Monday, December 9, 2013

Books Under the Christmas Tree

   I have the honor of having a personal acquaintance with a couple of authors and artists who have new works that have made their debut this fall. Any or all would be a wonderful gift for a special someone in your life.
   Without further ado, I am pleased to introduce you to a few of my friends:
1. I wrote about the author Lisa Patton and a very special occasion in her life here. I am honored to count her as a close friend. Lisa is one of the most delightful women I know and has made quite a name for herself as a Southern writer, in addition to her other gifts. This last book, which boasts my favorite title to date, is the final installment in a trilogy, but don't don't have to have read all three to enjoy this marvelously well-crafted and engaging story. Southern as a Second Language can certainly carry its own weight. I am happy that much beloved character Leelee is back in all her glory. She is a friend that will stay with you long after you have closed the pages of the book. She is delightfully and totally "Southern"... and this book is filled with the things that make Southerners endearing to many. Yet if you are looking for a perfect book to curl up in a corner with, a book that will bring you to laughter and tears, this is the one for you. Oh, and there is also a thread of suspense that pulls you in and along just like an undertow. You'll keep turning page after page just to find out what happens in the end. And if you are not Southern when you pick up the book, when you finish you are going to have a better understanding of the rest of us Southerners. You are also gonna wish you were one of our much vaunted tribe.

2. I have been in community with Reggie Anderson's' family for many years. His wife, Karen, and I are dear friends and we have prayed for one another and for each other's children. She is one of the most tender and wise women I know. I remember when her husband mentioned one evening at dinner that he had begun writing down the special experiences that he had had through the years with his patients who were close to death or dying. I was curious at the time, but forgot about the conversation for many months until Karen told me that Reggie had acquired an agent, met with several publishers and had signed the contract: the book was going to be published. I could hardly wait to open Appointments with Heaven by Dr. Reggie Anderson. It is a deeply personal story and Reggie shares much about his Southern upbringing in a small town not far from Selma. Alabama. His walk with God is an integral part of the story, as is the story of how he met Karen and fell in love with her, but the treasure of the story lies in the way that God reveals himself over and over again in Reggie's life and in the lives of those he serves. If you want to be encouraged, about not just what lies ahead for believers, but what is ours for today, read this lovely gem of a book. It will warm your heart and satisfy your soul.

3. Singer/songwriter Ashley Cleveland has the gravelly power house voice of a rock-and-roller. Think Janis Joplin in her prime. Yet the woman can belt gospel with the likes of Mahalia Jackson. When she performs this woman is a combustible force onstage, and with three Grammy's to her credit, she shows no signs of slowing down. Her voice, if anything, has become more powerful and angst-filled as she has aged. This is not a vocal artist who will lull you to sleep. My life connected with Ashley's when she had just moved to Nashville and had begun attending the same church as I. Our daughters were the same age and in the same small school. She and I also were part of the same small women's Bible study group. After I heard her sing, I always wondered why she had not hit the "big-time" as the world knows it. She seemed immensely more talented that other artists who were singing in the same genre. I'm still puzzling over that one. But enough about the music and onto the book. It's a fairly slim volume but like the woman who wrote it, it conveys powerful truth. This is not a story for cowards. This is a book about the childhood roots of adult addiction, redemptive grace and the love of God for broken people. If you can identify with any of these, this book will carry a ring of truth. Ashley is fearless. She leaves no holds barred in her autobiographical work, Little Black Sheep. If you want the truth about how hard life can be, and how powerful and good God is, read this story. It will be freeing for your soul, and keep you searching for more. Trust me when I say that this is a uniquely Southern voice that must be heard.

1 comment :

  1. Well, this will be a shocker (since I am the "non-reader" of the family!) I have read the first two books by Lisa Patton and I am thrilled to hear she has a new one! I will definitely be logging on to down-load it to my Ipad, right away. Fun, FUN, fun! I have also read Reggie Anderson's "Appointments With Heaven" and it is also an excellent book! I will add one to your list that you sent me, "Choosing to See" by Mary Beth Chapman! Oh, my goodness, what a book! So, you can take it to the bank, from me, the one who has to be "grabbed from the beginning", these books are well worth your time and money! Great job, sistah! Love you!


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