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Word of Mouth

Faithful Fifteen


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This Month on

November/December 2009

Quick Links to Features on

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

Merry Christmas...and Happy New Year Too!

The holidays are here, and, is it just me or did December seem to come faster this year? My lists have lists, but I am vowing to remember what this season is about and focus on that. It's been a hectic year, and thus I look forward to the third week in December when our family heads down to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. We've been doing this for five years now. There's a lovely church we go to on Christmas Eve where there is a lovely candlelit service and we immediately feel part of the community there. I love this time when we just hang out, read, watch movies and play games. The beach has always been a wonderful reflex place for me, and it's going to be terrific to be there. We have been renting the same house for a few years, and the owners asked me to write a piece for them about how we celebrate there for the local newspaper. That piece has been fun to write as it brings up a number of wonderful memories. The holidays are great for that!

This month we're featuring quite a variety of titles, including a number of holiday-themed books in our annual Christmas Roundup that covers many genres --- from inspirational to whimsical romance fiction. Don't forget our annual What to Give/What to Get feature on, a great gift idea resource. Included is a category for Inspirational titles. These are best enjoyed with good company and a warm fire. You can also win a copy of THE SOUND OF SLEIGH BELLS by Cindy Woodsmall in our Word of Mouth contest.

Of course this time of year always brings some classic Christmas movies, but I’m really excited for Donna VanLiere’s The Christmas Hope, which is airing on Lifetime Movie Network on Sunday, December 13th at 8PM ET. This was such a heartwarming and tearjerking novel (you’ve been warned), and to see it get the small screen treatment is exciting. Click here for more information about the book and film adaptation.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 10 years since Francine Rivers released her bestselling Mark of the Lion series, which includes A VOICE IN THE WIND, AN ECHO IN THE DARKNESS and AS SURE AS THE DAWN. These historical titles have it all --- love, adventure, action and spiritual exploration --- so it’s no wonder they were so popular with readers. All three volumes have been re-released featuring new forewords from Tyndale House Publishers and Francine herself, as well as new discussion questions. Francine is also launching a new series in early 2010, and we have a sneak peek of the first novel, HER MOTHER’S HOPE, too.

I had the privilege of reading a manuscript of HER MOTHER'S HOPE in October and it's just wonderful. I was swept up in the story, which begins in Switzerland and then moves across Europe to Canada and then California. I am not sure what I liked best --- the description of place, the characters or the plotting. I do know that I already am looking forward to the second book to see where the story goes from there. I am so invested in the characters that I find myself wondering what happens next, which is the mark of a great book. Erin Quinn in our office started reading it one day and found herself still sitting at her desk one night at 10, as caught up in the writing as I had been. Readers are in for a real treat with this one.

Two additional study guides are available for personal or group discussion. Graham Garrison’s HERO’S TRIBUTE examines a small-town hero whose troublesome past is about to become public business, and DESERT FIRE
by Shannon Van Roekel takes readers to the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan.

We’re featuring two new historical books from the "olden days." Susan Page Davis gives us THE SHERIFF'S SURRENDER, the first book in the Ladies’ Shooting Club series featuring a group of gals taking up arms, literally, to help a new sheriff in the rough-and-tumble town of Fergus, Idaho. Along those same lines, Kelly Eileen Hake’s THE BRIDE BLUNDER, the third book in the Prairie Promises series, returns to Nebraska where a young man gets himself into quite a pickle with a wedding proposal.

As the year draws to a close, we are sharing all the author interviews and Faithful Fifteens that appeared on throughout 2009. You can revisit them here. And what would a holiday newsletter be without a little celebration? Our giveaway winners of THE CHRISTMAS LAMP by Lori Copeland are listed here. Enjoy those baskets full of goodies, and share if you must!

As always, thank you for your continued support of Another year in the books! We have some exciting new things planned for next year, and we’d love to hear any feedback or suggestions you may have. In the meantime, please have a restful, relaxing Christmas and enjoy with all those you love. And have a mug of hot cocoa, or three.

Merry Christmas, and read on...we'll see you next year!

Carol Fitzgerald (

Click here to see the Inspirational titles in's What to Give/What to Get Guide.'s 2009 Christmas Roundup
We at have compiled a number of titles that are sure to warm your hearts and remind you about what’s important during this blessed season. Here you’ll find books containing winter romance, Christmas devotionals, hometown memories, miracles and more. We hope these selections will offer inspiration during these difficult times, and bring family and friends closer for the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Click here to read our 2009 Christmas roundup.

Books into Movies: The Christmas Hope
The Christmas Hope, based on THE CHRISTMAS HOPE by Donna VanLiere
Airs December 13th at 8 PM ET on Lifetime Movie Network

When lives intertwine during Christmas, hope is the one unifying gift. After suffering a personal tragedy, Patty Addison, a social worker, throws herself into finding homes for children in need. With her marriage to Mark, an airline pilot, on the rocks, Patty feels it’s the wrong time to temporarily take in nine-year-old Emily, who has just lost her single mother in a terrible car accident. However, sweet Emily quickly wins over Patty and Mark. As the Addisons start to reconnect with each other, it’s revealed that their teenage son, Sean, had perished in a car accident as well, two years earlier.

Click here for more details about this film.

Available March 16, 2010: HER MOTHER’S HOPE by Francine Rivers
HER MOTHER’S HOPE: Marta’s Legacy, Book 1 by Francine Rivers (Historical Fiction)
The first in an epic two-book saga by beloved author Francine Rivers, this sweeping story explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over several generations. Near the turn of the 20th century, fiery Marta leaves Switzerland determined to find life on her own terms. Her journey takes her through Europe and finally lands her with children and husband in tow in the central valley of California.

-Click here to read Francine Rivers’s bio.

Click here to read more about HER MOTHER’S HOPE.

Study Guides Now Available: Mark of the Lion Trilogy by Francine Rivers
This classic series has inspired nearly 2 million readers. Both loyal fans and new readers will want the updated editions of this beloved series. These editions include a new foreword from the publisher, a new preface from Francine Rivers and discussion questions suitable for personal and group use.

A VOICE IN THE WIND: Mark of the Lion, Book 1 by Francine Rivers (Historical Fiction)
This first book in the classic bestselling Mark of the Lion series brings readers back to the first century and introduces them to a character they will never forget --- Hadassah. Torn by her love for a handsome aristocrat, a young slave girl clings to her faith in the living God for deliverance from the forces of decadent Rome.

here to see the study guide for A VOICE IN THE WIND.
here to read more about A VOICE IN THE WIND.
here to read an excerpt from A VOICE IN THE WIND.

AN ECHO IN THE DARKNESS: Mark of the Lion, Book 2 by Francine Rivers (Historical Fiction)
Turning away from the opulence of Rome, Marcus is led by a whispering voice from the past into a journey that could set him free from the darkness of his soul.

here to see the study guide for AN ECHO IN THE DARKNESS.
here to read more about AN ECHO IN THE DARKNESS.
here to read an excerpt from AN ECHO IN THE DARKNESS.

AS SURE AS THE DAWN: Mark of the Lion, Book 3 by Francine Rivers (Historical Fiction)
Atretes. German warrior. Revered gladiator. He won his freedom through his fierceness, but his life is about to change forever.

here to see the study guide for AS SURE AS THE DAWN.
here to read more about AS SURE AS THE DAWN.
here to read an excerpt from AS SURE AS THE DAWN.

Study Guide Now Available: HERO’S TRIBUTE by Graham Garrison

HERO’S TRIBUTE by Graham Garrison (Fiction)
What makes a man a legend --- trophies, medals, or character? Michael Gavin is a hero for all these reasons and more. But he also has a past he’s not proud of --- one he’s kept hidden from his family, his friends and his community. Now his secrets are about to be made public. Like it or not. And they may change the lives of everyone in the small town of Talking Creek.

-Click here to read more about HERO’S TRIBUTE.
-Click here to read a review of HERO’S TRIBUTE.
-Click here to read an excerpt from HERO’S TRIBUTE.
-Click here to read Graham Garrison’s bio.

Click here to see the study guide for HERO’S TRIBUTE.

Study Guide Now Available: DESERT FIRE by Shannon Van Roekel
DESERT FIRE by Shannon Van Roekel (Fiction)
Julie Keegan is a journalist in Darfur troubled by her own personal turmoil. Joel Maartens is a lawyer whose client asked him to travel to a war-torn African desert to deliver a letter. Though they are on two very different paths, their lives are providentially brought together to fight the injustice and violence around them --- and heal their own past hurts.

-Click here to read more about DESERT FIRE.
-Click here to read an excerpt from DESERT FIRE.
-Click here to read Shannon Van Roekel’s bio.

Click here to see the study guide for DESERT FIRE.

Now in Stores: THE SOUND OF SLEIGH BELLS by Cindy Woodsmall
THE SOUND OF SLEIGH BELLS by Cindy Woodsmall (Fiction)
Remorse and loneliness echo inside Beth Hertzler from the life she once had. Children’s whispers and laughter call to her from a life she only dreams of. A gifted carver holds the answer to both within his hands --- but can Beth step beyond yesterday and into the joy of Christmas? Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE SOUND OF SLEIGH BELLS.

Click here to read a review of THE SOUND OF SLEIGH BELLS.

Now in Stores: THE BRIDE BLUNDER by Kelly Eileen Hake

THE BRIDE BLUNDER: Prairie Promises, Book 3 by Kelly Eileen Hake (Historical Romance)
Come visit Buttonwood for a marriage mistake like no other in the third novel of Kelly Eileen Hake’s Prairie Promises series. In the Nebraskan Territory of 1859, Gavin Miller writes home to request the hand of Miss Marguerite Chandler. They say that the devil is in the details, and Gavin forgot an important one --- Marguerite’s cousin shares the same name! When his surprise bride arrives, will Gavin swallow his pride and admit to his blunder?

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE BRIDE BLUNDER.
-Click here to read Kelly Eileen Hake’s bio.

Click here to read more about THE BRIDE BLUNDER.

Now in Stores: THE SHERIFF’S SURRENDER by Susan Page Davis
THE SHERIFF’S SURRENDER: Ladies’ Shooting Club, Book 1 by Susan Page Davis (Historical Romance)
Join the sassy ladies of Fergus, Idaho, as they protect their town in this quirky historical romance. A crime spree has divided the men in town, so Gert Dooley forms the Ladies’ Shooting Club to protect their homes and businesses. But when one of their members is murdered, will these feisty gals have what it takes to find the killer? Will the new sheriff put the club out of work, or will he surrender his heart?

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE SHERIFF’S SURRENDER.
-Click here to read Susan Page Davis’s bio.

Click here to read more about THE SHERIFF’S SURRENDER.

Author Interviews of 2009
As 2009 comes to a close, we invite you to take a look at the author interviews and Faithful Fifteens that were featured throughout the year on This is a great way to catch up on the discussions you may have missed --- and to re-read what some of your favorite authors had to say about their books.

Click here to see our roundup of 2009 interviews.

Faithful Fiction Reviews
THE CHRISTMAS DOG by Melody Carlson (Fiction)
Betty Kowalski isn't looking forward to the holidays. She just can't seem to find Christmas in her heart. Maybe it's because her husband is gone. Maybe it's because she's missing her children. Or maybe it has something to do with her obnoxious new neighbor. But when a mangy dog appears at her doorstep, the stage is set for Betty to learn what Christmas is really all about. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

THE GREAT CHRISTMAS BOWL by Susan May Warren (Fiction)
Marianne Wallace loves the holidays. But when her children begin to leave home --- and their traditions --- behind, she has one last chance to create a holiday they’ll never forget. Heartwarming and hilarious, THE GREAT CHRISTMAS BOWL is a story about family, traditions and rediscovering the real magic of Christmas. Reviewed by Susan Miura.

FINDING CHRISTMAS: Stories of Startling Joy and Perfect Peace by James Calvin Schaap (Fiction/Short Stories)
Join award-winning author and storyteller James Calvin Schaap as he uncovers the grace, joy and love of the season through seven heartwarming tales of miracle moments in a messy world. This beautiful and inspiring collection of contemporary Christmas stories will remind you what grace looks like --- and where to find it. Reviewed by Evelyn Bence.

SEASIDE LETTERS: A Nantucket Love Story by Denise Hunter (Romance)
Sabrina Kincaid detachedly serves Tucker McCabe breakfast daily at the Cobblestone Café in Nantucket, but the two spend evenings at a local online venue, connecting through aliases of “Sweetpea” and “Harbormaster.” Whereas real-life interactions have been cold and impersonal, communicating anonymously has allowed the two to become close. But neither has revealed who they really are, so once Tucker tries to find the person behind Sweetpea, their relationships --- both online and face-to-face --- take one wicked turn after another. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

Click here to read our Faithful Fiction reviews.

Christian Living Reviews
GRACE NOTES: Daily Readings with a Fellow Pilgrim by Philip Yancey (Devotional)
Philip Yancey has accomplished what many writers plan to do “some day.” He has compiled a magnitude of thought-provoking ideas and served them up in 366 easily digestible portions. Whether you have read all of Yancey’s award-winning books or are discovering him for the first time, GRACE NOTES will touch your mind, your heart and your spirit on many levels. Reviewed by Maggie Harding.

SOUVENIRS OF SOLITUDE: Finding Rest in Abba's Embrace by Brennan Manning (Christian Living/Spiritual Growth)
The most reliable guides of spiritual formation pinpoint solitude and silence as central to the spiritual life. Now Brennan Manning --- in his honest, original and winning way --- shares from his own experiences to prompt you into the riches of spending time alone with God at rest in His presence. Reviewed by Margaret Oines.

PURE PLEASURE: Why Do Christians Feel So Bad About Feeling Good? by Gary L. Thomas (Christian Living)
Popular spiritual author Gary Thomas invites you to shake off the shackles of misunderstanding about sin and experience the liberating power of living a life of holy pleasure --- a life that feeds your relationships, protects your spiritual integrity, and energizes your worship and service. Reviewed by Margaret Oines.

HOLY GROUND: Walking With Jesus as a Former Catholic by Chris Castaldo (Christian Life)
Chris Castaldo takes readers on a fascinating and practical exploration of the challenges and opportunities encountered by Catholics who become Evangelicals. More than just theological insight and historical background, HOLY GROUND shows you how to emulate the grace and truth of Jesus as you relate to your own Catholic past and the Catholic faith of those you love. Reviewed by Michele Howe.

Click here to read our Christian Living reviews.

Marriage and Family Life Review
THE SMART STEPMOM: Practical Steps to Help You Thrive! by Ron L. Deal and Laura Petherbridge (Parenting)
In today's complicated stepfamily, the stepmom often doesn't know where to turn for help. Stepfamily expert Ron Deal and experienced stepmom Laura Petherbridge shows you how to survive and thrive as a stepmom. Here is the hope, encouragement and practical information to assure you that you are not alone in the stepmom journey. 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 THE SOUND OF SLEIGH BELLS by Cindy Woodsmall. 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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