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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Miles From Where We Started

Drawing from 33 years as writer/producer and on-air voice actor for the daily 15-minute radio broadcast The Heartbeat of the Home, Cynthia Ruchti now tells stories hemmed-in-hope through novels, nonfiction, devotionals, and at speaking events for women.  Her books have received numerous awards, including the Carol Award, Christian Retailing's BEST Award, and Inspirational Readers/ Choice Award, as well as being a finalist for the Christy Awards and TR Reviews Inspirational Novel of the Year.
Cynthia serves on the worship team at her church and as the professional relations liaison for ACFW.  She's a member of AWSA, WFWA, is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Management and recently joined the Books & Such team as a literary agent.
Cynthia and her husband live in WI not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

You would be blessed to connect with Cynthia through...

  • Website:  www.cynthiaruchti.com
  • Facebook:  CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage
  • Instagram:  @cynthiaruchti1994
  • Twitter:  @cynthiaruchti
  • Pinterest:  @cynthiaruchti
  • YouTube:  @hopeglows
These no-longer newlyweds want out of this road trip and their marriage.  Too bad they can't find the off-ramp.

Weeks away from their one-year wedding anniversary, Mallory and Connor Duncan can't even agree on how to end their marriage.  But when a last-minute crisis lands them on a three-thousand-mile road trip together, Mallory wonders if their story may not be over after all.

The trip begins to unravel before the key is even in the ignition.  When an at-risk, trouble-seeking eleven-year-old is unexpectedly thrown into their travel plans, close quarters get even tighter.  Soon, the couple believes this whole experience will spell disaster.

Their first year of marriage hasn't been the arm-in-arm togetherness Mallory and Connor expected.  But is it possible they will find a new beginning at the end of the road?

My Thoughts:
Typically I don't highlight or underline in Fiction books.  But, when I am reading a Cynthia Ruchti book a highlighter/pen is close at hand.  Her latest, Miles From Where We Started, proved to drain the highlighter dry.  This book is not one to be read quickly but savored.  Ruchti's writing in Miles From Where We Started is poetic.  There were times in Connor and Mallory's story that I had to just stop and ponder things before moving on.  I appreciated fully experiencing the journey from both Mallory and Connor's perspectives.  Ruchti kindled my emotions and as I turned the last page I was undone in the best possible way.  With admonishments like...
"This is not how our story ends."
"Forgive more than you think you should have to."
"Start living with what I'd been dealt and with the blessing that came out of the risk."
"Freedom," she said, "has a lot more to do with contentment than the absence of boundaries." 
"It turns out a family can drown in more and thrive with less."
 you will come away from this story not quickly forgetting the characters or the snippets of inspiration for quite some time.  One last thought...hope, there is always hope.

*I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.  All opinions stated here are my own.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Shelter Of The Most High

Connilyn Cossette is the CBA bestselling author of the Out From Egypt series.  Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for the Christy Award, the INSPY Award, and the Christian Retailing's Best Award.  She lives in North Carolina with her husband of over twenty years and a son and a daughter who fill her days with joy, inspiration, and laughter.

Connect with Connilyn at www.ConnilynCossette.com.

The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean.  But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.

Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a city of refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood, year chafing at the boundaries placed on him.  He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.

As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot.  Can they uncover the betrayal in time to save their lives and the lives of those they love?

My Thoughts:
Cossette became a favorite author of mine with her debut novel, Counted With The Stars, that began her Out of Egypt series.  That was five books ago.  Cossette's latest, Shelter Of The Most High, second in her Cities of Refuge series did not disappoint.

Cossette mesmerizes and captivates readers with impeccable research, rich descriptive details, and spot-on characterization.  Readers first meet Eitan in A Light On A Hill, the first book in the Cities of Refuge series.  I fell in love with him as a little boy and in Cossette's latest he is all grown up and finding his own way.

One of the things I appreciate the most about Cossette's writing and one thing I found most prominent in Shelter Of The Most High is the high view of God and clear picture of the gospel that is peppered thoughout the book.  It is woven clearly in crisp dialogue and apparent throughout Sofea and Eitan's journey.
"Where does your God live?  Yahweh is the Most High God, Sofea, the Creator of every living thing and the earth upon which we stand.  There is no mountain that can contain him.  No nation that can stand against his power.  No sea that does not obey his command."
"We must trust Yahweh my son.  The God who made Sofea sees her." 
Cossette has garnered a prominent spot among the best authors of Biblica Fiction.  Read her books and make space for them on your keeper shelf.  Trust me...she's just that good.

*I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.  All opinions here are my own.

Happy reading ya'll,
Jennifer

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A Secret To Die For

Lisa Harris is a bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel from Romantic Times for her novels Blod Covenant and Vendetta.  The author of more than thirty books, including Missing, Pursued, Vanishing Point, and the Southern Crimes series, Harris and her family have spent almost fifteen years living as missionaries in southern Africa.
Learn more at www.lisaharriswrites.com.

Psychologist Grace Callahan has no idea that she has a secret - and a target on her back.

When one of her clients is murdered, Grace quickly realizes that computer security specialist Stephen Shaw wasn't suffering from paranoia.  What she doesn't know is that someone believes Shaw gave her a vital piece of information before he died - and they are ready to silence her at any cost.  Her only hope may be an old friend, Detective Nate Quinn, who has just been cleared for active duty after a bombing killed his partner and left him dealing with PTSD.



My Thoughts:
Harris has a knack for dropping readers smack dab in the middle of the action on page one and holding their attention through fast-action drama until the last page.  In her latest, A Secret To Die For, Harris creates a story with heart-pounding dread of a massive attack.  And in great Harris fashion, she is able to include a romantic element that is not forced or a syrupy add-on but one that is genuine and a natural progression within the main story.
You don't want to miss a book Harris writes.  She always delivers and enjoyable read.  But be prepared to invest some time because you won't be able to put this one down!
*I was given a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.  All opinions here are my own.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Legacy of Mercy/Interview with Lynn Austin

Bestselling author Lynn Austin has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide.  
She is an eight-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels, as well as a popular speaker at retreats and conventions.  Lynn and her husband have raised three children and live in Michigan.  Learn more about Lynn's books and connect with her at www.lynnaustin.org.

She knew her new life would not be easy, but nothing could prepare her for what waits ahead.

Having returned to Chicago, young socialite Anna Nicholson can't seem to focus on her upcoming marriage.  The new information she's learned about her birth mother continues to pull at her, and she hires Pinkerton detectives to help her discover the whole truth.

But as she meets people who once knew her mother and hears stories about the past, Anna soon discovers that some secrets are better left hidden.  With pressure mounting to keep the past quiet, she discovers daily that her choice to seek God's purpose for her life isn't as simple as she had hoped.

When things are at their darkest, Anna knows she can turn to her grandmother, Geesje de Jonge, back in Holland, Michigan.  Geesje's been helping new Dutch immigrants - including a teen with a troubled history - adjust to America.  She only hopes that her wisdom can help all these young people through the turmoil they face.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW:
Legacy of Mercy is a sequel to your novel Waves of Mercy. How does this new book build on that story?
At the end of “Waves of Mercy,” one of the main characters, Anna Nicholson, returns to Chicago to marry her fiancĂ© and continue her life as a wealthy, young socialite. She has discovered, over the summer, who her birth mother was, and she is naturally curious to learn more about her. She also has no idea who her birth father was and longs to solve that mystery, too. Most of all, she is eager to learn how to grow in her new Christian faith. In “Legacy of Mercy,” she explores all of these questions, which creates a host of new problems in her life.
The other main character from “Waves of Mercy”, Geesje DeJonge, is contented with her walk with God and her life in Holland, Michigan after enduring many trials as an immigrant from the Netherlands. At age 67, she isn’t seeking a new adventure. But when she offers to help Cornelia, a young Dutch immigrant, she’ll discover that she still has many things to learn about God and about herself.
Legacy of Mercy will be the first sequel you’ve ever written. What made you decide to write a sequel?

My readers decided for me! I received many, many letters from them asking if there would be a sequel to “Waves of Mercy.” The main character, Anna, is only in her twenties and is a new Christian, so when she decides to return to Chicago and marry her fiancĂ© at the end of the book, readers wanted to know what happens next in her life. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to explore what happens next for Anna, too. She has just discovered who her birth mother is, so naturally she’ll want to learn more about her. She’ll also want to solve the mystery of who her real father is and what became of him. What if he is still alive? Lots of material for a story here, especially when the other people in Anna’s life try to discourage her investigations.
Tell us about Anna Nicholson - what made you want to return to her story?
After “Waves of Mercy” was published, I started receiving letters from readers who all wanted to know what happens next in Anna’s life. She is only 23 years old, and a brand-new Christian, so there had to be a lot more to tell about her—or so my readers insisted. They were also concerned about Derk VanderVeen—would he ever find true love? The more I thought about it, the more curious I was to discover the answers, too. I loved all of the characters from “Waves of Mercy” so it was a pleasure to bring them back to life and find out what happens next.
Anna's grandmother is helping Dutch immigrants adjust to America. What inspired you to explore the story of Dutch immigration to America?
I live in Holland, Michigan, a town that was settled by Dutch immigrants in 1847. When my husband and I moved here four years ago, I was curious to learn more about the town’s past. It has been a haven for Dutch immigrants leaving the Netherlands for a variety of reasons, including religious persecution, famine, and the poverty and hardship following World War II. The more I read about their courage, perseverance, and faith, the more I knew I wanted to tell their stories.
What inspired you to write about characters in this period and place?
I lived in the Chicago area for more than twenty years and I find its history fascinating. In a way, it’s a new city—almost completely rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1871. It doesn’t have the long history of places like New York City or New Orleans, and any newcomer can start with nothing and become a millionaire in Chicago. I also love the “Gilded Age” when houses were ostentatious, and women wore elegant gowns, and the wealthy had scores of servants. It looks so wonderful from the outside, but women of that era faced so many limitations. I’ve always wondered if I would really enjoy all of that wealth and elegance if my only role in life was to be a pretty ornament on my husband’s arm. That’s what fascinates me most about this era—how does a woman find a sense of purpose in a frivolous age?
When setting out to write a novel, which comes to you first - the time, the place, or the characters?
I usually begin my novels with a certain time period or historical event in mind. As I delve into the research (including travel to the book’s setting, whenever possible) I figure out the setting for the novel. In the process, I find that my characters start forming in my mind, and I flesh them out by creating resumes for them with all sorts of background information. When the characters begin to “speak” to me and I hear their “voices,” I know I’m ready to start writing. At this point, I don’t have a clear outline of the plot in mind. I simply begin writing and see what happens next.
What kind of research did you do to get the details in Legacy of Mercy right?
I spent a lot of time reading about manners and customs among the wealthy during the Gilded Age, when the story takes place. Society demanded strict adherence to rituals, such as afternoon teas and calling cards. I had explored these details in earlier novels, such as “A Proper Pursuit,” and more recently in “Where We Belong,” so it was fun for me to revisit them. Mind you, I would have gone bonkers if I had to live with so many restrictions—especially the rules that say a married woman must turn over all of the decision-making to her husband.
When writing historical fiction, what are the challenges (or joys) of balancing historical facts with filling in the blanks with your imagination?
One of the joys of writing historical fiction is that as I research past history, I get scores of great ideas for plots and stories! I once read a true account of how women dressed up like men and fought in the Civil War—and it led me to write the novel “Fire by Night.”  The true story of the Packhorse Librarians during the Great Depression led to my novel “Wonderland Creek.” In all of those instances, the historical facts fed my imagination. The challenge comes, when I have to fit my plot ideas into a historical framework. Sometimes I wish I could change the facts and the dates to fit my story! And often, by the time I finish a novel, I have trouble remembering which ideas were true facts and which ones I made up.
What do you hope readers takeaway after reading Legacy of Mercy?
One of the themes is about gossip, and how lives can be destroyed by the power of our unbridled tongues. Another is the difficult struggle that young people often face when they seek to stay true to their faith and to who God created them to be. I think there’s also a message for the older generation—that God doesn’t believe in retirement! I would be thrilled if readers found themselves pondering these themes after finishing “Legacy of Mercy,” but my primary goal is always to simply tell a good story.
How does your faith impact how you approach writing stories?
Every author writes from his or her own worldview, whether they are a Christian, an atheist or some other religion. Our worldview is the way we make sense of life and put all of the puzzle pieces together to answer life’s questions. I don’t have a spiritual theme in mind when I begin a story—I simply want to tell a tale about people in a certain time and place, facing a difficult dilemma. It’s not my goal to preach the Gospel message in every book I write. But because I’m a Christian, my worldview seeps through the pages of my book as the characters wrestle with the big questions in life. And it’s natural for them to find the answers to those questions from my own Christian worldview.
What are your favorite ways for readers to support their favorite authors?

I think it’s wonderful when readers are so excited about an author that they want to share her books with all of their friends. Word-of-mouth is still the number one way that books are sold. Book clubs are very popular, and I love it when a reader tells me that no one in her club had read one of my books until she suggested it for their monthly selection—and then all of those new readers told their family and friends about it! It’s so helpful when readers post blogs about an author’s books and post reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, but when they share their copy of a book until it falls apart, that’s the best advertising ever!

My Thoughts:
"Don't ever think your life is over before it is.  God can use even our greatest failures for His glory."
Austin began an amazingly beautiful story in her book Waves of Mercy where readers first meet Anna and Geesje.  Legacy of Mercy is the continuation of their story.  And it is with lines like the quote above that Austin weaves gospel truth and encouragement throughout this story.
"I want to be able to look at people the way Jesus did, and truly see them and love them."
Austin writes a story that takes a hard look at class division in the 1800's, sacrifices made for true love, overcoming some of the hardest pain, and the search for true identity, purpose and belonging.  
"Unless grace is built into the structure, it is doomed to collapse."
Austin's characters all have unbelievable depth and their stories will grab you and carry you along on a journey you won't soon forget after the last page has been turned.  

While Austin continues Anna and Geesje's story in Legacy of Mercy, she includes the story of Cornelia, a young Dutch immigrant, and Geesje.  I have fallen in love with Geesje's character and believe that we all need a Geesje in our lives.

Read these books and clear off room on your keeper shelf for both!

*I was given a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.  All opinions stated here are my own.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer


Monday, September 17, 2018

Reload Love: Transforming Bullets To Beauty And Battlegrounds To Playgrounds

Lenya Heitzig's heart is to reach out to hurting people through tangible acts of love.  The founder of Reload Love, a ministry which touches the lives of children affected by terrorism, Lenya also serves as the executive director of she Ministries at Calvary Church, pastored by her husband, Skip.

You can learn more about Reload Love, the ministry, and how you can be a part of changing the lives of children around the world HERE.

"So Jesus answered and said to him, 'What do you want Me to do for you?'  The blind man said to Him, 'Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.'  Then Jesus said to him, 'Go your way; your faith has made you well.'  And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road."

Will we try to forget all the things we've seen?
Or will we see, really see, and then let our emotions lead us into a new way of living?

This is the story of one woman who refused to look away from atrocities on her television screen.  Lenya Heitzig allowed her heart to break at the plight of refugees and the deaths of innocent children, and then she begged God for a job to do.

In this gritty, passionate story, Lenya details the epic way God answered her prayers - how a spark came to life turning weapons of war into something beautiful.  Experience the hope found in a children's playground as you journey with her through the jungles of Burma and the war-torn streets of the Middle East.

Though the shape of your heart and passion may look very different, you will find hope and inspiration in ordinary people who go to incredible lengths to share God's, life-giving love.



My Thoughts:
"What will we do when we finally see?"  Lenya Heitzig asks her readers that question in her book Reload Love.  In the book, Heitzig chronicles her journey of establishing the ministry of building playgrounds in war-torn locations around the world and making brass jewelry out of spent bullet casings.  If this isn't a story of seeing bueaty rise from ashes, I don't know what is.
Heitzig's writes her story as if she is sitting across from you at a table with a cup of coffee and simply sharing her heart with you.  Her story is challenging, encouraging, and inspiring.  She's been willing to do the hard things because of her trust in God for His strength.  I so appreciate the way Heitzig shares God's word throughout the book and how she let it transform her thinking and direction at each point along the way.
Heitzig has allowed God's love to transform her and she shows very clearly that love is a verb...it is something you do when you really see.  
I think Matthew West's song "Do Something" is the perfect soundtrack to Heitzig's story.



*I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

Blessings,
Jennifer

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thirst of Steel

Ronie Kendig is a bestselling, award-winning author of over twenty novels.  She grew up an Army brat, and now she and her hunky hero are adventuring on the East Coast with their grown children and a retired military working dog, VVolt N629.
Ronie's degree in psychology has helped her pen novels with intense, raw characters.

You can connect with Ronie online via her website:  www.roniekendig.com.











The final conflict will hinge on one of history's most dangerous blades...

Dismantled centuries ago, the sword of Goliath is still rumored to thirst for its enemies' blood.  Cole "Tox" Russell wants only to put the dangers of his past behind him and begin his new life with Haven Cortes.  First, though, he's called to complete a final mission:  retrieve the sword and destroy the deadly Arrow & Flame Order.

The AFO, however, is determined to reunite the sword.  Threatening the life of Ram and Tzivia's father, they jeopardize Ram's long-held and dangerous secret while demanding Tzivia locate the blade.  With Wraith team slowly being torn apart, things worsen when Mercy Maddox, a new operative, emerges with the stunning news that the artifact is tied to both Ram's secret and a string of unsolved serial murders.

Tox, Ram, and the others are forced to set aside fear and anger to target the true enemy.  No matter the cost, Wraith must destroy the AFO...or join them in the flames.

My Thoughts:
Kendig is in a league of her very own.  Her most recent series The Tox Files solidifies that status for her in my mind.  And the conclusion of the series, Thirst of Steel, has left me without words and more than a little sad to see the story of Cole Russell and his team end.
Replete with strong, well-developed characters and more twists than one can keep up with, Thirst of Steel hits the ground running with edge-of-your-seat action that is non-stop.  Kendig includes a little bit of everything in this story centered around the hunt for Goliath's sword...nail-biting suspense, romance, espionage, government secrets, struggles with faith, and friendship that runs deep...a brotherhood.  That sounds like a lot, but Kendig makes it work beautifully.
As I turned the last page of Thirst of Steel, I was left breathless from the story and from the brilliant mind that is Kendig's.  I can not recommend this series enough.  Start from the beginning with The Warrior's Seal and be prepared for an ending that will blow you away.  And dust off appropriate space on your keeper shelf.

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher.  All opinions stated here are my own.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

By The Waters of Babylon

Mesu Andrews is the award-winning author of Love Amid the Ashes and numerous other novels including The Pharoah's Daughter and Miriam.  Her deep understanding of and love for God's Word brings the biblical world alive for readers.
Mesu lives in North Carolina with her husband Roy and enjoys spending time with her growing tribe of grandchildren.

You can connect with Mesu at www.mesuandrews.com.

When Babylon destroys Jerusalem, as Yahweh warned through His prophets, the captives' bitterness and grief pours out in the Captives' Psalm.

A young Israelite woman is among them captured by a mercenary Scythian prince.  Driven toward Babylon by both hatred and hope, she endures captivity to reunite with her husband.

But will he be there when she reaches Babylon?  Will the prince risk the Scythian throne - and his life - to believe in the Hebrew God?

Can they both find what they seek when they meet the prophet Ezekiel...by the waters of Babylon?

My Thoughts:
Andrews' latest novella, By the Waters of Babylon, is book 2 in The Psalm Series.  The other books in the series are...


Andrews draws her novella from a study of Psalm 137.  I appreciate Andrews' impeccable research and gospel-centered writing.  Her attention to historical and cultural detail bring the Old Testament Scriptures to life and drives me to search out the Scriptures for myself.  
Andrews' characters jump off the page in living color.  I'm drawn into Merari's story from the prologue to the last page.  
From the Prologue...
"But God...For we who believed, those words mended broken hears, turned the tide.  Lives were changed.  Wanderers found purpose.  Those who loved much, lost much.  Yet we who trusted Yahweh, allowed Him to step into the void and fill our emptiness.  Only Yahweh chooses a broken woman to heal a wounded man.  Only Yahweh uses a pagan prince to offer truth to a foreign empire.  And only Yahweh can use my story to change your life.  You may think change impossible - but God..."
 In By the Waters of Babylon, Andrews tactfully portrays the violence of Jerusalem's captivity.  Readers will get a clear picture of that but also of the goodness, justness, and righteousness of a Sovereign and loving God Who can powerfully transform lives and the bleakest of circumstances.  

The novella also includes a Bible study of Psalm 137.  By the Waters of Babylon would be excellent used as a personal devotional study, small group study, or even as a Sunday School class study.

*I was given a complimentary copy of the book.  All opinions stated here are my own.

Blessings Readers,
Jennifer