Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Camera Never Lies

Title: The Camera Never Lies
Author: Elizabeth Goddard
Publisher: Barbour Books
December 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60260-627-2
Genre: Inspirational/cozy mystery

Polly Perkins has gone to a small town on the Oregon coast to be with her best friend, Rene when she marries. But Polly has no sooner arrived than her mother does, all upset due to a scam where someone stole over $50,000 from her. Polly thinks her mother is blowing it all out of proportion, until an acquaintance from Polly’s past is found dead—and Polly’s mother had been overheard threatening to kill him.

Polly was supposed to be there to take photos of her friend’s wedding, but instead she finds herself taking shots of the victim, the maid, the gawkers, and everyone else. She firmly believes the camera never lies, but will her pictures help her find the murderer? Or will the murderer find her, first?

THE CAMERA NEVER LIES is one of the final few cozy mysteries that Barbour books published. I enjoyed most of the light-hearted mysteries in this collection, but unfortunately, this wasn’t one of them. This book did have the usual array of colorful characters, including Polly’s own mother, but most of the story came across flat.

I did figure out who the victim was before he was killed, and I started gathering my clues for the killer as soon as possible. And I had my suspicions early on. If you are looking for a cozy mystery, then THE CAMERA NEVER LIES might be something you’d like. $10.99. 249 pages.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Branded: Sharing Jesus with a Consumer Culture

Title: BRANDED: Sharing Jesus with a Consumer Culture
Author: Tim Sinclair
Publisher: Kregel Publications
May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8254-3894-3
Genre: Inspirational/Evangelism

Marketing…It’s just not a word that most people think of in terms of Jesus. Yet, Tim Sinclair, a professional marketer, maintains that marketing is actually what evangelism is.

We put “Jesus Saves” bumper stickers on the back of our cars, yet we drive 80 miles per hour and are rude to other drivers. We wear WWJD bracelets, yet we lie, sport bad attitudes, and talk badly. We go to church on Sunday, yet Saturday night we’re the beer drinking womanizer at the local bar. No wonder people have stopped listening! We say we’re a Christian, and they see us living like everyone else all the time. Except for an hour on a Sunday.

Tim Sinclair says that most Christians have a problem with –ing. We are good at say-ing, but bad at act-ing. He has a point. There is that old adage, do what I say, not what I do. Remember that one? It is time we start practicing what we preach. Putting our words into action. And living what we say we believe.

BRANDED: Sharing Jesus with a Consumer World is a well thought out book that will bring you to your knees with conviction one minute and have you laughing the next. If you are trying to evangelize a lost and dying world, then you need to pick up BRANDED and read it for yourself. It will give you something to think about, and something to do about it. Discussion questions for each chapter are included at the end of the book. $11.99. 144 pages.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Author: Diana Wallis Taylor
Publisher: Revell
June 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3465-7
Genre: Inspirational/biblical fiction

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are familiar Bible characters that we are familiar with. This story is centered around Martha, the responsible sister.

According to the author, Martha’s mother died when she younger and her father wasn’t healthy. Martha was responsible for looking after her sister and brother. Mary was a dreamer, and Lazarus managed the family farm. Martha’s dad did try to marry her off, but her intended match was in love with another and made an offer for her. Then Martha decided she’d never marry.

When returning from a trip to Jerusalem, Martha meets a Roman soldier who is kind to her and her father. She starts secretly meeting with him, much to her family’s disapproval. About that time the sisters and brother become acquainted with Jesus, and involved in the uncertainty of life involved with personally knowing the Lord, and hearing all the political unrest He’s causing. Will Martha marry her Roman soldier? Or will Jesus have someone else in mind for her? Will Martha even wed at all?

I am not a huge fan of biblical fiction. Most of it is so far off of the story it’s based from that it’s not even funny. But MARTHA, wow, I was impressed. Now I’m not real sure how historically accurate some of the events were—did Mary and Martha and Lazarus really meet Jesus for the first time when He was throwing the money changers out of the temple? I don’t know. There are several other things in the book that can’t be proved or disproved biblically.

Discounting the things that may or may not be true, this was a totally great book. I read it from start to finish in about three hours while I sat in the dentist office waiting on a couple family members. I usually drag my way through biblical fiction, so this is huge. If this isn’t your favorite genre, you might want to reconsider MARTHA. If it is your favorite genre, this is a great book. $14.99. 250 pages.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Forever After

Author: Deborah Raney
Publisher: Howard Books
June 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4165-9993-7
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

A fire killed his best friend and his lifelong dream of being a firefighter. The same fire killed her husband and hopes for a family. Can new dreams replace old?

Lucas Vermontez has always wanted to be a firefighter. But one horrific fire ruined everything, leaving him disabled, and taking his best friend as well as his father in one terrible sweep. Now, Lucas’ mother is remarrying and Lucas is becoming friends with a woman he’s long wanted—his best friend’s widow.

Jenna Morgan never really loved Zach, but she’s tried to pretend that she did. Unfortunately, when he died, she could no longer afford her home or the bills, and she didn’t even last twelve hours living with her in-laws before they basically kicked her out. Now Jenna is homeless, sponging off friends, and looking for a job.

Can Jenna and Lucas forget the painful past and discover new reasons to live?

FOREVER AFTER is the second in Ms. Raney’s A Hanover Falls series. I enjoyed getting to know Lucas and Jenna better (they were secondary characters in Almost Forever) and getting reconnected with Bryn and other characters that appeared in the first book.

Jenna is a poor girl who always wanted to be rich, one who thought she made it when she married into a wealthy family, and now thrust back into the real world where the rest of us live. Lucas is struggling to get his life back together after a fire took away everything he held dear. I cheered for these characters to find new hope, new life, and new love. Discussion questions are included at the end. An excerpt from the next book in the series After All is included at the end of the book. $14.99. 393 pages.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Blackberry Bush

Author: David Housholder
Publisher: Summerside Press
June 2011
ISBN: 978-1-6093-6116-7
Genre: fiction/general

In 1989, on the same day the Berlin Wall began to be knocked down, two babies were born, at the exact same time, but due to time zones, different times were recorded. One was a boy, named Josh, who lived in California. The other was a girl, named Kati, who lived in Europe.

THE BLACKBERRY BUSH is kind of a difficult book to review. I read the story, parts of it made me sad enough to cry. Parts of it made me mad. And parts of it made me cry because it was so sweet.

The story is all over the place in time. Going from 1989 to 1999 to 1935, to 2001… etc. but once you start reading you get engaged—and you learn that even though these babies born in different continents are born at the same time on the same day in the same year, they have something else in common. Something in history that will tie them together—and something in the future.

I was a bit afraid to start this book when I picked it up and saw how it jumped all over the place in time, but it is actually very good and not confusing at all. It’s just very difficult to write a review on without giving anything away. $14.99. 204 pages.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Praying for Your Future Husband

Authors: Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer
Publisher: Multnomah
May 2011
ISBN: 978-1-60142-348-1
Genre: Nonfiction/relationships/single living

Have you ever thought about praying for your future husband? Will it make a difference? There’s only one way to find out.

Most of us dream about our future husbands from the time we’re small. We wonder who he’ll be, what he’ll be like, and how fun it’ll be to be the bride. We wonder when and where we’ll meet him. But not too often to we think to pray for him.

Authors Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer both share their personal stories—the right decisions and the oh, so very wrong ones that they’ve made to show us how to pray for our future husbands. Topics such as:
Praying for his heart, praying for trust, praying for understanding, praying for intimacy are just some of the things mentioned to pray for.

Included in each section are Bible verses, prayers and practical applications along with true stories from not only Robin and Tricia, but also from other women who prayed for a husband and showing how God answered in a remarkable way.

God has a wonderful romance prepared for you—and prayer is the key to unlocking that love story—both with your husband, and with God.

This book is absolutely wonderful, heart-stirring, and thought-provoking. I’m giving my copy to my fifteen year old daughter to read and work through. I remember a Sunday school teacher when I was a young girl telling her story about praying for her husband during the midst of World War II and how she didn’t even know who she was then. That story always stayed with me and I started praying for my future husband then. But I never thought of all these different ways to pray for him. This is an excellent resource and a must-have for any mom of teenage (or young adult) girls. $13.99. 207 pages.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Over the Edge

Author: Brandilyn Collins
Publisher: Broadman & Homan
May 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4336-7162-3
Genre: Religion/Christian/Suspense
Reviewed by: Steve Hilton

What if you had a deadly disease, and no one believed you? Janessa McNeil’s husband, Brock, had crafted a medical career touting the simplicity and vulnerability of Lyme disease, a tick-born disease that is more sinister and deceptive than anyone has come to realize. Except for Stalking Man.

Stalking Man knows all about Lyme disease. His wife died from it, something the medical experts like Brock McNeil emphatically denied as being possible. His wife also had chronic Lyme disease, which the medical community, again, declared was impossible. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Stalking Man is very desperate. He remembered his wife’s final words: “Promise me you’ll change it for others.” Stalking Man promised; and he was a man of his word.

What better way to make his case than to infect Dr. McNeil’s wife with the disease, and promise to do the same to his daughter? However, the trap he’d carefully set required a caring, thoughtful, dedicated husband who would do anything for his wife. He hadn’t counted on a two-timing, low-down skunk of a man who cared more for his reputation than he did his wife, and was absolutely convinced that she was faking her illness in order to try to save an already-failing marriage.

For Janessa, each day is a monumental challenge merely to exist. Her strength is failing, her daughter is staying with her father and his mistress, and Stalking Man has lost whatever leverage he might have had in the first place.

The author, Brandilyn Collins, shares (through her characters) her personal experiences as a victim of Lyme disease. The details and descriptions of the disease and the victims are all too true, and one cannot help but grow to love and respect the characters in the book. One even develops an understanding of Stalking Man, and what he is trying to accomplish through his twisted schemes. OVER THE EDGE ought to have a disclaimer on the title page: “Warning. This book is not for the faint of heart.” Another great read by Brandilyn Collins. 328 pages. $14.99.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Girl in the Gatehouse

Author: Julie Klassen
Bethany House
January 2011
ISBN: 978-0764207082
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Mariah Aubrey has been relocated to an aunt’s abandoned gatehouse. Banished from her home after a brush with scandal threatens her family’s social standing, Mariah is forced to find a new life for herself. With only her old nanny as a servant, Mariah is forced to do some household chores herself, but she doesn’t understand why it is that her aunt seems to want nothing to do with her, and even forbid her to call her Aunt Fran, but instead by her legal last name.

Captain Matthew Bryant has returned a wealthy man. After purchasing an estate from a cash-poor man, Matthew sets out to show a wealthy socialite what a huge mistake she made when she chose another. But instead, Matthew discovers a treasure living in an old gatehouse on the property.

Intrigued by its occupant, Matthew sets out to learn all he can about Mariah. Instead the more he learns the more he realizes he must distance himself. It would ruin all his well laid plans to be associated with an outcast…

THE GIRL IN THE GATEHOUSE is reminisce of Jane Eyre’s books. A regency romance, some of the scenes seemed to be almost direct quotes. I didn’t compare, but they sounded very familiar.

Ms. Klassen is a talented writer, and I enjoyed the story, especially the attraction between Matthew and Mariah. I was also intrigued enough in the beginning, when it started a bit slow, to find out why Mariah was being sent away. I had to keep reading until that was revealed—and by then I was hooked. 400 pages. $14.99

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Amish Prayers

Author: Beverly Lewis
Publisher: Bethany House
April 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0882-9
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/prayer

AMISH PRAYERS is a selection of prayers from the German Prayer Book, Die Ernsthafte Christenpflicht, available in English for our ease in reading—and praying—along with these heartfelt prayers.

The prayers are translated from the original German, with an introduction by Beverly Lewis. She also pairs each prayer with a Scripture passage. Accentuated by beautifully done black and white drawings of the Amish, this will become a book that you will turn to as part of your daily devotions.

Amish children often have to memorize some of the prayers during their growing up years, and they offer insight into the rich spiritual foundations of the Plain people.

I enjoyed reading these book of prayers, and found them to be a wonderful addition to my daily devotions. The prayers are divided up by sections, such as prayers for day’s beginning, prayers for comfort, prayers of submission, and others.

AMISH PRAYERS is a one-of-a-kind collection of inspiring prayers which will help you draw closer to God. $14.99 hardcover. 142 pages.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gems of Wisdom

Title: GEMS OF WISDOM: For a Treasure Filled Life
Author: Angela Breidenbach
Publisher: Journey Press
May 2011
ISBN: 978-1936438044
Genre: Nonfiction/Christian life

GEMS OF WISDOM is a treasure book that will help us look for the beautiful stones God created as modern-day memory aids to anchor wisdom in our hearts and minds. Set up as a devotional-style the chapters start with a memory verse, then go into a personal and true story from the hearts of either the author or others.

After the personal stories, readers will find:

Pirates: fiction portrayals of cutthroat negative attitudes, situations, and feelings that get in the way of healthy living (based on real historical pirates)

Putting it all together: ties the loose ends together so it’s easy to understand and easy to practice.

Polishing points: real-life options to solve dilemmas and suggestions on putting them into practice.

Gemstones: Gems of wisdom rewarded as new concepts learned.

Definitions: a little more perspective on some words and ideas

Tips: gem chips that had worked for others

There is a GEMS OF WISDOM companion guide included at the end of the book, with space to include your answers to t he questions included in each chapter.

If you are looking for a new book, then GEMS OF WISDOM is a book that will take you beyond the five minutes of reading—this will take you to the heart and soul of yourself as you seek God’s wisdom. $14.99. 232 pages.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Reluctant Queen

Author: Joan Wolf
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
June 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59554-876-4
Genre: Inspirational/biblical fiction

Esther was orphaned as a young girl, and raised by her Uncle Mordecai. Uncle Mordecia worked for the palace as a treasurer and was privy to some of the palace gossip, so he knew some news, and shared it with Esther, before it was common knowledge.

Esther was planning on marrying another man, but instead was chosen to be one of the maidens to “audition” to be the new queen. And the rest is history. But, does Esther end up falling in love with the king? What will it take for her to get used to the new life that was forced upon her?

Those of us who grew up with the Bible story of Esther in Sunday school, learned it as a tale of courage. A young Jewish girl, chosen against all odds, to marry the King of Persia. A girl who dared to cross the advice of Haman, and ended up saving the Jews. A RELUCTANT QUEEN is that story, but written as a love story.

I found many scriptural errors in this book, the biggest of which is that this author says that Xerxes and Ahasuerus were brothers, when they were actually different names for the same man. The story is written very well, with Esther and her friends acting like typical “boy crazy,” gossipy young girls about fifteen years of age. The love scenes were different than any I’ve seen in other Christian fiction, but they were still tastefully done. If you like biblical fiction then A RELUCTANT QUEEN is a book to consider. Totally different than any other fictional recounting of Queen Esther than I’ve ever read. The author pages were interesting to read. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $15.99. 378 pages.


About the book: A Reluctant Queen

An inspiring re-imagining of the tale of Esther, a young Jewish woman thrust from a life of obscurity into a life of power, wealth, intrigue . . . and tender love.

See the story of Esther in an entirely new way-with all the political intrigue and tension you remember, but told as a passionate and tender love story between a young man and woman. Misunderstood by many, King Xerxes was a powerful but lonely man. Esther's beauty caught the eye of the young king, but it was her spirit that captured his heart.

Imagine anew the story of Esther, one of our faith's great heroines, destined to play a key role in the history of Christianity.

About Joan: Joan Wolf was born in New York City but has lived most of her adult life with her husband in Connecticut , where she raised two children and countless numbers of assorted animals. Joan is the author of numerous historical novels including The Road to Avalon which Publishers Weekly lauded as “historical fiction at its finest.”

For more about Joan and her other books, please

Link to buy the book:

About the giveaway and party:

To celebrate Joan Wolf’s debut Christian Fiction title, A Reluctant Queen, Joan and her publisher, Thomas Nelson, have teamed up to give away A Reluctant Queen prize package worth over $150!

One grand prize winner will receive:
* A brand new Latest Generation KINDLE with Wi-Fi and Pearl Screen
* A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf (for KINDLE)

To enter, just click the icon on the sidebar. But, hurry, the contest ends on June 20th. Winner will be announced on June 21st during Joan’s A Reluctant Queen Book Club Party on Facebook! Hope to see you there – bring your friends!

Join the fun on June 21st!

Joan will be wrapping up the blog tour and Kindle giveaway promotion during her A Reluctant Queen FACEBOOK party on her FB author page. During the party she'll announce the winner of the Kindle, host a book chat discussion, test your trivia skills (Is Esther's story in A Reluctant Queen fact or fiction?), and more. Don't miss this chance to meet the author and make some new friends!

Blog tour schedule:

SEATTLE - The story of Queen Esther is full of romance, suspense, and danger. A Reluctant Queen, The Love Story of Queen Esther (Thomas Nelson, June, 14 2011, ISBN: 1595548769, $15.99) is a fresh account of the journey of biblical heroine Esther from common orphan to queen of Persia. Master story-teller Joan Wolf sees Esther and King Ahasuerus as a young couple on a difficult road together: Esther is wracked with guilt for lying to her husband about her heritage, and the king, despite his vast kingdom, is a lonely man. Haman proves to be a cunning antagonist, seducing the king into trusting him implicitly, while threatening the existence of the king's love, Esther, and her people. The fate of the Jews is in Esther's hands-but her own life is at risk no matter her decision.

Author Joan Wolf says, "A Reluctant Queen is a fresh look at the story of Esther, the book in the Bible that for me has always held the seeds of a deeply moving love story."

More than a fairy tale, the moral imperatives of A Reluctant Queen go far beyond the Brothers Grimm and turns Esther into one of the great heroes of the Old Testament. A beautiful heroine, an exciting and complex hero, an evil villain, a stirring love story - the story of Esther has it all, and Wolf brings it vividly to life. It's the story of a love that triumphs over hate because a woman stands up for her God, becoming a courageous hero to her people throughout the ages.

More about A Reluctant Queen:

You know the Bible story. Now discover the love story.

Experience the intimate, profoundly stirring story of Esther, a simple Jewish girl, and the Great King of Persia, who finds in her the companion of his soul.

In this meticulously researched novel, you'll journey into the mind and heart of Esther. Experience her first frightened days in the king's harem and her gradual awakening love, her anguished realization that she is God's chosen instrument, and her courageous defiance of Persian law that ultimately saved her people from destruction.

What has for been a powerful historical story for thousands of years will come alive when seen through fresh eyes as a tender love story. Be immersed in the richness of the culture, be thrilled with the political and personal intrigues, and be inspired by the incredible act of faith of one young woman-chosen by God "for such a time as this."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Double Take

Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 978-0-8007-1964-7
Genre: Inspirational/teen fiction

Anna Fisher doesn’t want to go to a different Amish community and take care of her pregnant Aunt Rachel. She believes Aunt Rachel is lazy, and she doesn’t want the responsibility that she’d have there. But she doesn’t have a choice.

Madison Van Buren is one of the rich socialites in New York. But she is being pulled in too many directions. Should she go to Italy, Boston, on va-ca with her best friend, or to Nantucket with her boyfriend? What Madison decides to do is ditch them all and drive to the country.

Madison and Anna meet and are surprised at how similar they look. And Madison, a spoiled rich girl decides she wants to be Amish for a week. Anna would really love to go to New York to look for her missing boyfriend… and with Madison doing all the planning, they switch places… Can a spoiled rich girl really survive on an Amish farm—and not have the family suspicious? And can an Amish girl live in New York, find her old boyfriend, and not have the household maid suspicious?

What do you do when your life is not all its cracked up to be? Get a new one.

I wasn’t sure what to think of this book at first. It seemed kind of a bit contrived when Madison and Anna met, and switched places, but once they were both in place in their new environments the story got interesting fast. I couldn’t wait to see how things would work out. Both Madison and Anna became real, and I even fell in love with Aunt Rachel, Lucinda, and Malachi.
I can see how the book extends, and I really love that. This is a great book for teens. $9.99. 273 pages.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Foolish Heart

Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Tyndale Fiction
April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4143-3482-0
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary romance

Isadora Presley is the host of My Foolish Heart, a talk radio show dedicated to help the lovelorn find love. Ever since her parents had an accident, one that killed her mother, and left her dad a virtual vegetable, Issy has kept to her home, afraid to even leave her yard. Recently, Issy has ventured out enough to run around the block, or across the street to the library, but even going to the grocery store causes Issy to have a panic attack.

Caleb Knight is an injured war hero. He lost his leg, and very nearly his life, when a bomb exploded in Iraq. Now, he is hoping to get a job as the football coach in Deep Haven. He’s already been hired on as a teacher, but the board is undecided between Caleb and another man, their former star quarterback, Seb, to fill the job as coach. To help make a decision, the board decides to have Seb and Caleb have a little competition.

Issy and Caleb didn’t exactly get off on the right foot. Issy is angry that he is parking on her pansies, and not mowing his lawn, and it’s even worse when a dog she believes is his breaks her glass door. Caleb wants to win her friendship, so he turns to Miss Foolish Heart to help him. Can a woman who never had a date really help the boy next door find love?

MY FOOLISH HEART is a new book in Ms. Warren’s Deep Haven series, but it easily stands alone. Previous characters do make appearances in this book though. I easily fell in love with both Issy and Caleb, and wanted them both to get past their disabilities, their baggage, and their fears and find freedom in living their lives the way God intended, in addition to finding love.

Ms. Warren is a stellar writer who knows how to bring characters to life, to let you feel their pain, agony, hopes, and desires. I highly recommend MY FOOLISH HEART or any of Ms. Warren’s books. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. 361 pages.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Money Secrets of the Amish

Author: Lorilee Craker
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
June 2011
ISBN: 978-1-5955-5341-6
Genre: Inspirational/business and economics/personal finance

Take one thoroughly modern gal with a recessionary income problem, mix with the practices of a culture that has proven to be recession-proof, and what have you got?

A financial planner in a straw hat. (from the back cover)

MONEY SECRETS OF THE AMISH is written in the same tongue-in-cheek attitude as the above. Ms. Craker has interviewed vast amounts of Amish, as well as bankers, etc. and discovered that if you take away the straw hat and the beard then the advice that Dave Ramsey gave is spot-on.

> If you want something, save for it. Don’t go into debt for it.
> Deny yourself (and your children) things, don’t buy everything you want.
> Shop thrift stores and consignment shops. Used is as good as new.
> Shop at home first—cook out of your pantry and your freezer and don’t eat out so much
and much more.

I enjoyed reading through MONEY SECRETS OF THE AMISH because it was fun to read the idioms and proverbs of the Amish, to read more about this fascinating culture (such as the way they refer to each other, in a community full of dozens with the same names) and Ms. Craker’s sarcastic thoughts mixed in. It made for a fun and entertaining read.

I really can’t say I learned anything though. My grandparents went through the depression. My parents were taught to hang on to everything. And I have been raised the same way. It does come in handy, as long as you remember where it was put… Financially, I know I need to save more, and I should. I can’t afford the $80 a month she mentioned in the book, but maybe I could start smaller. Give up the iced lattes I’m addicted to and put that money in the bank instead. Ms. Craker went through the math to figure out how much she saved giving up Starbucks – and it does add up. Over $700 a year in her case. And that $700 could go for something you need. Or for a vacation.

If you want a basic financial class, then MONEY SECRETS OF THE AMISH is a book to read. It is entertaining, packed with truth, and would do anyone well to read through, if only as a refresher course of core values. $15.99. 224 pages.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Maid to Match

Author: Deeanne Gist
Publisher: Bethany House
June 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0408-1
Genre: Inspirational/historical romance

Tillie Reese is dazzled from the day she arrives at the Biltmore. She is now the head parlor maid, and she has aspirations of becoming the ladies maid. But then, the Vanderbilts hire Mack Danvers, a mountain man. Mainly because Mack’s twin brother, Evan is employed there and Mrs. Vanderbilts is thinking of the handsome twin brothers as being footmen. But there’s a problem.

Mack is a rough mountain man, used to talking with his fists and not his mouth. and turning him loose in an opulent mansion is a cause for disaster—for the crystal goblets and for Tillie. Especially when Tillie is chosen to teach Mack proper servant etiquette.

The stakes are raised even higher when a scandal at the orphanage involves Mack—and Tillie, by association. And now they could both lose their jobs—their aspirations—and their hearts.

MAID TO MATCH is a book I wanted to read for a long time and I’m so glad it finally wandered across my path. I thoroughly enjoyed this romantic tale and learning a bit about the life of the extremely rich and famous, though to be honest, some of the details grossed me out. I don’t think I would have lasted one day as a ladies maid so I have to hand it to Tillie that she was willing to try—and wanted to succeed!

The romance was every bit as good as what I came to expect from Ms. Gist’s writing, and she had me hooked from the moment the heroine and hero met and noticed each other. If you are looking for a good historical romance, rich with historical detail, then you’ll want to read MAID TO MATCH. More history about that time period is included in the author’s notes at the end of the book. $14.99. 359 pages.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

God and Stephen Hawking

Author: John C. Lennox
Publisher: Lion Hudson
September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7459-5549-0
Genre: Nonfiction/science/God

In response to Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design, John C. Lennox says, “It is a grandiose claim to have banished God. With such a lot at stake we surely need to ask Hawking to produce evidence to establish his claim. Do his arguments really stand up to close scrutiny? I think we have a right to know.”

Hawking has two sets of questions that he listed in the first chapter of his book that Lennox will answer in this book, in several different chapters:

> God or the laws of nature?
> God or the multiverse?
> Whose design is it anyway?
> Science and rationality?

Hawking claims that the laws of physics themselves brought the universe into being, rather than God. Lennox, an Oxford and mathematician as well as author of God’s Undertaker, takes a closer look at Hawking’s logic.

In layman’s terms, Lennox guides us through the key points of Hawking’s arguments and demonstrates that far from disproving a Creator God, they make his existence seem all the more probable.

Personally, I share the view of Allan Sandage, who is widely regarded as the father of modern astronomy. Sandage says, “I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the evidence for the miracle of existence—why there is something rather than nothing.” And I respond, “In the beginning, God created…”

Having never questioned the biblical creation account, I find it curious that so many try to disprove God. Why is the first book in the Bible under such attack? Okay, I know why. And I’m glad that there are men out there like Lennox who are willing to take the time to explain why Hawking’s is wrong so those who do question Genesis 1:1 will have the answers. $5.95. 96 pages.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chasing Sunsets

Author: Eva Marie Everson
Publisher: Revell
June 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3436-7
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Kimberly Tucker’s ex-husband, Charlie, has just petitioned the courts for an extra week of visitation time with his sons. Kimberly is furious, he doesn’t spend the time with the boys anyway, he’s hanging out with other women. But Charlie lies to the judge, and the extra week of visitation is awarded to him.

At a loss what to do with her time, since, as a school teacher she’s out of work for the summer, Kimberly’s dad decides she needs to go to their vacation home in Cedar Key, Florida. Allegedly, it is to hire a new housekeeper. Kimberly’s plan is to get in, get the job done, and get out, so she’ll at least be in the same city as her sons.

But things don’t exactly work out that way. Housekeepers aren’t that easy to come by. And while Kimberly is in Cedar Key, she must face the past, the present, and the future… and possibly find a second chance at love.

Oh, my word. CHASING SUNSETS is your classic example of not judging a book by its cover. I read the back cover copy; decided this was a facing-your-demons type of women’s fiction, a divorced woman trying to find a new start. But this is so much more. A teenage romance grown up, family issues, and new friends make this a three dimensional story that I absolutely couldn’t put down. I fell in love with Kimberly and I had to keep reading until the end… but speaking of the ending, that kind of confused me. I’m not sure why the author chose to end the book the way she did** (I’m still thinking about that) but for whatever reason, this book was stellar. 5 stars. $14.99. 373 pages.

** the book didn't end where I thought it did. The publisher told me that the last chapter was actually the first chapter of Ms. Everson's next book, it just wasn't marked as such in the finished book.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Spring for Susannah -- giveaway -- and an interview with Catherine Richmond

Author: Catherine Richmond
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
June 14, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59554-924-2
Genre: Inspirational/historical

Susannah is traveling to the Dakota territories as a mail order bride. The pastor back in Detroit married her to his brother, Jesse, by proxy, so they were married when she arrived, but Jesse isn’t satisfied with that, so they repeat the vows on the way back to his homestead. While Susannah wasn’t sure what to expect, a talkative man and a soddy wasn’t what she had in mind.

Jesse is a loving and patient man, and he appreciates all the work Susannah is willing to do around his homestead—including veterinarian work on his animals. But he is anxious for his rights as a married man, and he wants Susannah to talk to him. But she is cowering and afraid.

What will it take for Jesse and Susannah to connect? Will their marriage ever be what Jesse dreams? Will Susannah rediscover the God she abandoned?

SPRING FOR SUSANNAH is the debut novel by Catherine Richmond. I loved the little prayer blurbs by Jesse at the beginning of each chapter, but he didn’t have much in the way of point of view in the book until nearer the end.

The story is good, well written, and with some surprising twists that kept it from being your run-of-the-mill mail-order bride story. My only complaints are that there is next to zero sexual tension between the couple (even though they have sex), and the story doesn’t come alive at all. It’s flat, and left me unable to fully connect with the characters. The story was good. It had the potential of being outstanding. Discussion questions are included. 4 stars. $15.99. 348 pages.


About the book: Booklist says, "Inspired by [folk] lyrics, Richmond arrives on the inspirational fiction scene with a moving debut novel. Readers will be filled with hope that Susannah will learn the true meaning of love. Highly recommended where inspiring, romantic historical fiction is in demand."

Hundreds of miles from home, Susannah faces an uncertain future as a mail-order bride on the untamed Dakota prairie.

When her parents die suddenly, and no suitors call, Susannah resigns herself to the only option available: becoming a mail-order bride. Agreeing to marry her pastor's brother, Jesse, Susannah leaves the only home she's ever known for the untamed frontier of the Dakota Territory .

Her new husband is more loving and patient with her than she believes she deserves. Still, there is also a wildness to him that mirrors the wilderness surrounding them. And Susannah finds herself constantly on edge. But Jesse's confidence in her-and his faith in God's perfect plan-slowly begin to chip away at the wall she hides behind.

When she miscarries in the brutal Dakota winter, Susannah's fledgling faith in herself and in God begins to crumble. Still, Jesse's love is unwavering. Just when it seems like winter will never end, Susannah finally sees the first tentative evidence of spring. And with it, the realization that more than the landscape has changed.

She looks to the future with a renewed heart. Yet in her wildest dreams, she couldn't predict all that awaits her.

About Catherine: Catherine Richmond was focused on her career as an occupational therapist till a special song planted a story idea in her mind. That idea would ultimately become Spring for Susannah, her first novel. She is also a founder and moderator of Nebraska Novelist critique group and lives in Nebraska with her husband.

For more about Catherine, please visit

Link to buy the book:

About the giveaway and party: To celebrate her debut novel, Catherine and her publisher, Thomas Nelson, have teamed up to give away a Spring For Susannah Prize Package worth over $150!

One grand prize winner will receive:

* A brand new Latest Generation KINDLE with Wi-Fi and Pearl Screen
* Spring for Susannah by Catherine Richmond (for KINDLE)

To enter just click the icon on the sidebar and then tell your friends! But hurry, giveaway ends on June 27th. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 28th at 5 PM (6PM MST, 7PM CST, & 8PM EST) during Catherine's Spring for Susannah Book Club Party on Facebook! Catherine is rustling up some fun for the party - she'll be chatting about the story behind her novel, hosting a book club chat, testing your mail-order bride trivia skills, and giving away some GREAT prizes! Don't miss the fun and tell your friends!

Blog tour schedule: (please include the link to the blog tour post in your review:


Interview with Catherine:

Laura, thanks for having me on your blog - what an honor!

Why do you write the kind of books you do?

I came to writing on the scenic route. While raising my family and working as an occupational therapist, I heard a beautiful song about a mail order bride. I felt the wind blowing the prairie grass, smelled the hot sun on the railroad ties, and heard the train whistle. The whole story rolled out like a movie.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

The road to publication had a few detours. First, I had to learn to write! I'm blessed with a great critique group, Nebraska Novelists. The discipline of producing five pages a week, the honing of skills through critiquing, and the creativity of the other writers, help me strive toward continuous improvement. So my advice to new writers would be, move to Omaha and join us!

How do you choose your settings for each book?

The song mentioned North Dakota and a train, so that's where I started my research. The history is unique: what if you built a railroad and no one came? The Northern Pacific charged west from Fargo to Bismarck, then went bankrupt, plunging the country into the Panic of 1873. Immigration didn't start up again until the 1880s.

When historian Glenda Riley spoke at the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., I asked her why women became mail order brides. Her answer: men. The civil war, gold rushes, and various other "go west young man" lures had drained the East of men. Women of all ages, education, and economic strata, signed up to become mail order brides.

What three things about you would surprise readers?

Believing I didn't want to preach to the choir, I tried to sell this story to ABA publishers. But the faith element was too strong. I've been a Christian since I was fourteen; it's the only way life makes any sense. And how can you have a happy ending - a really happy ending - without Jesus?

When bad things happen - say a dead car battery or illness - my confidence is shaken and I'm quick to ask "Why me?" Susannah had a series of disasters, her parents' deaths and being attacked in her home. And she didn't have the resources, a loving home life and faith in God, needed to recover. And like Susannah, I love dogs!

How has being published changed your life?

The unexpected change since signing a contract is I'm no longer anonymous! I didn't realize this until ACFW '10. How exciting to be a Thomas Nelson author!

What are you reading right now?

I just finished reading Lorna Seilstad's A Great Catch. It was the perfect read as the heroine is also struggling with managing her time. Lorna's delightful sense of humor shines through each page. And I just started Rosslyn Elliott's Fairer than Morning. Rosslyn's expertise in the setting and history have me time-traveling to 1823.

What is your current work in progress?

I turned in my second novel, Relying on Sophia, last week. Set on the Ponca agency in 1876, it shows the events leading up to the landmark civil rights case where an Indian was declared a person. This story shows how God's people worked together to change history. Like Susannah, Sophia is looking for a life of significance, a way to make a difference in this world.

Tell us about the book.

With no prospects for marriage and her parents recently deceased, Susannah Underhill agrees to go west to the Dakota territory to marry her minister’s homesteading brother, Jesse. But Susannah is painfully shy, doesn’t see herself as worthy of love from either a husband or from God, and lives in constant fear that Jesse is going to ship her back to Detroit.
In spite of her petite size and the fact that Susannah doesn’t look like she could survive on the prairie, Jesse quickly discovers that his new wife is a greater blessing than he even hoped for. The years she spent as her father’s veterinary assistant allow her to save Jesse’s ox and twin calves and to help neighboring farmers with their animals.
But Susannah’s feelings of unworthiness are deeply rooted, and she can’t believe that Jesse’s praise—or the tenderness and love he shows—could possibly last. The thawing of her heart seems almost as distant as Spring in the midst of the winter blanketing the Dakota prairie.

What do you want readers to take away from the book?

I hope readers will find hope in Spring for Susannah. Drawing closer to God helps brings a fulfilling sense of purpose and peace, something we all need. Thinking about Susannah, makes me thank God for my ancestors - their hard work and perseverance, and for all the inventors who have made our lives so much more comfortable!

What one question would you like us to ask your readers? (this is the one that they answer to win what you’re giving away)

How long have you been married? Are you still making discoveries about your spouse? Can you imagine being a mail order bride?

Please enter your name and email (ex: JaneDoe(at)aol(dot)com) for a drawing

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pressing into Thin Places and interview with author

Author: Margaret Harrell Wills, EdD
Publisher: Brown Christian Press
April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-934812-99-0
Genre: Inspirational/Christian living

There are two lies that Christians commonly believe. One is that once they become a Christian that nothing bad will ever happen to them. The second is that if something bad does happen, then it is because you aren’t right with God.

They are both lies, because the rain falls on the just and the unjust. And Dr. Wills illustrates that point with poignant stories about the thin places, where life is not simple and we all need encouraging words and reasons to hang onto hope.

The book, in places, is deeply personal, and causes us to consider the thoughtful words that she wrote in the pages of this book. Dr. Wills draws from her own personal experiences to write the book, punctuated by poetry and Bible verses and quotations.

Dr. Wills answers questions like: How do we keep from falling into despair when pain and suffering weigh heavily upon us? and others.

If you are going through disappointment, wounded relationships and other tragedies, then PRESSING INTO THIN PLACES is a book you need to read. $16.95 hardcover. 208 pages.


Q&A With Margaret Harrell Wills, Ed.D
Author of Pressing into Thin Places
(Part 1)

Q: Your book is titled Pressing into Thin Places. What is a “thin place”?

In the Celtic tradition, a “thin place” is the place where the veil that separates heaven and earth is nearly transparent. It is a place where we experience a deep sense of God’s presence in our everyday world. A thin place is where, for a moment, the spiritual world and natural world intersect. It can be a sudden momentary awareness or profound unexplainable experience.

Q: Pressing into Thin Places is a collection of stories, experiences, and learned truths expressed through poetry and prose. How are you hoping that readers connect with the experiences shared and those “thin places”?

Through the book I wanted to share a few “thin place moments” and encourage readers to have eyes to see the gifts of thin places through their own experiences. There are moments when we do feel the divine breaking through into our world. We feel unified and connected with God. It is not an intellectual knowing; it is felt in the spirit. Every once in a while, God draws the curtain and lets us see. He gives us reminders that, though we are tethered to this earth, there is another realm of reality just as real. Every once in a while, He lifts the veil. He thins the space between heaven and earth. He lets us experience the “thin place.” Ultimately, He helps our faith.

Q: Pressing into Thin Places gives readers permission to be authentic and to acknowledge doubt, questions, even depression. Often we experience guilt over these sometimes realities, fearing they show a weak faith. But how can facing these circumstances or emotions actually strengthen faith and reveal the presence of God in our lives?

We all have ups and downs. We are emotional beings. This is part of life. But can we dial up different thoughts? Can we change our feelings? Many times, I believe we can. Not too long ago I came across a verse in 1 Samuel 30. The chapter talked about a time when David was defeated by his enemies, rejected by all those around him and discouraged to the core. In verse 6, it says, “And David strengthened himself in the Lord.” How do we strengthen ourselves in the Lord? I believe we do what a verse in Psalms suggests: “And then one day I went into your sanctuary and thought” (Ps. 73:17). We strengthen ourselves in the Lord by going into His presence and letting Him guide our thinking. Many of the Psalms tell us that David worshipped and meditated on the scriptures. This was no exception. He received new purpose, vision, and authority. He waited patiently to become king.

Q: Why do you think we fear admitting doubt or struggles with faith?

Fear wants to rise and speak to the bottom corners of our mind. It will remind us not to be vulnerable. We will remember what happens when we risk psychological safety or abandon feelings of superiority. We will remember our nakedness. We will feel the wash of old fears and the pull of old attitudes and the temptations of old behaviors. But our heart, where our choice and our spirit live, desires our Father and His Kingdom. And our Teacher taught us to pray.

Q: It seems that more and more we all encounter people who profess to believe that God exists, but the crisis of faith arises in God’s goodness. What do you say to the reader who struggles to believe that God is good and loving?

Jesus says we can trust our Heavenly Father. We are safe, we are protected, and we are guided when we cooperate with God’s purpose and God’s way of doing things. We become participants in the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of God’s grace on earth. Jesus reminds us over and over again that we must have faith. We must believe in the fact that we are safe and that “good” will result as we submit our will to His Way. This submission is powerful. It defragments our life and gives us spiritual significance and wholeness of soul. This submission results in the process of spiritual transformation. Along the way, we are rewarded by “faith surprises” as resources of the Kingdom of Heaven are available to make changes in us, in others, and in the way things are.

Q: What do you hope that readers will take away from Pressing into Thin Places?

At the crux of this message of greater connection with God is the gospel message. Jesus encourages us to see our short space of time on this earth in the light of eternity. He instructs us to remember that there are two realities: a physical reality and a spiritual reality. We are first and foremost spiritual beings called to follow Christ’s teachings.

Pressing into Thin Places: Encouraging the Heart toward God
by Dr. Margaret Harrell Wills, Ed.D
Brown Christian Press – May 2011
ISBN 978-1-934812-99-0/208 pages/hardcover/$16.95

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lilly's Wedding Quilt

Author: Kelly Long
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
March 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59554-871-9
Genre: Inspirational/Amish/romance

Jacob Wyse has loved Sarah King for years, but she is marrying another. On the way to Sarah’s wedding, Jacob steals another man’s horse, and is shot in the arm for his efforts. The police are hot on his trail. And the person who comes to his aid is none other than the Amish school teacher. A woman Jacob has never noticed.

Lilly Lapp has loved Jacob Wyse for as long as she can remember. To save him from arrest, Lilly claims to have been with Jacob the whole time, to the shock of the Amish community—and then to save Lilly from the repercussions of her statement, Jacob announced their engagement to wed—in two weeks time.

And now both of them must face the truth of their actions. Lilly is promised to a man who loves another. And Jacob to a woman he doesn’t love. Hoping is too risky, and Lilly needs to protect her heart. But is there a possibility that God is in it?

LILLY’S WEDDING QUILT is the most recent release by Kelly Long. I have to say I loved the sexual tension between Jacob and Lilly as the story opens and I literally had a difficult time putting this book down to work on my own things.

Lilly and Jacob were both very realistically developed characters as well as the secondary characters. I fell in love with Jacob’s brother, Seth, and will be expecting Ms. Long to write him as a hero in a subsequent book. If you like Amish fiction then you will definitely want to consider picking up LILLY’S WEDDING QUILT. You will not be disappointed. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 315 pages.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Author: Jill Eileen Smith
Publisher: Revell
March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3322-3
Genre: Inspirational/biblical fiction

Bathsheba is lonely. Her husband, Uriah, is away most of the year fighting the king’s wars, and Bathsheba has no child to keep her busy. With her loneliness increasing, it makes it all too easy to succumb to King David’s advances. But one night of passion will destroy everything she holds dear…

BATHSHEBA is the third book in Ms. Smith’s series The Wives of King David. I—as most of those of us raised in church—am familiar with the story of BATHSHEBA… which makes it kind of hard for me to write the summary part of the review. Thus the one paragraph above. I didn’t want to give anything away for those who aren’t familiar with the Bible story.

Ms. Smith has done her research, and she brought Bathsheba, her maid, the King, and Uriah to life, giving us feelings, thoughts, ideas, and dreams that one didn’t consider from one half-hour Bible story taught to children.

If you like biblical fiction, aren’t familiar with the Bible story, or are looking for a new outlook on this familiar story, then pick up a copy of BATHSHEBA. A note from the author is included at the end of the book. $14.99. 346 pages.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Trigger

Title: THE TRIGGER: A Novel On The Revelation
Author: Hon Hoh
Publisher: Believer’s Press
May 2011
ISBN 978-0-578-07195-4
Genre: End Times Novel
Reviewed by: Steve Hilton

Pastor Josh McGuire is an evangelist and pastor with unction from the Holy Spirit for the most persecuted areas of the body of Christ. His ministry has been blessed by the Lord, and has been a blessing, for many years. His eyes are about to be opened.

There is a people-group, a term used by missionaries and evangelists to denote an ethno-centrically diverse and separate population of people that has yet to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. According to Matthew 24:14, the gospel must be preached to ALL nations, “and then shall the end come.” The last people-group has been identified, and now all eyes are riveted on that portion of the world: all eyes, human and spiritual. It is the ultimate Amazing Race, and the consequences are universal in their ramifications.

Reminiscent of Frank Peretti’s novels on spiritual warfare, and possessing the same action-packed suspense as the Left Behind series, THE TRIGGER offers a look at the end times from a unique perspective, that of the post-tribulation rapture of the church. In this eschatological framework, the church must go through the rapture, and the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is dependent upon Pastor Josh and the remnant preaching the gospel to the last unreached people group on earth.

While this reviewer has reservations with some of the theological stance taken by the author, THE TRIGGER is a wonderfully written novel that will keep the reader engaged from page one. One cannot help but become “one of the team” that is globally missional in its outlook, and Christocentric in its foundation. 355 pages. $19.99.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Title: SHATTERED: A Daughter’s Regret
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: NavPress
April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-6000-6949-9
Genre: Inspirational/young adult

Cleo Neilson’s best friend, Lola, is moving away, and to celebrate their last night together, Cleo and Lola plan to use some free tickets Lola won to go to a Christian concert. Only problem is, Lola’s mom needs her car, and Cleo’s mom flat out refuses to let Cleo driver her dad’s car into the city. Cleo is determined to get to that concert, even though Lola is okay with not going, so she devises a way to get their without her mom’s knowledge. After all, her mom has to let her grow up sometime.

Unfortunately, something absolutely positively beyond awful happens as a result of Cleo’s disobedience. And Cleo now faces the consequences of her actions and a secret that is eating her up inside. Will Cleo come to peace wit the results of her decisions?

Melody Carlson had penned another tear-jerker page-turner that deals with the tough issues of deception and consequences. Some of the parts are unbelieveable and predictable, but otherwise the writing is stellar.

SHATTERED is a difficult book to read, yet it is a must-read for teenager girls. Ms. Carlson is a master at addressing tough issues in a realistic, loving and teachable way. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $14.99. 200 pages.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

God and Stephen Hawking - Press release

Is God Really Dead?

Stephen Hawking's logic faces a mathematician's scrutiny in God and Stephen Hawking

SEATTLE - Eminent scientist Stephen Hawking's latest contribution to the so-called New Atheist debate The Grand Design claims that the laws of physics themselves brought the universe into being, rather than God. In this swift and forthright reply, John C. Lennox, Oxford mathematician and author of God's Undertaker, exposes the flaws in Hawking's logic in his latest book, God and Stephen Hawking (Kregel Publishers, September 2011,ISBN: 9780745955490, $5.99).

Science has immense cultural and intellectual authority in our sophisticated modern world. With this kind of cache, it must nevertheless be pointed out that not all statements by scientists are statements of science. Therefore such statements do not carry the authority of authentic science, even though it is often erroneously ascribed to them.

Commonly written off as the inevitable clash between science and religion, the God debate is actually one between theism and atheism, where there are scientists on both sides. With a remarkable surge of interest in God that defies the so-called secularization hypothesis, it could well be that it is precisely the perceived failure of secularization that is driving the God question ever higher on the agenda. Book after book is being published on the subject by prominent scientists, as Francis Collins, Richard Dawkins, Robert Winston, etc. But were Galileo, Kepler, Newton and Maxwell, to name a few, really all wrong on the God question?

With such a lot at stake we surely need to ask Hawking to produce evidence to establish his claim. Do his arguments really stand up to close scrutiny? Has the Grand Master of Physics checkmated the Grand Designer of the Universe?

In lively, layman's terms, Lennox guides us through the key points in Hawking's arguments-with clear explanations of the latest scientific and philosophical methods and theories-and demonstrates that, far from disproving a Creator God, they make His existence seem all the more probable. Lennox's book is a great resource for Christians, churches and those in ministry who seek to educate themselves and open authentic dialog with those who question.

Praise for God and Stephen Hawking:

"A brilliant response to Stephen Hawking's The Grand Design. Make sure you hear both sides of the argument."
-Alister McGrath, author of The Dawkins Delusion


Meet John:

John C. Lennox is Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at the University of Oxford, and author of the bestselling God's Undertaker. He lectures on faith and science at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. He has lectured around the world, including in the United States for Ravi Zacharias; in Austria; and in the former Soviet Union. For more about John C. Lennox, please visit


Monday, June 6, 2011

True Courage

Author: Steve Farrar
Publisher: David C. Cook
April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6873-5
Genre: Inspirational/nonfiction/Christian living

Discover God’s remedy for fear.

We all face fear. We’re afraid for our finances, for our jobs, for our children in this increasingly immoral culture, and we fear for our country as it shifts away from God’s principles. Sometimes it seems as though fear is constant.

But there is a truth that offers courage to every believer who finds it: God is in control. Even when things seem to be out of control, God has it under control.

Mr. Farrar uses the life of the prophet Daniel to illustrate a powerful profile in courage. Daniel was taken from his homeland, stripped of his name, and thrown into a godless culture. He faced a future with little hope. Yet, Daniel was able to live by faith—not by what was seen.

In TRUE COURAGE, Mr. Farrar draws from the timeless story of Daniel, a man who altered the course of a nation. And Mr. Farrar shows how we too can find the courage to rise above life’s circumstances all while trusting God who never abandons His children. If you are looking for courage in these uncertain times, then TRUE COURAGE is a book to consider. $14.99 hardcover. 234 pages.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

That's When I Talk to God

Author: Dan and Ali Morrow
Illustrated by Cory Godbey
Publisher: David C. Cook
April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0018-6
Genre: Inspirational/children

A little girl is saying her bedtime prayers, with her mother listening. At the end of the prayers, the mother reminds the little girl that she doesn’t have to pray to God only at bedtime, but she can pray anytime. The girl has some questions, and Mom answers them, and the next day the little girl starts looking for times to talk to God.

She discovers (with guidance) that she can thank God for what she likes, ask for forgiveness when she does wrong, and pray for the sick, among other things. And she also discovers these things in the car, while playing soccer, or visiting a friend.

The girl also goes on to ask her mother about how God would talk to her. Mom answers her about some of the different ways God communicates with us, such as our conscience, and through His word.

This is an adorable hardcover book with beautifully done pictures that are sure to engage your young children. My daughters are eight and five and they were both completely enthralled by the story. My eight year old read it to herself several times as well, when I didn’t have time to read it right away. I asked my girls if they liked it and they both said yes.

This book would make a great anytime gift (Easter, Kindergarten graduation, or whatever) gift for your favorite child. And even better it teaches them about God. Also good for church nurseries or libraries. There is a letter to parents from Lee Strobel at the end of the book. $12.99. 36 pages.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

In Grandma's Attic and More Stories from Grandma's Attic

Author: Arleta Richardson
Publisher: David C. Cook
April 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7814-0379-5 (Book 1)
978-1-7814-0380-1 (Book 2)
Genre: Young adult/memoir

I remember these books well from the first time they were published, in 1974, when I was just a little girl, the age of one of my daughters. I loved this series back then, and I saved the original set for my daughters to read someday. Now they are back, in beautiful, colorful covers and black and white illustrations ready to win another set of little girls’ hearts.

Ms Arleta Richardson writes charming short stories based on the things she remembered her grandmother telling her. Stories about the ancient trunk filled with quilt pieces, each with its own special tale. Stories about the button box. Stories about funny looking contraption she found hidden in the attic. And stories about many other things.

Grandma’s Attic Series is destined to touch your little girl’s life like it did mine. Not only are they fun stories that are easy to read, short, and to the point, but they also teach about history, about life when their grandma was a little girl asking questions about things she found in her grandmother’s attic.

I highly recommended these books as a girl and I highly recommend them now. My daughter loved them. If you are looking for something for your tweener girl to read, then definitely pick up a copy of the books in Grandma’s Attic Series. Books one and two are out now, the third and fourth will release in July. $6.99. 144 pages.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Promise of an Angel

Author: Ruth Reid
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
June 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59554-788-0
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Judith Fischer has loved Levi Plank forever. And now that she’s nineteen, she’s waiting anxiously for Levi to want to court her. But tragedy strikes Judith’s household when she’s supposed to be watching her young brother, Samuel. Unsupervised, Samuel climbs up on the roof of the barn and falls off, leaving him paralyzed.

Seeing an English man kneeling beside Samuel, Judith goes to talk to him. This “man” turns out to be an angel, and he ministers to Judith saying Samuel will be alright. Judith tells everyone she seen an angel and that Samuel will be fine, but no one believes her. They all think she’s gone crazy from her brother’s accident.

When even Levi begins to push Judith away in favor of her younger sister, Judith begins to wonder what exactly this angel meant by alright. Nothing was right. Will Ruth continue to trust in the angel’s message even if it means losing everything—including the support of family?

I enjoyed getting to know Judith and some of the other characters. I had to admire Judith’s faith, even when it wavered; she still struggled to stand strong. Some of the secondary characters had me wanting to crawl into the pages of the book and strangle them.

THE PROMISE OF AN ANGEL is Ruth Reid’s debut novel, and the first in her three book A Heaven on Earth series. Incorporating the popular Amish fiction in with spirituality, the reader has the best of both worlds, Angels and Amish in one page turning novel. This is a great beginning to a new series. $14.99. 304 pages.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Revise Us Again

Title: REVISE US AGAIN: Living from a Renewed Christian Script
Author: Frank Viola
Publisher: David C. Cook
April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6865-0
Genre: Inspirational/Christian Life

Rescript your spiritual life…

In REVISE US AGAIN, the author mandates (correctly) that we worship according to our temperaments. For example, ‘feelers’ tend to navigate toward more charismatic churches, ‘doers’ tend to go to Baptist type churches, and ‘thinkers’ tend to more of the organized, detailed religions, such as Presbyterian. He also suggests that some larger church organizations tend to combine certain types such as ‘feelers’ and ‘doers’ or other combinations of the three types.

Mr. Viola explains in REVISE US AGAIN that there are some ways every believer can benefit from rescripting their lives. They are:

1. Revising the Lord’s Voice
2. Revising Christianeze
3. Revising Christian Code Language
4. Revising Our Semantics
5. Revising Our Message
6. Revising Our Awareness of the Divine
7. Revising Our Attitudes
8. Revising Our Spiritual Expectations
9. Revising the Holy Spirit’s Ministry
10. Revising Our Chief Pursuit.

Mr. Viola has some very valid observations in this book – such as “let me pray about it” is code word for “no.” And that most people who say “God told me to do this…” never does it.

Mr. Viola states that the purpose of this book is “to see more integrity and depth return to the Christian faith.”

If you take the time to study these chapters, read the verses that are included and to pray over each idea, this book could be very helpful in jumpstarting your Christianity into something more than a “script.” $16.99 hardcover. 175 pages.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Fine Art of Insincerity

Author: Angela Hunt
Publisher: Howard Books
May 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4391-8203-1
Genre: Inspirational/women’s fiction

Three sisters need to travel to St. Simon’s Island to empty out their late grandma’s house. Ginger is struggling with a husband who is more interested in his job than his wife. Rosemary is plotting suicide, and Pennyroyal is unhappy in her marriage and enjoys the casualness of dating much more than the intimacy of marriage.

When the sisters get together they have a lot of issues to clean up. Marital frustrations collide with poignant memories. Their late grandmother had wed seven times, and the sisters already have nine marriages among them. Are they destined to follow their oft-wed ancestor’s legacy to serial-wed?

THE FINE ART OF INSINCERITY is a book about three southern women who are struggling to find themselves in the ho-hum-ness of marriage. Especially some of the difficult issues they face within the marriages. The book is written in first person, which each character having her own section, and her own print font.

The story is slow moving with each woman working through issues, making decisions, and dealing with memories at the same time. I hoped that they’d emerge stronger, able to better cope with life and love, and even find faith. Discussion questions and an interview with the author is included at the end. $14.99. 310 pages.

Troubled Graves (Lantern Beach Exposure Book 4) by Christy Barritt

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