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December 2013

This Month on FaithfulReader.com December 2013

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Merry Christmas and Happy 10th Anniversary to FaithfulReader.com!

Anniversaries are lovely times to reflect back. For me, it’s hard to believe that FaithfulReader.com has been live for a decade now. When our Editorial Director Tom Donadio mentioned this milestone the other day, a wash of memories of planning the site rushed in. I remember when it was just an idea that we were batting around, and I was attending conferences developing ideas for the content. Those early days nurtured the site that you see now. Thank you to all of our publishing friends who have supported the site through the years, allowing us to share these features and reviews with you. And my heartfelt thanks to Tom Donadio for his work month after month to ensure that our editorial lineup is well-rounded and smart. I appreciate him!

I am thoroughly enjoying the run-up to Christmas this year. My older son, Greg, said yesterday that he never has seen me this relaxed going into the holiday. I do agree with him. I am not sure why, but perhaps it is because this year I am focusing on what matters: spending time with those I care about and creating moments where memories can be made. I am focused on staying in the moment instead of constantly planning. I have done a fair share of shopping, but it was thoughtful shopping instead of just buying things to have something to give. I knitted some presents, but without the pressure of saying "I have to do more." I made some donations. I reached out to some friends who I rarely talk to. I decided years ago not to send cards since I write enough each week/month, and people who want to know what we are up to can log on to any of the sites and read. What’s been funny is people have said something to that effect…they read the newsletters and keep up with us all year!

There were fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, so perhaps I thrive when time is more limited. I am more focused on the meaning of the season as the time of Christ’s birth and the joy and love that came from that night in the manger.

My younger son is home from his first semester at college (that flew by), and once again we are four under one roof. For the holiday we are traveling to the Outer Banks, and in a nice twist this year, Cory’s two best friends, Son 2A and Son 2B, will be joining us for part of the trip. I leave the decorating for down there, and we have a carful of ornaments and decorations, as well as a tree being packed up. The three cars headed there are going to be packed with books and knitting, as well as things that define our family holiday. Reading this, maybe cards and decorating the house are the stress, and skipping those two things made this a happier season for me. Ponder what makes you happy, decide what you do not “need” to do, and from there you may be able to get yourself to make Christmas more of the beautiful time it is, instead of a bunch of lists and chores.

And now on to our update, which is a tad briefer than normal this month. Fewer books were published in December this year!

We have lots of reading suggestions for you, and naturally, many of them are Christmas-themed. Among this month’s reviews are THE DAWN OF CHRISTMAS: A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country by Cindy Woodsmall, THE WOMEN OF CHRISTMAS: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna by Liz Curtis Higgs, and A SIMPLE CHRISTMAS WISH by Melody Carlson. We’re featuring these titles, and many more, in our Christmas Books roundup, where you’ll find plenty of fiction and nonfiction books that serve as powerful reminders for what matters most this holiday season.

In theaters now is The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second installment of a three-part film series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s THE HOBBIT. As a complement to the movie, we recommend you pick up a copy of THE SPIRITUAL WORLD OF THE HOBBIT by James Stuart Bell, which takes you behind the scenes of Tolkien's epic adventure, revealing his beliefs and motivations. From there, it will walk you step-by-step through the story itself, uncovering powerful themes of providence, mercy and courage that are as important in our own lives today as they were to the hobbits in Middle-Earth.

Our monthly contest book for December is WITH AUTUMN’S RETURN, the third installment in Amanda Cabot's historical romance series, Westward Winds. When Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne to open her medical practice, she soon discovers that the town may not welcome a new physician --- especially a lady doctor. Even Jason Nordling, the handsome young attorney next door, seems to disapprove of her chosen profession. When a web of deceit among Cheyenne's wealthiest residents threatens to catch Elizabeth and Jason in its snare, they must risk working together to save one of Elizabeth's patients --- even if it means falling in love. The book doesn’t release until January 21st, but we’re giving 10 readers the opportunity to win a copy before its publication date. To enter, please fill out this form by Wednesday, January 15th at noon ET.

Merry Christmas to all, with thanks from all of us for being FaithfulReader.com readers. We appreciate you and never take your readership for granted. Here’s to a brilliant 2014; we’ll see you back here next year!

Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)

FaithfulReader.com's 2013 Christmas Books Roundup

It is easy to be caught up in the obligations and the hectic schedules of the holidays, distracting you from what matters most. Thus we're happy to share with you some of the outstanding Christmas-themed books available this season. This year’s roundup is filled with both beautiful holiday fiction and spiritual wisdom from some of the most influential Christian writers of our time, evoking the sense of peace and warmth that comes with Christmas. We’re sure that any of these titles will put you in the spirit this holiday season, whether in a quiet moment of reflection or shared with family and friends.

Click here to see this year’s Christmas Books roundup.
FaithfulReader.com’s Latest Monthly Contest: Win a Copy of WITH AUTUMN'S RETURN by Amanda Cabot
In FaithfulReader.com's latest monthly contest, 10 readers will win a copy of WITH AUTUMN'S RETURN, the third installment in Amanda Cabot's historical romance series, Westward Winds, which releases on January 21st. To enter, please fill out this form by Wednesday, January 15th at noon ET.

WITH AUTUMN'S RETURN: Westward Winds, Book 3 by Amanda Cabot (Historical Romance)

When Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne to open her medical practice, she is confident that the future is as bright as the warm Wyoming sun. Certain she'll have a line of patients eager for her services, she soon discovers the town may not welcome a new physician --- especially a lady doctor. Even Jason Nordling, the handsome young attorney next door, seems to disapprove of her chosen profession.

When a web of deceit among Cheyenne's wealthiest residents threatens to catch Elizabeth and Jason in its snare, they must risk working together to save one of Elizabeth's patients --- even if it means falling in love.
 
Click here to enter the contest.
Now in Theaters: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf and 13 Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.

Having survived the beginning of their unexpected journey, the Company continues East, encountering along the way the skin-changer Beorn and a swarm of giant Spiders in the treacherous forest of Mirkwood. After escaping capture by the dangerous Wood-elves, the Dwarves journey to Lake-town, and finally to the Lonely Mountain itself, where they must face the greatest danger of all --- a creature more terrifying than any other; one which will test not only the depth of their courage but the limits of their friendship and the wisdom of the journey itself --- the Dragon Smaug.

In conjunction with the film's release, Bethany House has published THE SPIRITUAL WORLD OF THE HOBBIT by James Stuart Bell. This book takes you behind the scenes of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic adventure, revealing Tolkien's beliefs and motivations. From there it will walk you step-by-step through the story itself, uncovering powerful themes of providence, mercy and courage that are as important in our own lives today as they were to the hobbits in Middle-Earth.

As you take a closer look at this timeless tale of good vs. evil, you will be filled with wonder once again. For you will see that at the heart of THE HOBBIT, Tolkien embedded images of faith and spiritual longing that are sure to inspire us all.

-Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to visit the film's official website.
Now in Stores: THE DAWN OF CHRISTMAS by Cindy Woodsmall
THE DAWN OF CHRISTMAS: A Romance from the Heart of Amish Country by Cindy Woodsmall (Romance)
Sadie enjoys her freedom away from home and her mission trips to Peru, but after four years, her Old Order Amish family insists it’s time to come home and settle down. Levi, a bachelor who distrusts women after a family heartbreak, also has no desire for romance. To keep their families from meddling in their lives, Sadie and Levi devise a plan --- but soon discover that the walls around their hearts are breaking down. Reviewed by Michele Howe.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.

 
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE WOMEN OF CHRISTMAS by Liz Curtis Higgs
THE WOMEN OF CHRISTMAS: Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna by Liz Curtis Higgs (Religion & Spirituality)
A sacred season is about to unfold for three women whose hearts belong to God. Following in their footsteps, you too can prepare for the Savior to enter your heart, your mind, and your life in a vibrant, new way. Bestselling author Liz Curtis Higgs explores the biblical stories of Elizabeth, Mary and Anna, unwrapping each verse with tender care and introducing you afresh to the Women of Christmas. Reviewed by Michele Howe.

-Click here to read more about the book.

 
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: A SIMPLE CHRISTMAS WISH by Melody Carlson

A SIMPLE CHRISTMAS WISH by Melody Carlson (Fiction)
Rachel Milligan never imagined that she and her seven-year-old niece would spend the week before Christmas on a quaint Amish farm in Ohio. With her young niece Holly in tow, Rachel anxiously makes her way from Chicago to Ohio's Amish country. As love begins to blossom, family secrets emerge, and old wounds are healed, Rachel realizes that she will do whatever it takes to ensure that Holly has the loving family she needs. Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab.

-Click here to read more about the book.
 

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: THE SINNERS' GARDEN by William Sirls

THE SINNERS' GARDEN by William Sirls (Fiction)
Disfigured by an abusive father, teenager Andy Kemp hides behind his books and an impenetrable wall of cynicism and anger. As Andy’s mother struggles to reconnect with him, his Uncle Rip returns transformed from a stint in prison and wants to be a mentor to the reclusive boy. When Andy begins hearing strange music through his iPod and making near-prophetic announcements, Rip is convinced that what Andy is hearing is the voice of God. Reviewed by Michele Howe.

-Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: STRANGERS AT MY DOOR by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

STRANGERS AT MY DOOR: A True Story of Finding Jesus in Unexpected Guests by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (Christian Living)
This invitation to hope tells stories about a shared life with the homeless at a hospitality house in Durham, North Carolina. Immerse yourself in these inspiring, eye-opening accounts of people who arrive with real needs. Is Jesus knocking on the door? Is He answering? It’s hard to tell which. Reviewed by Evelyn Bence.

-Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: AWAKENING FAITH by James Stuart Bell with Patrick J. Kelly

AWAKENING FAITH: Daily Devotions from the Early Church by James Stuart Bell with Patrick J. Kelly (Devotional)
In simple, updated language, AWAKENING FAITH by James Stuart Bell is a devotional that provides a year of inspiring readings drawn from the earliest teachers and writers of the church. In every reflection, you will be refreshed by deep wells of wisdom and spiritual insight. Reviewed by Evelyn Bence.

-Click here to read more about the book.
 

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: A MARRIAGE IN MIDDLEBURY by Anita Higman

A MARRIAGE IN MIDDLEBURY by Anita Higman (Romance)
After more than a decade, Charlotte Rose Hill finds that she still has feelings for her first love, Sam Wilder. Initially thrilled to learn that Sam has come home to Middlebury, Texas, Charlotte is devastated to learn that he has brought someone with him: his fiancée. But all is not lost when the townsfolk decide to get involved. Will Charlotte and Sam find their way back to each other? Reviewed by Susan Miura.

-Click here to read more about the book.
 

Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: SHADES OF MERCY by Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivadeneira

SHADES OF MERCY: A Maine Chronicle by Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivadeneira (Historical Romance)
In 1954, although other parts of the country are changing, the Maliseet tribe of Maine’s Northwoods is still relegated to shanties on the dump. Mercy and her Maliseet boyfriend find it nearly impossible to hold on to their someday dream. Then disaster strikes, looking surprisingly like the grace of God. Reviewed by Evelyn Bence.

-Click here to read more about the book.
 

Click here to read a review.

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