Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Foolish Heart Book Review

SUMMARY:  When it comes to love, sometimes you have to be a little foolish.
     Unknown to her quaint town of Deep Haven, Isadora Presley is the star host of My Foolish Heart, a popular syndicated talk radio show.  From her home studio, she gives listeners advice on romance...even though she's never had a date.
    It's not that she doesn't want to, but since a tragic accident took her mother's life, panic attacks have trapped her inside her small neighborhood.  And though she always reminds listeners that their perfect love could be right next door, it can't possibly be true for her.  Especially when a new neighbor moves in.  Sure, he's handsome, but with his unruly dog and Neanderthal manners, Caleb Knight is the last man she'd ever fall for.
    To Issy, love isn't worth the risk.  Until she starts to have feelings for a caller - a man she's never even met but finds honest, charming, and sensitive.  A man she doesn't realize lives right next door.

REVIEW:  My Foolish Heart is the fourth book in the Deep Haven series.  I didn't realize it until I was looking through the pages advertising the author's other novels located at the end of the book.  The story stands very well on it's own.  Now that I know there are three other books, I would love to read them to see how they connect to this one.
     I LOVE this book!!  The characters are very well written and developed.  My heart goes out to Issy when she leaves the safety of her house to venture out, trying to break out of the prison she had locked herself in, only to go running to her safe spot under her piano when she feels like things are out of control.  With the love and support of her friends and without condemnation from the people in town, she is given the freedom to try new things even if she looks foolish at times.  Lucy, Issy's best friend since childhood, helps her any way possible and encourages Issy to step beyond her boundaries.  Caleb has gone through his own trials after being injured as a soldier in Iraq.  He can relate and empathize with Issy's situation and encourages her to take those scary steps outside her home.

    This is a great book which I highly recommend!!!

This book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers for review without compensation.

Susan May Warren is the RITA Award-winning author of more than thirty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike.  She spent eight years as a missionary in Russia with her husband and four children before returning to Minnesota's north shore to write full-time.  Visit her website at

Lillies in Moonlight Book Review

SUMMARY:  He'd lost his zest for life.  She was just lost.  Will they find the healing and love they long for?
     After a roaring night on the town, fun-loving flapper Lilly Margolis, dazed and disoriented, twists her ankle and falls into the backyard of a wealthy family where the effects of the Great War - over for more than half a decade - are still endured.  Inside the walls of the Burnside mansion, Cullen Burnside, a disillusioned and disfigured veteran, and his widowed mother, Betty Ruth, who daily slips a little further into dementia, lead a lonely existence...until Lilly.  Whimsical, lighthearted, and beautiful, she rejuvenates their sad, disconnected lives and blossoms in the light of their attention.
     But Lilly, like Cullen, is hiding from a painful past.  And when Cullen insists on returning her to her faraway home, their budding attraction seems destined to die on the vine.  The resulting road trip becomes a journey of self-discovery - but what will Cullen and Lilly find at the journey's end?

REVIEW:  Lillies in Moonlight is the third book in the author's "baseball" series it but stands fine on it's own.  The story is well-written and the characters are different from what you normally read.  I enjoyed the setting of the 1920s, not a time period you read about in many books. The idea of a flapper being the main female lead and a war hero with physical wounds as the love interest shows how the love of God and love between people can overcome all obstacles.  I love how Lilly is able to finally understand the grace and love of Jesus after growing up in a very strict and religious house that did not show a lot of grace and love.  This is a good book.  Anyone wanting to read it will not be disappointed.

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review without compensation.

Allison Pittman is the author of Stealing Home, The Bridegrooms, the Crossroads of Grace series, and Saturdays with Stella.  A former high school English teacher, she serves as director of the theater arts group at her church.  Allison makes her home in Texas with her husband and their three boys.  Learn more about the author at

Monday, April 18, 2011

Max on Life Book Review

SUMMARY:  We have questions.  Real, important, and challenging questions.  Questions about sex, finances, and forgiveness.  Unsettling questions regarding illness, suicide, and eternity.  Don't we crave answers to these queries that tug on the deepest parts of our hearts?

Do angels really walk among us?
How should I discipline my kids?
Any advice for my struggling marriage?
Why do I worry so much?
How do I know what God's will for me really is?

     In Max on Life, one of the most trusted pastors and authors of our time takes on life's most important questions.  Max Lucado has received thousands of questions and wrestled with plenty of his own.  Here's hoping that his answers to the questions of others will help you find answers to yours.

REVIEW:  Max Lucado's newest book Max on Life - Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions does not disappoint.  There were only a couple of answers that I thought missed the mark in answering the questions.  But, in usual easy to understand Max-fashion, the rest of his answers and insights hit it out of the ball park.  He uses scripture in different translations to make it easier to see what God says about a particular situation or to answer a difficult question.  Whether you have been a Christian for years or are searching Christianity to see if it is something you want to pursue, I think you will not be disappointed. 

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers/BookSneeze for review without compensation.

Max Lucado has more than 100 million products in print and is one of America's most widely read authors.  He and his wife, Denalyn, live in San Antonio, Texas, where he serves the Oak Hills Church.  Visit his website at

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beside Still Waters Book Review

SUMMARY:  Raised among the Amish of Indiana, 18-year-old Marianna Sommer plans to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and set up life in the only community she has ever known.  But when her older brother chooses the world's path following his rumschpringe, and a younger sibling begins showing interest in Englisch ways, Marianna's parents move the family to Montana.
    Although she is also in her rumschpringe years and not obligated to move, Marianna makes the journey to dutifully help her mother who is expecting another child.  Surprisingly, from strangers on the cross-country train ride to the less rigid stance of the new Montana community, many Englisch influences awaken within Marianna - and even her father - the desire to pursue a deeper kind of joy and love for God.
     After an accident, Marianna tells her friend Ben a defining story about the Sommer family, and his response further illumines the active relationship God seeks with His followers.  In due time, she learns the move from Indiana was not about losing anything, but finding out who God really is.  Despite all the shake-ups, Marianna feels a sweet peace, like still waters, in her soul.

REVIEW:  This is a good but hard book. Marianna's desire to stay with her family as they move across the country to help her parents is one to be admired.  She leaves behind everything she knew including her fiance' and friends.  The hard part is the back story.  Marianna's parents lost two daughters in a tragic buggy accident the same day Marianna was born.  Her name is even a combination of the names of the two daughters.  Though it happened eighteen years earlier, this event still affects everyone in the Amish community and hangs over the family like a dark cloud.  Moving to Montana helps the family heal from this tragedy and find closure.
      There were a lot questions I thought were left unanswered.  Will Aaron and Marianna get married?  What happens to Ben and Marianna's friendship?  Are they allowed to let it develop since the community she is in is not as strict or will they be forbidden to go further in their relationship since Ben is an Englischer?  Does the friendship between Aaron and Naomi develop into something more since Marianna is so far away?  What happens to Levi?  Does he decide to join his family in Montana or will he continue to live with the Englisch in Indiana?  Will he ever heal from the deaths of his sisters?  If this book is part of a series, I hope these questions are answered in the next one.

This Advanced Reader Copy was provided by Litfuse Public Relations for review without compensation.

Tricia Goyer is an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundred of articles in national magazines including Today's Christian Woman and Focus on the Family while authoring more than twenty fiction and nonfiction books combined.  Among those are 3:16 Teen Edition with Max Lucado and the American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year Award winners Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights.  She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible
    Tricia and her husband John have four great kids and make their home in Arkansas with their dogs, Lilly and Jake.  In addition to writing, Tricia enjoys sharing Jesus' love through volunteering as a mentor for teenage moms in her community, ministering in the Czech Republic on regular missions trips and leading children's church every week with the rest of her family.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Scent of Water Book Review

SUMMARY:  Listen to Naomi's story ... and begin to understand your own
     Follow Naomi as she talks to women working in brothels in Mumbai, survivors of an Indonesian tsunami in which more than 230,000 lives were lost, a young girl waiting on an operation to save her life, and victims of domestic violence horrifically burned by fire.  Be still with her when she realizes the pain she feels in the face of these extreme injustices reveals a common struggle that exists within all of humanity.  And rise with her as she wrestles with confusion over her identity, comes face-to-face with redemption, and then begins to understand her own story ... and find her calling.
     The Scent of Water will open your eyes to the complexities of the world and the healing power of God's grace, showing you that pain can also be beauty, and how each are found in the unlikeliest of places.
     Zacharias doesn't have all the answers.  But she has hope and encouragement that will empower you to find and begin the adventure of your life.

REVIEW:  The Scent of Water:  Grace for Every Kind of Broken is a hard book to read and the most thought-provoking book I've read at the same time.  Naomi tells the stories of women all over the world and the horrors they have had to live through.  My heart goes out to the women who feel trapped and can see no way out of their situations.  Through Wellspring International, Naomi helps local ministries reach out to those women to give them hope and help.  Interweaved throughout the book is Naomi's own story: one of pain, loneliness, hope, and revelations God shows her during her travels and ministry.  This is a great book that will inspire you to live beyond yourself and your own little world and see people as more than their outward appearances.

This book was provided by Zondervan for review without compensation.

Naomi Zacharias graduated from Wheaton College.  After working in sales for Coca-Cola, she joined the staff of RZIM and launched Wellspring International, an initiative devoted to providing financial grants to international efforts working with at-risk women and children.  Naomi has visited with women in red-light districts in The Netherlands, India, and Thailand; foster homes for children affected by HIV/AIDS throughout Asia; hospitals providing surgical treatment for women who have been victims of violence in the Congo; women's prisons in South Africa, displacement camps in Indonesia, Uganda, and Pakistan; areas of the Middle East offering aid to Iraqi refugees; and areas of Southeast Asia devastated by the tsunami of 2004.  She currently lives in Oxford, England.

The Final Summit Book Review

      David Ponder is back - and this time, the fate of mankind may be in his hands.
     This is humanity's last chance.  Centuries of greed, pride, and hate have sent mankind hurtling toward disaster, and far from its original purpose.  There is only one solution that can reset the compass and right the ship - and that answer is only two words.
     With time running out, it is up to David Ponder and a cast of history's best and brightest minds to uncover this solution before it is too late.  The catch?  They are allowed only five tries to solve the ominous challenge.
     Readers first encountered David Ponder in the New York Times bestseller The Traveler's Gift.  Now, in The Final Summit, Andrews combines a riveting narrative with astounding history in order to show us the one thing we must do when we don't know what to do.

REVIEW:  Having read and really liked The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews, I was drawn to this book even though I have not read The Traveler's Gift.  Unfortunately, the story was too far "out there" for me.  I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that someone from the present day was meeting with all sorts of important historical people from all over the previous centuries discussing the future of present-day humanity.  The location was suppose to be in Heaven but the participants still had too much of their previous "humanity" (pride, arguing, smoking, etc.) and Gabriel seemed too contentious.  After David returned from the summit, the author left the story hanging.  Did David get the word out about what happened at The Summit?  Did humanity change?  What happens to Carl and Gloria?  They take up the first part of the book then are never mentioned again.  There was so much potential that was not realized in the end.  I really wanted to like this book but was disappointed.

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers/Book Sneeze for review without compensation.

Hailed by a New York Times reporter as "someone who has quietly become on of the most influential people in America,"  ANDY ANDREWS is a bestselling novelist and in-demand speaker for the world's largest organizations.  He has spoken at the request of four different United States presidents and at military bases worldwide.  Andy appears frequently on CNN, Fox News, and ABC's Good Morning America.  He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Noticer and The Traveler's Gift.  He lives in Orange Beach, Alabama , with his wife, Polly, and their two sons.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

When the Soul Mends Book Review

SUMMARY:  Returning to the home she fled in disgrace, will Hannah find healing for wounds of the past?  After receiving a desperate and confusing call from her sister, Hannah Lapp reluctantly returns to the Old Order Amish community of her Pennsylvania childhood.
     Having left Owl's Perch more than two years earlier, she finally has settled into a satisfying role on the Englischer world.  Hannah has found love and a new family with the wealthy Martin Palmer and the children she is helping his raise; and her life-long dream of being part of the medical community is being realized.  But almost immediately after her arrival, the disapproval of those who ostracized her, including her headstrong father, reopens old wounds.
     As Hannah is thrown together with former fiance' Paul Waddell to work for her sister Sarah's mental health, hidden truths surface about events during Hannah's absence, and she faces an agonizing decision.  Will she choose the Englischer world and the man who restored her hope, or will she heed the call to return to the Plain life - and perhaps to her first love?

REVIEW:  My heart goes out to Hannah.  The struggles she faces when she returns home are difficult but she faces them with more character and grace than most twenty-year olds.  The story is good and I like how the book wraps up all the loose ends.  When the Soul Mends is book Three in the Sisters of the Quilt saga.  Not having read either of the first two books, sometimes I felt a little lost with some of the characters and the situations they were in.  This book is good and can stand on it's own but I think reading the other two books first would help fill in some of the blanks. I would recommend this book.

This book was provided by Waterbook Multnomah for review without compensation.

Cindy Woodsmall  is the author of When the Heart Cries and When the Morning Comes, the first two novels in the best-selling Sisters of the Quilt series.  Her ability to authentically capture the heart of her characters comes from her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families.  A mother of three sons and one daughter-in-law, Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband.