Thursday, April 30, 2009

Enduring Justice and Contest

Author: Amy Wallace
Publisher: Multnomah
ISBN: 978-1-60142-014-5
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Michael Parker is a Crimes Against Children FBI Agent, and it makes him sick when he is forced to go after a perp who has done unthinkable things to a child. When a white supremacist is the bad guy, and set free easily, Michael is driven to retribution.

Hanna Kessler was abused sexually as a child, but she lied about it then, and now, more than twenty years later, she’s still lying about it—and her promiscuous lifestyle in college and beyond. She has run away from her loving family because a child she was caring for was abducted while in her care and even though the boy was later safely recovered and the family didn’t blame Hanna, she still felt responsible.

But now, Hanna’s family is insisting she come home. And when she does, the past rears its ugly head, forcing Hanna to face it. Her molester is listed on America’s Most Wanted. But can Hanna face the past bravely enough to identify him, to tell her family the truth, and to move past the abuse?

ENDURING JUSTICE is the third book in the Defenders of Hope series. I’ve read all Amy’s books since the beginning, when her first book Ransomed Dreams was published and can honestly say that she’s only gotten better with time, although this book was extremely difficult for a mother of five children to read.

Not only does ENDURING JUSTICE deal with that all too real scenarios of child abductions, rape, and murder, but it also deals with racial hate issues. I couldn’t help but hope that Hanna would be able to rise above her suppressed pain and to claim freedom in Christ. ENDURING JUSTICE is a book that will not be easily forgotten. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. 319 pages. $12.99

About the book:
A painful past
Hanna Kessler’s childhood secret has remained buried for over two decades. But when the dark shadows of her past threaten to destroy those she loves, Hanna must face the summer that changed her life and the man who still haunts her memories.

A racially-motivated killer
As a Crimes Against Children FBI Agent, Michael Parker knows what it means to get knocked down. Difficult cases and broken relationships have plagued his entire year. But when the system fails and a white supremacist is set free, Michael’s drive for retribution eclipses all else.

A life-altering choice
A racist’s well-planned assault forces Hanna and Michael to decide between executing vengeance and pursuing justice. The dividing line between the two is the choice to heal. But when the attack turns personal, is justice enough?

About the Defenders of Hope series:

Buy the book:


About Amy:
Amy Wallace is a freelance writer and self-confessed chocoholic. She is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and serves as the liaison for the training division of the county police department. Amy is the author of Ransomed Dreams, the first book in the Defenders of Hope series, and a contributing author of several books including God Answers Moms’ Prayers, and God Allows U-Turns for Teens. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Georgia .

Enter to win all THREE BOOKS in the DOH series by signing up for Amy’s Dark Chocolate Suspense Newsletter and then leave a comment on this blog tour post ( It’s chock full of insider info on the writing world, a thought-provoking devotion, and easy but yummy recipes. If you already subscribe to the newsletter, just leave a comment saying so on the blog tour post! The winner will be chosen at random on 5/8/09. Two runner's up will also be chosen to win a copy of Enduring Justice.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Match Point

Author: Erynn Mangum
Publisher: NavPress
ISBN: 978-1-60006-309-1
Genre: Inspirational/chick lit/teen

Lauren Holbrook has taken credit for four successful couples now. Now her dad is happily married and life settling into an even keel, Lauren is quite happy. She’s dating Ryan and enjoying her friendship with him, but she doesn’t think she’s in love with him.

When all Lauren’s friends start trying to play match-maker to get her and Ryan engaged, Lauren resists all their efforts. But she does start praying for wisdom to decide if she is in love with Ryan, and if he’s really the right one for her.

When the attempts to get Lauren and Ryan engaged get pushing, Lauren wonders if perhaps she’s gone too far in the matchmaking business. Especially when she and Ryan have to break-up to get people off their back about marriage.

MATCHPOINT is the third book in Ms. Mangum’s Lauren Holbrook series and personally, I hate to see it come to an end! I enjoyed getting to know Laurie and all her friends, and wish that she were real so I could be part of them.

Ms. Mangum is an expert at dialog, and creating humorous situations. The story and characters are unpredictable, and one can’t guess what will be happening next. I love this series, and am looking forward to more books from Erynn Mangum. If you like chick lit, don’t miss MATCHPOINT, or the previous books in this series, Miss Match and Rematch. 366 pages. Available from your favorite bookstore,, or by calling NavPress at 1-800-366-7788.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blue Heart Blessed

Author: Susan Meissner
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-7369-1917-3
Genre: Inspirational/chick lit/women’s fiction

Daisy Murien is fascinated with wedding dresses. As a child, she spent hours designing wedding gowns for paper dolls. And now, despite the fact that her fianc√© broke their engagement a mere ten days before the wedding, Daisy has opened her own store—a shop to sell second-hand wedding dresses. And her own wedding dress is sometimes for sale…and sometimes, not.

As Daisy slowly works her way through her grief, she finds an unusual confidante in Father Laurent, a retired Episcopal priest, who volunteered to bless the tiny blue satin hearts Daisy sews into all her wedding dresses. She hopes that knowing the stories behind each gown, and knowing the dress has been blessed with encourage new brides.

Daisy doesn’t accept every gown that is presented to her, only select ones are purchased for resale in the boutique. But some dresses can be salvaged. As Daisy works through her gown selection, and makes some sales, will she grow enough to let her gown go, and trust God to know what is best for her?

BLUE HEART BLESSED is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Meissner, but I hope it won’t be the last. I requested this book off because I wanted to read it, and it wasn’t sent to me to review. But this book is too good not to review. It is a wonderful story about unconditional love and waiting for God’s timing.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading BLUE HEART BLESSED and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read. Daisy is real, a woman most of us can identify with, and it is a pleasure to watch God at work in her life. Don’t miss this book, available at your favorite family bookstore, or at $12.99. 277 pages.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Noticer

Author: Andy Andrews
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-0-7852-2921-6
Genre: Inspirational/self-help/personal growth

Andy lived under a pier on the Gulf of Mexico after his parents died, leaving him basically homeless. He made a dollar here and a dollar there, but mostly lived off garbage and from what he found in rich people’s garages. When an old homeless man, who introduced himself only as Jones, approached him, Andy first worried that he was about to be robbed—of what, who knows. And Jones quickly laughed at that idea.

As Jones sat and talked with Andy, he pointed out some things that Andy needed to know—its all about perspective. As they shared canned sardines and Vienna sausages on the sand, Jones taught Andy that it could be looked on as surf and turf with an ocean-view.

Jones worked around the community, touching those lives that need touching, and teaching everyone he came in contact with about perspective. But who is Jones, really? And will the seeds he plants take root and grow?

THE NOTICER is a motivational book, written in a fictionalized way. In fact, I wasn’t sure whether it was based on a true story, partially based, or pure imagination, as it was never really made clear, though somewhere in the early pages of the book there is an indication that it may be at least partially based on real life.

At times, the point of view seemed to jump around some, and sometimes the narrator took over the story, but all in all, it was a good read and there is a lot of wisdom to be found in the pages. I really learned a lot as I read this book, and came up with a lot of WOW moments. This book has the potential of changing lives, if people will listen and learn from its pages. A discussion guide is included at the rear of the book. $17.99. 165 pages.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I AM Says, You Are...

Title: I AM Says “You Are…”
Author: CJ Rapp
Publisher: AuthorHouse
ISBN: 978-1-4389-4754-9
Genre: Inspirational/devotional

What is your purpose in life? Who are you? What did God make you for?

I AM Says “You Are…” is designed to help women learn their identity in Christ. This thirty-day devotional is designed to teach you to believe God, and to find what purpose God made you.

Each devotional has six components:

1. I AM says you are—which shows us how God sees us, and begins with an identity statement followed by a supporting verse from the Bible.

2. Teaching Point—describes how we might struggle to believe the identity statement.

3. What do you think?—causes you to take the time to be still and meditate on the identity statement.

4. Taking out the trash—this helps you to eliminate any thought that contradicts Scripture and shows you patterns of thinking that prevent you from seeing yourself as God sees you.

5. Replacing the trash with the treasure—a verse study that helps to reinforce our identity in Christ.

6. Challenge—a personal challenge to practice what you have learned.

Earlier last year I took a Bible study class by a different author that was designed around the same concepts in this book – believing God. And in this class we had to learn five statements of faith. Some of them say, in part, “God is who He says He is.” “I am who God says I am.” This devotional takes these statements and makes them clear for the woman who might be struggling to find her path, the purpose that God has for her. I AM Says, “You Are…” will truly help you to understand your identity in Christ.

175 pages.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Secret

Author: Beverly Lewis
Publisher: Bethany House Books
March 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0571-2
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Grace Byler has come of age and is hoping that her beau, Henry, will speak for her so they can marry in the fall, like most Amish couples do. Henry is quiet and soft-spoken, like Grace’s father, a man of few words.

Grace’s mother is suffering from depression, which seems to hit every year around the time of Grace’s birthday, and the anniversary of her aunt’s death. But this year, Graces mother, Lettie, is acting stranger than usual, going off for long walks, at night, alone, and sometimes crying for no apparent reason.

On the evening of Grace’s birthday, Lettie warns Grace that marriage to a reserved man is mighty difficult, seemingly warning Grace away from possibly marrying Henry. And the next morning, Grace wakes up and catches her mother leaving—a thing unheard of in the Amish community.

The family is shocked and dismayed over Lettie’s disappearance and can’t even begin to guess why she felt unhappy enough to walk out. Will they be able to find her and bring her home? Will they understand Lettie’s great secret that she’s carried all these years?

THE SECRET is the first book in Ms. Lewis’s newest series, Seasons of Grace. It is, as usually, an amazingly well-written story that completely engrossed me into the characters’ lives, and made me care for them completely from the beginning of the book.

Set in Pennsylvania Amish country, the book completely brings in the Amish heritage, and mind-set, while keeping in mind the differences between different Amish communities and cultures. Fans of Beverly Lewis will not want to miss THE SECRET. If you haven’t read any of Ms. Lewis’s books, or if you prefer to know the series is finished before starting a book, then perhaps you might want to wait for the next book in the series to come out before starting THE SECRET because you will be forced to wait another six to nine months before the second book in this series comes out.

It was really fun to read this book while in Pennsylvania on vacation, and as a result I could hear the differences in the speech patterns in this area, than the Midwestern dialect I am most familiar with. Don’t miss THE SECRET. It is a fantastic read. Highly recommended. $13.99. 364 pages.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Clever Disguise

Author: Kathleen Fuller
Publisher: Avalon Books
December 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8034-8827-0
Genre: historical/regency

Michael Balcarris has loved Miss Emily Dymoke for years. But as a spy, he feels that he is not able to profess his love for her. Instead, he is forced to act the part of a bored fop, concealing his real feelings.

Emily had a crush on Michael as a young girl, but as a young woman she finds him most hateful. When the love of her life rejects her, Emily is crushed and vows never to marry anyone, most certainly not Michael.

However, when another young man starts to pay attention to Emily, Emily is torn. Why is she not attracted to the handsome stranger in town—and is attracted to hateful Michael? When the family retires to the country for a spell, Emily’s feelings become even more confused. Can she possibly love a man she can’t tolerate?

A CLEVER DISGUISE is a sweet romance, not inspirational, per se, but nothing objectionable or shocking in the story. I enjoyed getting to know Michael, and seeing why he acted the way he did among the ton of London, but also getting to know Emily, and to see her growing attraction for her old family friend.

The story is quick to read, and held my attention all the way through. I enjoyed reading it, and a regency is not a genre I’ve seen a lot of recently, so it was a nice change of pace. Make sure you pick up a copy of A CLEVER DISGUISE for yourself. Available by calling 1-800-223-5251, at, or at your favorite bookseller. 198 pages. $23.95, hardcover.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tour de Force

Author: Elizabeth White
Publisher: Zondervan
April 2009
ISBN: 978-0-310-27390-5
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Gilly Kincade has dreamed of making soloist in the New York ballet for some time, and when the soloist in the performance of Swan Lake injures herself badly enough requiring a trip to the Emergency Room, Gilly gets her chance. She is prepared…mentally and physically, and she knows the part well.

Artistic Director Jacob Ferrar has left New York and is trying to pursue his career in ballet while getting a degree in physical therapy on the side. When he sees Gilly Kincade perform, Jacob is captivated by the beautiful woman who danced her way across the stage. Gilly is perfect for projects that Jacob has on his mind, and the fact that she’s an outspoken Christian makes her even more perfect.

But Jacob’s dreams have obstacles to overcome before they become reality. And an injury that Gilly sustains may make her incapable of performing even if Jacob is able to reach his dream. What will it take for Gilly and Jacob to achieve their desires?

TOUR DE FORCE is the latest book by Ms. White, and like her previous books, TOUR DE FORCE is a winner. Written in a tight, concise manner, the reader is instantly engaged completely in the story, and even the fact that they may not be familiar with ballet or its terms isn’t an issue, as a glossary of ballet terms is included in the book. For instance, I didn’t know that Tour de Force is a ballet term meaning an arresting, vital step; a feat of technical skill such as a series of brilliant pirouttes or a combination of outstanding jumps and beats. Knowing this, makes the title much more meaningful after having read the book.

Gilly, in spite of being way out of my league, is a real, fun-loving, quirky character, that would have been fun to know if she were real. Jacob is a great hero, flawed, with problems that could drag him down, but he has a faith in God that keeps him going, even when situations go from bad to worse.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading TOUR DE FORCE, and reconnecting with some of the characters in Ms. White’s book Off the Record as well. Don’t miss TOUR DE FORCE. Available now at your favorite Christian bookseller, or at

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Love Finds You in Miracle, Kentucky

Author: Andrea Boeshaar
Publisher: Summerside Press
ISBN: 978-1-934770-37-5
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Meg Jorgenson wants a fresh start, away from Chicago, and her loser boyfriend. When she lands a teaching job near her grandmother, in Miracle, Kentucky, Meg is happy to give up her lease to her ex-boyfriend, and move in with her grandma. But the town isn’t sure what to think about Meg. They are hesitant about her, knowing her mother has made lots of bad choices and fearing that Meg might be the same.

Vance Bayer is struggling to adjust after the loss of his wonderful wife and carrying for his handicapped daughter, Cammy. He is dating a Christian woman, but Cammy dislikes her, especially after hearing that the girlfriend wants Cammy to be placed in a home for disabled children. Vance breaks up with his girlfriend when Cammy lets her displeasure known.

When Meg becomes smitten with young Cammy, she and Vance come to odds – especially when Cammy wants to learn to walk again. Vance insists that she will never walk. But Meg wants them to try a new treatment. Will they see eye-to-eye?

LOVE FINDS YOU IN MIRACLE, KENTUCKY is the first book that Summerside Press has published in this collection, and it is a winner. I love Meg, even though she has made some bad choices, due to what she grew up knowing, and, of course, Vance is the stuff heroes are made of. Strong, kind, loving, and a real sweetheart.

I really enjoyed reading LOVE FINDS YOU IN MIRACLE, KENTUCKY, and the fun part of it is that I read this book while traveling through the great state of Kentucky. I hoped that Meg would be able to prove herself to the citizens of Miracle, and to get the miracle that she, Vance, and Cammy deserve. Pick up a copy of LOVE FINDS YOU IN MIRACLE, KENTUCKY, today. You’ll be gald you did. $12.99. 337 pages.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Rivers Run Dry

Author: Sibella Giorello
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-59554-533-6
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Special Agent Raleigh Harmon has been sent to Oregon to work in the FBI office there since she was being disciplined in her Richmond, Virginia based office. Raleigh is good at her job, and doesn’t appreciate some of the male attitudes.

When Raleigh is assigned to assist in a missing persons case that the local police department needs help with, the grieving parents are convinced it’s a kidnapping charge. However, there’s no ransom note, no reason to believe it’s a kidnapping. But the parents are rich and have connections and they are insisting that no stone remain unturned in the search for their daughter.

Raleigh must use all her skills as a forensic geologist to uncover the truth—which will not only put Raleigh’s career on the rocks, but also her life at stake.

I wasn’t real sure what to think about THE RIVERS RUN DRY when I chose it from Thomas Nelson’s blogger site, but the book proved much better than I anticipated. The story is gritty, with a setting that is worked so intricately into the story that it becomes a character in its own right.

I loved Raleigh. She is real, flawed and seeking, struggling to fit in at her job. I couldn’t put THE RIVERS RUN DRY down; I had to keep reading to see what happened next. If you enjoy suspense, you can’t miss THE RIVERS RUN DRY. It is definitely a must read. Reader’s guide included. $14.99. 324.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Family Fun Time Giveaway

Family Fun Time Giveaway

How do you find family time in a freeway world?

We rush the kids out the door to school. We rush ourselves off to work. We rush home just to rush out again for soccer practice or karate or gymnastics or Girl Scouts or church or who knows what. Laity Lodge Family Camp and want to know how you slow down and find family fun time during a normal week.

That’s why we’re asking you to tell us how you balance work and family. In fact, you and your family could win a FREE weekend to attend Laity Lodge Family Camp in the Texas Hill Country.
All you have to do is write a short essay with some tips about how you try to balance work and family, and link to conversation sponsor: Laity Lodge Family Camp. (We might even put together an e-book of the best essays.)

Don’t worry if you don’t have it all figured out. We’re looking for tips from the trenches, not easy answers from perfect parents who make the rest of us feel inadequate.

You can post anytime from now until April 24, 2009. Here are the rules:
Post your Family Fun Time tips on your blog.
Link to Laity Lodge Family Camp.
Contact us (via the form at to let us know. Be sure to include the URL of your post.

That’s it! We’ll put the names of all the participants in a hat, draw a winner randomly, and announce it at

Laity Lodge Family Camp

Okay. Lets hear your tips! I want to know that one of my friends win this vacation. Lets here your tips!

For us - we usually don't take long trips unless we are candidating at a church - and then we try to play tourist as we travel and see things that are interesting.

Local mini-vacations are what we mostly do for fun. Like my kids (five of them) enjoy going to Blanchard Caverns in Mtn View, Arkansas and touring the caverns, then picnicing and swimming in the spring.

Or going to Mammoth Springs State Park in Mammoth Springs, Arkansas and seeing the park, the springs, going fishing, and renting a paddle boat or canoe there.

Going to the zoo in Memphis, Tennessee is fun - my youngest two especially love the polar bear display. (So do I) And there is a train to ride around the park!

And Springfield, Missouri - there is a civil war battlefield to explore. A museum on site at the Bass Pro Shop that my kids love! Plus the Bass Pro Shop is something else. You really have to see it.

And finally - near Thayer Missouri and West Plains Missouri there are several old fashioned mills that you can drive around and visit. And one of them has an area where you can swim.

We are going to be in Saginaw, Michigan next week about this time - and we'll be staying in Frankenmuth. That is a German community with a covered bridge, lots of German foods, and music, and a big kuckoo clock. Plus there is a huge Christmas store. We can't wait to see it again!

So, what does your family do for fun? I want to hear. And I want to know that you entered the contest.

Let me know!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Someday List

Author: Stacy Hawkins Adams
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3266-0
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Rachelle Covington married the man of her dreams six months before college graduation. But that marriage ended in divorce when Rachelle’s parents and another man convinced her that in order to further herself she needed to leave her college love and marry Gabe instead.

But now her marriage with Gabe is falling apart. Rachelle is tired of being a trophy wife. She’s tired of being a stay-at-home mom of two school age kids, and she’s tired of pretending that everything is picture perfect, so her up and coming surgeon husband can achieve his dreams.

When Gabe goes away on a business trip, Rachelle takes the opportunity to visit a friend who is dying of breast cancer. Rachelle confronts feelings she believed were long buried. Will she fight for a marriage that is nothing but a sham? Or give it up to recover a past?

Book one in the Jubilant Soul series, THE SOMEDAY LIST gives you a look at what is on the other side of a happy-ever-after picture. Rachelle is a real heroine, unhappy in her life, even thought she has what most people would give their right arm for—a successful husband, an unlimited allowance, a dream house, and two children—a boy and a girl.

Poignant and thought provoking, THE SOMEDAY LIST is a book that will make you rethink your life. Rethink your dreams. What ten things would you like to do before you die? THE SOMEDAY LIST addresses that issue. And leaves the reader thinking even as they cheer for the heroine and want her to find the happiness that is eluding her. Discussion questions, as well as a sample chapter of Ms. Adams next book in this series (coming July 2009), are included at the end of the book. $12.99. 239 pages.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An Interview with Kathi Macias - and a very special giveaway

Leave comments on this blog to be included in a very special giveaway. Kathi Macias has put together a lovely collection of books, which include:

A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser
A Woman's Guide to Overcoming Depression by Archibald Hart, Ph.D. and Catherine Hart Weber, Ph. D.
Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity by Keri Wyatt Kent
Dragonlight, a novel by Donita K. Paul
Blue Heart Blessed, a novel by Susan Meissner
Taking a Stand by Janet Lynn Mitchell
And her own books: Beyond Me: Living a You-First Life in a Me-First World
The Train-of-Thought Writing Method: Practical, User-Friendly Help for Beginning Writers Emma Jean Reborn, a novel
Sally Stuart's 2009 Christian Writers Market Guide

About the Book:
(Homeland, CA) - For all the Christian women in the world who dread reading Proverbs 31 and wonder who on earth could ever live up to that woman - this book is for you. Between dirty diapers, complaining children, housework, husbands and a multitude of other attention-grabbing detours women face, award-winning author and speaker, Kathi Macias finds a way to encourage and biblically instruct women of all ages and phases. Women everywhere are the glue that holds their families together. Keeping everything under control challenges even the most organized household CEO. Kathi uses humor, God's Word, as well as practical insight and instruction to lovingly encourage women to grow in this progression of grace. Readers will find How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I'm Surrounded by Loose Cannons?: Proverbs 31 Discoveries for Yielding to the Master of the Seas, filled with scriptural explanations and journaling pages to process and write their personal feelings and prayers. With sections of the book focused on each step of the learning process to guide our ships to safe harbor, readers will be happily surprised to find the funny without the fluff. Kathi's words are the "spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down." Her vulnerable approach facilitates the teachings of Proverbs 31, making it easier for women to swallow. The truth of the scriptures is very much alive and well throughout the pages, yet the ease and charm of the author's words entice readers to press forward and embrace the plan for God's woman today.

About the Author:

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women's clubs and retreats, and writers' conferences. She recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi "Easy Writer" Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend free time riding their Harley.


I understand you sometimes refer to this book as "discipleship with a grin." What do you mean by that, and why did you choose a humor format for a discipleship book?

Actually, I chose a discipleship theme for a humor title. As much as I hate to admit it, the title came to me one day and I knew I had to do something with it--just too good to pass up! So the more I thought/prayed about it, the more I realized it described my life, both naturally and spiritually. I began to try to lay out my spiritual growth via humorous life stories, and found they produced a natural pattern. From there I developed the five stages of spiritual growth into five sections for the book, and I was off and running! Besides, I learned from a friend/mentor years ago that you can "shove a lot of truth down people's throat when their mouth is open laughing," so I figured, why not???
What are some of the funniest "loose cannons" stories included in your book?
One of my favorites is the story of my very first women's retreat as a brand new Christian back in the "Jesus freak" days of baptisms at the beach and praise-ins at the park. I shared a room with three ladies I had never met, one of whom ended up being my "bunk mate." She snored, she was quite a bit overweight (taking up much more than her side of the bed!), and she "leaked" because she was still weaning her youngest child. You'll have to read the story to see how that experience taught me a lot about "spiritual face plants."
Another favorite story is about the time I took my three sons (two pre-teens and one elementary school age at the time) to the community swimming pool. The older boys decided to use their younger brother as a human beach ball, and when they ignored my cries from the side of the pool to stop, I actually had the nerve to jump into the water and swim right up to them and order them to stop. Their level of humiliation at being seen in the pool with their mother was as close to social suicide as it gets. But we all survived and learned a lot in the process.
Your book is divided into five sections. Can you briefly explain what they are and what they have to do with discipleship and humor?
As I mentioned earlier, the five sections correspond with what I consider the five stages of spiritual growth: crawling (infants or "rugrats") on our knees; walking (toddlers who are still a bit shaky but exploring and learning); running (stronger, more mature believers who are beginning to make a difference in their world); flying or soaring (eagles with a solid foundation and maturity to share with others); resting (back on our knees and realizing that place of utter dependence on Him is really the best place to be after all). The discipleship correlation is, I believe, evident in these stages; the humor comes in simply because I'm one of those slow learners who needs God to "hit me upside the head" at times, and I haven't been bashful about explaining those times in the book.

What advice can you give to the young mom out there who is juggling two kids, a fulltime job outside the home, a husband, housework, pets and church?

Life happens in seasons! You CAN'T be all things to all people at all times. It simply doesn't work. And if you don't believe it, read about my many crash-and-burn episodes as I tried! The Proverbs 31 woman is a composite picture of many women from different walks and stages of life; when we get a grip on that, it releases us to enjoy the season we're in right now, even as we prepare for the next one.

How did raising your own children help prepare you for the parenting side of the proverbial woman? Any tips you'd like to share?

Relax and enjoy them! Yes, even the rugrats and teenagers, because "this too shall pass." There were times I thought I'd go bald from pulling out my own hair over the frustrations and failures of that season of my life, but now it's my grandchildren who are passing through those rugrat-to-teen stages, and hey, I still have my hair! You'll make it--and so will your kids--in spite of your frustrations and failures. And yes, I know there are too many of those to mention (or admit to). I'm the queen of mom-failures, and yet my kids never cease to bless me with words of love and praise. Do I deserve it? Probably not. But I love every minute of it!

Do you have a favorite part of the book or a favorite chapter?

Several, in fact, but one in particular: Chapter 26, "Back Home Again," contains the story of my precious father, a man who lived for 88 years denying God's existence and then finally turning to him in his last week of life. It's one of the more serious stories in the book, but even that one ends on a humorous note.

If the Proverbs 31 woman is alive today, what does she look like?

She looks like me--and you--and every woman whose heart longs to please God and to raise her children according to the Scriptures, even though she knows she's doing well just to make sure they all have their sack lunches before they leave for school in the morning. She's thin, overweight, short, tall, black, white, brown, red, yellow, and polka dot when she catches her kids' chicken pox. And she's absolutely beautiful!!!

Are there some specific lessons you hope readers will learn and apply to their lives after reading your book?

I want them to learn to relax and laugh and enjoy this voyage called "life," and to trust the Captain of our souls to take us home safely when our trip is over, rather than struggling to "man the oars" ourselves.

What makes your book different than other books similar to yours that are in circulation today?

There are countless books written for "control freak" women who want to do it all and be it all--perfectly and completely at all times. This one, however, is not only written with a humorous tone, but it also takes the reader through what I call the five steps of spiritual growth: crawling, walking, running, flying--and back on our knees, totally dependent once again. I do this by exposing many of the sometimes humorous--and sometimes not so humorous--events in my own life as I progressed through the five stages.

Are there any authors that either influenced you personally or influenced your style of writing? Who are they and how did they influence you?

Brennan Manning, Henri J. M. Nouwen, and Max Lucado have to be right at the top of my favorite nonfiction authors list, simply because they call me back to the heart of worship, to a fresh appreciation of grace and a clarion call to rely totally upon God and not myself. I need those reminders on a regular basis. In addition, I love their writing styles. Their words "sing," and it is my goal to do the same with the words I write.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do? Do you have any hobbies?

Okay, now I have to 'fess up to how nearly one-dimensional I am. If I'm not writing, I'm...well, reading someone else's writing. That's at the top of my "what I like to do" list. However, I also spend time riding on the back of my husband's 2003 Harley Davidson Road King motorcycle. He's been riding HD's since 1970 and says he will never outgrow that youthful passion. On the road we are known as "Big Al" and "Easy Writer..."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pride and Pestilence

Author: Mary Connealy
Publisher: Heartsong Presents Mysteries
ISBN: 978-1-60260-164-2
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Joe Manning came to Melnick, Nebraska to meet his deadbeat dad. After all, he always wondered why his dad abandoned him and his mother, and then refused to provide child support. But he wouldn’t find the answers he’s looking for—instead, he finds his father murdered and hidden in the back storeroom of the city museum.

Bonnie Simpson is curator of the Melnick Museum, home of Maxie, the World’s Largest Field Mouse, and its sole claim to fame. She is convinced that Joe has killed his dad, after all, the man wasn’t dead until Joe came to town.

Joe is just as sure that Bonnie is the murderer. But when the whole town shows up at the murder scene, and boasts all its wackiness to Joe, isn’t so sure what to think. A long standing feud between families, a crazy lady who bakes poisonous pies, a woman who is convinced a field mouse is prized possession, and a woman who drives cars into buildings… and they all had motive. After all, Joe’s dad had owned Maxie—and he wanted the mouse destroyed. A mouse the town idolized.

PRIDE AND PESTILENCE is the second book in Ms. Connealy’s Maxie Mouse Mystery series, but it easily stands alone. I thoroughly enjoyed reading PRIDE AND PESTILENCE and getting to know a whole new set of loveable (but strange) characters, and even found plenty to laugh about as I read.

Bonnie is an adorable heroine, smart and yet just as wacky as the rest of the town. Joe, likewise is a great hero, flawed, and he fit nicely into the community. There is never a dull moment in the book, and I easily read it in a day. I had suspicions who the murderer was, but didn’t actually figure it out until the end of the book when it was revealed. PRIDE AND PESTILENCE is a great read. Cozy mystery fans will not want to miss this book. Available from Barbour Books. $6.95. 248 pages.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Secret Holocaust Diaries and interview

Author: Nonna Bannister with Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
April 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4143-2546-0
Genre: Inspirational/biography & Autobiography

For half a century, a horrible secret lay hidden , locked in a trunk in an attic…

Photos, official documents, and scraps of a diary written by a nine-year-old girl…

I kept secret my horror stories. I am an old woman now. It is time to tell my story. (from the back cover)

THE SECRET HOLOCAUST DIARIES is written about a terrible time in world history. The Nazis were taking over the world. The Jews were hated. Concentration camps were found all over Europe. And those who lived in those concentration camps were starved and killed for no reason except the whim of the Nazis.

Nonna Bannister was a young child when her diaries began. She lived in Russia then, and her family was happy, though it was a rough time in Russian history. When Nonna’s father was virtually murdered, then her brother vanished without a trace, and she and her mother boarded a train for Germany, who knew the horrors that awaited them.

THE SECRET HOLOCAUST DIARIES is a horrible time to remember, a horrible history of mankind. It makes me ashamed to realize that there’s a possibility that my German ancestors might have participated in some of the terrible things that were done. This book was extremely hard to read, almost shocking at times, and really brings to light the depravity of mankind.

It was truly amazing that Nonna grew up to be an incredible woman of faith, courage, and possessed the God-given power to forgive those who truly hurt her. THE SECRET HOLOCAUST DIARIES is an important book to read, even though it is hard, because those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it. And this is a time period that we don’t want to repeat. $19.99. 299 pages.


Nonna Bannister appeared to be a typical American housewife. She married Henry, the love of her life, in 1951 and together they raised three children in Memphis, Tennessee. But Nonna was far from average. For half a century, she kept her story secret while living a normal life. She locked all of her photos, documents, diaries, and dark memories from World War II in a trunk in her attic.

Tyndale House Publishers announces the publication of The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister written by Nonna Bannister with Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin (April 2009, Tyndale House), the haunting eyewitness account of Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, a remarkable Russian girl who saw and survived unspeakable evils during World War II.

Questions & Answers

1. The Secret Holocaust Diaries is written by Nonna although she passed away in 2004. Did she write the book before she died?

Yes, she slipped up into the attic each night, translated her diaries (from several different languages), and recorded them in English onto yellow legal pads. Much later, after she told her husband, Henry, about her incredible past, she showed him the stacks of yellow legal pads on which she had translated her diaries and recorded her thoughts about her past, and he typed them up into a manuscript.

2. Would Nonna have liked to see her book published before she died?

Nonna translated her diary into English and her husband, Henry, typed the manuscript. However, she requested the diary not be published until at least 2 or 3 years after she died. Henry honored this request. (She died in 2004.) The story was very painful and reminded her of the suffering her family endured. When she came to America in 1950 she was overwhelmed by her new life. She was determined to make a new life for herself and to give her husband and children a happy home.

3. Nonna came from a privileged family. Are there any interesting stories of people her ancestors knew?

Nonna's family "ran with" the upper crust in the Ukraine and Russia. Her mother and father were educated in Russia's great cultural city, St. Petersburg. Nonna's grandmother and grandfather knew the last Tsar, Nicholas II, and Nonna kept a postcard sent by him (shortly before his death) to her grandfather, Jakob, for his birthday (dated 1913?). Jakob was killed during the Revolution while trying to help Russian families escape.

Nonna writes in her diary of living on the ”Chekov Lane” in Taganrog, the street where Russian writer Anton Chekov (1860–1904) had once lived.
The family also visited often the boy Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (nicknamed "Sasha") and his mother, Taissia. She and Nonna’s mother, Anna, were good friends. They enjoyed giving concerts and playing the violin and piano. Nonna writes of eating ice cream with her mother and Taissia, and spending the night in the Solzhenitsyn home during a thunderstorm. Alexander was older that Nonna, studying at the university.

4. Many people assume most of the people killed by the Nazis were Jewish. Was Nonna’s family Jewish?

Although it is estimated that approximately 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis, other nationalities experienced suffering and death, also. Nonna's family was Russian and owned seven grain mills and homes in southern Russia and the Ukraine. Her father, Yevgeny, and his family were from Warsaw, Poland, which included a large population of Jews. Due to border restrictions, Nonna never met her father's family. Yevgeny never told Nonna and her brother, Anatoly, if his family was Jewish. If the children didn't know, they could not let it slip. The admission of being Jewish could have meant deportation or certain death. There is speculation, but no one is certain.

5. Nonna saved many documents from her time at Nazi camps; what are these artifacts?

In a small ticking pillow she kept tied around her waist, she kept many one inch square photos of her family and friends in the Ukraine. She also kept her small childhood diary. On tiny slips of paper, she wrote her experiences (in diary form) and also kept these in the little pillow.Later she kept all these in a small trunk, which she painted bright green.

6. When Nonna finally revealed her secret, was her family shocked?

Henry knew there was something about her past that she didn’t want to talk about. Being a patient man, he never pressed her to speak about this secret. As they grew older, he asked her to write down some things about her family—so their children would know their heritage. After months of secretly translating her diary (written in several different languages) she took him to the attic, open the little green trunk and showed him her family’s photos and the yellow legal pages of the translated diary. Henry was astonished at what he saw.

7. Why did Nonna keep her devastating secret for so many years?

Nonna kept her secret past from her family/friends because she had, at last, found such happiness with her husband, Henry, and her three children. She didn't want to express her past pain--she didn’t want it to interrupt the family's happiness and cast a shadow of despair over them.

8. The diaries themselves were written in several languages and some were on scraps of paper. How did she go about transcribing them?

Nonna learned English after she came to America in 1950. This became her primary language. She realized they should be transcribed in English so Henry could type the pages. He spent several years typing these notes after work and on weekends.
The miniature black/white photos, the diaries, the notes from the prison camp, her mother’s letters from the concentration camps, and other documents were organized and put into chapters for a book—one she hoped would be published after her death.

9. What can people of Christian faith or Jewish faith/descent take from The Secret Holocaust Diaries?

That grave injustice exists--Nonna learned that from the Red Army (who killed many of her family members) and Hitler's army (who also killed many of her family members and imprisoned her in a labor camp). But that God's love and forgiveness for those who hurt us are stronger than even Hitler's evil and injustice. Nonna came out of the whole experience with her heart still filled with love. She experienced none of the bitterness and hatred that some Jewish Holocaust survivors have held onto. She was able to marry, raise children, and bring them much joy and happiness through her own love and through introducing them to God's love.
10. Why did Nonna feel it was so important to share her story?

The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister is a true story of a young Russian girl whose family was caught up in the Russian Revolution and in World War II. In spite of the injustice inflicted on her family and millions of others, it is a story of love and forgiveness. Nonna wanted others to know the horrors that occurred during the Hitler and Stalin era so that it might never happen again.
Nonna felt compelled to tell her story because she was an eyewitness to many dramatic events, and she was the only survivor of her entire family.

Late in life, Nonna unlocked her trunk filled with memories from World War II first for her husband, and now for the rest of the world. Nonna’s story is one of suffering, torture, and death—but also of incredible acts of kindness that show the ultimate triumph of faith and love over despair and evil. The Secret Holocaust Diaries is in part a tragedy, yet ultimately it’s an unforgettable true story about forgiveness, courage, and hope.

Book Cover Graphic (right click and Save Picture As):

Book Preface:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Daily Motivator


Here and now

++++++++++++ +++++++

Act with genuine love and authentic purpose. And no obstacle will have the power to stop you.

Do what you know is right for you and for your world. And your efforts will bring results of great and lasting value.

Be truly thankful for the smallest of things. And you'll experience the most magnificent of blessings.Live and speak with humility.

Put your energy into being your best, and don't waste it claiming to be something you're not.

Walk through the world with the miraculous substance of your own awareness and existence.

Give each precious moment the care and attention that will bring forth great and lasting treasure.

Here and now are possibilities without limit. Do those things that express the beautiful reality of who you are.

Ralph Marston
This is the Daily Motivator email edition.
Copyright (C) 2009 Ralph S. Marston, Jr. All rights reserved.
Visit The Daily Motivator web site at http://greatday. com for an archiveof more than 3,000 daily messages, inspirational photos and more.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 978-1-59554-247-2
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Hannah Schwartz has joined the Amish church, and is promised to marry Noah. But Noah is boring—compared to Reece, her secret Englischer beau. Hannah had snuck off to meet Reece, and when two men try to rape her, Reece is quick to come to her rescue. But Hannah is horrified when she returns home to find that someone has killed her mom and dad and stolen all her mother’s quilts. Hannah doesn’t know what to do. So she tells Reece she’ll marry him. Right away.

But marriage to Reece isn’t what Hannah dreamed. Reece makes her wear sexy clothes and shows her off at bars. He doesn’t allow her to go anywhere without him, and expects complete obedience. And when Hannah even shows a glimmer of spunk, Reece is quick to strike her down.

When Hannah discovers she’s pregnant she’s overjoyed until Reece informs her he doesn’t want kids, and she’ll have to have it aborted. Hannah pleads for her baby’s life, but Reece is adamant. The baby goes. Either by abortion or adoption. When Hannah goes into labor, in anger Reece pushes her downstairs. When Hannah comes too, her baby is gone. And she flees the wrath of her abusive husband. Where will Hannah go? and to what lengths will Hannah have to go to find peace?

ANATHEMA is different than any of Ms. Coble’s other books, but it is still just as good. I read the first part of this book in one sitting, putting off getting up and going to work. ANATHEMA truly is able to pull you in right from the start. The pace is fast, so readers won’t even realize how thick the book is once they start.

Hannah is a loveable heroine, but impulsive, and not given to thinking about things before she acts and the impulsiveness often gets her into trouble. I wanted to talk some sense into her at times. Set in Parke County, Indiana, the area is one that I was very familiar with as a child as my parents went on “covered bridge tours” every year and I look upon those days with fondness, although I knew knew there was an Amish community in the area.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading ANATHEMA, and highly recommend this story. It is not to be missed. A discussion guide is included at the end of the book. $22.99 hardcover. 317 pages.

Friday, April 10, 2009

An interview with Sara Mills

***NOTE: Sara Mills, whose new book Miss Match (to follow the first release, Miss Fortune) from Moody Press, has just lost her husband to a heart attack. Please pray for her and her children as we help her promote her new book. Thanks to Cara Putman for allowing us to use her excellent interview. You can find Sara at

Miss Fortune and Miss Match are delightful books set in NYC in 1947. Tell us how you got the idea for Allie and these books...

I got the idea for Miss Fortune in the middle of the night, when all good ideas come to me:
One sleepless night I was watching The Maltese Falcon and I started to wonder how different the story would be if Sam Spade had been a woman. She'd never have fallen for Miss Wunderly's charms and lies. She'd have been smart and tough and she would have solved the case in half the time it took Sam because she wouldn't spend all of her time smoking cigarettes and calling her secretary Precious.The thought of a hard-boiled female detective got my mind whirling. I paused the movie and sat in my darkened living room thinking about how much fun a female Sam Spade could be. Intrigued but not yet ready to dash to my computer, I changed disks and put on Casablanca (my all time favorite movie ever). The sweeping love story, a tale full of hard choices and sacrifice was what finally made the whole idea click in my mind. If I could just combine the P.I. detective story of the Maltese Falcon with the love story from Casablanca, and make Sam Spade more of a Samantha, I could have the best of all worlds. These books are so good, I wish I'd written them.

How did you set the stage to capture that gritty PI feel without being dark?

I find that a lot of PI stories are gritty and dark, focusing on the worst of the humanity, and while I wanted the Allie Fortune mysteries to be exciting and tension-filled I didn’t want them to be stark and hopeless. One of the things I tried to do to counteract the darkness was to give Allie a multi-layered life. She has cases, relationships, friends and family, all of which I hope combine to make the stories textured, rich and full of life. Allie is a character I'd love to have coffee with.

What did she teach you while you wrote these books?

Allie was a great character to write. One of the things I learned from her was that human relationships (man/woman, mother/daughter, friends) are complicated and full of unspoken rules and expectations. Allie is a rule-breaker at heart and it complicates her life on a regular basis. One of the storylines I loved most is Allie’s relationship with her mother and how it grows and changes and how it’s shaped her. Another dimension of Allie’s character that really taught me a lot was her willingness to do whatever was needed to help those she loves. There is no price on that kind of friendship and it’s a characteristic I’d like to see more of in myself. Okay I admit it, I’ve got a bit of a friend-crush on Allie. LOL.

One last question: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would that be and who would you take with you?

If I could go anywhere right now I’d head to Monterey, California (I’m writing a book set there right now) and I’d plant myself on the beach with a notebook, writing my story as the waves crashed. Sounds like my idea of heaven on earth. There’s something about the wind-shaped Cypress trees and the crash of the surf in Monterey that calls to me. I don’t know why, it just is.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Gold Standard

Author: Lisa J. Lickel
Publisher: Heartsong Presents Mysteries
ISBN: 978-1-59789-525-5
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

School teacher, Judy Winters, is stunned when her young and healthy Aunt Louise is found dead on the family farm. The dead is suspicious to the local sheriff, and to Judy, so Judy decides to move out to the farm to investigate her aunt’s death. There she meets some interesting neighbors. Hart Wingate, who claims to have made an agreement with the aunt for cattle; Red, who claims that Louise owes him 40 acres, among several others. Then Judy learns that her boyfriend, Graham, has been secretly visiting Louise.

The farm is willed to Judy, with the condition that she live on it and farm for the next three years. If she doesn’t meet the conditions of the will, the farm will go to some mysterious organization. But Judy’s lawyer insists that there are ways around this will and he’s strongly advising Judy to put the farm on the market and get out of town.

Why is the lawyer insisting the farm be sold? Why has Graham been visiting Judy’s Aunt? Who killed Louise, and why? And is there truth to the rumor that gold is hidden on the property?

THE GOLD STANDARD is an adorably written mystery which is fun and serious at the same time. Judy is a loveable heroine, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with some of the other characters. I’m sorry to hear that the mystery line is discontinued, because I would have liked to have read the other two books in this series.

THE GOLD STANDARD is very well written, and engaging. I read the entire book through in a day. I wanted to see if there really was a treasure—not to mention what happened to the aunt. And the possibility of a new romance… $6.95. 251 pages.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Love Finds You in Maiden, NC

Author: Tamela Hancock Murray
Publisher: Summerside Press
April 2009
Genre: Inspirational/historical
ISBN: 978-1-934770-65-8

Hestia Myatt has dreamed of being a doctor forever, even though her family and friends discourage such nonsense. They think Hestia should marry and have babies. But when Hestia’s fianc√© drops her for another woman, Hestia heads to Maiden, North Carolina to help care for her ailing aunt.

While in Maiden, Hestia becomes reacquainted with her childhood friend, Booth Barrington. Hestia is surprised when Booth has grown into a handsome young man. But Hestia is not so happy when her cousin, Selene, arrives from New York under mysterious circumstances. Selene is a modern flapper, and makes Hestia feel hopelessly old fashioned.

Will Hestia embrace the wild lifestyle of her cousin? Or will Hestia’s influence prompt Selene to give up her worldly ways?

Love Finds You in Maiden, North Carolina by Tamela Hancock Murray, reminds me strongly of Grace Livingstone Hill books which I grew up reading. I loved reading about the “roaring twenties” and some of the characters that might have lived back in those days. Ms. Murray did a stellar job setting the scene, bringing the setting and the characters to life, and researching the era.

I did stop at some points in the book to research some points for myself, as I wasn’t aware some of the things mentioned in the book were available in the early ‘20’s. But they were, so I learned something. :I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and highly recommend any of the Love Finds You In…. books, but especially Ms. Murray’s Love Finds You in Maiden, North Carolina. $12.99. 303 pages.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Flickering Pixels

Author: Shane Hipps
Publisher: Zondervan
Genre: Christian life/personal growth

I’m sure you know what pixels are. Most of us, in this age of technology do. But in case you don’t, they are tiny dots of light that make up the screens of life—from TVs to cell phones. Pixels are nearly invisible, but they change us. Often subliminally.

In FLICKERING PIXELS, Mr. Hipps reiterates several concepts that he brought out in more detail in his prior book, The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, the Gospel, and Church (Zondervan, 2006). He shows us some insights about media and how their technology shapes some of the basic issues of our faith and life.

In Mr. Hipps previous job (before seminary and taking a pastorate) he used to work as a kind of “consumer anthropologist.” To explain, that means th at he hijacked your imagination, branded your brain with a logo, and then fed you opinions that you thought were your own. Sound familiar? Isn’t that what every commercial, news program, etc is trying to do?

FLICKERING PIXELS explores the hidden power of media and technology as a way to understand who we are, who we think God is, and how God’s unchanging messages has changed, is changing and will change. (confusing, huh?) FLICKERING PIXELS will show us how God communicates with us and the way we communicate God. It’s about training our eyes to see things we usually over look.

FLICKERING PIXELS didn’t really teach me anything new—I’ve known for a long time that the world is changing based on what we are fed through media. But it did shed additional light on some items. The author did say in the author’s notes, that the subject matter is explored more deeply in his previous book (mentioned above) written for pastors and church leaders, and that this book is more for the average layman.

If you are interested in how technology is shaping your views—and your children’s or grandchildren’s, then you will not want to miss this book. Pick up your copy today. Available at or at your favorite bookseller. $16.99 hardcover. 198 pages.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

The Calling - review and interview

Author: Jacob Israel
Publisher: Tate Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-60604-841-2
Genre: Inspirational/spiritual warfare/fiction

The Angel smiles curiously, “There is a great truth that must be told. A wicked spirit spreads its wings and humanity is its prisoner…Thomas James is the key.” (from the back cover)

The small town of Bethel is turned on it’s heals when a young unmarried woman gives birth to her son. The mother dies, and there is nothing the doctors can do, but when her son cries, she comes back to life. Everyone recognizes it as a miracle. But people react strangely when they learn that an angel told the mother to name her son Thomas James.

As Thomas grows, he suffers from night terrors and there is nothing his mother or grandmother can do to ease his fears. Thomas is fearful, afraid of everything, and when he is twelve years old, his mother opens his bedroom window during one of Thomas’s night terrors, and she unwittingly lets evil into the house. The evil spirit kills Thomas’s mother and grandmother, leaving Thomas on his own.

After countless horrors, visitations by strange messengers, and mysterious (and some miraculous) events, Thomas doesn’t know what is real…and what isn’t. Could the following chain of events destroy, or save, them all?

THE CALLING is a strange book. I wasn’t really sure what genre to classify it under, so I finally took a wild guess. The beginning (not the prologue, but the first chapter) was kind of eerily similar to the Biblical account of Jesus’s pre-crucifixion trial, in some ways. In other ways it was—well, if it was on a television scene, I’d be turning it off, because it is downright scary.

There is an overwhelming presence of evil in the book. Demon possessed individuals. I can’t blame Thomas for being afraid of them, as I was too, just reading the book. The book isn’t written as a true fiction book, but rather as a story that would be suitable for the big screen in some way. The story is told, not shown, but even in that telling I could see what Thomas saw, feel the evil, and even now, I’m terrified. The book appealed to my husband who couldn’t wait for me to finish it so he could take a look at it. My son also was intrigued by it.

If you are not easily scared (that wouldn’t be me!) and would enjoy a story of spiritual warfare, then THE CALLING would be a book that you really want to read. It will stay with the reader for a long time to come. It is absolutely worth the rather high price of $17.99. 312 pages.

Jacob Israel is unlike many authors we meet today. His compelling writing style brings the reader along a fantastic journey that may stay with them for many years to come. I was excited to spotlight him here and I believe you will find, like his book, there is more to Jacob Israel than meets the eye.
INTERVIEWER: For the readers who don't know you, tell us a bit about yourself.
JACOB: I'm a father to three amazing children and a husband to a wife I adore. I'm someone that has been through a lot in life and grateful for every moment of it. The good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly, all paved the way to become who I am.
Professionally, I'm an Emmy, Telly, and N.R.B. Award winning television writer and producer, who has been blessed with a steady creative career since graduating university. However, that is not who I am.
Most my life, I was one of those people who wore a mask to fit in. I felt very alone, alienated from those around me. Looking back, I understand why. Everything I've endured had great purpose. Never meeting my biological father, coping with a severe case of Crohn's disease, suffering abuse and abandonment, losing everything, it all played its part to humble me and get me where I am today. I spent the majority of my life questioning the meaning of it, learning that it is better to love than to hate, to give rather than receive, to be content and compassionate.
As a young adult, I was most comfortable on stage. I won a dramatic scholarship to university and that is where I found my love for the written word. It would be years, and many performances of my originals works later, that would I actually dare pursue a career in writing.
Today, I couldn't be happier with that career choice, I am constantly challenged and rewarded by it. There is nothing better than sitting down to write something that, you pray, will make a difference in someone's life. This was the impetus for my novel.
INTERVIEWER: Let's talk about that, why did you write THE CALLING?
JACOB: I wanted desperately to share a story of how love and forgiveness can overcome all things, even the most horrible. I had to write THE CALLING. I believe I was meant to write it. I had the seed of the story burning inside me most my life, but it wasn't until devastating circumstances in my life about four years ago made it possible for me to sit down and write it.
It was a very dark and hard time, but a lot of beauty rose from those ashes, and I would not trade that experience for anything. It's the reason I chose such a dark and fearful cover. There are too many things in life keeping us from following after our dreams and finding peace. Fear is the enemy of joy. It destroys relationships, hopes, families… it destroy lives. Allegorically, that is why the woods in THE CALLING are dead.
I wanted to write something that would provoke thought and encourage readers to move past fear and into faith, to seek the life I believe we're meant to live while keeping them guessing and entertained along the way.
INTERVIEWER: You mentioned allegory, some have compared your novel to The Shack and Pilgrim's Progress, is that a fair comparison?
JACOB: Well, I hope it is. I can only pray it has a positive impact on those who read it. As far comparing it, that wouldn't really be up to me. But, yes, there is a story beneath the story that is told. So, in that aspect, sure, there are similarities.
For years, I have studied scripture as well as many other philosophies and religious texts. Of course, the Bible has been my biggest creative influence, not to mention the spiritual. I love the revelation one receives when the heavens of our understanding open up and we finally understand what that verse (that we couldn't understand) finally means. "It is glory of God to conceal a thing, and honor of Kings to seek out the matter.”
In my novel, there are many hidden treasures for those with "eyes to see" if you will.
Although, there is no need to look deeper, because I believe the message, intrigue, and suspense are loud and clear. It still is very rewarding, I think, to find the more veiled spiritual meaning but that's up to the reader. From anagrams, to events, locations, names, to the title of the book, and even (clears throat) the author's name, there is a reason for it all. Like, for examples sake, if one were to string every chapter title together, it might be cool if there were a hidden message there, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
INTERVIEWER: What does the title of the Book mean?
JACOB: Well, I believe all of us have a calling on our lives, a purpose we are to carry out. Thomas James, the lead character in the novel is no different. His purpose is a bit grander than most, however. He doesn't truly understand the significance of what he is called to do. The novel documents the first eighteen years of the boy’s life. He's haunted by nightmares of what may come, visited by strange messengers, abused, alienated, and abandoned, yet despite his circumstances he has an uncanny ability to love and forgive. Thomas is ever questioning the role he is to play and his circumstances. Perhaps, Thomas was "called" to be that "voice in the dead woods" the title speaks of, calling people out of the deep sleep that keeps them from finding out who they truly are.
INTERVIEWER: You mention the first eighteen years of Thomas's life, the book does lend to a sequel, will we hear from Thomas again?
JACOB: Sure, THE CALLING is the first novel in a series. Before the Prologue you'll find two pages with two peculiar quotes. One states, "Your life is not what it appears to be, what will happen when the truth is poured out on a world that is deceived?"
What is interesting about this passage is, it is credited to "The Book Of Thomas James" in the year 2012.
Most may skim past passages like this, but like I said, there's a reason for everything. So keep your eyes peeled for the next book in the series to released in the next year or two.
INTERVIEWER: Who will this book appeal to?
JACOB: First of all, let's talk age appropriate. I am excited to hear how varied the ages are of those who love the book. I'm most surprise with those age twelve and up. I wanted the book to appeal to a large demographic. So, to have a younger generation also excited about an allegorical fiction with a mature spiritual message and theme is a dream come true.
As far as, what type of person should read THE CALLING, I believe anyone who is not fulfilled in life, who wants more from entertainment than just escape, anyone who has suffered, or experienced great loss and didn't understand why. I think, whole heartedly this is the book for you. You will relate with Thomas's struggle, you will be encouraged by what comes out of it, and inspired by how anything is possible with faith and love.
JACOB: THE CALLING is an inspirational thriller about a twelve-year boy named Thomas James, whose extraordinary insight and purpose changes the lives of those he meets, and sets the world on its edge.
The self absorbed, greedy, and arrogant residents of Bethel begin to despise young Thomas James for the honest words he speaks. His peers torment him, strange messengers visit him, and an evil presence fights to destroy him every step along the way.
Thomas suffers from prophetic nightmares and visions he does not understand. The loss of his family is almost more than he can take. His internal struggle to make sense of his circumstances leads him down a perilous road, where nothing is as it seems.
Soon, the startling revelation of who Thomas James truly is will confound the masses and inspire all those he sets free.
You have to find out what is in us all that makes us heed the "Calling".
INTERVIEWER: Where is the book available and how do we find out more about it?
JACOB: You know my website is a great place to start. It is and it has video trailers, a synopsis, sample chapters, reviews, links to purchase it online and general info about upcoming events, news, etc. I also do a bi-weekly video journal posted in the author section. Like the book, I hid messages, inspirational poetry, and lots of other fun stuff to find on the web site. The book is available everywhere books are sold, if you can't find it at your local bookstore, see if they can order it for you, and if not, all the major online retailers, from to carry it as well.
INTERVIEWER: In closing, what do you want the readers of THE CALLING to take away from this book?
Obviously, I hope they enjoy it and are entertained. However, the most important thing to me is that, those who read it will find that even in the hardest, and most difficult of times, there is hope. Hope…that is what I want people to take away from this book.
Here are some links .
JACOB SPEAKS: A video journal entry -

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Flickering Light

Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
ISBN: 978-1-57856-980-9
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Jessie Ann Gaebele has an obligation to help support her family, but she loves photography enough to risk her parents’ rage when she sneaks out early one morning to take a picture of the sunrise. But the picture is never taken. Instead, Jessie finds a man needing medical attention and she provides it, then she rushes off to a job interview. Despite her less than stellar appearance, the man hires Jessie, and she is thrilled to learn that she will be working in all aspects of a photography studio, learning all parts of the job. The only catch—she has to give up her beloved camera and work without wages for six months.

Jessie’s family is less than thrilled with the job. But they do eventually agree because the promised wages, once she finishes wages, are more than Jessie would make anywhere else. Photography is considered a man’s business since it involves the dangerous handling of chemicals.

Jessie’s new boss is married, though unhappily, so Jessie isn’t quite sure how to handle it when she becomes infatuated with her new boss. She is only fifteen years of age, and still has a lot of growing up to do. Will Jessie continue to pursue her dream, or will she run for safety?

Kirkpatrick’s newest historical novel, A Flickering Light, is based on a true story, set around the life of Ms. Kirkpatrick’s grandmother, a woman who was a pioneer in the world of photography. I enjoyed reading about a young woman infatuated with a career in a male-dominated field enough to buck the system and find work actually learning the trade. Jessie was plucky, and didn’t take set backs sitting down, instead she fought to raise up again and keep going.

A Flickering Light was very well done and held my interest. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, the setting, their circumstances, and the reasons behind their actions. I am looking forward to the second book in this new series, coming in 2010, Shimmering Grasses. A discussion guide is included at the end of the book. $13.99. 385 pages.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Desires of Her Heart

Author: Lyn Cote
Publisher: Avon Inspire
ISBN: 978-0-06-137341-1
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Dorritt’s stepfather is a gambler, and has lost the family fortune. Their only hope to remain in Louisiana is for Dorritt and her half-sister, Jewell, to marry well, to rich men. But Dorritt has no intentions of marrying, and Jewell’s only suitor just gave her a good-bye present. So, the step-father decides to move them to Texas to where Stephen Austin is meeting.

But Dorritt is unofficially the one in charge since her stepfather has no intelligence and her mother seems unaware of what is going on. Dorritt asks a traveling half-breed, Quinn, to guide them, but he refuses, unless Dorritt’s father asks him, and pays him with a thoroughbred horse.

The trip is still ridden with difficulties. Slaves are not allowed in the Mexican territory of Texas. A hurricane blows through, threatening death. A raging, flooded river. And many other. Plus one of their party is planning destruction.

What will it take for Dorritt to find what she wants—and for the other members of their party to step up to the plate?

THE DESIRES OF HER HEART is the first book in Ms. Cote’s newest series, Texas Star of Destiny. Dorritt is a very strong heroine, though I wasn’t sure that some of the things she did she’d really be able to do in 1821. Quinn was also a strong hero, but sometimes he was weak when I felt he needed to be strong.

Over all, the story is very well written and the setting expertly described, to the point where I could almost feel the hurricane winds and the pelting rains. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series. Discussion questions as well as an excerpt from Ms. Cote’s next book in the series, Her Inheritance Forever, are included at the end of the book. Don’t miss THE DESIRES OF HER HEART for a good historical read. $12.99. 305 pages.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

His Name is Jesus

Author: Max Lucado
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Books
ISBN: 978-1-4041-8673-6
Genre: Inspirational/gift book

He was, at once, divine and human. Common, yet extraordinary. A one-of-a-kind God-man who befriended sinners and outwitted death. His name is Jesus…(from the back cover)

HIS NAME IS JESUS is a beautifully done gift book that will be sure to please anyone. Filled with beautiful pictures, inspirational sayings, and verses that take us from the time of Jesus’s birth, his coming-of-age, his ministry on earth (including healing the sick) and his ascension into Heaven, HIS NAME IS JESUS is a book that you will be proud to display on your coffee table. To give as a gift to a friend. Or to display prominently in the church’s foyer where members and visitors mingle and visit.

HIS NAME IS JESUS is a book that will encourage readers to worship, and remind them of the reason we need to worship. It will greatly enrich your devotional time.

Come. Follow His footsteps. Listen to His words. Heart them with your heart.

Make sure you pick up a copy of HIS NAME IS JESUS today. $24.99 hardback, inside a case.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sticks and Stones

Title: STICKS AND STONES: Using Your Words as a Positive Force
Author: Ace Collins
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 978-0-310-28253-2
Genre: Christian Life

We use 30,000 words a day … Imagine if just a handful of them could save a life … heal a broken heart … or inspire a vision that changes the course of history. Today is your opportunity to speak – or write – words of incalculable potential for good. (from the back cover).

STICKS AND STONES is a wonderfully encouraging book filled with commonsense and simple action points to help you weed out the negativism and unlease the power of positive words.

Just think … the works you speak today could heal the decades-old emotional wounds of a war veteran. They could help a stroke victim regain her ability to read. Or maybe they could empower an award-winning songwriter’s career.

STICKS AND STONES will help you to discover what it takes to make a difference. Maybe it’s simply a thank you note to someone who made a difference in your life. Maybe it’s simply looking someone in the eyes and paying attention to what they have to say. Maybe it could be remembering someone going through a tough time and simply being there for them.

STICKS AND STONES is filled with heartwarming examples. I loved reading this book, I enjoyed the very moving stories, and I even learned a thing or two. Pick up a copy of this beautifully done hardcover book for yourself or for a friend. It might start changing lives – for the better. $16.99. 221 pages.

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While the City Sleeps (Women of Midtown)

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