Book Love

Book Review: Giving Hope to Parents of Prodigals

I mentioned a few months ago that I’d joined an online group for Christian writers called the John 3:16 Marketing Network. Our goal is to uplift each other as we write the books God puts on our hearts — whether it’s through sharing ideas, lifting each other up in prayer, or helping spread the word about each other’s books. Today I’m happy to introduce you to a fellow J316 member, Anita Estes, who I actually met at the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference in August. (It’s always so nice to meet online friends in person!)

Anita’s celebrating a special day tomorrow (Nov. 8) — the official launch of her latest book, Letters to God on a Prodigal Son: Overcoming Addiction Through Prayer. Tomorrow only, if you order a copy of Anita’s book you’ll get lots of free bonuses and will also be entered in a contest to win either a $25 or $50 gift card to some favorite stores. To learn more about the book and the free offers for that day, visit a special page on Anita’s website.

In Letters to God, Anita shares excerpts from her personal journal and prayer book while living through the ordeal of having a prodigal son with addiction problems. She shares bits of their stories, prayers she prayed along each step, lessons her family learned, and suggestions her readers can follow when they’re in the same situations. As I saw in one book review, Letters to God lets you “witness the transformation of a mother who felt helpless to help her son, but turns to God and never lets go. Watch her faith grow and her son find freedom, redemption and deliverance.”  (CBM Book Reviews)

“I want those who are watching a loved one caught in the blinding windstorm of addiction to understand that God did not want this for them and He invites them to dialogue honestly with Him,” Anita says. “I want parents, family, relatives and friends to be equipped with spiritual tools for coming against the powers of darkness involved in addiction. My desire is to help guide them on this dark journey and lead them into the light of God’s presence.”

If you’re interested in learning more, check out Anita’s website and all the free gifts you’ll get by ordering Letters to God on Nov. 8. Then, if you do buy a copy, stop back by and let me know how you liked it. I think you’ll find a powerful, easy to understand, honest look at what families go through when dealing with prodigals and/or family members with addictions. I know it gave me new insights and hope it’s a big encouragement to those who need it most.

Here’ the link again for all the special things tomorrow:

Book Love

Book Review: Swept Away

In a publishing world where Christian fiction is trying to be more realistic for teens while still maintaining a Christian worldview, author Nicole O’Dell walks the fine line quite well. The books in her Scenarios for Girls series offer something I’ve not seen in other Christian YA novels – the chance for readers to truly see the story from both sides of the spectrum.

The books tackle many of the issues facing teens today – cheating, purity, taking dares, dealing with parents or teachers, and more. Each story has you firmly “along for the ride” with the main character until she reaches the point of needing to make an important, life-changing decision. The main story stops, and readers are asked to decide how they would handle the situation in the exact same circumstances. Then you continue the story, depending on how you answer. Better yet, you can read both endings to see how things might play out in the real world for both options. It’s a great way to help girls think through situations and the potential outcomes before they find themselves in the same predicament. Once a girl finishes reading the book, she has the chance to make a written commitment to implement the lessons she’s learned from the story. A parent or other trusted adult can witness her commitment and help her with accountability.

The stories I read were from Swept Away, which includes two of the Scenarios books – High Stakes and Essence of Lilly. I haven’t read others in the series, but love the whole concept. The stories themselves are interesting and right on target for today’s girls. Letting them become a part of how the story ends will hopefully help girls remember the story and its message, long after the book goes back on the shelf. I applaud O’Dell for writing for these girls in such a real way, and I’ll be passing Swept Away onto some of the girls at church. With Christmas shopping time right around the corner, you might want to look for Swept Away or the other Scenarios for Girls books for a special middle or high school girl in your life.

For more info on Nicole O’Dell and her books and Teen Talk radio program, visit her online.

Book Love

Book Review: The Healer’s Apprentice

The Healer’s Apprentice, by Melanie Dickerson

Rose is a woodcutter’s daughter in 14th century Germany. Social classes have distinct divisions and expectations, but Rose has been pulled from the lowly life she experienced as a child. She’s been appointed as the apprentice to the town healer, Frau Geruscha, which means she lives on the castle grounds with a hands-on education. She struggles to conquer her uneasiness around blood and to focus on learning the healing arts instead of letting her mind wander to thoughts of Lord Hamlin, the future duke. But her mind and heart refuse to follow her orders. Every encounter with Lord Hamlin increases her respect and affection.

Rose and her friend Hildy dare to dream that Lord Hamlin might return some of Rose’s feelings. But he’s betrothed to the mysterious daughter of another duke, and has been in hiding for years. She can’t come forward to marry Lord Hamlin until he finds and destroys the evil sorcerer who cursed her.

The Healer’s Apprentice is what’s called a fairy tale retelling, because it’s loosely based on the story of Sleeping Beauty. But Dickerson weaves in enough other elements and supporting characters to keep things interesting instead of by-the-book predictable. Yes, some readers might connect the pieces before they all come together in the story, but that shouldn’t spoil the fun. The Healer’s Apprentice was a fun read for me, and I’ve heard that teenage girls especially loved it.

Look for it in your local bookstore or download the ebook version online. Then visit Melanie Dickerson’s website to learn about her other projects, including her next book The Merchant’s Daughter. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and will be available in November. I’m looking forward to reading it, too!

Book Love

Book Review: Lady In the Mist

Lady in the Mist, by Laurie Alice Eakes

Tabitha Eckles is a unique woman in a time when women and men had very defined roles in society. It’s 1809, and Tabitha is an unmarried midwife for a coastal Virginia town. Tabitha focuses on her patients, other townspeople who need medical help, and her garden – until she meets a mysterious British man early one morning on the beach.

Young men from the area have been disappearing, and most people think the Brits are guilty – that they’re forcing the men to join the British Navy with its ever-patrolling ships nearby. A disappearance is why Tabitha is still unmarried – her fiancé Raleigh disappeared right after proposing, though no one knows whether he ran away for some reason or if he was snagged by the British.

The mysterious newcomer complicates Tabitha’s life on multiple levels. Each has secrets they’re afraid to share, even though they could help each other. Each suffers public disapproval because of their convictions. And each wonders what the future might hold, especially when Raleigh returns with a story some people don’t quite believe.

Laurie Alice Eakes has been a prolific writer in the last few years, but Lady in the Mist was the first book of hers that I’ve read. I’m always a softie for historical romances, and it definitely filled that bill. There was also a little intrigue/suspense woven through the story that kept it interesting. I knew how I wanted everything to end, but wasn’t absolutely sure Laurie Alice had taken her characters in that direction until just before the end. The story itself was great, and I learned a lot about midwifery and the time period because of the details she included (the kind that help make the story come to life, not the kind that bog you down and make you skip to a more interesting part). 🙂

Lady in the Mist is one of my favorite books in 2011 so far. I’m looking forward to the other titles in her midwives series.

(This book was provided to me for reading and review by the publisher, Revel, a division of Baker Publishing Group.)