Click Here For Free Blog Backgrounds!!!
Blogaholic Designs

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Humble Orthodoxy

Joshua Harris is pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, a Maryland suburb of Washington D.C.  He is a member of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and The Gospel Coalition.
He is the author of six books; the most recent publications are Dug Down Deep and Humble Orthodoxy.
He and his wife Shannon have three children.
You can connect with Joshua via the following:
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Podcast.

We don’t get to choose between humility and orthodoxy. We need both.

In Humble Orthodoxy, bestselling author Joshua Harris examines New Testament teachings about the calling of believers to a love-infused courage that ignores foolish controversies, patiently endures evil, and champions truth with generosity of spirit. Without this kind of humility, Harris asserts, we become like the Pharisees—right in our doctrine, but ultimately destroying the cause of truth with our pride.

This tiny 96 page book packs a powerful punch!  For example, consider this quote from the forward by J.D. Greear:
"A great deal of damage is done by those who hold the truth of Christ with the spirit of satan."
For those wondering if Harris has written another book that is soft or compromising on holding high the truths of God's Word in the name of loving thy neighbor, consider these words from Harris in chapter one:
"Love for God and love for neighbor require us to oppose falsehood.  There is nothing more unloving than to be silent in the face of lies that will ruin another person."
"You and I need to contend for the truth.  But there's a fine line between contending for truth and being contentious.  I think this is why, in his final instructions to Timothy, the seasoned apostle went out of his way to tell Timothy that even though orthodoxy is important, it's not enough by itself.  Truth matters, but so does our attitude."
As believers, we have received the most rich and abundant grace and mercy from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - atonement for our sins, redemption, and restoration that opens up the way for a right standing with God and a relationship with Him.  How can we effectively share the good news with anyone without extending a portion of that same grace and mercy?  The message of Harris's book is that we can't.

Humble Orthodoxy contains a message that is needed to be heard by every pastor, minister, and lay Christian who cares about reaching others with the good news of salvation found in Jesus Christ.

The book contains a study guide that would be helpful for use in a Sunday School setting or small group meeting.  The study guide isn't designed just to fill the reader's head with more knowledge, but encourages practical application with given action steps to be taken and exhorts the learner to know the truth and know how to hold it high while loving others with the love of Christ.

I highly recommend this book!

*I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah for the purpose of this review as part of their Blogging for Books program.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Fruitful Wife

Hayley DiMarco is the author of more than 30 books, including God Girl, Mean Girls, and Die Young.  In 2002, Hayley left Thomas Nelson Publishers to begin Hungry Planet with her husband Michael. Hungry Planet is a company focused on producing books that combine hard-hitting biblical truth with cutting-edge design.  She has been the featured guest speaker for Women of Faith, Precept National Women's Convention and MOPS International.  She has also consulted for some of the largest stadium events for young women in North America.
You can connect with Hayley via her Facebook page as well as on Twitter.
Hayley also disciples young girls through her website found at There you can find out more about Hayley and her writing and ministry as well as follow her blog.
Hayley's latest book, The Fruitful Wife:  Cultivating A Love Only Go Can Produce,  was published by Crossway in September 2012.  Crossway sent me an Advanced Reader copy of The Fruitful Wife for the purpose of this review.

Book Synopsis:
Marriage is God's tool of sanctification and this should bring women hope when things get hard.  Yet very few women have the idea of spiritual growth at the front of their minds when conflict arises.  In The Fruitful Wife, Hayley DiMarco applies the fruit of the Spirit to wives, taking a look at how each fruit impacts a woman's day-to-day life and manifests itself (or hides itself) as she attempts to love others the way God loves her.  DiMarco is readily transparent about her own struggles, sharing with readers her fights for control, authority, and respect.  Ultimately, DiMarco teaches how even the rockiest of marriages can live out the fruit God intends to produce.

Hear from Hayley herself in this beautiful video about the message of The Fruitful Wife:

I highly recommend The Fruitful Wife!  DiMarco's message and encouragement is gospel centered and focuses on Christ as the source and foundation of all that we do in our lives.  He is the vine and we are the branches and DiMarco stresses the most important and vital work of abiding in Him in order to produce good fruit for our husbands and our children and others we impact with our lives. 

DiMarco's writing is clear and biblical focusing on God's Word.  She offers practical ways to live out the information she shares.  I also appreciate Hayley's transparency in her own struggles to display the fruit of the Spirit in her own life and marriage.  The Fruitful Wife would be an excellent resource to use in a small group Bible study or would be perfect to read and study through in a discipleship relationship.

You can order the book at by going HERE.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Heartbeat Away

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Heartbeat Away
Abingdon Press (May 1, 2013)
S. Dionne Moore

S. Dionne Moore started writing in 2006. Her first book, Murder on the Ol’Bunions, was contracted for publication by Barbour Publishing in 2008. In 2009 she moved on to writing historical romances as an outlet for her passion for history. In 2010 her second cozy mystery, Polly Dent Loses Grip, was a 2010 Carol Award finalist and she was also named a Barbour Publishing 2010 Favorite New Author. In 2011 her first historical romance, Promise of Tomorrow, was nominated a 2011 Carol Award finalist.
Born and raised in Manassas, Virginia, Moore moved to Greencastle, PA in 1993, then to Mercersburg in 2009. Moore enjoys life in the historically rich Cumberland Valley where traffic jams are a thing of the past and there are only two stoplights in the whole town.
For more information, visit her Website at
Follow her on Twitter: @sdionnemoore

When a band of runaway slaves brings Union-loyal Beth Bumgartner a wounded Confederate soldier named Joe, it is the catalyst that pushes her to defy her pacifist parents and become a nurse during the Battle of Antietam. Her mother's mysterious goodbye gift is filled with quilt blocks that bring comfort to Beth during the hard days and lonely nights, but as she sews each block, she realizes there is a hidden message of faith within the pattern that encourages and sustains her. Reunited with Joe, Beth learns his secret and puts the quilt's message to its greatest test—but can betrayal be forgiven?
If you would like to read the first chapter of A Heartbeat Away, go HERE.
My Thoughts:
I have read many of the other books in the Quilts of Love series, but this one may be my favorite thus far.  Ms Moore weaves a story of love, loss, surrender and sacrifice that touches just about every human emotion.  While historical romances are not typically my favorite to read, Ms Moore may have just won me over to that genre!
Happy Reading,

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Face of the Earth

Deborah Raney is the award-winning author of several novels, including "A Nest of Sparrows" and the RITA award winning "Beneath a Southern Sky" and its sequel, "After the Rains". Deborah's first novel, "A Vow to Cherish", was the inspiration for World Wide Pictures' highly acclaimed film of the same title, which in December 2004 aired on prime time network TV for the second time. Deb's novella, "Playing by Heart", was a National Readers Choice Award winner and a 2004 Christy Award finalist. Her novel for Howard/Simon & Schuster, "Yesterday's Embers", appeared on the ECPA Christian fiction bestseller list. Known for her sensitive portrayal of family struggles and relationships, Deb has also written nonfiction books and articles and often speaks at women's retreats and writers' conferences around the country. She and her husband, illustrator/author Ken Raney, have four children and make their home in Kansas. 
Ways to connect with Deborah:
When Mitchell Brannon's beloved wife of twenty years kisses him goodbye one autumn morning, he has little idea that his life is about to change forever. Mitch returns from work early that evening, surprised Jill's car isn't in the garage. Her conference in Kansas City is only a few hours' drive from their little town of Sylvia, Missouri. But her voice on the answering machine makes him smile. "Hey, babe, I'm just now checking out of the hotel, but I'll stop and pick up something for dinner. Love you."
Mitch sets the table with their best china and lights some candles, looking forward to their first weekend as empty nesters.
But at eight o'clock, the candles have burned to stubs and Jill still hasn't shown up. Mitch tries her cell phone only to get her voice mail over and over again. Their two college kids haven't heard from their mom either.
At midnight, Mitch's irritation turns to dread. And later, when the police and Missouri Highway Patrol have turned up nothing, the Kansas City hotel calls to say they've found property belonging to Jill in a hotel maid's possession.
Mitch enlists the help of their next-door neighbor, Jill's best friend, Shelley, and together they search for clues to Jill's disappearance. As days turn into weeks and weeks into months, Mitch and Shelley's friendship grows ever closer--and decidedly complicated with Jill as the tie that binds them together. Just when Shelley decides to finally reveal her feelings for Mitch, a clue to Jill's whereabouts is uncovered. But every lead seems to be a dead end, and Mitch wonders how he can honor the vows he made to a woman who has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth.

My Thoughts about the book:
I've only read one other book by Deborah Raney, but I can tell you this...I am a fan!  Deborah is a master storyteller who weaves emotion into her stories that the reader can almost feel.  She presents characters that seem so real that you immediately find a connection that grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let you go until long after you have turned the last page.  In The Face of the Earth, Raney presents a story that engulfed me from the first paragraph.  The tension and suspense was enough that I was literally sitting on the edge of my chair turning pages faster and faster at certain points.  The plot twists and turns and ups and downs and the ending...oh you'll just have to read it yourself!
You can purchase your copy HERE

And you certainly won't want to miss the Facebook party and $200 Date Night Giveaway:
Enter Today - 5/7 - 5/30!
the face of the earth deborah raney visa cash card Giveaway
You can see what others are saying about the book by visiting HERE.
Thank you Litfuse Publicity for sending me a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review! 

Happy Reading,

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Home Run

The dream began in third grade, when Ms. Miller encouraged Travis Thrasher with his simple pirate story. That combined with daily readings during lunchtime of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis inspired Travis to want to become a novelist.
That dream and desire have never gone away.
He worked as Author Relations Manager for Tyndale House Publishers, the publisher of his first two novels. The thirteen years he spent working in author relations taught him the business of publishing as well as the psyche of writers. He views his first ten years of being published as training and practice. Those novels in many ways were written for himself. The four years of writing fulltime have taught him the discipline and determination necessary to make it as a novelist. They’ve also served to close the chapter on what is hopefully just one era in his writing journey.  The dream remains the same. To try and write something magnificent. To make up wild worlds full of wonderfully rich characters. To make sense of the world through the stories he tells. And to try and inspire hope with the words he writes. To learn more about what Travis's philosophy of writing novels go HERE and read his blog post which will give you a little more insight into what is behind his excellent writing.
(Bio taken in part from the author's website which can be found at
You can also connect with Travis via  Facebook and Twitter.

Travis's latest book Home Run:  Freedom Is Possible (published by David C. Cook) is a novelization based on the movie Home Run starring Vivica A. Fox and Scott Elrod.

Book Synopsis:
It's never too late...
Baseball star Cory Brand knows how to win.  But off the field, he's spiraling out of control.  Haunted by old wounds and regrets, his future seems as hopeless as his past.  Until one moment - one mistake - changes everything.  To save his career, Cory must go back to the town where it all began.  His plan is simple:  coach the local Little League team, complete a recovery program, and get out as fast as possible.  Instead, he runs headfirst into memories he can't escape...and the love he left behind. Faced with a second chance he never expected, Cory embarks on a journey of faith, transformation, and redemption.  And along the way, he discovers a powerful truth:  no one is beyond the healing of God.  Home Run is an inspirational story of the hope God offers each of us.

My Thoughts:
Travis Thrasher's writing is different and a very, very, good way!  I first encountered his gift when I read his Solitary TalesHe drew me into a genre that I had previously not enjoyed, but he made me enjoy that series very much.  Thrasher has a unique gift in his writing of helping you crawl into the mind of his characters.  He accomplishes this with Cory Brand in Home Run.  And again Thrasher has caused me to rethink my desire to read novelizations of movies.  Typically, for me, novelizations read as stilted "re-writes" of movie scripts.  You know where you feel as if you are just moving from scene to scene?  Due to the depth of Thrashers ability to draw the reader into his characters, the story in Home Run reads fluently.  I really enjoyed how in between the chapters, Thrasher fills you in on Cory's back story in short "snap shots"of information from the past.  Thrasher has done an amazing job of giving his readers a vivid picture of the fall of man and an even greater picture of the transformation and grace available through Jesus Christ.  I have a feeling that from this point on that if Travis Thrasher's name is on the cover of a book...I'll be reading it!

*THANK YOU David C. Cook for providing the complimentary copy of this book through The Book Club Network's Reader's Only group for the purpose of this review!  And THANK YOU Fred St. Laurent for hosting the chat with author Travis Thrasher!  If you like to read and think it would be fun to connect with other avid readers and authors, then you will want to check out!

*To learn more about the recovery program highlighted in Home Run, you can visit the official website for Celebrate Recovery by going HERE.


Jennifer: An O'Malley Love Story

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story
Bethany House Publishers (May 1, 2013)
Dee Henderson
Dee Henderson is the bestselling, award-winning author of 15 previous novels, including the acclaimed O'MALLEY series and UNCOMMON HEROES series. These days, most authors are out there energetically promoting their books in print and broadcast and via social media—wherever they can get attention. But Dee Henderson keeps a low profile. She avoids telephone interviews because of hearing problems, declined to provide a current photo, and will say only that she lives in Illinois.

It's a summer of change for Jennifer O'Malley. The busy physician has a pediatrics practice in Dallas, and meeting Tom Peterson, and falling in love, is adding a rich layer to her life. She's sorting out how to introduce him to her family--she's the youngest of seven--and thinking about marriage.
She's falling in love with Jesus too, and knows God is good. But that faith is about to be tested in a way she didn't expect, and the results will soon transform her entire family.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story, go to HERE.
My Thoughts on the Book:
Jennifer:  An O'Malley Love Story is the story behind the story of Henderson's famous O'Malley Series. Unfortunately I haven't read the O'Malley series, but after reading Jennifer's story...I must!  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read this story in conjunction with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.  It has certainly piqued my interest in reading the rest of the story!  I have read a couple of Henderson's other books and she is an exceptional writer of contemporary themes.  We are blessed as avid readers to have her share her gift with us!

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Last Chance For Justice

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Last Chance for Justice
B&H Books (May 1, 2013)
Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business
writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from Her novel set in China, Red Ink, was named Golden Scrolls 2011 Novel of the Year and was also a Carol Award Finalist; her October 2012 release, Unexpected Christmas Hero, was named 2012 Book of the Year by Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband.
Kathi is passionate about The Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors. To learn more about the persecuted church, please visit VOM’s website and Open Doors Website.
Kathi can be reached through the Contact link on her Website.

Welcome to Bloomfield, where life is simple, love is real, and stories are shared.
Lynn Myers is still reeling from losing her husband of thirty-five years when word comes that her only sibling, an older brother, has also died. With no one else to settle the estate, she must return to her small hometown of Bloomfield, however briefly, to settle his affairs.
Lynn’s daughter, Rachel, has just graduated fromBible college and with no other commitments comes along to sort through her uncle’s huge old home, right next to the local cemetery.
It isn't long before Rachel has two men -- a handsome CPA and the youth pastor -- seriously vying for her attention. At the same time, Lynn's attention is drawn to a set of journals her brother has left behind detailing a long-standing Bloomfield mystery.
As they pursue solving this mystery, Rachel must make some personal decisions about her future, while Lynn is forced to face unexpected issues from her own past.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Last Chance for Justice, go HERE
My Thoughts:
Last Chance for Justice moved a little slow for me.  However, the story here is a nice, easy read.  Ms Macias weaves a tender story of the mother/daughter relationship, a little romance and a bit of mystery in the atmosphere of the small town.  Having grown up in a small town myself, there were many times I had to chuckle and felt like I was back at "home".  This would be a perfect Summer read.
Happy Reading,

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pastor's Wives

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen was a longtime staff writer for TIME magazine. She now develops TV pilots for production companies and recently sold her first pilot for "The Ordained" to CBS. Born in Japan, Cullen lives in New Jersey with family.

You can learn more about Cullen and her work at her website:  You also might consider connecting with Cullen via her Facebook author page and on Twitter.

What’s it like when the man you married is already married to God?
Cullen’s debut novel Pastors’ Wives follows three women whose lives converge and intertwine at a Southern evangelical megachurch. Ruthie follows her Wall Street husband from New York to Magnolia, a fictional suburb of Atlanta, when he hears a calling to serve at a megachurch called Greenleaf. Reeling from the death of her mother, Ruthie suffers a crisis of faith—in God, in her marriage, and in herself. Candace is Greenleaf’s “First Lady,” a force of nature who’ll stop at nothing to protect her church and her superstar husband. Ginger, married to Candace’s son, struggles to play dutiful wife and mother while burying her calamitous past. All their roads collide in one chaotic event that exposes their true selves. Inspired by Cullen’s reporting as a staff writer for Time magazine, Pastors’ Wives is a dramatic portrayal of the private lives of pastors’ wives, caught between the demands of faith, marriage, duty, and love.
*This book is published by Plume and inprint of Penguin.

My Thoughts About The Book:
Having been a pastor's wife for 21 years now, I was immediately drawn to the title of Lisa's book.  I also understood going in that the book was not necessarily published under the genre of "Christian Fiction" and Christian fiction it is not.  It is a novel (fiction) with Christian/religious themes.  Having said that, I was still a little taken back with some of the language and one (what I would consider) pornographic portion of the book.
However, I would have to say that the book is very well written.  Cullen's characters are well developed and very shortly into the book you feel like you know these women.  I like how Cullen shared the story from all three women's perspective.  She rotates the story from chapter to chapter from each vantage point, but the story flows well.  I also thought she did an exceptional job of filling the reader in on the backstory of each woman and did so fluently.
My favorite Pastor's Wife in the book was Ginger.  I immediately was able to relate to her on several levels.  Cullen did a really good job of painting a clear picture of the gospel showing the power of God's transforming grace through Ginger's story.  Anyone who reads this book will get a vivid and true-to-life picture of  the struggle many face, pastor's wife or not, in finding grace and learning to lean on and trust in God.  Whether the picture of the inner workings of a megachurch that Cullen presents in her book are realistic or not, I wouldn't know.  However, if Ms Cullen is still working out her own faith (and I could sometimes almost feel what I guessed to be the authors' personal religious tension in her writing), I certainly hope and pray she finds a Bible believing and gospel infused body of believers to walk out her journey of faith with.

Go HERE and see what others are saying about the book.

And don't miss the fun giveaway and Facebook party Lisa Cullen and Litfuse Publicity are hosting:
Enter Today - 5/2 - 5/23!
lisa takeuchi cullen pastors wives iPad Mini Giveaway

*Thank you Litfuse Publicity for providing a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of review!

Happy Reading,

Friday, May 10, 2013

Katies's Choice

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Katie's Choice
B&H Books (May 1, 2013)
Amy Lillard

I’m a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.
I live in Tulsa, though I was born in Mississippi. I moved to the Sooner State when I was seventeen and met my soul mate and best friend not long after. I’ve retained a little of my Mississippi accent though most people think I’m from Texas. (?) Rob and I have been married for over twenty years and have a son–a mom proclaimed prodigy, of course!
I love homemade tacos, shoes, and romance novels–not necessarily in that order. I’m a big fan of country music, a staunch proponent of saving the Oxford comma, and I’m shamefully obsessed with all things Harry Potter.
I believe that God is love. I guess that’s why I adore romances.
I have always been intrigued with the Amish culture, their gentle ways and slower-paced lifestyle. (And I love, love, love the fact that they stay married for their lifetime.) But until recently I never thought to blend this interest with my penchant for romance. Okay, okay, I’m a bit old-fashioned and even enjoy the gender roles that are present in this culture. I love to cook and take care of my family. Yes, that’s me
June Cleaver with a laptop.
I dislike people trying to convince me to read the Twlight series (I’ll get to it or I won’t, either way I’m good with it), gratuitous violence, and strawberry ice cream. (I know I’m alone on this last one, and again, I’m good with it.)
Favorite movies–(besides HP) French Kiss, Maid of Honor, A Lot Like Love, Just Married, and Sweet Home Alabama. Oh, and Miss Congeniality, Sabrina (both versions) and a 1940′s movie called Dear Ruth. If you haven’t seen it, you should! A-dorable. Anything with Doris Day and most all of Marilyn’s and Audrey’s. 
Amy can be reached through the Contact link on her Website.

Katie Rose Fisher loved Samuel Beachy with an intensity that shook their Amish district. No one doubted they would one day marry, until Samuel turned his back on the church and joined the world of the English. Alone now in Clover Ridge, Katie Rose dedicates her life to God and the school children she teaches each day. Although she secretly longs for more, Katie knows God’s hand is at work, and she is happy.
News correspondent Zane Carson never even knew Oklahoma had an Amish community until he got the chance to live among them and learn about their day-to-day activities. Their simple way of life is intriguing, but not half as much as the young teacher.
Katie Rose is flattered over the attention she receives from Zane, but she has resolved to never marry. Even if she were to entertain the idea, it surely couldn’t be with an outsider like Zane.
Never one prone to the restraints of organized religion, Zane finds a comfort in the rituals and blessings in the day to day righteous living of this small Amish community. He finds himself, God, and love with Katie Rose.
But as Zane draws closer to Katie Rose, Samuel comes back to repent his ways and return to his place at her side. Can Zane convince Katie Rose that he is committed to adapting to her way of life, or will Samuel win her affections back for himself once again?
If you would like to read the first chapter of Katie's Choice, go HERE
My Thoughts:
I read Lillard's first book in this series, Saving Gideon, and could not wait for this second installment.  With her first book, she made me a fan and now with this second in the series, Lillard has confirmed me as a loyal fan.  She has a unique way of telling a story while meshing the modern with the Amish without compromising a true to life display of Amish life.  I absolutely loved Katie's character in this book.  Lillard's characterization and description is impeccable!  This story held so many tender moments that I was sad to turn the last page...wishing it was a bit longer!  I can't wait to see what happens next in Clover Ridge.  The people there feel like family!
Happy Reading,

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
B&H Books (May 1, 2013)
Alton Gansky


Alton L. Gansky is the author of 24 novels and 8 nonfiction works, as well as principle writer of 9 novels and 2 nonfiction books. He has been a Christie Award finalist (A Ship Possessed) and an Angel Award winner (Terminal Justice) and recently was award the ACFW award for best suspense/thriller for his work on Fallen Angel. He holds a BA and MA in biblical studies and Lit.D. He lives in central California with his wife. In addition to his own writing, Alton Gansky has consulted and provided editing/
writing services to several CBA publishers and written copy, video scripts, and other works for the general business market. Through Gansky.Communications he has consulted with publishers and agents, as well as provided editing services. He is “the go to guy” for co-writing having been selected by Penguin, Waterbrook, Broadman Holman, and other publishers to work with their top tier authors. Gansky is in frequent demand at writer’s conferences having taught and keynoted in California, Arizona, New Mexico, North Carolina, Delaware, Washington, and Canada. He has also been guest lecturer on suspense writing at Taylor University in Indiana.
Alton can be reached through the Contact link on his Website.

A man’s lifeless body is found in the fresh soil of San Diego’s botanical garden. Cause of death is asphyxiation, an easy call for the medical examiner. More mysterious, however, are the tiny drops of blood on the victim’s skin, resulting from hundreds of punctures. A rabbi leaving his house for work expects a regular day at the synagogue. That quickly changes when he discovers a dead man on his front lawn, clearly beaten to death. Motorcycle riders racing along the empty streets of an abandoned military base stumble across another man’s corpse, its skin revealing long, red-purple marks of a thrashing given with wood dowels. The numbers mount. Each week another victim and another mysterious clue in a game of mass murder the police don’t want to lose. The solution rests with Dr. Ellis Poe, a religious professor who only wishes to be left alone with his books and classes. But evil must be faced, and the choice is no longer his own.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Wounds, go HERE.
My Thoughts:
My initial thought is just this:  WOW!  I just finished reading this book about 30 minutes ago and it has been quite a while since I have read a novel so well written!  Mr. Gansky's characterization and plot development is so intricate and well done.  He literally had me involved in the story from page one!  Wounds is a gritty novel with a unique biblical twist incorporated into the story.  The detail and description of characters and events is unlike any I've ever read.  I literally felt as if I were right beside Detective Rainmondi as she is trying to solve this case.  Mr. Gansky certainly has a gift and I'm sorry I haven't discovered it before now!
Happy Reading,

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Passionate Mom

Susan Merrill is a hybrid of sorts.  She majored in finance but loves people more than numbers.  She left behind the corporate gray of banking for the colorful world of kids.  She had three children and adopted two more.  Susan is the very imperfect Merrill family manager and the director of  She loves to analyze life, ponder possibilities, and pray for opportunity, which makes for a very busy and messy house!  She lives in Tampa, Florida, with her husband - Family First founder and author Mark Merrill - and two, or depending on the day, up to five of her children ages seventeen to twenty-two.  On those days, she happily forsakes all other responsibilities to run a bed and breakfast and laundromat for college students.

You can connect with Susan through her website found at, Twitter and Facebook.

Book Description:
Motherhood is full of uncertainty. What do my children really need? Why are they doing that? Is this normal? What can I do to help them? How can I know for certain that I am doing this right? The logistics are easy. Anybody can do laundry and carpool. But what makes a mother the best mom she can be?
It’s not better scheduling. Or more activities. Or less. It is passion—the passion to teach, protect, study, and prepare her children for the future. Great, but how?
Susan Merrill, the mother of five incredibly different children, has asked that question countless times. And she has read countless answers specific to a certain child’s temperament, age, or situation. But nothing she read offered an overall approach to parenting that would enable her to say with confidence, “I am doing this right.” She never guessed she would find a foundational plan—a reliable, universal parenting approach in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah.
In The Passionate Mom, Susan takes you on a journey through Nehemiah and into the heart of parenting. Her stories and confessions in every chapter reveal what she has learned: no mom can control her child’s future, but every mom can parent well. There is a plan—a roadmap for how a passionate mom can parent almost any child, confidently.

You can visit the Thomas Nelson product page for this book to learn more and to see what others are saying about The Passionate Mom:  Dare to Parent in Today's World.  

My Thoughts About the Book:
There are a plethora of parenting books on the shelves of book stores - secular and Christian - and many of them I have read.  Most of the ones I have come into contact with offer some variation of formula, theory or psychological musing about "how to make your kids behave" in a certain amount of time.  Furthermore, many of these books are heavy on "theory" and very shallow to non-existent on application or they focus completely on outward behavior and leave out heart issues all together.
Thankfully, Susan Merrill offers us moms a refreshing book that addresses parenting in a way that rises far above so much of the "advice" that is being given to us.  In The Passionate Mom, Susan draws from the story of Nehemiah to give us what she calls "a pattern for us to follow" in building a wall for our children which involves the following "bricks and mortar":
  1. Perception - Alertness, Availability, Attentiveness
  2. Pondering - Self-Control, Selflessness
  3. Passion - Love, Initiative
  4. Prayer - Humility, Trust
  5. Patience - Tolerance, Discipline
  6. Preparation - Integrity, Boldness, Trustworthiness
  7. Purpose - Determination
  8. Planning - Discernment, Persuasiveness
  9. Problem Solving - Faith, Courage, Generosity, Determination
  10. Perseverance
This wall Susan suggests we build for our children has two dimensions - protection and provision.  Susan says:
"The wall protects your child from exposure to harm from the outside world.  The gates in the wall provide your child access to the training he or she needs to wisely navigate in the world, independent of you...You are the wall and the gates, the protection from the world and the provider of training for life in the world...The bricks we will use to build our parenting are our ten P's.  To secure those bricks so that the wall is strong and effective, we need mortar.  The mortar is our character, made up of the traits that moms must personally develop to effectively hold our bricks in place."
In closing the book, Susan says this:
"Of all the things you do in life, in the end, loving God and investing in the lives you love will be the only things that matter...Nehemiah chose life.  He readily gave up his comfy career in the palace to care for the lives of others.  That is parenting.  You give up your comfy live of sleeping in, Cheerio-less cars, and meals of your choice in quiet restaurants to care for your children...From the time Nehemiah heard from his brother about the devastation of his people's city until the day of the wall's completion was about nine months.  In the time it takes to give birth to a child, Nehemiah gave birth to renewed hope for the Israelites...You are called to lay the foundation for your son's or daughter's faith.  You can build a strong wall to protect your child, but if you don't lay a  solid foundation for what he or she believes, you will have missed your mission...In the end, Nehemiah's last concern was finding favor with God, because He was the source for all that mattered to Nehemiah."
In The Passionate Mom, Susan offers the perfect and balanced blend of scriptural exhortation, personal application, and sharing of her own personal struggles and examples.  She doesn't let us moms off easy in our responsibility; however, she is encouraging in her challenge to us.  Susan doesn't paint with a wide brush typical of so many parenting authors.  She boldly and lovingly (like a close discerning friend) asks contemplative questions that help you to assimilate what she is sharing into your own experience and place in life.

The information in the book is well organized making it an easy reference tool to return to often in a particular situation. The Passionate Mom would be an excellent resource for use in a small group study with moms of all ages with children of all ages.  I found it helpful as a personal study guide in my own study through the book of Nehemiah.  Susan doesn't force application between Nehemiah and parenting where it compromises the truth of scripture or takes God's Word out of context, but does bring light to general themes and ideas to help us along our way as mothers.

Mother's Day is quickly approaching and this book would be an excellent gift!  I highly recommend it!

I received this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for my review.  I was not expected to necessarily give a positive review.  All opinions are my own.