Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mixed Bags

Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Zondervan
May 2008
ISBN: 978-0-310-71488-0
Genre: Inspirational/young adult

When DJ’s mother died, her father abandoned her, forcing her to live with her grandmother, an internationally famous 1960s fashion model. Now, Mrs. Carter has opened a boarding home for young ladies, and tomboy DJ is sure they will all be snobs.

DJ makes a few tenacious friendships, and one enemy, Taylor, when she and Taylor are both interested in the same guy. When DJ is asked out a date first, Taylor is devastated, and sets out to ruin DJ. As DJ struggles against her grandmother turning her into a fashion diva, and struggles to find her place in the house with all the girls living there, will she be forced to change to fit in? And if she does, what will the ramifications be?

MIXED BAGS is book one in the Carter House Girls Series. I was excited to hear about it, thinking at first that it was a chick lit. Judging by the cover, it easily could be. At first I was disappointed to find it was a young adult chick lit. Ms. Carlson has a habit of tackling extremely tough topics in her young adults, making them iffy reading for me. There were parts of this book I wasn’t really fond of, but it wasn’t has hard-core as some of Ms. Carlson’s other books, and DJ handled herself well.

I think that MIXED BAGS would be a good addition to any young girl’s library, and I know my twelve year old daughter is looking forward to reading this book. The faith message is well introduced, and while I couldn’t relate to most of the girls, I did enjoy getting to know them. Don’t miss MIXED BAGS. An excerpt from Stealing Bradford, the second book in the series is included at the end of the book. $10.79. 198 pages.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hill Country Christmas

Author: Laurie Kingery
Publisher: Love Inspired Historical
October 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-82798-5
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Delia Keller’s preacher grandfather has just died, and now penniless, Delia is faced with losing the parsonage she calls home and being forced to find work to pay for her bills. But before Delia has found work, she learns that the father that abandoned her several years earlier has died, and left her a wealthy woman.

Jude Tucker used to be a preacher, but the Civil War changed things and he no longer feels worthy to fill a pulpit. Hoping to earn money to go back out west, Jude takes on a few carpentry jobs in town. One of the jobs is building a house for the lovely Delia.

Delia can’t help but fall for Jude, but she is being courted by the rich mayor’s son. Will Delia be able to help Jude restore his faith, and find a lasting love in the process?

HILL COUNTRY CHRISTMAS is a charming Christmas story set in the Texas Hill Country. The faith message is strong, but not preachy, and readers can’t help but care about Delia, Jude, and the host of secondary characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading HILL COUNTRY CHRISTMAS. It is a delightful read for the upcoming holiday season and sure to do will. Ms. Kingery is a talented author, able to bring the story to life. Don’t miss HILL COUNTRY CHRISTMAS. Discussion questions are included at the end. $5.50. 279 pages.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Diamond Duo

Author: Marcia Gruver
Publisher: Barbour Books
October 2008
ISBN: 978-1-60260-205-2
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Bertha Biddle has been in love with Thaddeus Bloom for a long time, and she’s tired of waiting for his hand. When a flashy woman, Annie Monroe, comes to town, Bertha hopes Annie will teach her how to use feminine wiles to catch Thad’s heart so that he won’t leave to go to college, but instead stays and marries her.

But there is something strange about Annie. She goes by multiple names. Her husband seems very jealous, and so Annie sneaks out when he’s passed out to visit with Bertha, and otherwise pretends not to know her. And she refers to herself as “merchandise” even while implying that her life is in danger.

When a woman’s body is found in the woods by a local woman, the whole town is thrown into an uproar. Love and faith are tested.

DIAMOND DUO is book one in the Texas Fortunes series. Based on an actual unsolved murder in Jefferson, Texas, the story was interesting to read. I was a bit thrown at first by Annie’s multiple names (it took me awhile to figure out she used aliases) and that the murder occurs almost at the end of the book. However, it does help to ground us in the characters, inciting sympathy, and helping to form opinions as to who might have murdered the victim.

Bertha was an interesting heroine, spunky and quirky, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with her. A well rounded cast of secondary characters filled out the story, supporting it and not intrusive. Don’t miss DIAMOND DUO. $10.97. 288 pages.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Faking Grace

Author: Tamara Leigh
Publisher: Multnomah Books
August 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59052-929-4
Genre: inspirational/chick lit

Maizy Grace Stewart needs a second job to pay the bills. Her job at a Nashville newspaper didn’t result in a full time position, and now Maizy’s savings are gone. So she applies at Steeple Side Christian Resources. Only problem is, Steeple Side only hires committed Christians. So Maizy changes her name to Grace, starts toting Jesus-themed accessories, and learning “Christian Speak” with the help of the Dumb Blondes Guide to Christianity.

Maizy is hired at Steeple Side, but the senior editor there, Jack Prentiss, seems determined to prove that Maizy is a fraud. Which she is. So she sets out to fool Jack and keep her job by attending a church and actually buying a Bible.

When Maizy’s boss at the Nashville newspaper wants Maizy to investigate—and expose—and skeletons in Steeple Side’s closet, along with the assignment comes a cushy increase in salary and Maizy’s dream job. Only problem is, Maizy has begun to care about her co-workers at Steeple Side. Will Maizy deliver the dirt or lean on her new-found faith and pray for grace?

I have read Ms. Leigh’s previous books, but FAKING GRACE is hands down my favorite. Quirky and lighthearted, with Christianity unabashedly woven throughout, and deliciously developed characters that I wished could walk out of the pages and into my life.

Maizy Grace is delightful, and I couldn’t help but pull for her as she struggles to make sense of the life, situation, and people that God placed in her life. And the secondary characters are very well rounded, making this book come alive. Don’t miss FAKING GRACE. $12.99. 400 pages.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Date Night in a Minivan

Author: Lorilee Craker
Publisher: Revell Books
February 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3069-7
Genre: Marriage

Having children changes a marriage. In the introduction, Ms. Craker states that each child drives a wedge between a husband and a wife which takes that much more work to overcome. With each child comes issues that newlyweds or couples never think of—such as different discipline styles, changing nasty diapers, picking up after the children, etc. And that causes arguments. Especially if one parent has to do it all. Or feels as if (she) does.

In DATE NIGHT IN A MINIVAN, Ms. Craker teaches us how to tackle hot-button issues such as:

Ø handling different discipline styles
Ø divvying up housework and chores
Ø working out opposite social styles
Ø resolving money matters
Ø keeping the passion alive
Ø and much more

DATE NIGHT IN A MINIVAN includes stories and tips, mixed with plenty of humor. It also includes stories from other woman on how they differ from their husbands and how they feel about it. This book will help couples reclaim the friendship, teamwork, and passion they enjoyed before the kids arrived. This book is ideal for parents of small children. $12.99. 200 pages.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Summer of Joy

Author: Ann H. Gabhart
Publisher: Revell Books
February 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3170-0
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

David Brooke is trying to find the nerve to propose to Leigh. His almost grown daughters and his secretary are encouraging the match, but David hesitates because Leigh is so much younger than he. Besides when he prices engagement rings, he finds that their cost is way out of his income level. All he has is his mother’s engagement ring, and the diamond on that seems so small.

Life couldn’t be more perfect. With Leigh on his arm, and the congregation in his quiet town hanging on his every word, David would be a happy man, if it weren’t for some financial problems. But the idyllic town isn’t as quiet as it seems. The past is threatening to destroy relationships—two people, one David thought was gone for good, and the other, he’s never heard of—are promising trouble.

SUMMER OF JOY is the continuation of the story in Orchard of Hope. I enjoyed spending more time with David, Leigh, and his family, both the church family, and his personal family. Some parts of the story caused me to laugh, while others rang too close to home and were sobering.

Ms. Gabhart is an extremely talented author, able to weave this complex story line into a tale that is worth reading. The faith message is expertly done and isn’t preachy. The characters are realistically developed. Fans of Ms. Gabhart’s earlier books are not going to want to miss SUMMER OF JOY. The cover is absolutely gorgeous. The story is too modern to be historical, but too historical to be contemporary, so I’m not really sure which category to place it. $12.99. 347 pages.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Family of the Heart

Author: Dorothy Clark
Publisher: Love Inspired Historical
September 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-52795-4
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Sarah Randolph has never been a nanny before. She’s from a privileged family, wealthy, with servants of her own. But Sarah’s husband has died, and now she wants to run from her memories. And what better place than in a position of servitude in a town far from home.

Clayton Bainbridge wanted his daughter out of sight and out of mind. He didn’t want to hear the toddler cry, and he didn’t want anything at all to do with her. Sarah worked wonders with the child, keeping her quiet when previous nanny’s failed, but the rest of the rules seemed open to Sarah’s translation. Clayton didn’t know whether to fire her and ship her back to where she came from, or to tolerate her high-handed ways.

Clashing from the first moment, Clayton and Sarah have nothing in common, except grief, and a sweet little girl named Nora. Can the Lord heal the hurting hearts so Nora can have the parents she needs?

FAMILY OF THE HEART is a very cute romance with an adorable cover. My little girls were fascinated by the beautiful artwork. I enjoyed reading about and getting to know Sarah and Clayton. At first I didn’t like Clayton very much, but as I continued reading the more I grew to care for him.

The writing is impeccable, the faith message expertly woven in, and the plot interesting. FAMILY OF THE HEART is definitely a plus in the newly established historical romance line by Steeple Hill. FAMILY OF THE HEART will not only amuse readers but it will touch their hearts. Discussion questions are included at the end. $5.50. 276 pages.

Friday, August 22, 2008

That's (Not Exactly) Amore

Author: Tracey Bateman
Publisher: Faith Words
August 2008
ISBN: 978-0-446-69895-5
Genre: inspirational/chick lit

Laini Sullivan thought she wanted to become an interior designer. But she’s beginning to rethink this decision. After all, she’s barely making above a D in her classes, her professors have all gently suggested she find a different major, and she’s color blind. But when her boss, Nick, at the coffee house hires her to design his soon-to-be remodeled coffee shop, Laini thinks she possibly can do it.

There’s only one other problem. Nick’s nephew, Joe is managing the coffee shop while Nick is away and he hates all Laini’s ideas. When Laini’s house is robbed, she meets sweet police officer, Mark. Then both Mark and Joe seem interested in Laini. But both seem to be harboring secrets and warning Laini that the other is “not what he seems.” Who is right? Which guy should Laini choose?

THAT’S (NOT EXACTLY) AMORE is the third book in Ms. Bateman’s Drama Queen series, but it easily stands alone. It was nice revisiting with the characters from the other two books while getting to know Laini better. I think that this third book is my favorite one in the series, although You Had Me at Goodbye ran a close second.

Laini is a loveable heroine with realistic faults. Both heroes had faults but were loveable at the same time. I had my favorite early on. The faith message is expertly woven in and isn’t preachy. Don’t miss THAT’S (NOT EXACTLY) AMORE. $13.99. 282 pages.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Woman I Am Becoming

Title: THE WOMAN I AM BECOMING: Embracing the Chase for Identity, Faith, and Destiny
Author: T. Suzanne Eller
Publisher: Harvest House Publisher
July 2007
ISBN: 978-0-736920308
Genre: Inspirational/Christian Living

We live in a disconnected society. While we can connect with women all over the world, we are far from family, and no longer benefit from talking things over with parents, grandparents, aunts, and cousins on a daily basis. Real and lasting relationships take a lot of effort—effort that women busy with beginning families and establishing their careers don’t have time to make.

Ms. Eller maintains that she senses a growing need and desire for a community, one where you can share your hopes, dreams, and frustrations.

In THE WOMAN I AM BECOMING Ms. Eller addresses several key issues, including:

. What is a real woman?
. Where do I fit?
. What should I look like?
. Who should I be with?
. Where am I going?
. What about my faith?

Ms. Eller shares her own story teamed up with life applications, and real-life advice from woman. Each chapter begins with a relevant blog entry and concludes with questions which will help you assimilate what you’ve read. Plenty of lines are included for your thoughts and answers.

I think THE WOMAN I AM BECOMING would be ideal for a young women’s class, discussion group, or even for studying with a group of friends. It is a book which is definitely timely as many women are far from home and the influence of the older women in their families. If you or someone you know is trying to figure out this thing called life, then THE WOMAN I AM BECOMING is the book you need. $11.99. 195 pages.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Stuck in the Middle

Author: Virginia Smith
Publisher: Revell Books
February 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3232-5
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Joan Sanderson is the middle sister. Stuck at home with her aging grandmother and single mom, and stuck in a dead end job as manager of a furniture rental company. Her oldest sister is starting a family, and Tori is making major money in her budding career.

Dr. Ken Fletcher is new to town. He’s working in the hospital emergency room and has his eye on the pretty woman that lives next door. But Joan’s sister, Tori, is flirting shamelessly with him, and then Joan turns flirty and Ken is turned off.

Ken talks differently about God than the God Joan is familiar with, so she goes on a quest to find the God that Ken knows. And with a little help from God, her oldest sister, and an enormous, bad-mannered mutt, Joan begins to find her way out of the rut.

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE is the first book in the Sister-to-Sister series. I enjoyed getting to know Joan and her sisters and I can’t wait to read more about them. Joan’s faith issue was well-thought out, and well done, and even spoke to me several times.

I also enjoyed getting to know Ken, and the cast of secondary characters really filled out the story. STUCK IN THE MIDDLE is definitely a winner. It celebrates family and friendship as well as emphasizing the need for a deeper than surface faith. Don’t miss STUCK IN THE MIDDLE. Age Before Beauty, book two in the series, is coming in early 2009. $13.99. 332 pages.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Twice Loved

Author: Lori Copeland
Publisher: Avon Inspire
August 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-136491-4
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Willow Madison has now choice. She has to go to Thunder Ridge, Texas, to marry Silas Sterling—a man she has never met, but one wealthy enough to take care of her and her two friends. The Civil war is over, but it has taken everything from Willow. Her parents, her home, her livelihood.

But Willow’s arrival in Thunder Ridge is not without mishap. A thunder clap scares her horse, and while Willow is trying to keep the runaway animal under control, her hitch breaks, the kerosene she carries spills and the newly constructed mill (the only source of income for the town) is burned. Destroyed.

Mill owner Tucker Gray is furious. And even more so when Willow refuses to take responsibility for her actions and pay for a new mill. Tucker and Willow clash at every turn—and Willow can’t get him out of her head. What will Willow choose to do—marry for love, or for duty and commitment?

Lori Copeland has a new fan. I’ve read several novels of hers, but it seems like each one gets better and better. I couldn’t put TWICE LOVED down, and I can’t wait to read Three Times Blessed, which will be the next book in Lori Copeland’s new series The Belles of Timber Creek.

I couldn’t help but fall in love with Willow, and she had two equally wonderful men in her life. I couldn’t decide between them. Silas was truly a wonderful man, a gentleman in every way. Tucker was Willow’s equal in stubbornness, and feistiness, and had a strong sense of humor. There were several parts in the book that were laugh out loud funny.

Don’t miss TWICE LOVED. It is definitely a winner. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. And an excerpt from Three Times Blessed is also included. $12.95. 288 pages.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Nowhere to Run

Author: Valerie Hansen
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
October 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-44312-3
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Marie Parnell doesn’t believe her ex-boyfriend when he tells her to take their young daughter and run. At least not until she looks out the window and sees him abducted. Not getting any offers of help from the police, Marie grabs five-year-old Patty and all their belongings that she can stuff into her old car and flees.

Her car breaks down in Serenity, Arkansas, right in front of a garage. The handsome mechanic, Seth Whitfield, promises to fix her car, but he seems to be dragging his heels—at least until Marie tells him her story. Seth is being hunted by enemies too, so he’s sympathetic to Marie’s plight.

When the bad guys catch up, its anybody’s guess who they are really after. Marie? Seth? Or both?

NOWHERE to run is the third book in Ms. Hansen’s Serenity Arkansas series, but the stories easily stand alone. I had the privilege of reading the first in the series, and even though Serenity, Arkansas is a made-up town, it is obviously based on a real life town that is near where both the author and I live.

I enjoyed getting to know Marie, Patty, Seth, and his border collie, Babe, in this fast paced novel based in small town, Arkansas. It held my interest until the end, and I wanted to keep reading. NOWHERE TO RUN is definitely one of the better suspense novels I’ve read recently. Don’t miss this book. Discussion questions are included at the end. $5.50. 216 pages.

Friday, August 15, 2008

At His Command

Author: Brenda Coulter
Publisher: Love Inspired
September 2008
ISBN: 978-0-373-87496-5
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Madeline Bright is burned out by being an Emergency Room Army Nurse. She is tired of having young men die in her arms, fatally wounded in the line of duty. She returns to Prairie Springs, Texas, to pursue a degree in Obstetrics. Almost the first person she meets is Jake Hopkins, her brother’s best friend.

Jake has decided he’s allergic to Maddie. After all, she is thirteen years younger than him, and his heart does weird things when he’s around her. Besides, Maddie would have nothing to do with him if she knew the truth about how her brother Noah had died.

Maddie loves Jake, and has never flirted so hard in her life, but it seems be to no avail. Jake can’t allow that. After all, he’s wounded, he has a gimp leg, and Maddie deserves so much more.

AT HIS COMMAND is a story about a wounded hero, bitter, hurting, and stern. All the joy had been sucked out of his life by the death of his wife, the death of his best friend, and his severe injury. Maddie’s favorite color is yellow, the color of sunshine, and everything about her is sunny, her car, her clothes, and her personality. The only thing that seems to hurt her is Jake’s constant rejections.

I enjoyed getting to know Maddie and Jake, and watch as their relationship moved forward. Tied together by an orphaned boy with a heart problem caused by a bomb that killed his mom, Ali is a sweetheart and both Maddie and Jake are instrumental in getting Ali the care he needs. Don’t miss AT HIS COMMAND. It is a winner. And even though it is the third book in the Hometown Heroes series, it easily stands alone. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.50. 216 pages.

AT HIS COMMAND will be available in stores August 26.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Painted Dresses

Author: Patricia Hickman
Publisher: Water Brook Press
July 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7199-9
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary women’s fiction

Gaylen has always been the responsible sister, and she found it difficult to deal with her spirited and spontaneous sister, Delia. Yet, the sisters are forever bound by memories, secrets, and an odd group of painted dresses preserved on canvas.

Gaylen’s marriage is falling apart, and she goes home to stay in a cottage previously owned by an aunt. But with her father deceased, Gaylen is burdened with looking after her adult sister, Delia. As Delia collects trouble, Gaylen is forced to go with Delia on a road trip.

Will the sisters be able to work through a trail of family secrets to find that they can be forever close? Or will they be torn apart?

PAINTED DRESSES claims to have been drawn on the author’s own history. I have read other of Ms. Hickman’s books, and PAINTED DRESSES is written in her distinctive style.

Sisters are not always close, and Ms. Hickman bravely takes on family dynamics in this novel. I enjoyed getting to know Gaylen and Delia. The was a bit more telling and backstory in the beginning of the book than I’m fond of, but once you get past that to the meat of the story, it is gripping. Don’t miss PAINTED DRESSES. $13.99. 346 pages.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Calico Canyon

Author: Mary Connealy
Publisher: Barbour Books
July 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59789-938-3
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Grace Calhoun has never been a school teacher before, but she passed the tests with ease—and handled the class well—at least until five malicious monsters of mayhem arrived for classes. With the Reeves boys in attendance at school, Grace wasn’t getting much of anything done, except for trying (and failing) to stay one step ahead of the boys. From snakes in her drawer, to tacks on her seat, whatever could possibly go wrong did.
And when Grace finally decided to take matters in her own hands and give the boys a whipping, their father showed up, and Grace is fired from her job.

When Grace’s adoptive father shows up in town to kill Grace, Grace flees the only way she can, by hiding in a covered wagon. But that covered wagon belongs to Daniel Reeves, the man who got her fired. And when Grace is knocked unconscious and wakes up in an underground cave, she isn’t sure what to think. It only gets worse when the parson shows up unannounced and marries Grace and Daniel on the spot.

So now, Grace is married to a man she intensely dislikes, and how can she possibly be the mother-of-the-year to the five terrors of the west?

CALICO CANYON is the second book in the Lassoed in Texas series, the first book is the award-winning Petticoat Ranch. I enjoyed reading this fast-paced romantic comedy. There was one story thread which I don’t think was completely tied off at the end, so I’m thinking that the third book in this series, Gingham Mountain, will be a continuation.

Grace is a loveable heroine, and Daniel is certainly a unique hero. I had to admire Grace’s spunk taking in some of the shocking behavior she encountered at the Reeves’ ranch. And Daniel is extremely patient with Grace. I highly recommend CALICO CANYON if you are looking for a fun, rollicking romance. The perfect read for a long lazy day. You won’t be able to put this book down. $10.97. 288 pages.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beach Dreams (and contest)

Author: Trish Perry
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
July 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2446-7
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Tiffany LeBoeuf has just lost her mother, her job, and her social life in one swoop. Now she’s back in Virginia. The first person Tiffany connects with is a charming Brit – who appears to be working at a pizza restaurant. But Tiffany has had a real bad day, and when Jeremy gallantly changes her tire, she also discovers that he’s taken—by a beautiful blond named Eve.

One of Tiffany’s new friends suggests that Tiffany should go to California and rent this charming beach house that she stayed at on her honeymoon. Tiffany agrees to go, but when she calls, she discovers that the beach house has already been reserved—and she assumes that her friend made the reservations.

But when Tiffany arrives, she discovers Eve is already there. And when Jeremy arrives to surprise Eve, he surprises Tiffany as well. But then a series of events surprise everyone.

BEACH DREAMS is the third book in The Beach House Series. I didn’t have the privilege of reading the first two books in this series, but BEACH DREAMS easily stands alone. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the beach in San Diego, and envisioning my favorite beach—and cottage—while reading this book.

Tiffany has really had a 100% makeover since the first book I’ve read by Trish Perry The Guy I’m Not Dating. I liked Tiffany, and enjoyed getting to know her and Jeremy in this book. Jeremy is a real sweetheart, a true hero, kind and considerate, even if he is a bit of a klutz.

BEACH DREAMS is my favorite book out of the three I read by Ms. Perry, but all three of her books were good. Don’t miss BEACH DREAMS. It will be the perfect end to a hot summer—even if you are no where near a beach. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $12.99. 304 pages.

You can participate in a special contest related to Beach Dreams (prize: a beach bag filled with a few goodies) by posting a response to the following prompt: How has God used a mistake you made - big or small - for his purposes? The example may be serious or funny, complex or simple, and you may or may not have realized he was even using it at the time it occurred. Tell your story. We'll have a Mr. Linky up on for you to add your post and read the other entries. All entries must be received by 5pm CST on August 22. Trish will judge the entries and declare her favorite.

Trish’s Website and Blog:
Beach Dreams on Amazon:
Read an excerpt:
List of all participating bloggers:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Redemption of Sarah Cain

Title: THE REDEMPTION OF SARAH CAIN (movie edition)
Author: Beverly Lewis
Publisher: Bethany House
June 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0403-6
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Sarah Cain and her sister Ivy have never gotten along. Ivy and Sarah were complete opposites growing up, so it’s no big surprise when they don’t have a good relationship as adults. Sarah has become a successful business woman, living in Oregon, as far from her Connecticut roots as she can get. Ivy married, converted to the Amish faith, and has five children.

When Sarah gets the news that Ivy has died of heart failure, she’s stunned. She refuses to go to the funeral, hoping instead that she’ll be able to move on, keep her busy lifestyle and forget she ever had a sister. She never expects to find that Ivy has left her five children to Sarah.

What is Ivy supposed to do with a ready-made Amish family? She flies out to Pennsylvania to dispose of the kids as quickly as she can to another Amish family. After all, she can’t sacrifice her successful career for five children she doesn’t even know. Can she?

As a reviewer, it is rare that I have the time to reread a book anymore. So it was a pleasure to sit down with this book, originally published in 2000, and read it for review. Reissued with the debut of the movie by the same name, THE REDEMPTION OF SARAH CAIN held my interest just as much the second time around, even though I knew what would happen next. I can’t wait to see the movie they made, available on DVD in mid-January 2008.

At first Sarah is a prickly character, selfish and unkind, but she does grow and change considerably as the book progresses. And one can’t help but lose their hearts to the five orphans, losing both their mother and father so young, and facing an uncertain future with their mother’s choice of Sarah for a guardian. I highly recommend THE REDEMPTION OF SARAH CAIN whether you read it the first time in 2000 or if this is your first time to pick it up. Pictures of the movie set and a letter from Beverly Lewis are included. $13.99. 313 pages.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Miscarriage of Justice

Author: Kip Gayden
Publisher: Center Street
February 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59995-687-9
Genre: True Crime/historical

March 16, 1913, started out as a day quite normal. Until the police get a phone call about a murder down at a Nashville, Tennessee, barber shop. When the police arrive, they find the murderer still at the scene, but it’s the story behind it, and what happens at the trial that will change lives. The only thing more surprising than the crime, is the verdict.

Anna fell in love with Walter Dotson when she was just sixteen years old, attending a church camp. Walter was beyond reproach, but both of them remembered the other. When Walter went to serve his residency at a hospital, he chose the community where Anna lived, hoping he’d be able to look her up. Anna was one step ahead of Walter, and knowing he was a future doctor, she already arranged to be in the hospital doing volunteer work, hoping that Walter would choose to go there.

Walter and Anna marry and have children and everything is picture perfect until Walter’s profession starts demanding more time, and Anna meets Charlie Cobb. Charlie befriends Walter, but he’s interested in Anna. The consequences are deadly.

I wasn’t real impressed with MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE at first. The story is mostly told, and the reader is kept at arm’s length, never really connecting with the characters. And the sex scenes were a bit more graphic than I appreciate. But in spite of the fact that I couldn’t get into the story, I couldn’t put the book down. I had to find out what happened with Anna and Walter, who killed who, and why and what the verdict would be.

The story is spellbinding, and since it is a fictionalized account of a true story, it is fascinating in that way. Truly a powerful story. $22.99 hardcover. 327 pages.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Truffles by the Sea

Author: Julie Carobini
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
February 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0427-2
Genre: Inspirational/chick lit

Gaby Flores has lost her apartment to a fire, and while recovering from that, her delivery man ran off with most of her business. Left homeless and jobless, Gaby moves into a loft apartment with a stellar view and an extremely nosy neighbor. A friend gives her a few pieces of furniture she had stored in the garage, and some hand-me-down clothes, and Gaby is set.

With Gaby’s friends helping out, things beginning to look up, so Gaby begins to try to rebuild her business. But a lawsuit, an eviction notice, and two surprise romances threaten. What’s a girl to do?

TRUFFLES BY THE SEA is the sequel to Chocolate Beach but it easily stands alone. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Gaby and reconnecting with some of her friends. With two wonderful guys chasing Gaby, it was hard to pick a favorite for the hero.

The faith message was expertly woven in, and the Southern California setting very much a part of the story. Gaby was going through a very rough time; and is easy to feel sympathetic for. I was glad she had friends to help her out. Don’t miss TRUFFLES BY THE SEA for the perfect summer read. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 320 pages.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Finding Stefanie and contest

Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
June 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4143-1019-0
Genre: Inspirational/romance

Stepanie Noble had big plans for her life, but w hen she put her dreams on hold to help her dad run the family ranch, she felt life was passing her by. Now, the ranch no longer needs her. Nick and his wife Piper are running the ranch, and Stephanie is just in the way.

Lincoln Cash is a hot, sought-after movie star, but he has a crippling disease. Lincoln hopes to regroup and salvage his pride by moving to his new ranch in Montana and starting a film festival. He doesn’t expect to arrive and discover that three runaways have accidentally burned his house down.

Lincoln is angry about the lose of his home, and threatens to call a social worker to collect the children, but his new neighbor Stefanie, kicks up a fuss. She takes in the kids, and opposes all his plans from the git-go. What’s a guy to do when he wants to get on the feisty female rancher’s good side? But unfortunately, a turn-around doesn’t come without a price—someone is out for revenge. But who is the real target?

FINDING STEFANIE is book three in the Noble Legacy series, but it is easily stands alone. I was looking forward to reading FINDING STEFANIE after reading the other books in this series, and it didn’t disappoint.

Stefanie is a realistic heroine, and Lincoln turned out to be a lot nice hero than I thought he would be. A full cast of well-rounded secondary characters complete the story. I especially loved Gideon, the eighteen-year-old runaway. The faith message is expertly woven in and isn’t preachy and the setting is important to the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading FINDING STEFANIE and highly recommend this book. I’m looking forward to reading her new PJ Sugar series beginning in March 2009. Susan May Warren is definitely a writer to watch. Don’t miss FINDING STEFANIE or any of Susie’s books. $12.99. 351 pages.

Read an excerpt:

About Susan: Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia , was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia , Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota .

Link to buy the book:

Link to Susan’s website:

Link for blog tour schedule:

Grab your magnifying glass and join me on a Fact-o-Find!
Answer these questions about the bloggers on the tour and be entered to win a $50 gift certificate to the movie theater of your choice (you know so you can see some of Cash's great movies *G*)! Email Amy your answers Ready, get set, giddy-up!1. Which blogger is adopting a girl from China ?
2. This word 'featherbunkle' is found on which blog?
3. Which blogger is supporting the 'Pickens Plan'?
4. Which blog is "The Cutest Blog on the Block"?
5. Which blogger is a S@HM and also a wife, daughter, sister, friend, nursery director, and woman that is just trying to keep it all together?
6. Which blogger is taking the Southern Reading Challenge?
7. Which blog asks 'How may we serve you'?
8. Which blogger refers to her son as 'super good big guy'?
9. Which blogger is a self-proclaimed 'Starbucks Addict'?
10. Which blogger is a big Trekkie?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

FREE BOOK - follow instructions

About the Author:Joel Comiskey (Ph.D. Fuller Seminary) is an internationally recognized church consultant and speaker. He has served as a missionary with the C&MA in Quito, Ecuador and is now founding pastor of a cell-based church in Southern California. Joel's books have sold 130,000 copies in North American and an additional 200,000 copies worldwide. His titles include: Home Cell Group Explosion (Touch Publications, 1998), How to Lead a Great Cell Group Meeting (Touch Publications, 2001), and An Appointment with the King (Chosen Books,2002). Joel teaches as an adjunct professor at several theological seminaries. Joel and his wife, Celyce, have three daughters and live in Moreno Valley,California.Endorsements Include:
Dr. Peter N. Nanfelt, President of the Christian and Missionary Alliance
Larry Kreider, author House to House
Billy Joe Daugherty, senior pastor of 12,000 member Victory Christian Center
Dale Galloway, dean of the Beeson International Center
For more information go to:

Small group expert, Joel Comiskey,creates a new tool for individuals and group study. In Discover, Use Your Gifts and Help Others Find Theirs, Joel shows clear steps and guidelines to find and activate spiritual gifts. The eight lessons offer biblical insight on what the gifts are and practical suggestions on how to use them. Discover will especially help those leading a small group to know how to discern the different gifts among group members--and then to help each person activate that gift. According to the Bible, everyone has at least one spiritual gift. But many don't know what their gift is or how to effectively exercise their spiritual gift.

Why did you write this book?

So often we want to be like someone else. How often have we said, “I wish I was a great conversationalist like Tom. He always has something interesting to say, but when I’m in a group of people, my brain freezes up, and I can hardly remember what to say.” Or “I wish I could teach like Donna. She articulates her message so perfectly. In comparison, my teaching is simplistic and even superficial.”

Most of us have prayed, “Lord, make me like …. ” Because too many of us stumble through life with an inferiority complex, I wrote this book to help people discover who they are and how God wants them to function in the body of Christ.

Where is the best setting to use your spiritual gifts?

In the larger worship service, naturally experimenting with the gifts rarely happens because risk-taking is not encouraged in such an environment, nor should it be. Yet, in the safety of the small group and with the encouragement of the group leader, experimentation can happen, and the Holy Spirit will bless. When you’re sitting in a comfortable living room with just a few people, there’s far more possibilities to talk with and minister to others.

Once the group becomes comfortable with each other and more knowledgeable about spiritual gifts, the leader can encourage the participants to confirm in each other their spiritual gifts in the small-group time. Gift discovery takes place in the process of serving one another, caring for one another and living the life of the body. When you find that God consistently blesses your efforts in a certain area that builds others up, you can confidently conclude that you have that particular gift.

Are the spiritual gifts given permanently?

There are two views on this. One view, the constitutional view, says that God gives us the gifts permanently. The other side, the situational view, says that God equips a person with a particular gift when the need arises.

I personally believe that God has permanently given each born-again believer at least one or more gift. And in this sense we need to discover what he has placed in us. Yet, I also realize that God is the gift giver, and that he reserves the right to drop any gift into our lives at anytime. We need to expect God to work in our lives at all times.

The goal of Christian coaches is to move people toward Jesus Christ. The Christian coach strives to lead people forward to conformity with Jesus Christ, knowing that the ultimate crown is the one that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:25). While Christ-like character is most important, a small group coach also equips leaders with the tools, knowledge, and opportunities they need to develop themselves and become more effective in small group ministry. A cell coach encourages, nourishes, and challenges cell leaders to grow and multiply their cell groups. Coach provides step-by-step instructions on how to coach a small group leader from the initial stages of leading the group all the way to giving birth to a new one. Those who have never coached before will receive clear information on how to take the small group leader to the next level. And someone who is already coaching a small group leader will also find the eight lessons in this book invaluable to empower others to lead fruitful groups.

What is the book, COACH, about?

It's about how to come along side someone who is influencing others for Jesus Christ. My area of writing over the years has been small group based ministry, so I'm specifically writing for people who are influencing others in a small group setting. Yet, the principles of this book are much wider than just small group leadership. They reach into many areas, including how to live the Christian life.

Why is coaching so important in small group ministry?

Coaching is essential to small group ministry because small group leaders are ministering to others on a voluntary basis. They are constantly giving out. One huge question is: who is going to care for them? Who is going to minister to their needs?

The coach comes alongside the leader, not just to dish out information, but to be a friend, to listen, and to develop the leader. Often the best thing a coach can do is simply listen. Most of the time the leader knows what's wrong. More than hearing advice, the leader needs to know that there's someone available to listen.

What are some of the key principles that you bring out in your book?

I've titles my chapters after the key principles of coaching: receive, learn, plan, listen, serve, develop, strategize, and challenge.

I talk about the need for the coach to make sure his or her life is in tune with Jesus. Great coaches will first be successful with God and those closest to them (God, spouse, family).

Has coaching replaced the concept of mentoring?

Mentoring was always an obscure word. Mentor was actually one of the Greek mythology characters. And thus, it's always difficult to explain what mentoring is. Yet, coaching is all around us. We see sports coaches, business coaches, and spiritual coaches. The practice of coaching that we see around us helps explain what it is and thus people have more readily picked it up.

Often misunderstood, the cell church movement is alive and well in Northern America. We hear about explosive growth of cell churches in Colombia and Korea, but where are the dynamic North American cell churches? This book shows how the cell church concept is working in North America and dedicates an entire chapter to examining North American churches successfully using the cell strategy for growth. The Church That Multiplies gives practical examples and instructions to implement cell church strategy. This book provides the latest statistical research about the North American church and provides solutions for pastors and lay leaders to implement these concepts for cell-based ministry.
The Church That Multiplies
Why is the cell church so attractive in the 21st century?
More and more leaders around the world are attracted to a simple form of church life, one that doesn't require huge budgets and super-talented preachers but follows the pattern of the New Testament church. I now find myself desiring a simple, reproducible, New Testament model. And I believe North America needs the same thing.
Tomorrow's cell church won't depend on large buildings or technology to make it work. It will go back to the New Testament rhythm of meeting in celebration and cell.
One reason the mega churches appear so complicated is that they are. One influential mega church in the suburbs of Los Angeles, for example, is embarking on a ten-year expansion project with a 4000-seat worship center, an artificial lake, food court, coffee house, and recreational attractions including a rock-climbing wall and jumbo video screens. The list of activities sounds like the offerings at a Club Med or a small liberal arts college: poetry workshops, creative writing, singles groups, job fairs, vocational training, musical lessons, and even auto repair clinics.
The beauty of a simple cell church is that it's reproducible.
What are the first steps in starting a cell church?
Cell church plants come in different varieties: mother-daughter cell church plants, satellite cell church plants, or just starting a cell from scratch.
The simplicity of cell church planting makes it exciting. Even without a supporting mother church, a church planter can simply open the first cell in a home and begin reaching non-Christians. The cell at this stage is more like a house church. The goal is to see non-Christians come to Christ, be trained through the training track, and then be sent out to lead their own cell groups.
I recommend, however, that the church planter seek to find a team of core members. Each core member should be prepared to eventually start a cell group (or perhaps start one in partnership with another core team member). Where will these core members come from? A few possibilities are the mother church, the denomination, a plea for "missionaries," or help from another church.
The core group meets together in a pilot cell for six months to one year. During that period, the pilot cell of core members practice cell life, using the four Ws as the guide for the cell (welcome, worship, Word, witness). Each core member is encouraged to get to know non-Christians in the neighborhood.
During this same time, the church planter teaches the training track to the core team members apart from the cell itself (see Chapter 10). In our church plant, we found it effective to set apart a Saturday or Sunday for concentrated training.

Bonus Free Content!!!
Feel free to post the following free content on your site:
What is a cell church?
by Joel Comiskey

Cell church in its simplest form is a strategic approach that emphasizes both cell and celebration on an equal basis.

In the cell church, cell is the church and celebration is the church. Every worshipper is encouraged to attend both the weekly cell group and the weekly celebration service.
Most people know what the Sunday church celebration looks like. Worshippers gather to hear the Word preached, worship the living God, and participate in the sacraments (e.g., the Lord 's Supper and baptism).

But what about the cell? The most common definition of a cell (and the one followed in this book) is this: a group of three to fifteen people who meet weekly outside the church building for the purpose of evangelism, community, and discipleship with the goal of multiplication.

Implicit in this definition is the overarching goal of glorifying God and achieving spiritual growth in Christ.

All small groups are not cell groups. One of the major differences between cell groups and generic small groups is the cell's emphasis on evangelism, leadership development, and multiplication in each cell.

Cell churches also have other types of ministries (e.g., ushering, worship, prayer, missions, and training). These ministries, however, are not called cell groups, even though the particular ministry might be small and a group.

The ministries in a cell church, rather, support the cell and celebration. Everyone participating in a church ministry is also actively involved in a cell group, if not leading one (this is especially true of elder and board leadership).

In the cell church, the cell group is the backbone, or center, of church ministry. Cell ministry replaces the need for many traditional programs.

I like to use the phrase "the cell-driven church" because church-growth success is primarily measured through infrastructure growth as the church grows from the core to the crowd.

Some churches have cell groups as one of the programs in the church. In this scenario, the senior pastor, while overseeing all the programs, delegates the small-group ministry to another person. In the cell church, however, the senior pastor is personally involved in cell ministry and is considered the point person and cell visionary.

FREE Book to the first ten church planters who contact Kathy and are willing to write a book review for a book to be released in September entitled Planting Churches that Reproduce: Starting a Network of Simple Churches.

Monday, August 4, 2008

From a Distance

Author: Tamera Alexander
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
June 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0389-3
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Elizabeth Westbrook is determined to become on of the nations premier newspaper photographers. She is hired to travel to the Colorado Territory to capture the grandeur of the mountains and wildlife surrounding the remote town of Timber Ridge, and her employers hope that her photographs will lure tourists and hunters out to the Colorado Territory. Elizabeth is hoping that the mountain air will help cure the mysterious illness that threatens her life.

Daniel Ranslett is kind of a hermit. A former Confederate soldier, he has a past that is painful. He is not real impressed with Elizabeth when they meet, with a dispute over a bull elk Daniel shot, and is equally put out when Elizabeth insists he makes restitution by taking her hunting.

A photograph Elizabeth takes may be key to solving a crime, thus putting herself in danger. When she calls upon Daniel to help, they are forced on a perilous journey. Secrets are laid bare, and dreams may not be all that are imagined…

FROM A DISTANCE is the best book I’ve read by Ms. Alexander, and I’m sure I’ll read many more by this talented author. I couldn’t help but admire feisty Elizabeth from page one, and Daniel was a sweet hero, even if he did take a bit more time to get to know.

The faith message is expertly woven in and isn’t preachy. The setting is very much a part of this story. And the secondary characters are well developed. I enjoyed reading FROM A DISTANCE. If you are a historical reader, and love strong heroines, you cannot miss FROM A DISTANCE. $13.99. 377 pages.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

One More Sunrise

Authors: Michael Landon Jr. and Tracie Peterson
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
January 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0362-6
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Joe Daley is a drunk, unhappy with his life, his career, and his family. He dreamed of becoming a World War II hero, but those dreams died prematurely. Now, he’s married to his high school sweetheart, has two children, and owns a crop dusting business. Life is one struggle after another.

Meg tries to keep everything perfect for Joe. But she can’t help it that his anger is set off so easily. She tries to keep the kids away from him, and avoids everything that might make him angry.

When Meg’s old high school friend, Luke shows up in town, he promises big things to their little town, swears that corporate farming is the wave of the future. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is… Is this adage right – or does Luke really hold the answers?

ONE MORE SUNRISE is the first novel by film producer Michael Landon Jr. and his writing partner, Tracie Peterson. I really didn’t see much of Tracie’s voice in this story, and this is different than everything of Tracie’s I’ve read so far. I was looking forward to reading ONE MORE SUNRISE, but I have to admit that I didn’t care much for Joe, and for the first third of the book, the tone was rather depressing.

The faith message is expertly woven in, and isn’t preachy. The setting of rural Kansas is well developed, and really couldn’t be set anywhere else. The whole story is very well told, but I never got into these characters the way I would have liked. The book does have a satisfying conclusion. $13.99. 358 pages.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Symphony of Secrets

Author: Sharon Hinck
Publisher: Bethany House Publisher
February 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0282-7
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Amy Johnson didn’t think dreams could come true for people like her. A single mom, she supports her daughter by teaching music lessons, but she longs for more. Amy’s best friend, Lena, talks Amy into auditioning for the orchestra, and since Amy’s daughter, Clara, has joined the cheerleading squad and no longer needs her mom all the time, Amy gives in. She doesn’t believe she has a chance to get in, especially when rude doesn’t even begin to describe two of the committee listening to her audition.

When Amy gets the coveted call that she’s made second flutist, but it seems she no sooner joins than the concert master is being targeted. Amy fancies herself an amateur sleuth, so she starts looking around to see what she can discover.

With the attacks are coming negative music reviews and the symphony is in danger of closing, due to lack of support. Will Amy be able to even keep her dream job now that’s she landed it?

SYMPHONY OF SECRETS is the best book of Sharon Hinck’s I’ve had the privilege of reading. I’d like to see a sequel to this book to see how things play out with several small story lines that were left unfinished in this book.

Amy is a realistic heroine, with a true artist’s demeanor. I also fell in love with some of the secondary characters. The faith message is expertly woven in. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Amy and her daughter, Clara, and members of the orchestra. Don’t miss SYMPHONY OF SECRETS. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $12.99. 298 pages.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Title: DELUSION: Growing up in an Amish-Jewish Cult
Author: Patricia Hochstetler
Publisher: Baker Trittin Press
June 2007
ISBN: 978-0-9787316-4-9
Genre: Autobiography

Patricia’s family was a member of the Amish, and when Patricia was very young a man who claimed to be a Jew, and know a lot of the Bible came into her community and started befriending the Amish. No one knew much about this man, but the Amish became confused, and some of them decided to call this Jewish man as their Bishop. This caused a split among the Amish Community, and eventually, the Bishop decided to move the community into Tennessee into a heavily wooded area, and the only ways into the area are blocked by gates. No one could leave, and no one could get in.

The families are not allowed communication with any in the outside world, so the community became the only world these people knew. Doctors were not allowed, nor any professionals of any kind. All food was raised in the community.

But eventually, discord began to spread. The Bishop ordered one seventeen year old boy to be taken to Delaware and dumped. The teacher was using traditional school books, and the Bishop called them of the Devil, and banned the teacher from the community. A young boy cut his leg to the bone and got an infection. The Bishop decreed that there was sin in the boy’s life and that is why he wasn’t healing.

DELUSION isn’t really a well-written book, but the story is fascinating. I was hooked, and wanted to see how this story would play out. Unfortunately, DELUSION is just the beginning of the story, and it is continued through two more books, Deception and Deliverance which I haven’t had the privilege of reading.

If you are interested in a true story about a man who turned an Amish community into a Amish-Jewish cult, then don’t miss DELUSION or the other books in the series. The story has been flying off the shelves in Amish bookstores, and Amish historians have verified the truth of it, and in fact the Jewish “bishop” who caused the problems has stayed in several other Amish communities. Don’t miss DELUSION. Available on-line at $12.95. 140 pages.

While the City Sleeps (Women of Midtown)

  While the City Sleeps  (Women of Midtown)  February 13, 2024 by  Elizabeth Camden   (Author) Amid the hushed city, two hearts must navigat...