Click Here For Free Blog Backgrounds!!!
Blogaholic Designs

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Freefall to Fly

Rebekah Lyons is the author of Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning. She is a mother of three, wife of one and dog walker of two living in New York City. She’s an old soul with a contemporary, honest voice who puts a new face on the struggles women face as they seek to live a life of meaning. Through emotive writing and speaking, Rebekah reveals her own battles to overcome anxiety, depression, and consumer impulses—challenging women to discover and boldly pursue the calling God has for them. As a self-confessed mess, Rebekah wears her heart on her sleeve, a benefit to friends and readers alike.
Alongside her husband, Gabe, Rebekah serves as cofounder of Q Ideas, a nonprofit organization that helps Christian leaders winsomely engage culture. Her favorite pastime is spent with her nose in a book and a discriminating cup of coffee in hand. You can find Rebekah on Twitter and Facebook.

Synopsis:
The dark night of the soul in the city that never sleeps...
At first glance, Rebekah Lyons's life path seemed straightforward:  walk the aisle, take the short road to motherhood, and build a family on a suburban cul-de-sac in the South.  But life looked radically different when her family relocated to the heart of New York City.  She was forced to navigate a new normal with three kids, two toy poodles, and a minivan.  Blindsided by crippling despair, Rebekah wrestled with bigger questions women often ask:  Why am I here?  Does my life matter?





My Thoughts:
I'm not quite sure what to think about this book.  While there are many things to appreciate about Rebekah's story, there are more things with which I'm not quite connecting.  To be honest, the subtitle to the book, "A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning" is what caught my attention and made me want to read the book.  Who doesn't want to live a life of meaning?  I'm always interested in knowing what people consider as "a life of meaning"; especially influential people such as Ms Lyons. 
Here are some of the things I marked from the book:
  • "Limitations of the mundane that used to come so easily.  This city would push me to get on my knees, to grovel, to fully enter into my weakness.  To strike a child's pose.  Rest there.  In my cries of lament, I heard a word so clearly it almost sounded audible.  Stay.  What does that even mean?  Stay in the freefall.  A truth hit me in that moment.  All my life.  I've been running.  Running to the next greatest thing"  (pg. 35)
  • "We aren't depressed because we are getting old; we are depressed in the prime of our lives.  During the years when we ought to be making some of our greatest contributions to others and to the world, we are stuck.  Caught in a quagmire of confusion, hardly able to put one foot in front of the other.  What is going on?  And why now?  I'm no medical doctor, and I have no degrees in psychology, but I do love to listen to the stories of women.  Women who are in the sweet spot of this demographic who are fighting to make sense of their lives.  I hear the stories, unpack their pain, and consistently find a common perpetrator. We don't know who we are."  (pg. 67)
  • "Every life path always works this way, crooked and bending with every decision we make.  As difficulty presents itself, do we retreat?  Do we teeter for a long while?  Do we throw in all our chips and blindly jump?  Our choice makes all the difference in where we'll end up.  The way we respond to this life happening shapes us.  It gives way to the trajectory we find ourselves on."  (pg. 78-79)
The above quotes give you a good picture of much of the tone of the book.  In many places, I feel Ms Lyons paints with too wide a brush in her observations of women and the "state" we are in.  I appreciate her raw honesty about her experiences (especially those interactions with her down syndrome child and the tender love between her as a mother and this son) and her transparency in sharing them is commendable and will be a help to many.  However, all women, especially all stay-at-home moms, are not depressed, struggling through their days wondering, "Why am I here?"

I guess Chapter Six is the one that left me the most confused as to exactly what Ms Lyons was trying to say.  In this chapter, Ms Lyons recounts a trip she and her husband took to "steal away" for a while.  Much of her book seems to be about this need to "steal away" and "find yourself"...to escape the mundane for a while.  But what concerns me is this:  Ms Lyons writes very poetically.  Her prose is beautiful.  And she asks contemplative questions that make the reader think.  But she talks circles around real truth.  She asks questions like:  "What treasure am I seeking?"  "What if eternal treasure is engaging what God uniquely created me to do?"  "What is more despairing?  That our treasure from God exists and we can't find it?"

I just wanted to scream the whole time I was reading this chapter, "The treasure is Christ!  The treasure is knowing Him and making Him known!"  I continued reading past chapter six to the end of the book hoping that Ms Lyons would finally get to real truth, but unfortunately she never gets there.  Her discourse continues down more of the same.  Me, myself, and I and what is my destiny and me and I and so on it goes.



Thank you Julie with Handlebar Central for sending me the book in exchange for this review!

Blessings,
Jennifer

An Unholy Communion

Donna Fletcher Crow is author of 40 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work.  Besides The Monastery Murders series she is also the author of The Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries.  She has twice won first place in the Historical Fiction category from the National Association of Press Women, and has also been a finalist for "Best Inspirational Novel" from the Romance Writers of America. She is a member of The Arts Centre Group, and Sisters in Crime.  Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho.  They have four adult children and 11 grandchildren.  She is an enthusiastic gardener.
You can connect with Donna through her website found at www.donnafletchercrow.com or through Facebook.

An Unholy Communion is the third book in The Monastery Murders Series, with A Very Private Grave and A Darkly Hidden Truth preceding.  A Muffled Tolling is the fourth book forthcoming.

Synopsis:
Following the ancient tradition, ordinands from the College of the Transfiguration gather at first light on Ascension morning to sing their praises from the top of the college's tallest tower. Not one to miss any liturgy, Felicity finds herself swept up in worship as she listens to the timeless words. But her delight quickly turns to horror when a black-robed body hurtles over the precipice and lands at her feet. Her investigative instincts immediately kick in when she sees a double-headed snake emblem clutched in the lifeless hand. Was this suicide? Or murder?  Matters grow murkier as Felicity and Antony, leading a youth pilgrimage through rural Wales, encounter the same sinister symbol as they travel.  Lurking figures follow them.  The a body is found face-down in a well...

My Thoughts:
Ms Crow certainly knows her craft well.  She is an astute student of British History and incorporates it fluently into her story.  Although I did not read the first two novels in this series, Ms Crow's description and characterization is so well done that it read as a stand alone novel.  I'd be interested in going back to book one and following Felicity's story from the beginning.  I appreciated the glossary of terms included at the beginning of the book as well as the maps.  Ms Crow expertly combines historical fiction and modern mystery and provides her readers with a story easy to get lost in!

You can visit HERE to see what others are saying about An Unholy Communion.

Don't miss the Kindle Fire giveaway from Ms Crow and Litfuse Publicity:
Enter Today - 4/22 - 5/12!
An Unholy Communion The Monastery Murders Donna Fletcher Crow 
Kindle Fire Giveaway


Thank you LitFuse Publicity for sending the complimentary copy of the book in exchange for this review!

Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Monday, April 29, 2013

Darkness Before Dawn



Bestselling author Ace Collins has written more than 60 books including novels "Swope's Ridge" and "Words of the Father," as well as the nonfiction "Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas"; and "Lassie: A Dog's Life". His books have become movies and network television specials. Ace Collins has sold more than 1.5 million books during his career and makes his home in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. 

Learn more about Ace at: http://AceCollins.com.
 About Darkness Before Dawn: Will grief push Meg over the edge?On the same night she discovers she is pregnant, twenty-eight-year-old nurse Meg Richards's husband is killed in an auto accident caused by a drunken teen. James Thomas comes from one of the most influential families in the community. He's a star athlete and glamour boy at the local high school. But the accident he caused will change his life---and Meg's future---forever.
Angered by her senseless loss and facing life as a single mother, Meg blames God for what has happened and considers a decision that could change her life even further. Enraged by the brutal trial and the court's decision, Meg starts down a frightening path of retribution. When the opportunity for revenge comes unexpectedly, will Meg follow through? Or will the remnants of her faith lead her in a different direction?
My Thoughts About The Book:
The synopsis for this book really caught my attention.  However, I was a little disappointed.  The book read too much like a sketchy made for t.v. movie script to me.  The editing errors in the book didn't help much either.  While reading the book, it almost had a "rushed" feel to it.  Story sequence was not maintained in a few places.  For example:  Early on Meg reveals to her mother about her pregnancy.  Then a few chapters later, Heather (Meg's best friend) supposedly has just told Meg's mother about Meg being pregnant. With that being said, the title of the book ties in quite well with the ending of the story.  I also appreciated how Mr. Collins highlighted a side of grief that is typically overlooked in most Christian fiction novels.  Over all I would rate the book 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

You don't want to miss this opportunity to connect with Mr. Collins:

Enter Today - 4/18 - 4/29!
Ace Collins Darkness Before Dawn Retribution v. Redemption 
12-Day Giveaway
Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Heiress of Winterwood

Sarah E. Ladd has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. Heiress of Winterwood was the recipient of the 2011 Genesis Award for historical romance. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

Find out more about Sarah and connect with her through her website which can be found at www.sarahladd.com.



Darbury, England, 1814
Amelia Barrett gave her word. Keeping it could cost her everything.
Amelia Barrett, heiress to an estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend's baby. She'll risk everything to keep her word-even to the point of proposing to the child's father-a sea captain she's never met.
When the child vanishes with little more than an ominous ransom note hinting at her whereabouts, Amelia and Graham are driven to test the boundaries of their love for this little one.
Amelia's detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she's forced to examine her soul and face her one weakness: pride.
Graham's strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline. And away from the family he has sworn to love and protect.
Both must learn to have faith and relinquish control so they can embrace the future ahead of them. 

My Thoughts About The Book:
This is the first book by Sarah Ladd that I have read.  The Heiress of Winterwood is book one in her Whispers on the Moors series.  With this first installment, Sarah has gained a devoted fan in myself.  She writes with such description that I could almost smell and could picture vividly the subject matter at the time.  Sarah allows you to be involved in the story through each character's point of view.  The story is one filled with struggles in faith, romance, danger, greed and heart pounding emotion.  Sarah has really written a historical fiction novel that really has it all including tension filled action.  You won't want to miss this one!  I can't wait for the rest of this series.  What a joy to have discovered Ms Ladd and her gift!

Thank you Litfuse Publicity for sending me the complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.  Visit HERE to hear what others are saying about the book.

And PLEASE don't miss the Kindle Fire Giveaway and Facebook Chat with Sarah:

Enter Today - 4/15 - 4/30!
The Heiress of Winterwood Downton Abbey Kindle Fire Giveaway

Happy Reading,
Jennifer

When the Morning Glory Blooms




Cynthia writes stories of hope that glows in the dark, merging her love for storytelling with inextinguishable hope for inexpressible hurts. 
Cynthia spends her days diving into words, worship, and wonder and celebrating 40 years of marriage, three grown children, and five outrageously adorable grandchildren. One of her greatest joys is helping other writers grow in their craft. To that end, she served as the assistant director and a faculty member of the Quad Cities Christian Writers Conference, has served as worship and devotions staff for the Write-to-Publish conference, and teaches at other conferences as opportunities arise. She speaks to women’s groups, at mother-daughter banquets, and for women’s refresher days and retreats. It is her delight to serve on her church’s worship team. Rather than “busy,” she likes the term “active.” 
For 33 years, Cynthia wrote and produced the radio broadcast The Heartbeat of the Home. The scripted radio drama/devotional broadcast aired on as many as 50 radio stations and two cable/digital television stations over the years. Cynthia was the editor of the ministry’s Backyard Friends magazine, a twenty-page, twice annual publication that reached 5,000 homes, churches, and parachurch outreaches.
Cynthia can be reached through the Contact link on her Website.



Becky rocks a baby that rocked her world. Sixty years earlier, with her fiancĂ© Drew in the middle of the Korean Conflict, Ivy throws herself into her work at a nursing home to keep her sanity and provide for the child Drew doesn't know is coming. Ivy cares for Anna, an elderly patient who taxes Ivy's listening ear until the day she suspects Anna's tall tales are not the ramblings of dementia. They're fragments of Anna's disjointed memories of a remarkable life. Finding a faint thread of hope she can't resist tugging, Ivy records Anna's memoir, scribbling furiously after hours to keep up with the woman's emotion-packed, grace-hemmed stories. Is Ivy's answer buried in Anna's past? Becky, Ivy, Anna--three women fight a tangled vine of deception in search of the blossoming simplicity of truth. 
If you would like to read the first chapter of When The Morning Glory Blooms, go HERE


My Thoughts:
I'm not sure even where to start!  Cynthia Ruchti is an author who I knew nothing about until this blog opportunity through Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.  She now has my full attention and I will be following her future writing and reading everything coming from her!  When the Morning Glory Blooms will go on my "keeper" shelf to stay.  The story within its pages is one I have pondered ever since I finished the book and will for some time to come.  Typically I have found fiction books that cover mulitple eras and go back and forth to be somewhat confusing to follow, but not this story.  While covering the stories of three different women from the 1890's, 1951 and 2013, Ruchti writes a story that flows and you simply will find hard to put down.  Woven throughout the story of these three women are biblical truths about forgiveness, love, hope, repentance, restoration and real ministry.  You will laugh and you will cry reading this story, but most important of all you will encounter the Christ Who transforms us all through His abundant and life-giving and amazing grace.  I won't forget this story for a while if ever!

Blessings and Happy Reading,
Jennifer


Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Noble Groom




Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling historical fiction author. She won the 2011 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers and was a finalist for Best Debut Novel in the 2011 ACFW Carol Awards. Currently she makes her home in central Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog.









Michigan, 1880
Annalisa Werner’s hope for a fairy tale love is over. Her husband failed her in every way and now his death has left her with few options to save the family farm. She needs a plentiful harvest. That, and a husband to help bring it in. Someone strong, dependable. That’ll be enough. A marriage for love…that’s something she’s given up on.
So her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.
Then a man appears: Carl Richards, from their home country of Germany and a former schoolteacher–or so he says. He’s looking for work and will serve on the farm until her husband arrives.
With time running out, she accepts his help, but there’s more to this man than he’s admitting. He’s also gentle, kind, charming–unlike any man she’s ever known. But even as Carl is shining light into the darkness of her heart, she knows her true groom may arrive any day.
My Thoughts About The Book:
I'm not typically a fan of historical fiction.  However...if Jody Hedlund is writing it; I'm reading it!  This is the second book of Hedlund's that I've read and I am a fan for sure.  She has a unique way of telling a story that draws you in from the beginning.  Not all parts are sweet and nice; some parts of this story are gritty and this adds depth to Hedlund's writing.  Hedlund's description and characterization transplants you right into the era and you feel as if you are part of the story in some way.  A Noble Groom is a perfect blend of romance that feels real and not "made up", drama and even a little suspense.  So...if Hedlund's writing it...YOU should be reading it!
You also will want to click on the graphic below to enter Hedlund and Litfuse Publicity's Kindle Fire Giveaway and Author Chat Party on 5/8:
 
Enter Today - 4/15 - 5/8!
A Noble Groom Jody Hedlund Kindle Fire Giveaway

Thank you Litfuse for sending me the complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this book.  Go visit Litfuse and see what other awesome titles they will be featuring in the weeks to come!

Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Healing Heart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Healing Heart
Abingdon Press (April 1, 2013)
by
Angela Breidenbach




Angela Breidenbach is a speaker/coach in mental and physical health, author of A Healing Heart April 2013 from Abingdon Press in the Quilts of Love series, Gems of Wisdom: For a Treasure-filled Life, Creative Cooking for Simple Elegance, and Creative Cooking for Colitis. Other works by Angela include compilation books and devotionals from Guidepost, Group, and articles in magazines, ezines, and newspapers. She is certified in mentor/peer counseling as a CTA life coach, as a Stephen Minister, and a weight loss/nutrition coach. Angela serves as an assisting minister (worship/prayer leader) for her congregation in Missoula, MT. Not only did she walk the hard line of deciding to donate her mom’s brain for the study of schizophrenia, but she’s also on the brain donation list at the Brain Bank-Harvard McLean Hospital.


Mara Keegan is an uber-successful mother and a widow of three years. She's been chasing success and all the "good things in life" for her family to make up for the cruel whim God played on them by taking her husband. In an effort to be the perfect mom, she decides to make a photo memory quilt, a graduation present for her daughter, Cadence.
She’s not yet finished when she experiences a heart attack. While Mara recuperates, she revisits the choices she's made that led to this physically and spiritually broken heart. The memory quilt must be finished in time for Cadence's big day, but Mara struggles with her burgeoning feelings for the man who must keep Mara's business going during her recovery, Joel Ryan. Can Joel find his way into Mara's heart and onto Cadence's quilt?

My Thoughts:
I've read many of the books in the Quilts of Love series and this one was a nice read as well as many of the others.  A Healing Heart is a simple story that coveys the power of releasing the past and trusting the future to the One Who holds all our tomorrows.  I loved the dynamic between Mara and her children in this book.  What a sweet story of a mama's love for her children!  The author captures the tension that women feel in trying to meet everyone's need to the point of control at times.  Mara's story is much appreciated.  In the end she learns a lesson we as women must all learn!

Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rescuing Hope

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Glass Road Media and Management is hosting a blog tour featuring Susan Norris's Rescuing Hope:  A Story Of Sex Trafficking In America in order to help bring  more awareness to this travesty that resides right beneath our noses her in the land of the free and home of the brave.
A powerful voice for hope, international speaker Susan Norris helps teens and women find freedom from strongholds in the areas of purity and spiritual identity. Up until a few short years ago, she denied that writing would ever be something she would pull out of her bag of tools. But she started to blog, and her opportunities expanded.
As she opened herself to relationships outside her normal sphere, God began to reveal stories of girls as young as nine years old trafficked for sex in her own quiet suburb outside Atlanta. Shocked and heartbroken, Susan set out on a quest to protect them.
A CLASS certified speaker, Susan graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a Master’s of Education, taught in public and private schools and served as a leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes before being called to full time ministry. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and children and considers them to be her highest calling.
Susan networks for organizations such as Resolution Hope and Not For Sale and raises her voice for victims of sex trafficking across the nation by being a catalyst for action and walking alongside rescued girls as they piece together their shattered lives.
You can learn more about Susan by visiting her website at www.susannorris.org or by connecting with her via Twitter and Facebook.
Book Synopsis:
Every two minutes, evil strips innocence from a child and sells her into slavery for sex.  Not in a third-world country, but in the United States of America.  Before you take another breath, the next victim will be tricked or taken from her family by a profit-hungry criminal. 

At fourteen, Hope Ellis is the all-American girl with a good life - until the day she tries to help her mom with their cross-town moves by supervising the movers.  When they finish, one of the men returns to the house an drapes her.  Held silent by his threats, darkness begins to engulf her.  But the rape proves to be the least of Hope's troubles.  In a grasping attempt at normalcy, she succumbs to the attention of a smooth-talking man on the subway.  He promises acceptance.  He declares his love.  He lures her out from under the shelter of her suburban life.

Hope's disappearance sets a community in motion.  She's one of their own.  They determine to find Hope, whatever the cost, before she's lost forever.  Will you?



At her website Susan states, "The commercial sexual exploitation of children is the fastest growing crime in the world today.  It is estimated it will soon surpass the illegal sale of drugs and arms."

When I first began reading Rescuing Hope, some of my thoughts were: "I don't like this book!"  "The language and the explicit themes are just a bit much for a work of fiction."  "I don't see how this is helpful at all!"

And when I finished the book and turned that last page, I just wanted to weep.  The book is very raw with the details of this "crime hidden in plain sight".  Not only is it the story of a very ugly evil that exists right here in the United States, but it is the story of all the very brave men and women, like the author, who are not afraid to get their hands a little dirty or risk the tainting of their sensibilities to extend hope to the hopeless.

My only word of "warning" about the book would be this:  Don't let your young daughter/grand-daughter read the book alone.  Read it with her.  Discussion starters are provided in the back of the book to help guide as a way to process the information in Hope's story.  I suggest this simply because of the heaviness of the theme of the book.  Also included in the book is a list of organizations that are on the front lines of fighting human trafficking.  This provides tangible places you can start as a family or small group to get involved in the fight.

Restoration and hope...isn't that what we've been offered in the gospel - the good news - of Jesus Christ?  Ms Norris has provided a challenge to us all:  Will we follow in Christ's footsteps and extend the hope He provides to the least of these?

Blessings,
Jennifer

Friday, April 19, 2013

Stress Test

A retired physician, Dr. Richard Mabry is the author of four critically acclaimed novels of medical suspense. His previous works have been finalists for the Carol Award and Romantic Times Reader’s Choice Award, and have won the Selah Award. He is a past Vice-President of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of the International Thriller Writers. He and his wife live in North Texas.

You can learn more about Mabry and his writing at his website www.rmabry.com.   You can also connect with him via Twitter and Facebook as well as his Facebook Fan Page.

They may not have enough evidence to convict him, but they have enough to ruin his life.
Dr. Matt Newman thought he was leaving his life in private practice for a better one in academic medicine. But the kidnappers who attacked him as he left his last shift in the ER have no such plans—they just want him dead. Bound and in the trunk of his car, Matt’s only thought is escape. He does so, but at a price: a head injury that lands him in the ICU . . . where he awakens to discover he’s being charged with murder.
Sandra Murray is a fiery, redheaded lawyer who swore she was done with doctors. But when Matt calls, she knows she can’t walk away from defending someone who is truly innocent.
Matt’s career is going down the drain. His freedom and perhaps his life may be next. But with the police convinced he’s a murderer and the kidnappers still trying to finish what they started, finding the truth—and the faith to keep going—will be the toughest stress test Matt has ever endured.

My Thoughts About the Book:
Stress Test is the first book by Richard Mabry I have read and I AM NOW A FAN!  Mabry hits the ground running on page one with heart pounding drama and suspense and doesn't let go of his reader until the last page.  If time had permitted me to do so, I could have finished this book in one sitting, because once I started...I didn't want to stop!  Mabry expertly combines his medical knowledge and experience as a physician and his writing craft and has given us one amazing read!  The layers of characterization, suspense, mystery, medical drama and faith are deep.  I also appreciated hearing from each of the voices in the story.  The book includes a discussion guide making this an excellent choice for a book club selection; and what a time that would be!

Purchase the book HERE.

Litfuse Publicity Group and Richard Mabry are hosting a giveaway for a Nook HD!  You won't want to miss out on this amazing opportunity:
Enter Today - 4/8 - 4/27!
Stress Test Richard Mabry Nook HD Giveaway


You might also be interested in knowing what others are saying about Stress Test. You can do that by visiting HERE

Thank you Litfuse for sending the complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of this review!

Happy Reading,
Jennifer 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What's Your Mark?

Jeremy Cowart is a professional, award-winning artist and photographer from Nashville, TN.  Beginning as a graphic designer, Jeremy was lured by the prospect of bringing new texture into his design work.  He picked up a camera seven years ago and photography soon became his passion. 

Jeremy quickly became a respected artistic voice in the industry.  Not only has Jeremy photographed some of the most famous faces in the world, he also uses his time and gifts to give back to those around him.  Jeremy believes Christ's commission to "Go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation" is more about action than talk and more about living one's faith than telling others how to be faithful.  Jeremy holds the belief that his work is a reflection of what God is doing in his own life; therefore, his goal has always been to use his creativity, platform and ideas to help those in need.  He enjoys spending his time on social art, developing and working on creative, collaborative projects that will make an impact. 

Jeremy has worked with multiple nonprofit organizations and traveled throughout Africa and Haiti to photograph and bring awareness to the needs of those people.  He is also the founder of Help-Portrait, a worldwide movement of photographers using their time, equipment and expertise to give back to those less fortunate. 

You can connect with Jeremy through his website (jeremycowart.com), Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

What's Your Mark:  Every Moment Counts is a beautiful book from cover to content.  The book is filled with Cowart's captivating photos (21 full-color), soul-stirring scripture (taken from the gospel of Mark - NIV) and compelling stories of people from all walks of life including:
Claire Diaz-Ortiz, Esther Havens, Lecrae, Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, Jeff Shinabarger, Fred Katagwa, Gary Haugen, Jena Nardella, Laura Lasky, Ellie Amrose, Dan Cathy, Shaun King, Manny Martinez, Donald Collins, Shannon Sedgwick Davis, Ann Voskamp, Caitlin Crosby, Katie Davis, Bob Goff.

The reader of What's Your Mark is presented with thought provoking and challenging questions such as:
How are you using social media to make a positive mark on the world?
How can you look past yourself to make a mark on others?
What are you saying that is making a mark?
How can you use what you know to inspire others to make a mark?
How can you use your history to make a mark on someone else's future?
How can Christ shine through you as you lead at your job?
Which people is God connecting you with to help you make a mark?

I appreciate that this book presents Christ and His word as the primary foundation and motivation of all that we do with our lives as followers of Him.  Whole chapters from the book of Mark are given so that biblical context is clear; coupled with the stories, this provides an amazing picture of Scripture and application literally in living colorWhat's Your Mark is a book that you will want to leave out on your coffee table to look at frequently and be available to any guests in your home.

Regardless of your bank account, station in life, locale, or personality...YOU CAN MAKE A MARK!

*Thank you B&B Media for sending the complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of this review.

Blessings,
Jennifer

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tales of the Defended Ones

Beth Guckenberger and her husband, Todd, are the founders of Back2Back Ministries which communicates a lifestyle of service by sharing the love of Christ and serving God through service to others. Guckenberger travels and speaks regularly at women's and missions conferences, as well as youth gatherings and church services. In addition to her children's releases in the Storyweaver series, Guckenberger has written two mission-minded books. She has also partnered with Standard Publishing on the mission content in its 2013 VBS program. The Guckenberger family lives and serves in Monterrey, Mexico.

You can connect with Beth through her website found at www.bethguckenberger.com


About Tales of the Defended Ones: Ben and Joseph lose their mothers, but find a family looking just for them. Antonio is rescued from what seems like a hopeless situation. Caitlyn dares to trust that truth will set her free. Jorani is delivered from slavery into the arms of grace.
Follow these real-life stories as they take you on a journey to foreign places and extreme struggles. Travel through their challenges and see the hand of the great Storyweaver - our Defender God shielding and defending the defenseless in the amazing ways only he can.These are the tales of the ones left wounded and weak-ones made whole and strong.
You can purchase a copy of the book by going HERE

To learn more about the author and the DVD Leader's guide that accompanies this resource go HERE. 

Tales of the Defended Ones is one of the most unique resources with missions in mind that I've seen in quite a while.  Replete with pictures and interesting facts, this book highlights the very real things happening in our world to our little ones.  Written for children, Beth Guckenberger has done an amazing job at explaining these heartbreaking realities to the younger population.  I really appreciate how she highlights the Sovereignty of God in a way most anyone could see and understand.  Guckenberger has provided an invaluable tool to help parents and church leaders alike to lead their children in knowing God and making much of Him in a sometimes very dark world.

Litfuse Publicity Group (who provided me a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review) is hosting an iPad Mini giveaway as well as an exciting Facebook Chat with Beth on April 25th.  You won't want to miss this!
 
Enter Today - 4/3 - 4/21!
Tales of the Defended Ones Beth Guckenberger iPad Giveaway


Blessings,
Jennifer 

Josiah's Treasure

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Josiah's Treasure
Worthy Publishing (April 16, 2013)
by
Nancy Herriman
 

  
Nancy Herriman abandoned a career in Engineering to chase around two small children and take up the pen. She has been
writing for longer than she would like to admit. Her work has been a finalist in several Romance Writers of America contests and she won the 2006 RWA Daphne du Maurier award for Best Unpublished Mystery/Romantic Suspense. In 2009, she was an ACFW Genesis finalist. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.
When she is not writing, or gabbing over lattes about writing, she is either watching history shows on cable TV or singing. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and sons, and wishes there were more hours in the day.
Nancy can be reached through the Contact link on her Website.

In 1882, Sarah Whittier dreams of opening an art studio run by immigrant women. She plans to use the house left to her by family friend Josiah Cady as collateral for her studio. But will all be lost when the inheritance is challenged by an angry man claiming to be Josiah's son and legal heir? Rumor of gold nuggets hidden in the house, place Sarah's life in danger. Her future uncertain and her safety threatened, Sarah has nowhere to turn. That is, unless she can soften a vengeful man's heart-and they both learn that love is finer than any gold.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Josiah's Treasure, go HERE
 
Happy Reading,
Jennifer
 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sweet Sanctuary

Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of twenty-one novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women’s fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and nine grandchildren.
Kim has a beautiful website, Kim Vogel Sawyer:  Gentle Stories of Hope, which can be found at www.kimvogelsawyer.com.  At the website, she has this to say about her writing:  "As an author of inspirational Christian fiction, it is my goal to create stories that will edify God's children and offer evidence of the hope we can all possess when we place our hearts and souls in God's very capable hands."
You can connect with Kim on her Facebook page by going HERE.
A Story of Hope and Love Set Against the Backdrop of World War II
Lydia Eldredge longs to provide sanctuary for her young son, Nicky. But a constant threat comes from Nicky’s drug-addicted father, who wants the boy and seems willing to do whatever it takes to get him.
Dr. Micah Hatcher faithfully serves the immigrant population of Queens, New York. But under cover of darkness, he has a secret mission that challenges everything he thought he wanted out of life.
When Lydia and Micah’s paths cross, they are suddenly wrapped up in each other’s callings. Together, they seek a refuge of safety–for Nicky, for themselves, and for the needy people God puts into their lives. Amid turmoil and discord, can hope and love prevail?
You can read the first three chapters of Sweet Sanctuary by going HERE.

My Thoughts About The Book:
While historical fiction has not typically been my favorite genre to read, I found Sawyer to be a gifted storyteller.  She captures the WWII era well.  I liked that she allows her readers to hear from each of the main voices in the book, including the nemesis Nic.  I felt this added a depth to the story.  Sweet Sanctuary is a story that moves slow at times with parts that seem a little too neat and tidy, but Sawyer very skillfully weaved enough mystery/suspense that it kept me reading.  I immediately fell in love with Nicky and while I wasn't sure about Micah in the beginning, Nicky's title for him - "Micah-my friend" - fits him well as a rescuer of many in this story. 

Kim along with LitFuse Publicity Group is hosting a fun giveaway in conjunction with the release of Sweet Sanctuary.  Who wouldn't want cupcakes delivered to their door???

Enter Today | 4/11 - 4/30!
Sweet Sanctuary Kim Vogel Sawyer Giveaway

*I received a complimentary copy of Sweet Sanctuary from the publisher as a part of the blog tour hosted by Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for this review.  The opinions are my own. 

Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Take A Chance On Me



Susan May Warren is the RITA Award-winning author of more than thirty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. 
She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Susan holds a BA in mass communications from the University of Minnesota. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times and won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Four of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women's events about God's amazing grace in our lives.
Susan can be contacted through her website at www.susanmaywarren.com, Facebook and Twitter.  
Take A Chance On Me is the first in a new six-part series involving six siblings in the Christiansen family.  This new series is a spin-off series from Warren's Deep Haven novels.

Book Synopsis:
Darek Christiansen is almost a dream bachelor—oldest son in the large Christiansen clan, heir to their historic Evergreen Lake Resort, and doting father. But he’s also wounded and angry since the tragic death of his wife, Felicity. No woman in Deep Haven dares come near.
New assistant county attorney Ivy Madison simply doesn’t know any better when she bids on Darek at the charity auction. Nor does she know that when she crafted a plea bargain three years ago to keep Jensen Atwood out of jail and in Deep Haven fulfilling community service, she was releasing the man responsible for Felicity’s death. All Ivy knows is that the Christiansens feel like the family she’s always longed for. And once she gets past Darek’s tough exterior, she finds a man she could spend the rest of her life with. Which scares her almost as much as Darek learning of her involvement in his wife’s case.
Caught between new love and old grudges, Darek must decide if he can set aside the past for a future with Ivy—a future more and more at risk as an approaching wildfire threatens to wipe out the Christiansen resort and Deep Haven itself.

You can go HERE and watch a video lasting about 2 minutes where Susan talks a little about this new series and particulary Take A Chance On Me.

Author Q&A: 
1. This is the first installment in a brand new six book series. Can you give us a bit of background on this series?
I love stories about families,watching the members interact and grow together through challenges and victories and I conceived this series as I watched my own children begin to grow up and deal with romance and career and futures. I love Deep Haven, and it’s the perfect setting for a resort, so I crafted a family, much like the families I know, who run a resort. They want to pass on their legacy to their children...but their children don’t know if they want it. It’s sort of a parallel theme to the legacy of faith we instill in our children. As they grow older, they need to decide whether it is their faith too. It’s a saga about family and faith and what happens when
those collide with real life.

2. This Christiansen Family series is set in Deep Haven, Minnesota. Tell us about this setting.
Deep Haven, Minnesota is based in a small vacation town in northern Minnesota where I spent my childhood. It’s located on Lake Superior, surrounded by pine and birch and the sense of small town and home. Populated by everyone from artists to lumberjacks, it’s Mitford, or perhaps Northern Exposure gone Minnesotan. Quaint, quirky and beautiful, it’s the perfect place to escape for a vacation.
3. What was your inspiration for this particular book and the main character Darek Christiansen?
As I started to put together this series, I began to think about our culture and our children today. I started to take a look at the big questions we are faced with as parents and as young people; the issues that affect us as a culture, as well as personally. I wanted these books to go beyond family drama, beyond a great romance to raise bigger questions and stir truths that we might pass along to others. This story is about our propensity in our culture to blame others for what goes wrong in our lives and how this alienates us from each other, and ultimately, God. Darek is the oldest brother in the family; the leader and a real hero. He’s a wild land firefighter and a widower who’s had to give up his job to come home and run the resort and care for his young son. Darek doesn’t realize he has a problem. He lives with anger on his shoulder, hating the man who killed his wife (his best friend). His real problem is that he can’t forgive himself. In this first story, readers meet the family, hang out at the resort and discover that God can redeem even a heart of stone, if we take a chance on Him. 
Read Chapter One of Take A Chance On Me by going HERE.

My Thoughts:
Susan May Warren is a uniquely gifted Christian Fiction author.  Her writing is set apart by virtue of her ability to weave a story with romance, suspense and a clear picture of the transforming power of the gospel.  Her characters are so well developed that I was immediately drawn to this family - the Christiansens.  She captures in living color the family dynamics between parent and child.  The emotions in this story jump right off the page. The thing I appreciated most about this story is that everything wasn't neat and tidy for the characters.  Warren writes vividly of the brokenness and struggle that is a part of living in a fallen and sinful world and God's amazing power to rescue and save is front and center.
I will be following this series and I think you should as well!  The Christiansen family books will most assuredly be on my "keeper shelf"!
Be sure and visit the Tyndale Blog for a chance to win some fun prize packs that include a copy of Take A Chance On Me and other Deep Haven Novels by Warren as wells as some other fun Minnesota themed prizes. 

*I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher for the purpose of this review. 

Happy Reading,
Jennifer
.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

When Jesus Wept

Today's post features When Jesus Wept by Bodie & Brock Thoene.  The blog tour for the book is hosted by Litfuse Publicity Group.  
 
BODIE AND BROCK THOENE (pronounced Tay-nee) have written over 65 works of historical fiction. Over thirty-five million of these best-selling novels are in print. Eight ECPA Gold Medallion Awards affirms what millions of readers have already discovered—the Thoenes are not only master stylists but experts at capturing readers’ minds and hearts.
Bodie began her writing career as a teen journalist for her local newspaper. Eventually her byline appeared in prestigious periodicals such as U.S. News and World Report, The American West, and The Saturday Evening Post. She also worked for John Wayne’s Batjac Productions (she’s best known as author of The Fall Guy) and ABC Circle Films as a writer and researcher. John Wayne described her as “a writer with talent that captures the people and the times!” She has degrees in journalism and communications.
Brock has often been described by Bodie as “an essential half of this writing team.” With degrees in both history and education, Brock has, in his role as researcher and story-line consultant, added the vital dimension of historical accuracy. Due to such careful research, The Zion Covenant and The Zion Chronicles series are recognized by the American Library Association, as well as Zionist libraries around the world, as classic historical novels and are used to teach history in college classrooms.
Bodie and Brock have four grown children—Rachel, Jake, Luke, and Ellie—and eight grandchildren. Their sons, Jake and Luke, are carrying on the Thoene family talent as the next generation of writers, and Luke produces the Thoene audiobooks.
Bodie and Brock divide their time between London, Hawaii, Central California, and Nevada.
You can connect with the Thoenes via their website found at www.thoenebooks.com, and Facebook.   

When Jesus Wept is the first book in the Thoene's new series Jerusalem Chronicles.  

Synopsis:
Lazarus - the man Jesus raised from the dead in one of the most extraordinary encounters with The Living Savior in all of Scripture.  But the life of Lazarus holds interest well beyond this miraculous event.  Living in Bethany, near Jerusalem, Lazarus witnessed many of the most important events of Jesus's life and ministry.
Lazarus owned a vineyard and devoted his life to caring for its vines and fruit.  But he encountered another man - Jesus - whose vineyard was the world, its fruit the eternal souls of men.  When Lazarus's story and the story of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection touch in When Jesus Wept, we are offered a unique vision into the power and comfort of Christ's love. 

This video is about 10 minutes long, but if you have a few minutes to spare it would be worth the time.  In this conversation with American Family Radio, Brock Thoene talks about the writing of When Jesus Wept.  I think you will find it very interesting.  


My Thoughts:
Bodie and Brock Thoene have been writing Christian Fiction for close to 30 years.  I'm often skeptical of Christian Fiction that directly takes on Biblical figures.  Part of my skepticism comes from the fear of Scripture and fictional writing being mixed and the lines between biblical truth and fiction becoming blurred.  
When Jesus Wept, the first book in the new series, The Jerusalem Chronicles, is the first book of the Thoenes I have read and it did not disappoint!  The authors write with historical, cultural and biblical accuracy.  The story is told from the viewpoint of Lazarus.  The Thoenes exhibit a masterful ability to weave Scriptural truth and imagination without compromising a clear understanding of the distinction between the two.  
From the Author's Note:
"Jesus clearly believed in the power of stories.  He told parables - stories - to stretch the minds and transform the hearts of His listeners.  We too believe in the life-changing power of stories, and that's why we're passionate about writing them."
Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
"Vineyards.  The only crop I know where a hardship in the maturing makes the end result exquisite."
"The spirit of fear is a god that takes the human heart captive.  But our God, The Living God of Israel, longs to fill our hearts with joy and freedom.  That is what separates believers from all other people."
"Suffering comes to all men on the earth.  It is a fact...from man's rebellion and separation from the Lord in the Garden.  It is written that one day you will see Messiah wipe away every tear - no more suffering and no more death.  Meanwhile those who love God are not exempt from pain.  But for the righteous man to suffer?  Think of it!  Only the wise vinedresser knows what will make the best wine.  The vine is stressed - it reaches deep fro the water, the shoots are pruned, the clusters are thinned, and in the end the fruit is richer and the wine is full of character and grace.  though the growing may be difficult, God will be glorified at the end of every righteous man's story."
"Many were crushed by life's winepress until Jesus pruned their injuries into a fragrant vintage of hope restored."
I look forward to following this series!


Celebrate the release of When Jesus Wept with the Thoenes by entering their iPad Mini giveaway and RSVPing to their {4/23} Facebook Author Chat party!



When-Jesus-Wept-giveaway300


One fortunate winner will receive:



  • A brand new iPad Mini

  • A book club kit - 10 copies of When Jesus Wept


Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 22nd. Winner will be announced at the "When Jesus Wept" Author Chat Party on 4/23. Connect with the Thoenes, get a sneak peek of the next book in the Jerusalem Chronicles series, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like yourself. There will also be fun giveaways - gift certificates, books, and more!






So grab your copy of When Jesus Wept and join Bodie and Brock on the evening of the April 23rd for a chance to connect with the authors and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)








Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!


Blessings,
Jennifer