Saturday, March 29, 2008

Real Girls of the Bible

Author: Mona Hodgson
Publisher: Zonderkidz
February 2008
ISBN: 978-0-310-71338-8
Genre: Inspirational/youth/devotions

REAL GIRLS OF THE BIBLE takes real girls or women who lived in Bible times, tells us their story in a nut-shell, and then applies them to our lives today.

This devotional includes the stories of thirty authentic girls (women) from the Bible. Each devotional includes the scripture references so you can read the story for yourself, a condensed version of the story, prayer, fun facts, and some tips to help you in your daily walk.

The devotions are short, easy to read in one sitting, and held my interest. I tried them out on my twelve year old daughter and she really liked this book, and thought it was relative to her in today’s world.

REAL GIRLS OF THE BIBLE is a great devotional for your preteen or tweener daughters. Designed to bring them to a regular time to spend with God in Bible study, this book is sure to be a winner with your daughter, grand-daughter, or favorite girl. Parents and grandparents will appreciate it too. $9.99. 169 pages.

By the Light of a Thousand Stars

Author: Jamie Langston Turner
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
June 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0298-8
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction/contemporary

Catherine Biddle wanted to be the mother she’d never known, but somewhere things became muddled. Her children are rebelling, her marriage is suffering, and her perfect life is in disarray. To make matters worse, Catherine’s stranger sister-in-law moves in—uninvited.

Catherine is unkind, and bitter, not known for being nice to the school when they call, complaining about her teenage son. She isn’t exactly nice when a new neighbor moves in across the road, especially when this new neighbor tries to become part of the Biddle’s everyday life.

But people have a way of changing people, and as Catherine learns to accept her sister-in-law, her neighbor, and her son, things changed and soon she finds herself dealing with a whole new set of rules. When tragedy strikes, Catherine discovers the secret to a joyful, contented life.

BY THE LIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS is a thick book, but never-the-less, it was a book that grabbed my interest and held on. I didn’t like Catherine much at first, but I loved some of the interaction between her and some of the teenagers. I laughed at loud in some places. Catherine did grow and change as the book progressed, becoming a much nicer person toward the end of the story.

The faith message is expertly woven in, and isn’t preachy. I liked that some of the characters lived out their faith as a very real part of their lives, and not just a Sunday thing. I found myself hoping that Catherine’s life would become much happier than it was at the beginning, and I pulled for this troubled family.

I highly recommend Ms. Turner’s latest book BY THE LIGHT OF A THOUSAND STARS. While not a book you can read in an afternoon, it is a book that will stay with you for a long time to come. $13.99. 414 pages.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Joy Comes This Morning

Author: Norma DeShields Brown
Publisher: Kimani Press
November 2007
ISBN: 978-0-373-83035-0
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/devotional

Norma DeShields Brown’s life was changed when her only son was tragically murdered. Consumed by grief, she turned to God for direction, and she ended up creating a journal that eventually became a series of thoughtful devotions.

Each entry includes a portion of Scripture, followed by words filled with encouragement that will help strengthen and deepen your own relationship with God. The entries are each short, only lasting from a half page to a page and a half, easily read in just a few minutes.

I was impressed by this well-thought-out devotional, and enjoyed reading through it. This will be one of the devotionals that will be used over and over again instead of read once and put aside.

If you are looking for a good devotional, make sure you pick up a copy of JOY COMES THIS MORNING for yourself or a friend. $14.95

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Beloved Castaway

Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo
Publisher: Barbour Books
ISBN: 978-1-59789-593-4
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Isabelle Marie Gayarre needs a passage to Europe where she hopes to obtain her rightful inheritance instead of the life that she’s living in New Orleans. She’s saved up enough money for the trip, and now she has to convince Captain Josiah Carter into allowing her to ride on his boat. Josiah rather reluctantly agrees, but the situation turn bad when he’s discovered that she has several other women stowing along.

When Isabelle gets on board, she’s discovered that her trucks have been open and the lining ripped to shreds. She fears that she’s been robbed, but then learns that one of the ladies with her was responsible for the missing money. But Josiah wants the money before he agrees to leave port.

Josiah is trying to escape from his own demons. He doesn’t want to be taken, like a naughty child, back to Virginia and his father is enroute to do just that. But without Isabelle’s money he can’t leave. How can Josiah and Isabelle rectify this situation?

BELOVED CASTAWAY is the first longer book I’ve read by Ms. Y’Barbo. There is definitely conflict between the two main characters; Isabelle and Josiah were at each other’s throats from the first moment. I wondered if they ever would stop fighting long enough to learn to like each other.

Josiah wasn’t exactly a kind considerate hero like readers of sweet romances expect. He was gritty and rough. However, I grew to like him as the story progressed and to care for him. Initially, this story confused me, but when I forced myself to keep reading, I grew to care and had to keep reading to find out what would happen to this pair. $9.97. 288 pages.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Meeting of Anni Adams

Title: THE MEETING OF ANNI ADAMS (The Butterfly of Luxembourg)
Author: Lonnie D. Story
Publisher: American Christian Writers Press
March 2004
ISBN: 978-1-932124268
Genre: Biography

Lonnie Story stumbled onto this story on a routine trip to a store. Anni Adams happened to be the one in the store that day, and when they started talking, Lonnie discovered that she had a history definitely worth telling.

Anni was born and raised in Luxembourg on Armistice Day. The Germans did not appreciate anyone having French sounding names, so Anni’s name was changed from the original French spelling of Anny. Anni traveled extensively throughout Europe as a child as her father was a professional gymnast.

During World War II, Anni survived the poverty, humiliation, and uncertainty of refugee camps as the Germans occupied her homeland. She and her family fled to France, but later returned to Luxembourg. She learned to live under the submissive lifestyle of the Nazi rule.

As the war ended, Anni met an American soldier and married him. She came over to the United States as a war bride, but her life was by no means quiet in the States.

THE MEETING OF ANNI ADAMS is Mr. Story’s first book and it is fairly well-written. The story is supposed to be suitable for children, but I found some of the vocabulary quite advanced, and the sentence structure sometime caused me to skim. The story is also told, so I was never able to connect the way I would have liked.

World War II is a time period that interests me, so I was anxious to read it for that section especially. Anni did lead a long and successful life. If you are interested in Europe and World War II and if you like biographies, then you will want to pick up your own copy of THE MEETING OF ANNI ADAMS. Available now from or directly from ACW Press. Excellent for homeschoolers. $20.95. 356 pages.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy and Jesus

Author: David Vaughan Parry, Sr.
Publisher: Holy Fire Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-60383-046-1
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction

True or false:

Santa really lives at the North pole and drives a sled pulled by nine reindeer.
The Easter bunny hides all the eggs and has a basket factory.
The Tooth Fairy sells children’s teeth on the black market.
Jesus really raised from the dead.

In SANTA CLAUS, THE EASTER BUNNY, THE TOOTH FAIRY AND JESUS, Mr. Parry takes a look at each individual legend, telling the basic, simple version of their stories, and then taking a look at each of them logically.

This short book is very easy to read in one setting. There is a sarcastic edge in the taking a look at them logically section, which is kind of cute. The author maintains that SANTA CLAUS, THE EASTER BUNNY, THE TOOTH FAIRY AND JESUS is written for those who want to put the four in the same box—a mythical creatures that really don’t exist, to prove that out of the four, Jesus is real. I’m not really sure how it would work to convince someone who doesn’t believe, but to me it seems quite logically thought out and well-written. If you know someone who believes Jesus is a myth and is waiting for you to wake up and smell the coffee, maybe this would be a good book to slip in their to-be-read pile. It’s cover is cute and attention grabbing, there are several humorous cartoons included, and it’s gripping. 58 pages.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Off the Record

Author: Elizabeth White
Publisher: Zondervan
August 2007
ISBN: 978-0-310-27304-2
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Judge Laurel Kincade, has announced her candidacy for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Her aristocratic Old South family are proud of her, and are all supporters as Laurel takes the podium. But then Laurel sees a familiar face in the crowd—and her past has become a threat to her future.

Journalist Cole McGaughan reports for the New York Daily Journal as received an interesting call from an old friend. Private investigator Matt Hogan believes that Laurel’s impeccable reputation might be a fa├žade. Matt wants Cole to find the skeletons in Laurel’s closet and report them. It would make Cole’s future if he does at Matt suggests.

There’s only one problem. Cole’s history is entangled with Laurel’s. Is reporting the story worth the price he’d have to pay?

I love Elizabeth’s writing, and while I really didn’t look forward to reading a “legal” romance, OFF THE RECORD was everything I expected and yet nothing like I expected. Not just another stiff lawyer story, OFF THE RECORD has real characters that I quickly grew to care about. Cole and Laurel both were special to me, as were some of the secondary characters introduced in this story. The faith message was expertly woven and wasn’t preachy.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading OFF THE RECORD and am looking forward to reading Ms. White’s next book Controlling Interest. And excerpt of Controlling Interest is included at the end of the book. Don’t miss OFF THE RECORD. It is a wonderful story, beautifully written. $13.99. 330 pages.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Sisterchicks Go Brit!

Author: Robin Jones Gunn
Publisher: Multnomah Books
May 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59052-755-9
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary/women’s fiction

When Liz and Kellie meet at their usual coffee house, they have no idea their life is about to change. The older woman who enters the coffee house right before Liz heads straight for Kellie’s table and sits down, promptly hiring Kellie to decorate her apartment. Kellie has always dreamed of owning her own interior decorating firm, and it doesn’t take much into talking her into taking the job.

When Kellie (with Liz’s help) finish decorating Opal’s apartment, she rewards them with a couple airline tickets to England. Opal wants to go back to visit her sister, and wants Kellie and Liz to accompany her on this first leg of the journey.

Liz and Kellie agree to let God lead their vacation in England, and it turns out to be more than either of them had ever dreamed. A pancake race, hot air balloon ride, and questioning by police, serve liven things up a bit. And a big surprise awaits when they get back home…

I love the Sisterchick series, and hope that there are more being planned to follow this one. SISTERCHICKS GO BRIT! is like a minivacation to Great Britian, complete with your own personal tour guide.

I love Liz and Kellie and their sense of adventure. The faith message is expertly woven in, and is strong. The setting is impeccable and wonderfully described. The story grabbed me on line one and held my attention all the way through—I didn’t get much else done today, except for reading! And after finishing this book, I am definitely ready for a spot of tea and some scones, fresh from the oven. Care to join me? Pictures of Robin’s trip to England, discussion questions, and a chapter from Robin’s devotional, Take Flight, are included at the end. Don’t miss SISTERCHICKS GO BRIT! It is exceptional.

Monday, March 3, 2008

March one drawing

Congratulations to Donna Moore for winning a copy of Moonlight Travelers! Donna, please contact me with your mailing address so you can get your copy.

Author Interview - and FREE BOOK - NANA'S BIBLE STORIES

There are so many gifts lying dormant in the lives of women—just waiting to be discovered or understood. I pray not only that my book, Nana’s Bible Stories will be encouraging to the children in your life—but, also that my personal story will be of encouragement to many of you as you pursue your calling.

It is truly a good book, Roberta.

Laura: You have been telling stories to your five children and nine grandchildren for many years. Why do you believe the art of storytelling is so important…and why do children respond so well to stories?

ROBERTA: Storytelling is so important firstly because you are engaging a child or children for a special time. I love to use my grandchildren’s names in the stories as I have done in Nana’s Bible Stories.

I believe storytelling is an adventure, and what you are doing is bringing children into the story. It is also a great time for cuddling, and being close to the kids – it is a time for bonding, and engaging their trust. I find there is not a child I have met who does not just LOVE having a story read, or told to them!

I believe that children respond to stories (if they are good stories!) because it is a time where they can listen to a story about someone or something else other than what they see and feel everyday, and many times can place themselves into the story – e.g. “What would I have done?”

While playing with kids, I love starting a story – “Once upon a time, there was a…” then I would point to one of the kids, and they would have to make up something. I would continue this way until all the kids had a turn, and we had a story! It was crazy, fun, and lots of loud laughter.

Laura: I love cuddling my kids while I tell them stories too. Your personal story is one of obedience. You didn’t plan to become an author. Tell us about some of the challenges you faced from family, friends, etc. on your journey.

ROBERTA: Challenges do come, and they come often. Some years ago, I did a writing seminar, here in Barbados. I remember being so excited, as I did want to write, but up until then, I had only written articles for the newspaper, and a few plays for church.

The gentleman who read and corrected all that I had written scribbled all over them with a nasty little red pen. On the bottom he wrote, “You can’t write!” I shrugged and thought, “I have five kids to raise and I have lots to do, so never mind!” He was a very influential man in Barbados – in fact, he was a well known Pastor! Lesson to be learned in this? When God says you can do it, even a well known Pastor cannot get in the way with his negative comments!

Years later, when I knew God spoke to me about writing, I felt excited and flew home (I mean drove!) and started to write. I believe what was important at that time, was obeying God, and not listening to man!

Friends and especially family have totally encouraged me on my adventure, and this is really special!

Laura: It is wonderful to have the encouragement of others. Your stories are told from the perspective of a child or an animal. Why is this beneficial to the child listening to the stories?

ROBERTA: I believe that when a child listens or reads the stories about other children, they can identify with the child in the story. I hope that they will say to themselves – “I could have been that boy/girl!” I also believe that they will see how much Jesus loves children, and they were always uplifted and loved by Him in the stories.

I just love animals, and so do children. It is fun writing about them, and I know that God was pleased and loves all He created and He sure created a beautiful animal kingdom!

Laura: God is the author of creation. Your family has a rich history…tell us a little about your parents and grandparents.

ROBERTA: My life was very interesting with the parents and grandparents that I had. A lot of it was wonderful, but there were difficult times as well. I loved my life as a little girl. My father was a big band leader in England, and we had two pianos in our house. A grand piano in the living room, and a small piano in his music room. Music was such a huge part of my life, and I remember performing in front of his friends, singing and dancing! I even went to a few of his performances, which was a great treat, especially when I went up on the stage with him.

My mother was very beautiful and made a few movies with my father. My grandfather and grandmother were the last Rajah and Ranee of Sarawak. My grandmother, who was JM Barrie’s inspiration for “Wendy” in Peter Pan, was quite a character—she was an artist and an author as well. She took me to many interesting places, many of which she should not have taken me, like scary movies!

When I was around 9 years old, my parents got divorced and I thought it was the end of the world. She remarried to an American Colonel, who for a while was my hero, as he could get unlimited candy, coca cola, and chewing gum! Unfortunately, he was not a hero and that marriage also ended in divorce.

We learn difficult lessons in life, and I can relate to many people because of the things I had to face, including World War II, and being hated and singled out for being Jewish. Through all of the pain and heartache, I loved my family very much.

Laura: Do you plan to continue writing?

ROBERTA: Yes, yes, yes! I have so many stories and books inside of me; I just pray I will live long enough to write them!

Thank you for allowing me to share a part of my life and calling with you. If you would like to learn more about me or my book, please go to You may download one of my favorite stories, The Butterfly and the Cross—the story of the crucifixion as told through the gentle and tender eyes of a butterfly. I have also included a special devotional for the story which you may share with your children this Easter season. Cuddle up with a child and enjoy!

Laura: You're welcome, Roberta. Glad to have you stop by. If you would like to have a chance to win a copy of Roberta's book, please leave a comment. I'll draw a name around March 15.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Moving the Mountain

Author: Yvonne Lehman
Publisher: Heartsong Presents
ISBN: 1-59789-009-X
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Molly Pierpont has returned home. Her husband has died, and her sister passed away in childbirth. Now her brother-in-law, Jonas McLean needs her help with his two young children. His daughter, Beth, has broken her arm, and Jonas can’t handle watching his three-year-old son, all the farm work and household chores alone.

Jonas hates asking Molly for help. After all, she’s just lost her husband and she shouldn’t have to leave her up-scale city lifestyle for a cabin in the mountains of Kentucky. And Molly doesn’t know how to do anything, from milking a cow to cooking on a woodstove! How could he even begin to imagine that she can help?

Molly and Jonas hate needing each other, and Beth loathes her aunt. Is there anyway these hurting souls and find hope and healing and possibly even love?

MOVING THE MOUNTAIN is the first book I’ve read by acclaimed Heartsong author Yvonne Lehman in a long time. It was good to revisit her writing style and to read a book set in the mountains of Kentucky. Living in the mountains of Arkansas, it helped make the setting very real.

I enjoyed the story, and Molly and Jonas were realistic, sympathetic characters that I cared deeply for. I wanted them both to get past their heartbreak and find love again. In many ways, MOVING THE MOUNTAIN reminded me strongly of the story Sarah, Plain and Tall. I recommend MOVING THE MOUNTAIN as a very sweet romance. A recipe is included at the end. $4.95. 171 pages.

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