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Word of Mouth

Faithful Fifteen


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This Month on

September 2008

Begin Your Autumn with Great Books Talks to Tim Downs, Author of LESS THAN DEAD

Study Guide Now Available: MESSY FAITH by A.J. Gregory

Now in Stores: SINNER by Ted Dekker

Now in Stores: ALL I HAVE TO GIVE by Melody Carlson

Now in Stores: A PROMISE TO BELIEVE IN by Tracie Peterson

Now in Stores: WHIRLWIND by Cathy Marie Hake

Now in Stores: BEING CHRISTIAN by Stephen Arterburn and John Shore

New Discussion Guides for Christian Book Groups

Faithful Fiction Reviews

Christian Living Reviews

Marriage and Family Life Review Poll Question of the Month
Word of Mouth: What You're Reading
Quick Links
Christian Living
Marriage and Family Life
Author Interviews
Begin Your Autumn with Great Books

As Monday heralded the beginning of yet another season, I found myself wondering where the summer went. Seriously folks, was this the fastest summer on record? I confess that I am not yet ready for mums, falling leaves and chilly mornings. As the temperatures in New York are beginning to dip into the 50s, I am looking forward to maximizing the remaining warm days ahead.

We have many exciting books to start your autumn off right. For all of you book club members selecting titles for the fall/winter months or returning from summer break, we have SEVEN new discussion guides to share with you. Among them is SUNSET by Karen Kingsbury, the final book in the Baxter Family Drama series, which is also this month’s Word of Mouth title. Our other new discussion guides include MESSY FAITH by A. J. Gregory, a book about the often treacherous journey toward faithful living; THE SECRET’S IN THE SAUCE by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson, a delectable story about a group of friends launching their own catering company; SARAH’S PROMISE by Leisha Kelly, the fourth installment of the Country Road Chronicles; A PASSION REDEEMED by Julie Lessman, book two in The Daughters of Boston series; HOMETOWN FAVORITE by Bill Barton and Henry O. Arnold, a novel that asks the age-old question of why bad things happen to good people; and THE PURSE-UIT OF HOLINESS by Rhonda Rhea, a humorous book written for women yearning to have a closer relationship with God.

If any of your book clubs are based in the San Jose area, I will be attending the third annual Book Group Expo, a book group event that is being held in San Jose on October 25th and 26th. Being that this will be my first time attending, I am really looking forward to the experience. If any of you plan to be there, please drop me a note since I would love to catch up with you.

Our other featured titles include SINNER by Ted Dekker, which tells the story of a man who does not deny his faith in a time of political turmoil; ALL I HAVE TO GIVE by Melody Carlson, a touching story about family and Christmas miracles; A PROMISE TO BELIEVE IN by Tracie Peterson, an historical romance set in the Montana frontier; WHIRLWIND by Cathy Marie Hake, a novel about a widower and a nanny whose lives unexpectedly intertwine; and BEING CHRISTIAN by Stephen Arterburn and John Shore, an inspirational book for those looking to enhance their relationship with God.

Among our new Faithful Fiction, Christian Living, and Marriage and Family Life reviews are SCARLET: The King Raven Trilogy, Book Two by Stephen R. Lawhead, REIMAGINING CHURCH: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity by Frank Viola and THE BUSY MOM’S GUIDE TO A HAPPY, ORGANIZED HOME: Fast Solutions to Hundreds of Everyday Dilemmas by Kathy Peel.

This month’s poll asks whether or not your local newspaper publishes book reviews, while our question concerns books that you were compelled to buy after reading a great review. We look forward to seeing your responses.

Just a reminder that September is Library Card Sign-up Month. Created by the American Library Association, this is a time to remind adults and kids of the enriching resources our libraries offer. Celebrate with your friends and family by visiting your local library.

As the days grow shorter and cooler, you can be sure that has the perfect book selection to bring you warmth, inspiration and comfort. Here’s to the start of a happy and healthy autumn.

Carol Fitzgerald ( Talks to Tim Downs, Author of LESS THAN DEAD

Tim Downs is the author of several suspense thrillers, including SHOOFLY PIE, CHOP SHOP and PLAGUEMAKER. His latest novel, LESS THAN DEAD, features recurring character Nick Polchak, an offbeat entomologist who often finds himself embroiled in crime investigations and disaster sites. In this interview with's Cindy Crosby, Downs describes how his career path took him from studying sculpture and drawing comics to writing full-length novels and speaking professionally, and discusses how he researched elements of this latest book, including visiting dog training centers and attending forensics seminars. He also explains what he hopes to achieve through his work and contemplates what's in store for the "Bug Man" in future installments.

LESS THAN DEAD: A Bug Man Novel by Tim Downs (Mystery)
Tim Downs’s recurring protagonist, forensic entomologist Nick Polchak, takes on the secrets of an old cemetery, a pack of cadaver dogs, a woman who is labeled a witch, and a serial killer. Political intrigue, romance sparks and genuine humor make every page of this novel a pleasure to read. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

-Click here to read a review of LESS THAN DEAD.

Click here to read our interview with Tim Downs.

Study Guide Now Available: MESSY FAITH by A.J. Gregory

MESSY FAITH: Daring to Live by Grace by A. J. Gregory (Christian Living)
While most of us trudge toward the cross with the best intentions, at times our lives just don’t pan out the way we’ve planned. MESSY FAITH addresses the muddled adventure that we call “working out our salvation.” It is being sure and unsure, whole and broken, warring, losing and winning. It is being right and being wrong and having no clue, but believing anyway. And it is trusting in God to perfect the final product of our flawed, human lives.

-Click here to read more about MESSY FAITH.

Click here to read the study guide for MESSY FAITH.

Now in Stores: SINNER by Ted Dekker

SINNER: A Paradise Novel by Ted Dekker (Fiction)
When a string of racially motivated lynchings threatens to tear the country apart, two stunningly gifted orators sweep into Washington and demand that the constitution be modified to allow for a law that will end the widespread violence. Racial and religious speech that undermines others' beliefs must be classified as hate speech and must be severely punished. But out of the desert comes one man who refuses to deny his faith in Christ through silence. Reviewed by Michele Howe.

Click here to read a review of SINNER.

Now in Stores: ALL I HAVE TO GIVE by Melody Carlson

ALL I HAVE TO GIVE: A Christmas Love Story by Melody Carlson (Fiction)
Anna and Michael have been trying for years without success to have a baby. Now in her late 30s, Anna has given up on the hope of motherhood after heartbreaking miscarriages and shattered dreams. But as Christmas nears, there are miracles in store for Anna and Michael. As each tries to give the other the perfect Christmas gift, the magic of Christmas is working its way into their lives. And what each of them unwraps for Christmas will surprise everyone.

-Click here to read an excerpt from ALL I HAVE TO GIVE.
-Click here to read Melody Carlson’s bio.

Click here to read more about ALL I HAVE TO GIVE.

Now in Stores: A PROMISE TO BELIEVE IN by Tracie Peterson

A PROMISE TO BELIEVE IN: The Brides of Gallatin County, Book 1 by Tracie Peterson (Historical Romance)
After years spent following their father and his wanderlust, the three Gallatin sisters begin to fashion a life for themselves in the Montana wilds, operating a roadhouse at the crossroads of two stage lines. When their father is accidently killed, however, the oldest sister, Gwen, reasons that she's cursed.
As the sisters work to maintain the roadhouse, an unexpected visitor arrives, sending Gwen into turmoil. Is he whom he claims to be? And can she dare to hope that love might again be hers?

-Click here to read an excerpt from A PROMISE TO BELIEVE IN.
-Click here to read Tracie Peterson’s bio.

Click here to read more about A PROMISE TO BELIEVE IN.

Now in Stores: WHIRLWIND by Cathy Marie Hake

WHIRLWIND by Cathy Marie Hake (Romance)
As a nanny, Millicent Fairweather poured her energy and talents into the two young charges under her care --- only to have them suddenly and without explanation sent to a boarding school. Bereft and unsure of where life will lead her, she agrees to accompany her sister and brother-in-law to America. While sailing across the Atlantic, Millicent's life intertwines with widower Daniel Clark. Will love soon follow?

-Click here to read an excerpt from WHIRLWIND.

Click here to read more about WHIRLWIND.

Now in Stores: BEING CHRISTIAN by Stephen Arterburn and John Shore
BEING CHRISTIAN: Exploring Where You, God, and Life Connect by Stephen Arterburn and John Shore (Christian Living)
The purpose of this book is to call you beyond its bounds, to inspire you to enhance your relationship with God through study, prayer and reflection; to more freely love and engage both believers and nonbelievers in your life; to better comprehend and deal with sin; to more regularly and effectively engage God through the glory of his Word; and to help you become an active, participating member of a church in which you feel nurtured, excited and happily challenged.

-Click here to read more about BEING CHRISTIAN.
-Click here to read an excerpt from BEING CHRISTIAN.
-Click here to read Stephen Arterburn’s bio.

Click here to read a review of BEING CHRISTIAN.

New Discussion Guides for Christian Book Groups

In addition to MESSY FAITH, we are featuring the following discussion guides for Christian book groups this month:

SUNSET: Sunrise Series - Baxter 3, Book 4 by Karen Kingsbury
As John Baxter makes plans to marry Elaine, one of the Baxters enters into the most trying season of all. During a time of renewed love and hope for the future, the Baxters try to come together to establish the sacred ground of marriage and to chart a course for the future. Memories of times gone by meet with the changes of today in a story that proves only the support of faith and family can take a person into the sunset years of life.
-Click here to see the study guide for SUNSET.
THE SECRET’S IN THE SAUCE: The Potluck Catering Club, Book 1 by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson (Fiction)
Life just got a whole lot more complicated --- thanks to a “secret” ingredient.
The women of the Potluck Club have made a bold move. They’ve launched a catering business that’s a lot like them: saucy, spicy and well-seasoned. But will a pantry full of personal secrets cause the business to crumble before it gets off the ground?
-Click here to see the study guide for THE SECRET’S IN THE SAUCE.
-Click here to read a review of THE SECRET’S IN THE SAUCE.

SARAH’S PROMISE: Country Road Chronicles #4 by Leisha Kelly (Romance)
As Frank strives to make a new start in a fresh location, he comes face-to-face with his own handicaps and a new-found call of God. At the same time, Sarah struggles for the faith to fulfill her own promise to trust God, and Frank, no matter what the circumstances. With their wedding date approaching, Sarah must come to terms with her doubts and misgivings while Frank finds that a gesture of kindness to strangers has opened a surprising door of renewed hope.
-Click here to see the study guide for SARAH’S PROMISE.

A PASSION REDEEMED: The Daughters of Boston, Book 2 by Julie Lessman (Romance)
Charity O’Connor is a woman who gets what she wants --- until Mitch Dennehy, that is. Brilliant and dangerously handsome, Mitch is a no-nonsense newspaperman who wants nothing to do with her. Charity burned him once, destroying his engagement to the only woman he ever truly loved. He won’t play with matches again. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat, hoping to ignite the heart of the man she loves.
-Click here to see the study guide for A PASSION REDEEMED.
HOMETOWN FAVORITE by Bill Barton and Henry O. Arnold (Fiction)
Talented, handsome and personable, Dewayne Jobe rose from humble beginnings in rural Mississippi to play college football in Southern California and beyond. But catastrophe looms and ultimately strikes with a crushing vengeance. Will Dewayne’s faith and character stand the test of such tragedy? Or will he lose everything --- including the love of his life? This modern retelling of the story of Job will capture readers with the age-old question of why bad things happen to good people --- and how good people can survive.
-Click here to see the study guide for HOMETOWN FAVORITE.
THE PURSE-UIT OF HOLINESS: Learning to Imitate the Master Designer by Rhonda Rhea (Women’s Interest)
Every woman can relate to the endless search for the perfect purse. And Rhonda Rhea knows they are also on a constant lookout for the perfect spiritual life as well. With a sharp wit and keen insight, Rhea takes women into an in-depth but always entertaining study of 1 Peter 1:15-16. Now, any woman who loves to laugh and who longs to know God in a closer, sweeter way need shop no further than THE PURSE-UIT OF HOLINESS.
-Click here to see the study guide for THE PURSE-UIT OF HOLINESS.

Faithful Fiction Reviews

SCARLET: The King Raven Trilogy, Book Two by Stephen R. Lawhead (Historical Fiction)
Romance, political intrigue, historical detail, a few fight scenes --- it’s all here in SCARLET, the second installment of the King Raven Trilogy. This time, Will Scarlet picks up the 11th-century tale set in Wales during a tumultuous period of unrest and turmoil in Great Britain’s history. Stephen R. Lawhead is a fine historical fiction novelist, and his story will entertain and skillfully educate readers. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

ALWAYS GRACE by Tim LaHaye and Gregory S. Dinallo
Like millions before him, Dylan Cooper came to America to make a new beginning. As a photographer, before photography attained art stature, he knew that life would be difficult. But his passion for and unique abilities with the camera set the stage for this engaging story that spans 20 years and two continents. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

A MINUTE BEFORE FRIDAY: The Lightfoot Trilogy #3 by Jo Kadlecek
Religion reporter Jonna Lightfoot MacLaughlin has traded her newspaper job in New Orleans for a beat in New York City. When an old friend leaks an Ivy League secret, Jonna must confront the dark forces that run deep within the city. Will she be able to withstand --- and expose --- the truth? Reviewed by Evelyn Bence.

In her second novel, Kathleen Popa engagingly explores themes of loss, identity and the meaning of dedicating a life to God. When Roberta “Bertie” Denys loses almost everything, it becomes a chance for her to explore her yearning for God and something more. But is it too late for her to find it? Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Elle Garvey has it all in her small South Carolina town: a beautiful cottage by the water, loving parents, an abundance of sisters, her own art gallery --- and Jeremiah, a handsome pastor who wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Or does he? When opportunity knocks in the form of a pastoral position at a Texas megachurch, Jeremiah answers and asks Elle to join him. Reviewed by Susan Miura.

Click here to read our Faithful Fiction reviews.

Christian Living Reviews

REIMAGINING CHURCH: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity by Frank Viola (Religion & Spirituality)
Join Frank Viola in this constructive follow-up to PAGAN CHRISTIANITY as he paints an amazing picture of organic church life, where the body of Christ is an organic, living, breathing organism. A church that is free of convention, formed by spiritual intimacy and unbound by four walls. Reviewed by Marcia Ford.

JUST COURAGE: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian
by Gary A. Haugen
"There must be more to the Christian life than this --- more than church each Sunday and waving to my neighbors and giving some clothes to Goodwill when I go through my closet each spring." International Justice Mission president Gary A. Haugen has found that engaging in the fight for justice is the most deeply satisfying way of life. This book shows how we too can be a part of God's great expedition. Reviewed by Margaret Oines.

GIFTED TO LEAD: The Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church
by Nancy Beach
(Christian Life/Leadership)
Willow Creek executive vice president and teaching pastor Nancy Beach speaks to women with God-given gifts of leading and teaching. Sharing from her 30-year journey in a local church, Nancy offers guidance on such issues as developing character, earning respect, finding your voice for leadership and teaching, managing work and personal life, and more. Reviewed by Marcia Ford.

SIN BOLDLY: A Field Guide for Grace by Cathleen Falsani
(Christian Living)
Award-winning author and columnist Cathleen Falsani says, “People regularly ask me why I believe in God. The simple answer … is grace.” In SIN BOLDLY: A Field Guide to Grace, Falsani explores the meaning and experience of grace through story and song, quotes and photos. Reviewed by Margaret Oines.

A THOUSAND HILLS: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It by Stephen Kinzer
(Current Events)
A THOUSAND HILLS is the story of Paul Kagame, a refugee who, after a generation of exile, found his way home. Learn about President Kagame, who strives to make Rwanda the first middle-income country in Africa, in a single generation. In this adventurous tale, learn about Kagame’s years as an intelligence agent, his training in Cuba and the United States, the way he built his secret rebel army, his bloody rebellion, and his outsized ambitions for Rwanda. Reviewed by Marcia Ford.

Click here to read our Christian Living reviews.

Click here to read our Christian Living Reviews

Marriage and Family Life Review

THE BUSY MOM’S GUIDE TO A HAPPY, ORGANIZED HOME: Fast Solutions to Hundreds of Everyday Dilemmas by Kathy Peel (Family Relationships)
Busy moms, rejoice! There are more tips and ideas in AOL’s Family and Kids Coach Kathy Peel’s THE BUSY MOM’S GUIDE TO A HAPPY, ORGANIZED HOME than any woman could do in a year. But don’t be overwhelmed. It’s easy to choose a section at a time and concentrate on whatever management problem is the most stressful for you right now. Reviewed by Cindy Crosby.

Click here to read our Marriage and Family Life review. Poll

Does your local newspaper have book reviews?

Yes, they run book reviews at least every week.
Yes, some of the time.
I'm not sure about this.

Vote in our Poll here. Question of the Month
What was the last book you bought after reading a review thinking, "I need to read that book!"?

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. This contest period, one winner will receive SUNSET by Karen Kingsbury. To put your name in the hat, submit your current reading list and ratings by completing the form here.

Tell us what you are reading here to be eligible to win!

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--- Carol Fitzgerald (

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