Monday, September 22, 2008

Retiring This Blog

This blog has been mostly abandoned for a few months now. (Except for the occasional original post now and then.) And I've decided to make this blog officially abandoned. I've got several blogs which I can refer you to...

Becky's Book Reviews
Young Readers
Operation Actually Read Bible

Any reviews that would have at one time been published here will now go to one of those three.
The first is my main site. And I'll be reviewing Christian fiction there occasionally. The second is my for reviews of kids books--aged zero to ten. So the few Christian picture books I review will be featured there instead. The third site is relatively new. I'm hoping to make it into something. But readership is nil at this point. Here is where I'll venture into Christian non-fiction reviews (I hope to have one or two per month). Here is also where I'll be keeping track of my bible reading, sermon listening, and generally personal stuff. :)


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Road of Lost Innocence

Mam, Somaly. 2008. The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine.

Powerful. That is one of the best words to describe this heartbreaking memoir of Somaly Mam. Here is how it begins,

"My name is Somaly. At least that's the name I have now. Like everyone in Cambodia, I've had several. Names are the result of temporary choices. You change them the way you'd change lives. As a small child, I was called Ya, and sometimes just Non--"Little One." When I was taken away from the forest by the old man, I was called Aya, and once at a border crossing, he told the guard my name was Viriya--I don't really know why. I got used to people calling me all sorts of names, mostly insults. Then, years later, a kind man who said he was my uncle game me the name Somaly: "The Necklace of Flowers Lost in the Virgin Forest." I liked it; it seemed to fit the idea of who I felt I really was. When I finally had the choice, I decided to keep that name as my own. I will never know what my parents called me. But then I have nothing from them, no memories at all." (1-2)
The book is compelling, gripping, raw and intense, straightforward, and above all else heartbreaking. Her story is powerful in that she survived despite it all; amazing in that she had the courage and strength to go back, to face her demons; inspiring in that she had the determination and heart to do something--to make a change, to become a hero, to take a stand.

Hers is the story of an unloved child. A child broken, beaten, abused and misused in countless cruel ways by the adults in her life. The story of how she was raped, sold into prostitution, endured the unimaginable--years of prostitution against her will, thousands of rapes, thousands of beatings, unimaginable punishments by the brothel owners if she didn't "perform" to their satisfaction. A story that is heartbreaking not only for what she endured, but for what everyone around her endured as well. She was not the only one. She wasn't one of few. This treatment, this abuse, this cruelty, this horror is common. Her story highlights just how abominable and cruel and evil humanity can be. The lack of humane treatment. The lack of justice. The lack of compassion. The lack of human decency and respect.

"It's still happening, today, tonight. Imagine how many girls have been raped and hit since you started to read this book. My story doesn't matter, except that it stands for their story too, and their stories are why I don't sleep at night. They haunt me." (61)

Somaly Mam was able to escape her life of prostitution--though it wasn't easy, though it left her scarred emotionally and psychologically. And after a time--with a little help and support, with some training and a boost in confidence--she was able to face her past and make the decision that would change lives. She'd return (with her husband) to her home country to make a change. To seek out those girls that just like her were sold into prostitution, that were abused daily, that were unloved, unwanted by their families, their society.

"I don't feel like I can change the world. I don't even try. I only want to change this small life that I see standing in front of me, which is suffering. I want to change this small real thing that is the destiny of one little girl. And then another, and another, because if I didn't, I wouldn't be able to live with myself or sleep at night." (129)

This book is heartbreaking to read, but I feel it is important. Definitely recommended.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Safe in the Arms of God

MacArthur, John. 2003. Safe in the Arms of God.

Written for those that have lost children (either in or out of the womb), Safe in the Arms of God seeks to expand John MacArthur's theology of "Instant Heaven." It's a question he (and many other pastors and believers in general) have been asked. What happens when a baby dies? His response is and always has been "Instant Heaven." He says this not because he wants to give false assurance to grieving parents and their families, but because he believes that this is what the Word of God teaches.

Theologically, the question is what happens to those who die at an age that they are unaccountable. To those that mentally (physically, emotionally, psychologically) are unable to comprehend the gospel message, unable to have the faith to believe. In other words those that can neither receive or reject the gospel truths. (And when you think about it, there is a lot to grasp. The awareness of sin. The separation from God. The need for a Savior. The realization that Jesus, the very son of God, bridges the gap between sinful man and a holy God. The acceptance of Jesus as your Savior, as your Lord.

John MacArthur's answer may shock some. (It may not shock others.) Some may feel that the 'soul' of the baby is dependent on the faith of the parents. But MacArthur asserts that this just isn't so. He believes, and he argues within these pages, that each and every baby (and/or young child) that dies is welcomed by God into heaven. This is irrefutably good news for believers that have experienced loss in their lives. For the believer, the reunion is just a matter of time. You will see your child again. In the meanwhile, while the loss is difficult to accept, there is much comfort to be grasped in the knowledge that their child is in fact in heaven.

The book also highlights how tremendous a place heaven is. While parents may be sad, there is confidence that their child is anything but. It may sound trite, but heaven is a wonderful place. A place where there are no tears, no sadness, no pain.

Using the Bible as the basis for his theology, MacArthur argues his case quite well.

On a slightly related note, I'd suggest musically listening to "With Hope" by Steven Curtis Chapman from the Speechless album. And "Lullaby" by Andrew Peterson from the Walk album.


Friday, September 05, 2008

The Light of the World

Paterson, Katherine. 2008. The Light of the World: The Life of Jesus for Children. Illustrated by Francois Roca.

What I liked about this one? That it begins with the beginning. "The Bible tells us that in the beginning, when God created the heavens and earth, there was nothing but darkness until God said: "Let there be light." And there was light." But it doesn't stop there, it continues, "Many years ago, the prophet Isaiah lived in a dark time for his country. The wise king of Judah had died, and powerful enemies threatened to destroy his tiny land. But Isaiah believed in God's promise that the people who were living in darkness would someday see a great light. This is the story of light coming into the world." I think this is important, significant, that the life of Jesus is grounded in the Old Testament. Even though this is a book for children, it builds on a foundation, a crucial foundation. It is hard to read the New Testament, understand the New Testament, unless one knows at least a few foundational basics from the Old. For one, Jesus, was the child, the man, of prophecy. His coming, his life, his death, had been foretold for hundreds and hundreds of years.

The life of Jesus--from birth to ascension--is told simply and clearly. It's also told in a non-threatening, matter-of-fact way.

It is interesting to see which elements of the story Paterson chooses to focus on, and which elements she skips altogether. However, I don't know that I'd envy her the task of choosing. It's a simple fact--one I understand--that she simply couldn't mention every sermon, every teaching, every parable, every miracle, every confrontation, every event. And I think most of her choices were made to suit her audience. For example, the Slaughter of the Innocents and Jesus' flight into Egypt is passed over. Herod's threatening opposition not making the cut. Also missing from The Light of the World is the story of the twelve-year-old Jesus visiting the temple and astounding those teachers.

The Jesus presented in The Light of the World is wise, kind, compassionate. He's a good man. And he is referred to as the Son of God. But the Jesus presented also lacks confrontation. This Jesus doesn't mention sin. Doesn't mention the fact that all men are sinners and in need of a Savior. In fact, The Light of the World doesn't focus at all--not even a little bit--on the fact that Jesus came into the world to save sinners, to call all men to repent and to follow. Call all men to believe. This Jesus doesn't focus on the hard sayings of Jesus. The difficult bits that might make children and adults squirm a bit. Jesus' teachings to love one another, to be kind, to be generous, to be merciful, to be good, are not at all hard to accept. Everyone likes the treat-others-as-you-want-to-be-treated philosophy.

It's not that anything in Paterson's text is inaccurate. It's just that it is incomplete in many ways. It is far from offensive. Far from abrasive. This one really lacks the ability to rub people the wrong way. This is a very non-threatening Jesus. A Jesus that asks only for people to be good, kind, and loving towards one another. A Jesus that calls for peaceful-loving-happy feelings.

If you're looking for the gospel, you won't find it in The Light of the World. The basics of the gospel--let alone the details of this 'good news'--is not what Paterson has chosen to focus on in her book. Her book is the life of Jesus as separated from the gospel message. Again, it's not that what she says is inaccurate. It's just that it is a very small, very focused fraction of what could have been said.

Is it worth reading? Perhaps. The art by Francois Roca is beautiful. I just can't help thinking that a book that focuses on the life of Jesus should in some way or another explain why he died. This one doesn't. We hear only that he made people angry. Not even the exact reasons why he made people angry. That we're still in the dark about. So we don't know the details of why those men, those leaders wanted Jesus killed. And we don't get the details on why Jesus's death (and I would even go so far as to mention his life and resurrection) matters to us today. All we're told in that respect is that "the light of the world" can continue to shine in believers today when they're good and kind and loving and compassionate and merciful, etc. And it is good to show the love of Jesus, the love of God to others. It is important to minister to everyone--in all the small ways that make a difference--through living a life of love. It is by our actions we are known. So again, it is not that it's inaccurate. Just incomplete. Jesus didn't come to earth so we'd love each and be good neighbors. So we'd all be like Mr. Rogers. That wasn't the purpose. If that was the purpose, then Christians would have never been persecuted then or now or in all the centuries in between.

Still, if a child has parents or grandparents to fill in the missing elements of the story, this one could be worth it.

According to the publisher's site, this one has earned stars in Booklist, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly. And that is saying something. So whether you love this one or are only luke-warm about it...I think it depends on your expectations and your needs. Obviously, those not judging it from a theological aspect will find it to be of greater quality. Speaking just on literary merits alone, it is well done. And like I said, the artwork, the illustrations, are good--very beautiful, very effective.


Voting Time

The finalists have been announced over at My Friend Amy for the Book Blogger Appreciation Week. You can vote here. Only one vote per category, so you might want to take a few minutes to consider all the nominees before you commit to choosing "the best." Unsure of who you want to vote for? Never heard of any of the nominees? The links to all the finalists' sites are here. Three of my sites have made it to this finalist stage--but the competition is so tough--I'm not even cheering for myself.

Best Kidlit Blog
A Patchwork of Books
Christian Children's Book Review
Jen Robinson's Book Page
Well Read Child
Young Readers *(that's me!!!)

Best Christian/Inspirational Blog
A Peek at My Bookshelf
Becky's Christian Reviews
Books, Movies, Chinese Food
Free Spirit Blogs
Relz Reviewz

Most Eclectic Taste
Becky's Book Reviews
Books on the Nightstand
Mary's Library
OCD, vampires, and amusing rants, oh my!


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

When God Created My Toes

Mackall, Dandi Daley. 2008. When God Created My Toes. Illustrated by David Hohn. Waterbrook Press.

When God Created My Toes is a sad attempt at a picture book. The problem? It suffers from forced rhyming. First of all, because it follows the rule that everything must rhyme no matter what, the rhymes lack both sense and naturalness. Second, the text lacks rhythm. There is no natural beauty, no natural flow; nothing poetic about it. Lest you think I'm picking on it because it is a Christian book, let me say this. The mistake of When God Created My Toes can happen in Christian publishing or mainstream publishing. I've picked on quite a few other picture books that suffer from this malady that were published by traditional, mainstream publishers. If I could, I would release this book from the shackles of its rhymes and set it free. It's not that the concept is a bad one. It's just a somewhat stunted concept.

Here are a few examples,

When God
my toes
Did he make them wiggle?
Did he know I'd giggle?
Did he have to hold his nose
when God created my toes?

Not a bad start really. Toes wiggle. Tickles cause giggles. Toes can sometimes stink. Nothing "zah?" yet.

When God
my knees
Did he put bones in'em?
Did he know I'd skin'em?
Did we sing our ABCs
when God created my knees?

It's beginning to lose me at this point. I'm not completely checked out yet. But what do ABC's have to do with knees? And there's just something off about the whole thing.

When God created my hip,
Did I hear him say,
"Hip, hip, horray!"?
Did we do a double flip
when God created my hip?

See here is when I knew that this one just wasn't going to work for me. There are some better verses up ahead. But nothing that personally redeems it (for me) from its mediocrity.

The illustrations. I would say that I thought the illustrations were better than the text. I actually preferred the "kid-drawn" sketches that appear on the left side of some of the spreads to the other more polished illustrations. The kid-drawn art has a certain charm that I enjoyed. The other illustrations weren't bad, but they had a cartoon-feel to them. Not bad. Very adequate. My least favorite part of the illustrations were the white cat. There was just something that bugged me about how that cat was drawn. I don't know why. And I'm sure it's just me.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

God Loves Me More Than That

Mackall, Dandi Daley. 2008. God Loves Me More Than That. Illustrated by David Holm.

God Loves Me More Than That is much much better than When God Created My Toes. (In case you're wondering.) What is it about? It's about illustrating how infinite God's love is towards us, his children. "Infinite" is not an easy concept for young children "to get." (Adults can sometimes have a difficult time with it as well.) Yet in God Loves Me More Than That, God's love becomes tangible or easier to grasp. Here is how it begins:

How much love does God have for me?
More than the letters between A and Z.
More than the bumbles in a bumble bee.
God loves me more than that!

It continues,

Tell me, please, is the Lord's love high?
Higher than the moon
in a starless sky!
Higher than a space shuttle flying by.
God loves me more than that!

High, deep, wide, loud, soft, etc.

I didn't love this one. I liked it though. It still seems to fall into the Christian-and-dinky category. Meaning that while the message and intent are good, there are just a few things about the illustrations or the text that limits it from being great. So for the Christian audience, obviously, this one might be well received. And I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to Christian parents. But as someone who has read hundreds of picture books, this one falls a bit short of being great on its own merits. Again, I'm not saying it's bad.


Monday, September 01, 2008

God Gave Us Heaven

Bergren, Lisa Tawn. 2008. God Gave Us Heaven.

God Gave Us Heaven is the newest in the "God Gave Us..." series by Lisa Tawn Bergren. I haven't read the previous titles, God Gave Us You, God Gave Us Two, and God Gave Us Christmas. But I'd be curious to read them now after reading this one. The books feature a polar bear family, a Christian polar bear family of course. And I would imagine that they all share one thing in common--though again it's pure speculation on my part--a curious cub that just happens to ask important questions. I'm not complaining. I tend to ask a lot of questions myself. Some deep, some not so much.

Here's how it starts:

"Papa, what's heav'n?"
"Why, heaven is God's home...
the most amazing place we'll ever get to see."
"More amazing than Glacier Bay?" Little Cub asked.
"Glacier Baby is the best place ever."
"Yes, Little Cub. Even better than Glacier Bay."

I liked this one. I did. Yes, it was cutesy. But it worked. It was informative, descriptive, and sound--theologically sound that is. Not that it goes into every single detail that is in the Bible. Not that it goes into theological matters on an adult level. We're talking basics, the essentials, and this one does get those right. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this one to Christian parents.


Monday, August 18, 2008

God Gave Us Heaven

Book: God Gave Us Heaven

Summary: Little Cub awakens one morning with some important questions on her mind: What is heaven like? How do we get there? Will we eat in heaven? Will we be angels?

During a delightful day spent wandering their arctic world, Papa gently answers each question, assuring Little Cub that heaven is a wonderful place, “a million times better” than she can imagine. He explains how God has made a way for those who love him to enter their heavenly home forever after their lives on earth are over.

Reuniting the best-selling author-illustrator team from God Gave Us You, this gentle story provides satisfying answers for a young child’s most difficult questions about heaven. Parents, grandparents, childcare professionals, librarians, Sunday school teachers, and others will appreciate the gentle approach to a topic that’s on the minds of so many “little cubs.”

Through captivating, full-color illustrations and tender, biblically sound storytelling, young readers and those who love them will find reasons to rejoice in knowing that God Gave Us Heaven.

Author Bio: Lisa Tawn Bergren is the award-winning author of nearly thirty titles, totaling more than one million books in print. She writes in a broad range of genres, from adult fiction to devotional. God Gave Us Heaven is Lisa’s fourth children’s book, following in the tradition of the best-selling God Gave Us You. She makes her home in Colorado , with her husband, Tim, and their children, Olivia, Emma, and Jack.

Illistrator Bio: Laura J. Bryant studied painting, printmaking, and sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore . She has illustrated numerous award-winning children’s books, including God Gave Us You, Smudge Bunny, and If You Were My Baby. Laura lives in Asheville , North Carolina .


God Loves Me More Than That & When God Created My Toes

Books:God Loves Me More Than That, and When God Created My Toes

Summary: In two new books from best-selling children’s author Dandi Daley Mackall, clever rhymes and delightful illustrations help young children, ages three and up, understand God’s huge love for them and his joy in creating them. These enchanting picture books from the writer-illustrator team of Dandi Mackall and David Hohn will instill awe in young children as they revel in each page. Parents alike will appreciate the engaging stories that communicate God’s perfect plan and his divine purpose for little hearts.

In God Loves Me More Than That, children learn that God loves them deeper than a wishing well, wider than a semi-truck, louder than thunder, and softer than a kitten’s sneeze. Each question, presented with charming child-like faith will help young ones grasp the great love of God through comparisons and descriptions they can easily understand. In short, they’ll discover that His love is bigger, wider, higher, and deeper than anything they could imagine!

In When God Made My Toes, kids are drawn into the wonder of their creation by God. Their masterful artist who fashioned them just right for amazing and delightful adventures, such as roller skating, finger-painting, doing flips, and drinking cocoa. Children will come to an understanding that God shaped each part of their amazing bodies with joy, delight, and humor.

Author Bio: Dandi Daley Mackall has published more than 400 books for children and adults, with more than 3 million combined copies sold. She is the author of WaterBrook’s two other delightful Dandilion Rhymes books, A Gaggle of Geese & A Clutter of Cats and The Blanket Show. A popular keynote speaker at conferences and Young Author events, Mackall lives in rural Ohio with her husband, three children, and a menagerie of horses, dogs, and cats.

Illistrator Bio: David Hohn is an award-winning illustrator who graduated with honors from the Maryland Institute College of Art. He has worked as both a staff artist and an art director for a children’s software company in Portland , Oregon , a position which led to his art directing an award-winning project for Fisher-Price. Hohn’s recent projects include Lisa Tawn Bergren’s God Gave Us Christmas.


Monday, August 11, 2008

CFBA: The Jewel of Gresham Green

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Jewel of Gresham Green

(Bethany House - August 1, 2008)


Lawana Blackwell

A full-time author, Lawana Blackwell's books include her beloved Gresham Chronicles and Tales of London series.

"I had told myself long ago that three books in a series are enough for my attention span, and so after The Dowry of Miss Lydia Clark, I devoted myself to the trio of books in the Tales of London series, then wrote A Table By the Window, my contemporary novel. All along, I received letters from readers asking me to continue the Gresham series. Many, many wrote that the dairying village of Gresham and its people sent them back to a more peaceful time in the midst of their busy days.

"Prayerfully, I decided to return to Gresham, setting the story fifteen years after Julia Hollis and her children first left London for abandoned coaching inn which became Larkspur Inn. I believe readers would like to see how the children—Philip, Aleda and Grace, Elizabeth and Laurel—turn out as adults. But I like to inject fresh faces into every book, hence Jewel Libby and her daughter Becky find Gresham a haven from a bad man. Writing the book was like coming home, visiting old friends."

Blackwell lives in Louisiana with her husband, Buddy, a supervisor at an oil refinery. They are empty nesters who love to visit their three grown sons, Joseph, Matthew, and Andrew, and three lovely daughters-in-law, Kristine, Penny and Heather, granddaughter Madelyn, and grandson Chandler.

Her other interests include visiting her parents and siblings in Mississippi, vegetarian cooking, and naturally, reading.

To protect her precious daughter from the danger nipping at their heels, Jewel Libby must flee the only home she's ever known. Caring friends direct her to the vicarage in the peaceful dairy village of Gresham, but she arrives there to find Vicar Andrew Phelps and his wife immersed in troubles of their own.

The children of Vicar Andrew Phelps and Julia Hollis from the popular Gresham Chronicles series have grown up and are dealing with their own challenges. Philip Hollis, now a successful London surgeon, has a controlling wife who resents his close family ties.

Aleda Hollis lives in a cottage on the outskirts of Gresham, where she enjoys her privacy and a writing career. When Andrew becomes ill and in need of Philip's skills, and Aleda's quest for privacy unwittingly advances an evil man's schemes, it's Jewel Libby, a newcomer to Gresham, who becomes an unexpected support and source of strength to the family. An unlikely romance adds to the intrigue of this jewel in their midst.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Jewel of Gresham Green, go HERE
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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

CFBA: Love Starts with Elle

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love Starts With Elle

(Thomas Nelson - July 8, 2008)


Rachel Hauck


Rachel Hauck is a forty-something, a child of the '60's, '70's, '80's, '90's and '00's, who roller skated through the '70's into the '80's with Farrah Fawcet hair and a three-speed orange Camero. She graduated from Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!) with a degree in Journalism.

After graduation, she hired on at Harris Publishing as a software trainer, destermined to see the world. But, she's traveled to Ireland, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Australia, Canada and the U.S. from California to Maine.

Rachel met Tony, her husband, in '87, at church, of all places. They married in '92.
They don't have any children of their own, just lots of kids-in-the-Lord and they love them all. However, they do have two very spoiled dogs, and a very demanding cat.

With a little help from my friends, my first book was published in ' 04, Lambert's Pride, a romance novel. My current release is Sweet Caroline from Thomas Nelson. Romantic Times Book Club gave both books their highest rank of 4.5 stars, with Love Starts With Elle being honored as Top Pick!


Elle's living the dream-but is it her dream or his?

Elle loves life in Beaufort, South Carolina-lazy summer days on the sand bar, coastal bonfires, and dinners with friends sharing a lifetime of memories. And she's found her niche as the owner of a successful art gallery too. Life is good.

Then the dynamic pastor of her small town church sweeps her off her feet. She's never known a man like Jeremiah-one who breathes in confidence and exhales all doubt. When he proposes in the setting sunlight, Elle hands him her heart on a silver platter.

But Jeremiah's just accepted a large pastorate in a different state. If she's serious about their relationship, Elle will take "the call," too, leaving behind the people and place she loves so dearly. Elle's friendship with her new tenant, widower Heath McCord, and his young daughter make things even more complicated.

Is love transferrable across the miles? And can you take it with you when you go?

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE
Blogged with the Flock Browser


Friday, June 27, 2008

CFBA: Calico Canyon

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Calico Canyon

Barbour Publishing, Inc (July 1, 2008)


Mary Connealy


MARY CONNEALY is an award-winning author and playwright, married to Ivan a farmer, and the mother of four beautiful daughters, Joslyn, Wendy, Shelly and Katy. They live in Decatur, Nebraska. Mary is a GED Instructor by day and an author by night. And there is always a cape involved in her transformation.

Mary has also written Petticoat Ranch, Golden Days, and her latest, Alaska Brides that will debut in August.


Let yourself be swept away by this fast-paced romance, featuring Grace Calhoun, an instructor of reading, writing, and arithmetic, who, in an attempt to escape the clutchs of a relentless pursuer, runs smack dab into even more trouble with the 6R's - widower Daniel Reeves, along with his five rowdy sons. When a marriage is forced upon this hapless pair - two people who couldn't dislike each other more - an avalanche isn't the only potential danger lurking amid the shadows of Calico Canyon. Will they make it out alive? Or end up killing each other in the process?

Running from her Abusive foster-father, a man intent on revenge, the prim and perfectly proper Grace Calhoun takes on the job of schoolmarm in Mosqueros, Texas.

As if being a wanted woman isn't bad enough, Grace has her hands full with the five rowdy and rambunctious Reeves boys─tough Texan tormenters who seem intent on making her life miserable. When, in an attempt to escape from the clutches of her pursuer, Grace is forced to marry widower Daniel Reeves, father of the miniature monsters, she thinks things couldn't get any worse. Or could they?

Daniel Reeves, happy in his all-male world, is doing the best he can, raising his five boys─rascals, each and every one. Since his wife's death in childbirth, Daniel has been determined never to risk marriage again.

When God throws Grace and Danielt together─two people who couldn't detest each other more─the trouble is only beginning.

Will this hapless pair find the courage to face life together in the isolated Calico Canyon? Or are their differences too broad a chasm to bridge?

If you would like to read the first chapter go HERE


Monday, June 23, 2008

CFBA: Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione

(Multnomah Books - June 17, 2008)


Chuck Black


Chuck Black first wrote Kingdom’s Edge to inspire his children to read the Bible with renewed zeal. This captivating expanded parable led him to write the Old Testament allegories, Kingdom’s Dawn and Kingdom’s Hope. Chuck added three more titles to the series, Kingdom’s Call, Kingdom’s Quest, and Kingdom’s Reign which were released in May of 2007.

Chuck is a former F-16 fighter pilot and currently works as an engineer for a firm designing plastic consumer products. He has a degree in electrical and electronic engineering and served eight years in the United States Air Force. Chuck and his wife Andrea have six children and live in North Dakota.

It is Chuck’s desire to serve the Lord through his work and to inspire people of all ages to study the scriptures in order to discover the hope and love of a truly majestic King and His Son.


A dangerous new order threatens the mission of the Knights of Arrethtrae. Only loyalty to the King can bring victory!

As the Knights of the Prince await His triumphant return, they are steadfast in their mission to take His story into the kingdom and recruit as many as are willing. But when a new and dangerous threat is revealed, their mission is jeopardized.

Sir Kendrick and his young charge, the impetuous Sir Duncan, are sent on a mission to discover the identity and origin of a secretive new order known as the Vincero Knights. They travel to the city of Bel Lione where Lord Ra has been enticing young people in the kingdom to join his festivals, after which many choose not to return home. Their families keep quiet for fear of repercussion.

When Sir Duncan disappears while trying to discover the truth of Lord Ra’s castle, Sir Kendrick attempts to find and enlist the help of a mysterious warrior. Time is short for he must save Duncan and call upon the knights of Chessington to join in the battle against the evil Lord Ra.

Journey to Arrethtrae, where these knights of noble heart live and die in loyal service to the King and the Prince. These knights are mighty, for they serve a mighty King. They are...the Knights of Arrethtrae!

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Deep in the Heart of Trouble

Gist, DeeAnne. 2008. Deep in the Heart of Trouble.

Set in Texas in the 1890s, Deep in the Heart of Trouble is the sequel to Courting Trouble (2007). In the first novel, we meet Essie Spreckelmeyer. We learn that she is known round town for three things: wearing crazy, elaborate hats, riding her bicycle and unseemly showing her ankles, and being an old maid or spinster. At the end of the first novel after having been bitterly disappointed by love, Essie comes to accept with grace and dignity her singleness. The second novel begins several years later--three or four years later, if memory serves. Essie is still as much trouble as she ever was. Playful and spunky and sassy and vibrant. Very take-charge.

I really can't describe how wonderfully delightful and enjoyable this novel is. It's just a joy to read. Essie is just a fun heroine. Our hero, Tony Bryant Morgan, is enjoyable as well. He's the disinherited son of a successful oil man. His older brother, his half-brother, inherited it all. His mother and younger sister, were well provided for as long as they abided by the rules set in place by the stepson/half brother. So Tony decides to make his way from Beaumont to Corsicana. Decides to start in on the oil business from the ground up. To get his hands dirty if you will. If Sullivan Oil will have him that is. Tony definitely NEVER thought he'd be working for a woman. Yet Essie is in charge of the fields. He'll have to find some way to deal with her, to get along with her, or else his career may be over before it gets a chance to start. If only she wasn't so attractive...even if she is wearing bloomers while she rides...

I loved this book. Loved the little details. Loved all the characters. Especially especially Mrs. Lockhart, a widow woman who takes a liking to Tony and wants to *help* him win the girl.

Light mystery and definite romance.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Christian Reviews

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CFBA: Deep in the Heart of Trouble

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Deep In The Heart Of Trouble

(Bethany House June 1, 2008)


Deeanna Gist


Deanne Gist has been a busy lady. She had a career in elementary education. She raised four children. In fifteen years she has: run a home accessory/antique business, member of the press, penned freelance journalism for a few well-known publications, People, Parents, Family Fun and more. She was the CFO for her husband's engineering company, she did all this in her home.

She also founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products which would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she submitted A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers and they picked it up for their new "edgy inspirational" line of historical fiction. After its release in July 2005, Bride hit eight best seller lists and has sold over 100,000 copies and won the Christy Award for BEST ROMANCE 2006. The Measure of a Lady was her 2006 summer release. It hit five best seller lists and won the Christy Award for BEST ROMANCE 2007. Gist is contracted to have a new book come out every summer. Courting Trouble was her 2007 summer release and it hit three best seller lists.

Deeanne lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-four years. They have two kids in high school, two in college.


A Texas-Sized Tale of Unexpected Love

Essie Spreckelmeyer is the last woman anyone in Corsicana, Texas, expected to see with a man on her arm. Independent and outspoken, she’s known more for riding bicycles in outrageous bloomers than for catching a man’s eye.

And the last man who seems willing to give her a second glance is Tony Morgan, newly hired at Spreckelmeyer’s oil company. The disinherited son of an oil baron, Tony wants most to restore his name and regain his lost fortune--not lose his heart to this headstrong blonde. She confounds, contradicts, and confuses him. Sometimes he doesn’t know if she’s driving him toward the aisle or the end of his rope.

That’s how life is ...Deep In The Heart Of Trouble

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE

“Christy Award winner Gist’s historical romances have increasingly gained popularity, combining witty dialog, well-balanced plots, and fully developed characters who seem almost real. Recommended for CF and romance collections.”
-- Library Journal

"Gist does it again! Her signature prose is consistent and she delivers a thoroughly delightful and entertaining story that’s worthy of our time and attention. Not only won’t you want to put this book down, you’ll want to enjoy this story again and again."
-- JUNE TOP PICK, 4-1/2 STARS, Romantic Times, Jennifer Reyes

"Gist has once again written a delightfully humorous historical romance. After reading the first book in this series of two, I was anxious to get my hands on this one. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed ... It is a spectacular, feel-good story which I highly recommend. You will definitely be glad you read it."
-– FIVE STAR RATING, The Romance Studio, Brenda Talley
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Friday, June 13, 2008

Washington's Lady

Moser, Nancy. 2008. Washington's Lady.

This is my third Nancy Moser novel. I've read her novel on Mozart's sister and her novel on Jane Austen. What can I say? It's a hard task to capture almost an entire life within the pages of a novel. Spanning over forty years, the novel follows the life of Martha Dandridge Custis from the age of twenty-five to her death. The novel opens in fact with her attending the funeral of her first husband, Daniel Custis. She had two surviving children--Jacky and Patsy--from that marriage. In the next few chapters, we see her courtship with the young George Washington. What follows next is their marriage naturally. George didn't always have an easy time being a stepfather. His stepson, Jack, didn't want to obey anybody--mother, stepfather, or tutors or teachers. So on the one hand, the novel is about the family life, the personal life of these famous Americans. On the other hand, it is the story of America's fight for independence from British rule. Quite an undertaking, isn't it?

A novel can span a wide array of time. It can span a day, a week, a month, a year. But for a novel to span over forty years in the life of a family, in the life of a country, requires a bit of determination or perseverance on the part of the reader. Not to be mean. Maybe this reflects more on me than on Moser, but I found parts of it to be sluggish. Sure I was interested in some of the happenings. But it was really more of this is this and that is that and then this happens and then that, etc. It was just boring. That sounds so harsh.

The novel is painstakingly well-researched. It's very thorough. There are quite  a bit of notes in the background that would help the reader distinguish fact from fiction. So there are plenty of positive things to say about the novel. The more of a history lover you are, the more forgiving you may be of its rather slow pace.

I liked it, but I didn't love it.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Worship Matters

Kauflin, Bob. 2008. Worship Matters: Leading Others To Encounter the Greatness of God.

Worship Matters is primarily for worship leaders, musicians, and pastors. However, it does have secondary value to those readers interested in this theological aspect of our lives as Christian believers. My dad and my sister--at various points in their lives--have been part of worship teams. I've witnessed--second hand if you will--the stress and pleasure (the love-hate relationship) that comes from planning and leading worship for a congregation. Picking the songs. Learning new songs. Dealing with burn-out. Feeling under-appreciated. Feeling like there's never enough time. Feeling alone as well. Like the audience, the congregation, just doesn't care what is happening. (And dealing with difficult people). It's a heavy responsibility. The idea that the songs you pick, that you play have an impact on the message of your church. That the Holy Spirit can and does use your work to minister to people. This book isn't about musical styles so much as it is about exploring what worship is. It's worship defined, explained, showcased. It's broad in scope and it does offer food for thought along with some practical tips. The practical tips weren't why I was reading it, but it may very well be a reason why you'd want to pick it up.

It's well written. It's relevant. It's timely even. It's rich-in-detail. The chapters are just the right length as well. There's enough substance to make this informative and useful. But it's not weighed down either. It's not so dense that the average person couldn't benefit from reading and studying it. It's reader-friendly.


Summer Snow

Baart, Nicole. 2008. Summer Snow.

"It's not that I ever had delusions of grandeur, or even that I think I am better than anyone else, but there is something about donning a tag that says, 'Please be patient; I'm a trainee' and asking, 'Would you like paper or plastic?' that is uniquely, even brutally, humbling."

Summer Snow is the sequel to Nicole Baart's first novel, After the Leaves Fall. Our heroine, Julia DeSmit is a college dropout who is single, pregnant, living with her grandmother, and preparing for a 'humiliating' job back in her home town. Life is not turning out the way she imagined it would all those years ago. It's full of unexpected surprises, detours, and delays. Still Julia can't help but feel a little excited at the thought of bringing a little one into the world. She dreams of having a little girl all her own. She's daydreaming all these wonderful, marvelous things. But then a few surprises come her way. Her mother, the mother who abandoned her all those years ago, is back. And she's not alone. Julia has a brother, a half-brother. A small and mostly charming brother who doesn't know of his mother's former family and is just happy to make a new friend. To say that Julia is shocked would be an understatement. To say that the shock gives way to anger and confusion would be just the tip of it. Drama. Drama. Drama. Oh, and she's having a boy. She's a little sad but guilty over feeling sad at the same time. A bit confused as to why she feels like she's in mourning for a baby girl that never existed except in her dreams.

Summer Snow is all about grace, forgiveness, and taking chances. It's about living life day by day. It's about learning to be okay no matter what surprises come your way. It's still very much a coming-of-age story. Life has disappointments. Life has regrets. But it's in learning how to move on, move forward, that experience turns to wisdom.

I enjoyed this one.


CFBA: House of Dark Shadows/Watcher in the Woods

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing a double pair

House of Dark Shadows
Watcher In The Woods
(Books 1 and 2 in the Dreamhouse Kings Series)

Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)


Robert Liparulo


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!

And his third book Deadfall. debuted to rave reviews!


House of Dark Shadows
(Dreamhouse Kings Book 1)

Dream house...or bad dream?
When the Kings move from L.A. to a secluded small town, fifteen-year-old Xander is beyond disappointed. He and his friends loved to create amateur films . . . but the tiny town of Pinedale is the last place a movie buff and future filmmaker wants to land.

But he, David, and Toria are captivated by the many rooms in the old Victorian fixer-upper they moved into--as well as the heavy woods surrounding the house.

They soon discover there's something odd about the house. Sounds come from the wrong directions. Prints of giant, bare feet appear in the dust. And when David tries to hide in the linen closet, he winds up in locker 119 at his new school.

Then the really weird stuff kicks in: they find a hidden hallway with portals leading off to far-off places--in long-ago times. Xander is starting to wonder if this kind of travel is a teen's dream come true . . . or his worst nightmare.

Watcher In The Woods
(Dreamhouse Kings Book 2)

It's not just the house that's keeping secrets.
Pretending everything's all right is harder than it sounds. But the Kings know that even if they told the truth about the bizarre things happening in their house, no one would believe them. They're hyper-focused on rescuing their lost family member before anyone finds out what's going on.

But when a stranger shows up to take their house, their options start dwindling fast. Why would he be so interested in a run-down old place? And what secret is he hiding--just as he hides the scars that crisscross his body?

The mystery gets stranger with each passing day. Will the Kings be able to find a way to harness the house's secrets and discover who is watching their every move before another gets snatched into an unknown world?

The Dreamhouse Kings Series has three contests that you will not want to miss...Dream the Scene, a weekly "Thanks For Reading Trivia contest, and the Dreamhouse Kings Street Team contest. There are also free bookplates that you can request, and a chapter of each book that you can download!

You can get all those goodies HERE.