Monday, April 18, 2011

Max on Life by Max Lucado

I discovered this book online, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Q&A’s wasn’t quite it. (Though, if you look closely, you can see the subtitle giveaway above.) But I found the same thing you always find with Max: plenty of heart, great word-smithing, wisdom, and God-glorifying prose.

For years, I’ve loved Max’s writing. He has a way with words which makes reading his books utterly satisfying. And though this book was a different format than one would expect, reading it was still enjoyable.

I’m unsure how this book came together. Maybe these questions were accumulated over the years, or a call-out was given to his congregation, but there is a wide variety of questions here. And Max doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff—questions about why God lets bad things happen, why there is so much violence in the world, salvation, fear, why there’s persecution. He answers with Scripture and anecdotes, from a vast base of knowledge and wisdom. Max knows God, and he wants readers to know God. He points to Jesus, His work on the cross, His resurrection. He glorifies Him.

One of my favorite entries had to do with someone suffering from cancer and praying for healing. His/her friend had been healed. This person had not. Why not? Was it a lack of faith? Max’s answer? A change of perspective. What if death isn’t a failure? I’ll leave you to find the question for yourself and read more.

Whether you’re a Christian or not, if you’ve been looking for answers to the tough questions, you may find a new perspective, an encouraging word, and an answer in this collection of Q&A’s. Of course, it’s not substitute for the Word of God and I didn’t always agree with Max’s comments, but overall, I’d recommend this book to seekers.

Thomas Nelson provided a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer

What’s not to love about a cover like that? You get a sense this is a romance, that the hero will misunderstand the heroine, that the tone of the story is a little fun and quirky, and the hero is oblivious. And that the fun centers on fashion and clothes. Or does it?

Let’s begin with the back cover copy:

When a dressmaker who values beauty tangles with a liveryman who condemns vanity, the sparks begin to fly!

Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with Coventry, Texas's new dressmaker. He's all too familiar with her kind--shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothing, this seamstress is not at all what he expected.

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man?

When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to uproarious consequences for the whole town--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

And now, my review:

The hero and heroine of this romance are on very different pages and both will discover their understanding needs to be tested. Our hero’s mother preferred to focus on her outward appearance, loved fashion and herself, and abandoned her family. J.T. now shuns fashion and frill.

Our heroine is a hard-working, God-fearing, delightful dress-maker who longs to make good on her newly inherited dress shop.

I like Karen’s writing style. Because of her psych degrees, you get more deeper fiction when you read her work. She delves deeply into spiritual areas and psychological/social issues as well. The Warren character is a study in inadequacy. But you also watch the main characters face their issues as well while their beliefs about life are tested.

The originality of this story stuck out to me. Her heroine’s understanding of getting fit and staying fit is an unusual element of a historical novel. I don’t recall reading of a heroine doing morning exercise routines and of helping her friend get fit too in a historical before. Great idea.

I will say that while the hero is a very strong, well-drawn character, and I loved that getting him to smile was a goal of the heroine, he didn’t always use words (or think words) which fit his characterization. These were rare events, but led to a touch of dissatisfaction here and there.

Overall, though, this is a very satisfying read.

One final note: the author has posted the original (deleted) epilogue on her site. It’s a great extra which isn’t in the printed novel.

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Christian Fiction Releases: April, 2011

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW FictionFinder website.

A Family for Faith by Missy Tippens -- A Romance from Love Inspired. Even though Faith Hagin thinks she’s content being just friends with Gabe Reynolds, spending time with him and his daughter Chelsea starts to feel like a fresh start at having a family. And their love may be the answer to everyone’s prayers.

A Place to Belong by Linda Goodnight -- Romance from Love Inspired. Faith and warm memories have helped widow Kitty Wainwright endure the loss of her husband. That's all she's ever needed…until she hires contractor Jace Carter to repair her motel.

Abigail's New Hope by Mary Ellis -- A Romance from Harvest House. As an Amish midwife, Abigail Graber loves bringing babies into the world. But when a difficult delivery takes a devastating turn, she's is faced with some hard choices.

At the Captain's Command by Louise M. Gouge -- A Historical from Love Inspired. A heroic British naval captain, son of an influential earl, dares to fall in love with a provincial American girl. Then he discovers her family's devastating secret.

Canyon Walls by Julie Jarnagin -- A Romance from Barbour Heartsong Presents. Sunset Camp changed Cassie’s life, and she is determined to keep it alive.

Chosen Ones by Eileen Rife -- General Fiction from Oak Tara. While Maggie and Gavin Munsfield adjust to a new baby, missionary friends, Dan and Yvonne Pratt, experience the heartbreak of infertility and miscarriage. Will they find it in their hearts to accept an outcome so different than what they expected and hoped for?

Dare to be Different; From the Scenarios Series by Nicole O'Dell -- Young Adult from Barbour. Each book in the series follows a character up to the point where she has to make an important, life-changing decision—then it’s your turn to choose. Will your choices lead to a happy ending?

Delivered With Love by Sherry Kyle -- General Fiction from Abingdon. An old love letter found in the glove compartment of a young woman's inherited 1972 Volkswagen propels her to leave her life in Los Angeles and go to the small town of Capitola, California. There her dream of finding the writer of the letter leads her on an unexpected journey that changes her life forever.

Diagnosis Death by Richard Mabry M.D. -- A Thriller/Suspense from Abingdon. When Dr. Elena Gardner's comatose husband dies in the ICU while on life support, the whispers begin. More deaths turn the whispers into a shout: "Mercy killing." What is the dark secret that keeps Elena's lips sealed when she should be defending herself?

Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott -- A Romance from Thomas Nelson. A young woman and man haunted by the past seek love and freedom as they assist fugitives on the Underground Railroad.

Finally a Bride by Vickie McDonough -- A Romance from Barbour. Will reporter Jacqueline Davis uncover his secrets before Noah Jeffers can capture her heart?

From Darkness Won; Blood of Kings Book 3 by Jill Williamson -- A Fantasy from Marcher Lord Press. Achan and Vrell seek out their place in the coming war to push back Darkness for good.

Griselda Takes Flight by Joyce Magnin -- General Fiction from Abingdon. Now that her sister, Agnes Sparrow, is comfortably dieting at the Greenbrier Nursing home, Griselda has time to fly—literally.

Kaydie by Penny Zeller -- A Romance from Whitaker House. Kaydie Worthington builds a protective wall around herself that won't be easy to tear down. There's something about Kaydie that draws Jonah Dickenson to her and makes him question his decision to remain a bachelor.

Love Finds You on Prince Edward Island by Susan Page Davis -- A Romance from Summerside Press. Molly Orlund is honored to serve as a maid where the Prince of Wales will be a guest. Peter Stark, an understeward in the royal party, is attracted to Molly, but an uncovered secret could change everything.

Oregon Weddings by Kathleen Kovach -- A Romance from Barbour. An alpaca, a lost family treasure, and an ornithophobic actress all take center stage in these three stories of love and faith that are as eclectic as the state of Oregon itself.

Patchwork Dreams by Laura V. Hilton -- Romance from Whitaker House. Becky Troyer has committed the ultimate sin, and finds herself on the edge of her Amish community; Jacob Miller believes he was sent to the Old Order Community in Missouri to help out a distant cousin--instead, he discovers he was part of an arranged swap.

People of the Book; Book 4 in the Extreme Devotion Series by Kathi Machias -- General Fiction from New Hope. Farah lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with her family, and wants nothing more than to develop a deeper devotion to her Muslim faith. All goes well until the prophet Isa—Jesus—appears to her in a dream and calls her to Himself.

Risky Business; From the Scenarios Series by Nicole O'Dell -- Young Adult from Barbour. Each book in the series follows a character up to the point where she has to make an important, life-changing decision—then it’s your turn to choose. Will your choices lead to a happy ending?

Swept Away; From the Scenarios Series by Nicole O'Dell -- Young Adult from Barbour. Each book in the series follows a character up to the point where she has to make an important, life-changing decision—then it’s your turn to choose. Will your choices lead to a happy ending?

Tea for Two, Book 2 of the Tea With Millicent Series by Trish Perry -- Romance from Harvest House. Zack Cooper tries his best to raise his children, but he's losing his grip on them. Tea Shop owner Milly Jewel has the perfect woman in mind to help Zack.

The Daughter's Walk by Jane Ann Kirkpatrick -- General Fiction from Waterbrook/Multnomah. Based on a true story of a mother and daughter who walk across the country in 1896 and the consequences of the journey to both of their lives.

The Dawn of a Dream by Ann Shorey -- General Fiction from Revell. She’s embarking on a new life—but can the past truly be left behind?

The Deepest Waters by Dan Walsh -- General Fiction from Revell. Inspired by a true story, The story weaves a tale full of action and suspense, and yet it is also an amazing love story that could only happen if miracles do come true.

The Lightkeeper's Ball by Colleen Coble -- Olivia Stewart’s sister, Eleanor, was engaged to Harrison Bennett, one of the nation’s wealthiest men, who has since died. Now the pressure is on Olivia to take her place, despite her suspicions about Eleanor’s fiancĂ©.

The Sheriff's Sweetheart by Laurie Kingery -- A Romance from Love Inspired. A down-on-his-luck gambler on the run from a dangerous enemy meets the richest girl in a small Texas town and turns his life around to become worthy of her.

The Unforgivable; Wounds of South America, Book 1 by Tessa Stockton -- A Thriller/Suspense from Risen Books. Accused of the worst war crimes in the history of Argentina, Carlos Cornella is despised by a wounded nation…

Tomorrow's Garden by Amanda Cabot -- Romance from Revell. Can Harriet Kirk and Lawrence Wood ever truly put the past behind them in order to find happiness?

Trail of Lies by Margaret Daley -- A Thriller/Suspense from Love Inspired. As the mother of a beautiful daughter and the wife of a wealthy entrepreneur, Melora Hudson seemed happy. No one knew about the secrets hidden behind closed doors—secrets Melora was forced to keep.

Yukon Wedding; Book 1, Alaskan Bride Series by Allie Pleiter -- A Romance from Love Inspired. Widow Lana Bristow won’t abandon the only home her son has ever known, even if it means wedding Mack Tanner, the man she blames for her husband’s death.