Monday, December 31, 2007

Guest Reviewer...Intro and First Review

2007 was a great year for me, as I became reacquainted with the genre of Christian Fiction. I've always been an avid reader beginning with Grace Livingston Hill. Then in the 80s and 90s, I grew to love the work of Janette Oke. This year I've broadened my reading and found many new friends. So many thanks to all of you--Beverly Lewis, Tracie Peterson, Stephanie Grace Whitson, Lauraine Snelling, Lori Wick, and others too numerous to name--for many fascinating hours.

I was delighted to find several books under the Christmas tree. My first selections to read included Bygones and Beginnings by Kim Vogel Sawyer. I had discovered this author last summer, so I knew I was in for a special treat. I would describe Kim Vogel Sawyer's writing style as a combination of Janette Oke and Beverly Lewis. The characterization is well rounded and thought out. She does an excellent job of making the main characters realistic through a balance of dialogue, action, and internal dialogue.

Beth and her mother, Marie, struggle with the common issues of reconciliation, relationships, and the need to fit into community. Beth struggles with finding her purpose in life and finding the right priorities. I really enjoyed these books and I'm looking forward to the conclusion of this Sommerfield Trilogy--Blessings.

by Callie Laney (my wonderful, wonderful mother)

About Bygones:

Widower Marie Koeppler and her grown daughter Beth reluctantly return to the Mennonite community Marie abandoned twenty-three years ago. Soon after their arrival in Sommerfeld, a series of mysterious thefts raises the community's suspicions against the ""outsiders."" Can Marie prove their innocence, or will she be forced to flee once more? Henry Braun thought he'd gotten his love for Marie out of his system, but soon begins to wonder if she's stolen more than his heart. When it's all said and done, can Henry and Marie let bygones be bygones, or has their love been doomed from the start?

About Beginnings:

Beth Quinn is struggling to find a place to belong in the Old Order Mennonite Community of Sommerfeld, Kansas. When she starts a business designing stained glass windows, two men-one a Mennonite, the other not-begin to vie for her attention. Andrew Braun, a member of the Sommerfeld fellowship, is dedicated to family and faith. Sean McCauley, the son of a successful businessman, may only be interested in Beth's talents. Will Beth look to her heavenly Father to fill the emptiness within, or will her desperate quest for love shatter more than one heart?

Read more...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boo Humbug

Gutteridge, Rene. 2007. Boo Humbug.

I actually read this one on Sunday, but I didn't have time to review it before Christmas. This one is a gem of a book. It is funny and fun, and a book I recommend all around. It is set in a small town in Indiana, and it is one in a series of books. But this was my first exposure to the town and the people and I did just fine so I'm going to assume that others would do the same. There are multiple narrators, multiple story lines, etc. I won't go into too much detail here, it's best to read for yourself, but trust me it is funny and it just works wonderfully.

I don't laugh out loud often. And I rarely *torture* people by reading aloud passages from books, but in the case of Boo Humbug...I did both.

Read more...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 24

Song: Night Before Christmas
Artist: Amy Grant

Children carry through the streets
A brightly painted star.
Angels gather round the hearth,
Strumming on guitars.
Men of great renown and faith
Say prayers on boulevards.
It's the night before christmas.

But you don't have to be an angel
To sing harmony.
You don't have to be a child
To love the mystery. (mystery)
And you don't have to be a wise man
On bended knee.
The heart of this christmas is in you and me.

(the night before christmas.)
(the night before christmas.)

If your heart's been longing,
You've been afraid to try,
Sorrow's kept you company,
And the dance has passed by,
I'll lift you up and blaze with you
Across the moonlit sky
On the night before christmas.

'cause you don't have to be an angel
To sing harmony.
You don't have to be a child
To love the mystery. (mystery)
And you don't have to be a wise man
On bended knee.
The heart of this christmas is in you and me.

The heart of this christmas is in you and me.

(the night before christmas.)
(the night) the night before christmas.
(the night) the night before christmas.
(the night) the night before christmas.
(the night before christmas.)
(the night) the night before christmas.
(the night before christmas.)
(the night) the night before christmas.
(the night) la, la, la, la....

Read more...

The Shepherds' Prayer

Barry, Richard M. The Shepherds' Prayer.

Some people have last minute shopping. A time where they are frantically shopping and everything is in a frenzy. I don't. I never have. Instead, I almost always have last minute reading. I read several last-minute books this year that I'm going to try to review today. One of them is The Shepherds' Prayer. This one is biblical fiction. The prologue depicts one woman's hurried escape from the Slaughter of the Innocents. The Roman soldiers who came to Bethlehem to slaughter all boys under the age of two. But the heart and soul of this book is about what happens thirty years later.

Anam is a young man--if you consider thirty or thirty-one to be "young" which I do--adopted by another family. His father--the man he calls his father--found him on the side of the road. His mother was dead as was the horse she rode on. Anam which means "no name" is what he is called since he was already eight days old, already circumcised. Anam is on a quest to find out about his parents--to find out who he is and where he came from. So Anam sets out on a journey to Bethlehem in search of answers.

Most strangers are wary of answering Anam's questions. Especially when they find out that he was a babe that escaped the Slaughter of the Innocents. Any time he mentions the name of Jesus--the only clue he's got to go on--then people give him the cold shoulder. No one wants to help him. No one wants to even be civil. But he does piece together who might be able to help him. The shepherds who first proclaimed the arrival of this Messiah, this Christ child, this future king of the Jews.

So Anam's quest turns to that of a man seeking the shepherds. As you can imagine, his search is successful. The shepherds are eager to share their stories, share their thoughts and hopes about that glorious night. And they are overjoyed to find this man. They see his lambskin blanket that is inscribed and recognize it instantly, they knew his father. But more importantly perhaps to Anam, they know his name. His name is Stephen.

On his way back home, he comes across Jesus. A Jesus who has just begun his ministry. Just begun to heal the sick and proclaim his message. Jesus is depicted in this tale as seeking out the shepherds, seeking the ones who first worshipped him.

Overall, it is a nice, enjoyable story. Although some parts of the story are centered around the birth, I would say this is a story you can enjoy all year long. It's more about living and worshipping and witnessing...what you do with the child in the manger...after Christmas day.

Read more...

While the Shepherds Watched


Roberts, Steven. 2007. While Shepherds Watched.

I meant to review this one on Saturday, but things got away from me. Earlier in the year I reviewed Steven Roberts book, Christmas On Deery Street. I loved that book. I loved, loved, loved that book. I wish I could say the same about While Shepherds Watched. I didn't love, love, love it. But I enjoyed it. I'd give one an A+ and the other a B. Although since reading is subjective, you may find yourself loving this one more than the other. I can only speak to my own experiences here. First of all, Steven Roberts has once again created authentic characters. Characters that you feel you actually begin to know, begin to love by the time the story is through. That is rare for short stories, at least in my experiences. I'm used to bonding with characters in novels, but short stories--not so much. But Roberts does have a gift for characters, a gift for capturing human emotions, human nature so authentically, so genuinely. The stories presented here are: Gabriel's Trumpet, Peace In the Valley, Miracle in the Clearing, The Madam and the Paperboy, Transforming Christmas, and Full Circle. Of those stories, Gabriel's Trumpet, The Madam and the Paperboy, and Full Circle stand out to me. With Gabriel's Trumpet and Full Circle tying for first place in my thinking. Again this is subjective. In the first collection, I loved each and every story. In this second collection, well I loved a few, I liked a few, and I was neutral about a few. There weren't any that I hated by any means. But there were a few that left me unaffected, unmoved. But I'm glad I read this one, it would be worth your time and energy even if you just ended up loving two or three out of the six. There really is something for everyone--from every generation--to appreciate. Although I think this is a book for adults. (But what I meant by "every generation" was whether you're twenty-five or sixty-five, you're going to find something to enjoy in this collection.)

Read more...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 23

Labor of Love
from "Behold the Lamb of God"
Words and music by Andrew Peterson
Lyrics:

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David's town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

Read more...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 22

It Came To Pass
from "Behold the Lamb of God"
Words and music by Andrew Peterson
Lyrics:

It came to pass back in those days that Caesar, he decreed
A census would be taken of the Roman world, you see
So everyone packed up and headed back to their home towns
And this couple up from Galilee to Bethlehem was bound

So it came to pass this man named Joe was with his fiancee
Back when her pregnancy began to show he planned to go away
But it came to pass that in a dream an angel of the Lord
Said, "Joseph, don't you be afraid to marry Mary for
The little baby in her womb it is the Holy Spirit's work
You may have read the prophet said a virgin would give birth

So it came to pass that Joseph was the noblest of men
With a woman on a donkey on their way to Bethlehem
And I wonder whether either was aware enough that day
To know the child would bring a Kingdom
and the old would come to pass away

Yes, it came to pass that Joseph was the noblest of men
With a woman on a donkey on their way to Bethlehem

Read more...

Christmas Jars


Wright, Jason F. 2005. Christmas Jars.

I am so glad I found this to read before Christmas. When it came to my mailbox a few months ago, I set it to the side. I wanted to save it until it was really and truly Christmas. (A time when it wasn't 70 or 80 degrees outside.) Well, yesterday was the day. I loved this one. I did. It was just the right mix. It was sentimental and heartwarming, but it wasn't overly done. It was just a real, feel-good, warm and fuzzy read. One that I think everyone would enjoy. It's relatively short--a little over 120 pages--and it's just an enjoyable, satisfying holiday read. I don't want to get it into plot summary because there really isn't a way to do it justice. You'll just have to trust me that this works.

Read more...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 21

Matthew's Begats
from "Behold the Lamb of God"
Words and music by Andrew Peterson
Lyrics:

Abraham had Isaac
Isaac, he had Jacob
Jacob, he had Judah and his kin
Then Perez and Zerah
Came from Judah's woman, Tamar
Perez, he brought Hezron up
And then came

Aram, then Amminadab
Then Nahshon, who was then the dad of Salmon
Who with Rahab fathered Boaz
Ruth, she married Boaz who had Obed
Who had Jesse
Jesse, he had David who we know as king

David, he had Solomon by dead Uriah's wife
Solomon, well you all know him
He had good old Rehoboam
Followed by Abijah who had Asa
Asa had Jehoshaphat had Joram had Uzziah
Who had Jotham then Ahaz then Hezekiah

Followed by Manasseh who had Amon
Who was a man
Who was father of a good boy named Josiah
Who grandfathered Jehoiachin
Who caused the Babylonian captivity
Because he was a liar

Then he had Shealtiel, who begat Zerubbabel
Who had Abiud who had Eliakim
Eliakim had Azor who had Zadok who had Akim
Akim was the father of Eliud then
He had Eleazar who had Matthan who had Jacob
Now, listen very closely
I don't want to sing this twice
Jacob was the father of Joseph
The husband of Mary
The mother of Christ

Read more...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 20

No Eye Had Seen

Words: Amy Grant
Music: Michael W. Smith

No eye had seen
No ear had heard
'Til hosts on high
Proclaimed the birth
And heav'n brough down
(Quietly with no one watching)
Its only child
(From the womb of perfect peace)
The son of man
(Wellspring of our joy delivered)
The world reconciled
(Into earthly destiny)

And song broke forth
Angelic strain
And none could help
But sing the name

Emmanuel
(Kyrie eleison we sing)
Emmanuel
(Glory to the newborn King)
Emmanuel
(Mortal and immortal voices)
Emmanuel
(Endless praises echoing)

Read more...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 19

Lux Venit
Performed by Michael W. Smith

Lux venit lux venit
Sursum corda
Lux venit lux venit arise
Shine for your light has come

By sword by flame
in death solemn ages passed
And voices young
Grow old weary
Holding fast
Hope for the dawning

Lux venit lux venit lux venit
Sursum corda
Lux venit lux venit lux venit arise
Shine for your light has come

Lux venit lux venit
Sursum corda
Lux venit lux venit arise
Shine for your light has come

In grace in might
The babe lay in stable stark
Redemptions's light
Pierces through the shadows dark
Alleluia

Lux venit lux venit lux venit
Sursum corda
Lux venit lux venit lux venit arise
Shine for your light has come

Lux venit lux venit
Sursum corda
Lux venit lux venit arise
Shine for your light has come

Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia

Read more...

CFBA: Distant Heart


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Distant Heart

(Avon Inspire January 2, 2008)

by

Tracey Bateman


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:








Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including Defiant Heart, the First in the Westeard Hearts series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and recently served on the board as President. She loves in Lebanon, Montana, with her husband and their four children.






ABOUT THE BOOK

In the second book in the Westward Hearts trilogy, will the promise of a new life out west heal the scars of Toni's past?

This series tells the stories of three strong women as they struggle to survive on the rough wagon train and lose their hearts to unlikely heroes along the way/ Thin Little House on the Prairie meets Francine river's Redeeming Love and you begin to get a sense of the riveting historical series that Tracey Bateman has created.

In this second installment, we follow Toni Rodden, a former prostitute who sought to escape her past and build a new life, and a new reputation, when she joined the wagon train. Despite much resentment and distrust from the other women, Toni has finally earned a place on the wagon train and found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time in her life, Toni actually feels free.

But while Toni once harbored dreams that her new life might include a husband and family, she soon realizes the stigma that comes with her past is difficult to see beyond and that she'll never be truly loved or seen as worthy. As the trip out west begins to teach her to survive on her own, she resolves to make her own living as a seamstress when the train finally reaches Oregon.

But despite Toni's conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-feathers, the wagon scout and acting preacher for the train seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a God that can forgive even the darkest past? Faith, love, and courage will be put to the test in Distant Heart.

Read more...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 18

The Night Before Christmas
Performed by Steven Curtis Chapman

It was the night before Christmas and all through the world
Everything looked like business as usual
Shepherds sat on a hillside looking up at the stars
While the world fell asleep unware just how deep
Was the darkness the night before Christmas

And the night before Christmas it seemed to be just a night
But the wind blew like something was coming
And like children with secrets that they're bursting to tell
The cedars danced in the breeze while all of nature it seemed
Held its breath on the night before Christmas

And hope, hope long awaited
The hope of the ages
Would break with the dawn
And the song that all of creation was anticipating
Would start with a baby's first cry

And on the night before Christmas Mary laid down to rest
While Joseph, he paced the floor praying
And in an everyday stable, in an everyday town
In the hours to come God would wrap Himself up
And come down from heaven and the world would forever be changed
After the night before Christmas

Read more...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 17

Jesus, Light of the World
Performed by Third Day

The most beautiful night of the year
All the stars light up the sky
And the city is sparkling with silver and gold
From a million points of light
A reflection of something that’s deeper within
Just a flicker of something more

Jesus, Light of the World
Shine through the darkness
Bright as the day
Jesus, Light of the World
Shine in our hearts
Show us the way tonight

Who is this child in a manger?
Kings bow down and angels sing
The Lord of the Universe
Has come here to save us
A precious Offering
All the heavens above and the earth below
Are filled with the light of Your love

Jesus, Light of the World
Shine through the darkness
Bright as the day
Jesus, Light of the World
Shine in our hearts
Show us the way tonight

Instrumental solo

Jesus, Light of the World
Shine through the darkness
Bright as the day
Jesus, Light of the World
Shine in our hearts
Show us the way

Jesus, shine, shine
Show us the way
Light of the world
Shine in our hearts
Show us the way tonight,
Oh, Show us the way tonight

Read more...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 16

Going Home for Christmas
Performed by Steven Curtis Chapman

Her house was where the family gathered every Christmas eve;
A feast was set on the table and gifts were placed beneath the tree.
Everything was picture perfect, Grandpa would laugh and say,
That woman spends the whole year getting ready for this day.

One year the leaves began to fall and her health began to fade;
We moved her to a place where they could watch her night and day.
But she kept making plans for Christmas from her little room;
She told everyone, I’ll miss you but I’ll be leaving soon.

I’m going home for Christmas and I’m going home to stay;
I’m going home for Christmas and nothing’s gonna keep me away.
I’ll be with the ones I love to celebrate the Savior’s birth;
This gift will be worth more to me than anything on earth.
I’m going home, home for Christmas.

All the leaves outside have fallen to be covered by the snow;
The family comes with food and gifts and Grandpa comes alone.
There’s a sadness in our silence as the Christmas story’s read,
And with tears, Grandpa reminds us of the words that Grandma said.

I’m going home for Christmas and I’m going home to stay;
I’m going home for Christmas and nothing’s gonna keep me away.
She’ll be face to face with Jesus as we celebrate His birth,
And this gift will be worth more to her than anything on earth,
‘Cause she’ll be home.

And as we sing ‘Joy to the World’ I can’t help thinking
Of the joy that’s shining in her eyes right now.
And though our hearts still ache, we know that as we celebrate,
She’s singing with the herald angels and heaven’s glowing on her face.

And now she’s home for Christmas and now she’s home to stay;
She’s home for Christmas, and nothin’ could’ve kept her away.
She’ll be face to face with Jesus, as we celebrate His birth,
And this gift will be worth more to her than anything on earth.
She’s home, she’s home for Christmas.
She is home, she’s home for Christmas.

Read more...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 15

The Gift Goes On
Performed by Sandi Patti

The Father gave the Son
The Son gave the Spirit
The Spirit gives us life
So we can give the Gift of love
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on

Don't you love to get a present wrapped up in a Christmas bow
God gave each of us a present on that night so long ago
It's a Gift that keeps on giving if our spirits can receive
It's the secret joy of living if our hearts can just believe

And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on and on and on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on
And the Gift goes on and on and on

When your life is full of Christmas then your life is full of love
You can give away the present that began with God above
Just like ripples in the water the circles of our love extend
What was started with the Father is a Gift that has no end

By Ron Harris and Claire Cloninger
(c) 1983 Ron Harris Music/ASCAP

Read more...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 14

Joseph's Lullaby
Performed by MercyMe

Go to sleep my Son
This manger for your bed
You have a long road before You
Rest Your little head

Can You feel the weight of Your glory?
Do You understand the price?
Does the Father guard Your heart for now
So You can sleep tonight?

Go to sleep my Son
Go and chase Your dreams
This world can wait for one more moment
Go and sleep in peace

I believe the glory of Heaven
Is lying in my arms tonight
Lord, I ask that He for just this moment
Simply be my child

Go to sleep my Son
Baby, close Your eyes
Soon enough You'll save the day
But for now, dear Child of mine
Oh my Jesus, Sleep tight

Read more...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 13

Hibernation Day
Performed by Jars of Clay

I don't want to get out of bed
You don't want to go out in the snow
We don't have to do the things Eskimos do
Let's have a hibernation day, me and you

The snow is climbing up the door
(so much higher than before)
The weatherman is sure there will be more
(I don't want to go out in the snow)
These blankets make a cozy little cave just for two
Let's have a hibernation day

I love the snap of winter air
and the snowflakes on my face
How the snowdrifts make the cars
Disappear without a trace

I'll take a day dressed in pajamas
in a room without a view
If I can spend the day
curled up next to you,
next to you (next to you)
I don't want to get out of bed
You don't want to go out in the snow
(It's so cold outside)
Let's have a hibernation day
We don't have to go out in the snow
Let's have a hibernation day, me and you

Read more...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Countdown To Christmas--Day 12

Breath of Heaven
performed by Amy Grant

I have traveled many moonless nights,
Cold and weary with a babe inside,
And I wonder what I've done.
Holy father you have come,
And chosen me now to carry your son.

I am waiting in a silent prayer.
I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.
Be with me now.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place,
But I offer all I am

[Breath of Heaven lyrics on http://www.metrolyrics.com]
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven.

Read more...

CFBA: What Lies Within


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

What Lies Within

Multnomah Fiction (November 20, 2007)

by

Karen Ball



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Karen Ball , bestselling novelist, is also the editor behind several of today's bestselling Christian novels. Her love for words was passed down through her father and grandfather - both pastors who shared God's truth through sermons and storytelling. Blending humor, poignancy, and honesty, Karen's writing style is a powerful force for revealing God's truth. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Don, and their "kids," Bodhan, a mischief-making Siberian husky, and Dakota, an Aussie-terrier mix who should have been named "Destructo."

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Nothing’s going to stop Kyla…


until the ground crumbles beneath her feet.


Kyla Justice has arrived. Her company, Justice Construction, is one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful companies in the Pacific Northwest. And yet, something is missing. Not until she’s called on to build a center for inner-city kids does she realize what it is: her sense of purpose. Now nothing can stop her, not the low budget, not supply problems, not gang opposition, not her boyfriend’s suggestion that she sell her business and marry him–and most especially not that disagreeable Rafael Murphy.


Rafe Murphy understands battle. Wounded in action, this Force Recon Marine carries the scars–and the nightmares–to prove it. Though he can’t fight overseas any longer, he’s found his place as a warrior in the civilian world. So he soldiers on, trusting that one of these days, God will reveal to him why Rafe survived the ambush in Iraq. That day has arrived.


Kyla and Rafe both discover that determination alone won’t carry them through danger and challenges. When gang violence threatens their very foundations, there’s only one way to survive: rely on each other, be real–and surrender to God. In other words, risk everything…

Read more...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 11

So Long, Moses
by Andrew Peterson

Lyrics:

So long, Moses
Hello, Promised Land
It was a long, long road
But your people are home
So long, Moses

Hello, Joshua
Goodbye, Canaanites
We're coming to town
Twelve tribes and no crown
No crown, Oh Lord

We want a king on a throne
Full of power, with a sword in his fist
Will there ever be, ever be a king like this?


Hello, Saul
First king of Israel
You were foolish and strong
So you didn't last long
Goodbye, Saul

Hail, King David
Shepherd from Bethlehem
Set the temple of God
In mighty Jerusalem

You were a king on a throne
Full of power, with a sword in his fist
Has there ever been, ever been a king like this?
Full of wisdom, full of strength, the hearts of the people are his
Hear, O Israel, was ever there a king like this?

Hello, prophets
The kingdom is broken now
The people of God
Have been scattered abroad
How long, O Lord?

So speak, Isaiah
Prophet of Judah
Can you tell of the One
This king who's going to come

Will he be a king on a throne
Full of power with a sword in his fist?
Prophet, tell us will there be another king like this?
Full of wisdom, full of strength,
The hearts of the people are his
Prophet, tell us will there be
another king like this?

"He'll bear no beauty or glory
Rejected, despised
A man of such sorrow
We'll cover our eyes

He'll take up our sickness
Carry our tears
For his people
He will be pierced

He'll be crushed for our evils
Our punishment feel
By his wounds
We will be healed."

"From you, O Bethlehem
Small among Judah
A ruler will come
Ancient and strong."

©2004 Andrew Peterson

Read more...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 10

Precious Promise
by Steven Curtis Chapman

Oh what a precious promise,
Oh what a gift of love;
An angel told a virgin that
She's gonna have a son.
And though it's a precious promise,
She wonders how can this be;
What will the people say
And what if Joseph can't believe.
And her questions and her fears
Are met with an overwhelming joy
That God has chosen her.
Oh what a precious promise;
Mary waits as heaven comes to her.

Oh what a precious promise,
Oh what a gift of love;
Joseph makes his choice to do
What few men would have done:
To take Mary as his bride,
When she's already carrying a child
That isn't his own.
Oh what a precious promise;
Mary and the child will have a home.

And shepherds stand on a hillside,
Their hearts racing with the news the angel told them;
A star's light fills up the dark sky,
As a night of precious promise is unfolding.

Oh what a precious promise,
Oh what a gift of love;
The waiting now is over and
The time has finally come.
For the God who made this world
To roll back the curtain
And unveil His passion for the heart of man.
Oh what a precious promise,
Lying in a manger in Bethlehem.

Read more...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 9

Our God Is With Us
by Steven Curtis Chapman

One of us is cryin’ as our hopes and dreams are led away in chains,
And we’re left all alone;
One of us is dyin’ as our love is slowly lowered in the grave,
Oh and we’re left all alone.
But for all of us who journey through the dark abyss of loneliness
There comes a great announcement - we are never alone -
For the maker of each heart that breaks, the giver of each breath we take
Has come to earth and given hope it’s birth.

CHORUS
And our God is with us, Emmanuel.
He’s come to save us, Emmanuel.
And we will never face life alone
Now that God has made Himself known,
As Father and Friend, with us through the end, Emmanuel.

He spoke with prophets’ voices and showed Himself in a cloud of fire,
But no one had seen His face;
Until the One Most Holy revealed to us His perfect heart’s desire,
And left His rightful place;
And in one glorious moment, all eternity was shaken,
As God broke through the darkness that had kept us apart.
And with love that conquers loneliness, and hope that fills all emptiness
He came to earth to show our worth.

(chorus)

So rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel has come!
And our God is with us, Emmanuel.
He’s come to save us, Emmanuel.
And we will never face life alone
Now that God has made Himself known,
As Father and Friend, with us through the end, Emmanuel.
Our God is with us, Emmanuel!

Read more...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 8

Immanuel by Michael Card

A sign shall be given
A virgin will conceive
A human baby bearing
Undiminished deity
The glory of the nations
A light for all to see
That hope for all who will embrace
His warm reality

Immanuel
Our God is with us
And if God is with us
Who could stand against us
Our God is with us
Immanuel

For all those who live in the shadow of death
A glorious light has dawned
For all those who stumble in the darkness
Behold your light has come

Immanuel
Our God is with us
And if God is with us
Who could stand against us
Our God is with us
Immanuel

So what will be your answer?
Will you hear the call?
Of Him who did not spare His son
But gave him for us all
On earth there is no power
There is no depth or height
That could ever separate us
From the love of God in Christ

Immanuel
Our God is with us
And if God is with us
Who could stand against us
Our God is with us
Immanuel

Immanuel
Our God is with us
And if God is with us
Who could stand against us
Our God is with us
Immanuel

Read more...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 7

The Final Word by Michael Card

You and me we use so very many clumsy words.
The noise of what we often say is not worth being heard.
When the Father's wisdom wanted to communicate His love,
He spoke it in one final perfect Word.

He spoke the incarnation, and then so was born the Son.
His final word was Jesus, He needed no other one.
Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine.
And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine.

And so the Father's fondest thought took on flesh and bone.
He spoke the living luminous word, at once His will was done.
And so the transformation that in man had been unheard,
Took place in God the Father as he spoke that final Word.

And so the Light became alive and manna became Man.
Eternity stepped into time so we could understand

Read more...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 6

"While You Were Sleeping"
by Casting Crowns

Oh little town of Bethlehem
Looks like another silent night
Above your deep and dreamless sleep
A giant star lights up the sky
And while you're lying in the dark
There shines an everlasting light
For the King has left His throne
And is sleeping in a manger tonight

Oh Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
For God became a man
And stepped into your world today
Oh Bethlehem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

Oh little town of Jerusalem
Looks like another silent night
The Father gave His only Son
The Way, the Truth, the Life had come
But there was no room for Him in the world He came to save

Jerusalem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
The Savior of the world is dying on your cross today
Jerusalem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

United States of America
Looks like another silent night
As we're sung to sleep by philosophies
That save the trees and kill the children
And while we're lying in the dark
There's a shout heard 'cross the eastern sky
For the Bridegroom has returned
And has carried His bride away in the night

America, what will we miss while we are sleeping
Will Jesus come again
And leave us slumbering where we lay
America, will we go down in history
As a nation with no room for its King
Will we be sleeping
Will we be sleeping

United States of America
Looks like another silent night

Read more...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 5

This song is one of my favorites. It is NOT on a Christmas album, but I always felt it was the perfect kind of Christmas song. The artist is Shaun Groves.

God With Us
by Shaun Groves

Hope has come
To the world
Heaven's son is
Born to earth
To hide beneath our
Flesh and bone
Call us friend
And call this home
Emmanuel
God with us
God with us
Emmanuel
God with us

Love has come
Weighted down
By splintered beam
And thorny crown
To take our nails
And taste our steel
Spill his life
And grace reveal

Savior
God for us
God for us
Savior
God for us

Heaven come
And take our hand
Whisper till we understand
Move our stubborn
Hearts to love
The very least
As you love us

Spirit be
God in us
God in us
Spirit be
God in us

Emmanuel
Savior
Spirit be
God of us
God of us

Read more...

CFBA: Bluegrass Peril

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Bluegrass Peril

(Steeple Hill December 4, 2007)

by

Virginia Smith



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker in the summer of 2005. Since then she has contracted eight novels and numerous articles and short stories.

She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including her debut, Just As I Am (Kregel Publications, March 2006) and her new release, Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007). Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines.

An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”






ABOUT THE BOOK:

WHO KILLED HER BOSS?


Local police had tagged single mom Becky Dennison as their prime suspect. But she'd only been in the wrong place at the wrong time...admittedly, with her boss's lifeless body. Sure it looked bad, but Becky had no motive for killing...even if she had opportunity.

When the director of the retirement farm for thoroughbred champions is murdered, Becky Dennison teams up with the handsome manager of a neighboring horse farm, Scott Lewis, to find her boss's killer. Soon the amateur detective are hot on the trail of the murderer...even as their feelings for each other deepen.

The amateur sleuths uncover a trail of clues that lead them into the intricate society of Kentucky's elite thoroughbred breeding industry. They soon find themselves surrounded by the mint julep set - jealous southern belles and intensely competitive horse breeders - in a high-stakes game of danger, money, and that famous southern pride.

And for Becky and Scott, this race on the Kentucky tracks has the greatest stakes of all: life or death!


Romantic Times awarded Bluegrass Peril
* * * * FOUR STARS! * * * *

Read more...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 4

Christmas Like A Child by Third Day

I want to feel Christmas, how it used to be
With all of its wonder falling on me
This season has felt so empty, oh for quite a while
I want to feel Christmas like a child

I want to see snowflakes fall to the ground
My brothers and sisters all gathered around
Singing "Away In A Manager" as we sit by the fire
I want to feel Christmas like a child

It's been so long now, I can't say
Just when I lost my way
But I'm going back to how it was
When this day meant everything
And we spent our time remembering
The baby Child born for us

It's all about Jesus, asleep in the straw
This infant, this King, this Savior for all

So I don't need bells to be ringing
'Cause I'll join with angels singing
Gloria
And I can feel Christmas like a child
I want to feel Christmas like a child...

Read more...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 3

The song "A Strange Way to Save the World."

Sure he must have been surprised
At where this road had taken him
'Cause never in a million lives
Would he had dreamed of Bethlehem
And standing at the manger
He saw with his own eyes
The message from the angel come to life
And Joseph said...

(CHORUS)
Why me, I'm just a simple man of trade
Why Him, with all the rulers in the world
Why here inside this stable filled with hay
Why her, she's just an ordinary girl
Now I'm not one to second guess what angels have to say
But this is such a strange way to save the world

To think of how it could have been
If Jesus had come as He deserved
There would have been no Bethlehem
No lowly shepherds at His birth
But Joseph knew the reason
Love had to reach so far
And as he held the Savior in his arms
He must have thought...

(CHORUS)

Now I'm not one to second guess what angels have to say
But this is such a strange way to save the world
...this is such a strange way to save the world...Saving the World

Read more...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 2

We Are The Reason
by David Meece

As little children
We would dream of Christmas morn
Of all the gifts and toys
We knew we'd find
But we never realized
A baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives

We were the reason
That He gave His life
We were the reason
That He suffered and died
To a world that was lost
He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live

As the years went by
We learned more about gifts
The giving of ourselves
And what that means
On a dark and cloudy day
A man hung crying in the rain
All because of love, all because of love

I've finally found the reason for living
It's in giving every part of my heart to Him
In all that I do every word that I say
I'll be giving my all just for Him, for Him

He is my reason to live

Read more...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Countdown to Christmas--Day 1

This one, "It's Christmas Time" appears on the City On A Hill album, "It's Christmas Time"

In the city on the hill
Hear the bells chime
Peace on earth good will
Its Christmas time
Glad tidings we will bring
of Christ the new born king
And with the angels sing at Christmas time

Its Christmas time
Its Christmas time
Its Christmas time
Its Christmas time
Its Christmas time

In a town of Betlehem
See the stars shine
Fall down and worship Him
Its Christmas time
Glad tidings we will bring
of Christ the new born king
And with the angels sing at Christmas time

Glo...ho...ho...oo..ria
In exelcis Deo...
Glo...ho...ho...oo..ria

In the city on the hill
Hear the bells chime
(Peace on earth)
Peace on earth good will
(Its Christmas time)
Its Christmas time
Glad tidings we will bring
of Christ the new born king
And with the angels sing at Christmas time

Glad tidings we will bring
of Christ the new born king
And with the angels sing at Christmas time

Its Christmas time (10x)

In the city on the hill
Gloo..ooo..ooo...ooo...ria..
Its Christmas time

Read more...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

CFBA: Auralia's Colors


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

AURALIA'S COLORS
(WaterBrook Press September 4, 2007)

by

Jefferey Overstreet


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Jeffrey Overstreet lives in two worlds. By day, he writes about movies at LookingCloser.org and in notable publications like Christianity Today, Paste, and Image.

His adventures in cinema are chronicled in his book Through a Screen Darkly. By night, he composes new stories found in fictional worlds of his own. Living in Shoreline, Washington, with his wife, Anne, a poet, he is a senior staff writer for Response Magazine at Seattle Pacific University.

Auralia’s Colors is his first novel. He is now hard at work on many new stories, including three more strands of The Auralia Thread.





ABOUT THE BOOK:
As a baby, she was found in a footprint.

As a girl, she was raised by thieves in a wilderness where savages lurk.

As a young woman, she will risk her life to save the world with the only secret she knows.


When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.

Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.

Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.

Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.

Visit the Website especially created for the book, Auralia's Colors. On the site, you can read the first chapter and listen to jeffrey's introduction of the book, plus a lit more!

PRAISE

"Film critic and author Overstreet (Through a Screen Darkly) offers a powerful myth for his first foray into fiction. Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told. Readers will be hungry for the next installment."
--Publishers Weekly


“Through word, image, and color Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted a work of art. From first to final page this original fantasy is sure to draw readers in. Auralia's Colors sparkles.”
-–Janet Lee Carey, award-winning author of The Beast of
Noor
and Dragon's Keep


“Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy, Auralia’s Colors, and its heroine’s cloak of wonders take their power from a vision of art that is auroral, looking to the return of beauty, and that intends to restore spirit and and mystery to the world. The book achieves its ends by the creation of a rich, complex universe and a series of dramatic, explosive events.”
-–Marly Youmans, author of Ingledove and The
Curse of the Raven Mocker

Read more...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

CFBA: Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing

THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT


Thomas Nelson (October 2, 2007)

by

Neta Jackson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Neta Jackson Neta Jackson's award-winning Yada books have sold more than 350,000 copies and are spawning prayer groups across the country. She and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning husband/wife writing team, best known for the Trailblazer Books--a 40-volume series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes with 1.8 million in sales--and Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes (vols 1-4).

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of the Chicago Tabernacle, a multi-racial congregation that is a daughter church of the well-known Brooklyn Tabernacle.




ABOUT THE BOOK:
Turkey dinners, tree trimming, and decking the halls--it's that time of year again! And I Jodi Baxter, can't wait to celebrate. My kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then all of us Yadas are getting decked out for a big New Year's party.

But God's idea of "decked out" might just change the nature of our party plans. A perplexing encounter with a former student, a crime that literally knocks me off my feet, a hurry-up wedding, and a child who will forever change our family...it's times like these that I really need my prayer sisters.

This holiday season, we Yada Yadas are learning that no one can out celebrate God. So let's get this party started!

THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT is a festive novella featuring America's favorite prayer group, the Yada Yadas!

Sometimes dubbed "chick-lit" for their bright covers and catchy titles, this series provides far more depth than witty banter and wacky situations. Inspired by a prayer group of real women, each book will have you laughing, crying, and perhaps praying anew.

In this highly anticipated installment, the Yada Yada sisters-a group of multi-cultural friends-and their families prepare for the event of the season.

But yes, eager readers, this novella—which picks up a year and a half after the end of book #6 The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling concludes the series with some twists and turns that will amaze and encourage you. Plus, it sets the stage for Neta’s new series with new characters and new situations but also occasional roles for the beloved Yada Yada sisters in familiar Chicago neighborhoods with all their cultural richness.

Read more...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sneak Preview...





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Making of It's A Wonderful Christmas

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's A Wonderful Christmas


No one does Christmas like Michael W. Smith. Though I admit I'm completely biased. His first Christmas album, simply titled Christmas, was released in 1989. It became an instant favorite alongside Prism's Prism Green album and Sandi Patti's The Gift Goes On. Those three were pretty much it as far as Christian Christmas favorites were concerned. They were the only three that I had in my collection for several years at least. This means they got a LOT of play. Over the years, new favorites were added: Amy Grant's Home For Christmas, Steven Curtis Chapman's The Music of Christmas, but above them all was Michael W. Smith's second Christmas album entitled Christmastime. That second one was released in 1998. Now I'm not saying that I haven't appreciated other offerings by Christian artists--Steve Green's First Noel, FFH's Winter Wonder, MercyMe's Christmas Sessions, Third Day's Christmas Offerings, but I'll keep it honest. No ONE does Christmas like Michael W. Smith.

So you can guess my excitement when I "discovered" a few weeks ago that a third Christmas album was being released. (It was released in October, but purchased in November).

Christmas Angels
It's A Wonderful Christmas
The Promise
Song for The King
Christmas Day
A Highland Carol
Sing Noel, Sing Hallelujah
What Child Is This
Son of God
Audrey's Gift
All Year Long

Those are the songs. Do they have the potential of being the soundtrack of the 2007 Christmas season? You know they do!!! This is what Amazon has to say It's A Wonderful Christmas is the, "2007 holiday release from one of the most popular Contemporary Christian Music artists of all time. It's A Wonderful Christmas features nine original songs and one standard performed by Michael and a 67-piece orchestra, recorded at London's famous Abbey Road Studios. This album is perhaps the most anticipated seasonal release this year, so don't be left out in the cold without it!"

The album is a unique blend of instrumental and vocal joys. One Amazon reviewer made this observation...which I'm quoting because it saves me the trouble of formulating it on my own..."Some of the instrumental tracks sound like the soundtrack to a movie. And one feels like a missing piece from the Nutcracker." And earlier he wrote, "Only one track, "What Child is This" is a traditional piece. Michael wrote or co-wrote everything else. Yet everything feels like an old familiar friend." Though you may not believe me at first, I was thinking the EXACT same thing. The instrumental songs really are just like the perfect Christmas movie soundtrack. And one does sound like it's inspired by The Nutcracker. From the very first moment I heard it, I thought "I see ballerinas. Ballerinas NEED to hear this song!!!"

I also learned this from an Amazon review..."This release is a more epic,classical work with four amazing choirs, among them a 100-voice choir and also a 16-member London boy's choir directed by John Tobin, and a 67-piece orchestra at London's Abbey Road studios."

Other Amazon reviews note that the album is "too short." To those critics, I say this. His first album was shorter. Shorter by almost two minutes. And his second album is only longer by five minutes. So their memory is faulty in thinking that they're getting shorted on quantity. And on the time issue, Nat King Cole's classic album The Christmas Song is only thirty minutes. Bing Crosby's classic album, White Christmas, only thirty minutes. Amy Grant's Home For Christmas, only 42 minutes. (Two minutes longer than It's A Wonderful Christmas.) Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas? 39 minutes. Elvis's It's Christmas Time? 23 minutes. The soundtrack to A Muppet Christmas Carol? Almost 39 minutes. No matter how you look at it, there's no way this argument will hold up.

This is a true must-have album. I just loved it. I'm not sure where it fits into with his other two albums. I don't see it as displacing them from their places of honor. But all three together, and you've got the perfect soundtrack for Christmas celebrations and preparations.

http://www.michaelwsmith.com/

Read more...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Jars of Clay: Christmas Songs


It's never easy to review a Jars of Clay CD. I've loved the band for years. Their first two CDs were incredible; they were part of the soundtrack of my life--my college life. Yet their releases are, for me, hit and miss. A few are great, a few are good, a few are okay, and one or two are bad. The problem? Assigning albums to those categories that all fans can agree to. While most fans will admit that some are way way better than others, and that a few are just awful. It's never particularly easy to agree on which is which. Why? Because their style changes from CD to CD. Often even within one CD they display diverse styles and genres and moods. So depending on your personal taste, you might really really love an album that another Jarsy fan hates. And vice versa.

And Christmas CDs are not the easiest to review either. Taking into account that any time a band or artist 'rearranges' a Christmas song--carol, hymn, jingle, whatever--there are bound to be some that think it's not so good. Why mess with a good thing after all? And there are those that will love the new twist on an old favorite. With the philosophy why not make it theirs?

There are fourteen songs on Jars of Clay's Christmas album named Christmas Songs. Even if you think you recognize them as having been "sung" by the group before...believe me...these are new arrangements. (There was a beautiful, beautiful little single put out about a decade or so ago that had "Drummer Boy" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" on it.)

The songs range from enjoyable to annoying. That's not to say that the annoying songs wouldn't or couldn't grow on you if you listened to the album at length. There are many albums that take time to appreciate. (I've only listened to the album twice.) But with Christmas albums overall consistency is almost more important than enjoying individual songs. After all, when it comes time to setting background music to cook to, to bake to, to wrap presents to, to open presents to, to eat dinner to, to drive around looking at Christmas lights to, etc. You want something that is pleasant through and through. Something not too distracting, something not annoying, something that you won't have to be stopping so you can flip songs. There are a handful of genuinely pleasant songs on this CD, but a few are a bit too much for me personally.

You might want to preview this one before you buy it. Or you might want to take advantage of stores like iTunes and buy only a few songs from this album.


Read more...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CFBA: Try Dying

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


TRY DYING

(Center Street October 24, 2007)

by

James Scott Bell



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

James Scott Bell is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He is also the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.

His book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today. The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his next Buchanan thriller.




ABOUT THE BOOK:

On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the backyard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles. As Alejandra lay bleeding to death, Ernesto drove their Ford Explorer to the westbound Century Freeway connector where it crossed over the Harbor Freeway and pulled to a stop on the shoulder.

Bonilla stepped around the back of the SUV, ignoring the rain and the afternoon drivers on their way to LAX and the west side, placed the barrel of his .38 caliber pistol into his mouth, and fired.

His body fell over the shoulder and plunged one hundred feet, hitting the roof of a Toyota Camry heading northbound on the harbor Freeway. The impact crushed the roof of the Camry. The driver, Jacqueline Dwyer, twenty-seven, an elementary schoolteacher from Reseda, died at the scene.

This would have been simply another dark and strange coincidence, the sort of thing that shows up for a two-minute report on the local news--with live remote from the scene--and maybe gets a follow-up the next day. Eventually the story would go away, fading from the city's collective memory.

But this story did not go away. Not for me. Because Jacqueline Dwyer was the woman I was going to marry.

In Try Dying, this fast-paced thriller, lawyer Ty Buchanan must enter a world of evil to uncover the cause of his fiancee's death--even if hie has to kill for the truth.
"Bell is one of the best writers out there...he creates characters readers care about...a story worth telling."
~Library Review~

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Splitting Harriet


Leigh, Tamara. 2007. Splitting Harriet.

I typically love Tamara Leigh's books. So I was surprised when this turned into a love-to-hate or hate-to-love book. And then I was equally surprised that it turned the corner there at the end and charmed me. Our heroine, Harriet or Harri, was a likable one for me. Maybe she was supposed to come off as goody two-shoes, maybe she was supposed to represent the legalistic Christian. But for me, she was neither. She was a caring, compassionate friend. I found nothing odd about a twenty-eight year old woman whose closest friends lived in the Senior Retirement mobile home park. I liked that she was all bosom buddies with the older ladies. It was charming. It was sweet. It was familiar. Okay, maybe not familiar as in the kind of thing you read about in books every day. But familiar-to-me. My close friends have always been older--most considerably older--than me. I joined the adult Sunday School class at the age of 20 or 21. I was the youngest. I still am the youngest. But even if my church had "youth" my age, I wouldn't switch now for all the money in the world. (I think it is ridiculous to separate people by age once they're not "children" anymore.) So Harri's story is a personal one. I *know* the reader was supposed to sympathize with the hero, Maddox, and see Harri as stuck-in-the-mud. The opposite was just the case for me. I loved Harri, and there for a while, I was booing when Maddox appeared in the scene. Here was a hero that I just didn't like. Maddox is an outsider. He's been hired as a marketing consultant by Harri's church to 're-envision' the church. To change it up. To make it seeker friendly. To make it relevant and appealing to the unchurched. To make the music an entertaining center attraction. (Enter drums and electric guitars. Goodbye organ and piano.) For a good portion of the text, it seems Maddox's number one 'vision' of the church is to get rid of all the older folks--the senior citizens. His only concern seems to be getting young people there. (Young people being anyone 40 and under.) So I hated Maddox. Hated him with a passion. He's a pushy, motorcycle riding jerk. Someone who is always picking on Harri. Telling her that it's wrong for her to love old people. Wrong for spending her time with senior citizens. Wrong for not having the 'same' interests as people her own age. Maddox represents everything that I theoretically hate. I am NOT a fan of "marketing" or "business" tactics in churches. I am NOT a fan of the mega-church movement. I am not a fan of this "seeker-friendly" nonsense. I am NOT a fan of turning churches into entertainment centers. Stages, musicians, projection screens. Not my thing. They never will be. And the idea that everything this woman loved about her church was being ripped away and shredded by this outsider bothered me. It seemed unfair. It seemed typical but just so wrong. Like the story Nathan tells about two men. One man had one sheep. One man had many sheep. But it was the man with the one sheep who was forced to sacrifice his sheep for the guest of the rich man. If people want a big church, a mega-church, then they should go to one. An established one. People should never try to transform other churches into something they're not. Try to 'build up' numbers and imitate the other guys. And nothing infuriates me more than 'outsiders' trying to come into a church and *transform* it into a vision of what they want. You can essentially describe these people as pushy and bossy and opinionated. I think of having these kinds of new people come into a church as the church getting cancer. But I've digressed. Back to Harri and Maddox. So I was a reluctant reader. I loved Harri, and I hated Maddox. But somehow or other I ended up liking this book. I still don't know where the turning point was. I still hate everything he stands for, but I like him just a little bit at least. And I think that is all that matters. I think most people won't have as strong a reaction against Maddox as I did. I think most will probably be charmed from the very beginning.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Redemption

Tyndall, M.L. 2006. The Redemption.

For those readers seeking adventures with pirates in the Caribbean, then The Redemption by M.L. Tyndall is a nice, safe choice. A Christian romance. You'll find adventure but no smut. It is set in the seventeenth century, 1660s to be exact, and our hero--a dashing reformed pirate--and our heroine an English lady in search of a father she never knew....are about to meet and be thrown into a love-to-hate relationship. Charlisse Bristol. Edmund Merrick.

The more she pondered her situation, the more fear squeezed her heart. She was alone on an uninhabited island in the middle of the Caribbean, with no reasonable chance of rescue. Charlisse Bristol, daughter of Lady Helena Bristol, granddaughter of Lord and Lady William Rochester of Hampstead, raised in the luxury of London nobility, yet for all her noble blood and courtly training, she had no idea how to survive on her own. Still, she felt no regret for leaving, and therefore resigned herself to accept whatever consequences fate had in store for her.

Personally, I had a hard time believing that any of these characters could have ever existed. The adventures took them all over the place, and there was plenty of suspense and excitement, but to me it felt just silly. A bit too melodramatic. A bit too over-the-top. It is what it is. If you're looking for a light-hearted, fun, silly read...then this certainly qualifies. I'm not saying it's an unsatisfying read. It isn't. It just isn't "serious." I never took the characters seriously as people. I never took the 'danger' or 'adventure' as real. But there's nothing wrong with a silly but satisfying read. So I'm NOT slamming the book. I'm not. It was fun.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

CFBA: Deadfall

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


DEADFALL
(Thomas Nelson November 6, 2007)
by


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Robert's first novel painted a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.

Bob has sold the film rights to his second book, GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct!

He is currently working on his fourth novel.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Deep in the isolated Northwest Territories, four friends are on the trip of a lifetime. Dropped by helicopter into the Canadian wilderness, Hutch, Terry, Phil, and David are looking to escape the events of a tumultuous year for two weeks of hunting, fishing, and camping.

Armes with only a bow and arrow and the basics for survival, they've chosen a place far from civilization, a retreat from their turbulent lives. But they quickly discover that another group has targeted the remote region and the secluded hamlet of Fiddler Falls for a more menacing purpose: to field test the ultimate weapon.

With more than a week before the helicopter rendezvous and no satellite phone, Hutch, a skilled bow-hunter and outdoor-survivalist must help his friend elude their seemingly inescapable foes, as well as decide whether to run for their lives...or risk everything to help the townspeople who are being held hostage and terrorized.

An intense novel of character forged in the midst of struggle, survival, and sacrifice. Deadfall is highly-aclaimed author Robert Liparulo's latest rivetingly smart thriller.

Get Downloads and EXCERPTS at www.LIPARULO.com


"DEADFALL is drop-dead great!"
-In The Library Reviews

"What if Mad Max, Rambo, and the Wild Bunch showed up-all packing Star Wars type weapons? You'd have Robert Liparulo's thrilling new adventure Deadfall."
-Katherine Neville, best selling author of The Eight
"A brilliantly crafted thriller with flawless execution. I loved it!"
-Michael Palmer, best selling author of The Fifth Vial

"In Deadfall, Robert Liparulo gives us a fresh fast paced novel that instills a well founded fear of the villians and an admiration for the people who refuse to be victims. It truly deserves the name thriller.
-Thomas Perry, best selling author of The Butcher's Boy and Silence

"Another brilliantly conceived premise from Robert Liparulo. Deadfall will leave you looking over your shoulder and begging for more."
-DAve Dun, best selling author of The Black Silent


A NOTE from Bob: I’d like to give away five signed copies of Deadfall to readers of CFBA blogs during my tour. All they have to do is sign up for my e-mailing list (they won’t be inundated!) by going to my website (www.robertliparulo.com) and going to the “Mailing List” page. Or email me with “CFBA giveaway” in the subject line.

And a second NOTE from Bob: I wanted to let you know that I’m holding a contest on my site:

**one winner a week till the end of the year for a signed Deadfall
**one winner a week till the end of the year for an unabridged audio MP3-CD of Deadfall
***and on Dec. 31, I’m giving away an iPod Nano, pre-loaded with an unabridged audio recording of Deadfall

Winners are selected from my e-mailing list—sign up at my site. If a winner has already purchased what he/she wins, I will reimburse them for the purchase price (or give them another—whichever they choose), so they don’t need to wait to see if they win before buying Deadfall.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

The Road Home

Tenney, Tommy & Mark Andrew Olsen. 2007. The Road Home. Bethany House.

This book is a 'modern retelling of Ruth's ancient story.' And while I had a few reservations about it before I began reading it, I must say that overall I really enjoyed this one. The names are the same--Ruth, Naomi, Orpah, Boaz in this retelling. Ruth and Orpah are from Las Vegas. Ruth is the daughter of migrant farm workers. She spent a good many years in foster care after being sexually abused in her own home. In her adulthood, she worked as a cocktail waitress. Orpah, well, she's an exotic dancer. First of all, this is a story within a story. The opening lets us see Ruth as an old woman looking back on her life--all the people and places she's known. She's passing down her legacy in a way through telling this story. But this narrative really just opens and closes the novel. The majority of the book is set in modern-day America. The book really begins when Ruth and Orpah lose their husbands in quick succession. The three women are devastated, and a new plan is formed. Naomi wants to go back home to her Mennonite community. Ruth wants to go with her. You know how the story goes. Ruth and Naomi set out on a wild road trip. They barely have enough money, and their car...well, it's beyond old. It would take a miracle for the two to arrive safely. Along the journey, Ruth and Naomi share some good times--good talks--about life, about death, about heartaches and disappointments. Can the two women find a way to start over?

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Angels of a Lower Flight

Angels of A Lower Flight by Susie Scott Krabacher is such a great book. It's not my typical kind of book. I don't read much nonfiction. Let alone nonfiction geared towards adults. But this one is a wow book, and I am so so glad that I accepted this book for review! It is an amazing story of a woman who has had highs and lows, successes and failures, joys and heartaches. It's a redeeming story. A story that challenges everything that is so common, so ordinary about American life. Susie Krabacher is a former Playboy Playmate who has dedicated over a decade to Haiti--especially Haitian children. Going places where most would never dare to go, seeing, smelling, hearing all sorts of horrors. And all in the name of love and peace. It is a great story.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

CFBA: Surrender Bay


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Thomas Nelson November 6, 2007)

by



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped.

Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

In addition to Surrender Bay, the second Nantucket book releases in April 2008. The title is The Convenient Groom and features Kate Lawrence, a relationship advice columnist, whose groom dumps her on her wedding day. Denise is currently at work on the third Nantucket book (Oct 2008) which is untitled so far.



ABOUT THE BOOK:
When Sam's estranged step-father dies, she inherits his ocean-front cottage in Nantucket--not because he kindly bequeathed it to her, but because he neglected to ever create a will. Sam returns to the island she left 11 years ago with her daughter Caden to fix up the house and sell it, but she isn't counting on is the fact that Landon Reed still lives two doors down from her childhood home.

As their long-dormant romance begins to bud again, Sam must face the fact that Landon still doesn't know why she really left the island. Will the secrets she's hidden all these years tear them apart? Or is Landon's love really as unconditional as he claims?

"I've always thought Denise Hunter was an amazing writer but this wonderful story sets her firmly at the forefront of compelling love stories. How Landon breaks down Samantha's determination that she is unworthy of love kept me glued to the pages. An amazing story!"

--Colleen Coble, author of Fire Dancer (Smoke Jumper Series)

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Monday, October 29, 2007

CFBA: The Return


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


THE RETURN
(Navpress Publishing Group July 13, 2007)

by

Austin Boyd

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Austin Boyd writes from his experience as a decorated Navy pilot, spacecraft engineer and an astronaut candidate finalist. Austin lives with his wife Cindy and four children in America’s “Rocket City”--Huntsville, Alabama, where he directs business development for a large NASA and defense contractor. His creative talents include inspirational fiction and poetry, finely crafted reproduction colonial furniture, archery and long distance cycling. He serves his community as an advocate for a crisis pregnancy center and as a motivational speaker in the area of lifestyle evangelism.

THE RETURN is part of the Mars Hill Classified Series with The Evidence and The Proof

ABOUT THE BOOK:

IS SEEING BELIEVING?

Six years after completing a manned mission to the Red Planet, Admiral John Wells is set to make another journey to Mars. But this time his crew is not alone, as John's team encounters a secret colony comprised of individuals pursuing John Raines' strange religion, the "Father Race."

While John begins to uncover a web of lies on Mars, his wife and daughter are struggling for survival on earth. Now John must survive his dangerous mission and find a way back home, even as a shocking plan begins to unfold millions of miles away on earth.

Austin Boyd is back with his third thrilling novel in the Mars Hill Classified series, full of high-tech intrigue, memorable characters, and adventure that transports readers to another world.

From the Back Cover:

With nothing left for him on Earth, Rear Admiral John Wells didn't hesitate to lead a third NASA team to Mars, but he never dreamed that one day they'd look out their laboratory module into the lights of a slow-moving vehicle not their own. In the third installment of the Mars Hill Classified series, life on Mars becomes increasingly more unpredictable as the past collides with the future and nothing, not even the dead, is as it seems.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the fate of hundreds, including John Wells' family--presumed dead these last six years--rests precariously in the hands of Malcolm Raines, self-proclaimed Guardian of the Mother Seed and Principal Cleric of Saint Michael's Remnant, and his insidious plans for the Father Race.

Wells will find himself in a race against time and all odds to expose the truth: about Mars, about Malcolm Raines, and, if he's very brave, about himself.

"Austin Boyd is one of the brightest new voices in Christian fiction. His long association with the space program lends authenticity as he reveals the turmoil in the minds and hearts of those who are willing to risk everything by making that journey. In The Return, we learn that both human emotions and God's presence reach far beyond the pull of Earth's gravity."
--Richard L Mabry, author of The Tender Scar

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