Saturday, January 29, 2011

Save The Date by Jenny B. Jones

Saving Grace, a non-profit home for girls, is in a desperate financial situation. Funding by Sinclair Enterprises has been drastically cut, but Lucy Wiltshire, overseer of the home, is determined to do whatever it takes to keep her girls from ending up on the streets. Alex Sinclair, heir of Sinclair Enterprises, is a handsome, former pro-football player who is running for congress and intent on keeping Lucy from begging to all of the board members of Sinclair Enterprises for funding. When unexpected rumors about Alex and Lucy surface, Alex's chances of winning a congressional seat skyrocket and he makes her a most unusual offer. He will provide the necessary funds if she agrees to be his girlfriend and fiancee during the campaign. What begins as a fake relationship turns real all too quickly, but when they are both faced by loss, will either of them be able to admit their relationship is not longer a fake?

Save the Date by Jenny Jones was so good that I stayed up extremely late one night to read it all. I couldn't help myself. The story was humorous, romantic, and all-around delightful. I loved the refreshing, witty banter between Alex and Lucy. While the majority of the book is fairly light, there are some weightier moments with strong spiritual tones. One of the most powerful moments in this book was when Lucy's friend, Chuck, was preaching about lies that people believe and he made the statement that the cross “is the only place you surrender.” Somehow that really struck home with me. When a book can reach into the reader and speak spiritual truth, it is a success.

I have two minor warnings to give about this book: typos and Julian. I noticed several typos as I read. I received this book as part of a blogger review program and it was not marked as an advanced reader copy. However, I think I may have received a copy that was not the final, completely edited version. (If this was the final version, then someone needs to proofread it a little better.) Regarding Julian, I think this story is better with him in it than it would have been without him. However, this book is marketed towards Christian readers and some of those readers may find themselves conflicted about Julian. He's a new Christian and the author stops short of saying he is gay, but he is written in a very effeminate manner.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from BookSneeze as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire With God, Not Food by Lysa Terkeurst

Did you know that it's okay to crave and not feel guilty about it? In Made to Crave, Lysa Terkeurst leads women on a healing journey from the captivity of guilt and repetitive cycles to freedom and empowerment found through healthy choices. With extreme transparency, she writes of her own struggles with the foods she loved and the truths she learned of how to satisfy her cravings with God, not food.

Made to Crave is a book for any Christian woman, regardless of her weight or waistline. Terkeurst advocates that shifting to healthier eating habits, whether you are overweight or at a healthy weight, is actually a way to draw closer to God. I confess, I never thought of it that way before this book. However, she makes valid points and backs it up with Scripture. The author writes in such a way that it feels like she's a close friend sitting across the table from you. While the book is easy to read and has a good dose of humor, addressing the deeper issues in this book is not so easy. The author freely admits that the journey will be hard, but follows it up with encouragement that it can be accomplished.

Some prominent thoughts from this book:
  1. Perspective changes things. It's better to view the process as embracing healthy choices rather than having to repeatedly deny myself the foods I want. It's about being healthy, not about self-denial.
  2. Use a food craving as a prompting to pray. It's not very appealing when that brownie is sitting in front of me begging me to eat it, but it is very effective.
  3. I was made for more. I was made for more than repetitive cycles of failure. I was made for victory and freedom.
There were plenty of other good points, as well. I recommend this book to any woman who desires to grow closer to God as she grows closer to her ideal weight.

To read an excerpt from Made to Crave, click here.

To visit the blog tour for Made to Crave, click here.

Lysa TerKeurst is an author and speaker who helps everyday women live an adventure of faith through following Jesus Christ. As president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa has led thousands to make their walk with God an invigorating journey.
Lysa wrote the book Made to Crave from the perspective of a woman who has never craved a carrot stick in her whole life. Having struggled with her weight her whole adult life, Lysa knows what it feels like to be in the vicious cycle of gaining and losing, but never feeling at peace in her struggle. Everything changed when Lysa decided to have her deepest desire met by God not food. Now, armed with the spiritual motivation she gained in her own journey, she is inspiring others to find lasting victory.
As a nationally known speaker, Lysa has been passionately teaching women God’s truths for years. Lysa’s personal adventures of following God led to appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, The 700 Club, USA Today newspaper, Woman’s Day magazine, and Focus on the Family radio.
Today, Lysa and her ministry team at Proverbs 31 Ministries encourage more than 375,000 women through their daily online devotional. In addition, she co-hosts a 1-minute inspirational radio program aired on more than 1,200 stations around the world. Plus, she touches hearts through their monthly magazine, P31 Woman. Lysa’s blog averages over 70,000 avid readers per month. She is the award-winning author of 14 books, including her newest releases, Made to Crave and Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl. Other noteworthy books include What Happens When Woman Say Yes to God, What Happens When Women Walk in Faith, Capture His Heart, and Capture Her Heart. Visit Lysa's website for more info and to visit her blog!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Made to Crave Giveaway

Win a brand new KINDLE from Lysa Terkeurst during the Made To Crave KINDLE Giveaway!


To celebrate the release of Made to Crave and the MTC Small Group DVD Study Set, Lysa is giving away a KINDLE prize package worth over $175.00! To enter just click on one of the icons below! One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle with Wi-Fi & the New E Ink Pearl Screen
  • KINDLE editions of Lysa’s Made to Crave and Becoming More Than A Good Girl
But, wait there is more!

Lysa will be announcing the winner of the Made to Crave KINDLE Giveaway on February 8th during the Made To Crave Party on Facebook!

During the party Lysa will chat with guests, host a trivia contest or two, and give away lots of other fun prizes (copies of Lysa’s other books and, iTunes & Starbucks gift certificates) – including a live Author Chat with Lysa for your small group!

Don’t miss the fun! Lysa is looking forward to learning more about you – so be sure to stop by Lysa's Facebook Author Page on February 8th at 5:00 PM PST (6 PM MST, 7 PM CST, & 8 PM EST).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman

Saphora Warren's plan was to leave her adulterous husband, Bender Warren, and spend some time alone at their coastal home in Oriental, North Carolina. Unfortunately, Bender announces that he's dying of brain cancer on the very day Saphora had planned to leave. Against her personal desires, Saphora takes Bender and their grandson to Oriental. In the midst of the Bender's physical decline, family and friends flood their home and Saphora's dream of solitude evaporates. As it becomes clear that Bender will not recover, he searches for truth and Saphora finds her animosity replaced by sympathy. Bender's search leads Saphora on her own quest and to her surprise, treasure is found in the unlikeliest of places.

When I picked up The Pirate Queen, I wasn't sure if I would like it or not. I am happy to say that I did enjoy it. It wasn't a book that kept me riveted and constantly wanting to read it, but the desire to know what would happen with the characters kept pulling me back to the book. In books where a spouse has committed adultery, I think it is important that forgiveness be authentic if it occurs. Saphora's forgiveness was gradual and realistic, in my opinion. The writing was engaging. When tragedy occurred, I cried. When the final chapter concluded, I smiled. I loved the ending.

To read an excerpt from The Pirate Queen, click here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Press as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Truth That Sticks: How to Communicate Velcro Truth in a Teflon World

Literacy rates are on the decline and Attention Deficit Disorder is on the increase in America and around the world. With such a culture, there are many people who can not or will not pay attention to a traditional sermon. Truth That Sticks introduces an alternative form of communicating Biblical truth: Bible-storying. Bible-storying takes the parable approach sometimes used by Jesus when he taught. The basic steps of Bible-storying involve: telling a story from the Bible, asking questions about it or asking someone in the group to retell the story, and letting conversation about the story flow. This method is particularly suited to small group settings.

I chose to read Truth That Sticks because I work as a children's church teacher and there have been times I have taught a lesson and then wondered if the children even heard what I was saying. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this book. The book gave some wonderful ideas about how to tell Bible stories and get children or adults to remember them. Since remembering the stories and applying the concepts of the story to the individual's life is basically the point of children's church, I found this portion of the book very helpful.

This book also challenged me to compare modern church services with the early church in the Bible. I can not say that I completely agree with the authors of this book. They advocate that Bible-storying should be the main way of communicating Biblical truth for today's church. I think that using Bible stories is a unique and useful tool for communicating Biblical truth, but I don't think it should be the only or main way a church communicates truth. I know that Jesus told parables (stories), but he also read and elaborated on Scriptures. The apostles of the early church also used Scriptures, not only stories, to minister to the church. The New Testament epistles, written by leaders of the early church, are filled more with discourse than stories. While the facts about decreasing literacy rates are compelling, I think that the traditional reading of Scripture and elaborating on the Scriptures still has its place. In my opinion, Bible-storying is best suited to small groups, not to a regular church service.

The authors did an admirable job of going beyond just Bible-storying and advocating that the church must reach out into the world. The statistics they gave were alarming. Six out of eight teens will leave the church directly after high school graduation. The book does not attempt to tackle all the problems of the modern church, but it does convince the reader that the church is failing to reach today's youth. Although, I did not personally agree with everything advocated in the book, I did find that reading this book caused me to have a greater desire to reach out to those around me.

One omission that alarmed me about this book is that they gave no examples of people who did Bible-storying and didn't have a wonderful experience. In all the examples, the people did great. I know that the Holy Spirit can help people to effectively tell Bible stories, but I also know that there is no way every single attempt at Bible-storying could be met with wonderful, positive results. It's just the way life is, sometimes you prepare as best you can, you pray, you tell the Bible story, and still fall flat on your face when teaching. I think that it would have benefited the book if the authors added stories of failed attempts and then pointed out how to do it more effectively.

In the end, whether or not you agree with the authors' premise, it's a book that gives beneficial advice on telling Bible stories and I will keep the book for that reason.

To read a sample from Truth That Sticks, click here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Going Nowhere Faster Book Giveaway!

To enter a giveaway for a free, autographed copy of Going Nowhere Faster by Sean Boudoin, click here.

A brief synopsis of the book:

Stan Smith has the world's dullest name, and the world's dullest life to go with it. At 17, the former junior chess champion turned "Town's Laziest Register Monkey at the Town's Only Video Store" has no car, no college, and, of course, no girl. If that weren't pathetic enough, he's got an organic-food-freak vegan mother, an eccentric inventor father, a dead-end job, a dog with a flatulence problem, and a former classmate threatening to kill him. With a 165 IQ, Stan was expected to Be Something and Go Somewhere. But when all he has is a beat-up old bike that keeps getting vandalized, he's going nowhere, faster.

(Courtesy of Book Rat)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist

Anna Ivey strongly suspects Hoke will eventually attempt to rape her and she will kill in him. Opting to avoid that particular situation, she agrees to travel with Asa Mercer to Seattle, Washington, where she will work as a cook for Mr. Joe Denton and his lumberjack employees. When Anna arrives in Seattle and discovers that Joe is expecting a wife, she is less than agreeable. Her refusal to marry Joe not only inconveniences him, but also endangers 320 acres of his land. Can Joe overcome Anna's aversion to marriage? There's plenty of attraction between Anna and Joe, but will love enter the picture?

A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist manages to be a classic, historical romance while avoiding many of the cliches that commonly accompany a storyline like this. Authentic characters, romantic tension, and just a tad of suspense make this novel difficult to put down. I can definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good romance.
To read an excerpt from A Bride in the Bargain, Click Here.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

12 Pearls of Christmas: Imua

A great Hawaiian saying is "Imua!" which means to move forward with confidence and courage.  It's a great word for the upcoming new year as we explore new opportunities and perhaps face fears.

This week, I (Margaret McSweeney) put into practice "imua" by facing my fear of ziplining.  Yes, I stepped off a wooden platform to soar across 1800 feet of the world's fifth largest caldera located in Kauai.  Encouraged by my teenage daughters, I faced my fear of not being in control of my destiny and took a leap of faith.">

The excellent guides, Mitch and Chris of Outfitters Kauai prepared us well for our ultimate "black diamond" zipline adventure.  We did several practice runs on what I thought were "big ziplines" but little did I know what was really awaiting.  The guides constantly reminded us that the most important lesson we all needed to learn to be safe was to "trust our gear."

True wisdom that I needed to hear.  For too long in life, I have "held on tightly" when what I should have done was to "let go and let God."  He provides "the gear" that we need to sustain us through the difficult moments of life as we soar across jungles.

So I guess my advice would be this:  "Face your fear and trust God's gear."  IMUA!!

What fear do you need to face this year?  What have you been holding on too tightly?  What does "imua" mean to you?

Margaret McSweeney is the founder of Pearl Girls (, the host of Kitchen Chat (, and an author. Her book, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, was published in 2009. Margaret is fast at work on a fiction manuscript (or three) and can be found blogging at From Finance to Fiction (