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Word of Mouth

Faithful Fifteen


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This Month on

July 2009

Quick Links to Features on

Reviews, Features, About the Books, Excerpts, Study Guides, Award Winners, Coming Soon

Homecoming: Let the Reading Begin!

July flew by for me. In addition to the work we do here at, our websites for children and teens as well as book clubs and graphic novel readers mean that my agenda is always chockfull, and I spent most of the month racing from coast to coast for the various book conferences that were being held. Sometimes I found it difficult to remember what city I was in!

The first show I attended was ThrillerFest here in New York City. It was great to catch up with old friends as well as meet some new ones. Before the conference even ended, I was already on my way to the American Library Association Conference in Chicago. This show is among my favorites, as it is a great chance to meet with upbeat and passionate librarians. At one panel the moderator asked the audience who had brought a book with them to the convention. Every hand went up. She then asked who had brought two books in case they finished the first one. Again every hand went up. Moments like that when I realize I am among likeminded people truly makes me smile!

I then attended the Romance Writers of America Conference in Washington, DC followed by Comic-Con in San Diego, which showcases the latest trends in graphic novels, film and popular culture.
I confess that while my journey was rewarding, it felt wonderful to finally come home and not have to jump on a plane immediately. And it was nice to not be packing a suitcase after just a night at home. Between the rain in June and traveling this past month, I am looking forward to spending the next few weekends at home and catching up with my family --- and my reading. We had spent the entire Fourth of July weekend reading on the patio, which was really nice. Summer is my favorite season of the year, and I am eager to finally spend time with some great books in my hammock.

Speaking of great books, we have plenty of new ones to share with you in this month's update. For all of you fiction fans, we are pleased to present the winners of this year's Christy Awards, which celebrated its 10th year. Established in 1999, the Award recognizes excellence in Christian fiction. Among the winners is VANISH by Tom Pawlik, which won an award for the best Visionary novel. The much-anticipated sequel, VALLEY OF THE SHADOW, is now available in stores and is also this month's Word of Mouth title. We also added a reader's guide for this book. Read on to find out more.

In addition, we've added five other discussion guides to the website; and Debbie Alsdorf, author of A DIFFERENT KIND OF WILD: Is Your Faith Too Tame?, offers her responses to the Faithful Fifteen, which you may read here.

We are also featuring a couple of other titles this month that we wanted to bring to your attention. In GOD WILL DO THE REST, author Catherine Galasso-Vigorito explores seven qualities that have shaped her daily life and her life's mission. We are also featuring an interview from with award-winning author Melody Carlson, who talks about her new teen novel IT'S A GREEN THING --- the second installment in the Diary of a Teenage Girl: Maya series.

Please read on to see our new Faithful Fiction, Christian Living, and Marriage and Family Life reviews; and visit the homepage to see all of this month's newly featured titles.

Quick reminder to those of you with teens or kids in your households or who have grandchildren, library patrons or friends. We have surveys running right now on and The 2009 Reader Survey is open until August 31st, and 775 teens will have the chance to win one of the 27 titles being given away if they complete the survey. The 2009 Reader Survey is open until September 15th, and 1,000 readers will have the chance to read one of 24 titles being given away. Please note that anyone under 13 will need to have their parents mail or FAX us a form for them to be eligible. There will be a prompt with this in the survey when they get to the prize section. Their feedback will help us shape the programming on these two sites, and we will be sharing this information with publishers, booksellers, librarians and teachers.

I hope you are finding your summer both relaxing and enjoyable. With everything going on in YOUR life, may you find a moment for reflection. I hear my to-be-read stack's time to read. See you next month!

Carol Fitzgerald (

The 2009 Christy Award Winners
The winners of the 2009 Christy Awards were announced on July 11th, at a reception held during the annual International Christian Retail Show in Denver, Colorado. Established a decade ago and named in honor of Catherine Marshall's novel, the Awards recognize excellence in several genres of Christian Fiction, and aim to encourage creativity and quality in the writing of fiction with a Christian world view, broaden readership, and spotlight novelists whose work may not have reached bestseller status.

Click here to see the winners of the 2009 Christy Awards.

Debbie Alsdorf Answers The Faithful Fifteen
Debbie Alsdorf is an author, speaker and the founder of Design4Living Ministries. In this Faithful Fifteen interview, Alsdorf discusses her latest book, A DIFFERENT KIND OF WILD, and explains how women can apply her advice and insights to their spiritual and everyday lives. She also recounts her own rocky faith journey, names some of her personal and professional mentors, and shares the message she hopes readers will take away from her work.

Click here to read Debbie Alsdorf's answers to The Faithful Fifteen.

Now in Stores: GOD WILL DO THE REST: 7 Keys to Desires of Your Heart, by Catherine Galasso-Vigorito

GOD WILL DO THE REST: 7 Keys to the Desires of Your Heart by Catherine Galasso-Vigorito (Christian Living)
In GOD WILL DO THE REST, Catherine Galasso explores seven qualities that have shaped her daily life and her life's mission: faith, love, persistence, hope, optimism, gratitude and forgiveness.

Using stories from her own experiences and inspiring principles from the Bible, Catherine encourages readers to take one step at a time down the pathway toward a richer and more meaningful future with opportunities for growth, joy and peace.

Click here to read more about GOD WILL DO THE REST.

Study Guide Now Available: THE JUSTICE GAME by Randy Singer
THE JUSTICE GAME by Randy Singer (Legal Thriller)
After the target of an investigative report storms a Virginia Beach news studio, he executes one of the reporters on live television. Following the victim’s funeral, her family files a lawsuit against the gun company who manufactured the killer’s weapon of choice. As the lawyers for each side battle each other, they discover there are unseen players intent on controlling them both. For some, justice is a game. For others, it’s a matter of life and death.

-Click here to read more about THE JUSTICE GAME.
-Click here to read Randy Singer’s bio.

Click here to see the study guide for THE JUSTICE GAME.

Study Guide Now Available: VALLEY OF THE SHADOW by Tom Pawlik
VALLEY OF THE SHADOW by Tom Pawlik (Psychological Thriller)
Jump In, Hang On

Conner fought his way through the woods. Tendrils of mist curled around his legs like serpents seeking to pull him to the ground. But he had to keep going. No ghostly whispers from the dark, save one. One single, moaning plea. “Help Me!” Don’t miss this sequel to the award-winning novel, VANISH.

“Fans of Dean Koontz or Ted Dekker will appreciate.” --Library Journal

-Click here to read more about VALLEY OF THE SHADOW.
-Click here to read Tom Pawlik’s bio.

Click here to see the study guide for VALLEY OF THE SHADOW.

Study Guide Now Available: LOVE'S FIRST LIGHT by Jamie Carie

LOVE’S FIRST LIGHT by Jamie Carie (Historical Romance)
Christophé, the Count of St. Laurent, has lost his entire family to the blood-soaked French Revolution and must flee to an ancient castle along the southern border of France to survive. But the medieval city of Carcassonne proves more than a hiding place. Here Christophé meets the beautiful widow Scarlett. Although their acquaintance begins brightly enough, when the Count learns that Scarlett is related to the man who murdered his family, he turns from love and chooses revenge.

here to read a review of LOVE’S FIRST LIGHT.
here to read Jamie Carie’s bio.

Click here to see the study guide for LOVE'S FIRST LIGHT.

Study Guide Now Available: THE FRONTIERSMAN'S DAUGHTER by Laura Frantz
THE FRONTIERSMAN’S DAUGHTER by Laura Frantz (Historical Romance)
Lovely and high-spirited, Lael Click is the daughter of a celebrated frontiersman. Haunted by her father’s ties to the Shawnee Indians and her family’s past, Lael comes of age in the fragile Kentucky settlement her father founded. As she faces the many trials of life on the frontier, Lael draws strength from the rugged land. But the arrival of a handsome doctor threatens her view of her world, her God, and herself. Can the power of grace and redemption break through in this tumultuous place?

-Click here to read more about THE FRONTIERSMAN’S DAUGHTER.
-Click here to read Laura Frantz’s bio.

Click here to see the study guide for THE FRONTIERSMAN'S DAUGHTER.

Study Guide Now Available: CERTAIN JEOPARDY by Captain Jeff Struecker, with Alton Gansky

CERTAIN JEOPARDY by Captain Jeff Struecker, with Alton Gansky (Suspense)
Six American men live behind a protective façade, their real work hidden from neighbors and friends. Different in countless ways, they are intimately the same in one: at any moment their lives can be altered with a phone call. They are Special Ops.

Informed by the true combat experience of Captain Jeff Struecker and finessed by award-winning novelist Alton Gansky, CERTAIN JEOPARDY is an immersing and pulsating fictional account of what really happens at every level of a stealth engagement: the physical enemy encounter, the spiritual war fought within a soldier, and the emotional battles in families back at home.

Click here to see the study guide for CERTAIN JEOPARDY.

Study Guide Now Available: A DIFFERENT KIND OF WILD: Is Your Faith Too Tame?, by Debbie Alsdorf

A DIFFERENT KIND OF WILD: Is Your Faith Too Tame? by Debbie Alsdorf (Christian Living)
You were born to be WILD.

Not bad wild --- good wild, with a new zest for life, for Jesus, and for his thrilling, bold and creative plans for you. So grab your cheetah-print gear and start living the WILD life God has imagined for you --- a life bigger and grander than you ever thought possible.

-Click here to read more about A DIFFERENT KIND OF WILD.
-Click here to read an excerpt from A DIFFERENT KIND OF WILD.
-Click here to read Debbie Alsdorf’s bio.

Click here to see the study guide for A DIFFERENT KIND OF WILD.

Special Feature on IT'S A GREEN THING by Melody Carlson
Melody Carlson is an award-winning Christian author who has penned almost 200 books for both adults and young readers, such as the True Colors and Carter House Girls series. In this interview with's Michele Howe, Carlson talks about her most recent book, IT'S A GREEN THING --- the second installment in the Diary of a Teenage Girl: Maya series --- and sheds light on some of the main characters’ thoughts and actions, such as her struggle with faith and her concern for the environment. She also explains why readers are attracted to this confessional format, elaborates on the hopeful message found at the end of the novel, and shares what she has in store for her characters next.

IT’S A GREEN THING: Diary of a Teenage Girl: Maya, Book 2 by Melody Carlson (Fiction)
With her mother in jail for drug possession and her pop-star father away on his comeback tour, 16-year-old Maya Stark’s new life with her uncle Allen and cousin Kim is coming together. Summer vacation is just beginning and things are finally starting to look up. But that doesn’t mean life is about to get any easier. Maya is still devoted to living Green, and her uncle offers her a Green column in his newspaper. But can Maya balance her newfound faith with her save-the-planet convictions?

-Click here to read more about IT’S A GREEN THING.
-Click here to read an excerpt from IT’S A GREEN THING.
-Click here to read our interview with Melody Carlson.
-Click here to read Melody Carlson’s bio.

Click here to read a review of IT’S A GREEN THING.

Faithful Fiction Reviews

ANY MINUTE by Joyce Meyer and Deborah Bedford (Fiction)
Sarah Harper is driven to achieve success no matter what the cost. She wants to do good and not hurt the people she loves --- especially her children and her husband, Joe --- but her desire to succeed in her career too often leaves little time for family. One cold, autumn afternoon, all of that changes when Sarah's car plunges off a bridge and into a river. Reviewed by Michele Howe.

NEVER THE BRIDE by Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge (Romance)
When two funny and talented women team up to write a story that other witty females will enjoy, the result is NEVER THE BRIDE. Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge have delivered a delightful summer read as well as a thought-provoking challenge that is bound to reaffirm your trust in God. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

WHAT THE BAYOU SAW by Patti Lacy (Fiction)
A murky Louisiana bayou conceals a murderer consumed by wicked desires. Like a half-submerged gator, he waits patiently for his unsuspecting prey. Twelve-year-old Sally Flowers is too distracted by her thoughts to notice the presence of evil. What the bayou saw that day will change the course of people’s lives and rise up again in Sally nearly three decades later, when choosing the right path for the future means facing a head-on encounter with her past. Reviewed by Susan Miura.

RETURN POLICY by Michael Snyder (Fiction)
Three strangers --- Willy, Ozena and Shaq --- have all but lost their last shreds of hope amidst the challenges they face. With no plausible reason for their lives to cross paths, the trio comes together amidst a combination of unusual circumstances. Faith, love and friendship intertwine throughout RETURN POLICY to reveal that with God, there is always hope. Reviewed by Susan Miura.

Click here to read our Faithful Fiction reviews.

Christian Living Reviews

LIVE YOUR JOY by Bonnie St. John (Christian Life/Inspirational)
Joy is something that comes from the inside out. It feels like a flowing grace, a feeling of goodness all around, a sense of well-being through good and bad. It is love, gratitude, faith and empowerment all wrapped together. Joy deepens our experiences. Bonnie St. John admits that she's not able to live her joy every minute of every day, but she does so now more often than she used to. Reviewed by Michele Howe.

DROPS LIKE STARS: A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering by Rob Bell (Christian Living)
We plot. We plan. We assume things are going to go a certain way. And when they don’t, we find ourselves in a new place --- a place we haven’t been before, a place we never would have imagined on our own. DROPS LIKE STARS is an exploration of the complex relationship between suffering and creativity, driven by the belief that there is art in the agony. Reviewed by Margaret Oines.

MENTOR LIKE JESUS by Regi Campbell, with Richard Chancy (Christian Living)
Desiring to see God widely embraced as more than a remote concept, entrepreneur Regi Campbell began a deeply successful mentoring program years ago that has become one of his greatest joys. MENTOR LIKE JESUS is Campbell’s revelation of what he now calls “next generation mentoring,” an exponentially rewarding process that is resulting in “lives changed, marriages saved, children dealt with in a more loving way.” Reviewed by Margaret Oines.

HOLY ROLLER: Finding Redemption and the Holy Ghost in a Forgotten Texas Church by Julie Lyons (Religion/Spirituality)
As a crime reporter, Julie Lyons followed a hunch into the South Dallas ghetto, looking for a church where drug addicts were supernaturally healed. She got her front-page story and more: a church home, a spiritual transformation, and a book that’s a good read. Reviewed by Evelyn Bence.

Click here to read our Christian Living reviews.

Marriage and Family Life Review
PARENTING YOUR TEEN AND LOVING IT: Being the Mom Your Kid Needs by Susie Davis (Parenting)
Cell phones and Facebook. Slammed doors and mood swings. Somehow, your sweet child changed into a baffling bunch of hormones you barely recognize. You love your teen but worry about being the mom you need to be. Susie Davis can help. She gives you the information you need to understand where your teen is emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually. Reviewed by Michele Howe.

Click here to read our Marriage and Family Life review.

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 VALLEY OF THE SHADOW by Tom Pawlik. 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!

As always, here are a few housekeeping notes. If you are seeing this newsletter in a text version, and would prefer to see the graphics, you can either read it online or change your preferences below.

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Happy reading! Don't forget to forward this newsletter to a friend or to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

--- Carol Fitzgerald (

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