Enduring Justice ~ Review

Amy Wallace’s latest installment of the “Defenders of Hope Series” is a great read.

9781601420145 In Enduring Justice, Hanna Kessler’s childhood secret has remained buried for over two decades. But when the dark shadows of her past threaten to destroy those she loves, Hanna must face the summer that changed her life and the man who still haunts her thoughts.

Crimes Against Children FBI Agent, Michael Parker knows what it means to get knocked down. And when the system fails and a white supremacist is set free, Michael’s drive for retribution eclipses all else.

A racist’s well-planned assault forces Hanna and Michael to decide between executing vengeance and pursuing justice. When the attack turns personal, is healing still possible?

This thought-provoking novel deals with healing from sexual abuse, the balance of justice and mercy, and maintaining mixed-race friendships in the midst of racial tension. Readers who enjoy investigative thrillers by Dee Henderson, Colleen Coble, and Catherine Coulter, and who watch crime dramas like Law & Order: SVU, Criminal Minds, and Without a Trace will love this book—and the entire series.

Author Bio:

Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams and Healing Promises, a homeschool mom, and self-confessed chocoholic. She is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and a contributing author of several books including God Answers Moms’ Prayers and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.

Books for Mom, about Mom

Having just celebrated another Mother’s Day, these books are timely. Plus, I have a fun giveaway to tell you about as well.

Here are two non-fiction books that address concerns most moms can relate to ~ or at least grapple with from time to time.

9781400074914First up is a book by Melody Carlson entitled Dear Mom: Everything Your Teenage Daughter wants you to know but Will Never Tell You.

Every mom knows how communicating with a teenage girl can be difficult, even impossible at times. One-word answers. Defensive conversations. Daily arguments. How typical for teens to put up such barriers. All the while, moms truly long to know what their daughters really think.

Best-selling author Melody Carlson, whose books for women, teens, and children have sold more than three million copies, bridges this chasm with trusted insight. She speaks frankly in the voice of the teen daughters she’s written for and she tells it like it is: struggles with identity, guys, friendship, and even parents—it’s all here. The straight-talk to moms covers such things as

  • “I need you, but you can’t make me admit it,”
  • “I’m not as confident as I appear,” and
  • “I have friends. I need a mother.”

Instead of focusing on outward behaviors, Dear Mom looks at a young woman’s heart and reveals to moms:

  • how to talk to teens so they hear,
  • how to connect despite the differences of perspective or years and experiences,
  • and how strengthen the bond every mom and daughter ultimately wants.

The lively chapters in Dear Mom can be dipped into topically or used as a read-through tool by moms and daughters alike to understand what motivates or deflates, troubles or inspires—and just in time for Mother’s Day and all the Mother’s Days ahead.

Author Bio:
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than one hundred books for adults, children, and teens, with sales totaling more than three million copies. Beloved for her Diary of a Teenage Girl and Notes from a Spinning Planet series, she’s also the author of the women’s novels Finding Alice (in production now for a Lifetime-TV movie), Crystal Lies, On This Day, These Boots Weren’t Made for Walking, and A Mile in My Flip-Flops. A mother of two grown sons, Melody lives in central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. She’s a full-time writer and an avid gardener, biker, skier, and hiker.

Learn More:
To learn more about Dear Mom, including how to purchase it online visit Random House’s page featuring Dear Mom

Mama’s Got a Fake I.D.

Secondarily, here’s a book that most EVERY mom can relate to on some level or another. This books focuses on the struggle to maintain our identity after becoming a mom. God gave you unique passions, gifts, and talents that the world ~ and you ~ may fail to see and utilize once the title of Mom rules supreme in your life.

9781400074938 In Mama’s Got a Fake I.D., Caryn Rivadeneira helps you to get back in touch with the woman God created you to be. This is not a book to throw off the bands of motherhood or to condemn those who consider motherhood the pinnacle of their achievements. Rather, this book sheds light on how to “discover who He made you to be – in your family and beyond.”

I love the way the back cover summarizes it:

No one begins life as a mom. Before you have children, you are an amazing combination of friend, daughter, confidant, visionary, encourager, and thinker. You start out in life using your gifts and abilities in a surprising variety of settings.
Then you have children and the role of mom–as wonderful as it is–seems to consume you. It’s easy to lose your identity when others see you as a mom and little else. What happened to the artist, the team-builder, the organizer, the entrepreneur, the leader–the person you’ve lost touch with?

About the author:
Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira is the former managing editor of Marriage Partnership and Christian Parenting Today. She’s been writing for and speaking to women for over a decade. Today she is the managing editor of GiftedForLeadership.com, and online community for Christian women in leadership.

Ready to Get Back in Touch with Your Identity?
To help you “reveal the real you hidden behind all that mom” the good folks at Waterbrook Press have provided me with a copy of Mama’s Got a Fake I.D. to give away to one of my readers.

Here’s how to enter to win:

  1. Simply subscribe to or follow my blog and then leave a comment letting me know. = 1 entry
  2. Tweet or blog about the giveaway and link back to this post. Please leave a separate comment with a link back to your tweet or post. = 1 entry

Winner will be chosen and announced on May 20th. So, check back here April 20th to see who won. (I’ll email the winner so be sure I can get in touch with you.)

Click here to leave a comment!

Winner of The Treasure Principle

Ooops! I forgot to post the winner of The Treasure Principle. (Sorry about that.)

The book goes to ... Melodie

Thanks, everyone, for playing. The book will be on its way to you today, Melodie.

Gardening Eden

With Earth Day being this week, it’s a perfect time to focus on the new book, Gardening Eden, by Michael Abbaté. eden It’s seems the latest trend is for everyone to be on board with taking care of the Earth, recycling, and being as “green” as possible. For many years this was taboo in the Christian circle and many were frowned upon as aligned themselves with “tree-hugging liberals” but that stigmata is changing.

Very clearly God’s original design was for man to be stewards of His creation. There is a LOT of mention in the Bible about stewardship – from finances to natural resources. So, in keeping with that vein of stewardship, shouldn’t we care for our environment just as much, if not more than, our forefathers?

Abbaté advocates “spiritual environmentalism” and throughout the book gives practical advice on how to achieve that. For instance, there is a whole section entitled, “Becoming a Gardener” with tips on how to do just that (don’t worry there are some easy ones to start with).

I’m a big fan of buying local and supporting local farmers so this section really resonated with me. As I’ve been learning more about food and taking care of myself, it seems only logical to eat local, organic foods. But that’s just one dimension of this book.

Take a Closer Look:

Gardening Eden:
Before the snake, the apple, and the Ten Commandments, God created a garden, placed humans in it, and told them to take care of it.

“Spiritual environmentalism” did not start out as an oxymoron—it was an invitation. Yet today, many believe God’s original job description for humankind has been replaced by other worthier pursuits. So when did this simple instruction become so controversial? How does one sort through all the mixed messages? Is making the world a healthier place for the next generation really a responsibility—or even possible?

Gardening Eden is a new understanding of how the spiritual dimensions of life can find expression and renewal through caring for our incredible planet. Empowering, simple, and never polemical, Michael Abbaté outlines the Bible’s clear spiritual benefits of caring for creation, exploring new motivations and inspired ideas, and revealing the power of our basic connection to all people and living things through the growing interest in spiritual environmentalism.

Green living is no longer a fad—simple lifestyle solutions are now available to everyone. Gardening Eden shows readers how this shift transforms not only our world, but their very souls as they’re drawn into deeper harmony with the Creator. This book invites them to discover the powerful spiritual satisfaction of heeding the call to save our world.

Author Bio:

A nationally recognized expert in “green” development strategies, Mike Abbaté is a founder of GreenWorks, an award-winning landscape architecture design firm. He frequently speaks to students and leaders about practical ways to minimize the impact of building and landscape design on natural resources. Abbaté’s work has been featured in national magazines such as Metropolis and Landscape Architecture and in many local newspapers and trade publications. He and his wife, Vicki, have two adult daughters and live near Portland, Oregon.

Purchase the Book:

You can get a copy of the book through Amazon and most large book retailers.

The Treasure Principle

Focusing on “Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving,” this petite tome packs quite a punch. To some, this book will be radical and contain some inflammatory ideas, but as always when money is the center of the text – especially ‘YOUR’ money – things can get quite opinionated and heated.

Randy Alcorn advocates that ‘your’ money is instead ‘His (God’s)’ money. To that end, his content focuses on Matthew 6:19-21:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

In the text, Alcorn establishes what he calls, “Treasure Principle Keys.” There are six in all and they include such statements as:

  • God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.
  • My heart always goes where I put God’s money.

In theory, I agree with most of what Alcorn says, but some of his assertions are easier left in theory than put into practice. That is where most readers will stumble over his words – putting them into practice. It is one thing to postulate about giving 90% of your income to charity and quite another to “walk it out.”

I’m not saying I disagree, just that this type of radical faith living is at the extreme for most modern-day Christians living in America. It certainly flies in the face of the “Prosperity Gospel” that has been popular in recent years. Alcorn is not saying that God won’t bless and prosper His people; it’s just that this prosperity should not be lavished solely upon ourselves. Wealth is given for a purpose.

In times of economic downturn, this teaching is even more difficult to adopt for most church-goers. Yet in my own life and in the lives of my friends I have seen God bless when we gave beyond what others would call “comfortable.” God blesses giving and the Bible upholds that blessings will be poured out to those who give.

This is a great book and excellent for an afternoon of reading. I’d recommend this book for those who want to take your giving to the next level. As with all teaching books, read with discernment and allow God to speak to you about the content. Randy Alcorn is not saying to give all your 401k and the inheritance money away. Instead, learn to wisely use what you have been given to you.

Want to Win a Copy for Yourself?

I’m giving away a copy of this book here on the blog. Simply follow the instructions below to be entered to win.

Contest closes: Tuesday, April 21
Winner will be announced Wednesday, April 22

To enter:

Leave a comment about a time you gave to others when you didn’t really have the extra cash or tell me about what you would give to (or underwrite completely) if money was no longer a hindrance.

*Be sure to leave me a way to contact you in case you are the winner. That means either include your email addy or make sure there is a way to contact you on your profile or website. Thanks!

Buy a copy:

Even is you don’t win, you can purchase a copy of the book for your personal library by clicking on the Amazon link below.

Daisy Chain book review

From the first sentence until the last, Daisy Chain engages you and pulls you deeper into Defiance, Texas and the mysterious events of that hot summer thirty years past.

DeMuth’s words are exceptionally evocative, allowing the book to play like a movie across the screen of your mind. Admittedly, some of the content is not comfortable to read, much less envision. When you think of a lazy summer day – especially in the late 70’s -- most of us were not contending with issues as difficult as those presented in Daisy Chain. However, these struggles occur far too often in real life and are frequently treated as the “elephant in the room” – especially within the context of Christian homes.

DeMuth does an excellent job of exposing this “elephant” and while other reviewers are lambasting her for not presenting enough redemption and hope, I say they should withhold judgment. Life is not like a sitcom. It does not always reach a suitable conclusion within a thirty minute timeframe. And a single book does not a trilogy make. Said reviewers should remember that this is BOOK ONE of a three-part story. The author has merely parted the clouds to let us view the storm roiling within Defiance and the hearts of her characters.

(OK . . . I’ll climb down off my soapbox now :o) and return you to our review.)

Back to Book One: I believe that redemption and hope are woven throughout this story. They show up where you least expect, clothed in garb that makes them hard to recognize for what they are. Bear in mind that light shines brightest in the darkness. In the considerable darkness of Defiance, Texas and the Pepper family, I have a feeling that light is about to break forth. I anxiously await the next two installments of the series and the conclusion of this trilogy.

Let’s take a look at what Daisy Chain is all about:

The abrupt disappearance of young Daisy Chance from a small Texas town in 1977 spins three lives out of control-Jed, whose guilt over not protecting his friend Daisy strangles him; Emory Chance, who blames her own choices for her daughter’s demise; and Ouisie Pepper, who is plagued by headaches while pierced by the shattered pieces of a family in crisis.
In this first book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper has a sickening secret: He’s convinced it’s his fault his best friend Daisy went missing. Jed’s pain sends him on a quest for answers to mysteries woven through the fabric of his own life and the lives of the families of Defiance, Texas. When he finally confronts the terrible truths he’s been denying all his life, Jed must choose between rebellion and love, anger and freedom.

Daisy Chain is an achingly beautiful southern coming-of-age story crafted by a bright new literary talent. It offers a haunting yet hopeful backdrop for human depravity and beauty, for terrible secrets and God’s surprising redemption.

About the Author:

In my previous post, I featured a little Q & A with Mary DeMuth regarding her newest book, Daisy Chain. mary-demuth-6-ii-300x199

Mary DeMuth is an expert in the field of Pioneer Parenting. She helps Christian parents plow fresh spiritual ground, especially those seeking to break destructive family patterns. Her message guides parents who don’t want to duplicate the home where they were raised or didn’t have positive parenting role models growing up.

An accomplished writer, Mary’s parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, Building the Christian Family You Never Had, and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God. Her real-to-life novels inspire people to turn trials into triumphs: Watching the Tree Limbs (2007 Christy Award finalist, ACFW Book of the Year 2nd Place) and Wishing on Dandelions (2007 Retailer’s Choice Award finalist).

Mary is a frequent speaker at women’s retreats and parenting seminars, addressing audiences in both Europe and the United States. National media regularly seek Mary’s candid ability to connect with their listeners. Her radio appearances include FamilyLife Today, Moody Midday Connection, and U.S.A. Radio network. She also has articles published in Marriage Partnership, In Touch, and HomeLife.

As pioneer parents, Mary and her husband Patrick live in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France where they planted a church.

Learn more about Mary at http://blog.myfamilysecrets.org/.

My Personal Take on Daisy Chain:

For those of you who have made it this far in the review, I wanted to include a little aside, in the form of a confession. You see, I knew better than to get involved with something like Daisy Chain. Typically I read series after at least two books have been published. That way I don’t have the pain of waiting on the next installment. I don’t lie awake at night daydreaming about the characters, wondering how they are and what life has held for them since last we interacted. I’ve guarded myself against this for quite some time.

But I let my guard down with Daisy Chain and now it’s firmly entrenched in my heart and mind. I long to check in on Jed and Sissy, to see if someone finally gave Hap what he deserved, and to make sure Hixon and Muriel are OK. I want – no I NEED – to know the rest of the story.

Truthfully, I’ve not felt like this in many years about a piece of literature. For many years, I’d given up on Christian fiction books and only recently have started exploring more of them. It’s not that I was such a great writer (this post is proof positive of that); it’s just that I was exposed to such great literature and was a connoisseur of it before becoming a Christian. In my mind, Mary DeMuth has joined the likes of Francine Rivers, Brock and Bodie Thoene, Angela Elwell Hunt, and Susan Meissner as authors worthy of accolades in the Christian fiction genre.

I eagerly await my next trip to Defiance. I can’t wait to peer into the lives of the characters again. I am anxious to hear the story unfold as DeMuth delivers what I’m sure will be another compelling and excruciatingly beautiful novel.

Get a Copy for Yourself

I know you want a copy for yourself. Order from Amazon by clicking the link below.

Interview with Mary DeMuth

I’m looking forward to posting a review of Mary DeMuth’s newest book: Daisy Chain. It’s an exceptional book that I’m sure you will love. 

First, I wanted to introduce you to Mary and provide you with a ‘teaser’ of what’s to come.

Where to find Mary:

Mary DeMuth’s Website
Mary DeMuth’s Blog
Mary DeMuth’s Facebook Profile
Follow Mary DeMuth on Twitter

A little Q&A with the Author:

Where did you get the idea for the book?
I had a friend who shared a difficult story with me. He grew up in a Christian home. His father was in leadership in the Christian community. From the outside, all looked perfect. But behind closed doors, life was very, very hard. I wanted to expose that kind of abuse. That’s why the idea of family secrets plays heavily into all three books of the Defiance, Texas trilogy.

What are the major themes of the book?
The importance (and elusiveness) of authenticity.
The devastation of maintaining and keeping family secrets.
Redemption comes from surprising people.
Feeling guilty doesn’t always equal reality.
True friendship involves sacrifice.

What kind of research did you have to do for the book?
Having lived in East Texas for two years, I absorbed a lot of the geography and colloquialisms of the area. A lot of my research happened as I wrote. I also researched battered wives and police procedure (Thanks Officer Woodruff).

With which character do you identify most and why?
In high school, I was a lot like Hixon, living on the margins of life in some ways because I was so flat-out in love with Jesus. I wanted to share Him everywhere, and my speech was peppered with Jesusisms. But like Hixon, I also had another side to me, one I hid. Learning to be honest with myself and others about my own shortcomings—and, oh, they are aplenty—has made me a better Christ-follower in the long run. It’s not about appearing holy. It’s about being holy from the inside out. The only route to that kind of abundance is honest, excruciating disclosure with trusted friends and the God who sees it all.

What do you hope to accomplish with this book?
I liken this book to an Oprah book, but with hope. Yes, there is darkness and meanness abounding in this world, but God’s light has a way of fully penetrating that darkness. I hope Daisy Chain cradles the reader through its deep, scary journey clear through to the end because redemption will shine brighter in the midst of darkness. That’s my own personal testimony, so it can’t help but leak out on the page.

My hope is that folks will see the need to share their family secrets in order to be set free. (A cool place to share your family secrets anonymously is http://blog.myfamilysecrets.org). I also want people to see that the Body of Christ is probably much different looking than they first thought. Some appear holy. Others, in distressing disguises, actually are.


Daisy Chain’s first page:

How’s this for a teaser: the first page of Daisy Chain:

It had been thirty roller-coaster years since Daisy Marie Chance forced fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper to fall in love with her. He’d obliged her, dizzied at the thought ever since. It had been that long before Jed could walk through the ruins of Crooked Creek Church, a butterfly flitting a prophecy he never could believe, even today. It was Daisy’s singsong words that gave the butterfly its bewitching manner, those same words that strangled him with newfound love. For years, he wished he’d had an Instamatic camera to capture the moment he fell for Daisy, but then entropy would’ve had its way, fading and creasing Daisy’s face until she’d have looked like an overloved newspaper recipe, wrinkled and unreadable.Thing was, he could always read Daisy’s face. Even then. She’d looked at him square in the eyes that day in 1977, in the exact same spot he stood now, and declared, “Your family ain’t normal, Jed.” And because lies came easy to him, he’d thought, of course my family’s normal. Anyone with eyes could see that. Daisy said a lot of words, being a thirteen-year-old girl and all, but these didn’t make much sense.

Thirty years later they did. They screamed the truth through the empty field where the church used to creak in the wind.

For a hesitant moment, enshrined in the ruins of his childhood, Jed was fourteen again. Filled to the brim with testosterone and pestered by an orange and black tormenter and Daisy’s oh-so-true words.

“Your family ain’t normal, Jed.”

He watched the butterfly loop above the organ, never landing, like it had a thing against church music. Or maybe dust.

He sat on a rickety pew.


He clasped his hands around his ears, hoping Daisy’s words would run away. He hummed “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”

She put her nose right in front of his. He felt her breathing, smelled her Juicy Fruit breath. “You in there?”

He swatted the air between them, hoping she’d disappear. “Yeah. Quit bothering me.” He looked at his watch. Six fifteen. Time to go.

“But your face.” Daisy sat down a Bible’s throw away.

Jed touched his swollen eye. “Yeah? So? What about it?”

“It looks like it hurts.” Daisy scooted closer. She reached her arm his direction.

He inched away.

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