The Word

June 2021 Book of the Month


Leaning on the Promises of God for Men by Tony Dungy & Nathan Whitaker

Featured on the podcast, The Word With An Inquisitive Booknerd

Leaning on the Promises of God for Men by Tony Dungy and Nathan Whitaker

Genre: Christian devotional

Publisher: Tyndale Momentum

Release date: March 23, 2021

Last month, in honor of Mother’s Day, we featured author Karen Whiting’s most recent book, Growing a Mother’s Heart: Devotions of Faith, Hope, and Love from Mothers Past, Present, and Future. So, not to leave the dads in the lurch, let’s give a solid nod to Father’s Day this month with Leaning on the Promises of God for Men, which is authored by football figure Tony Dungy and his coauthor Nathan Whitaker.

NFL enthusiasts probably already know that Dungy is a former player and coach—he retired in 2008 as head coach to the Indianapolis Colts, the first-ever African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl—and he’s now a sports analyst for NBC. Whitaker, an attorney-turned-author, perhaps most notably coauthored Through My Eyes, the memoir of former quarterback Tim Tebow. Yet alongside Dungy, he has authored a full-on collection of nonfiction books, including The Soul of a Team, The Mentor Leader, Uncommon, and Quiet Strength.

To offer full disclosure here, Dungy and I share the same literary agent (DJ Snell of Legacy Management), but I have never met him. I’ve not met Whitaker either—not face to face—but I worked remotely with him a few years ago as an editor on his middle-grade fiction novel, Snap Decision. It was nice to catch up with my author friend on a recent podcast interview for Harford County Living to chat about Leaning on the Promises of God for Men.

Purchase this and more books at https://bookshop.org/shop/HarCoLiving

The book is a roundup of essays geared particularly toward men, tackling topics typical to Christian devotionals, such as integrity, confidence, faith, patience, grace, and of course love. But while the subject matter is fairly standard, the approach is unique, as the entries are strongly padded with sports-related themes, references, metaphors, and anecdotes from Dungy’s longstanding NFL career.

Let me put it this way—this is not the run-of-the-mill daily devotional you’ll find on your grandmother’s nightstand. It’s unusual to see narrative content, for example, that compares the plights of John the Baptist with the challenges of coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The blended angle keeps readers on their toes and at the same time makes the content very relatable from a current perspective.

During my career as a player and a coach, I worked with some of the best kickers in the National Football League, and one thing they all had in common was the ability to focus on the positive. They always believed they were going to make the next kick, because they knew from experience that negative thought would doom their efforts.

Essentially, these kickers do what the apostle Paul suggests we do in whatever setting we find ourselves: focus on the positive; fix our thoughts on things that are good and right and pure.

Positive thinking isn’t for kickers only, and neither are the other insights Leaning on the Promises of God for Men delivers. While the book’s title makes its promise to “men,” the content is certainly appropriate for teen boys as well as women or young girls who are sports enthusiasts. The devotionals are served up in shorts that are quickie reads, each entry ending with three pieces of Bible scripture. And I’ll sign off here with this, one of my favorites…

I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:13–14 (New Living Translation)

—Kelly White, host, The Word with an Inquisitive Booknerd

May 2021 Book of the Month

Growing a Mother’s Heart: Devotions of Faith, Hope and Love from Mother’s Past, Present and Future by Karen Whiting

Featured on the podcast, The Word With An Inquisitive Booknerd

Growing a Mother’s Heart by Karen Whiting

Genre: Christian devotional

Publisher: AMG Publishers

Release date: March 24, 2021

The complete title of author Karen Whiting’s most recent book is of considerable length: Growing a Mother’s Heart: Devotions of Faith, Hope, and Love from Mothers Past, Present, and Future. Quite a mouthful, eh? But the book’s interior content is served up in digestible portions to include 30 weeks of devotionals, prayers, biblical stories, and other inspirational tidbits to support and honor mothers. Its formatting is designed in such a way that readers can open up the book at any time for a little “inspo snack.” Craving some comfort food for thought?

What a miracle to see life in my child and to watch this precious one grow. I never knew I could feel such delight and yet feel so tired. Please help me grow a mother’s heart and help me to love my child unconditionally. Help me to remember the early days and all the joys of motherhood. Help me face the challenges with faith.

Each week opens with a prayer that places focus firmly on a familiar aspect of motherhood, its ups as well as its downs—motherly courage, learning from failure, a strong support network, anxious days, unshakeable faith. Parenting tips and scripture verses are also sprinkled throughout.

Purchase this and more books at https://bookshop.org/shop/HarCoLiving

Devotional portions are relayed from a third-person perspective, reading like contemporary anecdotal shorts, with warmth, emotion, and sometimes humor. Readers will likely get a chuckle here and there from the “Wisdom from Future Moms” segments, which feature insightful quotes from tots: Mom prays and reads the Bible in the morning. She says that’s how she fills her tank to get through the day. Sometimes I think she needs to fill it again in the middle of the day.

Whiting also features essays about biblical moms—well-known women such as Mary, mother of Jesus, and Sarah, who longed for a child into her senior years. Also featured are some not-so-notorious maternal figures that might come off as mere “blips” in the Bible. For instance, Eunice and Lois, mother and grandmother to Timothy, are mentioned in only one line of scripture, but Whiting demonstrates that these mothers, too, have significance.

By far, my favorite parts in Growing a Mother’s Heart are the essays that feature historic moms. It’s somewhat disconcerting that so many of these women might not have garnered notoriety if not for their connections to famous men—Nancy Edison, mother to Thomas; John Madison’s wife, Dolley; Abigail, wife of John Quincy Adams; Billy Graham’s mother, Morrow. Whiting demonstrates that all of these mothers, along with the likes of Mother Theresa and Queen Victoria, are deserving of merit. And like with the biblical moms, she pays tribute also to many lesser-known moms in the women’s history files.

Perhaps even more scantily recognized in the archives of U.S. history are women of color, and even here in this comprehensive roundup of impactful women, only two African-Americans are lauded. They are, however, remarkable women indeed—courageous abolitionists Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. And so, I’ll veer into tangent commentary here, since I’m riveted as of late by Tubman’s bravery after seeing the film Harriet, and I discuss this with author Karen Whiting in our podcast interview.

Recently, during a drive along Maryland’s Eastern Shore, I stopped into the Dorchester County Visitor Center, which has spectacular views of the Choptank River, an important water route in Harriet’s escape from slavery. The center offers a free audio CD or app download for a self-guided tour of the Harriet Tubman Byway. Tubman’s story is told through a roundabout road trip through Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, with stops at key spots that helped forge the Underground Railroad.

I’m eager to learn more about Tubman, who was a superhero in my opinion. And I was ecstatic to read in recent weeks that archaeologists have discovered the location of the cabin where Tubman spent much of her childhood—on property that is now Maryland’s Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. I wonder, once the dust settles so to speak (the area is actually marshy and muddy), if this location will be added to the Harriet Tubman Byway itinerary. For now, the specific spot is not accessible to the public. But trails along the refuge are open, and I’ll be visiting…maybe on Mother’s Day.

—Kelly White, host, The Word with an Inquisitive Booknerd

April 2021 Book of the Month


The Stars in April by Peggy Wirgau

Featured on the podcast, The Word With An Inquisitive Booknerd

The Stars in April by Peggy Wirgau

Genre: Historical fiction

Publisher: IlluminateYA

Release date: March 27, 2021

In her new young adult book, The Stars in April, author Peggy Wirgau skillfully uses words to paint her imagination around historic facts of the notoriously tragic Titanic event. The debut novel seamlessly stitches together fiction and history as the author perceives the infamous voyage through the eyes of real-life passenger Ruth Becker, who was just 12 years old when she boarded the ship in April 1912. Ruth is a dreamer and a stargazer, but she doesn’t exactly perceive her upcoming trip on the big ship as a thrill ride.

The girl is traveling from her home in India, where she is somberly leaving behind a best friend and her Papa, who is not going with his family to America. Ruth’s adventures begin by train before she, her mother, and two younger siblings board the British ocean liner—the grand and “unsinkable” Titanic. Ruth displays her encyclopedic knowledge of astronomy throughout the book, skillfully connecting the dots to identify starry patterns such as Argo Navis, the “ship constellation.” But most significantly, the stars provide for Ruth a connection to her father: Papa told me we would see the same stars even though I was far from home, because I would still be in the northern latitudes.

Timeless coming-of-age elements carry the story as Ruth juggles a flurry of juvenile emotions—that dreaded feeling of homesickness, the invisible bonds of friendship, an uncertain excitement over a new crush. Ruth’s adolescent ups and downs move artfully through the narrative along with the young girl’s purview of the scenery, happenings, and people around her. Vicariously through Ruth, the reader gets to experience the nuances of early 20th-century transportation, subtle but rich hints of Indian culture (I can practically smell the curry), and even a traveling circus replete with swinging trapezists and performing monkeys!

Purchase this and more books at https://bookshop.org/shop/HarCoLiving

In my podcast interview with author Peggy Wirgau, she and I discuss the challenges the editorial process serves up in drafting a full-length manuscript such as hers, in particular the many rounds of editing required before The Stars in April was deemed print-worthy. (And, here, I offer full disclosure: I am a contributing editor on this project, so I executed some of those rounds.) And this, friends, is what makes all of that editing worthwhile:

This is a well-researched and well-paced title. Back matter includes a bibliography, family photos of the Becker family, and additional information about the Titanic survivors. Verdict: This historical novel moves quickly and shares a little slice of the ever-fascinating subject of the Titanic. A winner. —excerpted from School Library Journal

The book’s back matter also includes a section that outlines the constellations of North America. Intermittent chapters in The Stars in April each end with a note in Ruth’s “handwriting”—fictional diary entries, letters to India, and detailed “Sky Reports.” The brief but often florid reports record in detail Ruth’s astronomical (literally) observations of the lights that lyrically dapple the night: Tonight, a gigantic black canopy hangs high above me, covered in stars. The stars are like a full orchestra. Each instrument, no matter how insignificant it may appear, plays a role in the production of a great symphony. Each star over my head forms part of a constellation, telling a story against a black velvet canvas.

And on that note, I end here with my own Sky Report: The Lyrid meteor shower is expected to climax late night/early morning of April 21–22, 2021, as shooting stars will spray their sparkling dust across the sky. I imagine it will be quite the display (up to 18 meteors per hour, so they say), and I’ll be watching—not from a city rooftop, where I like to climb out sometimes to bathe in the rays of a pink moon in spring. Instead, I’ll likely embark on a short trek just to the edge of Maryland’s Eastern Shore to a favorite cornfield, where the sky isn’t littered with artificial light pollution, so I can secure a clearer view of the stars in April.

Book of the Month for March 2021

Port of Call: Memories of an Ancient Mariner

Mollee Kruger

Did you know that reading is good for your health? When you read for only 6 minutes, it helps reduce stress by 60%, relieves muscle tension, slows your heartbeat and alters your state of mind. Believe it or not, reading has proven to be 600% more beneficial in reducing stress than playing video games, 300% more useful than actually going for a walk, 100% more than drinking a cup of tea and 68% more than listening to music. There are millions of books available and several have been written by local Authors.

Since we started the podcast, Harford County Living with Rich Bennett, we’ve had plenty of different local Authors on. We want everyone to be able enjoy the great books written by them so we decided to feature a “Book of the Month” from a local Author.

This month we are proud to feature “Port of Call: Memories of an Ancient Mariner” by Mollee Kruger

Description

In Port of Call, a long-awaited sequel to Mollee Kruger’s memoir, ( The Cobbler’s Last), the 90-year-old poet/essayist turns to her travels as a 20th century female writer and dwells on the myriad distractions that can keep women authors (and men too) from reaching their ports of call. As a small-town homebody who never expected to venture beyond the murky confines of industrial Baltimore harbor, the author invites readers to share her quirky adventures in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and Australia. En route, she lands in a wacky advertising agency and must choose between marrying or following a career that may lead nowhere. Mollee Kruger has written more than an ordinary travel book; it is a humorous but deeply wise exploration of life’s destinations along the way. Funny and compassionate, Kruger lets her readers know that she has clocked a staggering number of knots (miles for landlubbers.) Port of Call successfully navigates the choppy seas of advertising, journalism, poetry, and politics as well as marriage and homemaking. Tying it all together is a powerful love story that summons the reader to a hopeful and welcoming shore.

Purchase some featured books at https://bookshop.org/shop/HarCoLiving

Book of the Month for February 2021

The New Chesapeake Kitchen

John Shields

Did you know that reading is good for your health? When you read for only 6 minutes, it helps reduce stress by 60%, relieves muscle tension, slows your heartbeat and alters your state of mind. Believe it or not, reading has proven to be 600% more beneficial in reducing stress than playing video games, 300% more useful than actually going for a walk, 100% more than drinking a cup of tea and 68% more than listening to music. There are millions of books available and several have been written by local Authors.

Since we started the podcast, Harford County Living with Rich Bennett, we’ve had plenty of different local Authors on. We want everyone to be able enjoy the great books written by them so we decided to feature a “Book of the Month” from a local Author.

This month we are proud to feature “The New Chesapeake Kitchen” by John Shields

Description

In The New Chesapeake Kitchen John takes the best of
what grows, swims, or grazes in the Chesapeake Bay’s watershed and prepares it simply and memorably. Page after page, over 140 new recipes for delicious “Bay and body-friendly food” — like Hutzler’s Cheese Bread or Blue Cat Seafood Hash — delineate a new plant-forward and sustainable diet, one that considers how food consumption affects both your health and the environment. Read more at https://www.johnshields.com/nck

Purchase some featured books at https://bookshop.org/shop/HarCoLiving

Book of the Month for January 2021

Grace and Fury

Tracy Banghart

Did you know that reading is good for your health? When you read for only 6 minutes, it helps reduce stress by 60%, relieves muscle tension, slows your heartbeat and alters your state of mind. Believe it or not, reading has proven to be 600% more beneficial in reducing stress than playing video games, 300% more useful than actually going for a walk, 100% more than drinking a cup of tea and 68% more than listening to music. There are millions of books available and several have been written by local Authors.

Since we started the podcast, Harford County Living with Rich Bennett, we’ve had plenty of different local Authors on. We want everyone to be able enjoy the great books written by them so we decided to feature a “Book of the Month” from a local Author.

This month we are proud to feature “Grace and Fury” by Tracy Banghart

Description

Bold, brutal, and beautiful — a must-read fantasy full of fierce sisterhood, action, and political intrigue for fans of The Selection series, Caraval, and The Handmaid’s Tale.Serina Tessaro has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace — someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. It’s her chance to secure a better life for her family, and to keep her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, out of trouble. But when Nomi catches the Heir’s eye instead, Serina is the one who takes the fall for the dangerous secret her sister has been hiding.Trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one option: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to save Serina. But this is easier said than done . . . a traitor walks the halls of the palazzo, and deception lurks in every corner.Meanwhile Serina is running out of time. Imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive, surrounded by women stronger than she is, one wrong move could cost her everything. There is no room for weakness on Mount Ruin, especially weaknesses of the heart.

Thrilling and captivating, Grace and Fury is a story of fierce sisterhood, and of survival in a world that’s determined to break you.

Purchase some featured books at https://bookshop.org/shop/HarCoLiving

Book of the Month for December 2020

The Last Golden Smile

Al Karasa

Did you know that reading is good for your health? When you read for only 6 minutes, it helps reduce stress by 60%, relieves muscle tension, slows your heartbeat and alters your state of mind. Believe it or not, reading has proven to be 600% more beneficial in reducing stress than playing video games, 300% more useful than actually going for a walk, 100% more than drinking a cup of tea and 68% more than listening to music. There are millions of books available and several have been written by local Authors.

Since we started the podcast, Harford County Living with Rich Bennett, we’ve had plenty of different local Authors on. We want everyone to be able enjoy the great books written by them so we decided to feature a “Book of the Month” from a local Author.

This month we are proud to feature “The Last Golden Smile” by Al Karasa

Description

Leaving home. Taking only what could be carried. Not knowing when we would return, if ever. It was the choice made by millions, a choice imposed by war. The alternative was death. Or worse. The unknown was better. So begins this story of survival at impossible odds. Part history and part memoir, this book takes us into the surreal world of war as seen through a child’s eyes, but reflected in adulthood in the very different light of retrospect many years later. It is the story of perseverance, in the face of overwhelming peril, that will touch the reader with its sincerity, poignancy, and warmth. Numerous books about the civilian World War Two experience deal with the Holocaust and Nazi crimes against humanity. Very few address the horrors implemented by Soviet Russia and the plight of thousands-hundreds of thousands-who fled to escape them. This book is one of those few. Al Karasa lived through the horrors of World War Two in Europe as a child and witnessed, first hand, man’s inhumanity to man on a cataclysmic scale. It is stuff of which nightmares are made. The author learned, used and forgot the rudiments of more languages by age seventeen than most of us engage in a lifetime. Changing countries more often than the stages of the moon became the norm during his family’s escape westward. This is the story of that escape. For more about the author and his work, visit https://www.alkarasa.com/.

Purchase some featured books at https://bookshop.org/shop/HarCoLiving

Book of the Month for November 2020

The Gamble

Kathryn Jacques

Did you know that reading is good for your health? When you read for only 6 minutes, it helps reduce stress by 60%, relieves muscle tension, slows your heartbeat and alters your state of mind. Believe it or not, reading has proven to be 600% more beneficial in reducing stress than playing video games, 300% more useful than actually going for a walk, 100% more than drinking a cup of tea and 68% more than listening to music. There are millions of books available and several have been written by local Authors.

Since we started the podcast, Harford County Living with Rich Bennett, we’ve had plenty of different local Authors on. We want everyone to be able enjoy the great books written by them so we decided to feature a “Book of the Month” from a local Author.

This month we are proud to feature “The Gamble” by Kathryn Jacques

Description

It’s 2135, and no human alive has seen the sun, or the stars, or even the sky. In the radioactive aftermath of WWIII, eighteen-year-old Kelsey Keslin is one of only 50,000 people left on the planet. Sealed inside the Republic of the Continuation, a subterranean city housing the last of humanity, the laws are strict, punishments brutal, and space and resources severely limited. The best form of population control has become the Gamble, a lottery based system which sentences thousands to death each year.Kelsey lives a privileged life. Of anyone, she has the least to worry about with the Gamble, but that doesn’t stop her fear and anxiety as her first official day of potential selection draws closer. When someone she loves is chosen for execution, a part of her dies too. No longer willing to struggle alone, buried alive in a world made of nothing but grey concrete and cold metal, Kelsey collapses into a self-destructive depression. But then she meets the stunning, yet abrasively arrogant Jaxon Cole. Despite his aloof exterior, there’s a connection between them that Kelsey can’t quite explain. He sets out to prove the world holds more secrets than Kelsey ever realized, and some she never wanted to know.Accused of being a spy, kidnapped and tortured by a radical fringe group, and faced with death more than once, the biggest problems Kelsey battles, are the lies and betrayals of those she loves most.

Purchase all featured books at https://bookshop.org/shop/HarCoLiving

Book of the Month for October 2020

Children of the Program

Brad W Cox

Did you know that reading is good for your health? When you read for only 6 minutes, it helps reduce stress by 60%, relieves muscle tension, slows your heartbeat and alters your state of mind. Believe it or not, reading has proven to be 600% more beneficial in reducing stress than playing video games, 300% more useful than actually going for a walk, 100% more than drinking a cup of tea and 68% more than listening to music. There are millions of books available and several have been written by local Authors.

Since we started the podcast, Harford County Living with Rich Bennett, we’ve had plenty of different local Authors on. We want everyone to be able enjoy the great books written by them so we decided to feature a “Book of the Month” from a local Author.

This month we are proud to feature “Children of the Program” by Brad W Cox

Description

A murderous cult threatens the enlightenment of tomorrow, as 12 strangers, plucked from various parts of the world, are awakened and brought together by a divine calling. The chosen ones, selected for The Program, are sent on a mission to expand human consciousness, by finding the true meaning of love. This quixotic narrative is turned on its head when the lines of divinity and anarchy are blurred. Intertwining reality with fiction, it’s up to the reader to decide where the truth lies. The Program is due to reset, but not before their story is told.

Purchase all featured books at https://bookshop.org/shop/HarCoLiving

Book of the Month for September 2020

Power of a Princess

E D Baker

Did you know that reading is good for your health? When you read for only 6 minutes, it helps reduce stress by 60%, relieves muscle tension, slows your heartbeat and alters your state of mind. Believe it or not, reading has proven to be 600% more beneficial in reducing stress than playing video games, 300% more useful than actually going for a walk, 100% more than drinking a cup of tea and 68% more than listening to music. There are millions of books available and several have been written by local Authors.

Since we started the podcast, Harford County Living with Rich Bennett, we’ve had plenty of different local Authors on. We want everyone to be able enjoy the great books written by them so we decided to feature a “Book of the Month” from a local Author.

This month we are proud to feature “Power of a Princess” by E D Baker

Purchase all featured books at https://bookshop.org/shop/HarCoLiving