I am so pleased that you have stopped by for a visit. I hope you will enjoy reading my book reviews. If you would be interested in reviewing books on your own blog, check out the links for litfuse and Booksneeze.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

SOMEONE'S SON by Brenda Rhodes - Book Review

Brenda Rhodes is a retired co-owner of a successful family business, an amateur artist of ceramics and wall murals, a lover of children, an active member of her church and a compassionate friend to many. Her love for family is a strong passion in her life and holidays are very special events for her, especially Christmas.

In her younger years she married and had two children, a daughter Wendi and a son Ronal Paul. She is now single and has one living child, her daughter, who is married and one grandson and three step-grandchildren.

You can find Brenda at http://brendarhodes.com/


Tell me a little bit about your background and your family.

I was born in Houston. Came to Dallas when I was 11 because my Dad was starting the family business: Bowling & Billiard Supplies of Dallas, Inc. Have lived in the Dallas area ever since.
I married at 18 and had my first child, my daughter Wendi, also at 18. My son, Ronal Paul, was born three years later. My marriage was very troubled and failed in 1971 the year my son was born. I re-married my ex-husband in 1973 when he was incarcerated for armed robbery - yes, you read that right. I believed he had hit rock bottom and had come back to God. That marriage failed again in 1977 about one year after he came home. married again in 1980 - 1983 to a man I later found out had molested my son. Yes, you read that right too.

In 1981 I brought my mother into my home because of her failing health and mental/emotional condition. This arrangement was very hard on my kids. She passed away in 1989.
I married again in 1991 until 1998. Bad track record !!

My Dad was my hero who passed away when I was 27 he was only 59 - in 1976. I have one old brother, Ronnie, who became my business partner in our family business for 25 years and we remain partners in real estate. We sold the business in 2001 and are now partially retired - we stay busy!!

I became a Christian as a child, but had no mentoring. I walked close to God in my twenties, but walked away from God when my Dad died. Came back to God on January 20, 1999 during the crisis with my son's drug addiction, homosexuality and HIV status.
Was that a "little bit"?

What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?

These days I don't have much spare time. I am a group leader in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) a Stephen Minister (a one to one crisis care giving ministry) and I work part-time.
For fun: I pick up my grandson, Lorenzo, from school on Wednesdays and spend time with him and Wendi (my daughter) and her family.

I keep my step-great-grandson, Evan, every other Thursday.

I enjoy painting pottery and I have too many Munchkin cats which I breed. They have little short legs and are adorable.
I love any and all family get togethers. We have a lake house on Cedar Creek lake that we enjoy spending time at whenever we can.
Love love love holidays and cooking for our family and friends.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

This is a hard one. Let me think . . .(smell the smoke?) This is really hard because I serve a super God who is all powerful and I depend on Him, so what would assist Him? Hmmmmmmmm I know! If I could fly I could get to hurting people faster and bring them the good news of our Lord Jesus and God's love.

What has God been teaching you lately?

Patience - that one was easy! The process of getting this book out was very long and I struggled with waiting. Well meaning people would say, "God's timing is perfect." Yeah yeah yeah - I struggled with waiting - did I already say that?

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A hair stylist, like most little girls I loved to "play" with my own hair and that of friends. I was pretty good. One day the dad of one of my friends said, "Oh, Brenda, you can't do that, you're too heavy to stand on your feet all day." Busted my bubble. So, I've always sat at a desk.

Where are you headed next?

I don't know and don't care - I'm following my Lord wherever He leads.


How did you get involved in writing?

I am not a writer or an author. God called me to write this book to tell my story of His love and faithfulness and His redeeming power. So I got involved because God made me! It took me two years to surrender to Him.

What's the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

Proof reading and editing - then proof reading again - then editing again - then proof reading again.........I think I've read Someone's Son a dozen or more times. Want me to stand up and recite it to you by heart?

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?

Since my book is a true story of personal and family trauma and crisis, the most fullment I received was feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit reveal what words to use to express the truth without being too harsh or too revealing of myself or others. To cry as I wrote and feel God's healing of my heart in the process. To know this is not me, but God. The feeling of obedience is wonderful.

How do you find time to write?

I' m not a real structured or self-disciplined person so I didn't have a designignated time each day to write. I wrote when I felt compelled to and God would cover me with alone time without interruptions. Many times, Mary DeMuth, my co-writer-ghost writer, would email me questions about specific things or times in my life: and off I would go. Not having a full time job anymore helps a lot.

What would you say to someone who wants to become a published author?

Pray pray pray - then pray some more. And be willing to work hard.


Where did you get the idea for the book? What compelled you to write it?

.We have pretty much covered this. My book is a true story of personal trials, the toughest being my son's self-destructive death over an eight year period of drug abuse. God compelled me to "Tell your story. Tell others of my love and faithfulness" which eventually became my book, Someone's Son.

What are the major themes of the book?

Mary Demuth felt we should tell of my childhood and young adulthood struggles with my mother's mental/emotional illness and my failed marriages. Along with my love for my Dad, although he was not perfect.

My wonderful children Wendi and Ronal Paul. Ronal Paul being such a thoughtful, kind, considerate and absolutely wonderful son.

The heartbreak of watching his life turn to homosexuality and drug addiction which led quickly to HIV status.

 The effects of his choices not only on me, but the whole family since we all worked together in our family business

My fall into deep depression.

God's redemption of me.

Victory in Jesus even in the eventual death of my beloved, precious only son.

What kind of research did you have to do for the book?

Since this is a true story, not much. But, I did have to learn some details of my son's life that no mother wants to know in order to express to readers how deep his fall and how great God's redemption can be.

How did you know you were ready to write this book?

I knew God was urging me to do so, but I resisted out of fear of failing Him. It was on my 60th birthday, two years ago, that I realized I was so afraid of failing God that I was failing God. My eyes were opened to my lack of faith in Him and I surrendered. And, guess what, He provided everything I needed immediately!! Starting with Mary DeMuth as my "guide" through the process.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

This is the easiest question of all! My heart's desire and prayer is for readers to see God's redemption and His love and faithfulness as He carried me and my son through the fire.
To bring glory to God for all He has done and is still doing in my life and for my family.

I will rejoice in Him always!

My review: This true story depicts "a mother's fight for her gay, drug-addicted son". As it says on the back cover, Someone's Son is a memoir of personal tragedy, but it is more than that. It is an account of God's faithful love for a prodigal. This story is heart-rending and unforgettable. I just couldn't put it down. For those who look at individuals who struggle with drug addiction, homosexuality, and HIV/AIDS, these sufferings are given a human face. I will never look at one of these individuals in the same way again. They are not just "another addict" a "gay" man or woman, or an AIDS sufferer. They are someone's son or daughter, someone's brother or sister.

Brenda Rhodes, moved by God to write from the depths of her own personal crisis, has given us a message of hope. God is the Redeemer. Her theme throughout the book is "REJOICE".

I was interested to learn that Brenda is a Stephen Minister. I am also involved in Stephen Ministry, reaching out one-on-one to people in crisis. This is a book which have no hesitation in recommending to my ministry colleagues. Thank you, Brenda, for your willingness to become vulnerable. And thanks to Mary DeMuth for her involvement in bringing this book to publication.This book is published by WinePressPublishing.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

AN UNLIKELY BLESSING by Judy Baer - Book Tour and review

About the book: An Unlikely Blessing is a heartfelt story about a new pastor and life-long city dweller Alex Armstrong, who reluctantly accepts his first assignment, a two-point parish in the wilds of North Dakota. Hilltop Township, a farming community, blooms from the prairie like a wild pink rose—lovely and prickly all at once, much like the people who live there.

Alex quickly finds that this lovely place is in quiet peril. Farmers are struggling to make ends meet: Jonas Owens, a faithful member of Hilltop parish, is on the brink of losing the farm. Alex believes that part of why God called him to Hilltop was to help turn things around, and steps in with ideas for saving the Owens' land. But can even God's minister help save this rural community?

There are a lot of firsts for the new pastor—the annual Hunter's Breakfast, julebukking (also called Christmas fooling), King Oscar's fish balls, and the melody of the musical saw. And the new, single pastor creates remarkable excitement among the unmarried women in the community. If you could die of hot dish overdose, Alex would be a dead man. Whether performing weddings, counseling his flock, or herding cattle by snowmobile, Alex soon discovers that his new church home has as much to teach him as he will teach them. Day by day, he falls more in love with the people of Hilltop Church. People may leave Hilltop, but Hilltop never leaves them.

Book is available through Amazon.com

In celebration of the release of An Unlikely Blessing, Judy is giving away a KINDLE prize package worth over $175.

One lucky winner will receive:

Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi
A $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com
To enter just click HERE (http://litfusegroup.com/Blog-Tours/an-unlikely-blessing-by-judy-baer.html) and then tell your friends! Winner will be announced on February 21st on Judy's blog, http://www.judykbaer.com/wordpress

http://litfusegroup.com/Blog-Tours/an-unlikely-blessing-by-judy-baer.html )

Win a KINDLE with Wi-Fi from Judy Baer during the An Unlikely Blessings Giveaway. If you loved Karon’s Mitford series, you’ll love Judy’s Forever Hilltop series! Find out more and enter to win the KINDLE at the link below! http://litfusegroup.com/Blog-Tours/an-unlikely-blessing-by-judy-baer.html

My review: This is the first in Judy Baer's new series, Forever Hilltop. Alex Armstrong is a middle-aged professor who becomes a minister, and he discovers that his first chargwe is not in the city, but in a tw-point country parish. And it is definitely out of his "comfort zone". There are more twists and turns in Alex's life that in the winding country roads ina nd around Hilltop. He has both amusing encounters and serious problems to solve. He soon discovers that there is more to life in Hilltop that what is being served at the next pot-luck! Through it all, Alex discovers that God is at work in his new circumstances. When his faith is tested, he learns from his parishioners much about God's mysterious ways. This series should prove to be very interesting indeed!

Thanks to litfusegroup.com and Guideposts for providing a copy of the book for review purposes.