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Word of Mouth

Faithful Fifteen


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This Month on

December 2005


Merry Christmas

Author Talk: Lee Strobel, Author of THE CASE FOR CHRISTMAS

Author Talk: Deborah Bedford, Author of REMEMBER ME

Holiday Roundup


Faithful Fiction Reviews

Christian Living Reviews

Marriage and Family Life Reviews

Author Interviews of 2005

The Faithful Fifteens of 2005

Coming Soon

New Guides on Poll: "Best Of" Lists Question of the Month
Word of Mouth: What You're Reading
Quick Links
Christian Living
Marriage and Family Life
Author Interviews

Merry Christmas

The Christmas holiday is one of my favorite times of year. I love the goodwill that I feel in the air. I love reaching out to family and friends. I love the connections that come from touching the hearts of people who have meant so much to me all year.

Each year I handpaint wooden trees as part of my holiday celebration. Each tree is painted for a specific person and I spend a lot of time thinking about them as I work on the project. This year one was given to the woman who owns our local garden center. My boys love going there on Saturdays partially because this woman is just so lovely. Another was given to the woman who cuts the boys' hair. Both of them love the lively banter from her that is part of their haircuts as much as the trim. They feel a real connection to both these people and I wanted to celebrate it!

I've been doing these trees since my older son was in pre school. Many of the former recipients call or write this time of year and tell me --- we just took the tree out and were thinking of you.

We also decorate a tree for a charity event that has been held for 32 years. The tree across from us each year was decorated by a Mrs. Davidson. She always had a terrific tree. In the past couple of years as she has aged, her children and grandchildren would do the tree for her while she watched from her wheelchair. This year Mrs. Davidson was not at the event as she is into her 90s and failing. Her tree, again decorated by her grandchildren, held photos of all her trees in years past. While I did not know Mrs. Davidson, except for a few moments of conversation at the party that opened this event each year, her tree and her presence at the tree festival is a tradition of Christmas that I am going to miss.

I realized a few years ago that my memories of Christmas through the years had more to do with moments like those described above than recalling presents I received. And I made a concerted effort to be sure to make time for the things that really mattered to me. I love Mass on Christmas morning and singing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," which may be one of my favorite hymns. There is something truly special about the Christmas service that somehow always feels fulfilling.

I wish you all a holiday season that brings you these same "feel good" moments. Take some time to create them as you celebrate traditions and new memories. Merry Christmas and here's to a peaceful 2006 for all of you.

Thank you for reading....

Carol Fitzgerald (

Click here for a list of places where you can donate your books to Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Author Talk: Lee Strobel, Author of THE CASE FOR CHRISTMAS

Journalist, editor and teaching pastor Lee Strobel has written such award-winning books as THE CASE FOR CHRIST, THE CASE FOR FAITH and THE CASE FOR A CREATOR. In this article adapted from his latest work, THE CASE FOR CHRISTMAS, Strobel recounts the profoundly moving experience that ultimately awakened his absent faith. He also reminds and encourages readers to act with generosity and humility in the face of the materialism and selfishness of the holiday season.

Click here to read an essay by Lee Strobel. 

Author Talk: Deborah Bedford, Author of REMEMBER ME

Deborah Bedford is the author of such bestselling titles as TOUCH THE SKY and THE STORY JAR. In this touching essay, Bedford recounts her path as a writer, and shares profound and heartwarming family anecdotes. She also ruminates on love, determination and second chances, and discusses how she further explores these elements in her latest novel, REMEMBER ME.

REMEMBER ME by Deborah Bedford (Fiction)
Sam Tibbits loves Piddock Beach, where his family spent their vacations and where he met Aubrey, his childhood confidante. After being separated for years, Sam and Aubrey find themselves back at Piddock Beach, forced to confront their abandoned friendship and make peace with their lives. But can they do so without overstepping their moral boundaries? Reviewed by W. Terry Whalin.

Click here to read an essay by Deborah Bedford and a review of REMEMBER ME.

Holiday Roundup

We at have assembled a list of books that capture the true essence of this most blessed time of year. Among these titles are faith-enriching devotionals and thoughtful examinations of the monumental events in which our faith is rooted, heartwarming tales to share with children of all ages, as well as amusing anecdotes of Christmases past and ideas for future family traditions. We hope these thought-provoking and inspiring reads will fill you with the spirit of the season to be cherished all year long.

Click here for our list of Holiday Books.


British author C.S. Lewis and his best-known novels, the seven-volume The Chronicles of Narnia series, have been readers' favorites for more than 50 years. But nothing has prompted a resurgence of interest in the man and his writing like the release of the Disney/Walden Media feature film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The movie opened on December 9th to wide acclaim and  already has done remarkably well at the box office, proving the power of C.S. Lewis's Christian allegory to appeal to both a secular and spiritual audience. And although the author and the series are especially cherished among Christians, the shelves of general market bookstores also are displaying some of the hundreds of products that have been released or re-released to capitalize on the movie tie-in opportunity.

Click here to read our special feature on the wonderful world of Narnia.

Faithful Fiction Reviews

THE REGIME: Evil Advances Before They Were Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins (Fiction)
Reviewed by W. Terry Whalin
This second prequel in the Left Behind series continues the story of the rise of the Antichrist and the journey of the other main characters as, unknown to them, time hurtles toward the Rapture. Events in Israel heat up, and some characters like Rayford Steele and Buck Williams will be thrust into the thick of the drama.

THE MARTYR'S SONG by Ted Dekker (Suspense)
Reviewed by Michele Howe
"Make me beautiful." That's what teenager Marci wants from an old woman named Eve, who offers a gift in the form of a story --- a strange tale from 1940s Bosnia about a group of soldiers who terrorize a town of women and children. Somehow, a window opens to another reality --- a world of impossible beauty, infectious music, irresistible laughter, and a vision that somehow changes...everything.

THE PRINCE: Sons of Encouragement Series, Book 3 by Francine Rivers (Fiction)
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby
In her third installment of the Sons of Encouragement series, award-winning author Francine Rivers portrays the life of Jonathan and his best friend David, along with the story of Israel's desire for a king.

JESUS: A Novel by Walter Wangerin, Jr. (Fiction)
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby
Walter Wangerin Jr.'s beautiful retelling of the life of Jesus through the eyes of his mother Mary and the disciple John reinvigorates a familiar and much-loved story, and should find a home on the bookshelves of any Christian who wants a fresh perspective on their faith.

SATURDAY MORNING by Lauraine Snelling (Fiction)
Reviewed by W. Terry Whalin
In SATURDAY MORNING the reader encounters four women who are in completely different places in their lives. Like a fine weaver, Lauraine Snelling slowly spins the stories of these individuals until they come together in a beautiful tapestry.

IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING by Susan May Warren (Suspense)
Reviewed by Maggie Harding
On the run from the murderer of her best friends, missionary Gracie Benson is all alone in Siberia. What she doesn't know is that she has in her possession a medical secret that will save millions of lives --- or cost hers.

FALLEN by David Maine (Fiction)
Reviewed by Norah Piehl
Following the success of THE PRESERVATIONIST, David Maine once again imaginatively probes the Book of Genesis in his second novel. Here, he explores the story of Adam and Eve after their expulsion from the Garden of Eden and the story of the world's first murder, when Adam and Eve's oldest son Cain killed his brother Abel.

Read our Faithful Fiction reviews here.

Christian Living Reviews

HOMESTEAD: Modern Pioneers Pursuing the Edge of Possibility by Jane Kirkpatrick (Memoir)
Reviewed by Margaret Feinberg
Joining her husband in the fight to create a home out of a rugged stretch of sagebrush, rattlesnakes, and sand in eastern Oregon, Jane Kirkpatrick uneasily relinquishes the security of a professional career. Rather than the simple life they had envisioned, Jane and Jerry find themselves confronting flood and fire, government bureaucracies, and other disheartening setbacks.

THE GOOD LIFE by Charles Colson, with Harold Fickett (Christian Living)
Reviewed by Evelyn Bence
Reflecting on his own story and the stories of others, Chuck Colson examines the beliefs and assumptions that form the fabric of our lives. He searches for answers to questions we all ask: Who am I? How can I make my life count?

FREQUENTLY AVOIDED QUESTIONS: An Uncensored Dialogue on Faith by Chuck Smith Jr. and Matt Whitlock (Christian Living)
Reviewed by Marcia Ford
During the past two hundred years, Christians were challenged to answer many difficult questions relating to science and philosophy. But the world has changed, and people are asking new questions that test the boundaries of faith. Emphasizing the need for dialogue in conversations of faith, Chuck Smith Jr. and Matt Whitlock explore these new questions.

MISQUOTING JESUS: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart D. Ehrman (Religion)
Reviewed by Marcia Ford
World-class biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman tells the story behind the mistakes and changes that ancient scribes made to the New Testament and shows the great impact they had upon the Bible we use today.

HEALING IS A CHOICE: Ten Decisions That Will Transform Your Life & Ten Lies That Can Prevent You From Making Them by Stephen Arterburn (Self-Help)
Reviewed by Michele Howe
Healing, writes author Stephen Arterburn, is a choice, although not our choice --- it is God's choice. But there are several things we do or believe that can stand in the way of God's healing in our lives. Describing 10 choices we can make, and the corresponding 10 lies that we must reject, Arterburn outlines the plan for opening our lives to God's divine touch.

INTIMATE INTERCESSION: The Sacred Joy of Praying for Others by Tricia McCary Rhodes (Spiritual Growth/Prayer)
Reviewed by Michele Howe
Offering easy-to-grasp tools and truths, INTIMATE INTERCESSION will show the reader how to know and pray God's heart. Each chapter provides a biblical basis, inspirational thoughts, and personal devotional exercises that will engage the reader both in connecting with God and experiencing intimacy with Him.

A BUSY WOMAN'S GUIDE TO PRAYER: Forget the Guilt and Find the Gift by Cheri Fuller (Christian Living/Spiritual Growth)
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby
Today, women are busy as they struggle to find time to pray in the midst of work, family, kids, marriage and even obligations at church. Award-winning author and inspirational speaker Cheri Fuller has practical ideas that will help you incorporate prayer into your daily routine.

THE ROSARY by Garry Wills (Religion)
Reviewed by Amie Taylor
Whether the rosary --- a form of meditative prayer --- is an old favorite or completely new to you, Garry Wills looks at the meaning of the beads and at the mysteries, or events, in the lives of Jesus and Mary that the beads are meant to signify.

SIMPLY IN SEASON: Recipes That Celebrate Fresh, Local Foods in the Spirit of More-With-Less by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert (Cooking)
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby
If you loved the MORE-WITH-LESS COOKBOOK, you'll find this beautifully designed, activist-minded collection of diverse recipes, motivational quotes, and ideas for making a difference in your food consumption a welcome addition to your menu-planning.

Read our Christian Living reviews here.

Marriage and Family Life Reviews

CONNECTING WITH YOUR KIDS: How Fast Families Can Move From Chaos to Closeness by Timothy Smith (Family Relationships)
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby
Timothy Smith challenges life's frantic pace and offers helpful solutions to developing the perfect pulse for individual families. As families become increasingly busier, the stress puts a strain on relationships. But some active families have discovered a rhythmic pace, a heartbeat that works for them.

MOM'S NEEDS, DAD'S NEEDS: Keeping Romance Alive Even After the Kids Arrive by Willard F. Harley, Jr. (Love & Marriage)
Reviewed by Maggie Harding
Willard F. Harley, Jr., whose innovative counseling methods have helped countless couples rekindle the spark in their relationship, shows you how to restore the passion in your marriage and keep your children happy, by making your relationship with your spouse your top priority.

Read our Marriage and Family Life reviews here.

Author Interviews of 2005

As the year comes to a close, looks back at some of the interviews and Author Talks we featured in 2005. They include Joel Osteen, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller YOUR BEST LIFE NOW; Philip Gulley, author of A CHANGE OF HEARTBruce Feiler, author of WHERE GOD WAS BORN; Frank Peretti, author of MONSTER; Joel C. Rosenberg, author of THE EZEKIEL OPTION; and Larry Julian, author of GOD IS MY SUCCESS.


The Faithful Fifteens of 2005

Do you enjoy the insightful words authors give and the inspiring stories they tell when answering The Faithful Fifteen? If so, you may want to look back with us and see what these authors had to say: Larry Julian; Tracie Peterson; Kristin Billerbeck; Angela Thomas; Sharon Ewell Foster; Lynn Austin; Patti Hill; Deeanne Gist; Ray BlackstonSarah Arthur; W. Dale Cramer; Shannon Ethridge; Joel C. Rosenberg; Eric and Leslie Ludy; Kathleen Morgan; Charles Stone; Heather Stone; Ellen Vaughn; and F. P. Lione.   


Coming Soon

Wondering what books are just out, or coming out in the months ahead? Be sure to check out our Coming Soon section on We have titles from January thru April. Please note that we have not listed every book coming out, but rather some that caught our eye --- and that we thought should catch yours as well.

Click here to find out what's coming soon.

New Guides on

The following Reading Group Guides are now available:



THE RAPTURE EXPOSED by Barbara R. Rossing

ROREY'S SECRET by Leisha Kelly

SARAH by Marek Halter

THE REVELATION (Abram's Daughters #5) by Beverly Lewis

GOD'S POLITICS: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It by Jim Wallis

WRAPPED IN RAIN by Charles Martin

THE DEAD DON'T DANCE by Charles Martin

LEAH'S WAY by Richard Botelho



ABRAHAM by Bruce Feiler

IF I GAINED THE WORLD by Linda Nichols


Click here to read all the reading group guides on Poll: "Best Of" Lists

Do "Best Of the Year" book lists influence your reading choices?
Not sure

Answer the Poll here. Question of the Month

What was the best book you read in 2005?

Answer the Question of the Month here.

Word of Mouth: What You're Reading
Tell us what books YOU are reading and loving --- or even those you don't. You could then be eligible to win THE REGIME: Evil Advances Before They Were Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. 

This second prequel in the Left Behind series continues the story of the rise of the Antichrist and the journey of the other main characters as, unknown to them, time hurtles toward the Rapture. Events in Israel heat up, and some characters like Rayford Steele and Buck Williams will be thrust into the thick of the drama.
Tell us what you are reading here to be eligible to win!

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Thanks for reading....and don't forget to forward this newsletter to a friend.

--- Carol Fitzgerald (

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