Friday, January 30, 2009

A Constant Heart

Author: Siri Mitchell
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0431-9
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Marget has been groomed for marriage to an Earl ever since she was five years old. And now, the time was approaching way too quickly. Who is the man she was promised to? Is he young or old? Will she be happy? Will he? Full of questions, she shares her concerns with her best friend, Joan, but Joan has no answers, except how can he not like Marget?

Simon St. Aubin, Earl of Lytham, is impatient. He had a disastrous first marriage that ended up annulled, and could hardly be bothered with a new bride, even though he’s happy that the father has agreed to the terms of the marriage. His only desire is to get his hands on his bride’s dowry so he can regain what is rightfully his.

The Earl is shocked to find that his intended bride is beautiful. He’d planned on marrying a horse-faced girl, one so ugly that he could safely hide her away and not deal with her. After one night, Marget is scared of the Earl. Is there any hope at all of her finding happiness?

A CONSTANT HEART is the first historical I’ve read by Siri Mitchell. I loved her contemporaries, and they did seem to flow much better than this book. It starts out a bit awkwardly, but by the time the marriage night is over I’m hooked and I want to see where the book will go, what will happen, and I hope that these two characters will find a happy ending.

Marget’s point of view is in first person, and the dominant story. The Earl’s portion is told in third person, but it doesn’t distract from the telling of the tale. I fell in love with the Earl’s right hand man, Nicholas. He was a sweetheart from the beginning of the book.
Fans of historical fiction will not want to miss A CONSTANT HEART. 384 pages. $13.99.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Romancing Hollywood Nobody

Author: Lisa Samson
Publisher: NavPress
ISBN: 978-1-60006-227-6
Genre: Inspirational/youth

Scotty is happy to have her dad with her and Charley in their travel trailer, but she is still getting used to having him around. They are all living under assumed names, and are pretending to be from Wyoming. Grandma Charley is starring in a Scottish Film and is beginning a relationship with a co-star. And Scotty is impressed with a young bagpiper who is on location too.

While they are in South Carolina on site, Scotty and her dad look for answers about Scotty’s mom. The search takes them into dangerous territory, and someone will go to any length to keep the past secret.

ROMANCING HOLLYWOOD NOBODY is the third book in Ms. Samson’s Hollywood Nobody series. Unfortunately, I didn’t read the previous two books in this series, so I was lost most of the time. It took me awhile to get into this book.

Scotty blogs about what is happening in Hollywood with certain stars that she keeps up with. I enjoyed reading her blogs, and getting to know Scotty and her family. I hoped that they would be able to find her mother, why she disappeared, and why she never came home, and it would be good news, and not bad. I recommend reading the first two books in the series Hollywood Nobody and Finding Hollywood Nobody first, so you won’t be so lost when you pick up ROMANCING HOLLYWOOD NOBODY. Sure to appeal to blogging teen and preteen girls. 194 pages. $12.99.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Passion of Mary-Margaret

Author: Lisa Samson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
March 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59554-2113
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Mary-Margaret has always known she was destined to be a religious sister in the Catholic Church, so she never balked at the idea of being married only to Jesus. Still, she doesn’t understand why she feels this sinful desire for Jude—rough and tumble, promiscuous Jude. She prays for Jesus to remove this sinful desire, but He never does, and another sister encourages the feelings, saying that it is normal, and okay, as long as she doesn’t act on it.

After briefly serving as a teacher in the Deep South on the cusp on the Civil Rights Movement, Mary-Margaret returns to the island to prepare for her final vows. But instead of taking the final vows, Jesus tells Mary-Margaret that she must marry Jude. But first, Mary-Margaret has to find Jude—and then convince him to marry her. Not an easy task, especially when Jude refuses to even see her.

THE PASSION OF MARY-MARGARET is an easy read. Written in a style of Mary-Margaret sitting at the table with you, sharing her life story with the reader. In spite of not being Catholic, and understanding little about that church, I was engrossed in the story, and couldn’t put it down. Mary-Margaret is a real character, down-to-earth and friendly. Even Jude is adorable, in his bad boy, slightly shocking manner, though he did make some terrible choices with his life.

I highly recommend THE PASSION OF MARY-MARGARET. It’s a risky love story, realistic and true to life, and definitely gripping. $14.99. 320 pages.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Parting the Waters

Author: Jeanne Damoff
Publisher: WinePress Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-57921-950-5
Genre: Inspirational/non-fiction/real life

Jeanne Damoff is unprepared for what awaits her when she pulls in to the parking lot of the school she teaches at. She knows only that her friend Pam is crying and that she is hustled off to the hospital where she is told that Jeremy, her son’s friend has drowned, and Jacob, Jeanne’s son, is in serious condition. She isn’t prepared for that serious condition to mean he’s in a coma and may never wake up.

Jacob had been underwater for 10 minutes, at least, before he was noticed missing, and he wasn’t breathing when his body was recovered from the bottom of the lake. Workers administered CPR to him for 20 minutes before they finally got a heartbeat. If Jacob survives, what will he have to go through to get any degree of normalcy back?

I was so not prepared for what PARTING THE WATERS was about. I hadn’t read the back of the book when I picked this book up off my to-be-read pile, and not being prepared, I was crying by the time I reached page 19 in the book. I think even if I had known I would still have cried. Ms. Damoff tells the story as she remembers it happening, and it is so poignantly real it is heartbreaking. I can feel every emotion that Ms. Damoff went through, and I’m scared to death to let my teen sons go canoeing after reading this book! Also included in this book are sections where those near to Jacob and his family tell the story in their own words.

PARTING THE WATERS is a tale that will truly demonstrate what unexpected graces God gives when He seems to have taken things away that are dear. This story will stay with the reader for a long, long time. I highly endorse PARTING THE WATERS. $12.95. 213 pages.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Coming Unglued

Author: Rebeca Seitz
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
July 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8054-4691-3
Genre: Inspirational/women's fiction

Artist Kendra Sinclair is the mainstay at her sisters' business, Sister's Ink, a scrapbooking business. She has finally found a good man, Darin, who seems crazy about her, and they've dated for four months. Kendra's sisters are thrilled she found someone, and are trying to encourage her to focus on her relationship with Darin, and on her sister, Tandy's upcoming wedding.

But Kendra isn't happy. Her self-worth is suffering. Besides, she has a huge secret she's keeping from her sisters. They know something is up, but haven't figured out that Kendra's secret is that she has another man in her life, Harrison, a man who's married... Can Kendra keep the secret from her sisters and Darin until she and Harrison finally have the strength to call it off? Or is this secret risking all the happiness she has found?

COMING UNGLUED is the second book in the Sister's Ink series, but it easily stands alone. The book focuses on the relationships between women, friendship, and siblings, and has scrapbooking as a common theme.

I enjoyed reconnecting with Tandy again, as well as getting to know Kendra. I'm looking forward to the other books in the series which will focus on one of the other sisters, Joy, or Meg. I didn't notice much of an inspirational theme, but the focus of the book is definitely on relationships and on scrapbooking. Fans of women's fiction, and of scrapbooking will not want to miss this series, starting with Sister's Ink, and the second book, COMING UNGLUED. $14.99. 320 pages.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bluegrass Courtship

Author: Allie Pleiter
Publisher: Love Inspired
February 2009
ISBN: 978-0-373-87518-4
Genre: Inspirational/romance

Janet Bishop is not impressed with the overly-flamboyant, energetic star of TV’s Missionnovation struts into her hardware store with a huge crowd of admirer’s following him. Drew Downing has accepted the application submitted by Middleburg, Kentucky’s mayor, to rebuild the town’s preschool after a tree fell on it, destroying the structure. Janet is sure that Drew and his co-stars will take advantage of the town. And if she didn’t have to rely on the almighty dollar, she would have sent Drew and his crew packing.

Drew can tell “hostiles” within eight seconds of meeting them, but he has never met a “hostile” as hostile as Janet. What does she have against him and his TV show? It’s a reality show that is real, with no hype, and they rebuild worthy ministries. Does Janet have a problem with the ministry, the God they serve, or is it Drew himself? Drew is determined to get to the bottom of this mysterious woman and find out if she is in need of a make-over.

BLUEGRASS COURTSHIP is the second book is Ms. Pleiter’s Kentucky Corners series. I enjoyed getting to know Janet and Drew. The book is reminiscent of TVs popular Home Make-over series, complete with the larger-than-life TV star. It was amazing how Ms. Pleiter managed to bring a larger-than-life character to life in this book.

The faith message is expertly woven in and very well done. The setting is a vital part of the story, and Ms. Plieter has the small town mentality down. I enjoyed reading this book and watching the relationship between Drew and Janet developing. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.50. 220 pages.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Author: Shelley Shepard Gray
Publisher: Avon Inspire
January 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-147446-0
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Katie Brenneman has always liked Jonathan Lundy, but Jonathan has never noticed her. Instead her married Sarah, had two children, and now, years after Sarah died, he’s still in love with her. When Jonathan’s sister, Winnie needs to go to Indiana, the only person they can think of to help with Jonathan’s daughters is Katie, but Katie’s parents refuse to even consider letting Katie live with Jonathan and help out.

Katie and Winnie both push for their way, and eventually, Katie’s parents reluctantly agree. Katie is thrilled with the opportunity to get to know Jonathan better. But even as she’s preparing to move, Katie receives a letter. She knows as soon as she sees it that her past has caught up with her. A past she’s ashamed of. And a past that could destroy all Katie’s chances for love.

WANTED is the second book in Ms. Gray’s Sisters of the Heart series, but it easily stands alone. Set in an Amish community, WANTED is sure to appeal to fans of Amish series, such as Beverly Lewis, Cindy Woodsmall, and Wanda Brunslettler, though Ms. Gray’s writing style is much different than any of the above authors.

I enjoyed getting to know Katie, Jonathan, and the secondary characters. At the beginning of the book, I didn’t care much for Katie, as she seemed a bit selfish, and unsympathetic to others, but as the story progresses, Katie grows and changes, becoming likeable. The story is gentle, a great book to read to escape life for awhile. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book, and a preview of Ms. Gray’s third book in this series, Forgiven. Don’t miss WANTED. It is a book sure to please those who like to read gentle romances. $12.99. 260 pages.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Lay-Ups and Long Shots

Authors: various
Publisher: Darby Creek Publisher
ISBN: 9781581960785
Genre: short stories/sports

In LAY-UPS AND LONG SHOTS nine contemporary children’s authors bring a certain sports game to the pages of this book and into your life. You will learn about players who are passionate about a sport—yet can’t excel in it, and eventually give up that sport and find another they are suited for. You will read about over-weight kids who are the laughing stocks of their entire class, but find one sport they are so good at that they invited to join a team. You will read about the importance of practice, if you want to succeed.

The stories are all short and easy to read. You would easily be able to read one of the short stories in a sitting, I was able to read the entire book in an hour. Stories are written by authors such as Joseph Bruchac, Lynea Bowdish, David Lubar, Terry Trueman, CS Perryess, Dorian Cirrone, Jamie McEwan, Max Elliot Anderson, and Peggy Duffy.

I enjoyed reading through these stories about all sports, such as basketball, football, soccer, running, surfing, BMX racing, and even Ping-Pong. This book will appeal to armchair sports fans as well as those who actively participate. A great gift for athletes. Hardcover, $15.95. 112 pages.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Author: Estee Wells
Artist: Brie Jenkins
Publisher: Baker Tritin Press
May 2008
ISBN: 978-0-98148-931-5
Genre: Inspirational/tweener

Austin is struggling to keep his family together since his father abandoned them. His mother is working long hours, and crying herself to sleep at night, so the weight of the family (which includes his nine-year-old sister, Zoe) is falling on Austin’s shoulders. Left in charge of feeding his sister, he takes Zoe and goes to his best friend’s, Daniel’s house. Daniel’s mother willingly feeds Austin and Zoe, then Austin and Daniel go to play computer games.

When a mysterious visitor suddenly appears in Daniel’s room, the boys are startled. But they are even more stunned with this visitor, Samala, claiming to be a messenger for The Holy One, transports the boys on a journey to another dimension, an alternative universe.

Suddenly, Austin and Daniel find themselves attempting to save a strange new world as well as their own, or die in the attempt. With only a small stone and an ancient book for weapons, the boys must face a terrible beast as well as a sinister evil…

DIMENSIONS is written by one of the 2007 Tweener Time Competition Winners, Estee Wells, a homeschooler who was 14 when she wrote this book. For a beginner, this book is amazingly well done. The cover picture was designed by another homeschool student, 16 year old Brie Jenkins. I am not a huge fan of fantasy, but I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this story line and the characters.

Even though boys are the main characters in this story, eight to twelve year old girls will also find the story appealing, especially if they like sci fi or fantasy. My daughter wasn’t real impressed with the book, but this is not her favorite genre either. If your favorite tweener likes sci fi or fantasy then you will want to pick up DIMENSIONS for them to read. It’s a great family book with excellent values. $10.95. 100 pages.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wild Things (review)

Title: WILD THINGS (The Art of Nurturing Boys)
Authors: Stephen James, M.A. and David Thomas, M.S.S.W.
Publisher: Tyndale
ISBN: 978-1-4143-2227-8
Genre: Inspirational/parenting/family and relationships


A boy is hungry for adventure, has an endless imagination, and a passionate spirit, but in spite of him pushing you away and pushing the boundaries, he also has a desire to be affirmed, esteemed and loved.

Our parenting styles have changed over the years so that our methods of parenting and educating children doesn’t affirm, celebrate, or embrace a boy’s natural tendencies, but rather seeks to tame it. As a result many parents are frustrated, confused, and wearied by their sons’ behavior.

Both Mr. James and Mr. Thomas are therapists used to working with boys, and they have written WILD THINGS with the goal of helping parents and others who work with boys to understand the ways of boys and the vital role that we as parents play on the journey to manhood.

The book is divided up into sections, exploring what a male is like at each age, going into detail on how his brain works and the different learning styles, and then the boy’s heart. There is also a section about hot topics, that every parent needs to know and address at some point in their life—such as spanking, dating, masturbation, depression, and many others.

I read through the book, but played close attention to the age my two boys were, and was amazed at how accurately they portrayed that age. My boys are in the “Wanderer” group, which is made up of late middle school through finishing high school. I learned a lot about my boys from that section. Any parent, teacher, mentor, grandparent, and other caregivers will learn a lot from picking up a copy of WILD THINGS. I highly recommend this book. It will be invaluable. $14.99. 351 pages.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wild Things - And give away


Looking for answers on how to raise boys?
Ever wonder…
· Why can’t he sit still?
· Is he hearing a word I say?
· Why is he angry all the time?
Boys are born to be wild. Their strong spirit, endless imagination, and hunger for adventure are only matched by their deep desire to be affirmed, esteemed, and loved. In their new book Wild Things, therapists Stephen James and David Thomas help parents and educators understand what exactly makes boys tick.

Blogger & Answers Questions
Wild Things by Stephen James and David Thomas

1. In your last book, How to Hit a Curveball, Grill the Perfect Steak, and Become a Real Man, you addressed a lot of fatherhood issues about rearing boys. How is your new book, Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys, different?

How to Hit a Curveball felt like a perfect introduction to this book. That book challenges men to take a good look at themselves, their experience of being boys themselves and how they were (or weren’t) fathered. We strongly believe that men can’t father well outside of paying attention to their own stories. Whether we like it or not, we are all creatures of habit. We gravitate back toward what we know – good or bad. That book was an invitation to look a little closer at both.

Wild Things is an invitation to take a closer look at your son. This book is a comprehensive look at boy development from birth to young adulthood. In addition to laying out the biology of a boy, we also look at the mind of a boy and the heart of a boy. We break down what a boy needs from his mom and from his dad in every stage of his development. We also hit on all the hot topics surrounding boys, everything from the impact of media to substance abuse, the role of sports, and sex and dating.

2. The subject of Wild Things was inspired by Maurice Sendak’s classic tale Where the Wild Things Are. Why did you find this theme so appropriate?

If you read closely Sendak’s story, he brilliantly speaks to a boy’s hunger for risk and adventure, how boys crave power and purpose, and how they make sense of the world around them. Sendak’s portrait of boys felt so accurate to the two of us and a unique way of exploring and dissecting a boy’s inner world.

In Wild Things, we borrow from the passion and ethos of Sendak’s book and use that to provide insight and direction for parents, teachers, and mentors in what it means to love a boy well. We also try and give a lot of real life examples from our own lives and from the families we work with in our counseling practices.

3. You address five key stages that a boy goes through on his journey to becoming a man. What stage is the most difficult for most boys to navigate?

Each of the stages holds unique challenges. We worked hard to break down each stage in a way that is easy to digest. We think that that parents and educators will walk away with a clearer understanding of a boy’s unique design in each stage and some practical ideas in how to care for him within that stage of his development.

In many ways Wild Things is the kind of thing that you don’t just read once. It is more like an entertaining reference guide that parents and teachers can go back to time and time again for encouragement, insight, and direction.

But if we had to identify one stage as the most challenging, though, we’d have to say the Wanderer stage (13-17). This window of a young man’s development is plagued by physical and emotional change. A colleague of mine, who is pediatrician, said boys in this stage are 98% hormone, which translates to their being so emotional. A part of their developmental agenda is moving toward independence and pulling away. He’s often times the most distant and hard to read in this stage, which greatly complicates the process of letting him go and trusting him with more independence. And it is during this stage that is has the ability to make decisions that will effect the rest of his life. The risks are real and boys in this stage lack the ability to choose wisely with their future in sight.

4. Both of you are fathers of girls and boys. How is parenting a boy different from parenting a girl?

Parenting boys in the first three stages is just so physical. Parenting boys in these years requires a great deal of physical energy—and a good back. Whereas parenting our daughters is so much more relational and emotional. Both are exhilarating and exhausting, but in different ways.

When I (David) engage my daughter, it’s in sitting in a neighborhood coffee shop talking about her day at school. My boys can sit at the coffee shop long enough to finish a chocolate chip cookie, spill their milk and then we’re kicking a soccer ball across the street at the park.

We talk a lot in the book about boys in motion and how to engage these active, physical beings. Girls need that too, no doubt, but not in the same way boys need it.

We had our families together the other day over at my (Stephen’s) house. At one point all the kids went out in the front yard to play: five boys and two girls in all. There were a number of balls lying around the yard. The boys started playing soccer with one ball and the girls started playing soccer with another. After a few minutes the boys were trying to kick the ball at each other and the girls were off to the side talking to each other. To me that is a great picture of the differences.

5. What mistakes have parents and educators made in their approach to rearing and training boys?

For me (Stephen) the consistent mistake my wife and I make is that we over explain and over verbalize with our sons. This is a problem that is very common. In parenting boys, adults tend to talk to them and at them a great deal. We talk and talk and talk and end up sounding a lot like Charlie Brown’s teacher. “Whah, whah, whah.” In Wild Things we offer a number of different strategies for engaging and educating boys that better match their unique design. Boys learn through experience and physical repetition. They need consistent firm boundaries and loads of encouragement.

As far as school goes we speak a lot in the book that the compulsory model we use for schooling in the United States is generally well-suited to a girl’s learning style. It’s heavy on verbal and written expression, two particular areas of strength for most girls. It involves a good deal of sitting still for extended periods of time with mostly auditory instruction. These methods don’t match a boy’s way of learning or draw on his learning strengths.

6. How did you come to the conclusions you discuss in Wild Things?

The book is a combination of science and research, clinical experience (our own as therapists and that of others), and our own journey of parenting five boys between the two of us.

As therapists, we have sat with thousands of men and boys over the years. Our hope was to bring their voices into the content of Wild Things. We have learned so much from the males we’ve had the great honor of working with and hoped to bring their stories into this text. In addition to those, we are still learning so much from living with five of our wild things.

7. At what age should parents discuss sex, homosexuality, and pornography with their boys?

You may be surprised to hear this answer, but we’d recommend beginning a dialogue around sexuality at the age of two. We aren’t recommending education around homosexuality and pornography at two. That begins typically around age 8-10, possibly earlier or later depending on the boy. But we are strong advocates of a healthy ongoing dialogue with every boy around the design of his body, sexuality, and boundaries in relationships in stage one. We lay out a good portion of this in the book to take some of the guess work out of it for parents, and we recommend some useful resources in further guiding you through this life long discussion. As boys grow older the conversation becomes more specific and more technical. Think of it like painting: it starts with broad brush strokes and then moves to finer detail. But as a rule, it starts way before most parents think it does.

8. What are the three most important factors in keeping a boy from experimenting with drugs?

We continue to see three common factors among young men that we’ve worked with who either abstain from using substances or experiment and then make a decision not to continue. The first would be a strong faith and core values. The second would be a strong family open to dialogue. The third would be strong relationships.

9. Who are the most important role models in a boy’s life?

There is no question that a boy’s parents play a foundational role in the man he becomes. In Wild Things we have a chapter that specifically address a mother’s relationship with her son as well as a chapter that addresses a father’s relationship with his son. But it doesn’t stop there for boys. There is great truth to the old African proverb that says “it takes a village.” We talk early in the book about how a boy begins to hunger for other voices and a part of our role is to put them in his way, so that he ends up with this community of individuals who believe in him and hold him up.

10. What kinds of things can a father do to bond with his son and raise him to be emotionally mature?

One of the first things we’d challenge a dad to do is to pay attention to his own story. That was a central purpose in our book How to Hit a Curve Ball, Grill the Perfect Steak and Become a Real Man: Learning the Lessons our Fathers Never Taught Us. Unless we understand how our stories inform who we are as men, husbands, and fathers, we stand to make a number of significant mistakes with our own sons. So before a man starts making a list of things to “do” with his son, we’d encourage him to start with himself. That step doesn’t involve his son at all, but is one of the most powerful ways to love and care for him.

That step gives way to the second step. In order for a father to raise an emotionally mature young man, he must be an emotionally healthy man himself. A boy desperately needs a dad who has an interior life. Our culture is flooded with emotionally stunted, emotionally damaged males. There’s no shortage there. Men have a responsibility to lead their son’s in living from their hearts. Women can’t really teach boys how to do this. Mom’s can invite it and encourage it, but the action of it must be modeled by a man.

Thirdly, we’d challenge dads to study his son in search of his boy’s definition of enjoyment. That’s different for every boy. We both have a set of twin boys. Two males with identical genetic ingredients and yet the outcome couldn’t be any more different. These guys, born within minutes of one another, have different passions, different strengths, and different longings. And they experience enjoyment in some similar ways as well as some different ways. We are both on a long journey of discovering what that is. Just as soon as we get a handle on it, it can change just as his development does. So it’s a long journey of studying these boys and pursuing their passions and their hearts.

11. People often talk about the father’s role in teaching a boy to be a man, but a mother’s relationship is important too. What are some mistakes a mother can make?

A mother’s role is so very important. That message is woven throughout Wild Things. There is so much to the answer to this question. You’ll need to read the book to get a comprehensive look at your role throughout his development. We talk a lot with mom’s about two unique callings within their role, both of which lend themselves to mistakes and potential harm to the mother-son relationship. To boil it down though to a couple of things we would say 1) The first is being safe and 2) the second is letting go. We break both of those down in great detail within the book. By being safe we mean a mothers ability to let her son be a boy. By letting go we mean a mother’s willingness to let her boy become a man. We speak a whole lot more to this throughout the book. It’s such a big question, and an important question for moms to consider.

12. If you could give once piece of advice to parents and educators reading this book, what would it be?

The study of a boy is such a worthwhile use of your time and resources. Boys are complex, imaginative, mysterious, brilliant, challenging, creative, strong, tender, courageous beings—and each is unique. Parenting and educating them is a wonderful, difficult, complex, enjoyable, physical, emotional, delightful, maddening journey. Our hope is that Wild Things is a useful guide along that journey.

If we have to give one piece of advice it would be for parents and educators to continue to invest in their own emotional and spiritual maturity. Growing yourself is the best gift you can give a boy you love.


You’ve gained some valuable advice, but there’s more! If you would like to learn more from these parenting experts about raising boys, you can order a copy of Wild Things through
Based on clinical research, Stephen James and David Thomas have filled Wild Things with practical tips and suggestions for parents. They guide readers through the five stages of a boy’s development, providing an overview and explanation of each stage, followed by a plan to put new principles into action. Pick up a copy today!

Stephen James, M.A., and David Thomas, M.S.S.W., are speakers, authors, and therapists who work directly with boys and their families. They also travel around the country, speaking on parenting and marriage communication, and they have been dynamic guests on CBN’s Living the Life, Good Day Atlanta, WGN Midday News, Moody’s Midday Connection, and other radio programs coast to coast. Learn more at

Ever wonder…
Why can’t he sit still?
Is he hearing a word I say?
Why is he angry all the time?
Boys are born to be wild. Their strong spirit, endless imagination, and hunger for adventure are only matched by their deep desire to be affirmed, esteemed, and loved. In their new book, Wild Things, Stephen James and David Thomas help parents understand what exactly makes boys tick. Now you have a chance to ask Stephen and David YOUR boy parenting questions during their Virtual Book Tour on the evening of Tuesday, February 3rd. Register now for this live event. You can hear Stephen and David answer your questions online or via your phone. You’ll get all the details when you sign up—along with two free chapters from their book! A Virtual Book Tour lets you listen live while relaxing in your home. This is an opportunity you won’t want to miss. .

*except for any normal long-distance charges

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Baby Fat Diet

Authors: Monica Bearden, RD, and Shara Aaron, MS, RD
Publisher: Alpha (Penguin Books)
ISBN: 1-59257-797-2
Genre: Diet/healthy living

When you’re pregnant, you are thrilled to be “eating for two.” But sometimes, the eating for two turns out to be weight gain for three. After you deliver a six-, seven-, or eight-pound baby, then you have all the weight that you gained during pregnancy still around your middle, sometimes years after the baby is born.

THE BABY FAT DIET is a simple, easy-to-live-by guide that, if you follow the plan, will help you lose weight and feel better in the progress. Both authors are registered dietitians, and have detailed menus, shopping lists, among other things in this book.

Topics included are:

a mom’s built-in weight-loss mechanism—breastfeeding
eating for one again—the importance of portion sizes
breakfast as a weight-loss ally
pairing pleasure with healthy foods
exercising to The Wiggles—and other ways to get moving

Included at the end of each chapter is a section called Baby Fat Tips that includes a brief recap of the chapter, plus plenty of room to write down what you have learned from the chapter so it can be applied to your life. Also included are Fabulous Facts in each chapter that includes invaluable information.

The book reads like a conversation over the dining room table. I sat down to read one chapter last night, and before I realized it, I’d read over half the book. I thoroughly loved the invaluable Fabulous Facts. Even though my “baby” which caused me weight gain is years past the newborn stage, years past the diaper stage, and is in the fixing to graduate high school stage, THE BABY FAT DIET is a book that I will be reading and re-reading to get the most out of it. This is truly a book that every mother needs, to help them lose the weight they gain during pregnancy and keep it off. $14.95. 228 pages.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Gift of Psalms

Devotional Wisdm from 50 of the Best Loved Psalms
Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-4185-3437-0
Genre: Scripture/devotional

When I read the description of this book on Thomas Nelson’s website, and saw that it included three CDs with the Psalms set to music, I wanted to review this book. I waited anxiously for the UPS man to deliver the package containing the book. When it came, I opened it up, and this hardcover book is so beautiful. It is truly a book that would be a cherished gift for any one, for any reason.

Not all the Psalms are included in this book. There are selected ones, read by different people. The music is very faint in the background. My only complaint was that I wish the music would have been a little bit louder so we could enjoy both the reading and the music.

The devotionals are very well written, and biblically sound. Also included in each section is a short prayer for the reader to pray.

Both my husband and I love this book. It will be going on our keeper shelf. If you are looking for a unique gift for your favorite graduate, your pastor, or anyone, THE GIFT OF PSALMS would be it. Reasonably priced, it will not break anyone’s budget. $19.99 hardcover.

The Word of Promise The Gift of Psalms:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

On a Killer's Trail

Author: Susan Page Davis
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
February 2009
ISBN: 978-0-373-44325-3
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

When a sweet elderly woman is murdered on Christmas Day, Kate Richards jumps at the chance to escort her brother-in-law, Connor, to the crime scene. Connor is the Chief of the police, and he’s sure to give her exclusives that will help her break into her new job as a reporter for the city newspaper. She doesn’t expect to find her ex-boyfriend, Neil Alexander, at the crime scene as well.

Neil is a detective on the police force, and good friends with Connor. He felt bad about being a ladies man when he dated Kate, and when they have a chance to talk, he is quick to apologize. But that doesn’t mean he wants to let the rookie reporter know everything about the crime. Still, there is little to share. There is no visible way the murderer entered, no murder weapon, no nothing. Just a body.

Then another murder occurs. Same M.0. Same ballistics. There has to be a connection. But where will investigating it lead?

ON A KILLER’S TRAIL is Ms. Davis’s most recent suspense, and it is a winner. I enjoyed getting to know Kate, and Neil. As usual, Ms. Davis’ characters are all very well developed and could be real. The faith message is excellently done as well.

Set in Maine, readers will enjoy this snowy Christmas murder mystery. I had trouble figuring out who the killer was, and I usually figure these things out easily. I highly recommend reading ON A KILLER’S TRAIL. It’s a great read for a cold February, and the romance is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $5.50.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Snack ideas from GUIDED BY HIM

Guided By Him
by Julie Morris and Sarah Morris Cherry

These suggestions are from this great new book:

10 Super Snacks to Super Size Your Healthy Lifestyle

1. A sandwich made with low-calorie bread (40 calories a slice), fat-free mayo and low-calorie ham and/or cheese (30 calories a slice) cut up in four pieces and arranged nicely on a plate

2. A sugar-free Popsicle in the summer or sugar-free hot chocolate in the winter

3. A smoothie made in a blender with fat-free milk, ice cubes and sugar-free hot chocolate mix (25 calories) or fruit with artificial sweetener

4. A baked apple—cut up, seasoned with nutmeg and cooked in the microwave for a few minutes, topped with fat-free margarine

5. A steaming bowl of low-calorie soup or a package of instant oatmeal—cooked in the microwave after adding water

6. Bruschetta—a whole grain slice of bread or large cracker, topped with a slice of tomato and low-fat cheese on top—microwaved for a few seconds to warm it up and melt the cheese

7. A 100-calorie bag of lite microwave popcorn

8. A raw vegetable platter, with a variety of vegetables—cut up in little pieces and arranged nicely on a plate, with a serving of fat-free dressing in the middle. Or several stalks of celery stuffed with fat-free cream cheese—seasoned to taste

9. A parfait—served in a tall glass filled with 4 ounces of plain yogurt, layered with fruit (no sugar added) and topped with a pinch of Grape Nuts or other high-fiber cereal

10. Little carrots served with spinach dip—fat-free sour cream, seasoned with dry soup mix and raw chopped spinach (defrosted, if frozen, with all of the water squeezed out of it)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lessons in Heartbreak

Author: Cathy Kelly
Publisher: Downtown Press
ISBN: 978-1-4165-8624-1
Genre: contemporary

Izzie Silver is a booking agent in a successful New York modeling agency. A larger woman in a field of tall women who wear size 0, Izzie is satisfied with her size 10, even though that makes her a rarity in the fashion field. She dreams of someday opening her own agency—for plus-sized models.

When Izzie meets Joe, he turns her life upside down. Izzie had always prided herself on being in control, of life, her job, her relationships, but Joe monopolized her thoughts and dreams since the moment she met him. But he is married. Izzie had never dreamed of falling in love with a married man, and she is devastated when she finds out. And she can’t possibly tell her family about the new man in her life.

The family matriarch, Lily, also has secrets. Will the family be torn apart if the secrets ever come to light? Or will they have the courage to face the heartbreak—and the joy?

LESSONS IN HEARTBREAK is written by award winning Cathy Kelly. I haven’t read any of her other books, but I notice she is quite acclaimed. I wasn’t very impressed with the writing. Ms. Kelly seemed to write in both the characters point of view, and narrator’s point of view, shifting without warning to one or the other, which kept throwing me out of the story.

The characters are quite well-developed, and the writing style is beautiful, using flowery descriptions to set the scene and even describe the characters. Her characters are down-to-earth, real people that the reader can’t help but relate to.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Cut Above

Author: Ginny Aiken
Publisher: Revell Books
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3229-5
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary/chick lit/suspense

Andie Adams objected loudly when her boss, Miss Mona, suggests she go to Columbia to check out the emeralds that Miss Mona wants to buy for her home shopping network. And the emeralds are supposed to be among the most fabulous in the world. But Andie had enough excitement with the other two foreign trips she needed to take, and more travel woes is not on Andie’s agenda.

Despite her objections, Andie soon finds herself flying – alone – to Columbia. But she isn’t even there a day when her purse is stolen. Her gorgeous co-host, Max Matthews, hops the nearest plane to rush to Andie’s rescue, but even he can’t keep further disasters from occurring.

Can Max get Andie out of Columbia alive? What will this dangerous trip mean for their reluctant romance?

A CUT ABOVE is the third book in The Shop-Til-U-Drop Collection by Ms. Aiken’s. I fell in love with this series in book one, Priced to Move, and couldn’t wait to read A Steal of a Deal, and A CUT ABOVE. The adventure is non-stop, the tension between Andie and Max is extremely well done, and the faith message is inspiring.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading A CUT ABOVE and the descriptions of Columbia included in this novel. I also learned a few things about emeralds. A CUT ABOVE is definitely a novel worth picking up. I highly recommend this book and this series. A CUT ABOVE ends with a hint about a fourth book in the series, but I couldn’t find any information on it online. $12.99. 267 pages.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Unbridled Dreams

Author: Stephanie Grace Whitson
Publisher: Bethany House Books
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0327-5
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Irma Friedrich has been born in an influential and rich family, but in spite of having all the material comforts she ever wanted, she’s miserable. She wants to stay on her uncle’s ranch and work round-ups and practice trick-riding. Ever since Irma has met Buffalo Bill Cody, and he mentioned adding females to his Wild West show, Irma has dreamed of joining the famous act.

But first she has to convince her parents. But Irma’s mother, Willa, is convinced that Irma is throwing her life away. She believes Irma should go to finishing school at the same school that Mr. Cody sent his daughter, and then she would find a suitable match, marry well, and give up her foolish “circus” dreams.

At odds, Irma and Willa battle this out constantly. Willa has her own ideas about who Irma should marry too…but what is she to do when the King of Cowboys, Shep Sterling, rides into town, representing all that Irma desires…and everything her mother fears.

UNBRIDLED DREAMS is the first historical book by Ms. Whitson that I’ve read, though I read and loved her contemporary books. I enjoyed getting to know Irma, her hopes and dreams, and her family and friends. Irma and her mother both had strong personalities, and they were portrayed well in the book.

The faith message is expertly woven in, and the historic western community in which the book is set is also very well-developed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book by award winning author Stephanie Grace Whitson and look forward to many more books by this talented author. $13.99. 347 pages.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Frasier Island

Author: Susan Page Davis
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2066-7
Genre: Inspirational/romantic suspense

Ensign Rachel Whitney has landed at the top of her class after specializing in underwater training with the U.S. Navy. She is anxious to find out if she lands her dream assignment, working for Lt. George Hudson on a remote island in the North Pacific. When she is assigned to work under George, Rachel is thrilled, until she lands on the island and discovers she’s one of three members of the Navy there, and the Commanding Officer, George Hudson, seems to have disliked her on sight.

George is not at all happy when he discovers that his new recruit is a female, straight out of the Naval Academy. But Rachel seems to catch on quick to their assignment, and quickly wins over the other man working there. George is determined not to like Rachel though, never mind that she can cook worth a dream and the house they live and work in has never been cleaner…

When enemies target Frasier Island, Rachel is the one who notices the first attack. George can’t help but be impressed. But as the attacks keep coming, Rachel and George discover that they only have each other and God to thwart a plan that could endanger all America.

FRASIER ISLAND is the first book in this series. I read the second book, Finding Marie, first, and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was glad when I received FRASIER ISLAND. I thoroughly loved this book, and had to hurry and read it as my son wanted to read it and kept stealing it from me.

The faith message is expertly woven in and isn’t preachy, and Frasier Island is so expertly developed, it could be a character in and of itself. The actual characters in the book are all three dimensional, and could walk off the pages of the book. I really enjoy this series, and highly recommend them. The books easily stand alone and don’t need to be read in order. $13.99. 320 pages.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Same Kind of Different as Me

Author: Ron Hall and Denver Moore
As told to Lynn Vincent
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Genre: Inspirational/contemporary

The 1950’s wasn’t exactly the easiest time for a poor black child. Denver worked on a plantation, same as his grandmother did, lived in a shack, same as his grandmother did, and didn’t even own the overalls he wore, and like his grandmother, didn’t get paid a penny for the work he did, even though slavery was considered over. After hearing stories about how a man, any man, could get rich, living anywhere else, Denver finally hopped a train and headed to Dallas, thankful to get away from the black-hating people of his home state who left him half blind and half dead for stopping to change a tire for a white woman. But not knowing how to read and write, career opportunities weren’t exactly knocking on Denver’s door in the big Texas city, and instead he found himself homeless.

Ron made his living selling art. Commissions made on high valued art that rich people collected then sold for twice its original value kept his pockets well padded. But it wasn’t always that way. Ron’s grandfather owned a plantation in the south, and every summer he’d hire all the blacks and whites that wanted to work, Ron included, and they’d work in the cotton fields. But that was as far as the fairness went. Blacks were fed cold cuts on the ground behind the service station (billed for the food they ate) and whites where treated to a free hot meal at the big house. Ron didn’t quite see the fairness in this but it’s the way it was…

Ron’s wife, Miss Debbie, is the first white woman, Denver ever really talked to. And Miss Debbie made a profound difference in his life, and any others who were touched by this remarkable woman.

SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME is written in first person from both Denver’s and Ron’s points of view. The story is engaging, keeping the reader engaged, even while they wanted to cry at the cruelty and the unfairness at the situations. Born long after these events took place, and as a native northerner, not southern, I can hardly relate to the facts as they are described in this story. My heart just broke as I read above Denver’s life, and even Ron’s youth.

Readers will feel for Ron and Denver both as they travel through their youth to their young adult days to the events that will eventually bring them together and bind them in ways they would have never imaged. This is not a book to be missed. It is truly a treasure that will stay with you for a long time after you close the book. Discussion questions are included at the end.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Double the Pleasure

Authors: Lori Foster, Deirdre Martin, Jacquie D’Alessandro & Penny McCall
Publisher: Berkley
December 2008
ISBN: 978-0-425-22406-9
Genre: contemporary

Four couples find love, despite the odds.

In Deuces Wild by Lori Foster, Dexter Winston is coerced into pretending to be his twin brother while Hart goes off to fight for a championship. Dexter isn’t okay with the scam, but he agrees, since as a writer, he can write at his brother’s apartment just as easy as his own. But Dexter doesn’t expect Christy Nash, a red-headed school secretary who is a lot more exciting than Dexter dreamed. And a bigger distraction.

The Luck of the Irish by Deirdre Martin, Brendan Kelly is torn. Should he stay in the states and work for his uncle Joe while earning his citizenship, or should he return to Ireland and work for his brother, who is making money hand over fist. And what will the decision have to do with Maggie O’Brien, the bartender at the pub that Brendan frequents.

Your Room or Mine by Jacquie D’Alesandro, Jack Walker is not pleasantly surprised when his boss announces that Jack and his team need to go on to a resort on business. But the trip isn’t for business as usual, but rather for bonding purposes, so they could, possibly, work better together. Maddie Price is the bane of Jack’s existence. How can bonding with her possibly improve their working conditions?

Double the Danger by Penny McCall, Dr. Abigail West isn’t expecting the dead body she has to perform an autopsy on to be her old boyfriend, Drake. And she certainly doesn’t expect to find Drake is very much alive. Once Abby recovers from her fainting spell, is it possible to rekindle a lost love?

DOUBLE THE PLEASURE is a collection of four contemporary romance novels, one of which is by award winning author, Lori Foster. The stories weren’t exactly what I was expecting, so over-all I was disappointed in this whole collection. There is lots of sex, lots of language, and little conflict. What conflict there is, is handled quickly, with no repercussions.

Fans of contemporary, ABA romances will probably like DOUBLE THE PLEASURE, but if you are they type who tends to read “sweet” romances, you might be a bit shocked by the material covered in DOUBLE THE PLEASURE. $15.00. 368 pages.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Jewel of Gresham Green

Author: Lawana Blackwell
Publisher: Bethany House Books
August 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0511-8
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Jewel Libby feels unsafe in her boarding house. The man in charge of collecting the rent has made sexual advances on both Jewel, and her young daughter, Becky. Forced to chose between protecting her daughter and losing her job, Jewel goes to the police, but finds that they are unwilling to help.

Desperate, Jewel turns to family friends for help, and she is directed to the vicarage in the peaceful dairy village of Gresham. But when Jewel arrives, she finds that the village isn’t as peaceful as she hoped, as the vicar and his wife are having troubles of their own. Can Jewel fit into this trouble community, and possibly provide relief?

THE JEWEL OF GRESHAM GREEN is the fourth book in Ms. Blackwell’s Gresham Chronicles. I haven’t read the other books in the series, but this book seems to easily stand alone. The faith message is not preachy, and the setting is absolutely wonderfully described, I could almost envision some of the scenery.

Fans of historical fiction, or even this particular series will not want to miss THE JEWEL OF GRESHAM GREEN. Ms. Blackwell has a knack of bringing 1884 to life in her novels, and making us care about the characters who lived then. Grab a cup of tea, and pick up THE JEWEL OF GRESHAM GREEN today. You will be glad you did. $13.99. 416 pages.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Of Mice...And Murder

Author: Mary Connealy
Publisher: Heartsong Presents Mysteries
ISBN: 978-1-59789-659-7
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Carrie Evans felt that being named in Great-Grandma’s will was like hitting bankrupt on Wheel of Fortune. All the relatives breathed a sigh of relief when Carrie was named as “heiress.” But she inherited more that no money. She inherited a house full of trash, a yard full of trash, and rap sheet a mile long.

The house isn’t only full of trash—its full of mice. And when the carpenter, repairing some of the jobs on the house hears Carrie screaming, he dashes in to play the hero and instead uncovers a dead body, his employee who hadn’t showed up for work in three days.

So, who killed the man in the closet? And does the corpse have anything to do with Carrie’s grandmother’s death?

OF MICE…AND MURDER is the first book in the Makie-the-Mouse Mystery series. I love Mary Connealy’s writing style, she is a master at helping us care for the characters and giving them quirky fears and personalities. Both Carrie and the hero, Nick, have very low self-esteem, and struggle with those issues.

Readers of cozy mysteries will not want to miss OF MICE…AND MURDER. They will feel for Carrie and Nick, and laugh all the way through this book. Might not want to read this while drinking anything, for danger of spewing liquids. $6.95. 255 pages.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Mayhem in HIgh Heels

Author: Gemma Halliday
Publisher: Making It
January 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8439-6109-6
Genre: Mystery romance

Maddie Springer’s wedding day is getting closer. And with the quickly approaching date comes all the last minute duties. Final fitting of the wedding gown, meeting with the wedding planner, tasting the wedding cake, ordering placecards… When Maddie goes to meet with her wedding planner, Gigi, for the cake tasting, she is stunned to find Gigi face down in the buttercream icing, a cake knife in her back.

With Maddie’s fiancĂ© a detective, Maddie has no choice but to jump into the investigation. After all, Jack’s attention was completely focused on the murder—and not on Maddie. And the faster this mystery is solved, the faster Maddie can be back in Jack’s arms. Unless, the murderer gets to her first…

MAYHEM IN HIGH HEELS is the final book in Ms. Halliday’s page turning High Heels series. I read the first book in the series, and couldn’t help but identify with the quick thinking fashion diva, Maddie. She’s loveable, and trouble…with a capital T. I didn’t warm up to her fiancĂ© as much I would have liked, but the other males in the book are very well developed and interesting, like Marco, a flashy fun man who makes a living as a pedicurist, and Felix, a pushing British Journalist, acting as Maddie’s side-kick, and stand-in groom when Jack isn’t present.

There is some language in this book and sexual content. And I didn’t figure out who the murderer was until the end of the book. But this is the perfect book to read as Valentine’s day approaches and one starts dreaming of romance, weddings, and … murder. $7.99. 303 pages.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

There Goes Santa Claus

Author: Nancy Mehl
Publisher: Heartsong Presents Mysteries
ISBN: 978-1-60260-289-2
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Its just a few days before Christmas. Ivy and her new husband, Amos, are cozied up in bed, sleeping, when a noise wakes Ivy. She shakes her husband awake and sends him to investigate. But Amos isn’t out of the room yet when Santa Claus falls past their window.
Santa is dead by the time they reach him, and the only clue to his identity is a letter written by a young girl, named “Ho Ho.”

It doesn’t take long for word to get around town that Ivy has killed Santa Claus. In order to keep kids from tearing up, Ivy is quick to change Santa’s name to “Chuck.” But even though the local sheriff is not remotely interested in an unknown drunk who slipped off Ivy’s roof, Ivy can’t let it go. Who is he? And why was he on their roof?

THERE GOES SANTA CLAUS is the fourth book in the Ivy Towers Mystery series. The first three are available in a collection called Cozy in Kansas. I hope that since there is a fourth book, Ms. Mehl continues to keep the series going a bit longer.

I love this series, hands down my favorite cozies so far. Ivy is a spunky heroine, and her hero Amos, is a true sweetheart. And the residents in the town of Winter Break, Kansas are so real, I almost feel like I know them. Don’t miss THERE GOES SANTA CLAUS, or any of the cozies by this talented author. A recipe is included at the end. $6.95. 242 pages.

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