Monday, October 18, 2010

Heather Payne ~Sweet Exchange~

You may be familiar with the vocals of Heather Payne from her days with Point of Grace. She's out on her own now and Sweet Exchange is her debut solo album. I couldn't be more thrilled with this CD, it's a collection of hymns that have been updated with a fresh sound that spoke to my heart and soul instantly.

The album begins with Holy Holy Holy, an upbeat tune that makes me want to get up and twirl around while singing it. My favorite cut on this album, however, is Rock of Ages. I love how Heather mixed it up with The Solid Rock! Her voice is powerful and adds to the timeless message. This may be the best hymns album I've ever heard. O The Deep, Deep Love is another one in this album that I can't get enough of. It reminds me of how loved I am by my Savior.

If you're in the camp that thinks hymns are outdated boring songs then you need to give this album a listen to. It will change your mind and draw you into your own time of worship. It's simply beautiful.

There's a total of thirteen songs on this CD. Including Be Thou My Vision, Come Ye Sinners along with a few new titles that are sure to please.

You can listen to this new collection here.

Here's the official press release for this CD:
Heather Payne, Founding Member of Point of Grace to debut solo album
Sweet Exchange on September 14

Nashville, Tenn.…Sept. 8, 2010…. After being on top of the Christian music scene for nearly 18 years as a founding member of the GMA Dove Award-winning and GRAMMY ® nominated group Point of Grace, Heather Payne is gearing up to release her debut solo album Sweet Exchange on September 14.

With a fresh take on the timeless hymns of the church, Sweet Exchange presents modern arrangements, new choruses, and sometimes-complete re-imaginations of these familiar classics. Payne’s first single “Rock of Ages” released on September 7. If modern listeners ever thought the lyrics of hymns were stale, these presentations will draw them in and open both their hearts and minds.

“Emotions go just so far in worship. With the rich doctrine in hymns, truth sinks in," Payne says. "I remember when I was very young, and my mom used to let me stand on the pew beside her in church. She let me hold the hymnal, even though I couldn’t even read! I felt so big. I learned the hymns that way, just singing along. I want that for my kids now.”
The album’s theme came from a sermon by Payne’s husband on imputed righteousness. In explaining this big theological term, he used a quote from a first century Greek writer’s Letter to Diognetus. The fact that this old letter could explain a difficult concept in an embraceable way, and then overflow in worship, embodied exactly what Payne hoped to accomplish with this album.

This desire to serve future generations with the theology and worship of hymns stems from the same Scripture that played a role in Payne’s decision to leave Point of Grace. It was the Shema from Deuteronomy 6, the compelling call to impress the commands of the Lord on your children all day long, that struck Payne.
“I memorized that passage because we were starting to have kids and I wanted that in my mind and heart,” Payne said. “As more kids were born, the Lord kept bringing it back up. ‘Are you teaching them diligently?’ When you’re traveling the way I was, there was no diligence or consistency or excellence.”
Since leaving Point of Grace in 2008, Payne has enjoyed her life as a pastor's wife, educator and mother of four adorable kids. Today, Payne is happy to be able to focus on her family and is thrilled that Point of Grace has thrived and continues to impact country radio. (Fellow Point of Grace alumnae Terry Jones even sings background vocals on a few of the tracks on Sweet Exchange). The same passage in Deuteronomy also drives Payne’s desire to pass on God’s truth through the timeless hymns that are so richly conveyed inSweet Exchange, and why the time has come for Payne to sing again.
About Heather Payne:
With one of the most recognizable voices in contemporary Christian music, Heather Payne will release her debut solo album, Sweet Exchange, on September 14. As a founding member of the legendary ensemble Point of Grace, Heather’s voice has become synonymous with gospel music. Sweet Exchange features Heather’s signature vocals paired with timeless hymns and anthems of the church while adding an updated style to create her signature sound. Featuring songs like “Rock of Ages,” “Holy Holy Holy,” and the heartfelt anthem “My Jesus,” Heather’s soaring yet intimate voice take us on a journey of a “sweet exchange.”

This CD was provided for review by Megan Sims the {m} media collective

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Waiting is the newest Amish fiction from author Suzanne Woods Fisher. In this novel we find Jorie King waiting for her love, Ben Zook, to return home. Thoughts of marriage fill her heart and she's devastated to learn that he'll never return home alive. Meanwhile, Ben's brother Caleb is going through a trial of his own as he stands beside his cancer stricken wife until she passes on. Caleb and Jorie turn to each other for companionship and comfort and find something more. But life is never as easy at is appears to be and more trials are on their way for this young couple.

Suzanne writes characters that are realistic and engaging. This bittersweet story will hold your attention and make you thankful for the life and love that you have. Return to Lancaster County where life appears simpler but never really is.

This is another CLEAN READ, thanks, Suzanne, for giving us fiction that we can read without blushing!

About the author:
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the CBA bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, Amish Peace, and Amish Proverbs. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine. Suzanne is the host of a radio show called Amish Wisdom and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in California. Find out more about Suzanne at

You can purchase this book here.

See what others are saying about The Waiting.

Suzanne is once again (love her!) running a fun KINDLE giveaway during the blog tour.

Please tweet about it and share it on Facebook beginning Friday, October 8th. (The contest is not ‘turned on’ until Friday – so the links won’t work until then.) Let me know if you have any questions!

Here is a sample tweet you could use:

Win your very own KINDLE from @Suzannewfisher during The Waiting KINDLE Giveaway! All the details here:

Here is a sample Facebook post:

Enter to win your very own KINDLE in Suzanne Woods Fisher’s KINDLE Giveaway! Enter at the link below and then be sure to attend Suzanne’s Lancaster Secrets Book Club Party on October 28th to see if you won (and to chat about books and win one of the MANY other prizes Suzanne is giving away)! (insert this Link)

This book was provided for review by LitFuse.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer

In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer is the story of three college students who have been friends since they lived together at the same orphanage. Now all grown up, they are students on the same campus, all following different paths. Libby is pursuing journalism, Pete is studying to enter the ministry and Bennett's only plans are for right now-the fun he can have while on campus. They try to keep their friendships tight, but are being pulled apart by those around them and by the tensions of a country on the verge of entering the first World War.

One thing that keeps them close is the fact that they are all orphans and are all searching for answers to their pasts. Sometimes the answers aren't what are expected, as they soon find out. And some paths traveled are sometimes better left untraveled.

This will appeal to readers who enjoy not only historicals but also romance and mystery. There is a strong Gospel message included. This book was a quick read, sometimes it left me feeling a little under-whelmed. Fans of this author won't be disappointed.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House.

Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr

Love's First Bloom is the latest novel by Delia Parr and it is so different from any book I've read before. I love it when an author surprises me with the unexpected. Ruth Livingstone has grown up in a protected home environment, taking care of her widowed minister father and all things on the homefront while he takes care of the city's less than desirables. His ministry reaches out into the lives of the prostitutes, he helps them escape their lives and find new identities in places far away. When one of them dies and leaves behind an infant, he asks Ruth to take the baby and pose as the baby's mother. The family that takes her in assumes that she is a prostitute looking for a better life.

When her father is arrested for murdering the dead woman Ruth has a hard time staying undercover. When news reaches her that her "disappearance" is under suspicion and that some are accusing her father of murdering her also the news nearly devastates her. She wants to return to him but there are too many newsmen looking for her. They descend on her town and she is able to keep them at bay with the help of her recovering-from-injury friend, Jake. But is Jake who he claims to be? What happens when everyone finds out the truth about Ruth?

Delia never lets her readers down, she's got a knack for grabbing your attention and keeping you on the edge of your seat. Check this one out, especially if you're looking for a historical that's out of the ordinary.

Thanks, Delia, for this CLEAN READ!

This book was provided for review by Bethany House.

City On Our Knees by TobyMac

TobyMac has long been a frontrunner in the Christian music scene and his single, City On Our Knees has started a revolution among many people, encouraging them to be the change that the world needs and to pray for change in the world. TobyMac has recently released a book with the same name as his hit single. City On Our Knees is a compilation of some amazing inspirational stories that will compel you to move forward with your faith and also to put it into action.

This would make a great book to read as an addition to your Biblical devotions. We can always learn from the experiences of others, like the couple who adopted from a foreign country and when they didn't feel that was enough, decided to send money to the orphanage where their son was from and help his "first family". Sometimes all it takes is one little idea to change a life or to touch thousands. City On Our Knees may catapult you into an idea or two of your own.

City On Our Knees also has quotes from many famous people scattered throughout the book, so even of you're short on time you can open it and still be inspired. The stories are all fairly short though, so it doesn't take long to read one.

The only downside to this book is the plastic dust cover. It is so annoying! You can't read the book with it on so you have to take it off...and the dust cover is so stinkin' cool looking that you want to leave it on. This reader wishes it had just been a paper one with maybe plastic on the front see-through parts.

I'd like to thank Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers

In the dramatic conclusion to the New York Times best seller Her Mother’s Hope, Francine Rivers delivers a rich and deeply moving story about the silent sorrows that can tear a family apart and the grace and forgiveness that can heal even the deepest wounds.

Growing up isn’t easy for little Carolyn Arundel. With her mother, Hildemara, quarantined to her room with tuberculosis, Carolyn forms a special bond with her oma Marta, who moves in to care for the household. But as tensions between Hildie and Marta escalate, Carolyn believes she is to blame. When Hildie returns to work and Marta leaves, Carolyn and her brother grow up as latchkey kids in a world gripped by the fear of the Cold War.

College offers Carolyn the chance to find herself, but a family tragedy shatters her newfound independence. Rather than return home, she cuts all ties and disappears into the heady counterculture of San Francisco. When she reemerges two years later, more lost than ever, she reluctantly turns to her family to help rebuild a life for her and her own daughter, May Flower Dawn.

Just like Carolyn, May Flower Dawn develops a closer bond with her grandmother, Hildie, than with her mother, causing yet another rift between generations. But as Dawn struggles to avoid the mistakes of those who went before her, she vows that somehow she will be a bridge between the women in her family rather than the wall that separates them forever.

Spanning from the 1950s to present day, Her Daughter’s Dream is the emotional final chapter of an unforgettable family saga about the sacrifices every mother makes for her daughter—and the very nature of unconditional love.

About the Author

Francine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in English and journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market, and her books were highly acclaimed by readers and reviewers. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, a mother of three, and an established romance novelist.

Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. First published by Bantam Books and then re-released by Multnomah Publishers in the mid-1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea, set during the time of the California Gold Rush, is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction. Redeeming Love continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association's top-selling titles, and it has held a spot on the Christian best-seller list for nearly a decade.

Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous novels with Christian themes—all best sellers—and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous honors, including the RITA Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, and the Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In 1997, after winning her third RITA Award for inspirational fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers of America's Hall of Fame. Francine's novels have been translated into over 20 different languages, and she enjoys best-seller status in many foreign countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, and South Africa.

Francine and her husband, Rick, live in northern California and enjoy time spent with their three grown children and taking every opportunity to spoil their grandchildren. Francine uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and she desires that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.

Interview with Francine Rivers:

How has exploring the relationship between your mother and grandmother helped you understand yourself?

This is a question I would love readers to ask themselves at the end of Her Mother’s Hope. I realized early in the story that I have many of my grandmother and mother’s character traits, both good and bad. They both had tempers. So do I. They both had low self-esteem. I’m always striving to “measure up”. They both chose spouses who respected them. So did I. Both women had strong faith and servants’ hearts, something they encouraged in me. My mother extended grace to others -- a trait I want to cultivate to the end of my days. By holding onto her anger, Grandma lacked the peace and joy she could have had in her last years. I tend to relive past hurts. Writing about Marta made me decide to let go, forgive and move on. For whatever reason, Grandma couldn’t and missed out on so much joy in her last years. Sometimes people deeply hurt as children take offense where none was intended. Holding a grudge causes suffering, especially for the one who won’t let go. Jesus said to forgive one another as He has forgiven us. Forgiveness frees us, even if the other person refuses to join in the process of reconciliation. As I examine my own life, I see how much I’ve been forgiven. How can I not extend God’s grace to others? The best way to experience the fullness of God’s presence in my life is to surrender it to Him. And in that surrender, we are made more complete and joy-filled.

Mother-daughter relationships are often complicated and fraught with emotional land mines. What was your approach to exploring the complexity of those relationships in a fictional setting?

Questions, lots of questions! Every time I told someone I was working on a book about mother-daughter relationships, people wanted to share their family stories. As I wrote Her Mother’s Hope, I wanted readers to see through each woman’s eyes, and understand how the past shaped each in the way she responded to her mother. Hildemara doesn’t believe her mother loves her, but it is out of Marta’s pain and loss that tough-love techniques were forged. Marta wants to strengthen her daughter for whatever lies ahead. Sometimes what we view as rejection can actually be an act of sacrificial love. We seldom know the experiences that shaped our mothers, the deep hurts, traumatic events, broken relationships. I hope women who read this book will want to share those things with one another.

Writing a novel is not for the faint of heart. What was the most difficult part of writing this family saga? What came the most naturally to you?

The most difficult part of writing any novel is getting out of my own way. I have to get rid of preconceived notions about themes and characters and plot. The first draft of this novel came in at over 1000 pages and was too biographical. I wanted the story to shift back and forth from present to past, trying to show what happened to create the rifts and valleys between Hildemara, Carolyn and May Flower Dawn. I was too cautious, too afraid to harm to my grandmother and mother’s memory.

A wonderful editor wrote me an insightful letter in which she listed what she wanted to know about each the characters. Her letter got my creative juices flowing. She helped me look at the story in a new way. I set the first manuscript aside and started over. I found it better to move from one generation to the next in a linear story. This time the characters followed my grandmother and mother’s timeline, but took on a life of their own. They became unique individuals rather than the shadow of real people.

After readers finish this series what do you want them to remember? What questions and feelings do you want it to provoke on a spiritual and emotional level?

I hope and pray readers who have had difficult relationships with their mothers or daughters will let go of the pain and anger and allow God to work in their lives. God can work all things together for good for those who trust and love Him. Following Jesus’ example changes the way we see people. It changes the way we relate to one another. Even when the chasm is too deep to cross, we can decide to forgive. Some people wear grievances like a dirty coat. With God’s strength, we can strip it off and be free. When people finish reading Her Daughter’s Dream, I hope they will want to extend God’s grace and forgiveness. I hope they will tear down their walls and use their life experiences to begin building a bridge.

Who do you see as the audience for this story, and does that differ from your previous readership?

I am fortunate to work with Tyndale House. If a writer does well in one genre, publishers encourage the writer to continue in the same genre. Tyndale has given me the freedom to go wherever the story leads. I have done historical as well as contemporary. This two-part saga was intended to be one LONG book. Splitting the story into two parts made it more affordable for readers, and eliminated the need to delete entire sections. Hopefully, both women and men will enjoy Her Mother’s Hope and Her Daughter’s Dream. Men play a strong role in the lives of all four primary characters: Marta, Hildemara Rose, Carolyn and May Flower Dawn. And both books have much to do with faith, how it presents itself, how it grows, often under difficult circumstances and in unexpected ways.

Where may we connect with you further or to purchase a copy of HER DAUGHTER'S DREAM?

I would love for you to visit my web site at, browse through the various events and other resources available, as well as sign up for my mailing list. You may also join me on my Facebook page, please click'>">click here.

Watch a trailer of this book here.

Read the first two chapters here.


There will be THREE copies given away on the Virtual Book Tour Facebook page here and ONE copy on the Christian Speaker Services blog