Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review: Family Life Illustrated Study Guide by Ronnie Floyd

Title: Family Life Illustrated Study Guide
Author: Ronnie Floyd
Pages: 109
Publisher: New Leaf Press (AR) (December 1, 2005)
Genre: Non-Fiction / Christian Living / Practical Life / General
Edition: Paperback - many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review!



Perfect for : Personal Use, Bible Study Group, Parenting Group

In a nutshell: This is a wonderful study guide that is meant to be a companion to the Family Life Illustrated books. It helps the readers to facilitate discussions and work through the books. The questions in each chapter are supported by scripture, and in some cases, inspirational quotes. The study guide also contains an audio cd with "insights and comments about each book from Pastor Floyd."

Extended Review: From the introduction:

The "Family Life Illustrated" series is intended as a guide for the Christian to understand the principles of the living Word of God and apply them to his or her life today. God says that His Word is still very relevant, even profitable, for today's Christian (1 Tim. 3:16-17).
Content: The study guide contains an introduction, and a chapter for each of the books within the Family Life Illustrated series (Women, Men, Marriage, Parenting, Finances, Teens), and an accompanying audio cd.

Format: Each chapter contains questions pertaining to each of the books and includes space for the reader(s) to write answers and/or notes.

Readability: Very easy to read and work through.

Overall: This is a great study guide that will help the reader(s) to work through each of the Family Life Illustrated books.


From the back cover:
This dynamic study guide is the companion to the Family Life Illustrated series, in which Pastor Ronnie Floyd compels Christian men and women to step up, get their priorities in order, and put Christ at the center of their lives and first on their priority lists.

This study guide has been prepared as a supplement for those who would like to dig a little deeper into the biblical doctrines set forth in the series. Home Bible studies, cell groups, Sunday schools and families will benefit greatly as the members carefully read the books in the series and discuss the related questions in the study guide.

The study guide is loosely structured so the group can learn at its own pace. Those who participate in the Family Life Illustrated study should be able to:

Better understand God’s will for his/her life
Develop a healthier prayer life
Cultivate Christ-centered relationships
Have a better grasp of the meaning of God’s Word
Help strengthen his/her family

AUDIO CD INCLUDED WITH INSIGHTS AND COMMENTS ABOUT EACH BOOK FROM PASTOR FLOYD

Based simply upon God’s Word, Floyd contends that the principles set forth in this series will promote stronger families, stronger churches, and ultimately a stronger nation.

About the Author: (From his site)
Dr. Ronnie Floyd has been a pastor for over 30 years. His experience, wisdom and passion for God make him a powerful proclaimer of God’s Word. He teaches principles from the Bible that encourage and uplift thousands of people all over the world via TV, internet, podcasts, radio, speaking engagements and books.

Since 1985, Pastor Floyd has served as the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Springdale in Springdale, Arkansas. Under his leadership the church membership has grown to 16,000, thousands of people in Northwest Arkansas and across the world have been reached for Christ through missions, and, in 2001, the church expanded to a second campus in Rogers, Arkansas, The Church at Pinnacle Hills.

Dr. Floyd is the leader and host of The Summit, a weekly lunch seminar that hosts guest speakers from across the country. Each spring and fall, leaders share their insights on business, leadership, ethics, success, and life principles and values. Speakers have included John Maxwell, Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas, Reggie White, John Tyson, Truett Cathy, JB Hunt and many others. The Summit currently reaches up to 500 business people each week.

Each week, Pastor Floyd’s television program, Ronnie Floyd Winners, can be seen worldwide on the Daystar Television Network. Pastor Floyd has spoken at many national and international conferences, like Promise Keepers, has been featured on numerous television and radio programs, including Focus on the Family, and has held several positions in the Southern Baptist Convention.

In his three decades of ministry, Pastor Floyd has authored 18 books including The Power of Prayer and Fasting and 10 Things Every Minister Needs to Know. Pastor Floyd’s blog, betweensundays.com, serves as a challenge and encouragement to both Pastors and laypeople alike.

Pastor Floyd’s proudest accomplishments stem from his personal life. He and his wife, Jeana, have been married for almost 32 years. They have two sons, Josh and Nick. Josh is married to Kate, and they have two sons, Peyton and Parker. Nick is married to Meredith, and they have one daughter, Reese Caroline.



If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quick Update!! Yes - I've Been MIA!

Yes!! I am still alive and here... just having a difficult time with the pregnancy... suffered a bad fall (luckily baby is just fine, but I'm still recovering), and have had some unexpected reactions to one of the medicines they are having me take for our high-risk pregnancy.

That said, I only have a few more weeks of the medicine, so will hopefully feel more normal very soon. :)

I realize that I've been VERY quiet, I'm WAY behind on emails (about 700 unread after my hubby very nicely went through and deleted obvious spam/store/un-needed emails), I have missed some scheduled posts and many tours for some great books and products! I'm going to work hard over the next few days (crossing fingers) to start catching up, so stay tuned for some info on some absolutely wonderful books and products!!

Missing you all!!

Wendi

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Review and Tour: I Run to the Hills by C. Maggie Woychik (Excerpt Included)



I Run to the Hills: Reflections on the Christian Journey
by C. Maggie Woychik

Port Yonder Press (September 23, 2009) ~ 136 pages
Non-Fiction / Christian Inspiration / Devotional

Review copy received courtesy of the author, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review, as well as to FIRST WildCard Tours for arranging this tour!


Perfect for : Personal Use, Bible Study Group

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:

C. Maggie Woychik
and the book:
Port Yonder Press (September 23, 2009)
***Special thanks to C. Maggie Woychik for sending me a review copy.***



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



C. Maggie's articles have appeared in numerous magazines since 1995. She is a prolific writer and blogger, and has a special appreciation for the home education movement. The author loves nature in all its wonder, and enjoys the mountains almost as much as the sea. She lives with her husband in the midwest. This is her debut title.

Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $8.99
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Port Yonder Press (September 23, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984169407
ISBN-13: 978-0984169405

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:




INTRODUCTION


In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the strength of the hills is His also.

Psalm 95:4


Faith for some is like being rescued from drowning. For others, it’s simply yielding to the Master Helmsman when offered a cruise on His one-way vessel to paradise. It’s a far less harrowing experience to surrender willingly – and early on – especially since we face such a determinedly loving Captain.

I knew, as so many of us do, that if I yelled loudly enough when the flood waters were imminent, He would hear and most likely come to my aid. (I dismissed the idea that He might not choose to rescue me from my folly.) I also knew that calling out to Him meant I would owe Him my all thereafter. The only other option was to drown, which wasn’t an appealing notion.

In other words, in my mind I was rescued not by Someone who loved me, as much as by the only One strong enough to do the job. I turned to Him out of desperation, not truth or love or any other high and lofty ideal.

He dragged me to the safety of the shallow water then picked me up and carried me farther up the sandy beach. Laying me down on the warm, white sand, He began the resuscitation process, breath upon breath, heart massage upon gentle heart massage – and I revived. The rescue was instantaneous, my appreciation for my Rescuer great. Still I did not love Him as I would learn to love Him later. He was only my Savior. My life was His, yet my love was bound in a selfish and worldly heart and it would take years to manage it loose.

But He never gave up, never faltered. Year after year, He held and pressed and moved and worked. He knew how I felt: I would always serve Him. He wanted me to love Him.

The transition from rescue, to learning His truths, to knowing and loving Him as Friend, is illustrated in the story that follows. I have chosen the mountain and (to a lesser extent) the sea as vehicles of expression.

I hope you, too, will come to see that a life lived with Jesus Christ is an adventure of love, no matter how it is told, or by whom. And even more so, that His greatest desire is for each of His children to not merely serve Him, but to love Him with all their being. It always takes time; He’s willing to wait.




CHAPTER ONE


ON THE PLAINS OF HUMANITY: FROM VALLEY TO HIGHLANDS





Sojourners all begin their trek somewhere at the base;

In time a few will dare to roam out of their slotted place.

Noble souls, they boldly choose to go against the grain

Of earthly desert wanderings that very soon prove vain.

Instead, they scale the alpine path, a narrow way and long,

And chance the hazards on their way to sing the alpine song.




The journey

Every journey starts from where you are. For the complacent or fearful, it ends there, too. But for those who seek treasures beyond Here and Now, no cost is too great, no sacrifice too unreasonable, to commence the search. The course is set, the way determined: they must find that which they lost – or never had. Whatever “it” is, for they may not know what to call it, it must be found. And if it is indeed immortal treasure they long for, they will find it.

Journey begun, the noble seeker will proceed down one of two paths. Either he will be ecstatic with his life-discoveries, even to the point of tossing bits of newfound gold to those around him, or he will turn away in disgust and chide himself back down the mountain for wasting his precious time on something as intangible and unsatisfying as “it” was.

That’s the game and every sojourner must play, or stay home and miss out completely.

Here is where my trek begins. Travel with me as I muse on the alpine path, for “In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the strength of the hills is His also.”

You see, travel and reflection must come in that order: we roam a great while on our earthly journey thinking of nothing – absolutely nothing. Then for some usually undefined reason we actually begin to think, to reflect, on what we see, hear, and feel, and as most would admit, traveling takes precedence over reflection far too frequently along the way.

But one cannot journey far without an occasional glance around, then it’s there! – that which He said would first point us to Himself: His unmistakable fingerprint in what has been made, revealing the reason for our being and Object of our praise.

I am able, then, to resume my travels, more sure of my direction, more confident of the path ahead, knowing Who guides, urges, and pleads me to think, to reason, and then to seek Him whom I can no longer deny.



Finding answers

A journey never starts at the end, but the beginning. In the case of our alpine travels, though, it must of necessity begin at the end: the end of self: self-knowledge, self-satisfaction, self-worship. And the end comes only through the discovery of something, Someone, outside of self. Discovery of a world outside our cocoon of inwardness is the first step of meaningful discovery, the first bit of truth that may eventually lead to ultimate Truth – God Himself.

In finding answers, how assuring it is to know that truth-discovery does not demand intellect, only desire. A babe in intellect may know truth. But for a reasoned, seasoned faith, intellect must be engaged. Genuine intellect may not always have the right answer, but it will never ignore solid evidence. For where human reasoning and discernment are present, so is the capacity for human error and misjudgment.

Intellect draped with integrity, though, will always listen, learn, and attempt to find a viable solution to the inquiry at hand. Existing evidence for or against a specific question may not bring all the answers, it may even require a degree of faith to embrace, but solid evidence cannot be ignored or minimized as one might ignore a hungry cat at the back door, calling for sustenance and attention.

I must not fear to have more questions than answers, but to have more answers than questions. For when the questions stop, previous answers may not have been satisfactory. Or, maybe they have. There, too, comes a time to rest from questioning; a time to relax and let the answers, the lessons, permeate the soul. A time for peace.

In a journey of discovery, experience is but a tangible substitute for intangible truth. But truth combined with the experiencing of it is the reason we exist. Experiencing truth is the undeniable answer that speaks beyond “seeing” to “knowing”. It speaks to the “why” questions we all ask at some point in our pilgrimage. Finding not just answers, but truth, and fulfillment in that truth – the experiencing of that truth -- is God’s intent for His creation.

Any answer, conclusion, or theory a person comes by through self-discovery or the teaching of another, though, is not to be unthinkingly accepted without question, but questioned for the sake of discovery. Even the seemingly easy and traditional answers – on God, faith, love – may be handily received in the mind, but Spirit of Discernment must have free reign as He matches concept spoken with concept written in the Rule Book for all God-seekers.



Of musing

The thought, the muse, invades the mental process, imposing and confident. One, dull of heart and slow of mind, acknowledges the flash but credits it to nature’s course, a sort of cerebral lightning, an electrical storm in the passage of life. He is amused, albeit, bored. Or, maybe, distracted by the touchability of “real” life surrounding him.

Across the way, or pew, or book, another realizes he has just privileged a glimpse through the curtain of status quo into the arena of Truth. Scrawled across the dividing shroud are the words:

ONLY THE BRAVE ONLY THE BOLD ENTER HERE

And he does.

And he is never the same.



In Greek Mythology, the Muse referred to any of nine goddesses who presided over literature, the arts and sciences: Calliope, Clio, Euterpe, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polyhymnia, Urania, Thalia.

“Musing” involves engaging our innate sense of inspiration or genius. But today, musing – thinking deeply and at length for the purpose of discovery – is an almost forgotten concept. Time is too scarce in our hustle and bustle society to allow for questionable extravagances such as … musing.

Who has time to think deeply and at length? But it’s only as I take time to ponder written revealed Truth – the Christian Scriptures – in a more than cursory fashion, that its meaning becomes clear and its message becomes real. Romans 12:2 refers to this as the “renewing of the mind” concept, and fallen mind needs renewing! The Psalms call this God-ordained “meditation”.

I can expect difficulty with this truth-musing or internalization process, for embracing ideas – especially God-ideas, which react so violently against my darkened understanding (the reason He gave us the Spirit of Truth who bears witness to His Word) – is more than mere mental assent of truth or a brain-filling storage of facts; it encompasses the entire process of chewing, swallowing, digesting and incorporating that truth into our spiritual cell structure.

Truths are for digesting, not just consuming. Undigested truth is like a lunch that’s been packed and taken along on a journey but never eaten. It begins to rot. And stink.

So, when bits and pieces of truth are uncovered, a discovery made, we are called to be Berean-ish as in Acts 17:11. Firmly clasp the piece of Light – catch it; then slowly release your fingers, using care not to allow it to slip away or be snatched by the cunning Truth-Robber. Once command has been established, begin to turn it this way and that, viewing and re-viewing, neglecting no angles. Let nothing rush you; you are in the process of unraveling an eternal, unchangeable maxim from the mind of the Infinite Creator. No trifling with details here, only grappling with Divine Utterance.

Remember, there are no fast food spiritual truths. Quick fixes are few. Genies in bottles, like Greek mythology, make for good fairy tales, but poor theology. Sovereignty condescended to provide our senseless lives with meaning – and abundance. The act of salvation is instantaneous, but real heart-deep growth takes time. Musing – thinking deeply and at length – of the Word God has revealed, against the backdrop of the world He has made, is one of God’s provisions for growth, fullness of life, and a faith that is so integrated into our spiritual cell structure that we can live it out in our daily lives for all to see, for God’s ultimate glory.

With King David, let us proclaim, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Thy works; I muse on the work of Thy hands. I stretch forth my hands unto Thee: my soul thirsteth after Thee, as a thirsty land.”



A pathway through

So again, we question not for the sake of questioning, but to discover. The trek of discovery, however simple, is not easy and not to be underestimated. Fraught with adversity at every turn, old paths must be unearthed, the conventional and well-worn surrendered. For though there are many passages leading into the valley of the Forest of Deep Shadows, where opportunities for true discovery abound, only one leads out to a better, higher place. It is the path from Here and Now to Then and There.

To the left of the entry to the grove, you will notice a large, hand-crafted sign which reads “Everyman’s Land.” As we proceed down the great thoroughfare there appears another, smaller sign, partially obscured by moss and fallen leaves, obviously neglected and seldom accounted for. It reads: “CAUTION - Travelers be advised: Take up your scythe, with cutting edge sharp and keen, before embarking on your unearthly journey!” Through the bleakness and tangle of treetops, a stream of sunlight shines directly onto the little sign and clearly illuminates it. Its words show forth as a beacon at night.

Traveling on, we eventually reach a Cross-Road – the first of many encounters for some, and at least the once for all. The question is posed, “Here, now, what?”

Slip into the shadows for a moment with me and observe the procession to follow. Many, as you will see, have no heart for discovery. Truth-musing is foreign to them and they offer no apology.

UnPrepared is startled by the suddenness of his Cross-Road meeting. He shrinks away from the much-too-illuminated lane and plods along his dreary, weary way. Unmoved and unmovable, he is settled, secure and too happy to need either adventure or advantage. The comfort of conventionality suits him; he suffices with a measure of peaceful existence. He is Here and Now with no thought or care of Then and There.

Next, Self-Confident boldly approaches the insistent thoroughfare. Undaunted, he assesses present and future cost. He determines greatest value in waiting, in returning to this passage at the eclipse of his life-tour. Sights and sounds of existing surroundings press him and he cannot refuse. There is, he insists, much time to reevaluate and ford, if necessary, intervening bogs on his later trip to Then and There. He assures himself the signs will be in place, the back-trekking unhindered. He has little concern or time to ponder deep forest mysteries. He progresses on his carefree, confident way.

Book in hand, Reasoned Philosopher broaches the junction as if in a duel, rationale flying and doubts whipping the air. “Where can one find significant scientific and experiential evidence to even consider Then and There? Can man embrace a belief of this magnitude and maintain allegiance to critical thinking?” Reasoner reflects, only too little, and rejects.

The line of wayfarers continues for many days. For eventually all sojourners must visit this sun-dappled, opaque land, and travel the well-trod path that lies before them. Now it intersects with and forms a Cross-Road. At a later, indeterminate time, it will be the sole trail out of the forest, when dawn will break. For some.

But first, all must confront the Forest Keeper. Trembling at the radiance of his face, all will bow, and listen, while their quests are addressed. With fury as fire and love as light, Keeper will reveal the unseen and reward the unashamed.

Indifferent, Lazy, and UnPrepared disgrace knowing they unwisely used the Forest Map entrusted to them. They had directions within their grasp (made available to them at their first Cross-Road encounter) but deemed map-savvying unworthy of their effort, unnecessary to attain their destination. They were right. One doesn’t need a map to stay lost.

Self-Made falls on bended knee as the shadow of that very Cross-Road reveals not a monument to self, but a memorial to selflessness. The vertical path that flows from the mountain steeps where Then and There dwells, back to the valley of the darksome forest, intersects with the horizontal path of Here and Now. All becomes transparent; self-confidence melts, only too late.

Doubtful, Shrewd, and Reasoner stand gazing upward as faithless rationale and dubious intellect are whirled heavenward, consumed as if by a devouring beast, then ejected as ignoble fodder not worthy of royal domain.

Each now has their answer – answers tossed away at an earlier juncture. Each is reminded of the placard that began their journey: “Take up your scythe....” In front of them the Forest Keeper holds a rolled papyrus which, the instant it is gazed upon, turns into a great, metallic, keen-edged weapon of war. For some, it is a victor’s saber; for others, the blade of a guillotine.

And ringing within the ears of many as they are marched back into the Forest of Deep Shadows, now become the Forest of Destruction, is the chilling reminder that centuries ago it was said, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

And the Forest Keeper wept for sadness – then joy, as his pathfinders worshipped Him. And among that number I stood with great awe and gladness. After what seemed like hours, I turned and began to walk the road that led from there.

Others had preceded me; the path was noticeably trampled and worn. Trailblazers! – etching edges, clarifying boundaries, determining direction. Even so, I realized each traveler must tread the way himself, and I did.



The voice of love

“I wonder what Your voice will sound like, Lord, when I hear it for the first time. These many days You have loved me, whispered to my heart, at times reproved me, but never audibly; always in quietness.

“Never in a train sweeping by but in the peace which follows the last car rumbling into the distance. Never in a din of voices clamoring to be heard but in the solitude and stillness after the crowd has dispersed. And never in frantic attempts to accomplish or succeed in my own strength but in fully resting in You.

“Then You speak softly, gently, with assurance and great affection.

“But what does the voice of love sound like? I listen to people speak, and think, ‘Does Jesus sound like that? Will His voice have that steady, calm air that brings repose and comfort?’ I’m sure it will be all that and more, Lord. And for whatever it will be that I can’t imagine, I know it will be the Voice of Love.”

Just then, I was startled to find Him walking beside me, smiling. “Well, what do you think? Does My voice fulfill your expectations?”

“Ever so much,” I said, trembling. Kind and soothing, yet constant and courageous, it was all I had dreamt of and more. He continued, “Keep firmly in mind what you have learned thus far. You’ll need it later as you begin your trek up the mountain. You will, at times, lose sight of Me, but I am aware of all that happens. I am only a thought, a word, a desire away. I can promise you that.”

And then He walked toward the sunlight and bade me follow. He led me out of the valley of the Forest of Deep Shadows to the base of the Mount of the Lord and said He must journey another way.

“But, remember My Words, young one, and you’ll scale the heights in safety.”

Waving farewell, I began to walk. I opened the Parchment He had given me in the forest and began to read from a book called Isaiah.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

review and Tour: The Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland


The Christmas Lamp
by Lori Copeland

Zondervan (October 1, 2009) ~ 144 pages
Fiction / Christian Fiction / Christmas

Edition Reviewed: Hardback - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to author, the publisher and CFBA for coordinating this tour and for sending me a copy to review!


Perfect for : Personal Use, Book Club

My Thoughts: The Christmas Lamp was a very enjoyable Christmas read that really had me looking at our family holiday traditions more closely, especially after reading about the fictional town of Nativity, Missouri.

The town of Nativity needs help to pull out of an economic slump, and it takes an outsider to be objective and make suggestions that just might work if the townspeople can just rally together and embrace the changes and reasons behind them.

So many times we find ourselves caught up in doing things the same way because we've always done them that way, and the same goes for Roni and many of the townspeople... and when Jake comes to town, things become a little uncomfortable, as he tries to get them to undo some of those things in order to save the town.

This wonderful story is filled with a lot of holiday and a little bit of romance, but it is sure to be a story that will be read time and again.





This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


The Christmas Lamp


Zondervan (October 1, 2009)


by


Lori Copeland

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Copeland has been writing for twenty-five years and has over three million copies of her books in print. She began her writing career in 1982, writing for the secular book market. In 1995, after many years of writing, Lori sensed that God was calling her to use her gift of writing to honor Him. It was at that time that she began writing for the Christian book market.

To date, she has more than 95 books published, including Now and Always, Simple Gifts, Unwrapping Christmas, and Monday Morning Faith, which was a finalist for the 2007 Christy Awards. Lori was inducted into the Springfield Writers Hall of Fame in 2000.

Lori lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband Lance. They have three sons, two daughter-in-laws, and five wonderful grandchildren. Lori and Lance are very involved in their church, and active in supporting mission work in Mali, West Africa.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Christmas trees, twinkling lights, skating in the park, and holiday displays are the hallmark elements for celebrating Jesus birth for the sentimental residents of Nativity, Missouri. Will fiscal responsibility replace Christmas their traditions when times are tough? Though their priorities and methods clash, Roni Elliot and Jake Brisco want the same thing, for the town to prosper. As the two get to know each other better, each begins to gain a new perspective on what the real wealth of Nativity and the season might be.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Christmas Lamp, go HERE

Friday, December 4, 2009

Review and Tour: The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh (Excerpt Included)

The Unfinished Gift
by Dan Walsh

Revell (September 1, 2009) ~ 256 pages
Fiction / Christian Fiction / Christmas

Edition Reviewed: Hardback - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review as part of the Revell Christmas Tour!


Perfect for : Personal Use, Book Club, Gift

My Thoughts: This book will take you back in time... Set a few days before Christmas in 1943, The Unfinished Gift explores faith and forgiveness in a way that will help readers to really feel for the characters and grow with them.

With his father off to war, Patrick is dropped off at his Grandfather's house when his mother dies in a car accident. His Grandfather is bitter and doesn't know what to do with the boy, especially when Patrick unintentionally stirs the embers of a rift between him and Patrick's father.

Patrick's child's faith is refreshing, and helps to remind us about aspects of our own faith and/or walk with God, and of the importance of forgiveness.

The story will make you thoughtful and reflective. It will also make you laugh... and cry. But most of all, it will provide you a refreshing holiday story full of faith and hope. I truly didn't want this one to end.

About the Book:

Amazon: Patrick Collins is seven years old, and on his Christmas list are only three items. He wants the army to find his father. He wants to leave his grandfather's house. And, for reasons even he doesn't understand, he wants the soldier that's tucked away in his grandfather's attic. Set at Christmastime in 1943, The Unfinished Gift tells in an engaging, simple style the story of a family, and reminds us of the surprising things that affect powerful change in our hearts--like a young boy's prayers, a shoebox full of love letters, and even an old wooden soldier, long forgotten. This nostalgic story of forgiveness will engage readers everywhere.
Excerpt:
The Unfinished Gift


About the Author:
From Amazon: Dan Walsh is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, a church he helped found 23 years ago. Walsh lives with his family in the Daytona Beach area. This is his first novel.

Excerpt: Finding Christmas by James Schaap


Finding Christmas: Stories of Startling Joy and Perfect Peace

by James Schaap

Revell (September 1, 2009) ~ 160 pages
Fiction / Christian Fiction / Christmas

Edition Reviewed: NA

Perfect for : Personal Use, Book Club, Gift

About the Book:

From Amazon: A gift. The baby. The pageant. The parties. The worship. The afterglow. The story. These are the elements of almost every Christmas. In Finding Christmas, award-winning author James Calvin Schaap takes a look at each of these elements through seven stories that show how imperfect people can find joy and grace in an imperfect world. His eyes turn on an outgoing bus driver, a passionate mother, a daughter reluctant to return to church, and even his own assumed-mediocre performance at a Christmas pageant. Along the way, readers see how the amazing message of Christmas can be found in the oddest of places. This heartwarming read is both moving and magical and will help readers usher in a joyful Christmas season even amidst the howling winds of winter.
Excerpt:

Finding Christmas


About the Author: (from the publisher's site)

From Amazon: James Calvin Schaap, a professor of English at Dordt College and president of the Chrysostom Society, is the award-winning author of 22 books. His articles, essays, and short stories have appeared in more than 25 magazines and journals, including The Banner. He lives in Iowa.

Review and Tour: The Christmas Glass by Marci Alborghetti


The Christmas Glass: A Novel
by Marci Alborghetti

GuidepostsBooks (October 1, 2009) ~ 304 pages
Fiction / Christian Fiction / Christmas

Edition Reviewed: Hardback - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author, the publisher and CFBA Blog Alliance for coordinating the tour and sending me a copy to review!


Perfect for : Personal Use, Book Club

My Thoughts: I found The Christmas Glass to be a very interesting and insightful look into a fictional family that is brought together because of 12 delicately blown glass nativity ornaments that were a cherished possession of Anna, an Italian widow running an orphanage that also houses Jewish children during the war in 1940. Out of fear that the ornaments will be destroyed, she sends them to a cousin who later moves to America. Over the years, the ornaments make their way to twelve different family members.

By 2000, Anna's cousin Filomena fears that the family has become too remote and that there isn't hope of getting everyone together, so she requests that each person who has one of the ornaments return it in person, which could have disastrous results within the dysfunctional family.

The beginning of the book takes a look at Anna's life, and the rest of the book is dedicated to exploring the relationships of the current possessors of the ornaments, one person and ornament per chapter.

I found it very interesting to watch as the lives and problems of different people were brought to the forefront and explored, finding that they are connected and I loved that this Christmas story is just as heart-warming as I had hoped.



This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


The Christmas Glass


GuidepostsBooks (October 1, 2009)


by


Marci Alborghetti

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Marci Alborghetti has been writing only slightly longer than she's been reading. In seventh grade she received her first writing prize for a zany Halloween story. The prize? A five dollar gift certificate to a local bookstore. She was hooked. The Christmas Glass is her fourteenth book, and she is currently at work on a sequel as well as a non-fiction book about service. Some of her other books include: Prayer Power: How to Pray When You Think You Can’t, A Season in the South and Twelve Strong Women of God.

She and her husband, Charlie Duffy, live in New London, Connecticut and the San Francisco Bay area. While in New London she facilitates the Saint James Literary Club.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the tradition of The Christmas Shoes and A Christmas on Jane Street, the heartwarming story of The Christmas Glass shows how, today as always, the Christmas miracle works its wonders in the human heart.

In the early days of World War II in Italy, Anna, a young widow who runs a small orphanage, carefully wraps her most cherished possessions -- a dozen hand-blown, German-made, Christmas ornaments, handed down by her mother -- and sends them to a cousin she hasn't seen in years.

Anna is distressed to part with her only tangible reminder of her mother, but she worries that the ornaments will be lost or destroyed in the war, especially now that her orphanage has begun to secretly shelter Jewish children. Anna's young cousin Filomena is married with two-year-old twins when she receives the box of precious Christmas glass.

After the war, Filomena emigrates to America, where the precious ornaments are passed down through the generations. After more than forty years, twelve people come to possess a piece of Christmas glass, some intimately connected by family bonds, some connected only through the history of the ornaments.

As Christmas Day approaches, readers join each character in a journey of laughter and tears, fractures and healings, as Filomena, now an eighty-four-year-old great-grandmother, brings them all to what will be either a wondrous reunion or a disaster that may shatter them all like the precious glass they cherish.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Christmas Glass, go HERE

Tour, Review and Giveaway: Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis


Murder on the Cliffs: A Daphne du Maurier Mystery (Daphne du Maurier Mysteries)
by Joanna Challis

Minotaur Books (November 24, 2009) ~ 304 pages
Fiction / Mystery / Historical Mystery

Edition Reviewed: Paperback - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher and Omnimystery for coordinating the tour and sending me a copy to review!


Perfect for : Personal Use, Book Club Read

My Thoughts: Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis is a wonderfully engrossing historical mystery that would also fit into the Gothic mystery category. I was immediately interested in this book simply from the title. I've heard such wonderful things about Daphne du Maurier's books and have recently ordered a few... so to have the opportunity to read a historical mystery with her as a central character was fun.

For me, the book started off quickly, with Daphne happening upon a young girl looking at a body on the beach. The body ends up being the fiance of the young girl's brother, David, a titled member of the Hartley family. While the death of Victoria was ruled an accident, Daphne finds out that she was poisoned, and that the family was against the marriage between David and the ex-house maid.

Daphne begins her own investigation into Victoria's death, starting with the members of the Hartley family.

Joanna Challis has written a wonderfully descriptive book and balanced it with well-developed characters. I really enjoyed this book and the change of pace it gave me!

About the Book: (From the Tour)
The first book in the Daphne du Maurier series.

The storm led me to Padthaway.

I could never resist the allure of dark swirling clouds, windswept leaves sweeping down cobbled lanes or a view of the sea stirring up its defiant nature. The sea possessed a power all of its own and this part of Cornwall, an isolated stretch of rocky cliff tops and unexplored beaches both enchanted and terrified me.

It is not a lie to say I felt drawn out that day, led to a certain destiny ...

So begins this new mystery series featuring young Daphne du Maurier, headstrong, adventurous, and standing at the cusp of greatness.

Walking on the cliffs in Cornwall, she stumbles upon the drowned body of a beautiful woman, dressed only in a nightgown, her hair strewn along the rocks, her eyes gazing up to the heavens. Daphne soon learns that the mysterious woman was engaged to marry Lord Hartley of Padthaway, an Elizabethan mansion full of intriguing secrets.

As the daughter of the famous Sir Gerald du Maurier, Daphne is welcomed into the Hartley home, but when the drowning turns out to be murder, Daphne determines to get to the bottom of the mysteries of Padthaway—in part to find fresh inspiration for her writing, and in part because she cannot resist the allure of grand houses and long buried secrets.
About the Author: (from the tour)

Joanna Challis lives and writes in a colonial house with wrap-around verandahs and an English garden Queensland, Australia, surrounded by family, old paintings, and anything fleur-de-lys. She is the author of several romantic suspense novels; Murder on the Cliffs is her first series mystery. Author's website: http://www.joanna-challis.com/.
Giveaway: Hosted at the main Tour website
Joanna Challis is giving away a signed copy of her book, Murder on the Cliffs, to one lucky tour visitor. Go to her book tour page, http://joanna-challis.omnimystery.com/, enter your name, e-mail address, and this PIN, 1386, for your chance to win. Entries from Wendi's Book Corner will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow. No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on their book tour page next week.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Review and Tour: The Christmas Dog by

The Christmas Dog
by Melody Carlson

Revell (September 1, 2009) ~ 176 pages
Fiction / Contemporary / Christian Fiction / Christmas

Edition Reviewed: Hardback - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review for this Revell Christmas Tour!

Perfect for : Personal Use, Book Club

My Thoughts: This is one of my favorite times of the year... with holiday decorations, get-togethers with family and friends, and wonderful holiday stories that are heart-warming! ... and The Christmas Dog is simply another book to add to my small shelf of holiday favorites! Not only does Melody Carlson write in a way that readers can relate to different aspects of the story, but she makes you feel immersed in the characters and they feel like real people.

I really loved the ups and downs explored in this book... the assumptions (don't we all come to the wrong assumption on occasion??) and clarifications, the twists and turns within the family, and the overall outcome of the story. Add in an adorable little brown dog who manages to touch everyone's lives, and you've got a fun and easy holiday read that you will come back to year after year.

This is another great holiday book that explores relationships of differing types and degrees: a new neighbor, a runaway grand-daughter, a mother and daughter who are at odds, a dog, etc.

I found this book to be very heart-warming, endearing and inspiring. I realize that after living in our current neighborhood for 5+ years, I feel like I know the neighboring family on one side well, and I am comfortable enough to speak on casual terms with a few others, but I want to get to know my neighbors, and the holidays might be the perfect time to extend some holiday cheer.

About the Book:

From Amazon: Betty Kowalski isn't looking forward to the holidays. She just can't seem to find Christmas in her heart. There's church, of course. But who can she bake for these days? And who would care whether or not she pulled out the Christmas decorations? Her new neighbor just adds to the problem. He's doing home improvements that don't appear to be improving much of anything. These days when Betty looks out the window, she sees a beat-up truck, a pile of junk, lots of blue tarps, and--horror of horrors--an old pink toilet. But when a mangy dog appears at her doorstep, the stage is set for Betty to learn a very important lesson about what Christmas is all about. This contemporary Christmas story is a timely yet gentle reminder that God can work miracles through something as seemingly insignificant as a little brown dog.
Excerpt:
The Christmas Dog



About the Author:

From Amazon: Melody Carlson is the prolific author of more than 200 books, including The Christmas Bus and All I Have to Give. She recently was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books. She lives with her husband in Oregon.
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