Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What is on my Nightstand - December

What's On Your Nightstand

It is time once again for What's On Your Nightstand hosted by 5 Minutes for Books. I only read 3 books this month.

The following books are on my nightstand for January:

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo
  • Warriors: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter
  • Eighth Shephard by Bodie Thoene
  • Kiss by Ted Dekker
  • High Calling by Evelyn Husband with Donna Vanliere
  • Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg
  • A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

The weather forecast is for a very cold and snowy January. That means lots more time for reading!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book Review: The Longing by Beverly Lewis

The Longing The Courtship of Nellie Fisher - Book 3

Bethany House Publishers 2008

The Longing continues the story of Nellie Mae Fisher. Her story begins in Book 1, The Parting, and continues in Book 2, The Forbidden.

Nellie is an Amish teen whose life has been turned upside down. Her people are split over assurance of salvation. Nellie and her family have embraced saving grace and joined the new order church that has sprung up. Her beau, Caleb, stays with the old order and his father has ordered Caleb to break up with Nellie.

In this book, she tries to move on with her life after breaking up with Caleb. She finds herself drawn to an Englischer, Christian. Her new boyfriend is a Mennonite cousin of Caleb's but Nellie does not know this. Meanwhile, Caleb's stubborn father is in a life-threatening farm accident. In his last days, he comes to know Christ and reconciles with Caleb. I am not going to spoil the story by telling you who Nellie ends up with.

Other story lines in the book include Nellie's sister, Rhoda. She moves out on her own and goes "Fancy". She has many struggles until she comes to terms with who she really is.

Nellie's friend, Rosanna, is also featured. Her longing for a baby consumes her. Her inability to carry a baby to term and the reversal of the adoption of her cousin's twins has crushed her. Another expectant mother offers to let Rosanna adopt her baby. Then Rosanna finds out she is pregnant again. Should she risk heartache again with a new adoption? Will she finally carry a baby to term? These are the questions that plague her.

I love Beverly Lewis's stories. I live in an area where there are lots of Amish and am somewhat familiar with their lifestyle and beliefs. Mrs. Lewis really brings you into the Amish community.

This series moved a lot slower than her other series. I do think that this last book does a better job of pacing the story. After finishing Book 2, I really did not care if Nellie and Caleb got back together. I am still not sure if I am satisfied with the ending, although I do not see how it could have ended any other way.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Children's Christmas Books

Children's Classics

Over at 5 Minutes for Books, the Children's Classics carnival is about Christmas books for children.

On Wednesday mornings, I read to my daughter's second grade class. Last week, I read 2 Christmas books to them.

The first one was 'Twas the Night: The Nativity Story by Melody Carlson. This book is great to read aloud. It is written in the cadence of "The Night Before Christmas". It is the story of Jesus' birth from the point of view of the animals in the stable. The illustrations by Susan Reagan are very well done. I think that this book will become a yearly tradition to read out loud with our family. It is recommended for 5 and up.

The second book was Spunky's First Christmas. This book was adapted from a video that was based on a character created by Janette Oke. This story is about a puppy named Spunky. Spunky gets adopted by a boy named Mark. Mark and Spunky have a lot of fun together until Spunky gets lost. As he is looking for his master, he sees a window with a picture of a man with a dog and several sheep. He goes into the church and there is a Christmas pageant going on. Spunky ends up on the stage barking with excitement. Mark rushes in because he heard Spunky barking. Spunky was so happy to have found his master again.

The second graders liked both books. I think that they enjoyed the second book the most. They were very engaged with the story and very concerned when Spunky was lost. They cheered when Mark found Spunky.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Book Review: My Little Girl

I have joined Thomas Nelson Publishers Book Review Blogger’s Program. My first book to review is My Little Girl by Tim McGraw & Tom Douglas. Illustrated by Julia Denos. Forward by Faith Hill. 2008.

My Little Girl is about Katie and the day she spent with her dad. Her dad told her that they would have a spectacular day. She is so excited that she can’t decide what to wear. So she wears a tiara, boa, several necklaces and jungle boots. Her dog, Palio, is ready for the adventures of the day too. The first place they go is the co-op where Katie sees new bunnies and chicks. Then she dances with her dad after watching some baby ducks that looked like they were doing the samba. Next they lay in the grass and look for shapes in the clouds. At lunch, they spell out L-O-V-E with their alphabet soup. After lunch, daddy pushes Katie in the tire swing. When they get back home, dad asks Katie what her favorite part was. She replies “Being with you!”

This is the kind of book that makes your heart melt. The story is good reminder for both moms and dads that spending one-on-one time with your children is time well-spent. At the back of the book is a page where you can write your own story about your own dad and daughter day. The book is beautifully illustrated with lots of color and whimsy. I loved the cloud pictures.

My husband read this book to our 7 year old daughter. I was sitting where I could watch her face. She smiled and laughed quite a few times. When they were dancing, she started swaying with them. She thought it was a wonderful book. My husband frequently takes her out to breakfast on Saturday mornings. That is a highlight of her week.

I only had one problem with the book. There is little transition between scenes. When you turn the page it is a different scene. Twice, I thought I missed something and had to look back to see. My daughter didn't have any problem with it though. I would recommend this book for any little girl between the ages of 4 and 8.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Classics Bookclub: A Christmas Carol

Classics Bookclub

This is my first time to participate in 5 Minutes for Books Classics Bookclub. This months selection was A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

This was my first time to read this classic story. I have seen many movie and tv versions of it from the very serious to the very whimsical (Scooby-Doo). None of them do the story justice. I found that even though I knew the basics of the story, there was much that I didn't know.

I enjoyed the humor that was sprinkled throughout. I enjoyed Scrooge's nephew Fred. What a jovial fellow! I wish that I would always have that welcoming attitude when dealing with difficult people. I also enjoyed the character of Fezziwig. Fezziwig's party was a good example of how to keep your employees happy. Scrooge should have learned more from Fezziwig about how to treat employees.

I felt that the Cratchit family seemed more like caricatures than real people in the present scenes. I felt like their joy in the small goose was too forced. Like they were pretending to be happy but inside were miserable. And that is how we would expect someone in their situation to be. In the future scene, they seemed more real. The sadness and grieving at Tiny Tim's death seemed more real to me.

Finally Scrooge himself. I thought his transformation from selfish miser to generous, happy gentleman was well written. He changes a little bit with each scene and by the end embraces the changes he needs to make. I love the scene on the morning after Christmas when Cratchit is late. I can just picture him waiting in his office trying not to giggle with anticipation of what he is going to do for his employee.

Overall, I am glad that I read this book. I will certainly read it again and again.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Book Review: Cast of Characters by Max Lucado


Cast of Characters: Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God by Max Lucado. Thomas Nelson Publishers. 2008

Max Lucado is a pastor and has written over 75 books. I find his books easy to understand and I always find plenty of nuggets of wisdom to ponder. He is very good at taking a familiar verse or story and showing it to me in a new way. This book is no different.

Each of the 23 chapters examines someone in the Bible that would have been considered "common" by the people who knew them. These people were not perfect. Some were rich and some were poor. They all put themselves in the hands of an uncommon God.

The chapter that most resonated with me was Chapter 6: Mary, Martha and Lazarus. The chapter's subtitle is Your Place in God's Band. He compares people in the church with marching band musicians and uses Mary, Martha and Lazarus to illustrate the point.

Some people like Martha play the drums. Martha served. She was the beat that kept everything moving. Like Mary, some play the flute. Mary worshiped. She was gifted with praise. And like Lazarus, some are the trumpets. Lazarus had a story to tell and he told it often.

I can highly recommend this book. I think that everyone who reads this book will find someone they can identify with. I found that I identified with Martha. By reading how God used her, I can see how God can use me.

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Book Review: Sunset by Karen Kingsbury

It is time to bid a fond goodbye to the Baxter family. Sunset is the final book of the Baxter Family Drama. We are introduced to the Baxter family in Redemption. There are 14 books in the series.

Instead of being focused on just one or two of the Baxter family members, this story covers all of them. It takes all the previous stories and ties up all the loose ends. If there is a primary focus, I think that it would be John (the father). His selling of the house and upcoming wedding and how each event effects his kids is one of the focal points of Sunset.

My favorite part was Kari's story. I think I liked it best because she was the focus of the first book. She is asked to deal with a part of her past and she really shows us how forgiveness should look.

My least favorite part was Luke's story. The part where Luke and Reagan are trying to work things out seemed stiff and not as believable.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I think that it was a satisfying conclusion to the series.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book Review: Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession by Anne Rice

Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession is a memoir of author Anne Rice’s conversion from atheism to Catholicism. Anne Rice is probably most known for her novels about vampires. Her first book, Interview with the Vampire, was made into a major motion picture starring Tom Cruise. Many of her books have featured vampires.

In 2005, she departed from her previous themes and wrote Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt: A Novel. She revealed that she was no longer an atheist. In 2008, her novel Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana (Christ the Lord) was published.

When I first heard that Anne Rice had written a book about Jesus, I was skeptical. I wondered why she would go from unholy vampires to the holy Son of God. So I did not read either of her books about Jesus. When I saw this memoir, I was intrigued. I wanted to find out what happened.

Called Out of Darkness begins with her Catholic upbringing. She goes into great detail describing the Catholic churches and schools that shaped her early life. She describes how much the icons and sacraments of the Church meant to her as a child.

She describes how her faith started to fade away when she went to college. She wanted to explore knowledge. She wanted to escape the sense of sin. Because she wanted away from the Church, she quit believing in God. She lived that way for 38 years.

The last third of the book describes her journey back to God. She describes herself as being “Christ haunted.” Creation spoke to her of God. Music and art spoke to her of God. She could not get away from the question of who Jesus was and why people were obsessed with Him.

In December of 1998, she came back to God. In her words, “…what I recall most vividly is surrender – a determination to give in to something deeply believed and deeply felt. I loved God. I loved Him with my whole heart. I loved Him in the Person of Jesus Christ, and I wanted to go back to Him.” So she did. She went back to church and to God.

Her story does not end there. Between 1998 and 2002, she went to church and grew in her faith. But she did not really change her writing. In 2002, she had a sort of awakening. She knew that she needed to write for God. So she wrote about Jesus’ early life.

I found the book very interesting. It seems to me that she got burnt out by all the rules and completely rebelled against God and the Church. She came back when she re-discovered the love of Jesus.

The only thing that I did not care for was the lack of continuity. She would be describing an event and then jump forward or backward in time. This happened many times. I was a little frustrated trying to figure out what order the events happened.

As I read this book, I was reminded of something that I heard in church recently. We need to pray for famous people. We need to pray for our favorite authors, actors and musicians who are not Christians. We may not have the opportunity to personally talk to them about Christ but God can use our prayers to bring other Christians into their lives.

Overall, I would recommend this book. I am also planning on reading her novels about Jesus.

4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Book Review: Sinner by Ted Dekker

Sinner: A Paradise Novel (The Books of History Chronicles) by Ted Dekker is the third novel of The Paradise Novels. It isn't necessary to read any of the previous stories before reading Sinner but it does build on what has happened in Showdown and Saint.

Sinner starts 13 years after the events of Showdown. The story focuses on Billy, Darcy and Johnny. Billy and Darcy have tried to put the events of Project Showdown behind them. But they discover that they have some very unique gifts. Their gifts get them noticed by important people in Washington who need their help.

They use their talents to amend the Constitution so that any speech that is not tolerant of another's belief is a hate crime. Johnny (Saint) goes back to the town of Paradise to take a stand against this new law. He gathers 3000 believers of the Way. The government sends Billy and Darcy to Paradise to convince their old friend that he is wrong. Johnny uses his unique talent to show them the Light.

Ted Dekker uses his stories to teach as well as entertain. In this novel, he shows us what the world would be like if we could be jailed for telling others about Jesus. He crafts the story in such a way as to make it very believable. It could happen in the very near future.

The story itself was a good read. I wasn't sure at the end what was going to be the result. I always hope for a happy ending but you never know with Dekker. It is certainly not a "They lived happily every after" ending.

I love the way he portrays the love of Jesus for those who choose Him. The salvation experience is so vivid, it nearly makes me cry every time. I usually have to stop reading and praise God for His love before going back to reading.

There are a few loose ends that don't get tied up at the end, but maybe he is saving those for his next book in the series, Green, which releases September 1, 2009.

If you would like to learn more about the themes in Sinner, visit http://www.teddekker.com/site.php?content=news_news.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Bag Full of Books

One of the local libraries had their semi-annual book sale last week. On the last day of the sale, you can fill up a paper grocery bag for $2. My bag was stuffed full. Here is a picture of all the books:

I got 11 books for me, 5 for my husband and 31 for my kids. Some I had read before but wanted a copy for myself like Sisterchicks Down Under by Robin Jones Gunn. Some of the children's books are a grade ahead of my kids but I know that they will enjoy them soon.

What's on my Nightstand

What's On Your Nightstand

This is my first time to participate in "What's on Your Nightstand" hosted by 5 Minutes for Books. Here are the books that are on my nightstand:

  • Sinner by Ted Dekker
  • Cast of Characters by Max Lucado
  • The Longing by Beverly Lewis
  • Sunset by Karen Kingsbury
  • Called out of Darkness by Anne Rice

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Releases October 10 - 22, 2008

Here are the new releases in Christian fiction and non-fiction for October 10-22, 2008.

October 10

Havah: The Story of Eve by Tosca Lee

October 13

Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader by Joe Hilley

October 14

Dangerous Heart (Westward Hearts Series #3) by Tracey Bateman
Hill Country Christmas (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical #18) by Laurie Kingery
Love Your Life: Living Happy, Healthy, and Whole by Victoria Osteen
A Man Most Worthy (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical #17) (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical #17) by Ruth Axtell Morren
Multiple Blessings: Surviving to Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets by Kate Gosselin and Beth Carson

October 22

One Perfect Day: A Novel by Lauraine Snelling

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Barnes and Noble Coupon for Cappuccino

Barnes & Noble has 2 new coupons out. 1 for a complimentary tall-size caffe latte, cappuccino, espresso, freshly brewed coffee, or hot tea. The second coupon is for 15% off on one item. The coupons expire October 31, 2008

Barnes & Noble Coupons

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New Releases for October 7, 2008

Not a very busy day in the Christian publishing world today. I can only find two books being released today. There are a lot more next week.

Those are two very different authors. I would like to read both books though.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Welcome to my blog, Inspired 2 Read! My name is LuAnn and I live in Northern Indiana. I love to read. The purpose of this blog is to share my passion for reading with others. My main focus will be on inspirational fiction and Christian non-fiction. I also plan to examine other types of reading media, like magazines, e-books and other blogs.