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Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's Not Who You Know, It's Who You Are: Life Lessons from Winners



Pat Williams is senior vice president of the NBA's Orlando Magic.  He has more than fifty years of professional sports experience, has written dozens of books, including the popular Coach Wooden and Coach Wooden's Greatest Secret, and is one of America's most sought-after motivational speakers.  He lives in Florida.

Learn more at www.patwilliams.com.









We live in a culture obsessed with celebrity.

We love winners and we want to be winners.

But take it fro a man who knows more famous people than most of us will ever meet - it's not who you know that's important, it's who you are inside.

In this inspiring book, Pat Williams draws from over fifty years of brushing shoulders with the greats to help you discover what it really means to be a winner.  Through his short meditations on success, leadership, family and friends, impact and influence, and becoming a person of excellence, you'll meet.

  • a young singer who messed up the national anthem and shot to stardom anyway
  • a coach who sacrificed his time to give his players the edge
  • a marathon runner who knew the secret to pacing youself
  • a political outsider who confidently reached for an impossible goal
  • a football player who wouldn't let a broken leg stop him from getting to the Super Bowl
  • and many more ordinary people with extraordinary character like
Barry Manilow, Sandy Patti, John F. Kennedy, Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, RudyG
iuliani, Tommy Lasorda, Joe Namath, Phil Jackson, Coln Powell, Cal Ripken Jr., Laura Bush, John Maxwell, George W. Bush, Billy Graham, and many more.



My Thoughts:
The title of this book - It's Not Who You Know, It's Who You Are - really says it all.  Pat Williams has taken his life experiences with some pretty big names and shared those encounters with readers. The book is organized into five parts:  Success, Leadership, Family and Friends, Impact and Influence, Becoming a Person of Excellence.  
Typically, we learn that "it's who you know".  However, Williams shows through short readings the fallacy of that statement.  The "greats" showcased in this book understand that success and money and influence only carries a person so far in life.  The character of a person speaks louder than all the accolades the world...how you treat others on your way to the top tells onlookers what one is really all about.
I liked that this is the kind of book that you can leave laying out on a coffee or end table and enjoy throughout the year. Thank you Pat Williams for compiling a book that encourages and exhorts readers to remember what holds real value.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Monday, February 23, 2015

Seek and Hide

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Seek and Hide
David C. Cook (September 15, 2014)
by
Amanda Stevens


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



As a child, Amanda G. Stevens disparaged Mary Poppins and Stuart Little because they could never happen. Now, she writes speculative fiction. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in English and has taught literature and composition to home-school students. She lives in Michigan and loves books, film, music, and white cheddar popcorn. Amanda's first novel, Seek and Hide, will be available September 15, 2014 from David C Cook.



ABOUT THE BOOK

Six years ago, the government took control of the church. Only re-translated Bibles are legal, and a specialized agency called the Constabulary enforces this and other regulations. Marcus Brenner, a new Christian, will do anything to protect his church family from imprisonment--including risk his own freedom to gain the trust of a government agent. Aubrey Weston recanted her faith when the Constabulary threatened her baby. Now released, she just wants to provide for her son and avoid government notice. But she's targeted again, and this time, her baby is taken into custody. If only she'd never denied Him, maybe God would hear her pleas for help. When Aubrey and Marcus's lives collide, they are forced to confront the lies they believe about themselves. And God is about to grab hold of Marcus's life in a way he'd never expect, turning a loner into a leader.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Seek and Hide, go HERE.



My Thoughts:
I finished this book a couple of days ago and I still am not sure how I feel about it. When I began the book, I felt as if I was dropped in the middle of something and had no idea what was going on or who was involved.  The book read very much like a second installment in a series rather than a first. The entire first half of the book, I kept feeling like I was missing information.
With that said, Stevens gives a frightening picture of the suppression of religious rites.  Can you imagine a day when even owning a Bible, a copy of God's word, could land you in jail or worse, have your life threatened?  With the likes of Rob Bell saying the Bible is nothing more than an ancient book whose writings are irrelevant and others calling the commands within "hate-speech", I am afraid Stevens' story could soon be more reality than story in America very soon!  I'm not sure I will read book two because the synopsis on Amazon sounds as if it will be just more of the same, but I can't say I am not intrigued by her premise.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Becoming A Spiritually Healthy Family: Avoiding the 6 Dysfunctional Parenting Styles

About the author:

Michelle Anthony
 is the vice president of Learning Resources and Family Ministry Architect at David C Cook and the author of Spiritual ParentingDreaming of More for the Next GenerationA Theology of Family Ministry, and The Big God Story. Michelle has graduate degrees in Christian education, theology, and leadership and over twenty-five years of church ministry experience as a children's and family pastor. She lives in Colorado Springs and loves a good book and a cup of coffee.

Find Michelle online: websiteFacebookTwitter

About the book:

Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family: Avoiding the 6 Dysfunctional Parenting Styles (David C. Cook, January 2015)

We all want to guide our children into the abundant life that Jesus offers. But when we pursue the more and better that the world offers above our pursuit of Jesus, we fall into dangerous parenting habits. In Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, Michelle Anthony unpacks six common dysfunctional parenting styles that we fall into out of habit, lack of attention, or just oversight due to busyness. If you long to show your children Jesus but don't know how to do it, you'll find hope in this practical guide to creating a relentlessly grace-filled home that is focused on God as first in charge.

Includes Scripture guides, reflection questions, ideas for family rites of passage, and other real life family examples.
Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1BSJpxN 

To see what others are saying about the  book, you can visit HERE.

My Thoughts:
For those parents who know that parenting is there biggest and most important job, Michelle Anthony has given an invaluable resource.  The content of the book is ripe with distinctions that are helpful for parents to understand who wish to navigate life in a God-honoring way with their children.
In the book, Anthony discusses the 6 Dysfunctional Parenting Styles:
  • The Double-Minded Parent
  • The I-Can't-Say-No Parent
  • The Driver Parent
  • The Micro-Managing Parent
  • The Criticizing Parent
  • The Absentee Parent
Each chapter ends with a "reflect and respond" section and helpful resources in the back such as the guide to writing a Family Mission Statement.
Anthony writes without condemnation, but with spiritual encouragement and exhortation from the Word of God as the standard for all we do as parents.  She uses helpful comparisons, observations from real life situations and practical suggestions to guide the reader along. 
I found chapter nine - Beyond Good Behavior and Chore Charts - particularly helpful and eye-opening.  She contrasts "education" with "formation" in this chapter and shows where our emphasis should be in a gospel-centered way:
"In spiritual development, the child's heart matters - not just his or her actions.  This is the stage at which we need to let the Holy Spirit come in and act in that child's life.  Yet if we don't make that transition, we fall into the temptation of making our homes about just being a really good person.  But really good people are not what Jesus asked for.  He asked for people of faith.  And faith is so much messier (and harder to measure) than moral behavior...We have the opportunity to allow our children to think differently - to think 'Yes, I'm sinful, yes, I'm broken but I can't fix myself.  Only the Holy Spirit can.'  This will require our children too have intimate relationships with Him, to know Him, to hear His voice, to depend upon Him, and not to get up tomorrow to simply try harder."
I highly recommend this valuable and instructive book!

*I received a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.

Blessings on your families,
Jennifer 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Return to Exile


About the author:

Lynne Gentry
 has written for numerous publications. She is a professional acting coach, theater director, and playwright. Lynne is an inspirational speaker and dramatic performer who loves spending time with her family and medical therapy dog.

Find Lynne online: websiteFacebookTwitter






About the book:

Return to Exile (Howard Books, January 2015)

How far would you go to save the ones you love?

Six years ago, impossible circumstances forced Dr. Lisbeth Hastings to leave behind the love of her life, not just in another country, but in another time. Her work as a top-notch epidemiologist and parenting her little girl helps alleviate the pain, but at night when her exhausted head hits the pillow, images of her beloved Cyprian haunt her sleep.

Cyprian Thascius returns from political exile a broken man. He's lost his faith, the love of his life, and his purpose. He attempts to move on, to face the danger that is looming over Carthage, but when Cyprian's true love suddenly reappears, his heart becomes as imperiled as the fledgling church he seeks to save.

Have the years that kept Lisbeth and Cyprian apart created too wide a chasm to bridge? In the midst of a new epidemic and rising oppression, will their love be the most costly fatality? Filled with gripping action and raw emotion, this spell-binding adventure of star-crossed lovers captivates with every turn of the page in this electric continuation of The Carthage Chronicles.
Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1wSugdd   

To see what others are saying about the book, you can visit HERE.

My Thoughts:
The Carthage Chronicles are my first encounter with author Lynn Gentry.  I don't typically read or care for "time travel" novels, but when offered the opportunity to review Return to Exile through Litfuse's blogger review program, something said, "Go for it".  I even bought the first book through Amazon so that I could be caught up when book two came in the mail to me.  

Boy am I glad I did!

Return to Exile is the continuation of Dr. Lisbeth's Hasting's story from Healer of Carthage.  The transformation that takes place in Lisbeth's life is a beautiful story. She's a hard case to crack, but God's grace does just that.  Gentry transports her readers from present day to ancient times with colorful descriptions of places and people.  You feel like you are part of the story.  As a reader, I could picture the people, hear the sounds and smell the smells.

The tension in the book is palpable at times.  I often found myself literally sitting on the edge of my seat.  Lisbeth's story made me feel and think and captivated me from the first page of book one until the last page of this second book.  Gentry grabs your attention with statements in the midst of the story like these:
"In the end, service changes not those who are served but those doing the serving."  (pg. 163 of Return to Exile)
 "You should have demanded your freedom," Aspasius croaked.  "You cannot give me what I already have through Christ Jesus."  (pg. 289 of Return to Exile) 
While the books in the series could be read as stand alone reads, I highly recommend you read the books in order as each book build on the previous one. You would be missing huge pieces of the story by skipping any part of the series. Book 3 in the series, Valley of Decision, will be released in September 2015.  The date is marked on my calender!

Gentry has certainly gained a fan in me and I will be watching for and reading what she writes!

*I was given a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Where Rivers Part and a Giveaway!





Kellie's life motto is:  Prone to wander, Chained to grace.

Kellie Coates Gilbert is a former legal investigator and trial paralegal and the author of A Woman of Fortune and Mother of Pearl.  Gilbert crafts her emotionally charged stories about women in life-changing circumstances in Dallas, TX where she lives with her husband.









You'll be blessed to connect with Kellie:
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kelliecoatesgilbert
Twitter:    https://twitter.com/KCoatesGilbert
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5782157.Kellie_Coates_Gilbert
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/kcoatesgilbert/
Instagram:  http://instagram.com/KellieCoatesGilbert.Author
Google +:  https://plus.google.com/100595056999311762968/posts



Success too often comes with a price.

Juliet never imagined that cost could be so high.

Dr. Juliet Ryan has devoted her considerable scientific acumen to corporate America, providing safe drinking water for millions - and affording her plenty of perks along the way.  Her career choice is not the path her estranged father would have her take, but then Juliet finds at difficult to maintain respect for a man she cannot trust.  She's on her way up in the world, and she's not going to let anything drag her down.

But wen a fast-moving disaster sweeps Juliet into a whirlpool of corporate scandal, lives are at risk - including those of some of the people closest to her.  As she scrambles to find answers, Juliet must face her deepest wounds and join forces with the one who has hurt her most in order to expose a far-reaching conspiracy.

Like a mighty river with twists and turns and hidden rocks, this engrossing story will sweep you relentlessly along as it explores the seduction of success, the fear of giving up control, and the redemptive power of learning to forgive.

My Thoughts:
I became a huge fan of Kellie's writing when I read Mother of Pearl.   So, I knew I would be reading her Texas Gold novels.  Where Rivers Part is the second book in this series with A Woman of Fortune being the first.  While parts of a series, the books serve as stand-alone reads.
Where Rivers Part is an emotionally gripping read.  The subject matter is loosely patterned after a legal matter Kellie was assigned in the midnineties related to the Jack in the Box E-Coli outbreak. Kellie's characters are genuine and carry a depth that propels the story right off the page.  Kellie shares the back stories of her characters throughout the book at appropriate places that carry the book along and engages the reader at deeper and deeper levels.  The subject matter of corporate greed is timely and culturally relevant.
Dr. Juliet Ryan's story has twists and turns that keep the reader turning pages.  There were parts of her story that brought me to tears and parts that made me want to throw the book across the room.  In the end, Where Rivers Part was placed on my keeper shelf right beside A Woman of Fortune and Mother of Pearl.

Giveaway:
I have a copy of Where Rivers Part to share with one of you!
In the comments section, leave me a note telling me if you have read one of Kellie's books and which one was your favorite.  If you haven't read one of her books, tell me who your favorite author is and which book of this author's you would recommend.
*Be sure and leave a way I can contact you in the event you win!!

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer


Monday, February 16, 2015

Wisdom Tree

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Wisdom Tree
White Rose Publishing (September 19, 2012)
by
Mary Manners


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A Word from the Author:
I live in the beautiful foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee with my husband, Tim, and our teen-aged daughter, Danni. Also with us are Lucky and Gus - the two cherished cats we rescued from local animal shelters.

I'm a member of the Romance Writers of America and Smoky Mountain Romance Writers. During the school year, I teach middle-schoolers reading and Algebra. When I have free time, I love to garden, take long walks with my husband, and read romance novels in a hammock beneath century-old shade trees.

I write romance novels for White Rose Publishing. If you'd like to visit, I have an author page there, as well. That's where you'll find everything there is to know about my books.

Mary can be reached through the Contact link on her Website .

ABOUT THE BOOK

Sometimes the last thing we think we need is exactly what God has planned
After the death of his parents, Jake Samuels has enough on his plate—including a fledgling church to lead and a mischievous younger brother to raise. The last thing he needs is a rambunctious woman to contend with.

Carin O'Malley is dealing with the death of her brother and a new job as an English teacher at East Ridge Middle School where Corey Samuels reigns as King of Chaos. The last thing she needs is to fall in love...especially with a handsome and complicated preacher like Corey’s brother Jake.

But when Corey's antics toss Carin and Jake together, the two must draw from God’s wisdom to find refuge in His perfect plan.

------------------------------------------------ Discover your own wisdom tree with the included one-month devotional.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Wisdom Tree, go HERE.

My Thoughts:
This is the first book I have read by Mary Manners and I am excited that CFBA afforded me the opportunity to discover this new author.  Manners has given readers a delightful read in Wisdom Tree.  The book can easily be read in one sitting.  While short in length, the Wisdom Tree is deep in content and the gospel message.  The characters feel genuine and the author portrays real life struggles that shine a light on how faith in the transforming grace of God is the source of real power in our lives.  The romance aspect of the story happens a little fast, but does not take away from the overarching themes of the book.  I also appreciated the devotional that was included in the book as it allows the reader to apply the important themes of trust and faith to their own life situations.

*I was given a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Esther: Royal Beauty

Expect the Unexpected

Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes for readers who expect the unexpected in novels. With over four million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 125 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to non-fiction books, to novels.
Her books have won the coveted Christy Award, several Angel Awards from Excellence in Media, and the Gold and Silver Medallions from Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award.  Also in 2006, Angela completed her Master of Biblical Studies in Theology degree. She completed her doctorate in 2008 and was accepted into a Th.D. program in 2009. When she’s not home reading or writing, Angie often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences. And to talk about her dogs, of course.  She is also an avid photographer, using her photos to help find homes for her local SPCA’s shelter animals.

An ambitious tyrant threatens genocide against the Jews in ancient Persia, so an inexperienced beautiful young queen must take a stand for her people.
When Xerxes, king of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler. After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king’s heart and a queen’s crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king’s permission to exterminate all Jews–young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violating an ancient Persian law, she risks her life in order to save her people…and bind her husband’s heart.

My Thoughts:
I didn't know quite what to think about Hunt's version of Esther's story.  Hunt portrays Esther as a little bit sassy and almost desirous of a place in the King's palace.  In addition to that, the story is only told from two perspectives:  Esther's (Haddassah) and a servant to the King.  This way of approaching the story fell a little flat for me.  I felt it narrowed the story a bit.  Otherwise, Hunt's version seems to follow the biblical account fairly closely.  
With those things said, Hunt always delivers a good read.  She offers something different in her novels whether they be historical fiction or contemporary fiction.  Esther made me think and dig for myself to see if the author was on track.  A book that makes me think and study for myself is an excellent sign of good writing.  While not my favorite rendering of the Queen's story, it was still a good investment of my time and study.
*I was provided a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.
The second book in the Dangerous Beauty series releases in late 2015.
Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer