In My Mailbox Monday: September

Mailbox Monday comes from two blogs:  Mailbox Mailbox and The Story Siren.  I am using it to highlight any books that come into my home the previous week, whether they are from the library, from a store, e-books, or actually received in the mail. 

This week I received one in the mail and a few from netgalley.  
For Review:  The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy

From NetGalley:  
              Prayers of the Bible by Susan Hunt
              Something New by Dianne Christner
              Before the Scarlet Dawn by Rita Gerlach
              Waiting for Dawn by Susan May Warren
              His Steadfast Love by Golden Parsens
                                    Gospel: Recovery of the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by J.D. Greear
                                    Lost and Found by Ginny L Yttrup
                                    Night with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory
                                    When Christ was Here by Claudia Barba


Book Review: Deadly Pursuit by Irene Hannon

Book 2 of the Guardians of Justice series is another fast-paced romantic suspense by Irene Hannon.  In Deadly Pursuit, Alison Taylor is tricked into going on a date with her brother Cole's new partner, Mitch.  Meanwhile, Mitch feels tricked into taking her as well.  They are both pleasantly surprised.  When Alison starts receiving prank phone calls and frightening gifts, Mitch feels as protective as Alison's two brothers.  Alison's stalker progresses quickly from mildly disturbing to alarmingly threatening, and the three men join forces to keep her safe.  Meanwhile, they are all busy with their jobs; Alison is a social worker/ children's protection agent, which works into the plot beautifully.
The plot did again seem very similar to the last one; however I connected with the characters well, and I loved Erik, a young man with Down's Syndrome.  I felt a little sympathy for the antagonist, but his character/standards seemed to decline rather fast.  I really like Cole (Jake and Alison's brother), and look forward to reading his story in the next book.  Although, I pegged the main events of the book, things happened fast and kept me turning pages.  The faith element was pretty light in this one.  I would love to see a little stronger Christian message.   Overall, I did enjoy this book and would recommend it.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  It is Now Available, September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


Fatal Judgement

Irene Hannon's books are entertaining, fast reads that always include strong Christian characters, spiritual growth and often scripture applications.  In Fatal Judgement, judge Liz Michaels loses her sister when an assassin shoots the wrong woman.  Jake Taylor is assigned protection duty and is not too happy.  He and the judge have a history: Jake believes that Liz is an uncaring workaholic who is responsible for the possible suicide of his college buddy, Doug, who was also her husband.  As the two work together, Jake discovers that he may have been misinformed, and protecting Liz becomes more important to him than ever.  

While I do feel these books are rather similar in plot line, they are fun to read, and there are always some little twists that keep up the excitement.  I especially appreciate the character struggling with faith, who is led to a closer walk with the Lord.  That is what life is all about.  We need to follow hard after Jesus.  We need to shine His Light into others' lives around us.  I believe Irene Hannon succeeds in demonstrating this in her stories. I will be reviewing Deadly Pursuit, Book 2 of the Guardians of Justice series, featuring Jake's sister Alison.  

I loved her Heroes of Quantico series.  See my reviews for each one here: Against All OddsAn Eye for an Eye, and In Harm's Way.   To find out more about Irene, check out her website


A Heart Revealed

Julie Lessman does not disappoint in the second installment of The Winds of Change series, which is actually her fifth book featuring the O'Conner family.  I LOVE this book, this series, this author!   A Heart Revealed begins and ends with a wedding.  At the first wedding Sean O'Conner is not himself and frightens everyone, especially Mrs. Emma Malloy, a close family friend.  After escaping an abusive husband, his temper brings back memories that she'd rather keep hidden.  Sean is holding on to painful memories as well.  The two of them must release the past into God's hands, in order to move forward toward the love He has planned for them.
I love the depth of each character: the flaws and temptations they face, and the scripture and prayer the rely on.  The relationships are complex and touching; the conversations are real and heartwarming.  The story is interesting and enjoyable; the theme is clear and complete.  Julie's books bring smiles and tears.  She writes with true emotion and strong Christian messages.  A Heart Revealed is about redemption and deliverance, forgiveness and second-chances.  It speaks of God's unyielding pursuit and undying love for us.  The Lord is shown as the Prince of Peace, Savior, Deliverer, Lover of the soul, Comforter and more!  This is a fantastic book!  I would highly recommend it.
I must admit, I am a die-hard fan of Julie Lessman!  Check out my review of A Hope Undaunted, the first book in this series.
I received this book from Donna Hausler/ Revell Blog Tours, in exchange for my honest review.
A Heart Revealed is Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


In My Mailbox Monday: September 19

Mailbox Monday comes from two blogs:  Mailbox Mailbox and The Story Siren.  I am using it to highlight any books that come into my home the previous week, whether they are from the library, from a store, e-books, or actually received in the mail.

All e-books this week.

Two Amazon Freebies:
                  Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson
                  Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren

Five from NetGalley:
                 Heaven is for Real for Kids by Todd and Sonja Burpo
                 Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg
                 Honor Redeemed by Loree Lough
                 Saving Hope by Margaret Daley
                 Rose's Pledge by Dianna Crawford and Sally Laity


The Queen by Steven James

The Queen is the fifth book in a series by Steven James about special agent, Patrick Bowers.  In this installment, Bowers is investigating a double homicide in Wisconsin.  He finds traces of computer hacking and eco-terrorism, and the mystery doesn't look as simple as others thought.  Patrick's brother Sean lives nearby, which adds another layer to the story due to a conflicted past.
Steven James writes fantastic suspense novels.  Throughout most of the book, I kept doubting characters and wondering if or how they were involved.  I did actually stumble over the point of view a couple of times, but the plot was interesting, unique, and fast-paced.  I literally reached a point where I just could not put it down; I had to finish!  I was already attached to the characters from the earlier books, but I enjoyed the added history of Patrick's family, and the Tessa's growth in this book.  This was a good one, and I would recommend it.  (However, Bishop is my favorite so far!)
Steven James is married with three daughters and lives in Tennessee. Visit his website here.  He received the 2009 and 2011 Christy awards for best suspense, and The Bishop was 2010 Book of the Year for both Suspense Magazine and The Christian Manifesto.  He is author of over thirty books, including the five Patrick Bowers thrillers.  This series includes The Pawn, The Rook, The Knight, The Bishop, and now The Queen.  Click on the titles to check out my reviews of the three previous titles.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Queen is available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


In My Mailbox Monday: September 12

In My Mailbox Monday originates from two blogs: Check out  MailboxMonday and The Story Siren.  I am using it to highlight any books that come into my house the previous week, whether they are form the library, from a store, from a friend, e-books, or actually in the mailbox.                   
(Mailbox was chosen with the help of my kids this week!!)

This week I won a book from A Christian Writer's World:  a signed copy of Plain Fear: Forsaken by Leanna Ellis. I received a book for review from Tyndale:  Forsaking All Others by Allison Pittman
I also picked out a few more freebies from Amazon and netgalley for my kindle.
Amazon Freebies:
  • From Ashes to Honors by Loree Lough
  • Summer of Fire by Linda Jacobs
Netgalley Titles:    
  • Firethorn by Ronie Kendig
  • Tall, Dark, and Determined by Kelly Eileen Hake
  • The Commands of Christ by Tom Blackaby
  • Tomorrow's Sun by Becky Melby
  • Love Finds a Way by Wanda Brunstetter


Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Okay, so this is definitely not Christian fiction, which is obviously what I prefer.  Being secular fiction, my biggest complaint about this book was the language.  There was quite a bit of swearing and foul language.  Also, it is a thriller--so there was some graphic blood and guts.  However, this series had been recommended to me a number of times while running the bookstore and a couple times since.   Because it is so far from my usual genre, I debated about whether to post a review, but here it is...
This is the first in a long series starring FBI agent Pendergast.  In Relic, the New York  museum of Natural History suffers of string of mysterious murders.  Pendergast is interested in the case and travels from New Orleans to head the investigation.  Margo Green, a junior scientist at the museum makes a startling discovery and ends up working with Pendergast to stop the killer.
There were some positives and negatives to this book. It was a fast read; the plot moved quickly.  It was a pretty good suspense with an interesting twist and clear heading toward a sequel.  While I did like the characters, the dialogue and personalities were a little cliche (which I actually enjoyed, especially Pendergast) and missing some history.  (I know this is a huge series, so I assume that readers learn more about them as they continue reading.)  Although unbelievable, the plot was suspenseful and mysterious.  When I first started reading, I decided to stop before dinner and read my other book so that I wasn't thinking about this one when I went to bed.  As I stated before I don't like the use of foul language; I do not feel that it adds to any book.  Because of the language and the genre, I would be very careful about who I recommended this book.  That being said, I may read more of the series to see where they go because I have heard so much about them.


52 Things Kids Need from a Mom by Angela Thomas: FIRST Tour

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:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karri James | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Angela Thomas is a sought-after speaker, teacher, and bestselling author of Do You Think I’m Beautiful, My Single Mom Life, Prayers for My Baby Boy, and Prayers for My Baby Girl. She inspires thousands at national conferences, workshops, and through video studies that she filmed and wrote including When Wallflowers Dance.

Visit the author's website.


Bestselling author and mother of four Angela Thomas delivers a helpful, encouraging gathering of 52 inspiring ideas for moms who, in the whir of busyness, long to connect with their kids. Moms will learn to lead with God’s love in the small moments that make up an abundant, intentional life.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736943919
ISBN-13: 978-0736943918

My Thoughts:
I am reading this slowly, just a chapter or two at a time, and I am absolutely loving it!  Each chapter address a small action that we as mothers can do to bless our children.  They include heartwarming stories.  And almost every chapter has brought tears to my eyes.  I love the encouraging tone and the personal narratives.  There are some suggestions that I had already been doing, and others that I have consciously thought about putting into action.  Many I look back and remember my parents doing for me, and I felt blessed all over again.  In short chapters, Thomas gives small suggestions that I believe make a huge difference.  I would highly recommend this book to all mothers.  I can almost guarantee that anyone can glean parenting wisdom from this book!


Kids Need Their Mom…

To Pray in Secret
with the Door Open

 In my first years as a mom, I desperately wanted to keep a passionate spiritual life with God. I wanted to read the Bible. Sit quietly and pray. Maybe even write a few things in my journal. It’s just that my little people would not cooperate. I had four babies in seven years, and not one of them was willing to go along with my plan. My heart kept longing to go back and have a spiritual life the way I’d always had. Alone. It took me a while to realize that being a mom means you might never be alone again.

 Frustrated. Probably even mad sometimes. I remember shaking my head and just fussing on the inside about my crazy, chaotic predicament. I am trying to be with God so that I can be a better mom. Anybody with me here? As you can imagine, being alone rarely happened. And I’d feel guilty about my crumbling spiritual life. And the only ones I knew to blame were them, the ones I loved so dearly, who needed me every minute.

 I’d love to tell you that the answer for my struggle came to me in a moment of brilliance. But I was too tired to be brilliant. There was just an afternoon. I think I put on a video for the kids to watch and went upstairs to my bedroom. For some reason I kept the door open and sat down on the floor to read my Bible for a minute, and then I stretched out, facedown, on my carpet to pray. I guess I had been praying for one whole minute, and then they came.

 I could hear them coming down the hall, but that day, instead of stopping what I was doing, I just kept lying there, praying. Of course, they walked right in, and I’m sure you can guess what they did. They crawled on top of me. And they played with my hair. And they wiggled their little faces up to mine.

 “Hey, mama,” one whispered.

 “Hey, honey,” a gentle, not frustrated, voice spoke from inside of me.

 “Watcha doin’?” they said in unison.


 “Oh…it looked like you were sleeping,” an honest observer said.

 It’s been known to happen, I admitted to myself.

 Do you know what they did next? Those little toddling children lay down beside me and mostly of on top of me and prayed too. Oh, they prayed squirrelly prayers that lasted for only a couple of minutes, but they prayed. My babies were praying because they had seen their mama praying.

 After a few minutes they were done, but I just kept lying there while they ran in and out. Back to the video. Then back to check on praying mom. And God settled something inside of me that afternoon. The days of being a college coed with lots of time to be alone to pray were over. That chapter was closed. And honestly, I didn’t want to go back. I just longed for the sweetness of how I used to spend time with God.

 But lying on my bedroom floor that day, I knew I heard Him speaking to me:

This is how I want you to pray now. Pray in secret—with the door open. I want them to see you being with Me. I want them to catch you turning to your heavenly Father for guidance. I want them to learn from you how to walk with Me. No dramatic presentation needed. No fanfare required. Angela, this is a new season with a new way. And this new way for your heart pleases Me.

 I remember being so very humbled. And grateful. My uptight, “everything must be right” personality could have kept me away from God for years. Trying to get it all together. Trying to be just right before I could spend time with Him. But that day God so tenderly walked me step-by-step through one of the most powerful lessons about grace I have ever known.

Come to Me messy.
Come when you’re tired.
Let the children lie on top of you.
Let them interrupt you.
You do not have to be perfect…just come to Me and let them see.

 A woman stopped me last night. She said she’d heard me tell this story a few years ago and it completely changed her as a mom. She too had been trying to keep the rules and do things neatly, in order, the way she always had. She told me, “I do my Bible study sitting on the bathroom floor while my kids are in the tub. Most of the pages are warped by splashes of water, and some of my notes written in ink run, but those messy, imperfect books are treasures to me now.”

 My kids are older now, but the lesson remains. They still need to catch me praying. They should walk past my room and know I’m reading my Bible. They need to find the notes I’ve taken lying on the counter in the kitchen. They need to overhear me praying with a friend on the phone.

 I bet your kids do too.

 It seems that the lessons we so want to teach our kids are transferred—and not because we sit them down in the living room, pass out ten pages about being spiritual, and then give them a long-winded lecture about how our family is going to follow God. The thing that shapes them more deeply is that you and I pursue God in the everyday of living—that our spiritual lives become the backdrop for their childhood. Bibles left open are normal. A kneeling, praying mom is an ordinary sight. Bibles studies done at bath time, routine.

Reaching Their Hearts

 One afternoon I had gone to pray in secret, but God so beautifully taught me that my “secret” needed to be seen. Jesus said in Matthew 6 that we are supposed to keep a secret life. To give in secret, pray in secret, and fast in secret. But I think that when we become moms, for a season those sets of eyes sent from heaven to watch you need to see what you do with God in your “unseen” moments.

 May it be so for you and me. And may the children who witness our prayers learn to pray more powerfully because they catch us being with God.


In My Mailbox Monday: September 5

In My Mailbox Monday originates from two blogs: Check out MailboxMondayand The Story Siren.  I am using it to highlight any books that come into my house the previous week, whether they are form the library, from a store, from a friend, e-books, or actually in the mailbox.

I received three in the mail for review.
A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman (Yay, I am so excited!!)

Deadly Pursuit by Irene Hannon (another author I love!)

A Most Unsuitable Match by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Then I took full advantage of the Amazon Kindle freebies this week.  Here is my list:
  • My Heart Remember by Kim Vogel Sawyer
  • A Daughter's Inheritance by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller
  • No Place for a Lady by Maggie Brendan
  • Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado
  • Invitation to the Jesus Life: Experiments in Christlikeness by Jan Johnson
  • Soon by Jerry B. Jenkins
  • The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund
  • The Frontiersman's Daughter by Laura Frantz
  • Finding Grace by Sarah Pawley
  • The Oak Leaves by Maureen Lang
Hmmm, do you think I'll ever read all of these!?!  


The Confident Heart by Renee Swope

If you've read my previous post, I'm sure that you have gathered that I would definitely recommend this book.  The Confident Heart by Renee Swope is what I would describe as a Christian-motivational book.  Renee shares personal stories of trials, failures, and successes to relay a strong theme about our worth in Christ.  She uses Scripture references and Scripture-based prayers to reinforce the message and help readers overcome their self-doubt.  Some of the things that she said, I have heard before, but she stated them in a new and fresh way: a way that touched my heart and changed my thinking.  The imagery and metaphors that she used were so tangible, that even though I haven't finished reading the book, I already feel more confident.  I know that even though I do fail, I am not a failure.  God was not trying to make someone or something else when he made me.  He wants me to be--ME!!
Swope discusses worrying, dealing with past pain, and really knowing God's unfailing love.  She also addresses specific doubts like "I'm not good enough," and "I don't have anything to offer."  Unfortunately, I have thought both of those thoughts, as well as some of the others addressed.  At then end of each chapter, thought-provoking questions are given.  I am planning on rereading the book to take more time journaling and working through these questions.  Just reading them generated thoughts and feelings that I should work through with the Lord in prayer.  As I stated at the beginning, I would highly recommend this book, as well as additional resources that Renee offers.
Renee Swope is executive director of Proverbs 31 Ministries, a non-denominational, non-profit ministry dedicated to helping women along their journeys with Christ.  She is an author and speaker.  Her website has assorted resources.  There is one called the 7-day doubt diet that works in conjunction with this book.  I just signed up for it yesterday and am excited to delve into the extras she is offering.
 The Confident Heart is now available at your favorite bookstore from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.  I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review


Do you want A Confident Heart?

Do you want to be used by God?

I don't know how or even when it started.  I was once a confident, outgoing young lady.  Now at...my age...I have somehow become filled with self-doubt and fear.  I worry about what others will think of me, how my actions and words will be perceived.  "What if I don't do well; what if they don't agree with me?"  All those
"what if's" lead to hiding, and I find that I have disobeyed the Lord by standing back and not doing.

Last year, I felt a prompting to send a women in my church an encouraging letter.  I did not know her well, but what I observed was a beautiful woman of God.  She always looks put together; she is friendly and confident...not only that but she is down to earth and genuine.  At Bible studies, she always shares relevant insights that she learns during her time with the Lord.  What could I do that would encourage a woman like that.  I am disorganized, struggle to have a consistent quiet time, am too shy to share during small groups...Her strengths are so evident, and it looks like she has no weaknesses.  While I know that is not true, unfortunately MY weaknesses are ever so obvious to me. And I could not see what I had to offer.  I was afraid that she would think-"why did she write me" or "she is so strange."  A couple of weeks later, she shared that on the very week I thought of writing her, she was struggling.  The enemy was attacking her with lies, and using interactions with a close friend of hers to enforce those lies.  God wanted to use me in that situation, but I allowed doubt to stop me from obeying and being used by Him.  
I don't want to be that person.  I want God to be able to use me.  I want to say "Yes Lord, Send me!!"  I need to stop allowing doubt to drown the Truth that I know from God's Word.  I need to stand on His Promises instead of cowering behind the enemy's lies.
  Does any of this sound familiar?  The details of your story will vary, but so many of us (I'd even venture to say most, if not all) have struggled or do struggle with self-doubts.  If you are a doubter, I recommend The Confident Heart  by Renee Swope.  To read more about this great book, check tomorrow's post!