Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Journey to New Books - Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball

This story of real-life with a little fairy tale mixed in was a fun, quick read.  I found myself really feeling for Cora with all of her family issues.  She has such a heart for her Savior but struggles in so many areas because of her family background.  Cora has established herself as a hardworker at the company where she is employed and has a simple life for herself.  However, her life is about to take a little spin into another realm; a realm where God uses unique people to help give Cora a little push in a new direction.  The bit of fantasy intertwined with the reality of the story was an enjoyable touch and one I didn't find difficult to follow or allow.  It was an element necessary to making this story what the author wanted it to be.  Simon was also well-drawn as a man with two sides: his professional persona in the office and his "real" persona out of the office.  I enjoyed getting to know the members of his family, including Candy-Sandy.  Sandy was the receiver of so much of Simon's love, and I can understand why.  She has such a sweet, loving personality and is lovable in her own way.  Who couldn't pour out their love on her?  Overall, I really found this tale enjoyable and a fun, unique holiday read.  I would recommend this story to those who don't mind thinking outside the box of reality.  You'll truly enjoy it!

This book was provided free for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Just Beyond the Clouds by Karen Kingsbury

This book was powerful!  I found the characters real, vulnerable, and well-written.  Cody has such a struggle in his heart after the loss of his wife, and he wants so much to "protect" his brother that he loses sight of what is really important to Carl Joseph.  Elle has a scar from a past relationship that she uses to shield herself from potential relationships.  She pours all she has into her students and her family as a form of self-protection.  What could God possibly do with these two people?  He could work a special miracle in their hearts and bring about something truly special for them.  Both having a sibling with Down Syndrome causes Cody and Elle to understand a truth that the average person may not, life is to be enjoyed.  They understand that life isn't always easy for everyone, but both come to see that sometimes it isn't the person with the handicap that is truly handicapped.  Sometimes we inflict handicaps of different sorts upon ourselves for one reason or another, and they become chains that bind us into a world that we shouldn't be living in.  A world limited in scope and expression.  I found the characters in this story to be rich and full of lessons for all of us.  Humans with human hearts and human flaws but with the potential to see what the Creator could and would have for them.  A truly great story for your heart and your walk with God!

The Carousel Painter by Judith Miller

The first thing I want to mention about this book is how much I enjoyed learning about the workings of a carousel factory.  I found the detail about all of the different departments very interesting.  One of my favorite things about reading books is learning about things that I would never take the time to research, yet when someone else does the work, I find the information and detail fascinating.
The main character in this story - Carrington - is a woman with morals and convictions.  She is struggling to learn about God and what He would have her do.  She is a talented lady without any family, but God surrounds her with true friends that lead her in the right direction to real, truthful answers.  She has moments of discouragement but strives to continue on with a good attitude.
The setting for this story was ideal for what the author wanted to accomplish, I believe.  For Carrington to work in a factory full of men at the time the book was set was definitely controversial.  She was the only woman causing many stirrings for not only the workers but their families.  For what she goes through during the story, I think Carrington does a good job of keeping her head above water.
I found some of the other characters very full of themselves and focused on the wrong things in life, but Carrington and Josef, in particular, want to find what is best for their lives with God's help.  Something many of us need to do in our lives.
I recommend this story of love, friendship, growth, intrigue, and more!

This book was provided free for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Journey to New Books - The Miracle of Mercy Land

The Miracle of Mercy Land was not what I expected, but I ended up really enjoying it.  Mercy Land is a woman of the 1930s who is smart, no-nonsense, full of heart, and a go-to-girl.  She has a history different from many of those that she has lived near the last seven years because she grew up in "Bittersweet Creek."  Her rural upbringing has given her a little more sense and awareness than most women of her day in Bay City, Alabama.  She works for Doc at the town newspaper and an amazing turn of events occurs in their lives, something that will change so many things for them.  Under the circumstances of this turn of events, Mercy and Doc discover many things about themselves, their pasts, and their futures.  I found the story full of questions, twists, turns, and thought-provoking tidbits.  River Jordan has written a piece that makes you ponder, wonder, think, and keep turning pages (thinking "what will happen next?").  Truly a unique tale with interesting characters, great setting details, and unpredictable plot turns.  I got to a point, while reading the story, where I didn't want to put it down because I had to know what was coming next.  A mind-bender of a book.  I won't soon forget it.

The book was provided free for review by WaterBrook Press.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Wish for Christmas by Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer

Another great installment in the Cape Light series.  I always enjoy coming back to these characters again and again.  I could personally live without the constant Christmas theme that has found its way into the titles and stories of the last several books in the series, but I do still enjoy the stories and the characters.  Cape Light has a way of drawing you back over and over, despite yourself.  If you enjoy small-town life, you should really check out Cape Light and its plethora of unique and interesting characters.  In A Wish for Christmas, the story focuses on David Sawyer, son of Jack Sawyer, and the ever-stalwart Lillian Warwick.  You may find some unexpected treasures in the story as well with Grace Hegman and her father, Digger.  The stories in this installment were enjoyable and worth the read.  Check it out and prepare for the next book - due out in November.  Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Christmas Snow

I'd like to go off my usual topic of discussion and tell you about a great movie that I saw recently.  The movie is called A Christmas Snow.  It's the story of a woman with a hurt from her past that she can't seem to move beyond.  Yet, something amazing happens in her life during one particular snowstorm.  Kathleen's life is forever changed through a special series of events.  This movie is about forgiveness, family, and connection.  It made me laugh and cry and wonder what was going to happen next.  I appreciate that the film is clean and family-friendly.  Those movies are hard to find these days, especially ones that are well-acted and made.  I enjoyed that there was a little humor, a little romance, and a little drama - some of everything.  I would highly recommend that you watch this very special Christmas film.  You can watch it with the whole family!  I believe it will be released on October 8th. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Blog Tour Challenge Update

I am now officially 3 days over on my challenge because it took 2 extra days to read Fields of Grace.  I will soon begin reading The Carousel Painter.  Keep checking in!!

Fields of Grace by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Fields of Grace broke my heart many times, but I found the book to be one that compelled me to want to keep reading anyway.  I thought that Lillian and her family were hardworking, God-loving people who weren't afraid to get their hands dirty to accomplish something great.  Having chosen to leave their home in Russia, Lillian, her husband, her three sons, and her husband's foster brother venture to America.  The decision is made out of a desire to not have Henrik (who will turn 18 soon) be forced to serve in the military.  Being Mennonite, they don't agree with fighting, etc.  What ensues after they leave Russia is not an easy ride across the ocean and a path paved with all the dreams that were hoped for.  Instead, many sad events occur which cause many changes in the characters in Sawyer's story.  I found the story to be heavy in many places, but overall it was an interesting historical novel.  The year is 1872 when the book opens; a year we can only dream about and try to imagine.  Sawyer paints a picture of the journey of this family in that time that is very different than many historical novels I have read.  She is an enjoyable read, if you like something a little more substantial.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wildflowers by Robin Jones Gunn

Wow!  I've read this book before and enjoyed it then, but I think I understood and appreciated it more now that I'm married.  This book follows Gena.  She has been married over 20 years and has 3 daughters with her husband.  They are in a committed marriage, but for Gena things have changed over time.  She has lost the love she once had for her husband and the desire to commune with God as well.  During this story, Gena comes to realize many things about herself, God, and her husband.  Only having been married almost 5 1/2 years myself, I can't relate entirely to Gena's struggles.  However, I certainly can relate to some parts of her story, and I think many readers will be able to do the same.  I found the story to be very real in many respects and found some eye-opening truths in the pages as well.  The only sadness for me in reading Wildflowers is that it's the last book in Gunn's Glenbrooke Series.  When you've been a fan of Christy Miller, Glenbrooke, and Sierra Jensen as long as I have, sometimes it can be difficult to close that last book and have to let the characters go until the next time.  Other than that, I really enjoyed rereading this wonderful story of refreshing, reawakening, and rebirth.  It is a great story about marriage, friendship, and family.  I hope you'll take the time to read Wildflowers.  To do it right, I recommend starting with book one in The Glenbrooke Series - Secrets - and then continuing on through the series until you reach the end - Wildflowers, book eight.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Mile in My Flip-Flops by Melody Carlson

Gretchen's story has so many parts that I think many of us can relate to.  She has been dealing with her broken engagement for 18 months now and has isolated herself during that time from others.  She has come to the point where only 2 things comfort her: HGTV and Ben and Jerry's.  How many of us can relate to at least one of those items?  For me, it's definitely all about the ice cream.  Mmmmmm!  Gretchen has come up with a great plan to get out of her tiny one-bedroom apartment that she shares with her half chocolate Lab dog - she's going to flip a house.  Having no real experience other than what she's "gathered" from observing her dad over the last 20 plus years, she believes she's ready and fully aware of what is involved in flipping a house.  But, like many of us, Gretchen is unaware of what is really involved in a venture of this nature.  She is a woman with a plan to make changes in her life, but even she isn't prepared for all of the changes God has in store for her.  It's a great story that anyone who's done any remodeling can appreciate and the rest of us can certainly enjoy for other reasons.  So follow Gretchen as she moves onto a new pathway in life and finds out that life is rewarding beyond her dreams!

Monday, August 16, 2010

That Certain Spark by Cathy Marie Hake

Wow!  I just finished That Certain Spark, and I enjoyed it.  I found the story of Dr. Taylor Bestman interesting and enthralling and well worth the read.  However, sometimes I wanted to knock a few heads together because some of the characters in the book were rather small-minded in their thinking about a female physician.  I certainly enjoy returning to Gooding, Texas, which each new character Hake brings there.  The women who lead the stories are friendly, smart, caring, fierce, and well-written.  Taylor is no exception.  As the twin sister of a veternarian brother, Taylor has come to Gooding to fulfill a four-year contract as the town doctor.  She is well-trained, full of wisdom, ingenious, compassionate, and prepared.  She has a calling on her life in the field of medicine and takes her oath very seriously.  There are those in Gooding, particularly men, who would have her ridden out of town on a rail simply because she's a woman and can have no actual ability as a doctor.  The story has some twists and turns, some romance, some tears, some cheers, and a message of redemption.  I highly recommend this latest Gooding novel.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Whirlwind by Cathy Marie Hake

Cathy Marie Hake has done it again!  She has written another great story for her readers to dive into.  The story of Millie and her journey from England to America and what happens is definitely a page-turner.  I so enjoyed all the wonderful characteristics that Millie has - she's caring, loyal, intelligent, creative, generous, sweet, kind, and so much more.  A grand leading lady for this story of sadness and joy and ups and downs.  She definitely fits in with the rest of the Gooding ladies.  I really feel like I'm a part of the story when I read a Hake book.  She spins such marvelous tales.  I question her choosing to do certain things with some of her characters, but I know she has her reasons and so that's usually enough for me to be "okay" with her choices.  A quality, enjoyable tale from an author who has definitely made a name for herself in this business.  If you enjoy a good historical fiction novel, then you must read the entire Only in Gooding! Series.  This is book number three in the series.  Begin your journey with Fancy Pants, I know you'll be glad that you did!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blog Tour Challenge Update

I wanted to report in on how things are going with my challenge.  I am officially one day behind because it took me 11 days to read Words Unspoken instead of 10.  Today I will begin reading Whirlwind by Cathy Marie Hake.  I will not give up even though I am one day off.  Please continue to check in for updates!

Words Unspoken by Elizabeth Musser

This book was powerful emotionally.  That is my first thought.  The story of Lissa and so many other characters was a steady stream of emotions, learning, growing, gaining understanding, and so much more.  Follow Lissa as she deals with the emotions of grief and loss due to the death of her mother.  Follow her as she comes back from the brink of blackness.  Follow the story of Ted Draker as he learns that the way to caring for your family can only be paved with stones of truth and honesty.  Follow Silvano Rossi as he learns that the best way to help his family is to do it legitimately and without hurting others and stepping on them to climb the "ladder."  Follow Katy Lynn as she finds forgiveness for others and a new way to live life even through dramatic changes.  Follow Janelle as she journeys through grief so real it still hurts after 2 years.  These characters are dealing with real heart issues and life issues and through it all we start to piece together how they are all ultimately connected to each other.  It's a powerful story of the words we listen to and choose to follow in our lives - good or bad.  I am typically not a fan of this kind of story, but I found it quite good and definitely worth the time.  Hope you enjoy as well!

This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Catching Katie by Robin Lee Hatcher

Join Katie as she sets out to change the way the things are done and the way people believe.  Katie is a woman with a mission - a mission to help every woman in the United States have the right to vote.  She has spunk, spark, and a heart to do as God has called her to do.  What she doesn't realize is that sometimes things don't always go according to plan.  Hearing from God and actually listening to what He's really saying can sometimes mean two different scenarios.  Read along as Katie discovers that there is a plan for her life that will allow her to change the world and to have more than what she'd ever expected.  You will enjoy her story of coming home and finding what is truly meant for her life.  She has a faith beyond what she sees in her world in 1916 - a faith for what the future could hold.  I really enjoyed this story - it made me want to learn more about the suffrage movement.  I hope you will find it as enjoyable as I did!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blog Tour Challenge Update

I'm done with the non-fiction titles in the challenge and now I can move on to the fiction titles.  Continue to stay tuned for more reviews and updates.  I'm excited; are you?

Love is a Verb: Stories of What Happens When Love Comes Alive by Gary Chapman

This book was not what I first expected, but as I read I really found it enjoyable.  Love is a Verb is a compilation of several short stories written by several different people about their encounters with love.  The stories range from uplifting to bittersweet and all touch on different kinds and aspects of love.  Stories include love for a spouse, child, parent, neighbor, stranger, etc.  They are powerful stories with eye-opening insights and thought-provoking concepts.  I cried and maybe even laughed a little while reading this collection of tidbits right from people's real lives.  Love is something so precious, a true gift we can give to others and receive from others.  God is the ultimate example of what love is and can be and that also shines through in this heartfelt book.  I recommend this treasure of a book for those who are interested in gaining new insights into love through the true-to-life words of people who have come face-to-face with the many facets of what love can be.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Miserly Moms: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy by Jonni McCoy

This book was really interesting for those who are interested in saving money in their budget, especially on groceries and other expenses.  Jonni's writing is easy to understand, clear, and full of details many of us may not have realized or understood before.  She covers many topics with helpful tips and information, and she lists many websites and books as useful resources.  She understands the importance of spending your money wisely, without being wasteful.  There are recipes included for meals, cleaning products, and also great ideas for making your holidays enjoyable without going crazy on spending.  I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in finding a few ways to cut back on some spending in their family budget.

Disclaimer: This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blog Tour Challenge Update

I finished reading The King James Only Controversy yestersday and finished up my post and published it today.  Yeah!  I decided that I can work ahead on the Challenge, but I can't fall behind.  So, I began reading Miserly Moms late last night and now have only 13 days (including today) to finish reading it.  I'm guessing it will be a much faster read than The King James Only Controversy was.  Please check back often and see what the latest is with my Challenge.  Thank you for your continued interest in my blog!

The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations? by James R. White

I found this book to be very informative and educational.  Having no knowledge of the KJV Only controversy before reading the book, I became very informed very quickly.  I found the first few chapters to be especially interesting, insightful, full of information, and helpful.  I learned about text types, variants, manuscripts, etc.  There is a history, of sorts, of the Scriptures in this book that I imagine many people (even Christians) are unaware of.  I thought that Mr. White did a good job of informing the reader of the basics of what he was discussing so that even those of us who know nothing of Greek or Hebrew could understand his points and explanations.  The book enlightened me about the issues of translation that arise in all versions of the Bible, whether KJV, NIV, NASB, RSV, or any other version.  It really is amazing that there are those who would stake their whole Christian walk on one version of the Bible so blindly.  I was glad to have the opportunity to review this book and be informed about so many aspects of God's Word that I never knew about before.  I highly recommend this book for those who want to learn more about this issue and Bible translation in general.  The book is somewhat tedious to get through at points for the uneducated, but overall I found it very intriguing and, as I've said, educational.  I feel that the Bible version you choose to read is your own personal choice between you and your Savior, and I also think that this book is a good jumping off point for those who want a more in-depth knowledge and understanding of Bible versions in a very general sense.

Disclaimer: This book was provided for review by Bethany House Publishers.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

For Better or For Worse by Diann Hunt

At first, I was having a bit of a hard time getting into the story and relating to a 44-year-old main character, but as I read on I really began to feel for Wendy and her family issues.  Wendy is a widow with two grown children, a boyfriend, a business, and a father.  She has just about everything go wrong that could go wrong in her life all at one time it seems.  She has a heart to serve God, but she begins to feel overwhelmed by life's storms and challenges.  And then there's Marco...the divorce lawyer.  He may be a hunky Italian, but that doesn't means he's perfect.  Can she ever figure out how to speak her mind?  Can she figure out how to not fix every little thing?  With a lot of humor, many touches of honesty, and a desire to share God's love and redemption, Diann Hunt brings us a story filled with just the right amount of romance, real-life, and some time to goof off.  You will definitely want to take the ride with Wendy as she deals with everything from over-eating relatives, geese populating her pond, and a snake in the shower.  Enjoy! 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Blog Tour Challenge

I have worked out the details of the Blog Tour Challenge I mentioned in my last post.  I have 18 books in my Blog Tour Challenge.  I have allotted a total of 200 days to read and review all 18 books, this translates to approximately 11.1 days to read each book.  The Challenge will begin on June 15, 2010, and run through December 31, 2010.  I have set up a reading schedule and blog tour dates for each book.  The book titles, authors, and schedule follow:
1. The King James Only Controversy  by James R. White
    Reading Dates: June 15-28, 2010
    Blog Tour Dates: June 28-30, 2010   
2. Miserly Moms  by Jonni McCoy
    Reading Dates: June 29-July 12, 2010
    Blog Tour Dates: July 12-14, 2010
3. Love is a Verb  by Gary Chapman
    Reading Dates: July 13-26, 2010
    Blog Tour Dates: July 26-28, 2010
4. Words Unspoken  by Elizabeth Musser
    Reading Dates: July 27-Aug 5, 2010
    Blog Tour Dates: Aug 5-7, 2010
5. Whirlwind  by Cathy Marie Hake
    Reading Dates: Aug 6-15, 2010
    Blog Tour Dates: Aug 15-17, 2010
6. That Certain Spark  by Cathy Marie Hake
    Reading Dates: Aug 16-25, 2010
    Blog Tour Dates: Aug 25-27, 2010
7. Fields of Grace  by Kim Vogel Sawyer
    Reading Dates: Aug 26-Sep 4, 2010
    Blog Tour Dates: Sep 4-6, 2010
8. The Carousel Painter  by Judith Miller
    Reading Dates: Sep 5-14, 2010
    Blog Tour Dates: Sep 14-16, 2010   
9. A Measure of Mercy  by Lauraine Snelling
    Reading Dates: Sep 15-24, 2010
    Blog Tour Dates: Sep 24-26, 2010
10. The Rose Legacy  by Kristen Heitzmann
      Reading Dates: Sep 25-Oct 4, 2010
      Blog Tour Dates: Oct 4-6, 2010
11. The Silent Governess  by Julie Klassen
      Reading Dates: Oct 5-14, 2010
      Blog Tour Dates: Oct 14-16, 2010
12. Sense and Sensibility  by Jane Austen
      Reading Dates: Oct 15-24, 2010
      Blog Tour Dates: Oct 24-26, 2010
13. Talk of the Town  by Lisa Wingate
      Reading Dates: Oct 25-Nov 7, 2010
      Blog Tour Dates: Nov 7-9, 2010
14. Word Gets Around  by Lisa Wingate
      Reading Dates: Nov 8-17, 2010
      Blog Tour Dates: Nov 17-19, 2010
15. Never Say Never  by Lisa Wingate
      Reading Dates: Nov 18-27, 2010
      Blog Tour Dates: Nov 27-29, 2010
16. Beguiled  by Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand
      Reading Dates: Nov 28-Dec 7, 2010
      Blog Tour Dates: Dec 7-9, 2010
17. Hearts Awakening  by Delia Parr
      Reading Dates: Dec 8-17, 2010
      Blog Tour Dates: Dec 17-19, 2010
18. Sixteen Brides  by Stephanie Grace Whitson
      Reading Dates: Dec 18-27, 2010
      Blog Tour Dates: Dec 27-29, 2010
 Bonus Days: Dec 30-31, 2010

If you would like to follow along and read with me, please do.  Also, I would certainly appreciate your comments on the titles after I have finished reading a title and posted a review of it.  This Challenge is a personal one that I am setting out before myself so that I might finish reviewing the books that I am currently obliged to review, and I thought it might be kind of fun!!  Anyway, please check back over the next six months and see how the Challenge is going.  Thank you for your continued interest and support.  Also, I want to note that my baby is due on October 25, 2010.  That right there may put an end to the Blog Tour Challenge.  Please follow me on this interesting journey to new books!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Today's Thought

I wanted to let everyone know what's been going on with my blog.  I realize I haven't posted anything since last month, so let me try to explain what's happening.  Everything that has been posted up to this point was moved over from my old blog.  My blog seemed to have been moved to a different site and I didn't like the format.  Therefore, I decided to start out fresh here.  So, now I will begin to do new posts.  Anything that I move over from my old blog after this point will be dated with it's original date of publication on my old blog.  I hope that you will continue to join me here for book reviews of Christian titles and a few other fun things.

I also wanted to mention that, since I am currently in betweeen blog tours from one of the publisher's I deal with, I plan to do my own blog tours with the books that I have received from another publisher that have been piling up for several months.  I am going to set a challenge for myself and let you all in on the fun.  Once I have all of the details figured out I'll let you know what the challenge is in its entirety.  Any thoughts, let me know.  I also want to mention that while I am going to set up this blog tour challenge for myself I do have several other irons in the fire.  Being a wife, being a mom, being pregnant, preparing a library, etc.  We'll see if I'm up to the challenge.  Please look forward to the challenge post in the next few days.  Thanks for your continued interest and support of my blog!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Journey to New Books – Develop stronger relationships… - From March 5, 2010

Mother Daughter Duet
by Cheri Fuller and Ali Plum

Book Description:
When a daughter is born, her mother has a thousand hopes and dreams for her, especially that they will be best friends one day.
Unfortunately, even the best of intentions can go awry. There are so many challenges on the journey to adult friendship that the reality is fraught with friction and frustration. But a harmonious relationship is possible.
Award-winning author Cheri Fuller and her daughter, Ali Plum, have been there and have discovered the keys to a healthy relationship. In Mother-Daughter Duet they share their story—each from her own perspective—in which they have experienced distance and tension, growth and challenge, and, ultimately, acceptance and harmony. Filled with personal anecdotes and based on several basic principles (letting go; listening; respect; setting boundaries; and more), Mother-Daughter Duet helps moms repair the breach so that daughters want to draw close.
The mother-daughter dynamic is intense, personal, complex, and unique. But mothers and daughters can achieve mutual respect and learn to celebrate their differences when they learn the two-part harmony of the mother-daughter duet.

Author Bio:
Cheri Fuller is a best-selling, award-winning author whose books have sold more than one million copies. She speaks to a wide range of women at women’s conferences and is a frequent guest on national radio and television programs.
Ali Plum is Cheri’s daughter, a writer and songwriter, a wife, and a mother to Noah and Luke. She and her mom have weathered the ups and downs of their relationship to find one of the most treasured, honest relationships of their lives. Ali has recorded background vocals for popular musicians, and Mother-Daughter Duet marks her debut into book publishing.

Dancing with My Father
by Sally Clarkson

Book Description:
The reality of living in a broken, fallen world can leave women feeling overcome by fear, guilt, and weariness. Many develop “sawdust souls,” numb to any sense of joy.
In this warm and wise book, author Sally Clarkson invites readers to take God’s hand and let Him lead them into a life of anticipation, passion, and purpose. With the voice of a trusted mentor, she reveals how, by getting in tune with the rhythm of God’s presence, women can nurture an inner attitude of anticipation and celebration even in the stressful seasons of life.
Through rich biblical insights woven with real-life stories, women will be inspired to recapture a spirit of joy as they follow God’s lead on the dance floor of life.

Author Bio:
Sally Clarkson is a popular speaker, known across the nation and internationally for her work with women. She is the author of several books, including The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, and Seasons of a Mother’s Heart. She has worked in various ministries, including Campus Crusade for Christ. With her husband, Clay, she is cofounder of Whole Heart Ministries, which encourages and equips Christian parents. The Clarksons, parents of four, live near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Journey to New Books - From February 26, 2010

It’s time again for some great value fiction. There are six titles in this latest collection of value fiction. I will tell you all about one title and give you a brief summary of the other five. So let’s get started!

I read this book and most of The Glenbrooke Series years ago and enjoyed all that I read. I was thrilled when Secrets came as one of my review books. I had been wanting to reread the series for some time, but I never had an excuse before to do just that. So, I sat down and started revisiting the town of Glenbrooke.

In this story, Jessica heads out on her own to be a teacher. She encounters many sweet people in Glenbrooke whom she comes to appreciate, but why did Jessica head out on her own? What is she looking for? She doesn’t trust God or want to talk to Him. She wants her own life. She meets a firefighter named Kyle, a teacher named Teri, and a landlord named Ida. Each of these people sow into Jessica’s life in different ways, giving Jessica a new perspective on things. This book has a wonderful cast of characters and a real sense of “family” to it. I highly recommend picking up a copy of Secrets and discovering just what can happen when you open your heart to a new place, new friends, and a new faith. Then you can follow the rest of The Glenbrooke Series and enjoy seven more great stories!

Disclaimer: This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

The other value fiction titles available are:

Beneath a Southern Sky
by Deborah Raney
Daria Camfield is expecting her first child when her husband Nate is reported dead on the mission field. Devastated, she returns to the States and soon marries again. But two years later Nate is found alive in the jungle. How can Daria possibly choose between he two men who love her?

Deep Harbor
by Lisa Tawn Bergren
Tora, Elsa, Kaatje, and Karl face trouble, tragedy, and treachery across the Wast, Hawaii, Japan, and the high seas. These four immigrants from Bergen, Norway, each grow closer to God and learn afresh the value of faith, family, and coming alongside each other in times of need.

Faithful Heart
by Al and Joanna Lacy
The adventures of certified medical nurse and dedicated Christian Breanna Baylor continue as she travels by wagon train to visit her sister, Dottie, in California. Little does she know that her most dangerous encounter might be with Jerrod, her brother-in-law, who’s suffering from dementia caused by combat fatigue.

The Golden Cross
by Angela Elwell Hunt
Aidan O’Connor may be a poor barmaid but she’s also a gifted artists. When a famous cartographer takes her on as a student, Aidan is swept into an adventure that will bring her back to her heavenly Father, and into marriage with the love of her life.

Yesterday’s Promise
by Linda Lee Chaikin
Rogan Chantry faces danger from tribesmen, ruthless politicians, and his own family as he searches for gold in South Africa. In England, his beloved Evy is injured by a mysterious assailant. The greed and intrigue surrounding the diamond mines could very well drive them irrevocably apart.

Note: Some or all of the above titles may be part of a series and may not be the first title in the series.

A Journey to New Books – Love & War - From February 12, 2010

I have to admit that I haven’t finished reading this book yet either. That seems to be my current reading status – I can’t finish as many books as I’d like to. Part of that comes from chasing around my 15 1/2 month old daughter. Anyway, Love & War is very insightful and interesting so far, and I haven’t even made it to page 20 (I don’t believe). Let me tell you below what I know about it from the publisher.

Book Summary:
What the Eldredge bestsellers Wild at Heart did for men, and Captivating did for women, LOVE & WAR will do for married couples everywhere. John and Stasi Eldredge have contributed the quintessential works on Christian spirituality through the experience of men and the experience of women and now they turn their focus to the incredible dynamic between those two forces.
With refreshing openness that will grab readers from the first page, the Eldredges candidly discuss their own marriage and the insights they’ve gained from the challenges they faced. Each talks independently to the reader about what they’ve learned, giving their guidance personal immediacy and a balance between the male and female perspectives that has been absent from all previous books on this topic. They begin LOVE & WAR with an obvious but necessary acknowledgement: Marriage is fabulously hard. They advise that the sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we’ll find our way through.
LOVE & WAR shows couples how to fight for their love and happiness, calling men and women to step into the great adventure God has waiting for them together. Walking alongside John and Stasi Eldredge, every couple can discover how their individual journeys are growing into a story of meaning much greater than anything they could do or be on their own.

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

A Journey to New Books – Dug Down Deep - From January 22, 2010

I have always enjoyed reading books by Joshua Harris. I was one of those teens who had to get my hands on a copy of I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I devoured the book with the full hope and belief that I would one day follow in the footsteps of God-honoring courtship. When Boy Meets Girl came out, I had to know how the story “ended.” What person who read his first book wouldn’t want to know what happened to this great man of God on his journey to marital bliss? And I continued on in the Joshua Harris “club” to join the many who read the book formerly titled Not Even a Hint. Once I got hooked on his stories and insights, I must admit I had to read more. I missed out on his fourth book, but when the opportunity came along to read and review his most recent book, I, of course, jumped at the chance to read his latest “installment” in deep wisdom and insight.
Dug Down Deep has all the elements of a great Joshua Harris book. I can’t tell you all about it because I have failed to finish reading it. I can only say that what I’ve read so far has been thought-provoking, eye-opening, and, might I even say, compelling. Whether you’ve ever read a Joshua Harris book before or not, I would say that this book is worth the reading. Please look below for more info on this new title from Joshua Harris.

Book Summary:
What will you build your life on?

With startling transparency, Joshua Harris shares how we can rediscover the relevance and power of Christian truth. This is book shows a young man who rose quickly to success in the Christian evangelical world before he realized his spirituality lacked a foundation—it rested more on tradition and morality than on an informed knowledge of God.

For the indifferent or spiritually numb, Harris’s humorous and engaging reflections on Christian beliefs show that orthodoxy isn’t just for scholars—it is for anyone who longs to know the living Jesus Christ. As Harris writes, “I’ve come to learn that theology matters. It matters not because we want to impress people, but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live. Theology matters because if we get it wrong then our whole life will be wrong.”

Whether you are just exploring Christianity or you are a veteran believer finding yourself overly familiar and cold-hearted, Dug Down Deep will help you rediscover the timeless truths of Scripture. As Harris challenges you to root your faith and feelings about God in the person, work, and words of Jesus, he answers questions such as:
What is God like and how does he speak to me?What difference does it make that Jesus was both human and divine?How does Jesus’s death on the cross pay for my sins?Who is the Holy Spirit and how does he work in my life?

With grace and wisdom, Harris will inspire you to revel in the truth that has captured his own mind and heart. He will ask you to dig deep into a faith so solid you can build your life on it. He will point you to something to believe in again.

Author Bio:
Joshua Harris is senior pastor of Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which belongs to the Sovereign Grace network of local churches. A passionate speaker with a gift for making theological truth easy to understand, Joshua is perhaps best known for his runaway bestseller, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which he wrote at the age of twenty-one. His later books include Boy Meets Girl, Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is), and Stop Dating the Church. The founder of the NEXT conferences for young adults, Joshua is committed to seeing the gospel transferred to a new generation of Christians. He and his wife, Shannon, have three children.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

A Promise for Spring by Kim Vogel Sawyer

This book had a very similar story to another I read not to long ago, but I really enjoyed it. I thought the story of Emmaline who had not seen her betrothed in five years was an interesting tale. She was young when she saw him last in England. Geoffrey boarded a ship to America to forge a new life for himself and his future bride in Kansas. Time slipped away quickly and before he really realized it five years had gone by. He had promised to return for Emmaline in a year or two so that they could wed, but as we all can testify time slipped away from him. This story follows Emmaline as she arrives in Kansas and the struggles and heartaches that come. She and Geoffrey must learn to care for each other again.
It really was, overall, an enjoyable story. My one issue is Geoffrey. He is so blind to things and stubborn and I wanted to reach into the book and give the man a good shake. I guess that we all have our moments of being blind and stubborn and downright unaware of what we’re doing (or not doing) to those around us. I would say to you that this is a great story of being restored to God when we have given up on Him for one reason or another. Head to the library or the bookstore and pick up a copy of A Promise for Spring; I believe you will be glad you did!

A Journey to New Books – The One-Day Way - From January 7, 2010

I’d like to tell you about a new book. I’m sorry to say that I haven’t had a chance to finish reading it yet, but I think it will be a good one.
Book Summary:
The One-Day Way produces lasting results by taking you back to basics. No more complicated weight-loss strategies. No more expensive diet plans that achieve only temporary results. Instead, you will lose weight and get fit with Chantel Hobbs’s simple, high-energy meal plans and her at-home program for cardio exercise and strength training. She will teach you how to change the way you think, which leads to new actions. Before you know it you will be strong, fit, and healthy. All it takes is doing things differently for twenty-four hours—and then repeating it.

The One-Day Way gives you everything you need to lose weight and get fit in body, mind, and spirit:
Break free from past dieting defeats
Learn a realistic, life-changing way to measure success
Change the way you think so you can change your life
Translate your dreams into goals, and your goals into lasting achievements
Get strong with thirty-one simple exercises, no fancy equipment required
Take advantage of ten ways to eat better while you lose weight

By focusing on food, faith, and fitness, Chantel shows you not only how to lose weight, but how to build the new life you were designed to live. You don’t have to wait any longer. The One-Day Way gives you all the tools for success, starting right now.

Author Bio:
The author of Never Say Diet and The Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer, Chantel Hobbs is a motivational speaker, life coach, personal trainer, marathon runner, wife, and mother of four whose story has been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, the 700 Club, and the covers of People and First magazines. She appears weekly on two fitness-themed radio programs and promotes her One-Day Way Learning System on television.

Disclaimer:  This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Forever Christmas by Christine Lynxwiler

What an enjoyable book! This story is full of wonderful, dear, fun, great characters. After starting the book, I had a hard time putting it down. Kristianna is a woman with a heart for her town. She’s spent a lot of time in Jingle Bells over the years of her life, especially when her grandma was alive. She doesn’t want her life to change and the heart of her special haven to change. Take a trip to a place where Christmas is never far away, and join these special people as they fight for what they hold dear. You will be glad you took the time to read this very special tale. Twists and turns appear, but the true nature of Kristianna’s story is one many of us can relate to. Pick up your copy of Forever Christmas today and hum your favorite tune along the way. Enjoy!

Today’s Thought – Book Club - From December 8, 2009

I wanted to let everyone know about a group called Book Delights Book Club for Ladies. If you are a lady and you enjoy reading and discussing Christian fiction, then this book club is for you. Of course, it helps if you live in or near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, because that’s where we meet. If you’d like more details about where we meet, future titles, etc., please contact me at I would love to fill you in on the details of the club. I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are preparing wholeheartedly to celebrate Christ’s birth.

A Journey to New Books - From December 4, 2009

I thought that God Gave Us Christmas answered some great questions for children in ways that make for more in-depth discussion. The story is enjoyable and beautifully illustrated by David Hohn. I would suggest that this book is for children over the age of 3 or for those who have started asking questions about Christmas, Santa, Jesus’ birth, etc.

Book Summary:
As Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate the most special day of the year, the curious young polar bear begins to wonder… “Who invented Christmas?” Mama’s answer only leads to more questions like “Is God more important than Santa?” So she and Little Cub head off on a polar expedition to find God and to see how he gave them Christmas. Along the way, they find signs that God is at work all around them. Through Mama’s gentle guidance, Little Cub learns about the very first Christmas and discovers that… Jesus is the best present of all. This enchanting tale provides the perfect opportunity to help young children celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and to discover how very much God loves them.

I enjoyed God Gave Us Love a great deal because it really speaks to the different thoughts children have when it comes to love, especially different kinds of love. What’s different about the way I love Mommy and Daddy and the way they love each other? Grampa Bear explains love in a way that Little Cub can understand and relate to. The illustrations by Laura J. Bryant are well worth a second glance, just to make sure you saw everything!
Book Summary:
As Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, the young polar bear begins to question why we must love others… even the seemingly unlovable. In answering her questions, Grampa Bear gives tender explanations that teach Little Cub about the different kinds of love that is shared between families, friends, and mamas and papas. Grampa explains that all these kinds of love come from God and that it is important to love others because… “Any time we show love, Little Cub, we’re sharing a bit of his love.” This sweet tale will warm the hearts of young children as they learn about all the different sorts of love, while the gentle explanations of each provide a valuable opportunity to encourage children to share with others a “God-sized love.”

I have not yet finished reading Treasured by Leigh McLeroy, but I have really enjoyed the few pages I’ve read so far. She is a great storyteller and really brings a depth to what she’s writing about. I know that I will enjoy finishing this book.
Book Summary:
Cigar boxes. Refrigerator doors. Scrapbooks and sock drawers and top shelves. These are the places we store our treasures–the keepsakes that tell the story of whom and what we’ve loved, how we’ve lived, and what matters most to us. God is a collector, too, whose treasures are tucked securely into the pages of his book: a golden bell here, an olive leaf there, a scarlet thread, a blood-stained cloth, a few grains of barley. Each of these saved artifacts reveals a facet of his heart and tells the story of a Father whose most precious possession is…us. In Treasured, Leigh McLeroy considers tangible reminders of God’s active presence and guides us in discovering evidence in our own lives of his attentive love.

Disclaimer: These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

The Matchmakers by Janette Oke

This is a great little book. I read it quickly and really enjoyed it. The book felt more like a long short story than a book. If you’re looking for a fast, enjoyable story, this is the book for you. The story is sweet and a little quirky. Check it out!

A Journey to New Books - From November 6, 2009

I really enjoyed Leaving Carolina! It’s a quirky southern-fiction book with unique characters. I believe every family contains some people just like those in Tamara Leigh’s story. The book was funny, heart-warming, and dramatic. I thought it was just the right mix of all the elements of a good story.
Piper Wick is a woman with a past full of people who did her wrong and now the family misdeeds are about to hit the fan. Being someone who wants to keep the past under cover, Piper decides action most be taken and so she heads “home” to Pickwick. What ensues is an experience of family and redemption and renewal that Piper never knew she needed or wanted.
Axel the gardener is more than he first appears to be. Uncle Obadiah is a man with a past and a heart for doing what God would have him do. Plus, you’ll meet Maggie, Bart, Bridget, Devyn, Aunt Adele, Aunt Belinda, and Trinity Templeton. Fun, interesting, and quirky characters you will enjoy uncovering one tale at a time.

From back cover:
Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.
Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.
Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.

Two other books I’d like to tell you about are listed below. I haven’t had a chance to read either title yet, but I wanted to tell you about them.

Book Summary:
Claudette Fioré used to turn heads and break hearts. She relished the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle because she had what it takes: money, youth, fame, and above all, beauty. But age has withered that beauty, and a crooked accountant has taken her wealth, leaving the proud widow penniless and alone.
Armed with stubbornness and sarcasm, Claudette returns to her shabby little hometown and her estranged sister. Slowly, she makes friends. She begins to see her old life in a new light. For the first time, Claudette Fioré questions her own values and finds herself wondering if it’s too late to change.

Book Summary:
Maya’s Green Tip for the Day: Recycled fashion is one of the most fun ways to go green. A pair of jeans could be transformed into a denim skirt. A sweater into a vest. A bunch of old ties into a dress. A blanket into a poncho. Accessorize it in new way–with beads, buttons, appliqués, buckles, stencils, or ribbons…your imagination is only the limit. (65 words)
Sixteen-year-old Maya Stark has a lot to sort through. She could graduate from high school early if she wants to. She’s considering it, especially when popular cheerleader Vanessa Hartman decides to make her life miserable–and Maya’s ex-boyfriend Dominic gets the wrong idea about everything.
To complicate matters even more, Maya’s mother will be released from prison soon, and she’ll want Maya to live with her again. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. And when Maya plays her dad’s old acoustic guitar in front of an audience, she discovers talents and opportunities she never expected. Faced with new options, Maya must choose between a “normal” life and a glamorous one. Ultimately, she has to figure out what matters most.

Disclaimer: These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Who Do I Talk To? by Neta Jackson

Wow! Neta Jackson continues to write solid fiction stories that draw the reader right into the main character’s life. I am getting connected to Gabby. She has a lot going on in her life right now. Her husband is acting like a fool, her sons are staying halfway across the country with their grandparents, her and her mother are living in a homeless shelter. Life is pretty rough right now. So who does Gabby talk to and turn to in her distress? She turns to her Father in heaven little by little. And God has a plan for Gabby Fairbanks; He has all along! If you have enjoyed the Yada Yada Prayer Group books, then you need to read this book and, of course, Where Do I Go?, the first book in this new series. Also, keep your eyes open for Harry Bentley’s Second Chance, which was written by Neta’s husband. I believe it is meant to be sort of like a companion volume to Where Do I Go?, but please don’t quote me on that.

A Journey to New Books – The Sound of Sleigh Bells - From October 15, 2009

Beth Hertzler is a woman with a tragedy in her past that she struggles to keep behind closed doors. She feels that she needs to hide certain things from those that care most about her. Jonah is a man with a gift to bring life from something dead. He has a tragedy in his past too. How did these two people each deal with their separate tragedy? How can God use each of them in the other’s life to bring about new and wonderful things?
This book was really enjoyable. I’ve only read one other book by Cindy Woodsmall, and I really feel like she has such a grasp on the Amish community as she writes her stories. I would highly recommend this book to all those who love Amish tales. This one has redemption, love, discovery, direction, and lots of other goodies in it!
Disclaimer: This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

A Journey to New Books – Extraordinary - From October 9, 2009

I have started reading this book, but due to so much busyness in my life right now, I have not yet finished reading Extraordinary by John Bevere. Below I have included a summary of the book from the publisher, an author bio, and a link to the publisher’s website. I will say that what I have read of the book is really interesting and definitely very thought-provoking. I hope you’ll take some time to read this title.

Book Summary:
There’s a question that troubles many believers: “Why am I not experiencing more joy, more hope, more satisfaction, more intimacy, more power, more everything in my Christian life–didn’t Jesus promise that?” He did promise an abundant life, but too many people are trapped by the curse of “the ordinary.” They have accepted the wrong idea that following God means losing individuality, creativity, and a passion for achieving lofty goals. Nothing could be further from the truth! John Bevere builds a convincing case, straight from Scripture, for a way of living marked by extraordinary experiences and accomplishments—the life God always intended for his children. Here is a guide to understanding God’s incredible plans, and how to enjoy a life where he adds the “extra” to “ordinary.”

Author Bio:
John Bevere is an internationally popular conference speaker, teacher, and author of bestsellers, including The Bait of Satan, Drawing Near, and Driven by Eternity. His award-winning curriculum and books have been translated in over sixty languages and his weekly television program, The Messenger, is broadcast around the world. John and his wife, Lisa—also a bestselling author and speaker—reside with their family in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Wind Dancer by Jamie Carie

I don’t normally read books like this one, but I thought, from the vague description that I’d read, that I would enjoy it. I must admit that at several points I would have given up, but I lead a book club and this was our book for August. As you can imagine, I forged ahead and kept reading. The story is historical and is a little more graphic than I would have liked. The fact is that people in the 1700’s dealt with the attacks and whatnot described in this book and so it was realistically portrayed. I enjoyed reading Isabelle’s story for the most part. She starts out on a journey to retrieve books for the local minister and finds herself in a much more dangerous situation than she could have imagined. She ends up in the company of an American – a scout who is checking on the forts in the area. He is a man with a past and a story and a desire to be a part of bringing about freedom for those around him. He joins George Rogers Clark’s army and is a catalyst with him in bringing amazing changes for the people in a land that still needs leadership and peace. That aspect of the book was awesome to read. I found myself really remembering the amazing things that the people of that time did to bring about freedom from evil, etc. Our founding fathers were setting about to do something that would change everything from that point forward. This was a very edge-of-your-seat, heartrending read. I ended up mostly enjoying it. If you like historical fiction with a real live cameo in it, then this is a great read for you. Enjoy!

A Journey to New Books – Stray Affections - From September 11, 2009

This is a story of healing and renewal. Cassandra Higgins quit using her God-given talents years ago after much heartache and loss. She has always believed she isn’t very smart and that has also caused her to put away her dreams. One day, while on her once-a-year special shopping trip, she finds a delightful snowglobe that she just has to have. Little does she know that that snowglobe will change her life forever in countless ways and the lives of those around her. The story is heartfelt, true-to-life, and fun. You will enjoy the characters and find at least one that you can relate to. I also like that the story is set in Minnesota, where I’m from. I recommend cuddling up with your favorite canine, feline, bunny, or hamster and enjoying this wonderful story.

Book Summary:
The last thing that Cassandra Higgins expects out of her Sunday is to be mesmerized at a collectors’ convention by a snowglobe. She’s enjoying some shopping time, with husband Ken at home tending their brood of four young boys, when she’s utterly charmed by the one-of-a kind globe containing figures of three dogs and a little girl with hair the color of her own. She can’t resist taking the unique globe home– even if means wrestling another shopper for it!
The beautiful snowglobe sparks long-dormant memories for Cassie, of her beloved Grandpa Wonky, the stray she rescued as a child, and the painful roots of her combative relationship with her mother, “Bad Betty” Kamrowski. Life in Wanonishaw, Minnesota is never dull, though, and Cassie keeps the recollections at bay, busy balancing her boys, her home daycare operation, and being a good friend to best pal Margret. But after a strange–flurrious, as Cassie deems it–moment happens with the remarkable snowglobe, Cassie and the people she loves are swirled into a tumultuous, yet grace-filled, and life-changing journey.
With the quirky, close-knit Midwestern small-town feel that made Charlene Ann Baumbich’s acclaimed Dearest Dorothy novels so popular, Stray Affections invites you to experience the laughter and the healing of second chances.

Author Bio:
Charlene Ann Baumbich is a popular author and speaker and an award-winning journalist. In addition to her Dearest Dorothy series of novels, she has written seven nonfiction books of humor and inspiration. A bungee-jumping, once motorcycle-owning grandma and unabashed dog lover, Charlene lives with her husband and rescued dog Kornflake in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She loves telling stories, laughing whenever possible, and considers herself a Wild Child of God.

A Journey to New Books – Coming Attractions - From September 4, 2009

I have been hooked on the whole Christy and friends gang for many years now. So when Robin Jones Gunn started the Katie Weldon Series, I was one of the first to get in line for a copy of the first book. I have certainly enjoyed being able to revisit my friends over the recent past. I enjoyed Coming Attractions very much. It keeps in step with Robin’s other stories in this “set,” yet I am not sure how I truly feel about the way the story turned out in the end. I hope that there is at least one more book to come so that I can really gauge how I feel about the whole thing. None of this is to say that I’m completely disappointed with the book. I’m NOT! I really did enjoy this new installment in Katie’s story. She is a woman with a strong desire to do her Father’s will. She is an adventurer, with a good heart, and a love for those around her. She has a flair for finding herself in slightly embarrassing situations, but she never lets that get her down. She is a girl that many females can relate to in some way or another. I certainly would recommend this fun, soul-searching book to my dear friends. If you haven’t read any of Robin Jones Gunn’s book, then I say start at the beginning – find the first book in the Christy Miller Series. If you’re 16, 30, 45, 60, it doesn’t matter – they are great books!

Katie was thinking a lot about her future in Coming Attractions, and I think that that is something we all need to stop and do on a regular basis. I’ve been married now for almost 4 1/2 years and have a daughter in Heaven and a daughter who’s 10 months old, so if I were to stop and think about the next 5 to 10 years, children would certainly be involved. I believe that God will continue to bless my husband and I with other children over that time and His plan for us – our marriage, our family, everything. God has the ultimate plan in His hands. Isn’t that part of what Katie discovered on a new level in this story? You can’t plan everything out; God has the blueprints, not me. I believe though, truly, that He has something special planned for my husband, myself, and our children over the next few years. He is truly amazing!

A Journey to New Books - From August 28, 2009

Eugenia Cooper longs for an adventure. She wants to be like her favorite dime novel heroine – Mae Winslow. When the perfect opportunity presents itself Eugenia takes it and heads West. Denver, Colorado, is her destination. She is going to be a governess to a young girl and have her adventure before time runs out. What God has in store for this New Yorker in Colorado is not what she expected. Yet the plan for her was in His hands all along. Through her adventure in the West, she finds a new enjoyment in life and a new place for herself.
This book was an absolute delight to read! I was drawn in from the very beginning. I find that I really enjoy historical novels quite a lot the more I read them. I love imagining what it was like so many years ago, without modern conveniences. Travel was so different and the way of life and everything. I just really can’t imagine, but I really enjoy trying. I thought that this tale was entertaining, intriguing, fun, and well-written. Kathleen Y’Barbo did an awesome job with the setting, mood, and feel of the story. I highly recommend it and encourage the historical fiction lovers out there to pick this book up and find a comfy chair – you might be there for an entire afternoon!

Two other books I’d like to tell you about are listed below. I haven’t had a chance to read either title yet, but I wanted to tell you about them.

Rose House

A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman’s search for hope. Still mourning the loss of her family in a tragic accident, Lillian Diamon finds herself drawn back to the Rose House, a quiet cottage where four years earlier she had poured out her anguish among its fragrant blossoms. She returns to the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley in search of something she can’t quite name. But then Lillian stumbles onto an unexpected discovery: displayed in the La Rosaleda Gallery is a painting that captures every detail of her most private moment of misery, from the sorrow etched across her face to the sandals on her feet.
What kind of artist would dare to intrude on such a personal scene, and how did he happen to witness Lillian’s pain? As the mystery surrounding the portrait becomes entangled with the accident that claimed the lives of her husband and children, Lillian is forced to rethink her assumptions about what really happened that day. A captivating novel rich with detail, Rose House explores how the brushstrokes of pain can illuminate the true beauty of life.

The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love

Once a month, the six women of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society gather to discuss books and share their knitting projects. Inspired by her recently-wedded bliss, group leader Eugenie chooses “Great Love Stories in Literature” as the theme for the year’s reading list–a risky selection for a group whose members span the spectrum of age and relationship status. As the Knit Lit ladies read and discus classic romances like Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, and Pride and Prejudice, each member is confronted with her own perception about love. Camille’s unexpected reunion with an old crush forces her to confront conflicting desires. Newly widowed Esther finds her role in Sweetgum changing and is surprised by two unlikely friends. Hannah isn’t sure she’s ready for the trials of first love. Newcomer Maria finds her life turned upside-down by increasing family obligations and a handsome, arrogant lawyer, and Eugenie and Merry are both asked to make sacrifices for their husbands that challenge their principles. Even in a sleepy, southern town like Sweetgum, Tennessee, love isn’t easy. The Knit Lit ladies learn they can find strength and guidance in the novels they read, the love of their family, their community–and especially in each other.

About the authors:
*Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty novels, novellas, and young adult books, with more than a half-million in print. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she is currently a publicist with Books & Such literary agency.

*Tina Ann Forkner is the author of Ruby Among Us. Originally from Oklahoma, she now lives with her husband and three children in Wyoming, where she serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation’s board of directors.

*RITA Award-winning Beth Patillo combines her love of knitting and books in her engaging Sweetgum series. Pattillo served churches in Missouri and Tennessee before founding Faith Leader, a spiritual leadership development program.

A Journey to New Books – The Friends We Keep: A Woman’s Quest for the Soul of Friendship and 40 Minute Bible Studies - From August 13, 2009

The title The Friends We Keep intrigued me. I thought something like, “I wonder if this will give answers, insights, and peace about my friendships.” I have had many friendships in my life, some are gone now due to many factors. The loss of friendship always saddens me, especially if I somehow played a part in the loss. I think the hardest thing for me is when the level of intimacy in a friendship changes, and you wander into the land of acquaintances once again.
Now that I’ve given you an overview of my thought process before reading this book, I’ll tell about the book. I read this book fairly quickly, even though it wasn’t quite what I expected. Sarah Zacharias Davis takes her reader on a journey through the different kinds of friendship, the different roles in friendship, the seasons of friendship, and so much more. She reveals stories from her own life and the lives of other women about aspects of their friendships. Chapter titles include: The Lesson of Lucy Van Pelt, Betrayal by Burger, and The Age of Friendship, just to name a few. The book is well-written, insightful, down-to-earth, and incredibly thought-provoking (especially if the subject of friendships is near and dear to your heart). You may come away from the book with more questions than answers, but you will also gain new understanding along the way as well. I would say that this would be a good book to read with a ladies’ group and then go over the discussion questions together. This would make a great read for your book club, your Bible study group, or your moms’ group.
The Friends We Keep is Sarah’s thoughtful account of her own story and the stories of other women about navigating friendship. With heartfelt, intelligent writing, Sarah explores the questions every woman asks about friendship and more with personal stories, cultural references and history, faith, and grace. In the process, she delivers wisdom for navigating the challenges, mysteries, and delights of friendship: why we need friendships with other women, what it means to be safe in relationship, and how to embrace what a friend has to offer, whether meager or generous. For more info on the book, head on over to WaterBrook Press.

I’d also like to tell you about a series of Bible study books called 40 Minute Bible Studies. The 40 Minute Bible Study series from beloved Bible teacher Kay Arthur and the teaching staff of Precept Ministries tackles important issues in brief, easy-to-grasp lessons you can use personally or for small-group discussion. Each book in the series includes six 40-minute studies designed to draw you into God’s Word through basic inductive Bible study. There are 16 titles in the series, with topics ranging from fasting and forgiveness to prayer and worship. With no homework required, everyone in the group can work through the lesson together at the same time. Let these respected Bible teachers lead you in a study that will transform your thinking—and your life.
I haven’t had a chance yet to do one of these studies, but they look like they’re easy to follow along with and have the Bible verses printed in them that go with the lessons. What a great idea! These books would be wonderful to use in your circle of friends for your next Bible study.

A Perfect Mess: Why You Don’t Have to Worry About Being Good Enough for God by Lisa Harper

I found this book to be very insightful. Lisa Harper uses illustrations from her own life to draw her reader in to each Psalm she discusses. She uses her knowledge of God’s Word and her study of biblical languages to give deeper understanding to each Psalm she writes about. The Psalms that are highlighted in this book really give you the feeling and belief that God loves His people in every way at all times. This isn’t to say that we can be reckless, but we can be a bit “messy” and He still cares for us. A Perfect Mess would make a great group study book for your women’s book club or prayer group. It is easy to follow and comprehend and it holds your attention. It certainly is not dry! I think that Harper does a wonderful job of giving us a little more light to shine on our reading of the Psalms.

A Journey to New Books – The Hope of Refuge - From August 5, 2009

The Hope of Refuge by Cindy Woodsmall tells the story of Cara – a woman with a broken past and no future in sight. Cara and her daughter, Lori, are on the run, and they find themselves in the midst of an Old Order Amish community with tight ties and little allowances for outsiders. One person is willing to answer God’s call and step out for these two, but what will the price be for doing what God has asked?
I have said this many times recently, and I will say it yet again today – I have never read any books by Cindy Woodsmall. I certainly am glad that I was able to pick this one up and read Cara’s story. I found the characters real and well-developed. They were full of characteristics that stood out on the page and came to life. I am continually drawn to stories of the Amish for reasons that I’m not entirely sure of. I find their life fascinating and I live in an area that has many Amish and Mennonite people living in it, but I don’t know what calls to me about these stories. I found this one particularly interesting, and it held a bit of a twist that I hadn’t expected when I first began the book. I hope that you will find a space of refuge and enjoy this delightful new book from Cindy Woodsmall.