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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Aloha Rose

The Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
Aloha Rose
Abingdon Press (November 19, 2013)
by
Lisa Carter
I am a wife and mother. My husband and I have two daughters and make our home in the beautiful state of North Carolina.

I am a teacher. With a Master’s degree in history, I have taught at the university, high school and middle school levels. After years of church involvement as a soloist, choir member and worship leader, I also teach music.

I am a writer. Delighted by the rhythm and musicality of words, I have been writing since childhood. In 2001, I won the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) Story Writing Contest that re-ignited a lifelong love of writing.

I am on a journey of faith. My ultimate desire through my life and my writing is to proclaim the truth of God’s Word, His redeeming love as seen in the life of Jesus Christ and to help others know for themselves this great, awesome God of all comfort and wisdom. He is enough for every need. 

Lisa can be reached through the Contact link on her Website.
 
When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her only clue is the Hawaiian quilt—a red rose snowflake appliqu├ęd on a white background—in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage. Kai Barnes, however, is determined to protect the people he’s come to regard as family. He thinks Laney is nothing more than a gold digger and blocks every move she makes toward her Hawaiian family. As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing that Kai and Laney both want most—a family. 

If you would like to read the first chapter of Aloha Rose, go HERE

My Thoughts:
The Quilts of Love series has been a blessing.  With each book in the series I've read, I have thought, "This is my favorite one!"  I had the same feeling with Aloha Rose.  Carter has written an emotionally driven story of heartbreak, conflict and the desires that bind us together.  Description and character depth is an exceptional part of this series' latest offering.  You will enjoy the journey of Kai and Laney and they will seem like friends by the book's ending.

Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Prodigal

From the inspirational author of The Ragamuffin Gospel comes a powerful contemporary retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
Jack Chisholm is “the people’s pastor.” He leads a devoted and growing megachurch, has several best-selling books, and a memorable slogan, “We have got to do better.” Jack knows how to preach, and he understands how to chastise people into performing. What he doesn’t know is anything about grace.
This year, when it comes time for the Christmas sermon, the congregation at Grace Cathedral will look to the pulpit, and Jack will not be there. Of course, they will have seen plenty of him already---on the news.
After an evening of debauchery that leads to an affair with his beautiful assistant, Jack Chisholm finds himself deserted with chilling swiftness. The church elders remove him from his own pulpit. His publisher withholds the royalties from his books.
Worst of all, his wife disappears with their eight-year-old daughter.
But just as Jack is hitting bottom, hopeless and penniless, drinking his way to oblivion, who should appear but his long-estranged father, imploring his prodigal son: “Come home.”
A true companion piece to The Ragamuffin Gospel, The Prodigal illustrates the power of grace through the story of a broken man who finally saw Jesus not because he preached his greatest sermon or wrote his most powerful book, but because he failed miserably.
Jack Chisholm lost everything---his church, his family, his respect, and his old way of believing---but he found grace. It’s the same grace that Brennan Manning devoted his life to sharing: profound in nature and coming from a God who loves us just as we are, and not as we should be.
Gregg Garrett is the author or coauthor of over fifteen books of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, including The Other Jesus, We Get To Carry Each Other:  The Gospel According to U2, and the acclaimed novels Free Bird, Cycling, and Shame.  A frequent speaker and media guest, he is on of America's leading voices on religion and culture.  Greg serves as Professor of English at Baylor University, Writer in Residence at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, Residential Scholar at Gladstone's Library in Wales, and as a licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Church.  He lives with his family in Austin, Texas.  
Brennan Manning was a Roman Catholic priest, a lifelong seeker of wisdom, a world traveler, a sojourner among the poor, and a sinner forgiven by a gracious God.  For fifty years, Brennan offered the message that God loves us without condition or reservation, loves us as we are and not as we think we should be.  It is a message of grace and forgiveness that has helped reconcile many to God, and a message that he lived out for the whole world to see, with courage and conviction, warts and all.  A renowned speaker, preacher, and retreat leader, Brennan authored or coauthored twenty books; his most popular being his million-selling and life-changing book The Ragamuffin Gospel.  
He went to rest in the loving arms of his Abba on April 12, 2013, but his voice still echoes in the hearts and minds of his readers.
My Thoughts:
I read The Ragamuffin Gospel years ago and was impressed with Manning's presentation of God's grace.  Now, many years later, The Prodigal: A Ragamuffin Story is the perfect follow-up book.  The Prodigal presents the ideas shared in The Ragamuffin Gospel in story form.  Garrett and Manning come together in what would be Manning's final book to give us a gritty and genuine picture of the failure of man along with the consequences of sin paired alongside the beautiful picture of God's grace that reaches far and wide to redeem.
There's nothing candy coated in this story.  Jack's story is all of our stories...we miss the mark and God chases after us with His scandalous love and mercy.  The cameo appearance of Brennan as Father Frank in the novel is brilliant!  Brennan ran a good race and fought the good fight.  We are blessed that he left us with one more picture of God's amazing grace. 
One of the questions in the reading group guide, which is included in the book, is:
Would you like to read more stories about Jack?
My answer?  ABSOLUTELY!!!

Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Critical Reaction

The Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
Critical Reaction
Bethany House Publishers (November 19, 2013)
by
Todd M. Johnson

Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. Todd's career experience blends with his passion for writing in his novels published through Bethany House. 

A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as an adjunct professor of International Law, and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. 

The Deposit Slip, Mr. Johnson's first novel, debuted in 2012. Todd's second novel, Critical Reaction, will be released in November 2013. 

Todd lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife Cathy and children Ian and Libby. 

Todd can be reached through the Contact link on his Website.
 
After decades of turning out plutonium for the arms race, the Hanford Nuclear Facility has long been shuttered, though its deadly legacy cannot be fully contained. The men who guard the facility from sabotage or monitor its buildings for radiation leaks are told the risks are under control. They believe it, until the worst happens: a thunderous explosion in the dead of night. 

Two workers, lifer Poppy Martin and new hire Kieran Mullaney, believe themselves lucky to survive the blast. But as the debris is cleared, they discover their safety is not assured. Dead ends and closed doors halt their efforts to discover what really happened--and what radiation may have poisoned them. When stalling and threats force them into the hands of experienced trial lawyer Ryan Hart, they learn that theirs is no ordinary lawsuit. There is something still hidden in the desert of eastern Washington, and someone is willing to go to extreme lengths to make sure it never sees the light of day. 

If you would like to read the first chapter of Critical Reaction, go HERE

My Thoughts:
I absolutely loved Todd's debut novel Deposit Slip and knew that he was going to be a legal thriller author to keep my eyes on...I was right!  Critical Reaction was far from disappointing.  Johnson's plot development and characterization  is superb.  He opens the novel with heart pounding drama that does not slow down until the last page.  Grisham, Singer and the like are going to have to move over a little and make room for Todd Johnson.  His legal knowledge and experience shine brightly in an engaging and heart stopping legal thriller.  He has gained a spot on my "keeper shelf".

Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Our God Comes: Antioch Live



That song is just one from the worship team of Antioch Community Church in Waco, TX from their new cd Our God Comes.  

"The Antioch Movement, which began more than 20 years ago, is dedicated to seeing the local church reproduce the Kingdom of God through prayer, evangelism and discipleship throughout the United States and around the world.  We are a people passionate for Jesus and His purposes in the earth.  It is from these values that we worship Jesus with all our hearts and lives.  This music is part of the soundtrack of our journey."

Tracks included on this newest cd are:
1.  Come
2.  God and King
3.  Wonderful Counselor
4.  God Who Saves
5.  How Much More
6.  I Will Raise
...Response
7.  Light Me Up
8.  Awaken Us
9.  One Hundred Three
...Return
10.  Savior Forever
...Selah
11.  Our God Comes


I've enjoyed having this cd in my car to listen to.  The songs included are worshipful and engage the heart and mind in spirit filled and truthful adoration of God.  While so many modern praise and worship songs are repetitive, these by Antioch Live are not.  The are focused on exalting Almighty God in true worship and in many instances, the lyrics are straight from Scripture.  Consider these lyrics from Track 9...One Hundred Three:
Father full of love/ You have not dealt with us according to our sins/Father of love/ You have shown mercy mercy for Your children/For you know that we are merely dust in the wind/And You know that we are weary from this world that we live in/You are strong and You are mercy/Great are You here in this place/You are love and You're forgiving/You've turned this world around by the pouring of Your grace/Bless the Lord O my soul/Bless His holy name all the earth/Bless the Lord O my soul/You are worthy You are worthy/Father of love/You wrap us up in grace crown us with compassion/Father of love/You heal our sicknesses every single one/You are worthy of blessing and honor/Glory and power and wisdom and thanks.
My only criticism of the cd has to do with the production of the cd itself.  The music and voices didn't seem to be mixed equally.  I had to turn the cd up really loud to be able to hear and make out the lyrics and voices for most of the length of the cd.

You will be blessed by adding Our God Comes to your collection of praise and worship music.  You can order the cd by going HERE.

Thank you Rick Robertson with B&B Media for sending the cd for the purpose of this review.

Blessings,
Jennifer

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Snow on the Tulips



Meet the author: Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. Add a dog and a cat to that mix and there's always something going on at their house. She's spent time teaching second grade, writing advertising for a real estate company, and working as a church secretary, but she always dreamed of becoming an author.
She'd love to have you visit her at www.liztolsma.com.





About the book: A stranger's life hangs in the balance. But to save him is to risk everything.
The war is drawing to a close, but the Nazis still occupy part of the Netherlands. After the losses she's endured, war widow Cornelia is only a shadow of the woman she once was. She fights now to protect her younger brother, Johan, who lives in hiding.
When Johan brings Gerrit Laninga, a wounded Dutch Resistance member, to Cornelia's doorstep, their lives are forever altered. Although scared of the consequences of harboring a wanted man, Cornelia's faith won't let her turn him out.
As she nurses Gerrit back to health, she is drawn to his fierce passion and ideals, and notices a shift within herself. Gerrit's intensity challenges her, making her want to live fully, despite the fear that constrains her. When the opportunity to join him in the Resistance presents itself, Cornelia must summon every ounce of courage imaginable.
She is as terrified of loving Gerrit as she is of losing him. But as the winter landscape thaws, so too does her heart. Will she get a second chance at true love? She fears their story will end before it even begins.

My Thoughts:
Ms Tolsma has written an exceptional debut novel.  The setting is well researched and Tolsma's description drops you in the middle of the Netherlands during Nazi rule.  The characterization is richly done and draws you into a multi-layered story of courage, faith and tender love.  This book and any to follow by Ms Tolsma, you will not want to miss.  Look for Daisies Last Forever in May 2014. Included in the book is a well-developed reading group guide and the "story behind the story".
*Thank you Litfuse Publicity for sending a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for this review and blog tour participation.

Go HERE to see what others are saying about Snow On The Tulips.
Enter Today - 10/30 - 11/16!
Snow on the Tulips Liz Tolsma
>

Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Friday, November 8, 2013

To Know You

About the authors: Shannon Ethridge is a best-selling author, speaker, and certified life coach with a master's degree in counseling/human relations from Liberty University. She has spoken to college students and adults since 1989 and is the author of 21 books, including the million-copy best-selling Every Woman's Battle series. She is a frequent guest on TV and radio programs and mentors aspiring writers and speakers through her BLAST Program (Building Leaders, Authors, Speakers & Teachers.)

Learn more about Shannon:http://www.shannonethridge.com

Kathryn Mackel is a best-selling author and acclaimed screenwriter for Disney and Fox. She was on the screenwriting team for Left Behind: The Movie, and Frank Peretti's Hangman's Curse. She is the acclaimed author of "The Surrogate", "The Departed", and "The Hidden" and resides in Boston, Massachusetts, with her husband.

Learn more about Kathryn: http://www.kathrynmackel.com

About the book: Julia Whittaker's rocky past yielded two daughters, both given up for adoption as infants. Now she must find them to try to save her son.

Julia and Matt Whittaker's son has beaten the odds for thirteen years only to have the odds---and his liver---crash precipitously. The only hope for his survival is a "living liver" transplant, but the transplant list is long and Dillon's time is short. His two older half-sisters, born eighteen months apart to two different fathers, offer his only hope for survival.

But can Julia ask a young woman---someone she surrendered to strangers long ago and has never spoken with---to make such a sacrifice to save a brother she's never known? Can she muster the courage to journey back into a shame-filled season of her life, face her choices and their consequences, and find any hope of healing?
And what if she discovers in her own daughters' lives that a history of foolish choices threatens to repeat itself? Julia knows she's probably embarking on a fool's errand---searching for the daughters she abandoned only now that she needs something from them. But love compels Julia to take this journey. Can grace and forgiveness compel her daughters to join her?

In To Know You, Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel explore how the past creates the present . . . and how even the most shattered lives can be redeemed.

My Thoughts:
It's been a long time since I've read a book that has left the affect on me that To Know You has . Ethridge and Mackel have written a story that is gritty and edgy, but beautiful at the same time.  The characters are believable and their lives, while messy, portray a genuineness from which the story of redemption and grace shine brightly.  This is not your typical Christian fiction where everything is nice and tidy.  The authors write with raw honesty...the struggles with sin are real...faith is tested and tried...mistakes are made and made again.
I appreciated being able to hear from each voice within an intricately woven plot.  Ethridge and Mackel waste no words.  There is something profound and thoughtful on every page of this story. I would love to be a fly on the wall in any book club that would choose To Know You as its selection. With the depth of emotion and the rich characterization in the book, the discussion would be amazing.  A Reading Group Guide is included and the questions are well developed and helpful in laying ground for thoughtful discussion of the themes and characters in the story. 
The grace, mercy and scandalous love of God that is able to transform the messiest of lives and the most heartbreaking circumstances is the theme of this book.  Ethridge and Mackel have a gift and I consider myself blessed to have come across their gift.  The best part is the story continues in Veil of Secrets which will be available out July 2014.  I've cleared off a spot on my keeper shelf for To Know You and another spot beside it will be ready for July of next year!  
*Thank you Litfuse Publicity for sending the book for the purpose of this review and blog tour participation!
*To see what others are saying about the book, go HERE
Enter Today | 11/1 - 11/19
Shannon Ethridge's TO KNOW YOU
 

Happy Reading,
Jennifer
     

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Reliable Truth

Richard E. Simmons III received his B.A. from the University of the South (Sewanee) in Economics in 1976.  He later studied Risk Management and Insurance at Georgia State University prior to beginning a 25-year career with Hilb, Rogal and Hamilton, a property and casualty insurance firm where he was CEO for ten years.
Much of Simmons' life has been devoted to giving back to the community by advising businessmen and professionals.  Through these experiences, he discovered he had a calling for teaching and public speaking.
In December 2002, Simmons founded the Center for Executive Leadership, a not-for-profit, faith-based ministry.  As the Executive Director of the center, Simmons teaches men's Bible studies, counsels individuals and oversees a talented group of professional and personal counselors.  When he's not spending time with his wife and three children, you will find him teaching, counseling, writing, or speaking to men's groups across the country.
To learn more about The Center for Executive Leadership and Richard, you can visit the website at www.thecenterbham.org.
What do science, history, and logic have to say about the reliability of the Bible?
This book presents in a profound way how the Bible reflects the true nature of reality.  Reliable Truth is about seeing the world as it is while debunking the myths, legends and false beliefs about the Bible.
In Reliable Truth, Simmons helps us to answer a most important question:  How did you come to these conclusions in your spiritual life?  In the preface to the book, Simmons opens with this quote from Aristotle:
"All men by nature desire to know."
Simmons himself goes on to say:
"I often wonder how many people actually ask themselves why they believe what they believe.  In fact, I would say it is not only appropriate but also right to give considerable thought to where we get our ideas about God, even if we are skeptical that he even exists.  What has shaped and formed our views of spiritual reality?  What are the primary sources that have formed our spiritual ideas and beliefs?  Most significantly, how reliable are these sources?"
Simmons has written and provided a very well written, well-ordered and very compelling argument for the validity of Scripture and its account of the God-Man Jesus Christ.  Through a thorough treatment of history, archeology, ancient writings, development of the cannon of Scripture, science, the moral imperative and a look at the life of Jesus and His resurrection, Simmons succinctly lays before his readers the "evidence" and prompts the right investigative questions to be asked.
If you have a friend or acquaintance, who struggles with doubts or misunderstandings about the Bible and its reliability, Reliable Truth would be a most helpful book to purchase and go through with them.  In a world where everything seems relative and people want to live in the "gray" areas, this is an important and timely book.  



Blessings,
Jennifer

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Just One More Thing Before You Leave Home


Meet the authors: Dave & Bernice Gudgel are committed to walking intentionally with God and helping others do the same. Bernice has a degree in Psychology and has focused her adult life on raising three kids and leading various ministries in the church where people can connect with God and each other. Dave is a pastor and teaches for Walk Thru the Bible.

Learn more at: http://davidandbernice.com



About the book: This is the book we wish our parents gave us.
Just One More Thing: Before You Leave Home is a packed guide to help young adults enter life on their own. In the book, the Gudgels use stories, perspectives, and dialogues to discuss 30 indispensable topics to help teens survive, including: worldview, financial challenges, use of time, career moves, moral dilemmas, sex, painful experiences, and spiritual life, among others. Written from a Biblical perspective, the book is more of a guide to making good decisions than a lecture on how to live., It's perfect for a parent and teen to go over together or to give as a thoughtful gift. This is a book they'll reference for years to come.


My Thoughts:
With my first born daughter turning 16 in December, I knew I wanted to get my hands on this book!  And I'm so glad I took the opportunity to join Litfuse Publicity in its promotion of this amazing resource.  As parents, we've all all thought at one time or another how much we wish there was a handbook that came with our children.  The Gudgels have given us not so much a handbook as a tool to open up communication with our teenagers.  They cover every subject you can imagine from relational intelligence, financial challenges, career moves, moral dilemmas, sex matters to spiritual commitments...over 30 topics for preparing for a responsible and abundant life.
I love the conversational style of the book and how the Gudgels incorporate personal experience.  The biblical guidance is shared with loving concern for and to the young adult.  At the end of each chapter, the Gudgels give scripture alongside introspective questions to help the reader practically apply the concepts shared within the chapter through the lens of God's Word.  Most importantly, Just One More Thing isn't preachy.  It's not a lecture, but a discussion. The book gives solid and practical guidance not just theory and would be the perfect gift for a graduate.
And just one more thing...I can't wait to share this book with my daughter!
*Thank you Litfuse Publicity for sending the complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.   

To see what others are saying go HERE.

Blessings,
Jennifer

Monday, November 4, 2013

Beloved



Meet the author: Robin is the author of 65+ novels and novellas. Her home is in Idaho, where she spends her time writing stories of faith, courage, and love; pondering the things of God; and loving her family and friends.

Learn more at:http://www.robinleehatcher.com






About the book: Diana is ready to begin a new chapter in her life-until the husband she believed dead reappears at her engagement party.

Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word from him in years, Diana's infatuation with her dashing husband died an ugly death, and she is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.

But when Tyson returns, claiming to be a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom.

He agrees with one condition---she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.


To see what others are saying about the book, you can visit HERE.

My Thoughts:
I have so enjoyed reading Hatcher's Where The Heart Lives Series.  The first two books were Belonging and Betrayal, which tell the stories of Diana's siblings.  While Beloved as well as the other books in this series can be read as stand alone novels, I would encourage you to read the series as a whole to get the big picture of these three siblings.  Hatcher catches the uniqueness of each family member and gives her readers a good picture of the journey of each.  Her description and characterization are some of the best in Christian fiction!
The emotion Diana experiences through the mountains and valleys of her life are palpable at times.  As a reader, you will find yourself so engrossed in the story that you almost feel a part of it at times.  Don't miss this entire series by a very gifted and talented writer.
*Thank you Litfuse for sending the complimentary copy of the book in exchange for this review and blog tour participation.   

DON'T MISS THIS!!!
Enter Today - 10/28 - 11/15!
beloved robin lee hatcher
 


Happy Reading,
Jennifer






Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Doctor's Christmas Quilt

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) and was the 2011 Author of the Year from BooksandAuthors.net. Her novel set in China, Red Ink, was named Golden Scrolls 2011 Novel of the Year and was also a Carol Award Finalist; her October 2012 release, Unexpected Christmas Hero, was named 2012 Book of the Year by BookandAuthors.net. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband.

Kathi is passionate about The Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors.

You can connect with Kathi and learn more about her books at her website which can be found at kathimacias.com.


When her unwed medical student daughter discloses that she is pregnant, Dr. Laura Branson is torn between faith and fear.

Until now, Dr. Laura Branson's beliefs and stance on pro-life issues have been more theoretical than personal.  What does she really believe, and will she have the courage to stand by her convictions?  Only an unexpected Christmas gift - a beautiful quilt - can help uncover the answer she needs.  Supplemented with an online book club guide, The Doctor's Christmas Quilt delicately deals with the contemporary issues of faith in the pro-life movement.






My Thoughts:
I received a complimentary copy of The Doctor's Christmas Quilt from the publisher, New Hope Publishers, through my involvement with the Reader's Only group at The Book Club Network (bookfun.org).  If you are a reader who loves to interact with other avid readers as well as with authors, you should check out TBCN!  
The byline on Kathi Macias' blog is:  Communicating God's Vision.  And she most certainly does that! Having directed a crisis pregnancy center in the past, I always love to read books, both fiction and non-fiction, that deal with the pro-life movement.  Macias does a beautiful job with addressing pro-life issues in this most recent offering in her new series, The Quilt Series.  This book is the second in the series with the next one due to be out Spring 2014.
Macias' The Doctor's Christmas Quilt is the blending of both contemporary story and the history of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell.    I enjoyed the seamless way Macias gives readers the history within the contemporary story's plot.  This book would be perfect for a book club's selection and could easily be used in a small group Bible study with the addition of the online book discussion guide offered through New Hope Publishing.  You can find the discussion guide for the book by going HERE.
Macias also gives clear pointers to a biblical thought process within her story.  She clearly portrays the characters' thoughts and feelings by allowing the reader to "hear" from each character.  The depth of the book comes from being able as a reader to see clearly each character's thought process and struggle with their faith.  Macias' books are not ones to be missed!  
Happy Reading,
Jennifer