Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lazarus Awakening


Title: LAZARUS AWAKENING
Author: Joanna Weaver
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-44496-7
Genre: Inspirational/Christian Living

It’s easy to believe that God loves the world…but sometimes you wonder if He truly loves you…

For many of us, it is easy to tell others that God loves them. Easy to share the good news of God’s love and to convince others. But it is a completely different thing to imagine that God actually loves you—personally.

In LAZARUS AWAKENING Ms. Weaver takes a very short passage of scripture, where Lazarus took sick, Jesus tarried, and when He arrived, Lazarus had been buried four days. Jesus cried, and then spoke the words that raised Lazarus from the dead. And Ms. Weaver uses this passage to start showing us that God loves us that very same way. He loves you apart from anything you accomplish, He loves you apart from what you bring, He loves you despite your inadequacy or your shattered dreams.

Jesus wants to help free you to live fully in the light of His love—unbound from fear, regret, and self-condemnation.

If you—like so many of us—suffer from imagining God welcoming everyone else into Heaven with open arms, but greeting you with an “oh, it’s you” type greeting, and then when that biblical banquet is served watching everyone else placed at the table while you are given a spot outside with the dogs, then this book is for you. A workbook/study guide is included at the end of this book, so you can use this as a devotional, or as a small group study, or even in a Sunday school class.

I highly recommend this book, and even though I read it through once for review, I’m going to be going back through it with my Bible and a pen so I can glean more from it’s pages. This is a book that belongs in personal libraries and church libraries. $19.99 hardcover. 221 pages.

About Joanna:
Joanna Weaver is known the world over for her transparent and life-changing books, Having A Mary Heart in a Martha World and Having a Mary Spirit. These two books have sold over a million copies and have been translated into several languages including Spanish, French, Dutch, Chinese, German, Korean and more. Joanna has appeared on a wide variety of nationally syndicated radio and television broadcasts. Past appearances include: The Harvest Show, At Home Live With Chuck & Jenni, Midday Connection, HomeWord, and Janet Parschall’s America . She is also a highly sought after speaker and shares her message at intimate gatherings and several high profile events each year. But Joanna's greatest joy is found in being a wife and mother and her role as a pastor’s wife. For more information about Joanna, please visit her website. www.joannaweaverbooks.com.

Link to buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/Lazarus-Awakening-Finding-Place-Heart/dp/0307444961/ref=sprightly-20

About the giveaway:

Joanna is celebrating the release of Lazarus Awakening with the Heart of God KINDLE Giveaway!

In Lazarus Awakening Joanna writes about getting God’s love from our heads to our hearts. We all know Jesus loved Mary – look how she worshiped. And we can understand why He loved Martha – after all, look how she served. But what about those of us who don’t know where we fit in the heart of God? Lazarus Awakening explores the tale of the third follower – Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus. We never hear him speak, we never see him serve. The only thing of any significance that Lazarus did was to die. And yet, the Bible is clear. Jesus loved Lazarus. And He loves you and me as well. Lazarus Awakening looks at different aspects of the story we find in John 11. We learn what it means to be a friend of God and begin recognizing the tombs we spend far too much time in. Find out more here.

One grand prize winner will receive:

* A Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi
* Having A Mary Heart in a Martha World
* Having A Mary Spirit
* Lazarus Awakening


Joanna will also select two additional contest entrants to receive copies of her trilogy. Enter soon by clicking the icons below (you’ll find these in the attached html code document) and then tell your friends. Hurry the contest ends April 16th. The winner will be announced on Joanna's blog on April 18th.



Blog tour schedule: (http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13184491)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Share it with a sister contest


Angela Hunt's highly anticipated May release of The Fine Art of Insincerity is coming soon and we couldn't wait to tell you this news!

Angela Hunt is having a giveaway contest she is calling Share It With a Sister. The details are listed below. Enjoy!


Share It With a Sister

We have waited a long time for the arrival of a new Angela Hunt novel, so in honor of the soon-coming release of The Fine Art of Insincerity, she's having a "Share it with a Sister" contest!

Since Insincerity is about three sisters, you can enter the contest by showing off your sisters. To enter, simply email a digital photo of you and your sister(s) (they don't have to be biological sisters) to aehcontest@gmail.com.

Enter as many times as you wish between March 1 and May 1, but only one entry per day, please. If you don't have a photo of you and your sister handy, you may enter simply by sending an email to that address with "Contest Entry" in the subject line.

Each week she'll be taking some of submitted photos and inserting them into the "Sisters" video that will play at http://www.angelahuntbooks.com . So check the website often--you may see your smiling face!

The grand prize winner of the random drawing will receive a tote bag filled with Angela Hunt books for herself and ten copies of Insincerity for her book club. (If you don't have a book club, call some friends. There's no better way to get started!)

Five first place winners will receive an autographed copy of The Fine Art of Insincerity, which officially releases on May 3. And yes, the first video playing is made up of pictures of Angela and her younger sisters! Watch the video here: http://www.angelahuntbooks. com

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sammy, the Little Broken Shell


Title: SAMMY, THE LITTLE BROKEN SHELL
Author: Carol Hamblet Adams
Illustrator: Linda Clearwater
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2439-9
Genre: Inspirational/children

Sometimes the things that make us different are the things the world needs the most…

Sammy Scallop lives in Shellville, under the ocean. He has a lot of friends, and attends school at Reef Shellementary School. He is the star baseball player at their school. Everything is great until a fisherman drops his anchor on Sammy, breaking his shell, then everyone makes fun of him, and only one person stays friends with him.

But when their teacher, Miss Lucy Lobster gets caught in a lobster trap, Sammy’s broken shell is her only chance for freedom.

SAMMY, THE LITTLE BROKEN SHELL is an adorable little hardcover books that teach children that the things that make us different can make us valuable. The story is engaging, both my six year old and nine year old were instantly enthralled by it, and the pictures are beautifully done and very colorful, insuring that even younger readers will sit still and listen—if just to look at the pictures.

If you have a favorite young child, then SAMMY, THE LITTLE BROKEN SHELL is a book that you should consider. It would make a wonderful anytime gift, and teaches a valuable lesson as well. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. 33 pages. $14.99 hardcover

Monday, March 28, 2011

Anna's Return


Title: ANNA’S RETURN
Author: Marta Perry
Publisher: Berkley
June 2010
ISBN: 978-0425234266
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Anna Beiler left her Amish family behind three years ago, rebellious and angry at the rules. Now, she’s home with a baby girl she’s determined to keep from the father—a man who is unsafe. Wanting to protect her baby, Gracie, Anna goes to the one place Gracie’s father would never look. But Anna’s family misunderstands her reasons for returning. They believe she is home for good and they’re anxious for her to talk to the bishop to restore full fellowship in the community.

Samuel Fisher also left the Amish, but he returned home for different reasons. Now he’s working for Anna’s brother in the machine shop, and training horses on the side. He understands Anna’s dilemma like none other, but he can’t get her to open up to him.

Anna is hiding secrets that she is unwilling to share. Not the least of which, her return is temporary. But will something happen that will change her mind? Or will she once again flee the rules that once held her hostage?

ANNA’S RETURN is the third book in Ms. Perry’s Pleasant Valley series, but it easily stands alone. I enjoyed getting to know Anna and Samuel, and I kept hoping that the two of them would find their footing, not only with each other, but with their own selves.

I enjoyed reading ANNA’S RETURN, and learning more about their lives. If you enjoy Amish fiction, you won’t want to miss ANNA’S RETURN. A glossary, some delicious sounding recipes, and excerpts from the first two books in the series, Leah’s Choice and Rachel’s Garden are included at the end of the book. $14.00. 308 pages.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

All for One


Title: ALL FOR ONE
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: David C. Cook
March 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6493-5
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Many years ago, four little girls named Linda met in the same first grade class. They became friends, and went by their middle names in order to avoid confusion. Now, years later, the Lindas are all grown up, and all living in the same town. Their friendship has survived, but they all have different challenges.

Abby’s husband has had a bad heart attack, and now Abby is afraid to sleep in case he has another one. Caroline’s mother has Alzheimer’s and she’s weary of caring for her, but doesn’t want to put her in a nursing home. Janie’s boyfriend’s ex-wife is trying to win Victor back, and Janie wonders if she’ll have to find a new relationship with someone else. Marley has some issues with her grown son.

This is the third book in Ms. Carlson’s The Four Lindas series, and I recommend reading them in order as they all are closely tied together. I enjoyed reading more about the Lindas in ALL FOR ONE, but some of the events in the book saddened me.

Ms. Carlson is a prolific writer, and her characters are very well developed. Any of these women could be someone you know. And they each have their own distinct personality. The fourth (and final) book in this series will release in the fall of 2011.

If you are looking for a good women’s fiction, don’t miss ALL FOR ONE. Discussion questions and a sample chapter of the fourth book are included at the end of this book. $14.99. 318 pages.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nehemiah: Standing Firm in the Face of Opposition


Title: THE WIERSBE BIBLE STUDY SERIES: NEHEMIAH: Standing Firm in the Face of Opposition
Author: Warren Wiersbe
Publisher: David C. Cook
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7814-0455-6
Genre: Inspirational/Bible study

NEHEMIAH is the companion guide to Dr. Wiersbe’s commentary, Be Determined, published earlier by this same company. It is recommended the the reader read sections of Be Determined, as well as the Bible, while working through this devotional.

Designed as a study guide for a small group, there are plenty of questions for the participants to answer, and plenty of room to write the answers. This is an indepth Bible study that took me several days to work through each section, so unless a person has a lot of time to devote to Bible study, he should be prepared for this to take a good portion of a week, or maybe even the whole week, to work through one section.

If you are looking for a study guide that will take you deeper into the word than your average devotional, or if you are looking for a good book for your Sunday school class, or small group, to go through, then NEHEMIAH by Warren Weirsbe is definitely a book to consider. It is comprehensive, and will leave you with a much greater understanding of these portions of the scriptures. $8.99. 140 pages.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio


Title: LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUGARCREEK, OHIO
Author: Serena B. Miller
Publisher: Summerside Press
July 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60936-002-3
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Rachel Troyer is a police officer, but her family is Amish, and Rachel considers it her duty to look after her three elderly Amish aunts, who run a bread and breakfast near Sugarcreek. Rachel is concerned with her aunts overworking, so she talks them into closing the inn. The aunts finally agree, with the stipulation that they would take in needy strangers.

Joe Matthews straggles into town on the run with a beaten up truck and his four year old son, Bobby. Joe has a lot of secrets, and is obviously hiding something but the aunts have no hesitation in taking him in. But Rachel doesn’t trust him, even going so far as to threaten him if he didn’t divulge his secrets.

When Joe kept his mouth shut, Rachel went looking—but will she be able to find the secrets before trouble comes calling?

I didn’t connect with Rachel at all. I didn’t see anything loveable about her. And I didn’t understand Joe. Some of his decisions seemed plain stupid and weren’t explained adequately enough. Like, when his wallet was stolen—why didn’t he contact his bank and credit card companies? He could have done that much without revealing his location. My favorite character in the book was Eli, Rachel’s elderly uncle who lived on a neighboring farm. He was a dear.

That said, LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUGARCREEK, OHIO is a sweet romance set in Ohio’s Amish country. The main characters are not Amish, so if you don’t like Amish fiction, you shouldn’t shy away from this book. There is also a bit of mystery and suspense included in the pages of this book. $12.99. 350 pages.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Man's Heart


Title: A MAN’S HEART
Author: Lori Copeland
Publisher: Zondervan
November 2010
ISBN: 978-0-310-28985-2
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Jules Matias jilted Cruz Delgado twice—both times hours before the ceremony. The last time, Cruz declared himself finished. If she put education in front of him—twice—for eight years of college, he wasn’t waiting any more. Now Jules is getting ready to graduate—again, but her father is involved in a farming accident. Unfortunately, he doesn’t survive.

Jules goes home for the funeral, and her sister, Crystal, arrives—late for the funeral. Afterwards they go to visit Jules’ best friend, Sophie—Cruz’s sister. Sophie had a doctor’s appointment for a checkup and she’s receives the bad news that she has cancer. On the day of her surgery, Jules goes back to the city to graduate college, and to close out her apartment, further alienating herself from Cruz.

While Sophie is getting cancer treatments, Crystal and Jules’ need to help Cruz and their other brother, Adan, care for Sophie’s two young children. When even worse news comes, Jules struggles with God and his ability to unlock the puzzles of the past, the present, and the future.

Lori Copeland is an award winning author, but A MAN’S HEART doesn't fully represent that. A struggling draught-stricken farm, estranged family and friends, and a fatal disease adds up to instant conflict. I struggled to read parts of it. Death is not something I enjoy reading about and there are two in the beginning of the book.

Jules is a realistic heroine, though at times I couldn’t understand her choices—and definitely didn’t agree with all of them. Cruz is a typical male, struggling to make sense of senseless situations—especially those decisions made by females that he had no hope of understanding. A MAN’S HEART might be a book to consider if you are looking for a good contemporary romance. $13.99. 318 pages.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Operation Bonnet


Title: OPERATION BONNET
Author: Kimberly Stuart
Publisher: David C. Cook
February 2011
ISBN: 878-0-7814-4891-8
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Nellie Monroe lives with her eighty-something year old grandmother, and despite the fact that her parents are rich, she works at a golf course, with a boss that can’t talk without yelling. She dreams of being a private investigator, but there is little to no action in her small Ohio town, and she’d have to relocate to Cleveland. Which would mean leaving her grandmother.

Nellie’s big break comes when her boss hires an ex-Amish man, Amos Shelter, to build a miniature golf course. Amos hires Nellie to check up on his girl back home to see if she’s seeing Amos’ nemesis. Nellie manages to “break into” the Amish culture by stealing her professor’s cooking classes and taking lessons herself, just so she can get a foot in.

But will Nellie be able to find out what is going on with Amos’ girl? Does she have what it takes to be a private investigator? Will she be able to master the perfect pie crust?

OPERATION BONNET is being marketed as “Not your grandmother’s Amish fiction.” This kind of confused me at first, taking it literal, my grandmother didn’t read Amish fiction… but as I read OPERATION BONNET, I understood the reasoning. If you are looking for a sweet romance or a cozy mystery involving the Plain folk, or even a woman’s fiction about a girl struggling to find herself in Amish country, then OPERATION BONNET is not for you. This book is about a totally modern woman, smart, savvy and snarky, who’s willing to break every one of the ten commandments to get what she wants.

OPERATION BONNET does start out a bit slow. I think that the author moved the prologue to the first chapter, as it seemed to start with backstory. But once it got past the fifth-grader with afro hair and started getting into the real story it got interesting and I laughed out loud several times. The ending of the story was an unexpected twist. I thoroughly enjoyed reading OPERATION BONNET and especially enjoyed the Afterwards section at the back of the book. $14.99. 266 pages.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Barney and the Runaway


Title: BARNEY AND THE RUNAWAY
Author: Max Elliot Anderson
Publisher: Comfort Publishing
March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9856698-4-8
Genre: Inspirational/youth/boys

Michael Ellis has recently decided that Mike sounds more grownup and asks his parents to call him that. He hates the way that they always tell him what to do, so Mike decides to teach them a lesson by pretending to run away with his dog, Barney.

Mike and Barney hide out in an old railroad boxcar and fall asleep. But before they know what happened, things had gotten a whole lot more complicated! Mike finds himself in Georgia, traveling with a circus. Thankfully, Big Bob the Clown helps Mike and Barney get to safety—but now Mike thinks he wants to join the circus.

Will an old runaway be able to talk a young runaway about the value of family? And will be the circus be all that Mike thought it was?

BARNEY AND THE RUNAWAY is the newest story for boys by Max Elliot Anderson. This book is sure to appeal to tweener boys (and girls). Mike is eleven years old and he has the adventure of a lifetime in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and my daughter can’t wait until its her turn to read it.

My son was a reluctant reader until he was introduced to Max Elliot Anderson’s books, and that started him on a reading adventure that hasn’t ended yet. My son still has his collection of Max’s books on his shelves, and he’s in college now. If your son is a reluctant reader, please pick up a copy of any of Mr. Anderson’s books. You won’t regret it. BARNEY AND THE RUNAWAY is a great read. $10.99. 130 pages.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Mountains Bow Down


Title: THE MOUNTAINS BOW DOWN
Author: Sibella Giorello
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
March 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59554-535-0
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

FBI Special Agent Raleigh Harmon needs a vacation. So, she boards a cruise ship to Alaska with her mother, her aunt, and her aunt’s friend, Claire the Clairvoyant. The backdrop of the Last Frontier is a dream destination for Raleigh as she’s hoping to leave behind a hectic work schedule and a romance that seems to be dying.

But when the ship calls for a Man Over Board, things change. The missing person is found—hanging from an upper deck of the cruise ship—dead, from an apparent suicide. But things don’t look right. And Raleigh calls for an investigation, calling in favors from the Seattle FBI office and the Juneau FBI office.

But with only a week to figure out who-dun-it, Raleigh needs help. And she is sent Jack Stephanson—a man who causes complicated feelings. But with only seven days to figure out the crime—chances are high the murderer will walk away free.

THE MOUNTAINS BOW DOWN is the third book in Ms. Giorello’s Raleigh Harmon series, but it easily stands alone. I did read the previous books in this series and I loved them all, but I think THE MOUNTAINS BOWED DOWN was the best of the trilogy. I loved the tension between Jack and Raleigh. And I loved the Dutch character, Geert.

I did figure out who-dun-it easily, but I had to keep reading to figure out why and how. This book is a page-turner, I couldn’t put it down. The characters are very well developed, the setting expertly described (I could almost feel the rain) and the plot expertly plotted out. I totally loved this book and can’t wait to read the fourth book in the series, The Stars Shine On, coming in March of 2012. $14.99. 384 pages.



About Sibella: Sibella Giorello grew up in Alaska and majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College . After riding a motorcycle across the country, she worked as a features writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. She now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons. Find out more about Sibella and her other books at her website. www.sibellagiorello.com

About The Mountains Bow Down: Everything's going to work out. Time away always makes things better . . .

That's what FBI Special Agent Raleigh Harmon believes as she boards a cruise to Alaska . A land of mountains and gems and minerals, The Last Frontier is a dream destination for this forensic geologist who's hoping to leave behind a hectic work schedule and an engagement drained of romance.

But when a passenger goes missing and winds up dead, Raleigh 's vacation suddenly gets lost at sea. The ship's security chief tries to rule the death a suicide, but Raleigh 's forensics background points to a much darker conclusion: Somewhere onboard, a ruthless murderer walks free.

Engulfed by one of her toughest cases yet, Raleigh requests assistance from the FBI and receives her nemesis-perpetual ladies man Special Agent Jack Stephanson. As the cruise ship sails through the Inside Passage, Raleigh has five days to solve a high-profile murder, provide consultation for a movie filming onboard, and figure out her increasingly complicated feelings for Jack-who might not be such a jerk after all.

And that's only her work life. Family offers even more challenges. Joined on the cruise by her mother and aunt, Raleigh watches helplessly as disturbing rifts splinter her family.

Like the scenery that surrounds the cruise ship, Raleigh discovers a situation so steep and so complex that even the mountains might bow down.

Link to buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/Mountains-Down-Raleigh-Harmon-Novel/dp/1595545352/ref=sprightly-20

BIG NEWS:

Start the series fresh with this great deal! Pick up a copy of Book 1 for your Kindle or Nook for only $2.99! The Stones Roll Away is the critically acclaimed award winner that kicked off the Raleigh Harmon series. http://www.amazon.com/Stones-Raleigh-Harmon-Novel-ebook/dp/B004QGYURS/ref=sprightly-20

About The Mountains Bow Down CRUISE Giveaway:

Sibella’s celebrating the release of The Mountains Bow Down by giving away a Cruise prize pack worth over $500.00!

One Grand Prize winner will receive:

A $500 gift certificate toward the cruise of their choice from Vacations To Go.
The entire set of the Raleigh Harmon series.

Enter soon - the giveaway ends on 4/1! The winner will be announced at Sibella’s Raleigh Harmon Book Club Party on FB April 5th, 2011! Don’t miss the fun – prizes, books and gab!

About the Facebook Party: Join Sibella and fans of the Raleigh Harmon series on April 5th at 5:00 pm PST (6 MST, 7 CST & 8 EST) for a Facebook Book Club Party. Sibella will be giving away some fun prizes, testing your trivia skills and hosting a book chat about the Raleigh Harmon books. Please RSVP and if you have questions you'd like to chat about - leave them on the Event page.

Blog Tour Schedule: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13142727 )

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Passport Through Darkness


Kimberly Smith shares her journey of writing Passport Through Darkness

The journey into my own soul was scariest and hardest thing I’ve ever done. Yes, even more challenging than building an orphanage in the war-zone of Darfur, nearly 2,000 miles away from our nearest supply chain in Nairobi, Kenya. My world was rocked not so much by the darkness I had to pass through, but by the beauty I found buried within.

Finding that beauty---glimpses of what God dreamed of for me---changed everything dear to me, but most profoundly my marriage.

I had walked through hell in Sudan to listen to others’ stories, and comfort them with mercy and compassion. But, when it came to my own pain, somehow shame got mixed in there, choking out the truth and driving me to sin and darkness. I couldn’t seem to hear the same God of comfort I heard for others. Fear of being found unlovable, unworthy, plain old “Un,” drove me to lock entire parts of myself away from even those I loved the most.

The woman who defied boundaries—flying straight into war zones—had constructed her own no-go zones within, where even she wouldn’t dare to go. And she hurt anyone who dared to breach the heavily-armed border.

I’d heard Believers referred to as “soldiers” the whole of my Christian life. I just never thought much about it personally…until I realized a battalion of troops had been sent out looking for me. They literally fought to save my life. And while it might sound strange—coming from a woman whose life is supposedly about saving lives—their pushing me to share my story in Passport through Darkness is what ultimately saved mine. My heart had been broken for the men, women, and children I’d met in Sudan who’d survived trafficking, rape, persecution, and genocide. I felt angry on their behalf that greed, corruption, and oppression stamped out their voice so I wanted to be their voice by writing their stories. That’s what first set my fingers to the keyboard—to make a place for their story, to honor their suffering, to show their dignity in the midst of it all.

But as I wrote, the cloak of their darkness wrapped itself around me so tightly I often felt paralyzed. There were days and long period of times when I couldn’t separate their pain and shame from my own. I knew much of my stuckness came from the shame that bound me. But still I hunkered down, hiding.

I thought I could control how much I would let others see. I would tell the stories I heard and witnessed, but not my own—especially not my sin. Maybe I even thought somehow I could serve some sort of penance by being the voice for the voiceless, and never have to hear my own, or even remember its sound.

I was wrong. Diving into the darkness of others awakened my own, and each day as I wrote their stories, I found myself coming more undone. I felt out of control. Falling apart. And, desperate for help.

That’s the state I was in when the troops found me: undone. First on the scene was my precious husband, Milton, standing ready. He’d been waiting for years for the walls to collapse so he could finally enter the places I’d shut off from him. God used Milton—and others—to listen, love, guide, confront, press, and hold me until one word, one tear, one memory, one confession at a time my story unfolded like morning glories opening to the rising sun after a long night of darkness. Through the telling I found parts of myself I’d pushed so deep into the darkness that even I didn’t know they existed.

Ultimately, I knew it was not just the stories of modern-day slaves to human traffickers I must tell, but my own story of slavery to fear, shame, and sin—and how God has delivered me, and is delivering me.

I have two prayers for Passport through Darkness. First, that it helps us to save more babies from genocide and slavery. Second, that it helps others to understand God has a unique dream for each and everyone one of us, and He will even descend into the depths of our self-made hell and carry us out to find and live it.

If it’s true that all we Believers are soldiers in His army, then I am nothing more than a Private. Private Kimberly. He withholds no good thing from us, not even from a Private. He sent and is sending troops to fight lies, speak truth, be His Light in my darkness...and yours, too.

Love, your sister along the journey,

Kimberly Smith

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Kimberly Smith voluntarily walks through the gates of hell. If you can read her accounts without being affected, you should check for a pulse.”

~ Philip Yancey, author of What Good is God? and What’s So Amazing about Grace

“I appreciate your efforts and those of Make Way Partners to rescue and care for the orphans of Sudan. I respect the ministry you lead and the fact that it cares equally for all children, whether Christian, Muslim, African, or Arab. By eliminating the divisors of religion and skin color you exemplify Christian peacemaking.”

~ Jimmy Carter, former US president and founder of The Carter Center

“What you read in this book will be used of God to motivate you to action on behalf of vulnerable children around the world. In the process, as you walk with Kimberly, you may also find perspective, forgiveness and healing in your own life. May God use His servant’s story to His glory. Not only Kimberly’s, but yours and mine.”

~ Randy Alcorn, bestselling author of Heaven and If God is Good

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MY REVIEW:

PASSPORT THROUGH DARKNESS is a very hard book to read. It is full of grit, pain, and disgusting truths of life in other countries. It also is a book of hope as Ms. Smith shows us God’s redemptive power heal broken hearts, fill empty bellies, and provide other basic needs.

If you are looking for meaning and a purpose in your life, or just want to read a truly amazing and horrifying account of how God used another person, then PASSPORT THROUGH DARKNESS is a book to pickup. This book isn’t going to be for everyone. But it might be for you.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Rose Revealed


Title: A ROSE REVEALED
Author: Gayle Roper
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2588-4
Genre: Inspirational/Amish mystery

Rose Martin is a home health nurse. She is just helping a wealthy client, Sophie Hostetter, in the car and turns back to get something when the car explodes—killing Sophie and her son. As soon as the police leave the scene, Rose starts for home, but used to clients dying due to natural causes is one thing. From murder, quite another. She pulls off into an Amish drive to cry until she pulls herself together.

Jake Zook is Amish born, but during his rumspringa he was in a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed. Rose witnessed the accident, though she didn’t know who he was, or even if he survived, until two years later when she cared for Jake’s mom. However, Jake and Rose formed a tight friendship. Seeing Rose’s car in the drive, Jake and his brothers come out to see what is wrong.

Now Rose is plunged into a mystery. Who blew up Sophie’s car, and why? And did they really mean to kill her…or was Rose really the target?

When I opened this book, I was excited to read an Amish mystery, but when I read the first line, I hesitated, then looked at the copy write date—something I usually don’t check. This was originally published in 1999, with the title The Decision. It was originally part of three-book series, and it is again, as the final book in The Amish Farm Trilogy.

I reread the book, but I remembered it from when I originally read it, so nothing was a surprise to me. I don’t remember my original reactions so, can’t say whether I figured out the mystery easily or not back then. The writing is good, not great, with quite a bit of telling. Still, the story is interesting and if you haven’t read this book when originally published then it’s an Amish mystery, then you should pick up this book. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $10.99. 256 pages.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Simple Joys of the Amish Life


Title: SIMPLE JOYS OF THE AMISH LIFE
Authors: Mindy Starns Clark and Georgia Varozza
Paintings by: Laurie Snow Hein
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7369 -3003-1
Genre: Inspirational/gift book/Amish

“We can’t all be Amish, but in many ways, we would do well to follow their example.” ~ Mindy Starns Clark

SIMPLE JOYS OF THE AMISH LIFE allows the reader to take an armchair tour of Amish country. There are plenty of paintings illustrating the grace and simplicity of Amish living. Not only that, but short essays talk about the Amish values, rules, clothing, schooling, celebrations, and other differences.

Scattered between the essays and the paintings, there are short essays about meal time, and quite a few recipes are included, for different meals of the day, breakfast, lunch, supper, as well as serving suggestions.

Some of the recipes sound good and I want to give them a try—others are tried and true recipes that are made on a regular basis in my home.

I enjoyed reading through this gift book and highly recommend it for anyone who would enjoy a simple guide to the Amish. This isn’t the textbook about each of the rules, history, and what-fors but rather a guide that will give ideas about the rules and the reasons, plenty of pictures and recipes to enjoy, and a book that would look good on any coffee table. $12.99 hardcover. 50 pages.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Eleanor the Hippo Learns to Tell the Truth


Title: ELEANOR THE HIPPO LEARNS TO TELL THE TRUTH
Written and Illustrated by: Andy McGuire
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8369-2665-2
Genre: Inspirational/childrens

Eleanor hippo loves to talk—but unfortunately not everything that she says is true. She gossips about everyone in her kingdom, but rarely is anything she says true. She thinks that everything is fine until a band of zebras come to town.

The zebras are entertained by Eleanor’s lies, until Eleanor goes too far and lies about the local king. When the king summons Eleanor to a private conference, something happens that reveals the truth to everyone around.

ELEANOR THE HIPPO LEARNS TO TELL THE TRUTH is an adorable rhyming book that will help to teach your child about lying and how that lies will be discovered and you’ll get in trouble for them. It also stresses how telling the truth is also more fun than lies.

My two little girls were completely fascinated by this tale, and my five-year-old wanted it read over and over. I enjoyed the lesson that the book included.

Filled with colorful illustrations, and a tale that rhymed, this book will hold your child’s attention for multiple readings. It might even become a new favorite. I highly recommend ELEANOR THE HIPPO LEARNS TO TELL THE TRUTH. Published in an attractive hard cover, gift book format, this is a book to give to your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews. $12.99. 33 pages.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Truth about Relationships


The Truth About Relationships

Lybrand offers insight and direction in finding true love

Keep reading to find out about the FREE Glaen Study Guide!

There are whole sections in bookstores devoted to how to improve your relationships. Most of the books, even in the Christian market, send two messages, 1) be romantic because romance equals love and 2) compromise who you are to make the other person happy. Author Fred Lybrand believes that neither of these messages is helpful in the long run and makes the messy nature of relationships even messier.

In contrast to these ideas, Lybrand takes an in-depth look into relationships and dating, while also offering a little common sense for the real day-to-day world, in his book, Glaen. He has chosen a unique and effective way to present his knowledge of human relationships and romance by creating a storyline that allows readers to walk alongside believable characters as they discover and explore an exciting and more effective way to relate to those with whom they will share life’s most intimate relationships.

Lybrand first uncovers the lies of a secular world-view and then counters those lies with the truth of God’s design for the marriage relationship. These observations are made even clearer as the reader observes the main character, Annie, and her interaction with other couples and friends who are in the process of dating and considering marriage. As she questions her friends’ choices, she also takes an honest look at the relationships she is developing within her own life.

Annie’s discoveries are both simple and profound, and truth itself proves to be the foundation upon which all relationships hinge. The discovery that truth can only operate effectively within a relationship when people relate to one another without pretense and unrealistic expectations proves to be life-changing in many ways.

The life-changing principles found in Glaen are the gems Lybrand wants readers to take from the story and experience in their own lives and relationships. Many who have read Glaen have responded with amazing feedback. The book has served as a great teaching tool for parents to use with their children as well as for church leaders guiding couples who are seeking a more satisfying marriage relationship.

Lybrand has recently completed a study guide for small groups so that the discussion on relationships can extend even further. Because he is so passionate about the message of making relationships stronger, Lybrand has made the study guide available for free download by going to http://glaen.com/STUDY-GUIDE.html. Along with the guide, he provides information on how to set up a Glaen-Group for a six-week learning experience about relationships.

Lessons from the study include:

1. What is a relationship?

2. The right person?

3. Men and women are different, aren’t they?

4. Can romance hurt relationships?

5. Can you really end manipulation?

6. Is there a secret to great communication?

Glaen by Fred R. Lybrand

The Barnabas Agency/ISBN: 978-0-578-04652-5/softcover/171 pages/$14.99

Website: www.glaen.com ~ Blog: www.glaen.wordpress.com ~ Become a fan of Glaen on Facebook!

Download your free study guide at http://glaen.com/STUDY-GUIDE.html.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Bridge of Peace


Title: THE BRIDGE OF PEACE
Author: Cindy Woodsmall
Publisher: Waterbrook
August 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7397-9
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Lena Kauffman is the school teacher in an Old Amish community. She has a huge birthmark on the side of her face, which she feels mars her beauty. This has been compounded by the fact that over the years, no one has ever wanted to court her. This year is difficult. There is a new family in the community with a teen that is difficult to teach. He keeps flinging insults at Lena, and she stands up to him, but soon finds herself the target of even more vicious attacks.

Grey Graber is struggling with his marriage. He wants to get help, but his wife wants their issues kept private. But Grey doesn’t know how to reach her. When they begin to make strides toward healing tragedy strikes the family. Will Grey find the strength to move on?

Grey & Lena have been life-long friends, but circumstances are crumbling their friendship. Will they be able to face their secrets and restore their friendship?

THE BRIDGE OF PEACE is book two in An Ada’s House series. I was hopelessly confused in the beginning of the book, as I didn’t remember reading book one at all. I had, but apparently it didn’t make a strong enough impression on me that I remembered it almost two years later. But once I got into Lena’s story, I was captured. I was horrified by Dwayne’s actions, seriously that boy needs help, and I don’t think I’d want my daughters to read this Amish book…it didn’t leave that feel-good feeling that a lot of Amish books leave.
However, I totally adored Jonathan, and Ephraim, and even Grey, though he had his issues as well. And Lena, Deborah, and Cara were strong characters. Realistic. I’m giving this book five stars with reservations, mainly due to Dwayne, and the confusion in the beginning of the book. $13.99. 342 pages.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Blown Away


Title: BLOWN AWAY
Author: Nancy Mehl
Publisher: Barbour Books
February 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60260-570-1
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Hildegard Higgins is a beautician who works with funeral homes, styling the hair of the dearly departed. When delivering a clown hat to the cemetery for a deceased clown who couldn’t be buried without his clown hat, she discovered a body—of another clown in full costume—at the bottom of the grave.

Adam Sawyer is a stockbroker, and clown, who lost two of his friends—both clowns—within a matter of days. Unfortunately, he is also the main suspect of the police, as the grounds-keeper swears that he saw Adam’s car on the premises when the clown is murdered. Adam insists he’s innocent, but he’s rattled and nervous, and the police are more convinced than ever that he’s their man. Especially since he has no alibi, and he has a motive.

Hilde is determined to prove that Adam is innocent, but she doesn’t know where to start. Can she find a beginning and find the real killer before any more bodies are found?

BLOWN AWAY is the newest cozy mystery by Nancy Mehl. Set in Wichita, Kansas, this first person cozy is just as fun as the other cozy mysteries you’ve come to expect from Barbour. Written with a touch of humor and a lot of realism, these stories will tickle your funny bone even while you try to solve the mystery before the heroine solves it.

Hilde is a realistic heroine, a bookworm, who is thoughtful, caring, and sweet. I couldn’t help but care for her as she struggled to prove Adam innocent before the police proved he was guilty. If you like to read cozy mysteries, you won’t want to miss BLOWN AWAY. $10.99. 256 pages.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jesus in the Present Tense


Title: JESUS IN THE PRESENT TENSE
Author: Warren W. Wiersbe
Publisher: David C. Cook
January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7814-0487-7
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

God doesn’t want us to ignore the past. He wants to use it as a rudder to guide us. Not an anchor to hold us back. Nor does He want us to neglect planning for the future, so long as we say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will’… The better we understand the Lord’s I Am statements, and by faith apply them, the more our strength will equal our days.

If you are living in memories, imaginations, and fears more than in the current moment, then JESUS IN THE PRESENT TENSE is a book that you will want to read. Dr. Wiersbe writes, “My past may discourage me and my future may frighten me, but the life I now live today can be enriching and encouraging because ‘Christ lives in me.’”

In JESUS IN THE PRSENT TENSE, Dr. Wiersbe takes the I Am names to reveal more fully the Lord’s divine nature and His gracious ministry to His people. The more we understand God’s I Am statements, the more we will realize God’s peace and joy. Then we’ll be free to live, serve and know God more richly in the present tense.

Jesus matters forever—and who He is is vitally important. I enjoyed reading –and learning more about who God is in this book as Dr. Wiersbe explored the names of Jesus, from Yahweh-Jire—the Lord who provides, Yahweh-Rophe—the Lord who heals, Yahweh-Nissi—The Lord our banner, and others, some of which I never heard of before. I’ll want to read this book over more fully now that I finished it for review, and study it more extensively. This is a wonderful book. A study guide is included at the end of the book. $14.99. 200 pages.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Code of Justice


Title: CODE OF JUSTICE
Author: Liz Johnson
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-373-44434-2
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

FBI agent Heather Sloan and her sister, Kit, had been on a sight-seeing trip in a helicopter when the helicopter rotors fail and they crash. Heather is the sole survivor of the crash, but her sister’s last words are confusing. “Follow the drugs…” Heather doesn’t have any idea what that might mean, but she believes the crash wasn’t an accident.

Jeremy Latham is the sheriff assigned to the case, and he reluctantly agrees to let Heather help with the case, but it takes some convincing on Heather’s part. He’s worried about her safety, as the day they met, someone else made an attempt at her life in the hospital.

As Heather and Jeremy work together, they develop a trust in each other, and begin to care—but will their fledging love die when the killer targets Heather?

I enjoyed getting to know Heather and Jeremy, and couldn’t help but falling in love with Jeremy. He’s a true hero. The descriptions were very realistic, my hand ached for hours after reading about Heather ripping out her IV in the first chapter of the book! The suspense starts in the prologue (so make sure you read that) and doesn’t let up until the end of the book.

CODE OF JUSTICE is the latest book by award-winning author Liz Johnson. I’ve read all three of her books, and they are trade-marked by unique plots, interesting characters, and gripping suspense.

Discussion questions are included. $5.50. 218 pages.

Visit Liz online at www.lizjohnsonbooks.com



About the Author:

Liz Johnson grew up reading Christian fiction, and always dreamed of being part of the publishing industry. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations, she set out to fulfill her dream. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream—becoming an author. Along the way to having her novels published, she completed the Christian Writers Guild apprentice course and wrote articles for several magazines.
Liz makes her home in Nashville , TN , where she enjoys theater, exploring the local music scene, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her two nephews and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. Keep up with Liz's adventures in writing at www.lizjohnsonbooks.com.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Conversation with God


Title: A CONVERSATION WITH GOD
Author: Alton Gansky
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7852-3165-3
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/Christian Life

Humans are full of questions. And we all have a list of things that we want to ask God when we get to Heaven. But sometimes there are questions that we want the answers to now. Like, have you ever looked up into the night sky and asked, “Why?”

A CONVERSATION WITH GOD was written because life is challenging and we long to understand. Gansky has attempted to remove all the “Christianese” from the pages of this book, so that anyone (even the unchurched) could pick it up and maybe find the answers to a few of their questions.

Gansky has written the book so that God, Jesus, and other key Bible characters answer our questions, in normal, every day modern language.
And some of the questions include (but aren’t limited to):

God, are we really living in the end times?
How can we believe that You created us?
If You love us, why do we suffer?
Can I lose my salvation?
What is Heaven like?
What will we do for eternity?

Every question and answer in A CONVERSATION WITH GOD has been drawn from the Bible where God reveals Himself. And each topic comes with scriptural references so you can explore the Bible verses for yourself.

I was really impressed with the organization of this book, and think it would be a handy reference guide for any new Christian, any seeker, or anyone ministering to them, (including pastors). Each question is just a few pages making this book a great daily reading (some suggest devotional) to enable you to think about the information presented in each answer. The information is well presented and Biblically sound. $15.99. 320 pages.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Transforming Prayer


Title: TRANSFORMING PRAYER
Author: Daniel Henderson
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0851-5
Genre: Inspirational/prayer

TRANSFORMING PRAYER is a book that will take your prayer life from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

Many people become discouraged by prayer. Instead of having a genuine encounter with God, their prayer life is simply a “grocery list” of requests.

So, how do you connect with God through prayer? Pastor Daniel Henderson has over three decades of experience helping Christians transform their prayer life. Now in this book, he will show you how to:

. Overcome common barriers to praying effectively
. Awaken your prayer life with simple, biblical patterns of prayer
. Enjoy Spirit-led prayer sparked by Scripture passages

Once you experience the profound differences of worship-based prayer, your faith and life will never be the same.

There are many books out there on prayer. I thought this one sounded interesting, because like many Christians I was praying the “grocery list” of prayer needs. But I longed for more. My spirit was crying out for God, both in my prayer life and in my devotions and the needs weren’t being met. The ironic part is that many consider me to be a prayer warrior. If they only knew. TRANSFORMING PRAYER is a book that I hope will change all that. I read the book and am beginning to put the teachings into practice. But I also think that I will reread the book, not as a book to review, but as a book to learn from—slowly, prayerfully, and with a notebook nearby to make comments in. Appendixes are included at the end of the book, and if you are interested, if you visit www.transformingprayer.com you’ll find video introductions to each chapter and additional resources. Invaluable book. $13.99. 238 pages.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Basic Training to Make Being Second First Priority



Second Camp

Basic Training to Make Being Second First Priority

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—There’s nothing like youth camp. Many believers recall a camp experience as the spiritual turning point in their lives, a moment when God ignited a passion in their hearts. But often, that passion lacked purpose. What if camp could do something more?

I Am Second is a movement designed to help people discover their purpose in life as they share their stories and spend time together in small group Bible study. I Am Second is designed to spark spiritual conversations to discover how to “live second” by making Jesus first. Christians from every walk of life—athletes like Colt McCoy and Josh Hamilton, musicians like Brian Welch and Jason Castro, actor Stephen Baldwin, along with everyday people like your mom, teacher, mechanic, or dentist—are taking part in the movement to make Jesus first.

This summer, student ministries from all over the country have the opportunity to experience a week of intense I Am Second training in a camp setting that combines inspired worship, passionate teaching, and unforgettable recreation experiences. The first ever Second Camp will be held July 4-8, 2011 at Forest Glen Camps’ facility located near Huntsville, TX. The week will feature two dynamic speakers, Chris Plekenpol and Duche' Bradley, both of whom are experienced I Am Second leaders with amazing testimonies to share.

“Second Camp is about so much more than filling out a decision card or making a positive moral change,” says Chris Plekenpol. “By the week’s end, students will be fully equipped to form and lead I Am Second groups in their own communities.”

Forest Glen Camps provide the idyllic setting, opportunities for incredible free time activities, and food that far exceeds the average camp fare. Nestled in the pine trees of Sam Houston National Forest, the camp offers amenities including a private lake with canoes and fishing, zip lines, blobs, hiking, athletic fields, and a high ropes course.

The Second Camp team will take care of all the details for the week and lead wacky group recreation activities that will keep student groups and their leaders guessing. The worship bands, led by Chris Marchbanks and Wes Butler, will lead students in meaningful worship that truly recognizes Christ’s position as the first priority in a believer’s life. The I Am Second team will provide small group training and encouragement. Most importantly, they will share the gospel in a clear and winsome manner.

“The inspiration for creating Second Camp was really twofold. First was the desire to provide a quality camp for my own students, one that would strongly emphasize evangelism and challenge them to fulfill the Great Commission tangibly as soon as we return home,” says Matt Parker, Second Camp’s Lead Camper. “Second, we wanted to free student ministers and adult leaders from responsibilities that are often included in a camp experience. At Second Camp, your job as an adult leader is to ensure your group’s arrival. After that, you will hang out, have fun, and develop relationships with your students.”

At $250 per camper, Second Camp is more affordable than many bigger camps. Availability is limited. Check out iamsecond.com and forestglen.org. Visit the Second Camp Facebook page for official updates. For further information and to verify availability, call or email Matt Parker at (903) 641-9594 or matt@bbccorsicana.org. You can also register online at www.beasecondcamp.com.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bake Until Golden


Title: BAKE UNTIL GOLDEN
Authors: Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson
Publisher: Revell
January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3210-3
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

If you thought that the Potluck Catering Club ladies’ lives would settle down once they won the national bake-off competition, then you were wrong. The ladies are barely back in town when a round of television and radio interviews are lined up. Goldie returns home from one of them to find her husband, Jack, dead from an apparent heart attack. Evie is still hunting down her husband’s ex-wife, and having confrontations with her, and Donna is still running interference between her mother and her stepmother.

Donna’s love life is still topsy-turvy too. Her old boyfriend, Wade, is trying to woe her back, while her new boyfriend, David, apparently has some secrets. Like who his friend Bobby really is that’s coming to town.

When a shocking murder rocks the town, the ladies are stunned. Especially when one of them comes under a cloud of suspicion. Will these friends stick together through their trials—or will tragedy tear them apart?

I have read all the books in both the Potluck series, and enjoyed them, especially the relationships between the ladies. I especially enjoyed it when Donna ended up in a love-triangle and I wondered which of the two men she’d end up choosing.

BAKE UNTIL GOLDEN wasn’t quite as good of a read as the previous books, it was quite sad in spots, and I was getting irritated at Evie for sticking her nose in places it didn’t belong. But the book was still engaging, and I had to keep reading to see what would happen next. I missed the recipes at first, that they used to put between chapters, but I found a whole bunch of yummy sounding ones at the end of the book. If you read the other books in this series, be sure to pick up this last book in the series, BAKE UNTIL GOLDEN. If you haven’t, then I suggest starting at the very beginning, with The Potluck Club. $14.99. 350 pages.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Driven


Title: DRIVEN
Author: Shellie Neumeier
Publisher: Risen Books
March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9840931-5-1
Genre: spiritual warfare

Robyn Stanley is a typical teenager. She’s a high school student, attends youth group, leads the praying at the pole at the school, and is a Christian. She also has a close group of friends, and likes two boys. Robyn is a prayer warrior, the girl that everyone turns to when they need prayer.

But then a hostile reporter targets the school for the praying at the pole, and Robyn comes under fire for daring to pray for individuals, the school, and the community without asking everyone’s permission. Claiming it violates everyone’s right to pray to their own God, the reporter gets really nasty. Robyn grows even more serious about her walk with God—but her devotion has stirred up two demons that have been given orders to destroy her.

DRIVEN is Ms. Neumeier’s debut novel. I agreed to be an influencer book for this book, not realizing at the time that it was about spiritual warfare – something I believe in, but not something I generally like to read about.

However, DRIVEN is written for teenagers and I found it to be a good read. I couldn’t help but care for Robyn and her group of friends, and hope that the demons couldn’t gain a foothold in their lives.

DRIVEN is a book I recommend for all high school students. It brings to life in a tangible way the very real spiritual warfare that is occurring around us. $12.95. Available in kindle or paperback.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

No Safe Haven


Title: NO SAFE HAVEN
Authors: Kimberly Woodhouse and Kayla R. Woodhouse
Publisher: Broadman & Holman
March 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4336-7116-6
Genre: Inspirational / suspense

Jenna and Andi Tikaani-Gray are trying to survive after the untimely death of Jenna’s husband, Marc. Twelve-year-old Andi had just had another brain surgery and now they were flying home to Alaska. There was an extra passenger on their flight, but suddenly things went weird. Jenna’s long time pilot and the passenger started fighting then the pilot shot the controls.

When both men end up unconscious, Jenna is forced to take over the controls, but she doesn’t know how to fly. She managed to make a controlled crash, and everyone survives—barely. But now they have to survive. Cole Maddox (their extra passenger) insists they go up the mountain, saying that someone wants Andi and Jenna dead and they would look below the crash site, not above.

So now, a winter storm is headed their way, and only one person is looking for them—and he wants them dead. Only one man might be able to keep them alive—Cole—and neither Jenna nor Andi trust him.

NO SAFE HAVEN is the first fiction book by this dynamic mother-daughter writing team, but it won’t be the last. I enjoyed the suspense in this story, the knowledge that went behind the setting, the lifestyle, and survival, and the romance.

My only complaint is that the point of view jumped so much in the story it was rather jarring. It was in multi-characters’ points of view and it seemed to change quickly, drawing me completely out of the story. Sometimes I couldn’t even get back into it before it changed again. This made it very easy to put the book down.

That said, the story is good. The characters well-developed. The Alaskan setting very well described. If you are looking for a good suspense with a lot of military technology then NO SAFE HAVEN is a book you’ll want to read. $14.99. 352 pages.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

When the Snow Flies


Title: WHEN THE SNOW FLIES
Author: Laurie Alice Eakes
Publisher: Avalon Books
August 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8024-7776-6
Genre: Historical romance

Doctor Audrey Sinclair Vanderleyden and her husband had planned to buy a retiring physician’s medical practice and practice medicine together. But her husband’s tragic death ended that dream. Nevertheless, Audrey is determined to practice medicine on her own. Except—the retiring doctor refuses to step down for a woman. And, he refuses to refund her money.
Audrey has nowhere else to go, except home to her parents or in-laws, both of whom expect her to give up medicine. And even more so when they get the news that she’s expecting.

Nathan Maxell is also a doctor, but a gunshot blinded him. Now he lives a life of solitude, with only servants and his sister as company. He cut his hand badly and was in town getting it stitched up with Audrey arrives, and Nathan is with the townfolk in wanting to get rid of her. But another accident makes him rely on Audrey’s care—and soon, he doesn’t want her to leave. But what woman would ever be desperate enough to marry a blind man?

WHEN THE SNOW FLIES is a book that I wanted to read since I saw the absolutely beautiful cover that Avalon designed for it. And the story didn’t disappoint. Nathan is a very sweet hero, if a bit opinionated, but Audrey is every inch a match for him, just as opinionated in her own right, and a very strong-willed woman. Ms. Eakes did a stellar job on her characterization in this book.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading WHEN THE SNOW FLIES and look forward to reading many more books by this award winning author. $23.95 hardcover. 202 pages.

Friday, March 4, 2011

An Interview with Sibella Giorello



Why do you write the kind of books you do? 


For a long while, I couldn't find the book I wanted to read. So I wrote it. That's still the reason behind the Raleigh Harmon mysteries. Gritty, not gorey. Faith-based, but not preachy. And a puzzle even the author has trouble figuring out.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life? 



Not to sound morbid, but every day I wake up happy to be alive. The happiest day? I've known some great days, some amazing days. But life just gets better, so maybe the happiest day will be my last day on earth. Wouldn't that be poignant and wonderful?

How has being published changed your life?

Not so much. Getting published is the reverse of winning the lottery. Instead of free money and giving up your job, you get years of hard work. Good work. Fun work. But still, hard work. That being said, I wouldn't trade this writing life for all the Powerball winnings in America .


What are you reading right now?

For some reason, it's always several books. Right now three: "The Disappearing Spoon" by Sam Kean, a delightful look at the Periodic Table; "The Good, Good Pig" by Sy Montgomery; and some early Michael Connelly novels where he introduces LA Detective Harry Bosch.


What is your current work in progress?
 


I'm finishing up "The Stars Shine Bright," the fifth Raleigh Harmon novel. After that it's research on the sixth book, which has yet to be named. After naming "Stars," I hit some kind of wall. All these titles have a certain wavelength: The Stones Cry Out, The Rivers Run Dry, The Clouds Roll Away, and now The Mountains Bow Down. So if anyone out there can think of a title, I'm open. Email me.

What would be your dream vacation?


Some kind of around-the-world cruise. Plenty of time to read while visiting exotic locales, yet still sleeping in the same bed every night. Priceless.


 How do you choose your settings for each book?



The settings choose me. Certain places -- Richmond , Seattle , Alaska -- lock up my imagination and beg Raleigh Harmon to come and play. I'm happy to oblige.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

My husband. I just really enjoy his company. After almost twenty years of marriage, he still makes me laugh.


 
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
 


Running. Especially mountain trails. But one day I'm going to learn to knit, although I've been saying that for half my life. Maybe THAT will be the happiest day -- when I finally learn to knit.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Sitting still. Do. Not. Like. Which explains the knitting problem.

Somebody once suggested I get a treadmill-desk, which allows you to walk and write at the same time. But I'm not sure that's the answer.

For me, the best solution is to write as fast and efficiently as possible. Don't procrastinate. If you put off today's writing, it means you have to sit there longer tomorrow. Ugh.


What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Give it time -- in every sense. Be patient while learning the mechanics of writing and the business of publishing. But also give time to your dream. If writing means something to you, don't short-change it. That might mean quitting some other hobby or activity, but writing is an apprenticeship. Dedicate the time. Harvest the fruit.




Tell us about the book.

In "The Mountains Bow Down" forensic geologist–turned–FBI agent Raleigh Harmon takes a much-needed vacation on an Alaskan cruise. But a passenger is found hanged from the ship’s railing. Everyone assumes the death is a suicide, but Raleigh suspects foul play. The FBI sends Agent Jack Stephanson to help with the investigation, but he winds up confusing Raleigh 's feelings for her fiance. To further complicate things, Raleigh 's mother is onboard and she's not coping with the cruise. Four days remain before the ship docks in Seattle . Can Raleigh find the killer without her own life getting lost at sea?

What do you want readers to take away from the book? I avoid thinking about take-aways. Readers should always decide about those. I just hope they enjoy Raleigh Harmon's company as much as I do.

Sibella Giorello
www.sibellagiorello.com

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Interrupting Life with a Message of Truth


Have you or your teens seen or heard the TV and radio commercials for Groundwire?

From MTV to Popular Hip Hop Stations, Groundwire Interrupts Teens with Answers to Life

Teens today can be overwhelmed searching for meaning amidst depressing hopelessness, negative self-image, and the pressure to be perfect. To meet the needs of hurting teenagers across the country, Groundwire, a current and innovative outreach, has become a ministry where teens find comfort, guidance, and answers delivered through multi-media communication.

Groundwire leverages media and technology to meet teens exactly where they are — viewing, listening, texting, or chatting — and to invite them to voice their questions and struggles so they can find answers in the message of the Gospel. With a raw and real approach, the ministry builds its burgeoning impact through broadcasting that strategically places television and radio spots on secular stations. Teens listening to popular radio broadcasts or viewing favorite shows on networks like MTV, VH1, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming, and Comedy Central are interrupted by direct spots. These spots catch their attention, resonating with where they are today. Groundwire’s targeted, authentic, and well-produced commercials are grabbing the attention of teens by the millions. Teens responding to the broadcast messages are invited to visit Groundwire’s website where they can chat with a live spiritual coach available day and night, as well as find a collection of resources such as podcasts by Groundwire’s founder and executive director, Sean Dunn, and daily devotionals.

Relevant topics, cutting-edge communication, the dynamic speaking and content of founder Sean Dunn, and powerful truths have made Groundwire a growing ministry. “Eighty-six percent of teens today believe in God, but don’t believe God is loving,” explains Dunn. “Even fewer believe that they are lovable. What would happen if those teens truly understood God’s purpose for their lives and the hope and meaning he offers each one?”

What began on radio over seven years ago has now expanded to also include television broadcasts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, Phoenix, Tampa, Denver, Little Rock, and Spokane. Groundwire is experiencing growth as the ministry cuts right to the heart of the issues teens are wrestling with today and invites them to a safe and honest conversation where they can find answers in the truths of God’s word and in his love. Life-changing stories are received from teens of different backgrounds across the nation.

“I was struggling with a lot of things—cutting, not eating, depression, and suicidal attempts. I was angry and wanted to talk to someone. I felt that I would be judged or shunned if I talked to anyone I knew about such sensitive subjects. I heard an ad on the radio for Groundwire and decided to check it out. I logged on one evening, and since that night my life has changed in a lot of ways. The people at Groundwire chatted, prayed, and encouraged me. I could log on at pretty much anytime of the day and there would be someone to chat and/or pray with me. Since then, I’ve come a long way with their help, and most of all, God’s.”

“We are committed to expanding our reach even further in the coming year. We plan to grow our radio reach from 14 to 20 million listeners each week and our television audience from 20% to 40% of households in the US, and to even replicate our message into other languages,” says Sean Dunn. Groundwire has captured a unique opportunity to use mainstream media to “go into all the world” and reach an entire generation right where they are with the hope of the Gospel.

There are several ways you can help Groundwire reach their goals for 2011!

Post about Groundwire and spread the word about what they are doing.

Pray for them!

Learn how to become a coach.

Let your church know about Groundwire.

They are looking for partner churches to point young people to.

Financial support to aid in getting the spots to air in your area.

For more information, visit www.Groundwire.net and www.broadcasthope.com.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Amish Midwife


Title: THE AMISH MIDWIFE
Author: Mindy Starns Clark & Leslie Gould
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7369-3798-6
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction/Amish

Lexie Jaeger is a nurse midwife. When her adoptive father dies, Lexie is left with a burning desire to know her biological family. When the midwife that mentored Lexie recommends that she help out a lay-midwife in Pennsylvania, Lexie is hesitant at first, but agrees when she learns that Marta Bayer, a Mennonite, might be related to her.

Marta is less than enthusiastic about Lexie’s arrival. She does everything she can to convince Lexie to leave, but fact is, Marta needs her. She is under investigation for the death of a mother and child, and is unable to practice. So Lexie takes over Marta’s patient load, even though Marta makes it clear that she isn’t welcomed or wanted. In return, Lexie asks for information, but Marta is extremely reluctant to give any, but finally she contributes a piece of the puzzle, leaving Lexie more confused than ever.

The Amish community Lexie is serving encourages her to let it be. They are worried about what might come to be if the secrets are freed. But Lexie is stubborn, and determined to unearth the secrets at all costs. This determination could only serve to tear her newfound family apart...

THE AMISH MIDWIFE is the first non-mystery I’ve read by Mindy Starns Clark. I’ve long loved her mysteries, and at first, when I picked up this book, I didn’t recognize her voice. But I soon became engrossed in this story, and couldn’t put it down.

I’m not adopted, so in that way I couldn’t relate to Lexie, but I did care for her. I couldn’t understand at first by Marta was treating her the way she did, when she obviously needed Lexie, and I was glad that others in the community accepted her without questions, even if they weren’t willing to divulge the information she wanted. I had to keep reading to find out what the secrets were and the decisions that Lexie would make regarding where her home would be. This is a truly great book. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 330 pages.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Your Teen Can Own a Micro-Business - by Carol Topp



Carol Topp, CPA advises teenage business owners through her Micro Business for Teens book series. Carol’s day job is accountant to business owners, and she enjoys teaching teenagers to succeed beyond their dreams. Students appreciate how she shares what they need to know in clear and helpful lessons. Her website is MicroBusinessForTeens.com



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Your Teen Can Own a Micro Business
How to Launch It in Ten Simple Steps


“I want to walk dogs; what do I need to do to get started?” asked a teen boy. I had inspired him to think about starting a micro business and he was ready to get going!

I encourage teenagers to start very small businesses—micro businesses. A micro business is a one-person business that can be started easily, usually without any up-front cash, using what a teenager already owns. Micro businesses are usually home-based and very flexible so a busy student can keep up with homework, sports and a social life.

Teenagers can use their skills to develop businesses such as teaching guitar lessons, doing web design or caring for children. Other teenagers have started micro businesses by offering services such as house cleaning, pet care, and lawn mowing. One easy-to-start micro business is tutoring. Some students tutor math, Spanish or computer programs such as Photoshop.

After your teenager has an idea, he or she can launch a micro business in a short amount of time with very little start up money. Share these starting steps with your teen:

1. Conduct a mini market survey. Start by asking a few potential customers if they need your service and what price they are willing to pay.

2. Decide on a price. From the mini-market survey, you should be able to set a fair price. You may get your first customers by undercharging the competition. One teenager charged half what other piano teachers charged and quickly had eight students.

3. Volunteer a few jobs to practice your business skills and build a reputation. Use recommendations from these jobs in your future advertising. Sarah took senior pictures as a favor for a friend and received three other jobs from referrals.

4. Launch your first advertising campaign. Try to use free advertising such as emails, Facebook posts and handing out fliers to friends and neighbors.

5. Work your plan on a small scale. Start with one customer at first. Learn a lot from that experience and grow slowly.

6. Evaluate, adjust and change. As you grow in experience, you may be able to charge more. You will probably need to create a payment policy. Sarah discovered that she needed to be paid up front and have a cancellation policy when she scheduled photo shoots.

7. Pick a name and register it. Usually, you can use your own name, such as Cathy Smith's Babysitting Service, without needing a name registration. If you do want a business name, learn what your state or local government requires. This website is a good place to start: http://www.business.gov/register/business-name/dba.html

8. Open a checking account. Accountants usually recommend a separate business checking account to keep from mixing personal and business expenses. A teenager can usually get by with one checking account, if you keep good records. Usually a parent must agree to be a co-signer on a checking account for minors.

9. Read up on taxes. You’ll need to file your own tax return, may owe federal or state income tax, and may be subject to self-employment tax also. Self-employment tax is Social Security and Medicare taxes for self-employed people.

10. Learn about customer service, marketing and record keeping. Become a student of business and seek to be continually learning more. Read books, take a business class, find a mentor and ask a lot of questions.

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