Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Seeker

Author: Ann H. Gabhart
Publisher: Revell
July 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2363-6
Genre: Inspirational/historical/Shaker

Charlotte Vance is a southern belle used to slaves, a plantation, and being the apple of her father’s eye. But then when her Senator father came home with his new wife, Selena, Charlotte quickly feels unwelcomed. Selena makes it clear that Grayson is her home now, and that she would be ruling it.

Charlotte had long planned to marry Edwin, a neighboring boy, but when Edwin joins the Shakers, Charlotte isn’t quite sure what to do. Especially when a man commissioned to paint her step-mom’s portrait waylays her in the garden and steals a kiss.

When Selena makes it plain that all the slaves are to be sold down river and be replaced with new slaves, Charlotte takes her personal slave and runs away to the Shakers. She plans to give Melly her freedom and talk Edwin into marrying her and giving up his foolish ideas. But things change, quickly. And with the country at the beginning of the War Between the States, Charlottes actions have unforeseen consequences.

THE SEEKER is the first book I’ve read in Ms. Gabbart’s Shaker series. It is in reality the third book in the series, preceded by The Outsider and The Believer. THE SEEKER can stand alone though. I wasn’t sure what to expect about THE SEEKER, since it is a historical romance set in a community that believes marriage is a sin, so I was interested to see how this would work out.

The story does get a little slow and dragged at times, but there was enough to keep my interest. Charlotte is a realistic heroine, strong and courageous, and willing to face difficulty for the sake of those she loves. She grew a lot in this story. The ending is sweet.
I would give this book 4.5 stars, but it is impossible to do that on Amazon, so I am rounding it up to 5. Excellent story. $14.99. 410 pages.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dead Reckoning

Author: Ronie Kendig
Publisher: Abingdon Press
March 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4267-0058-3
Genre: Inspirational/suspense

Shiloh Blake is an underwater archeologist graduate student on a dive in the waters outside of Mumbai, India. She unearthed a lamp in a site and is hopeful that she might have uncovered an under water city. But when she goes back down, her partners in the program are shot. One fatally, the other saved only by Shiloh’s quick actions.

Reece Jaxon is a former Navy SEAL and now serves his country as a spy. He is trailing Shiloh in an attempt to keep her alive. But it is a struggle to keep up with the beguiling Shiloh as she knows all the usual spy tricks and then some.

Suddenly Shiloh finds herself mixed up in the middle of an international nuclear arms clash. She’s trying to flee for her life, but it seems those trailing her are always one step ahead. There is only one way to end the nightmare and prevent a nuclear meltdown. But what will it take for Shiloh to trust Reece enough to do it?

DEAD RECKONING is Ronie Kendig’s debut novel, and it is extremely well written. I don’t know a whole lot about spy work so some of the actions and reactions described in this book seem a bit over the top to me, but it would be beautiful to watch in a movie.

I didn’t get much feel for the characters. Both Shiloh and Reece are tougher than nails, trust no body, and hard, and that doesn’t leave much room for the personal that allows the reader to get to know the character. However, the action and the description of the setting are top notch.

If you like suspense, then you will definitely want to check out DEAD RECKONING by Ronie Kendig. The ending is absolutely beautiful. $13.99. 397 pages.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wildflowers of Terezin

Author: Robert Elmer
Publisher: Abingdon Press
April 2010
ISBN: 978-1 -4267-0192-4
Genre: Inspirational/historical/WWII

Pastor Steffen Peterson tries to stay out of the way of the Nazi’s and the underground that is trying to work to defeat the Nazi’s purpose in Denmark. But when a routine visit to the hospital to visit a parishioner causes Steffen to be caught in cross-fire, he finds himself in the hospital, but not for the intended purpose. Worse, a German Gestapo comes to question him, and the nurse, Hanne Abrahamsen shields Steffen, sending the Gestapo away then helping Steffen escape, believing that he is actually part of the underground.

Then word is that the Germans plan to export all 7,000 Jews from Denmark at a certain time. Steffen finds himself hiding some Jews in the basement of his church, one of them Hanne’s mother, and then rowing them across the sound to catch a fishing boat to Sweden.

Now Steffen is actively caught up in the Underground and life is getting increasingly dangerous, especially to Hanne who is a Jew hiding in plain sight. As the danger mounts, both Steffen and Hanne must decide if they are willing to pay the ultimate price.

WILDFLOWERS OF TEREZIN is a World War II book that takes a different approach to some of the WWII stories than some. I’ve read all of Tricia Goyer’s books, and even Robert Elmer’s young adult books (which is quite similar in theme to this book. World War II is my favorite historical time period to read about, even though they were horrible days for those living through it.

Based on real events WILDFLOWERS OF TEREZIN is a compelling read, maybe a little slower paced than some, but no less exciting. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Steffen and Hanne as they struggled to do what they felt was right and make a difference in their land. And I have to applaud the Danes for taking such a strong stance against the Nazi’s. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 335 pages.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Lightkeeper's Daughter

Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
January 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59554-267-0
Genre: Inspirational/historical suspense

Addie Sullivan is living a quiet life as the lighthouse keeper’s daughter in northern California. She misses her father dearly, and doesn’t understand why her mother doesn’t seem to even like her, but that is explained when a stranger appears on their doorstep during a storm, claiming that Addie is in reality Julia Eaton, an heiress who has been presumed dead. He promises to reunite her with her family.

So, Addie agrees to go with him and secures a position as her nephew’s nanny until they decide to unveil her true identity. But then she discovers that someone wants her dead. Sinister shadows stalk Addie, even as she develops feelings for her nephew’s father, John.

Nothing in her new world is at it seems and it appears that someone has gone to great lengths to keep Addie’s survival secret. Now, Addie doesn’t know who she can trust, who she can turn to, or who to stay far away from. To turn toward love means to risk her life. But to run away could mean worse.

THE LIGHTKEEPER’S DAUGHER is the first historical suspense in the Mercy Falls series by Ms. Coble. It says on one of the pages of the book that Addie Sullivan is an ancestor of Bree Matthews in Ms. Coble’s Rock Harbor series.

Addie is a realistic heroine, and the twists and turns in the book keep the reader guessing as to who the bad “guy” might be. Ms. Coble is a master at crafting characters that the reader will care about, and this is no difference. If you are looking for a historical to read this summer, I recommend THE LIGHTKEEPER’S DAUGHTER. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 306 pages.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Case of the Mystified M.D.

Author: A. K. Arenz
Publisher: Sheaf House
July 2009
ISBN: 978-0-979-74856-1
Genre: Inspirational/mystery

Glory Harper and her sister, Jane, are walking on the trail with their puppy when they notice an awful smell, and the puppy finds a severed hand. Glory recognizes the ring on the hand as belonging to a missing professor, and notifies the police. The professor, a blatant opponent to anything religious is on a lot of people’s radar, and the murderer could be almost anyone in town. Glory’s sister, Jane, even seems to be a person of interest since her home fire was arson and she admits to arguing with the professor before hand.

When Glory’s boss orders her to go to the professor’s house to retrieve the semester grades (which he hadn’t turned in), Glory balks, but when her job is threatened, she gives in. There she finds another woman hiding in the closet, and soon after several other people arrive. The Detective in charge of the case (and Glory’s romantic interest) is soon hot on their heels.

Will Glory be able to stay uninvolved in this case, since the Detective orders her to? Or will her relationship with the Detective survive another murder case?

THE CASE OF THE MYSTRIFIED M.D. is the second book in Ms. Arenz’s Bouncing Grandma Mysteries. I enjoy this plucky grandma and getting to know her, as well as the scraps that she gets into.

Glory is realistic (and a lot like me in some ways) so I could totally relate to her. Her more “grownup” sister, Jane, is a nice side-kick, and the town is full of colorful individuals who add their own unique touch to the story. If you are looking for a cute, funny mystery, then THE CASE OF THE MYSTRIFIED M.D. would be the perfect book to consider. The third book in the series is coming out in the fall of 2010. $12.99. 368 pages.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Author: Karen Kingsbury
Publisher: Faithworks
November 2009
ISBN: 978-0-448-55795-5
Genre: Inspirational/devotional/miracles

MIRACLES is a 52-week devotional about stories where God stepped down and miraculously helped one of His people—sometimes by saving them from certain death, sometimes by answering prayers for children, sometimes by teaching them an important lesson about life and faith.

Each devotional starts out with a suggested Bible reading, then there is a verse in the sidebar of the story. After you read the story, another verse follows.

I’m not sure how this would really work as a devotional, as the stories were so engaging that I couldn’t put the book down. I had to keep reading it, going from page to page to page from start to finish of the whole book.

But, even if this book may not be used in the method it was intended, it is a very excellent read, and beautifully hardcopy, excellent for gift-giving (if you can bear to give it up!)

This book will help you to see that God does still work miracles in the lives of ordinary people who live by faith. It will help you be changed by the power of God. $14.99. 223 pages.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

So Over It

Author: Stephanie Morrill
Publisher: Revell
July 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3391-9
Genre: Inspirational/teen

Skylar Hoyt has finally graduated from high school and she is so ready to forget about her less than stellar school years and get a fresh start—preferably someplace where people don’t know about her, or her dysfunctional family. A place where she won’t run into her ex-boyfriend every time she leaves the house is preferable.

When Skylar’s grandparents offer Skylar the chance to spend the summer in Hawaii, Skylar jumps at the opportunity to get out of town. But there she discovers that she might leave the mainland but she can’t leave the gossip or her old life behind.

Will Skylar be strong enough to start living the life God wants, in spite of the setbacks?

SO OVER IT is the third and final book in The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series. I recommend reading the books in order so you don’t miss anything, so if you missed the first two books you will want to pick them up first. They are Me, Just Different, and Out With the In Crowd.

Skylar is a realistic teenage heroine, complete with all the drama that seems to come with that age group. This book, like the others, deal with some very hard, and unfortunately, very real, teen issues, which makes it kind of difficult for the older generation to read sometimes, as these were not things we had to deal with. But, they are issues that our teenagers face way too frequently. So, unless your teen is extremely sheltered, this is excellent for her to read as it will help her deal with some of these issues. The last few paragraphs are absolutely beautiful. Don’t miss SO OVER IT. $11.99. 259 pages.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Taste of Fame

Authors: Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson
Publisher: Revell
September 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3209-7
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

The women of the Potluck Catering Club have developed a growing business. But when they catered a wedding, Lisa Leann’s son filmed the class for one of his college projects. Problem is, no one read the fine print when they signed off for his documentary, and suddenly they find themselves contestants on a reality show for caterers, playing for one million dollars.

None of the women in the Potluck Club quite know what to think, but with the contract nonnegotiable and legally binding suddenly they find themselves preparing to head for New York City to compete. And to make matters even more interesting Wade and David, both of whom have love interests in Donna (a member of the club) are supposed to go along as wait-staff. And suddenly their vying for Donna’s attention are making it on national tv.

Will the women make it home in one piece? Or will they give up under pressure?

A TASTE OF FAME is the second book in The Potluck Catering Club series, and I would recommend reading the first book first since they all tie together. I enjoyed reconnecting with the characters in this book and learning more about their lives and struggles.

A reality tv show was a nice interesting touch, and it was kind of fun watching the themes they came up with, and how the visit to New York went. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series. Some yummy recipes are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 359 pages.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Question and Answer with Leigh Anne and Sean Tuochy

In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy with Sally Jenkins (Henry Holt, July 13, 2010) takes readers on an extraordinary journey of faith and love and shares unforgettable lessons about the power of giving. The Tuohys’ deeply inspiring memoir offers readers a detailed picture of a family that makes giving a way of life, the huge blessings that decision has brought to them, and the ways we can all make a difference in our own communities.

Q & A with Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy Authors of In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving

Q: Besides dominating the New York Times bestseller list, The Blind Side has also broken Hollywood records. Why do you think your family’s story has captivated so many people?

A: We think people love the story because they recognize some aspect of themselves there. We want to be the kind of people who really make a difference in the world, but so many people are convinced they don’t have the resources to be that kind of giver. We wrote In a Heartbeat to share our story in our own words precisely so that people will begin to realize that they can be the kind of people who help change someone’s life.

Q: Let’s talk about the problem of homeless and needy children in America. How do you believe this problem can be solved?

A: There are a lot of intractable problems in the U.S., from terrorism to health care. But the problem of children in need is curable; we can all do something about it today, individually, through the smallest acts. If every church in the U.S. sponsored one child, we could wipe out the problem of homeless children in this country. There are a million Michaels. Not every kid has the potential to become a star player in the NFL, but he or she may be the person who grows up to cure cancer, or becomes a great husband or wife to someone.

Q: How do you respond when people marvel at the risks you took as you brought Michael Oher into your family?

A: You know, you take a risk every day of your life. When you get in your car and drive across a bridge you take a risk. You don’t know if your tires are good, or if the pilings are going to hold, or if the bridge will fall in. But you don’t really stop and think about it, do you? You don’t get up every morning and kick all four of your tires. You don’t stare at the bridge and say, ‘Yeah, I think it’ll hold me.’ How did you know that bridge wasn’t going to fall? Yet you went right ahead and crossed it. Everybody takes risks, every day. You just don’t realize that’s what you’re doing.

Q: How do you define “cheerful giving”?

A: This is not giving to impress someone who may be watching, and it’s not giving because you feel guilty. The Bible says it best: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”-- II Corinthians 9:7

Q: In the book, you sum up your philosophy of giving in “The Popcorn Theory.” Tell us more about that.

A: The Popcorn Theory is about noticing others. It’s about seeing, not turning away from the immediacy of someone in need. It starts with recognizing a fellow soul by the roadside—even if he doesn’t seem to belong in your lovely red brick neighborhood and he is the biggest damn piece of popcorn you ever saw and his problems seem too immense to take on. It’s about assigning that person value, and potential. Like popcorn, you don’t know which kernel’s gonna pop. They just show up. It’s not hard to spot ‘em. The Popcorn Theory goes like this: “You can’t help everyone, but you can try to help the hot ones who pop right up in front of your face.”

Q: What if I don’t have many resources? How can I be a cheerful giver without a bunch of extra money?

A: Too often we think we lack the means to improve someone’s lot. We’re wrong. The Popcorn Theory doesn’t require you to write a large-scale check, or to take a hungry boy with eyes like leaping flames into your household. But it does require that you perceive the person standing right in front of you, and extend a hand in kindness. Consider this story we heard from a U.S. Senator during a trip to Washington for an Adoption Coalition convention:

There is a little-known Congressional initiative to give internships to young people who were so unwanted they have aged out of the foster care system. This Senator employs one such young man. One day the Senator passed by the mailroom, and paused and turned around. He noticed that his intern, fresh out of foster care, had reorganized all the old files. “This room has never looked so clean,” the Senator said. “You did a great job.” A few minutes later the Senator decided to get a cup of coffee. He returned to mailroom and found that his intern had tears streaming down his face. “Son, did I offend you?” he asked. “No,” the young man said. “That’s the first time anyone has ever told me that I did something good.” This gift had nothing to do with money. What this kid needed most was encouragement and self-worth, and that’s what he was given.

Q: As you share your story, one of the points you stress is that generosity is not just your personal value. It’s a core value for the entire family. What specific things have you done as parents to help your kids become cheerful givers?

A: One of our practices is something we call “Get one, give one,” which means when you receive something, give part of it away. To impress the lesson on our daughter Collins, we sent her to camp with underprivileged kids and on a searing mission trip to the Guatemala City Dumps, where she saw families living in lean-tos amid the garbage, yet with pictures of Christ hung amid the wreckage. Collins came to understand how fortunate she was: “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:17) She also learned how important it was to share some of what she’d been given. Long before Michael came into our lives, Collins and Sean Jr. learned to accept the presence of kids sleeping on the sofa or lounging around the house. Friends at the Briarcrest School whose parents worked two jobs. One afternoon 7-year-old Sean Jr. came home to find them playing with his X-box. He sought out Leigh Anne and said, “What gives?” She replied, “We’re just helping them out. Be generous.” Sean Jr. went back downstairs and watched the brothers play a video game. “I’ve got the winner,” he said.

Q: In the book, you point out that the most important gifts your children gave each other had nothing to do with money. Tell us about those gifts.

A: As Michael became a member of the family, he and our other kids gave each other two small but crucial mutual gifts—loyalty and protection. At Ole Miss, Collins and Michael went everywhere together, and they and their friends achieved a new level of racial integration at that old southern school. Even now, when our family attends Michael’s games, he remains extremely protective of his sister, insisting on one occasion that his teammate walk her to the car to keep her away from unruly male fans. And for Sean Jr. having Michael in his family means they do more as a family—he gets much more of each of them.

This is one of the blessings of cheerful giving. We have always felt that Michael gave us far more than he received. All we did was put a roof over his head. He has given us back a stronger sense of home and family.

In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy with Sally Jenkins
Henry Holt and Company/July 13, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9338-4/269 pages/hardcover/$24.00

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back On Murder

Author: J. Mark Bertrand
Publisher: Bethany House
July 2010
ISBN 978-0-7642-0637-5
Genre: Fiction/Suspense

Objective justice is impossible to arrive at, given the circumstances. You know, the sin nature all of humanity inherits from Adam. That doesn’t stop Detective Roland March from striving for the impossible. While battling internal demons, dueling with matrimonial conflicts, and struggling to survive professional suicide (not to mention homicide), March displays moments of sheer brilliance counterpointed with instances of personal failure. Undeterred, Detective March manages to focus on the goal with a sniper’s intensity, and hangs on to every lead with a bulldog’s tenacity, avoiding potential landmines with the seasoned skill of a true professional. Once Roland March sinks his teeth into a case, there is no turning back.

In this volume, March’s quick wits and razor-sharp intuition serve him well. It’s a good thing, considering the obstacles that lie in his path: a depressed wife, a vindictive superintendent, and an entire Special Unit comprised of ruthless, dirty cops who have been chosen and groomed by an equally ruthless supervisor, who just happens to be the very one who hung March out to dry in the first place.

To balance the odds, March has a new partner who is arguably his equal in every aspect . . . and she’s a true believer. In her universe, nothing happens by accident. There are no coincidences.

And one more thing. March has a missing girl who is crying out for justice.

That pretty much settles the case, as far as Detective Roland March is concerned.

Because, March is BACK ON MURDER.

It took me a couple of tries to get into this book. However, Bertrand’s ability to breathe life (albeit gritty, realistic, sometimes emotionally chaotic life) into his characters drew me in, until I couldn’t put the book down. I found myself riding in the backseat as March and Cavallo (his new partner) “made the rounds,” if this phrase could be coined giving the situations they face. And ever present is March’s insistence upon justice being served; ever the “straight arrow,” March has high (though realistic) expectations for those around him, and even higher (sometimes unrealistic) expectations for himself.

If you pick up BACK ON MURDER with the intention of trying to “outwit” the author; with the intention of trying to figure out “whodunit,” you are going to be missing out on a wonderful story. 382 pages. $14.99 softcover

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Where The Jewels Are

Author: Diana Symons
Publisher: Gold Pen Press
June 2010
ISBN: 978-193499502-0
Genre: Inspirational/children’s fiction

Once upon a time there was a princess who was very beautiful and had everything she ever wanted. But this princess wants more and more and more. And sometimes when she didn’t get her way, the princess became sullen and unkind.

One day the princess wandered up into one of the towers of the house and she noticed a man and a strange machine she never saw before. She found out that she could gaze at stars through it and then she told her father she wanted a jewel that sparkled like the stars.

The father was quiet for a while, then he sent the princess and her servant on a quest to find the jewel. What they find is the one thing they didn’t know they were missing.

WHERE THE JEWELS ARE is a cute little book designed for children ages 6 – 11 and is the first book in the Tales from the Throne series.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this excellently written children’s book, and then gave it to my eight year old daughter to read. She couldn’t put it down until she finished reading it.

Not only is this an excellent story, but it also teaches a valuable lesson. If you are looking for a children’s book to help fill some summertime hours, then be sure to pick up WHERE THE JEWELS ARE. Available at and at $5.99. 45 pages.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Spoils of Eden

Author: Linda Lee Chaikin
Publisher: Moody Press
Nay 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8024-3749-5
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Rafe Easton rescued an abandoned baby from certain death on the leper’s island in Hawaii. The baby seems to be leprosy free, but the doctors in Honolulu believe that Rafe is playing with danger and must return that baby to the islands immediately.

Eden Derrington has loved Rafe since childhood, but with them going in different directions and being unwilling to give up her dreams to follow his, she reluctantly returns Rafe’s ring. Now she is the one chosen to deliver the bad news to Rafe, that he must return the baby boy to the leper’s island.

Yet, Eden wants to work alongside her father, trying to find a cure for leprosy. She is willing to risk a life of privilege to work with the forgotten people. Yet, what if she falls victim to the dreaded disease that took her mother? Will Rafe even wait for her while she fulfills her dream?

THE SPOILS OF EDEN is book one in Ms. Chaikin’s newest series The Dawn of Hawaii. Ms. Chaikin is certainly talented in prose, painting such a vivid word picture of the setting that the reader can literally see the exactly blue of the sky and know how many clouds floated in sight. The setting is very beautifully portrayed, but as a result it does slow the story down considerably, making it almost drag at times.

Still, Eden is a very believable character, loving and kind, and Rafe also. I felt kind of bad for them putting their dreams together aside so they could pursue their own separate dreams, and I hoped that it would all work out for them. The story is set in a real time period of Hawaii’s history, with some very real people appearing as characters in the book. Ms. Chaikin included a directory of who people are, whether they were real or imaginary, and a map of the islands. She also included a glossary of Hawaiian terms. $13.99. 349 pages.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Courting Morrow Little

Author: Laura Frantz
Publisher: Revell
July 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3340-7
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Morrow Mary Little has bad memories of the day her mother and baby sister are brutally murdered at the hands of the Shawnee warriors, and her brother, Jess, was taken captive. All that is left of her family is her pa and herself. And her pa won’t go into the side of the dogtrot cabin that the murder occurred. He leaves the door shut, the damage undisturbed.

Now a grown woman, Morrow’s pa is ailing, and men are vying for her attention. Morrow is torn over who to wed. But even more troublesome are the Shawnee man and his son who keeps coming by the cabin. At first, Morrow tries to avoid them, but the son keeps seeking her out.

Can Morrow betray the memory of her lost loved ones by even allowing a friendship with him? And which man should she marry?

COURTING MORROW LITTLE is definitely one of the best historical romances I’ve had the pleasure of reading this year. I couldn’t help but fall in love with Morrow and her father, and wanted them to find the missing Jess, as unlikely as that seemed.

The time period of the book is troubling, with the revolutionary war progress, and the Indians taking sides. It made for a pretty gruesome word pictures at time, but historically accurate. The beginning of the book was a bit disjointed when Morrow went into a flashback without warning and I had to go back and reread to see if I missed something. That wasn’t explained until later.

Otherwise, COURTING MORROW LITTLE is a fantastic read. I didn’t have the privilege of reading Ms. Frantz’s first book but I am definitely going to look for it. Don’t miss COURTING MORROW LITTLE. $14.99. 362 pages.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Faith Dare

Author: Debbie Alsdorf
Publisher: Revell
June 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3367-4
Genre: Inspirational/Christian Living

What would happen if you lived out your faith every day, in every situation?

THE FAITH DARE is a 30-day challenge for women who want to develop a new habit of focusing on God’s ways and daily awareness of His presence. It is for women who are tired of ho-hum living and want to break the pattern of self-reliance and people pleasing by putting their trust in God alone and living to please Him.

The book is set up in kind of devotional style, which includes daily Bible readings, affirmations, and challenges. Plus there is also a journal with discussion questions for you to answer (with plenty of space to write your answers). The end of each reading concludes with a prayer.

THE FAITH DARE is a book that will work equally well whether you work through out on your own, or if you do it with a bunch of your girlfriends. If you do the work and apply it to your life, it could change your life.

I’m always looking for a new devotional to work through, and this seems to be a good one. I didn’t have 30-days between the day I got it and the date my review was due, but I did work through a couple sections and read through the introduction—plus thumb through the rest of the book. I will be taking the time to finish through the study, as this one seems to have more meat than most, and I do want – desire – a closer walk with God.

If you are looking for ways to renew your faith, then THE FAITH DARE would be a good book to pick up. $12.99. 230 pages.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Sacred Cipher

Author: Terry Brennan
Publisher: Kregel Publications
July 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8254-2426-7
Genre: Inspirational/mystery

A secret room has been discovered in the chapel of the bowery mission. And what’s hidden inside reveals a mystery of biblical proportions.

Tom Bohannon is at a construction site when the workers discover a hidden room in the building they are working on. When Tom goes to investigate, he discovers a room filled with file cabinets and a safe stuffed full of documents. One of them happens to be an ancient scroll containing a dead language that has been lost in the sands of time.

Tom understands that he has made a valuable discovery, but the danger that unfolds as a result of the discovery surprises and shocks him. Now, Tom and his team of ragtag scientists and historians want to decode the ancient text, but others don’t want the contents revealed. And they are prepared to kill to keep it hidden.

THE SACRED CIPHER takes the reader from a market in nineteenth-century Alexandria, to a library in present-day New York, to the tunnels underneath Jerusalem. This story is very well written, and engaging, drawing the reader into this make-believe world which seems real and valid enough that it could be featured in the news.

If you are interested in a book about ancient secrets and international escapades, then THE SACRED CIPHER is not a book you’ll want to miss. Much of this book is based on fact, and they are detailed in the author’s notes. 350 pages. $13.99.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Believing God

Author: Beth Moore
Publisher: Broadman and Holman
ISBN: 0-8054-3189-6
Genre: Inspirational/Christian Living

Do you take God at His word, believing what He has told us, or do you just believe in His existence and the salvation He offers?

Three years ago, the pastor’s wife in our church had this small group study, using the study guide and the DVD, and it is really life changing. The core verse of this book—of the study—is Isaiah 43:10. “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.”

Ms. Moore takes us through the Bible, showing us through example which biblical characters believed God and how they demonstrated it, and challenging us to follow their example.

Gods desire is for our belief system to work, for us to trust God, to trust His word, and to have absolutely no doubt in God’s ability to do what He said He would do, to be who He said He is, and to help us be all that we can be, in Him.

Reading BELIEVING GOD is the first step in achieving that goal. This book will take you down a path that will literally change the way you pray, change the way you believe, and ultimately, change your life. $22.99. 259 pages.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Blue Enchantress

Author: M. L. Tyndall
Publisher: Barbour Books
August 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60260-157-4
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Hope Westcott follows her lover onboard a ship, believing that he would marry her—after all, he said he would. But when she bursts into his stateroom, she discovers that Lord Falkland is very married, and worse, he hands her over to the captain to sell as a slave.

Captain Nathaniel Mason is trying to build his own shipping business, but when he sees Hope on an auction block, he recognizes the Admiral’s daughter from back home. When he sees the lustful men vying for her, Nathaniel purchases Hope, giving up all he owns to secure her freedom.

But Hope doesn’t seem to be appreciative of Nathaniel purchasing her freedom. Instead, she turns up her nose at the commoner, and starts flirting with other inappropriate males onboard the ship that Nathaniel has secured her passage home. What will it take for Hope to turn to God and appreciate the man who gave it all.

THE BLUE ENCHANTRESS is book two in the Charles Tenne Belles series, but it easily stands alone. Ms. Tyndall has made her mark in the publishing world by writing pirate stories, and she is excellent at seafaring adventure.

I enjoyed getting to know Nathaniel and Hope a bit through the pages of this book, though I admit that I didn’t care much for Hope or her attitude for much of the book. Her personality really changed throughout the story. And I did see how it plays out. The ending is a perfect tie-in to Ms. Tyndall’s third book in the series. $10.97. 320 pages.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Perfectly Dateless

Author: Kristin Billerbeck
Publisher: Revell
July 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3439-8
Genre: Inspirational/teen fiction

The prom countdown has begun…

Daisy Cristpin has 196 days to find the perfect date to the Senior prom, an event she is determined to attend, so she can have her picture taken with the perfect guy. She even made a list of names, possible candidates to be her date. But there are problems. Number one on the list is that Daisy is somewhat of a nerd. She’s totally invisible at school, possesses no social skills, and her parents won’t even let her talk to a guy on the phone.

There is more at stake that the extremely far-out possibility that her parents might let her go to the prom. If she someone did manage to get their consent (thought that in itself would take a miracle) she would need help getting guys to even notice her. Especially the popular jock types she’s targeting.

Daisy’s best friend, Claire, doesn’t understand Daisy’s obsession with the prom, or the preppy jock that Daisy likes best, but she’s prepared to do her part to help get Daisy noticed. But the trouble is, Claire’s help could ruin her life…

PERFECTLY DATELESS is the first teen book I’ve read by Ms. Billerbeck, and it’s a winner. Totally and completely realistic, and sadly, a reality probably felt by all the smart girls in school—the ones that the jocks ignore, unless they want help with their homework or cheating on a test.

I enjoyed getting to know Daisy. Her sarcasm is absolutely hilarious, and at times shocking and rude. This is a book that I could hand to my teen daughter and not be concerned that she’s reading something inappropriate. If you have a teenage daughter, pick up a copy of PERFECTLY DATELESS. $9.99. 257 pages.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

David and Goliath

Author: Byyan Hathaway
June 2010
ISBN 978-1-60615-015-3
Genre: Fiction/Religious

Spiritual warfare has a new voice, and its name is Bryan Hathaway! In book one of The Guardian Angel Chronicles, Hathaway introduces David Liberty, a bitter, depressed old man trapped in a nursing home, equally trapped inside a body that refuses to obey his wishes. With his past littered with a failed marriage and the loss of a son, and with no prospects for a bright future, David longs for death. Until Joelle, his guardian angel, offers him that precious gift that only God can give . . . a second chance.

Of course there are rules that must be followed, and David must carry them out in the spirit of the law. And in exchange for a physical body, David must sacrifice his voice. As a motivational speaker, David had changed lives, transformed marriages, and turned run-of-the-mill businesses into thriving corporations. Bereft of his natural talents, David must, in the words of Joelle, “use actions to assist those in need and to demonstrate your beliefs.”

No book on spiritual warfare is complete without the adversary. Through Joelle, David Hathaway alerts the reader to a fundamental scriptural truth: “Satan will be trying to win people’s souls. He takes great delight in destroying the Lord’s children.”

David Liberty has a second chance. He has divine assistance from his guardian angel. But he also has a fallen nature, and the ability to exercise free will. Will David take advantage of his second chance, or will he fall short of the mark yet again?

Bryan Hathaway has crafted a novel that explores spiritual warfare on its many levels. While doing so, he also makes his readers care about the characters, their personal situations, and the ever-present existence of a foe beyond mortal power to overcome. Speaking spiritual truth, without being “preachy,” DAVID AND GOLIATH is founded upon the spiritual premise that true faith is a living faith, and that faith without works is truly dead.

Wow! What a fantastic book! Lots of spiritual meat, and a fresh new approach to spiritual warfare that makes Frank Peretti look like an amateur! Bryan Hathaway has a way of introducing his characters so familiarly, it's like they were your next door neighbors. He makes you care, and he challenges you to do something about it! 271 pages. $17.95 softcover

Monday, July 12, 2010

Shades of Morning and giveaway

Leave a comment to possibly win a copy of this book. Void where prohibited by law
Author: Marla Schalesky
Publisher: Multnomah
June 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60142-025-1
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Marnie Wittier was raised in foster homes ever since her dead-beat mom abandoned her and her sister, Rose. And she was involved with a boy named Taylor Cole, a law student. But now, fifteen years later, Marnie has left her eastern home far behind, and made her home in California, where she runs a bookshop/coffee shop and lives a quiet, peaceful life. She also has a shoe box full of regrets and bad decisions she’d made.

Taylor has earned his law degree, but he has never married, because Marnie holds his heart. Now Rose is gone and, as Rose’s attorney, Taylor is forced to find Marnie so she could have custody of Rose’s son, fifteen year old son, Emmitt, a boy Marnie didn’t even know existed. When Emmitt arrives Marnie discovers he has Down’s syndrome and she feels woefully unprepared.

Now Emmitt and Taylor are forced to try to find their places in Marnie’s heart. Will Marnie let them in? Or will she do what she usually does, and escape? What will it take to make her stay?

SHADES OF MORNING is the newest book by award-winning author, Marlo Schalesky. A very talented writer, Ms. Schalesky has the ability to make characters come to life and move on the pages of the book.

Marnis is an unconventional heroine, one who sounds like she would be a put-off to the conservative church set, with spiked hair, multiple piercings, etc. Yet she has a tender heart and is willing to go to any length to take care of her friends, even if it means making herself uncomfortable.

Taylor has his own list of regrets, but he struggles to make the best of them, hanging on to dreams and struggling to make them reality. I wanted to see him succeed in his missions. I also grew to care for Emmitt.

There was an unexpected twist to the story, but it totally fit, making the story complete and whole. Readers of contemporary fiction will not want to miss SHADES OF MORNING. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 328 pages.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Touching the Clouds

Author: Bonnie Leon
Publisher: Revell
July 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3359-9
Genre: Historical

Kate Evans was engaged to marry her long time friend, Richard, but then the promise of jobs for bush pilots lures her to Alaska. There she finds that because she is a woman, she has a hard time finding a job as a pilot. Desperate to prove herself, Kate finally is hired to take a job as a mail carrier, flying mail to remote locations in Alaska once a week.

Kate knew her calling would be an uphill battle, but she feels compelled to prove herself, flying in conditions that more experienced male pilots shied away from. When Kate crosses paths with a mysterious man living in the wilderness, Kate is intrigued. But she is being courted by another pilot. Will Kate make the effort necessary to get to know the man homesteading alone?

TOUCHING THE CLOUDS is the first book in Ms. Leon’s Alaskan Skies series. Personally, I think this is the best book that I’ve read by Ms. Leon. I could relate to Kate and enjoyed getting to know her and the men she worked around, and interacted with. I am looking forward to reading more in this series.

Kate is a realistic heroine, out to prove herself in a man’s world, and exploring a land she had only dreamed of. I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska, and enjoyed doing it through the pages of this book. I enjoyed the touch of romance too. If you read one historical this year, make it TOUCHING THE CLOUDS. It flies high above the rest. $14.99. 362 pages.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Seeds of Summer

Author: Deborah Vogts
Publisher: Zondervan
May 2010
ISBN: 978-0-310-29276-0

Natalie Adams is a former rodeo queen, but now she’s a twenty-two year old orphan, left in charge of the family ranch, two younger half-siblings, and dying dreams of getting a college degree. Natalie doesn’t even know where to begin.

Jared Logan is a new pastor to the community, serving in his first parish. He repeatedly comes to Natalie’s rescue, but Natalie is loath to accept help from anyone—especially his. When the church resists Jared’s suggestion to change, and with his involvement with Natalie’s family, Jared begins to question his calling.

When Natalie’s absent step-mother suddenly reappears with her own plans, Natalie is forced to choose between her own desires or the needs of the family. What will it take for her to face her fears—to find a future and a hope?

SEEDS OF SUMMER is the second book in Ms. Vogts Seasons of the Tallgrass series, but it easily stands alone. Natalie, though still a very young adult, has a lot of challenges on her shoulders, more than most have at that age, but she seems quite capable. Jared is an idealist pastor, fresh out of seminary and facing the harsh realities of his chosen profession.

I enjoyed getting to know Natalie and her siblings, as well as Jared, in this book, and viewing the Kansas prairie though the pages of this book. I highly recommend SEEDS OF SUMMER as well as the first book in the series. This is definitely an author to watch. A yummy sounding recipe, and a sample of Blades of Autumn, the third book in the series is included at the end of the book. $10.99. 304 pages.

Author Bio: Deborah Vogts and her husband have three daughters and make their home in Southeast Kansas where they raise and train American Quarter Horses. As a student at Emporia State University studying English and journalism, Deborah developed a love for the Flint Hills that has never faded. In writing this series, she hopes to share her passion for one of the last tallgrass prairie regions in the world, showing that God’s great beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there.

Q: What are three things about yourself that would surprise your readers?
A: 1) I sold Princess House Crystal when I was in high school.
2) I LOVE camping in the Rocky Mountains
3) When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a concert pianist.

Q: Is there a place you have always wanted to visit? A vacation spot, historical monument, overseas, etc?
A: Like most people, I think it would be fun to go to Europe and travel the countryside for a month, but I don’t suppose that will ever happen, as I have an aversion to flying. That said, I think it would be awesome to travel across the United States in an RV with my husband. I love the mountains, so I’m sure that would be in our travel itinerary.

Q: If you could have dinner with 2 people, who would they be?

A: I’d like to visit with movie producers, maybe Larry Levinson or Michael Landon Jr, and try to convince them to make a movie out of my book! For my newest release, we could get Megan Fox to play Natalie and Keanu Reeves to play Jared Logan. 

Q: What one event would you love to be at? Historical or future?

A: I think it would have been neat to have lived in the late 1800’s when the American West was being settled. I love historical fiction and always try to include in my book research various historical aspects about my setting. I especially enjoy reading journals or nonfiction books about ranching and the Flint Hills. Writing a historical novel may well be something I try to tackle one day.

Q: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

A: I’d do more work at home. More gardening and canning. More baking and sewing. More music involvement at our church. And I’d do more quilting and scrapbooking!

Q: Do you have a favorite hobby?

A: I like to take walks with our two golden retrievers or dig in the dirt in my flower beds or garden. I also enjoy playing the piano, baking something, sewing or scrapbooking!

Q: Is there something about you most people wouldn't know?

A: I am weird in that I LIKE to mow. We have a large yard, so it takes me about two hours on an industrial-sized mower, but I enjoy this time to just think or sing. LOL. Yes, I sometimes sing when I mow. It’s also a good time for me to pray or to plot out scenes in my current writing project.

Q: Have you ever had a horrendously embarrassing moment that you ended up using later in a novel?

A: The time I threw up on a small plane. I actually used my own experience in my first book, Snow Melts in Spring, when Mattie gets sick on her trip back to Kansas.

Q: What is the happiest day in your life thus far?

A: The day I married my husband. We were actually high school classmates, but it wasn’t until after our 5th year class reunion that we started dating. We married on Valentine’s Day 1990, and he’ll always be my valentine!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Breach of Trust

Author: DiAnn Mills
Publisher: Tyndale Fiction
February 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4143-2047-2
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary/suspense

Paige Rogers is a reinvented person. Now a librarian in a small Oklahoma town, she used to be a CIA agent, and has skills that no one in her small town would dream that she possesses. But she “killed” off her former self, and hid, spending several years building up a quiet life.

Miles is the town football coach and he’s had a crush on Paige since she came into town. But unfortunately for him she makes it clear that she is not interested in a relationship other than friendship.

But then a stranger comes riding into town. Allegedly working for a newspaper and writing an article on small towns. But Paige knows he’s not telling the truth and it is simple work to uncover the truth. Now, Paige’s careful existence has been shattered.

He is coming after her again. But this time he intends to silence her for good.

BREACH OF TRUST was in my to-read-pile, when I noticed that it won the Christy award for fiction. I was anxious to start reading it, once I heard that. I had read some of the other books that had been nominated and they were tops in my opinion, so I wondered what had made this book come out ahead.

Ms. Mills is a very talented writer, and she didn’t waste words when she wrote this manuscript. The writing is extremely tight, which usually makes me lose my interest in a book—normally when the writing is this concise all emotion seems to be drained out of it.

Not in this case.

A suspense with romance, and an operative kick, this is a book that will be going on keeper shelves. If you are looking for one suspense to read this summer, then BREACH OF TRUST will definitely be one you want to consider. Pick up your copy today. Discussion questions, and a preview of her next book in this series Breach of Security is included at the end of this book. $12.99. 378 pages.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Lord is My Shepherd

Author: Debbie Viguie’
Publisher: Abingdon Press
March 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4267-0189-4
Genre: Inspirational/mystery

Cindy Preston is the church secretary, and she hates Monday. After a long weekend away from the office, she never knows exactly what she’ll find, and she doesn’t like disarray. So, she unlocks the church doors and promptly falls over a body. Someone has been stabbed to death in the locked church.

Jeremiah Silverman is the Rabbi at the Jewish temple next door to Cindy’s church, and when he hears Cindy screaming he comes running. Jeremiah calls 9-1-1, and helps Cindy answer questions, then takes her safely home. Or maybe. Someone is walking around inside Cindy’s apartment.

As Easter Sunday draws near, a man named Jesus is found dead on a donkey, and clues are found that more deaths should be expected. Fighting against time and a serial killer, Cindy and Jeremiah try to expose the truth. Who is behind this, and why?

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD is the first book in The Psalms 23 Mysteries series I’ve read by Ms. Viguie’. I do have the second book in the series over in my to-be-read pile.

I don’t know what the final version of the book is like (I have an advanced reader copy of this title) but I found the writing of this rather weak, contrived, and telling. It was not very strong engaging writing that draws the reader into the story.

However, I didn’t figure out who was the murderer. The person I thought might be it didn’t prove to be, so the author is definitely good at red herrings. If you like a mystery, then maybe THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD would be a good book to check out. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $13.99. 320 pages.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Heart Mender - and giveaway

Leave a comment to be entered into a contest to possibly win a copy of this book. Void where prohibited by law.

Author: Andy Andrews
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
May 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7852-3103-5
Genre: Inspirational/motivational/self-help

When digging up a tree in his family’s front yard, Andy Andrews digs up a rusty tin can filled with buttons and other World War II awards. While researching these items (since they were not American), Mr. Andrews discovered a whole side of the war that none of us were taught about in school when we learned about the war. German submarines were coming over to America, bombing our ships in our waters, and coming on our land. This was kept secret so Americans wouldn’t know the enemy was on our shore and shoot anyone with blue eyes. And this is true.

The items Mr. Andrews found belonged to a German U-Boat (or submarine) lieutenant. So, Mr. Andrews went looking for answers, starting with the old people. He interviewed many people who told him stories of the German submarines, and hearing the German language, and he could document all of it, as truth. But then he talked with a couple from his church who told him the most amazing story of all. and how, through the war, that teaches the power of forgiveness and the healing experience of letting go.

THE HEART MENDER does start a little bit slow, but by the time the first three chapters are past and the historical parts of the story begins I was hooked. I couldn’t stop reading, and when my “better-half” wanted me to go to bed I didn’t want to stop reading!

The historical part is a story about a German submarine who is in American waters, about two of the crew members that work on it, and about a small southern town on the Gulf Coast that would be forever changed because of this submarine. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $18.99 hardcover. 244 pages.

This book was previously released in 2005 under the title Island of Saints

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Unwilling Warrior

Author: Andrea Boeshaar
Publisher: Realms
May 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59979-985-8
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Valerie Fontaine didn’t want to remain at boarding school during the winter holidays, but her father didn’t want her come home. The War Between the States were just beginning, and he felt it was unsafe for her to travel. Not only that, but the death of Valerie’s mother has the whole family in a tailspin, and Mr. Fontaine is coping by focusing on work and drowning his sorrow in alcohol.

Benjamin McCabe is a photographer who is not willing to take sides during this war. He photographs both the southern troops and the northern ones. He has come to New Orleans to check on Mr. Fontaine to see how his coping after his wife’s death. Benjamin doesn’t expect to become enamored of the lovely Ms. Fontaine. But Benjamin has more on his mind than a beautiful woman. His brother Luke has gone missing and Ben is determined to find him.

When Valerie’s father is accused of supplying Federal gunboats in order to save his shipping business, and Valerie is charged with conspiracy, Valerie is forced to flee her New Orleans’s home. Ben sends her home to his family promising to return soon. But then Valerie finds herself caught in a web of lies that threaten to imprison her.

UNWILLING WARRIOR is the first book in Ms. Boeshaar’s new historical series, Seasons of Redemption. Valerie is the typical Southern belle, used to elaborate parties, attentive beaus, and whatever money can buy. She is suffering from her father’s withdrawal. Ben is attracted to the needy female initially, but soon he finds that there is more to her than first meets the eyes. She is nicer than the other women throwing themselves at him.

If you are looking for a good historical romance, then be sure to pick up UNWILLING WARRIOR and give that a look. An excerpt from the second book in the series Uncertain Heart is included at the end of the book. $10.99. 278 pages.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Q&A with Sean Nolan, Author of To Those Who Suffer

In To Those Who Suffer, Nolan explains that when we suffer, we often view the situation through the human sin-stained perspective. This results in us immediately coming to the conclusion that this situation is extremely painful and, therefore, it must be wrong and not part of God’s will for our lives. However, from God’s perspective, He has allowed this suffering in our lives for a purpose, and, because God is absolutely good, His purpose for allowing the suffering in our lives must be a good one.

What we often overlook is that God’s goal for our lives is very different from ours. Nolan states that it is imperative that we understand God’s purpose for allowing mankind to encounter suffering. If we do not understand that God has done the right thing through allowing suffering into the world and our lives then we cannot expect to understand why God chooses to use suffering to conform us into the image of His Son, as opposed to a more pleasant method.

Q&A with Sean Nolan

Author of To Those Who Suffer

Q: You have just written a book called To Those Who Suffer. To whom were you writing this book? Is this book a message for anyone who has known life’s challenges?

A: The truth is that this book is not for everyone. I feel that you really have to have passed through extreme suffering in order to understand the ideas and conclusions presented within these pages. The reason for this is that this book is primarily written to those people in the kingdom of God who do not have the option of hoping for circumstantial relief from their suffering. These people cannot have the horrific circumstances that have caused their hardship reversed or removed. The people I am talking about here are those who have lost someone to death, people who have permanent physical medical conditions that cannot be healed like amputees and quadriplegics—people who have permanent physical pain. This book is written to the Christians who have faithfully believed and followed the Lord in the face of horrendous suffering and pain.

Q: You write that the love of God and the suffering of Christ go hand in hand. We don’t often think of love and suffering as two ideas that should go together. Can you explain?

A: The cross was not only the greatest act of love that the world has ever seen and ever will see, but the cross was also the greatest act of suffering that the world has ever seen and ever will see. God’s love for us cannot be viewed outside of Christ’s suffering for us; God loves us so much that He is allowing us to follow in the footsteps of His Son. If we gladly accept the blessing that comes from following Christ the All-Conquering King, we must also accept the hardship that is allowed in our lives by Jesus the Suffering Servant. We must always remember that the cross comes before the crown!

Q: In the book you state that God is more interested in our character than our comfort, yet why are we as Christians so uncomfortable with the idea that God allows us to endure suffering when He could instead choose to remove it?

A: When we suffer, we often view the situation through the human sin-stained perspective. This results in us immediately coming to the conclusion that this situation is extremely painful and, therefore, it must be wrong and not part of God’s will for our lives. However, from God’s perspective, He has allowed this suffering in our lives for a purpose, and because God is absolutely good, His purpose for allowing the suffering in our lives must be a good one.

Q: In To Those Who Suffer you have tackled one of the thorniest questions of the Christian faith. How can a good God allow bad things to happen to His children?

A: God’s goal for our lives is very different from ours. It is imperative that we understand God’s purpose for allowing mankind to encounter suffering. If we do not understand that God has done the right thing through allowing suffering into the world and our lives then we cannot expect to understand why God chooses to use suffering to conform us into the image of His Son, as opposed to a more pleasant method. If suffering were a tree, its fruit would be unique and extremely rare. The reason why the Lord uses the painful process of suffering to sanctify us (conform us into the image of His Son) is that suffering produces unique and extremely rare fruit that cannot be grown or cultivated by any other means.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from this book?

A: It is the goal of this book to help us understand that there is a strong relationship between this truth and the way in which God handles the suffering in our lives. The healing of our spiritual circumstances is God’s number one concern; our physical suffering is often used by God to make us aware of our spiritual problems. This is not always the case, but, regardless of whether it is true or not in your life, we need to understand that the Lord will not bring about an end to our physical problems until our spiritual ones are dealt with. God has a purpose for allowing you to suffer innocently and that purpose is of a spiritual nature. You may not have a huge spiritual issue that needs resolving. You may just simply be the victim of our cruel world. Whichever category you fall into, you need to take courage from the fact that God can and will bring about a glorious spiritual purpose through your suffering. You may not be getting a physical miracle from the Lord, but I guarantee that you will get a spiritual one. It may look hopeless and it may look like the Lord has forgotten you and failed you miserably. It may feel like you are the first person in the history of mankind that the great God of the universe has failed. This may be how it looks and feels, but I can assure you that this is not how it is. Jesus keeps His word and He came through for the disciples. All that He promised came to fruition and His promises proved to be amazing and purposeful.

To Those Who Suffer: Understanding God’s Purpose and Pathway through Pain by Sean Nolan
VMI Publishers/ISBN: 978-1-935265-22-1/208 pages/softcover/$14.99

Sean Nolan is also available for speaking opportunities while in the US.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pray Big

Title: PRAY BIG: The Power of Pinpoint Prayers
Author: Will Davis, Jr.
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3204-2
Genre: Inspirational/prayer

God, please bless Tom, and be with Bill today, and…

Are we praying weak, vague prayers? Saying things like “Just be with Bob” or “Bless Janet in her time of need”? God wants us to be specific in our prayers, stating what Bob or Janet need.

The author also recommends not just settling asking just once. Yes, God knows, but Mr. Davis recommends putting the request before God often. He also recommends quoting the Bible back to God, reminding Him of His promises.

God wants us to be bold and direct in our prayers, praying what Mr. Davis calls Big, bold, audacious prayers, asking God specifically for what we need. And he shows us through the Lord’s prayer how Jesus recommended that we ask specifically.

If you are a surface prayer, and looking for a more powerful, deeper, more fulfilling prayer life, then PRAY BIG is a book you need to pick up. This book will help you as you learn to ask for big miracles, how to call on God with focus and confidence, whether you are praying for yourself or for other people.

Each chapter concludes with questions for you to consider, or for use with small group discussions. There is no room to write your thoughts or answers, so you will want to keep a notebook and pen close by for making notes while studying this book. 100 pinpoint prayers from the Psalms are included at the end of the book. Highly recommended. $12.99. 199 pages.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Telling

Author: Beverly Lewis
Publisher: Bethany House
May 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0573-6
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Grace Byler and her English friend, Heather, have left Grace’s Amish community to seek for Grace’s run-away mother. The brethren are discussing shunning Lettie Byler if she isn’t home within a week. Grace and Heather do a lot of talking on the long car trip, getting to know each other better, but the arrival in Ohio doesn’t help them find Lettie at all. Instead, they discover she’s left, gone to an undisclosed location.

Lettie is continuing her private search, looking for information about the daughter she’s given up twenty-four years ago. But the search doesn’t seem to be panning out. Finally she finds the doctor who handed the adoption, and he helps her fill out the paperwork to access court records.

Heather is facing a time in a clinic designed to help cancer patients find a healthier, more natural way of living. But she also has a thesis to write. In the mean time, she enjoys getting to know more about Grace and the Amish community she temporarily lives in.

THE TELLING is the third book in Ms. Lewis’ Seasons of Grace series. I recommend reading the other books in this series first as this book does not stand alone. I couldn’t wait to read this book and was so excited to get this book from Bethany House to review. I just love Ms. Lewis’ books, no one can write Amish fiction like she does.

Grace, Lettie, Heather, and all the other main point of view characters in this book are all realistically developed, and almost real. I couldn’t wait to see where Grace’s friendship with Amish boy Yonnie would lead, to see Lettie’s relationship with Judah restored, and to find Heather healthy… The book ended the way that I pretty much figured it would, no surprises there, but it was an excellent read. I hate to see this series come to an end. But I am looking forward to Ms. Lewis’ new series coming in September! Don’t miss THE TELLING. This is a great read. $14.99. 334 pages.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Tailor-Made Bride

Author: Karen Witemeyer
Publisher: Bethany House
June 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0755-6
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Hannah Richards used to work as a dress maker to the rich, but thanks to one kind woman, now she owns her own dress shop. She purchased her fabrics and notions and moved to the town, ready to sew for the community.

Jericho (J.T.) Tucker owns the livery in town and he hates fashion, due to his mother who lived for new clothes and ended up abandoning him and his younger sister to go with a richer man than his pa. He is also upset because he wanted to buy the building that Hannah owns free and clear. So he is openly hostile when Hannah hires him to take her belongings over to her new business.

Hannah is riled by J.T.’s behavior, but then he responds kindly when she needs help, reaching out in unexpected ways. Torn between opinions, Hannah wonders who the real J.T. is. And she wonders how to bridge the gap between them?

A TAILOR-MADE BRIDE, at first glance, seems to be your typical historical romance. I was very happy to see that this one had a fun twist that kept my interest and the pages turning.

Hannah is a realistic heroine, smart and spunky, and ready to take the world by storm. J.T. by contrast is happy and settled, though he doesn’t hesitate to let his grumpy side show to the woman he wants to dislike. If you are looking for a different sort of historical, one that is funny and touching, then don’t miss A TAILOR-MADE BRIDE. It is a great read. $14.99. 348 pages.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sixteen Brides

Author: Stephanie Grace Whitson
Publisher: Bethany House
April 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0513-2
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Sixteen women, widowed by the war, are enticed by the promises of free land in the Nebraska territory. All they have to do is live on the land for five years. Since they all have things they want to escape, they catch the train with the land agent, and go west. But then they discover that all is not as it seemed. The land agent had collected money from men and promised that these war widows would be their brides.

Seven of these women had no intentions of being anyone’s bride. They’d come west for the land. And they were determined to make it work. With Ella’s planning, they devised a plan where they could all stay together and yet form four different homesteads.

There these seven women make their stakes on the land and on the hearts of the town. As they struggle to survive in an unforgiving land, will they find more than what they came for?

SIXTEEN BRIDES is by far the best historical I’ve read by Ms. Whitson. I totally loved this story, the seemingly seamless way the points of view of five women and two men were woven into it and excitement that lit the pages.

All of these characters were touched by death, yet the deaths were not portrayed in the pages of the book. The characters were ready to move on, to battle the demons that tormented them, and to start making changes in their lives. I really enjoyed this book, and if you are looking for a good historical, then you won’t want to miss SIXTEEN BRIDES. It is a wonderful read. $14.99. 348 pages.

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