre: Inspirational/Mystery

Cindy Preston’s life is still getting back to normal after helping to capture the Easter killer. Now it’s Thanksgiving. Her short-lived romance with the Rabbi Jeremiah has ended, and now she’s helping Joseph Tyler organize a charity event.

Unfortunately, Joseph’s personal assistant is found dead at this event and one of the valuable registered puppies is missing. This sets off a string of murders and missing dogs.

Cindy and Jeremiah team up again to help the police solve this crime—but no one knows where to start. Is it an overly competitive millionaire stealing pooches—if so, why is he also taking adopted shelter dogs? Or could it possibly be someone much closer to Joseph?

I SHALL NOT WANT is the second book in The Psalm 23 Mysteries series, but it easily stands alone. This book starts out kind of slow, telling us what happened in Cindy’s life since she solved the earlier murder, but starts to get more interesting at the community charity event Joseph hosted. A speed dating scene which both Joseph and Cindy participated in was almost funny, as well as some of the events which occurred because of it.

The middle of the book did start dragging again, but a few more bodies and a humorous shopping experience perked that up. Overall, this was a funny mystery with a killer that I never suspected. Not too many mystery writers are able to pull that off. 265 pages. $13.99.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Faith's Reward


Title: Faith’s Reward
Author: Tammy Barley
Publisher: Whitaker House
January 2011
ISBN: 978-1603741101
Genre: Inspirational/historical
336 pages
$9.99

Reviewed by guest blogger Jennifer Slattery

Tammy Barley’s Faith’s Reward grabbed me from page one. She wrote by far the most intriguing first page I have ever read. The novel, set in Northern California in 1865opens with Jessica Bennet jolting upright in bed after having a frightening premonition. Wind rattles against window panes, cold seeps through glass, and darkness enshrouds her, heightening the tension of the scene. Beside her, the bed is empty, which can only mean one thing—her husband is out in the storm, fighting to save their cattle during a bitterly cold blizzard.

Despite her pregnancy, Jessica hurries outside, driven by fear for her husband and concern for their already diminished cattle. While ranch hands works to chisel cattle from beneath sheets of ice, her husband grows increasingly sick—the storm has given him pneumonia. It isn’t long before Jessica’s fear is replaced with panic as she realizes his chances of survival are limited.

I loved all the homeopathic remedies Jessica and her ranch aids used in their effort to save Jessica’s ailing husband. It was clear Tammy spent a great deal of time researching medicinal practices of this period, and during the pneumonia scenes, the details were effectively woven into the story without jolting the reader. I also appreciated the tender love Jessica shared with her husband and their obvious faith. Each character presented came alive and Jessica’s tender yet headstrong nature created a dynamic woman that was easy to relate to.

On numerous occasions, Tammy’s unique word choices and colorful phrases amused me. Visual detail was seamlessly woven into the story, creating rich images in the reader’s mind. However, there a considerable amount of backstory was provided, especially in the first chapter, and at times the dialogue and thought tags pulled me from the story. Yet despite the over-abundance of tags and occasional information intrusion, I found the story line engaging. I empathized deeply with Jessica and her husband and wanted to see Mr. Bennet overcome the odds, living to see the birth of his child.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Deceit


Title: DECEIT
Author: Brandilyn Collins
Publisher: Zondervan
June 2010
ISBN 978-0-310-27644-9
Genre: Fiction/Christian Suspense

This latest installment in Brandilyn Collins’ series DECEIT is every bit the page-turner that you would expect from this savvy writer, although I admit to the necessity of a learning curve before I could get into the book. This is the first time I’ve heard the term “skip tracer,” the title given to those individuals who are particularly skilled at “tracing,” i.e. locating, those who have “skipped” town. Of course, explaining the art and science of skip tracing is nowhere near as easy as defining the term. The author has done a remarkable job of making a meticulous, time-consuming, brain-numbing (for me) profession understandable, even enjoyable.

In this novel Joanne Weeks, the skip tracer aforementioned, has finally got the break needed to potentially put two murder cases to rest, and the murderer behind bars. All she has to do is find the body of her best friend, who was killed seven years ago, and find the eye-witness to the murder: a foster child with a scary past and an even scarier future, if the murder suspect happens to find her before Joanne does. Throughout the book, Ms. Collins weaves the ever-present threads of a God who is bigger than the problems facing us, and who ultimately delivers justice, as well as dispensing his grace. Seatbelt Suspense is a timely tag for this author: make sure you’re buckled in before you open the book. 314 pages. $14.99.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Love Food & Live Well


Title: LOVE FOOD & LIVE WELL
Author: Chantel Hobbs
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
December 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-45784-4
Genre: Inspirational/healthy living

Chantel Hobbs has become somewhat of an expert on losing weight and keeping it off. She has two previous books out on the topic of how she managed to lose over two hundred pounds and not only lose it but keep it off. And now in LOVE FOOD & LIVE WELL she shares some advice that she learned from a super thin woman she met at the gym. Moderation.

But that’s not all that Chantel teaches us. In a humorous, friendly manner that reminds me of a conversation between friends over coffee, Chantel shows us that food is not the enemy. It is our attitudes toward it that sabotages us. She teaches us when we can have carrot cake and when it is simply time to have a carrot.

You can turn food into an ally by following Chantel’s 80/20 rule. 20% of the time spludge on the foods you love. The remaining 80% choose food on the basis of delivering maximum fuel for your body and health. In this way, she teaches us self-discipline.

LOVE FOOD & LIVE WELL includes personal inventories, original recipes, food plans, and detailed exercises. This book is a beneficial guide to anyone who wants to lose weight and keep it off. I read this book once for review, now I plan to go back and study it for my own personal use. $19.99 hardcover. 225 pages.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball


Title: TWO TICKETS TO THE CHRISTMAS BALL
Author: Donita K. Paul
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
October 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-45899-5
Genre: Inspirational/fantasy/romance/Christmas

Mischievous matchmakers,
Two special tickets,
One unlikely couple,
An evening for romance at the annual Christmas Ball

Cora Crowder is busy trying to prepare for a holiday season. She is sending gifts to her estranged family, but doesn’t want to be with them. As she searches for a gift for her uncle she visits Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad’s bookstore where she meets up with her boss’ boss, Simon Derrick. And both of them are given tickets to a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas ball.

Every year the matchmakers on Sage Street host an enchanting, old-fashioned ball for the romantic matches they decide to bring together.

This year, Simon and Cora are their targets. But will the matchmakers’ plans be ruined by a conniving woman this holiday?

TWO TICKETS TO THE CHRISTMAS BALL is a Christmas fantasy that I’ve wanted to read since I heard about it and it didn’t disappoint. Cora is a new Christian, struggling to let go of her family issues and move on, and Simon is truly an amazing hero, kind, considerate, and focused.

I totally loved TWO TICKETS TO THE CHRISTMAS BALL and it read it through in one sitting. If you are looking for a great Christmas read for the holiday season, then pick up your copy of TWO TICKETS TO THE CHRISTMAS BALL today. 230 pages. $14.99 hardcover.

video trailer for Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball to YouTube here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lr3-m5YpQpU

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Plain & Simple Christmas


Title: A PLAIN & SIMPLE CHRISTMAS
Author: Amy Clipston
Publisher: Zondervan
September 2010
ISBN: 978-0-310-32736-3
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Three years ago, Anna Mae McDonough had joined the Amish church, but then she met Englischer, Kellan McDonough and married him. As a result, Anna Mae was shunned. But now she’s expecting her first baby and her only Christmas wish is to be reconnected with her family.

Katherine Beiler married Anna Mae’s brother, David, and she is thrilled when she receives a letter from Anna Mae asking about coming home for a visit. But David is vehemently against it. Believing she’s doing the right thing, Katherine agrees to help Anna Mae with arrangements, even hosting the couple for meals.

Anna Mae’s her father is a bishop, and told Anna Mae when she left that she was no longer his daughter. He won’t change his mind. Is there any hope for a Christmas miracle?

A PLAIN & SIMPLE CHRISTMAS is set in the backdrop of Ms. Clipston’s Kauffman Amish Bakery series and has some secondary characters that readers of her books are familiar with.

I enjoyed getting to know Anna Mae and her husband Kellan, and was glad that Anna Mae didn’t regret loving her husband, but yet she did want restoration with her family. I was also glad that one family member was receptive to her reconnecting. I enjoyed this novella and will be keeping it on my shelves to enjoy during other Christmas seasons.

Discussion questions and an Amish Fruitcake recipe (it sounds more like applesauce cake) is included at the end of this book. $14.99. 190 pages.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Destiny's Dream


Title: Destiny’s Dream
Author: Delia Latham
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-61116-050-5
December 2010
$13.99
248 pages

Reviewed by guest blogger: Jennifer Slattery


Delia Latham is a delightful writer who can take you from tears to giggles with the flip of a page. The prologue broke my heart when Destiny May, the heroine, said goodbye to her dying mother, yet a few pages later, Delia had me in a fit of giggles—at a funeral, of all places. It was one of those rare laugh-out-loud moments, and she did it without offending me in the slightest.

It was here, at Destiny’s mother’s funeral, that we met our hero, Clay Gallagher. Poor guy. This successful, charming, businessman finds him in a very uncomfortable, and somewhat confusing position.

First, he comes late. Then, he sits beside Destiny, who is trying not to fall apart as the pastor attempts to turn the funeral into a celebration of heaven. Finally, he makes a complete, offensive fool of himself when he proceeds to make one rude comment after another.

It’s enough to send redheaded Destiny into a fit of rage! She is floored, and prepared to give this oaf a piece of her mind, until she catches the mortification on the man’s face. It’s obvious--the man has walked into the wrong funeral! She loses it and bursts out laughing, adding to the poor man’s confusion. (Who appears, upon further reader-understanding, not to be the total jerk we may have thought him to be.)

Before he has a chance to process what’s going on, Destiny whisks him off to the coffee shop for an impromptu date. Not what you’d expect from a grieving daughter. But then again, Destiny May is anything but predictable. Cute, caring, fun, a bit giggly…but not predictable. And Clay doesn’t quite no how to take her.

The more he gets to know her, the more he loves her, until a lovers quarrel breaks them up, and Clay’s younger brother comes in for the kill.

Will Destiny and Clay be able to work out their differences or will this love triangle drive a wedge between them all?

Delia is a fun writer who was able to elicit quite a few giggles from me as I read. Her characters are unique and playful. How she managed to turn a death scene into one of the most comical events I’ve ever read, I’ll never know. But I enjoyed every moment of it! I look forward to the rest of the books in this series.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Possession


Title: POSSESSION
Author: Rene Gutteridge
Publisher: Tyndale
December 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4143-2434-0
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

In the aftermath of investigating the D.C. sniper case, detective Vance Graegan is burned out. Desperate to save his marriage, he retires after twenty years in the force, giving up a lot of benefits, to let his wife have her dream, a deli shop in sunny California. They have the money saved to start the business, and everything is looking great.

Then the trouble starts. The mover refuses to deliver their stuff unless Vance pays them an additional $8,000. Vance refuses, knowing it’s a scam, but everyday, the bill goes up by a thousand dollars. And then the threats start. And soon loosing their belongings is the least of his problems.

POSSESSION is the latest suspense release by acclaimed author Rene Gutteridge. I’ve loved most all her books, and I was hooked by POSSESSION even when it became too scary to read. I couldn’t put the book down; I had to see what happened next, to see how Vance and Lindy would work through the devastation that has torn apart their lives.

If you are looking for a good suspense, then be sure to pick up POSSESSION. I thought the bad guy was pretty cut and dried, but it soon became apparent that things are not at all as they seemed. If you’re a “chicken” like me, and don’t like scary books, you might not want to read this. If you try to read it, make sure it’s in a well lit room! If you love suspense, the scarier the better, then this book is for you. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $12.99. 390 pages.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Love Finds You in Pendleton, Oregon


Title: LOVE FINDS YOU IN PENDLETON, OREGON
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Summerside Press
March 2010
ISBN: 978-1-935416-84-5
Inspirational/contemporary romance

Sunny Westcott was raised by her grandmother after her parents’ untimely deaths. And after her grandmother dies, Sunny finds herself unemployed and trying to clean out her grandmother’s house. A friend helps her find a temporary job as a model, and Sunny is invited to go to Pendleton for a photo shot. Before she goes though, she discovers an old box in her grandmother’s house that seems to imply that Sunny’s great-grandfather was a famous rodeo king, but she has no proof.

While in Pendleton, Sunny goes out to the reservation to try to find relatives. Her host sets her up with her son-in-law, Cody, who lives on the reservation, and he is able to help her find some relatives on her great-grandmother’s side of the family. But regarding her great-grandfather’s fathering her, everyone seemed to have their own opinion ranging from her great-grandmother was crazy to yes, you are definitely his great-grandchild.

Will Sunny be able to find the truth in the two weeks she’s in town? And if she does, will she like what she finds?

LOVE FINDS YOU IN PENDLETON, OREGON is a recent release by prolific author, Melody Carlson. This book isn’t as great as other books by Ms. Carlson that I’ve read, and the romance almost seems to be tossed in there last minute, as in, oh, this is supposed to be a romance…

LOVE FINDS YOU IN PENDLETON, OREGON is a disappointment as far as being a Love Finds You book is concerned, it is more a story about a woman trying to find her roots. But it still was a good read, and it held my interest. If you like books in the Love Finds You series, or are a fan of Ms. Carlson’s books, then you might want to consider LOVE FINDS YOU IN PENDLETON, OREGON. However, if you want a great contemporary romance, you might want to look further. $12.99. 316 pages.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Spiritual Fitness Checkup for the 50 Something Woman


Title: THE SPIRITUAL FITNESS CHECKUP FOR THE 50 SOMETHING WOMAN
Author: Sharon V. King, PhD
Publisher: Healthy Life Press
June 2010
ISBN: 9781453661185
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

Happy birthday! You’ve reached 50! Or you soon will. Maybe it’s time you sit back and visit with Dr. Sharon King as she discusses your spiritual fitness with you.

Just as visits with your medical doctor are important, visits with the Lord about your spiritual condition is important.

In THE SPIRITUAL FITNESS CHECKUP FOR THE 50 SOMETHING WOMAN, Dr. King talks about many different topics from your spiritual stamina, your meditation (or prayer) time, your self-image, your sexuality, and even about relaxation.

I’m not 50 yet and won’t be for awhile, so there are some things in this book I didn’t quite relate to. I don’t have grandkids, instead I have teenagers, so there were some concessions I made as I read this. But even so, I enjoyed working through the checklists and thinking about how I would compare.

This book really isn’t a devotional, but I used it as one. It starts out like a doctor visit, as they talked about taking your pulse, getting your weight, etc., then it moves on to the spiritual portion with a verse, things to consider and questions to answer. This would be excellent for a small group study and should generate lots of discussion.

If you or someone you know is turning 50, then THE SPIRITUAL FITNESS CHECKUP FOR THE 50 SOMETHING WOMAN is a book to consider. It isn’t very thick and it is short enough that it’s an easy read. But it packs a lot of value. $8.95. 64 pages.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Place of Peace


Title: A PLACE OF PEACE
Author: Amy Clipson
Publisher: Zondervan
January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-310-31995-5
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Miriam Lapp fled her Amish community five years before, heartbroken. She’d just found out that her boyfriend, Timothy Kauffman had been cheating on her, and the baby she watched during the day died of SIDS. The community blamed her for the baby’s death.

Now Miriam has received news that her mamm died. She goes home for the funeral, but her daed makes it clear that she’s not welcome. Not only that but Miriam finds out that Timothy Kauffman has moved on and he’d asked another girl to marry him.

Timothy Kauffman has pined over Miriam for five years, believing that she’d been the one who’d been cheating on him. Now she’s home and he’s determined to put her behind him once and for all. But how can he do that when the past has so many unanswered questions? And what if the answers aren’t what he wants to hear?

A PLACE OF PEACE is the third book in Ms. Clipston’s Kauffman Amish Bakery Series. This book stands alone, but it does refer back to earlier books in this series which all centered around the Kauffman family.

I enjoyed reading Miriam and Timothy’s story, but felt bad about all the misunderstandings that kept them apart, and the judgments that came down mostly on Miriam’s head. I sympathized with them and hoped that they’d be able to move past their history and find a future together.

Some yummy sounding recipes are included in this book, and discussion questions are included at the end of the book. If you are looking for a great new Amish fiction, then pick up A PLACE OF PEACE. This is a great read. $12.99. 330 pages.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Flight Plan: Your Mission to Become a Man


Teenage boys are faced with navigating the turbulent journey to manhood, often without an inkling of what that really means or any direction of how to get there. Flight Plan: Your Mission to Become a Man offers a vision of godly manhood and a complete and honest guide into the adventures ahead. Written by Lee Burns and Braxton Brady, Flight Plan is a natural evolution of their original program, Building Boys, Making Men, a curriculum created by the authors for the 630 boys who attend Presbyterian Day School (PDS) in Memphis, Tennessee.

Q&A with Braxton Brady Co-Author of Flight Plan

Q: What is Flight Plan, the book?

A: Flight Plan offers boys and young men a definition and vision of manhood that can help them to make wise choices during their teenage years and beyond. It frankly and authentically discusses a number of issues they will face and teaches boys a definition of manhood (“A real man glorifies God by seeking an adventuresome life of purpose and passion as he protects and serves others.”) and seven virtues of manhood. It focuses on the question of what it means to be a man and includes in depth teaching on many of the changes, challenges, and temptations they will be facing as teenagers.

Q: Flight Plan is co-written by you and your colleague, Lee Burns. What inspired you both to write this book?

A: Lee is the headmaster at Presbyterian Day School, an independent school for boys in Memphis, Tennessee. I am the chaplain. Together, we work with more than 600 boys at the school, and I personally teach about 250 of them. Candidly, we felt that dads were dropping the ball, whether because their other demands didn’t afford them meaningful time with their children, or they just didn’t know how. So we created Building Boys, Making Men, a year long curriculum and class for boys at PDS. And the response has been great. Over the years, we’ve had requests from parents, churches, and youth pastors to expand the program beyond PDS. Flight Plan was our response to these requests and our way of sharing what PDS has learned about boys and men over the years.

Q: For whom was Flight Plan written?

A: The Building Boys, Making Men program at PDS was created by me and Lee for sixth grade boys. Drawing on a collective 60 years of research and experience with teaching boys, we felt that was the critical age when they start to be faced with many of the decisions that will go on to define the kind of men they become. At the time we were writing this, my son was twelve. As I was writing I kept him in mind, conscious of what he would relate to, how he would like to be communicated to, and what would resonate with him and also keep him engaged.

Q: Do you think pre-teen and teenage boys are facing different challenges than perhaps their parents faced?

A: Boys have many outside influences that we didn’t have growing up. Today, everything is a click away. They have easy access to everything. Parents think that they can protect their children and create a bubble around them. But when boys get to a certain age, that becomes impossible.

Q: Do parents face greater challenges today in bringing up boys than perhaps your parents faced?

A: One of the greatest challenges I think parents face today is that boys and girls don’t know how to have face-to-face conversations. They live in a virtual reality world. I read a statistic that teenagers send 100 text messages a day! It’s so critical to have a relationship with your children, for fathers to have relationships with their sons, to communicate, and to create quality face-to-face, in-person time together without the distraction of phone calls or texting.

Q: In your experience with teaching boys, what are some of the strongest influences that define who they become?

A: Certainly boys today are bombarded by messages from television, movies, video games, and music. But one of the strongest influences boys face is from their friends and peer pressure. Who they choose as their friends then becomes critical in defining the framework for the life they will create. How to choose good friends, how to identify positive influences is one of the key issues we address in Flight Plan. We also speak candidly and openly about the messages in media. For example, we deal honestly with sex and tell them that most everything they learn about sex from television and movies is not the way it really is.

Q: In Flight Plan you focus candidly on eight areas that boys will face. What are those areas where you think they will be challenged?

A: We deal openly with key areas or issues of decision making boys will face as they become teenagers and even in the pre-teen years: friendship and peer pressure, drugs, drinking, girls and sex, and relationships with school and family. We discuss these issues frankly so that they can anticipate what is coming, then make wise choices in their teenage years and even beyond.

Q: The book talks also about what is not a man, taking readers through six myths about what a man is not before laying out a vision for what true manhood is. What are some of those myths?

A: Yes, in chapter two we first tackle one-by-one some of the common myths largely learned through our culture about what manhood is. First, that men don’t show emotion and then that men should define themselves by their outward achievements and successes. Others include that men should only pursue certain cool hobbies and interests, men must give up great adventures, boys and girls/men and women are really no different from one another, and lastly that you have to do certain things to become a man.

Q: How do you go about casting a vision or plan for what manhood should be?

A: Flight Plan teaches the definition of manhood, that a real man glorifies God by seeking an adventuresome life of purpose and passion as he protects and serves others. This definition of manhood, along with seven biblically-based virtues, serve as the foundation for a vision of godly manhood. We take readers through each virtue: the true friend, the humble hero, the servant leader, the moral motivator, the bold adventurer, the noble knight, and finally, the heart patient.

Q: What do you hope will be the takeaway for boys who read Flight Plan?

A: We know that these boys are about to take the journey of a lifetime. There will be forks in the road and they will have to make choices. Often there will be many others going down one path, though it may not be the right path. Lee and I created Flight Plan to shine a light on what will lie ahead in the journey so that, when faced with those choices, boys will know which way to go. Flight Plan is a map, and much like a map, if you keep in mind where you are headed, you are far more likely to get there. Our prayer for each reader of Flight Plan is that in knowing what it means to be a man, they will be far more likely to get there and arrive safely in a way that is rewarding. And really the issues, the virtues laid out in Flight Plan, are for men well into adulthood too. If these boys can stay on the right path in their teenage years, it will carry them long into their lives as adults.

Braxton Brady and Lee Burns are available for speaking engagements. For more information, contact Ellen Lewis of The Barnabas Agency (elewis@tbbmedia.com or 800-927-0517 x110).

Flight Plan: Your Mission to Become a Man by Lee Burns and Braxton Brady
PDS Publishing/November 2010/194 pages/ISBN 978-0-615-38061-2/$14.99
www.theflightplanbook.com ~ Watch an interview with Braxton Brady at www.vimeo.com/15998729.

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My review: This is a book I wish had been available when my boys were younger. It takes them through scenerios that all boys/teenagers/young men will encounter at one time or another and teaches them godly and manly ways of handling them. Some topics included are drugs, dating, family and friends, idols, studying, and much more. If you have a preteen or a boy in their early teen years, then pick up a copy of FLIGHT PLAN.

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