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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Goodbye to Yesterday

Wanda Brunstetter is an award-winning romance novelist who has led millions of readers to lose their heart in the Amish life. She is the author of over 60 books with more than 6 million copies sold. 
Wanda’s fascination with the Amish culture developed when she met her husband, Richard, who grew up in a Mennonite church, and whose family has a Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. Meeting her new Mennonite sister-in-laws caused Wanda to yearn for the simpler life. In their travels, she and her husband have become close friends with many Amish people across America. Wanda’s desire to explore their culture increased when she discovered that her great-great grandparents were part of the Anabaptist faith.
All of Wanda’s novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Many of her books are well-read and trusted by the Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.
Wanda’s primary attraction to the Amish is their desire to live a devout Christian life that strives to honor God, work hard, and maintain close family ties. Whenever she visits her Amish friends, Wanda finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties, which is in stark contrast to the chaos and busyness that plagues so many modern “Englishers.” Time and time again, Wanda loses her heart in the Amish life, and she hopes her readers will, too.
Ms Brunstetter has a beautiful and informative website where you can learn more about her and her books.  It can be found at www.wandabrunstetter.com.

Goodbye to Yesterday is Part 1 of the six part  Discovery Saga.  

Synopsis:
When Luke Stoltzfus loses his job at a furniture store in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, he is given an opportunity to learn a new trade from his uncle who lives in Indiana.  Despite his wife's reservations, Luke jumps at the chance and makes plans for a quick trip to Middlebury.  Along the way, Luke meets with tragedy, and life as he knew it will never be the same.  Despite all odds, will the faith and love Luke and Meredith share be enough to bring them back together again?  Or will Meredith begin a new life with another?
You can learn more about The Discovery Saga by going to the Facebook page found HERE.

My Thoughts:
Ms Brunstetter writes from a deep well of knowledge about Amish life and culture.  And this sets her apart from other writers of Amish novels.  While Amish fiction has never been my favorite genre to read, I enjoyed this installment of The Discovery Saga.  Goodbye to Yesterday introduces us to Luke and Meredith just over a year into their marriage.  The story is tender and moving and depicts the realities of various struggles in relationships.  Ms Brunstetter tells their story and eloquently weaves in current themes such as economic downfall all the while staying true to authentic Amish life and she adds a bit of mystery.
The book is short - only 121 pages in a pocket sized binding.  I read the book in just a couple of hours and in the carpool line.  
The remaining five portions of the story is being released in five consecutive monthly installments beginning with the release of part two, The Silence of Winter, in March 2013.  The way this book ends leaves you kind of disappointed.  I'm ready to know what happens!  I really wish the story was presented in one complete novel rather than divided up into 6 parts over such a long time.  You can order the books from Amazon.com by going HERE.

Thank you Julie Busteed with Handlebar Central for sending the book for the purpose of review!

Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Flora's Wish

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Flora's Wish
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
by
Kathleen Y'Barbo
 

RITA and Carol award nominee Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than forty novels, novellas, and young adult books. In all, more than one million copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad, and her books have been translated into Dutch, German, and Spanish, to name a few.
Kathleen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She holds a BBA from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and a certification in Paralegal Studies, and is a former member of the Texas Bar Association’s Paralegal Division.
A tenth-generation Texan, Kathleen Y’Barbo has four children of her own as well as seven bonus kids she gladly inherited when she married her own hero in combat boots. Kathleen is proud to be a military wife, even if it did mean giving up her Texas drivers license.
Kathleen can be reached through the Contact link on her Website

May 1887--Flora Brimm is determined the fifth time is the charm. Back home she has a reputation as "Fatal Flora," a woman whose previous four fianc├ęs died in untimely accidents. Flora is desperate to marry, because producing an heir is the only way she can keep her family's estate. She's confident this visit to Eureka Springs with her grandmother will help her land a husband. 
Pinkerton detective Lucas McMinn is hot on the trail of Will Tucker, the thief who broke his sister's heart. When he discovers the slippery fellow with Flora, he thinks they are in on the devious plot together. Will Flora be able to convince Lucas of her innocence? Will Lucas catch the elusive Mr. Tucker?
And, more importantly, will Lucas survive if he pursues Flora's heart? 
If you would like to read the first chapter of Flora's Wish, go HERE.
 
My Thoughts:
While this particular genre is not my favorite, Ms Y'Barro weaves a really good story that includes romance, a little bit of mystery and humor.  You just can't help but like her characters.  The character development in her book is top-notch!  In just a short amount of time you feel as if you've known them for a while and beginning the book feels like catching up with old friends.  With this said, some parts of the book felt a little belabored.  At some points I got a little bored with the story and wanted it to move a little faster.  Overall, I would give this book 3 stars out of 5.
 
Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Friday, February 22, 2013

Breakfast with...

If you could sit down and share breakfast with anybody in the universe, past or present, who would it be?

Wonderful fellowship is often had sitting around a breakfast, lunch or supper table.  I know...to some of you reading it would be a dinner table, but I'm a good ole' country girl and it is still supper to me!  It doesn't even have to be a full meal to render such sweet fellowship. 

If you could sit down with anyone and share a cup of coffee, who would it be?  What kinds of questions would you want to ask this person?

I'm presently reading through a book as part of my quiet times each morning.  The book is Breakfast with Bonhoeffer:  How I Learned To Stop Being Religious So I Could Follow Jesus by Jon Walker.  I have previously read and reviewed Jon's book Costly Grace:  AContemporary View of Bonhoeffers's The Cost of Discipleship.  You can take a peak of that HERE

While poring over the classic writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and writing Costly Grace, Jon was not just doing research for a book.  He found himself challenged and changed by Bonhoeffer's writing.  Here is an excerpt from my reading this morning and the reason for this post:
"'Genuine love is always self-forgetful' says Bonhoeffer.  It's unfortunate, Bonhoeffer says, that many followers of Jesus get stuck right at this point - at the threshold of the Kingdom but unwilling to die to self.  The truth is, the image of the good man or woman easily becomes a form of idolatry because we place that image and our own abilities to be nice above our intimacy with Jesus.  We auto-respond from the image instead of talking to our Lord about what we should do or how we should handle a situation...This hypocrisy and idolatry leaves us in a state of denial -  perhaps the great condition of the modern church - where we act as if we're living the abundant life while secretly we are living in quiet desperation.  The truth is, Bonhoeffer says, we'd rather have a saint in our small group than a sinner because we don't want to deal with the mess.  But the problem is, this creates an unsafe environment to bring our problems and our pain, so we all try acting like saints because we're afraid people will see the mess in our own lives."
Great condition of the modern church...

Quiet desperation...

Deal with the mess...

I wonder what you think about what is contained in that quote?  Do you agree with what you read there?  Have you experienced this in your own life?  In your church?  In your small group?

My husband and I often have the discussion about how we are tired of playing games in the ministry.  The world is dark and many people are fighting battles in their families and in their own personal lives for purity and holiness.  The time has come to get serious about the battle we are in and as much as we'd like to sugar-coat it...WE ARE IN A BATTLE!  It's hard...it's messy...and sometimes it is down right bloody.  The enemy of our souls is out to steal, kill and destroy.

And all the while many of us who claim to "know the Lord" are living in this quiet desperation of which Bonhhoeffer speaks.  I wonder why?

So...I'd love to hear your thoughts about this!  Genuine love isn't afraid of the mess.

Blessings,
Jennifer

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What's Up?

If I were a little more "hip", I would have titled this post like this:  'Sup?

I'm 41.  I'm not hip.  Just ask my 15 year old and she will agree.  So many things I do or say these days get this reaction from her:  "Really ma?"  "Ma"...what's that about?

Anyway...speaking of the 15 year old...
Florida officially has a new learning driver, because someone has her driver's permit!  Now...where did I put that nerve med prescription?  By the way...isn't she beautiful?

In other McIlwain happenings, Mike and I have taken to letting our children play with sticks...
 
All under supervision of course!  Cecily and Bentley are participating in a Mixed Martial Arts class at our church.  Not sure what Cecily's balled up fist is about, but it probably has something to do with her little brother aiming a stick at her head!

Most days at home it is just me and the littlest one in our family...the soon to be four year old!  When she isn't falling asleep with her daddy's iPad...
or her InnoTab 2, which she calls her "little girl iPad"...
she is busy helping mommy.  She has learned to fold the bath cloths and is so proud of herself.
 
She's a cute little helper!

So...'sup 'round your place?

Blessings,
Jennifer


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

For Love of Eli

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
For Love of Eli
Abingdon Press (February 1, 2013)
by
Loree Lough
 

With more than FOUR MILLION copies of her books in circulation, Loree has 98 books (fiction and non-fiction for kids and adults; four novels optioned for movies; more books slated for release between now and 2014), 68 short stories, over 2,500+ articles in print, and over 19,000 letters from fans!
Loree loves sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry, and her comedic approach makes her a favorite (and frequent) guest of writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, college and high school writing programs both here and abroad.
A writer who believes in "giving back," Loree dedicates a portion of her income to Soldiers' Angels, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and other worthwhile organizations.
She splits her time between a tiny home in the Baltimore suburbs and an even tinier cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, and shares both with her real-life hero Larry, who rarely complains, even when she adds yet another item to her vast collection of "wolf stuff."  
Loree Lough can be reached through the Contact link on her Website.

When unspeakable tragedy leaves young Eli an orphan, two families are devastated. But Taylor, Eli’s aunt and legal guardian, vows to help him remember his parents by creating a Memory Quilt. As she begins piecing together the moments of his parents' lives, the story of the young family emerges and Taylor and Eli begin to heal. But Eli’s uncle Reece is slow to let go of the past and still blames Taylor’s brother for his sister’s death. So, although he has long been attracted to Taylor, Reece keeps a safe distance away. Can their shared love for Eli pave the way to forgiveness or will Taylor and Reece be separated by pain?
If you would like to read a first chapter excerpt of For Love of Eli, go HERE
 
My Thoughts:
I have come to love the Quilts of Love series! And For Love of Eli did not disappoint!  Yes...two explanation points in a row...can you tell how much I love these books?  Lough tells a tender story of loss, love and restoration.  This author does an exceptionally good job of telling the characters' stories within the larger story.  Little Eli stole my heart immediately.  The tension Taylor and Reece experience is almost palpable at times.  Lough draws you into her story.  You begin reading and before you know it you have finished the book!  You'll want to get your hands on this one and the others in this series.  
 
Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer 

The Emotionally Healthy Woman

"Quitters are never winners."

I bet you have heard that before!  And generically speaking, it is the truth.  However, Geri Scazzero would have us think a little differently about "quitting".

Geri is a popular conference speaker, trainer, and coach for church leaders, women's groups, and married couples, both in North America and internationally.  Geri has served on staff of New Life Fellowship Church in New York City for the last 25 years and is the co-founder, along with her husband, Pete, of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (www.emotionallyhealthy.org) - a groundbreaking ministry that equips pastors and leaders with a new leadership paradigm that integrates emotional health and contemplative spirituality.  She is the coauthor of Emotionally Healthy Skills 2.0 and The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Workbook

Geri can be reached on her Facebook page by going HERE.

I was drawn to the opportunity to review this book for two reasons:
1.  The title.  In today's society, women are often portrayed as big mushy bags of emotion, so therefore, they need one more book about how to be "emotionally healthy".
2.  I was interested as a pastor's wife in hearing what a sister pastor's wife had to say; especially one who had told her husband she was "quitting the church".

In this most recent book, The Emotionally Healthy Woman:  Eight Things You Have To Quit To Change Your Life (previously titled I Quit), Geri targets eight things women need to "quit" in order to be emotionally healthy:


  • Quit being afraid of what others think.
  • Quit lying.
  • Quit dying to the wrong things.
  • Quit denying anger, sadness, and fear.
  • Quit blaming.
  • Quit overfunctioning.
  • Quit faulty thinking.
  • Quit living someone else's life.
While there were some things in the book, such as Geri and her husband's regular use of The Prayer of Examen (something with which I was unfamiliar), their use of the Enneagram personality test, and the emphasis on being contemplative, that I am still not exactly sure about, there is much that Geri shares that is good in helping one to order their life well.   

I appreciated that the Scazzeros wrote about their personal experiences; this helps the reader understand where they are coming from in some of their ideas.  While there is much good to take away from the book, I feel that much of what we have here is an attempt to "Christianize" your run of the mill self help idea about "living a life you love".  Read the book, but do so with your Bible in hand and a hearty prayer asking God for discernment as you do.  Keep the fish and spit out the bones.

Thank you Mr. Roberson with B&B Media for the complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.

Blessings,
Jennifer

Friday, February 15, 2013

Daybreak

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Daybreak
Avon Inspire; Original edition (February 12, 2013)
by
Shelley Shepard Gray
 
 

Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold over thirty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, Abingdon Press, and Avon Inspire. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.
Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.
Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.
When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.
Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page.
Shelley can also be reached through the Contact link on her Website.

When Viola Keim starts working at a nearby Mennonite retirement home, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with resident Atle, whose only living relative, son Edward, is living as a missionary in Nicaragua. Viola understands the importance of mission work, but she can’t imagine leaving her father in the hands of strangers. Even though her family is New Order Amish, it’s not the Amish way, and though she doesn’t know Ed, she judges him for abandoning his father. 
But when Ed surprises his father with a visit, Viola and Ed both discover an attraction they never expected. Despite her feelings, choosing Ed would mean moving to a far-off country and leaving her family behind. She can’t do that. Her twin sister, Elsie, is going blind and will need someone to care for her all her life. Her family is reeling with the recent discovery that her grandmother hid her past as an Englischer. Her father seems forgetful and distracted—and to be harboring some secrets of his own. Does Viola dare leave them all behind and forge her own life? Or will family ties mean her one chance at love slips away?
If you would like to read a first Chapter excerpt from Daybreak,go HERE.

My Thoughts:
Daybreak is the first book in Gray's The Days of Redemption series.  This was not my favorite book.  When I began reading, I felt as if I'd been dropped right in the middle of this dysfunctional Amish family.  The book reads like a movie where you jump from scene to scene...it just didn't flow smoothly.  Parts of the story seemed rushed and forced as if Ms Gray was hurriedly trying to get the book finished.  If I were "starring" this review, I would give the book a 3 out of 5 stars.  The story was good overall, but could have been better developed on the page.

Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I Still Believe

Scattered words and empty thoughts
seem to pour from my heart
I've never felt so torn before
seems I don't know where to start
but it's now that I feel Your grace falls like rain
from every fingertip, washing away my pain
[Chorus:]
I still believe in Your faithfulness
I still believe in Your truth
I still believe in Your holy word
even when I don't see, I still believe
 
Though the questions still fog up my mind
with promises I still seem to bear
even when answers slowly unwind
it's my heart I see You prepare
but its now that I feel Your grace fall like rain
from every finger tip, washing away my pain
[Chorus]
The only place I can go is into your arms
where I throw to you my feeble prayers
in brokenness I can see that this was your will for me
Help me to know You are near. 

Barely 100 days after Jeremy Camp married the love of his life, Melissa, she passed away after losing her battle with ovarian cancer.  Just a couple of days, while grieving in the home of his parents, Jeremy feels these words impressed on his heart from God:
"Pick up your guitar."
The last thing he wanted or felt like doing, but in obedience to the Lord's prompting he did and the song I Still Believe flowed from his heart.


Born January 12, 1978 is a contemporary Christian musician from Lafayette, Indiana. Camp has released seven albums, four of them RIAA-certified as Gold and two are live albums, and 17 number-one hit songs. His original music is a mixture of ballads and rock.




Here's an interview Jeremy did for 100Huntley about seven months ago.  The length is about 11 minutes, but you will be blessed by taking the time to view it:


Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of Camp's memoir I Still Believe for the purpose of review.

I have been blessed by reading I Still Believe, which is a beautiful story of God's restoration and faithfulness.  While Camp's writing may not be the smoothest in this revised and expanded memoir, he shares genuinely from his heart and experiences.  His writing is transparent and such a blessing to read.  Camp's testimony is one of searching, brokenness, restoration and God's amazing grace.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.com by going HERE.



Blessings,
Jennifer

Monday, February 11, 2013

Shattered

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Shattered
Bethany House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
by
Dani Pettrey
 

In real life, Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters.
Just in case you’re curious…The real Dani does love traveling. She’s been to some amazing places (Greece, Hawaii, the Keys) and there are many more she hopes to visit in the future.
And while she’s not quite up to sky-diving, cave diving or heli-skiing (too high, too enclosed, too cold!) she and her family love hiking, canoeing, wave jumping and a ton of other outdoor adventures a little further down on the risk scale.
Dani is the acclaimed author of the romantic suspense series Alaskan Courage, which includes her bestselling debut novel Submerged and latest release Shattered. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail biting suspense, the deepening of her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters. 
Dani can be reached through the Contact link on her Website.
 
Here is a four minute interview with Dani produced by LifeWay that you will enjoy.  It is always a treat to hear directly from the author about the "behind-the-scenes" aspect of their writing.  She also shares her favorite fiction authors to read:
 

Piper McKenna couldn't be more thrilled that her prodigal brother, Reef, has returned to Yancey, Alaska, after five years. But her happiness is short-lived when Reef appears at her house covered in blood. A fellow snowboarder has been killed--but despite the evidence, Reef swears he's innocent. And Piper believes him.
Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he's also sworn to find the truth. Piper is frustrated with his need for facts over faith, but he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth may mean risking Landon's career.
With Piper waging her own search, the two head deep into Canada's rugged backcountry--and unexpected complications. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Shattered, go HERE.
 
My Thoughts:
Shattered is the first Dani Pettrey novel I have read.  My review in short would be this:  I don't buy books.  All the books I read and review I receive as part of blogging for books programs sponsored by publishing companies.  If Pettrey's next book in the Alaskan Courage series is not offered as part of one of those programs, I WILL BE BUYING IT!!
Pettrey hits the ground running with page one and doesn't stop with amazing characters, tender romance, suspense and intrigue, and struggle with knowing God until the very last page.  I have fallen in love with the McKenna family and can't wait to see what is in store for them in the next book!
 
Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Friday, February 8, 2013

Faithfulness

This year I am following a Bible reading plan developed by Kathy Howard that can be found HERE.  Over the course of 52 weeks, I will be reading through portions of the Bible that cover the foundational doctrines (beliefs) of the Christian faith.  The plan is constructed this way:
  • First Quarter – “Theology,” the study of God and His character
  • Second Quarter – The nature of the Bible, mankind, & Christ
  • Third Quarter – “Soteriology,” the study of salvation
  • Fourth Quarter – The Holy Spirit, the Church, and the End times
Ms Howard lists several other Bible reading plans other than this one, but I've chosen to go with this one for 2013.  If you aren't presently following a Bible reading plan, I encourage you to take a peak at the plans she offers and chose one.  I know it is already halfway through February, but chose one...TODAY.  Jump in and don't worry about being behind.

This morning's passage had me reading about God as Healer and Faithful.  Faithfulness seems to be a "lost art" in today's culture.  We are so busy with so many things.  Our priorities can easily get misplaced.  Commitment is thrown to the wind if something "better" comes along.  We can be rather "wishy-washy" at times.  We want everything to be easy and if it isn't...well...we move on to something that requires less time, less effort; something that doesn't require much out of us.

I'm so very grateful that God isn't that way.  Genesis 18:1-15 and 21:1-7 reminds us of God's faithfulness through the story of Abraham and Sarah.  If you've been around church for any amount of time, I bet you know this story.  In short, you have a couple, well beyond child-bearing years, a promise of a baby and they laugh.  Well...Sarah laughs.  And then the Lord asks Abraham a question in Genesis 18:14a:
"Is anything too hard for the Lord?"
The Lord then promises Abraham that He will return in a year and that Sarah will indeed have a son.

Flash forward to Genesis chapter 21:1-7:
"The LORD kept His word and did for Sarah exactly what He had promised. She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age.  This happened at just the time God had said it would."
Today's reading also took me to Psalm 30.  Here is some of what I read:
"Sing to the LORD, all you godly ones!  Praise His holy name.  For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime!  Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning...Hear me, LORD, and have mercy on me.  Help me, O LORD.  You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.  You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to You and not be silent.  O LORD my God, I will give You thanks forever!"
I'm not sure if any of this makes any sense or speaks to anyone but me today, but I beg of you this:  DO NOT MISTAKE GOD'S SILENCE IN A MATTER FOR HIS UNFAITHFULNESS TO YOU!  HE IS FAITHFUL!

While you are waiting, know that you can believe God to be Who He says He is and that He will do what He has promised to do.  Seek His face through His word and know Him.  He keeps His word and at just the right time my friend...at just the right time!



Blessings,
Jennifer

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Redeeming Grace

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Redeeming Grace
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas;
1st edition (February 28, 2013)
by
Ward Tanneberg




Ward Tanneberg is a pastor/writer/novelist who has given more than 50 years to evangelism, youth, college and pastoral ministry, including two Pacific Northwest churches and 23 years as the senior pastor at Valley Christian Center in Dublin, CA. In 2008, he was named President/Executive Director of The CASA Network. Ward speaks extensively at 50+ retreats and ministry leadership events in the USA and elsewhere. When at home he meets weekly with a group of business and professional leaders. He and Dixie have 2 children, 3 grandchildren, 4 step-grandchildren and a great grandson.
Ward can be reached through the Contact link on his Website.



Seven years ago, Grace Grafton died in a boating accident while partying on the Georgia, South Carolina coast. Was her death the result of alcohol and drugs or something more sinister? Nobody knows: her body was never recovered. Now years later, a woman reads in disbelief the note addressed to her: Hello Grace, did you think we wouldn't find you?
Those nine chilling words end Grafton's self-imposed sanctuary of witness protection. Now she and everyone she loves are in grave danger. Long believed dead, she has a secret that can change the world. She knows the man running for president is guilty of a double murder! But who will believe her? If you would like to read the first chapter of Redeeming Grace, go HERE.

My Thoughts:
What a ride!  This is the first book by Mr. Tanneberg that I've read and I am hooked!  The book is lengthy at 597 pages; however, don't let that detour you from reading.  Mr. Tanneberg employs the "flashback" method in telling Grace's story and does it well; he keeps you turning pages.  At times, I almost forgot I was reading a novel...the story is contemporary and seems as if it is ripped straight from the headlines of the evening news.  The story is full of well-developed and rich characters who are believable.
The book is published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.The only negative thing I have about the book is the editing is a little sloppy in several places.  For example...in a couple of spots, paragraphs are repeated; it appeared that the "unedited" or cut portions got printed along with the corrected parts.
I will certainly be looking for future works by Mr. Tanneburg.
*Added after email from author:  The copy of Redeeming Grace that I read was an "Advanced Copy" of the book provided through CFBA to the blog reviewers.  The publishing company is aware of the errors and are correcting them prior to final copies.
Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Monday, February 4, 2013

Unbreakable

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Unbreakable
Bethany House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
by
Nancy Mehl
 

Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and their dog, Watson. She’s authored thirteen books and is currently at work on her newest series for Bethany House Publishing.
All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”
She and her husband attend Believer’s Tabernacle in Wichita.
Nancy can be reached through the Contact link on her Website

Mennonite Romantic Suspense Sure to Thrill Readers
Gentle and unassuming Hope Kauffman has never been one to question or try to make changes. She quietly helps her father run Kingdom Quilts and has agreed to the betrothal her father arranged for her with the devout but shy Ebbie Miller.
Despite Hope's and other Kingdom residents' attempts to maintain the status quo, changes have already begun to stir in the small Mennonite town. The handsome and charismatic Jonathon Wiese is the leader of the move to reform, and when one of Kingdom's own is threatened by a mysterious outsider, Jonathon is one of the first to push for the town to arm itself. Hope's fiance, Ebbie, is at the forefront of those demanding the town stay true to its traditions of nonviolence.
When strange incidents around town result in outright attacks on several townspeople, Hope can't help but question what she's always been taught. As the town that's always stood so strong together is torn apart at the seams, Hope is caught between opposing sides, both represented by those she has come to care for. With tensions high and lives endangered by an unknown threat, Hope fears Kingdom can never survive in one piece.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Unbreakable, go HERE
 
My Thoughts:
I reviewed the first installment in the Road to Kingdom series, Inescapable, last year for Bethany House.  I knew then that I was a fan of Nancy Mehl and she did not disappoint with Unbreakable!  Mehl has a special talent for telling a simple and endearing story with rich characters.  While Unbreakable is the second installment in a series, it can be read as a stand alone novel.  The story found here is one of faithfulness and forgiveness.  Mehl also sneaks in quite a bit of information about the Mennonite people that aids in the telling of the story.  You almost feel as if you are there in Kingdom along with Lizzie, Noah, Jonathan, Ebbie, and Hope.  I have fallen in love with the characters from Kingdom and can't wait for the third book.

Happy Reading,
Jennifer