Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Girl's Still Got It

Walk with Ruth as she travels from Moab to Bethlehem, certain of her calling, yet uncertain of her future. Hold Naomi’s hand and watch love put the pieces of her broken life back together. And hang out with Boaz, their kinsman-redeemer, who blesses both women and honors God, big time.

With best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs by your side, you’ll tarry in the corners of their ancient houses, listen to their conversations, and consider every word of every verse until you can say, “I totally get the book of Ruth. And I see what God is trying to teach me through this rags-to-riches redemption story—he has a plan for my life.”

If you have read any of Liz Curtis Higgs' Bad Girls books, you will recognize a similar look at the story of Ruth in The Girl's Still Got It.  And if you've never read anything by her . . . well, this is a good place to start.

Liz combines the Biblical story, carefully researched manners and customs of Bible times, and her own special wit to bring to life the Old Testament love story.  A major message in the book . . . bigger than the love between Ruth and Naomi, bigger than the love between Ruth and Boaz . . . is the greatest love story of all, the love of God and His provision of a Kinsman-Redeemer for each and every one of us.

Readers get the chance to step back in time and silently observe the action playing out on the stage in Moab and in Bethlehem.  Through Liz's masterful storytelling style, you "see" the expressions on the faces, "feel" the tension among the characters, and share the sorrow and the joy of their lives.  Even though you may already know the "happily ever after" end of the book, you can enjoy the fresh look at the familiar story.

If you are interested in using the book in a book club or Bible study, Liz has provided a short set of discussion questions and a more in-depth study guide at the end of the book.  She also includes a list of resources for further reading and study.  There is also a companion DVD to supplement your study.

Whether you're interested in a good book for your own enjoyment or to participate in a group study, I would recommend that you "Take a Walk with Ruth and the God Who Rocked Her World" in The Girl's Still Got It.  The book is scheduled for release in July 2012.

This book was provided free of charge by Blogging for Books for my honest review. 

View a book trailer for The Girl's Still Got It and watch Liz in action with her fun Righteous Ruth Rap.

Liz Curtis Higgs has been telling tales since she attempted her first novel–handwritten in a marble notebook–at the tender age of ten. Successful careers in broadcasting, public speaking, nonfiction writing, and children's books honed Liz's storytelling talents, bringing her back to her first love–writing fiction–at the turn of the 21st century.

A gifted speaker, Liz Curtis Higgs has presented more than 1,500 inspirational programs for audiences in all 50 United States as well as Germany, England, Canada, Ecuador, France, and Scotland. In 1995, Liz received the highest award in professional speaking, the "Council of Peers Award for Excellence," becoming one of only forty women in the world named to the CPAE-Speaker Hall of Fame by the National Speakers Association.

Feature articles about Liz have appeared in more than 250 major newspapers and magazines across the country, and she has been interviewed on more than 600 radio and television stations, including guest appearances on PBS, A&E, MSNBC, NPR, CBC Canada, BBC Radio Scotland, Focus on the Family, and Janet Parshall's America.

Liz is the author of 22 books, with 3 million copies in print. Her fiction to date includes two contemporary novels and three historical novels.

On the personal side, Liz is married to Bill Higgs, Ph.D., who serves as Director of Operations for her speaking and writing office. Liz and Bill share their 19th-century farmhouse in Kentucky with their two teenagers, Matt and Lilly, and too many cats. For more about Liz, visit her Web site:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A quick, thought-provoking read -- Fruit of My Spirit

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from Deanna Nowadnick, asking if I would be willing to read a book she had recently written and review it on my blog.  I love to read and enjoy finding new authors, so I was willing to give it a try.

I am happy to report that the very small amount of time I invested in reading Fruit of My Spirit was time well spent.  Deanna has written a short, conversational account of experiences from her own life and the lessons she has learned from them.  The subtitle of the book is Reframing Life in God's Grace.  The approach the author takes is relating how those experiences looked to her at the time (or maybe shortly after they happened), and then sharing how they now look from the perspective of God's Spirit working within her, specifically relating different events to the fruit of the spirit the apostle Paul wrote about in his letter to the Galatians.

There are places in the book where the story seems to wander a bit or where there is a little repetition.  But that was not distracting to me and seemed to just be a part of the personal narrative style Deanna used.  She was very open and transparent in sharing her stories and left me feeling like I had just had a heart-to-heart conversation with a friend.

According to the back cover of the book, Deanna began this book as a short story for her sons.  I hope her sons treasure this meaningful insight into their mother's heart and soul.  Beyond that very limited initial audience, I believe other readers can be challenged to look at their own lives from the perspective of God's Spirit and reframe their own life lessons in a similar manner.

Thanks, Deanna, for sharing your story and for giving me the opportunity to review the book.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

An Amish story from long ago -- Arms of Love

Arms of Love by Kelly Long is set in a time period quite different from most Amish stories.

Book Description

The year is 1777. America is in turmoil. And Amish life is far different than today.

Pennsylvania in the late 18th century, once called William Penn’s Woods, was an assortment of different faiths living together for the first time in American history. Included in this tapestry was a small and struggling population called Amish.

Surrounding this peaceful people were unavoidable threats: both Patriots and the British were pillaging land and goods for the sake of the war, young Amishmen were leaving the faith to take up arms and defend freedom. A simple walk in the untamed forests could result in death, if not from bullet or arrow, then from an encounter with a wild animal.

Amid this time of tumult, Adam Wyse is fighting a personal battle. To possibly join the war efforts and leave his faith, which would mean walking away from the only woman he’s ever loved: Lena Yoder. But for that love he’s made a promise that may keep them apart permanently.

My Thoughts

There are many positive things about this book.  I enjoyed getting a different perspective of Amish life from the setting of their very earliest days in America.  Their struggles were in some ways no different from other Americans during this time of unrest.  But the peaceful beliefs of the Amish created conflict with not only the enemy but also with their fellow countrymen.

There are interesting characters and relationships in the story -- Adam Wyse, Lena Yoder, and Ruth Stone were probably my favorites.  Watching the characters work through trying situations and come to grips with their personal turmoil kept me involved as a reader.  And as usual for Kelly Long, the story is a little "edgier" than some Amish fiction -- providing more description of passion between characters, although very tastefully and appropriately done.

Some elements of the story, though, keep this from being one of my favorites.  The main problem for me is the flow of the story.  The pieces just don't fit together as well as in other books I've read by Kelly.  Some points of the plot are repeated so frequently that they get old.  Some scenes seem thrown in for almost no reason, with no real connection to, or at least not sufficiently woven into, the rest of the story. 

To my fellow Amish fiction fans, I would recommend this as a read you would probably enjoy -- whether or not it rises to the top of your favorites list.

This book was provided free of charge by the Book Sneeze reviewer program for my honest review.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Mother's Day Review and Giveaway -- I Couldn't Love You More

Have you told your child today that you love him or her?  Have you told them that Jesus loves them even more?  A great way to share that message is through a simple little book -- I Couldn't Love You More by Jason Ingram & Matt Hammitt.

This book is based on the song by the same name and has delightful illustrations added for visual interest.  It provides a wonderful opportunity for a mother (or father or grandparent) to share with her child the truth that even though "I couldn't love you more," there is someone who can . . . and that is Jesus!  The few minutes it takes to look through the pictures and read the short sentences on the pages are certain to bring rewards worth many times the investment.

Matt Hammitt, lead singer of Sanctus Real, co-wrote this song after he found out that his son Bowen was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.  It became part of an album where Matt shared many of his questions and emotions in dealing with that diagnosis.

Watch this video to learn more of the story behind I Couldn't Love You More.

FREE GIVEAWAY!  -- Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a certificate for a free copy of this book to pass along to a reader.  Leave a comment below, and I will choose a winner tomorrow after 5 p.m.

Matt Hammitt is the lead singer and a founding member of the band Sanctus Real. Over the past decade, the Grammy nominated, Dove Award–winning group has released five albums and has topped the Christian radio charts with fourteen No. 1 and Top 5 radio hits.  In 2010, Matt and his wife, Sarah, found out they were expecting their third child. Already the parents of two young daughters, Emmerson and Claire, they were looking forward to an ultrasound that would reveal whether they were having a boy or a girl. "We found out it was a boy, and we were all celebrating," Matt recalls. "But only a few minutes later the doctor came in and told us that things weren't right, that half of the baby's heart wasn't developed. At that time, they didn't think he would survive." Diagnosed with Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, little Bowen, whose name means "small, victorious one," defied the odds and survived. But it hasn't been an easy road for Matt and his family. Following Bowen's birth, Matt and Sarah watched their newborn son endure two open-heart surgeries, and they spent more than three months by his bedside at Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Matt and Sarah have shared the pain, as well as the joy, of their journey with others through their blog,, which has received more than one million hits to date. Sarah says, "God clearly has His hand in all of this. Our family has been called to walk through this, and we will do our best, even though it's going to be really rough at times." "Everything I've watched happen in the hospital—all the pain I've felt—is deepening my faith, strengthening my marriage, and molding my character," Matt says. "Out of what appeared to be a well of emptiness has flowed a fountain of purpose."  Matt's album Every Falling Tear, released in 2011, was born out of the heart of a father wrestling with his pain but buoyed by his faith and his love for his family.  I Couldn't Love You More is one of the songs on the album. It expresses a parent's desire to share Christ's unconditional love with his child. A portion of the proceeds from both Matt's album and this book will be given to support the Whole Hearts Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by the Hammitts that is dedicated to helping families with children suffering from congenital heart defects. Matt says, "We've met so many families like us whose children are suffering, and they are looking for hope. It has become our mission to help them find it."

 This book was provided free of charge from Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

She's My Everything

Personal Note:  This Mother's Day guest post has special meaning to me.  Those who know me personally know that both of my parents suffered from Alzheimer's, and both gave up the fight within about 7 months of each other.  In fact, Suzanne Woods Fisher and I share something special in this journey:  Both our fathers ended their struggles during the early hours of a new year, my Daddy on January 1, 2011, and hers on January 1, 2012.  My thanks to Suzanne for a touching article.

She’s…My Everything by Suzanne Woods Fisher

A mother is one who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take.
--Cardinal Mermillod 

Just a few more months. My mother was hoping Dad would hang on long enough so they could celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary in April. But on January 1st, as the sun rose on the new year, my dad’s worn out heart beat its last. Dad had battled Alzheimer’s Disease for ten years. As many of you know, AD is a long, hard journey. Hard on the one afflicted with the disease, hard on the caregivers.

But not without its blessings.

Four years ago, as I began researching stories for Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World, my path crossed with a handful of Plain families who were coping with Alzheimer’s. It was just about the point when Dad’s illness was shifting from early to mid stages AD and the timing was a divine accident. I learned so much as I observed the calm acceptance of these families. Rather than waste time shaking a fist at God for allowing this disease to take their loved one, they put their energy into trusting God’s sovereignty. They didn’t deny the difficulties and complications and sadness of Alzheimer’s, but they didn’t dwell on them. “God has a plan,” one woman told me. “He always has a plan.”  

Something else I noticed was how privileged my Amish friends felt about caring for their loved one. Caring for the elderly, they believe, is the time to give back to them.

Those encounters shaped my perspective of Dad’s illness. I started to pay attention to how God provided answers to new wrinkles created by Alzheimer’s, just in time. God may be slow, but He is never late.
I started to cherish special moments or good days with Dad—just as he was at each point in his illness. Not mourning the past, not dreading the future.

I really miss my dad. I miss his scratchy whiskers and the way his eyebrows would wiggle at us, even as words failed him. Yet I have such peace in my heart that he was well loved and well cared for, right to the very end. And as hard as Dad’s end of life has been, it isn’t the end. We will meet again. As the saying goes, “Some may see a hopeless end, but as believers we rejoice in an endless hope.”

There’s a beautiful story that illustrates my parents’ 59-year marriage. This event happened about a year or two ago. My sister had accompanied our mother to the doctor appointment for Dad at the Stanford Memory Clinic.

Dad had declined quite a bit that month. He was weak and lethargic, even to the point of whispering, as if it took too much energy to project his voice. During the doctor's appointment, the doctor told my mother and sister that Dad was now in late stages of Alzheimer's. Dad didn’t have much vocabulary left, but when the doctor asked him who mom was, he whispered something back. The doctor looked at Mom and asked, "Did you hear what he just said?"

Mom shook her head.

"When I asked him who you were, he whispered, 'She' everything.'"


Suzanne Woods Fisher is a writer of bestselling fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish. Her interest in the Plain People began with her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. Suzanne is the host of Amish Wisdom, a weekly radio program on, and writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post. Suzanne can be found on-line at

Re-printed with permission by Cooking & Such,

Welcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series - a week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Sheila Walsh, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bonnie St. John, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/6-5/13 and the winner will on 5/14. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

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A fun, contemporary romance -- My Stubborn Heart

The book:

My Stubborn Heart
by Becky Wade

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks her to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man hired to renovate the house. Kate can't help being attracted to him, drawn by both his good looks and something else she can't quite put her finger on. He's clearly wounded--hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Yet Kate sets her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light...whether he likes it or not.

When the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?

The Author:

LitfuseDuring her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She's been a fan of all things romantic ever since.

Becky and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad that Becky's passion for reading turned into a passion for writing. She published three historical romances with Avon Books, then put her career on hold for several years to care for her kids, then recently returned to writing sheerly for the love of it. She felt led to move to the genre of contemporary Christian romance and couldn't be more thrilled with it.

These days Becky can be found failing but trying to keep up with her housework, sweating at the gym, carting her kids around town, playing tennis, hunched over her computer, eating chocolate, or collapsed on the sofa watching TV with her husband.

Learn more at:

My Impressions: 

My Stubborn Heart is an enjoyable contemporary romance with a delightful cast of characters.  Kate's and Matt's story kept my interest all the way through the book.  Gran and the other "seniors" added fun and interest to the story.  Becky's debut novel in the Christian fiction genre make me look forward to more of her writing.

One hesitation in recommending the book is the use of what I would consider slightly crass terms in a couple of spots.  The words didn't seem necessary and were just strong enough to temporarily distract me from the flow of the story. All in all, though, I very much enjoyed the book.

This book was provided free from the Litfuse Publicity Group for my honest review. 

See what other readers have to say about My Stubborn Heart here.

Win a Nook Simple Touch™ with GlowLight™ in Becky Wade's My Stubborn Heart Giveaway and RSVP for FB Party {5/24}! Celebrate with Becky by entering her My Stubborn Heart Giveaway and connecting with her during the Author Chat Party on 5/24!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Nook Simple Touch™ with GlowLight™
  • A $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Certificate
  • A copy of My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on May 24th. Winner will be announced at the "My Stubborn Heart" Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/24. Becky will be hosting an book chat, testing your trivia skills and giving away some great prizes!

So grab your copy of My Stubborn Heart and join Becky on the evening of the May 24th for a chance to meet Becky and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 24th!