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Friday, December 28, 2018

Lethal Target

Janice Cantore is a retired Long Beach police officer who now writes suspense novels to keep readers engrossed and leave them inspired.  Her twenty-two years of experience on the force lend authenticity to her stories.  She has penned ten romantic suspense novels:
the Cold Case Justice series, the Pacific Coast Justice series, Critical Pursuit, and Visible Threat.  Crisis Shot and Lethal Target are the first two books in the Line of Duty series.

Police Chief Tess O'Rourke thought she'd taken care of her small town's drug problem last year.  But now Rogue's Hollow residents are up in arms over a contentious vote on legalizing the sale of marijuana within city limits.  And when an eighteen-year-old is found dead of a possible opioid overdose, Tess wonders if the local pot farms might be involved and begins to fear that a new, deadlier drug supply chain has cropped up.  As tempers flare and emotions boil over, Tess faces the possibility of losing the town's support.
With her relationship to Sergeant Steve Logan on shaky ground, Tess could really use a friend, and she feels drawn to Pastor Oliver Macpherson's quiet presence.  But the anger she holds over her father's death prevents her from embracing his faith and finding peace.
Battling storms within and without, Tess is shocked when a familiar face from her past shows up in town to stir up more trouble.  And his threats against Tess may prove lethal.

My Thoughts:
Cantore has knocked the Romantic Suspense ball out of the ballpark with her Line of Duty series.  Readers first encounter Tess O'Rourke in the first book, Crisis Shot and the second book, Lethal Target, continues Tess's faith journey and time in Rogue's Hollow. 
Cantore's protagonist, Tess O'Rourke, is well-developed and I was drawn to her immediately in the first book.  In Lethal Target, Cantore incorporates the faith element fluidly and in a non-preachy way.  Tess's growth is so uplifting to follow.  And the romance element is suspenseful in itself!  Who will Tess end up with?  The third book releases Summer 2019.  I guess we'll have to wait until then!
*I was given a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

The Biggest Win: Pro Football Players Tackle Faith

Joshua Cooley is a sports writing veteran of 20-plus years for various print and online publications, including Sports Illustrated, FCA Magazine, Sports Spectrum, Orioles Magazine, Clubhouse, and Highlights.  He is also the author of The One Year Devotions With Jesus and the Heroes of the Bible Devotional, among other books.  Josua is the full-time children's minister at Chapel Hill Bible Church in North Carolina.

The Biggest Win gives athletes and sports fans of all ages a unique, insider's look into the lives and faith of six Christian NFL players from the 2017 Philadelphia Eagle's Super Bowl team - Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, Jordan Hicks, and Chris Maragos - in particular, how these high-profile athletes remain committed to God's word, genuine Christian discipleship, and sharing their faith.  Using their voices and stories, The Biggest Win gives sports-minded readers hope and direction for living our their faith while competing, as well as providing a helpful resource for pastors, youth and college leaders, and coaches to use as a small group resource with students interested in sports.



My Thoughts:
My thirteen-year-old son is an avid sports fan...he eats, lives, and breathes sports.  He is currently on the A-team as the starting power forward on his junior high basketball team.  My husband and I are very proud of him and enjoy watching him play and grow, but more than being on the "A-team", as his parents, we want our son to know the Lord and grow in Him.  We want him to excel in his sports' abilities but more so we want him to grow in his desire and faithfulness to God.
I'm thankful for Cooley and his book, The Biggest Win. Cooley highlights the faith stories of six NFL players who are living out their faith in God both on and off the field.  My son has been reading this book and I've noticed the bookmark move slowly as he has been using the book devotionally.  I particularly appreciate the questions for reflection at the end of each section.  My son and I have had great conversations as he has moved his way through the book.  
Well-written and full of practical examples for application of deep biblical truth, Cooley has made this mama of a sports-loving teenage boy glad.  I feel like I have someone that has come alongside me in helping me point my son's eyes and heart truly toward the biggest win.
*I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher - New Growth Press.  All opinions stated here are my own.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Defiant Joy

Stasi Eldredge is a New York Times bestselling author.  Her books have sold more than 3 million copies and changed women's lives all over the world.  A teacher and conference speaker, Stasi is the director of the women's ministry at Ransomed Heart and leads Captivating retreats internationally.  Her passion is to see lives transformed by the beauty of the gospel.  She and her family make their home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

We are called to live.  And, miraculously, to live with joy.

We all spend a lot of energy reaching for happiness, but we are never quite able to hang on to it.  Real life happens, and our circumstances take us on an emotional rollercoaster ride.  So the Bible's call to "be joyful always" sounds almost crazy - and out of reach.  But it doesn't have to be.
Joy is meant to be ours, a joy that is defiant in the face of this broken world.  This joy is not simply happiness on steroids; it's the unyielding belief that sorrow and loss do not have the final say.  It's the stubborn determination to be present to whatever may come and to interpret both goodness and grief by the light of heaven.
Stasi Eldredge invites us with courage, candor, and tender vulnerability to a place beyond sadness or happiness.  She shows us how to maintain a posture of holy defiance that neither denies nor diminishes our pain but dares to live with expectant, unwavering hope.

My Thoughts:
The past couple of years have been hard for our family.  Life has just been heavy and at times I've been so overcome with anxiety, I haven't been able to breathe.  Eldredge's book, Defiant Joy, could not have come my way at a better time.
"Defiant means to stand against the tide.  It means to go against the flow, even when the flow is composed of a strong current of despair and difficulty."
Eldredge's genuine sharing of her own story and transparency regarding her fight to hang onto joy has been a balm to my soul.  She holds high where the source of our joy comes from - Jesus.
"And then we turned our hearts to the One Who is our hope in the face of loss and untold grief.  Because of Jesus - His death, His resurrection, and His ascension - we chose to honor Him and celebrate that He has won and is winning still."
I appreciated the candor in which Eldredge shared truths from God's Word and how they transformed her mind and heart and have emboldened her to be defiantly joyful.
" By the life of Christ in us, we oppose death and destruction.  We dissent by casting our vote against the belief that sorrow and endless suffering win.  Instead we welcome life, love, and the full work of Christ to bring all of His goodness into every aspect of our and His domains.  We comply with truth.  We obey our God.  We respect His authority and His final say.  We overcome evil with good.  We defy hatred by embracing love.  We choose joy."
If you find it hard at times to be "joyful always"...Eldredge's book will and the truth she shares will be a welcoming salve and encouragement.
*I received a complimentary copy of the book.  All opinions here are my own.

Blessings,
Jennifer

Thursday, November 15, 2018

(in)Courage Devotional Bible and Giveaway

The CSB (in)courage Devotional Bible is an invitation for all women to find their stories within the tapestry of the greatest story ever told - God's story of redemption.
Featuring devotions by over one hundred writers of the (in)courage community, the CSB (in)courage Devotional Bible provides resources for women to explore the Bible, dive deep into Scripture, record their own stories, and find themselves among friends.

  • 312 devotions by 122 (in)courage community writers
  • 10 Distinct thematic reading plans
  • 66 book introductions connecting each book of the Bible to the whole biblical narrative
  • stories of courage from 50 women of the Bible
  • journaling space
  • topical index
  • two-column text
  • theme verses
My Thoughts:
The (in)courage Devotional Bible is an aesthetically beautiful  Bible.  This Bible carries the CSB text which is widely becoming a chosen and trusted version by many.  
Devotional themes covered are:

  • Beautiful Brokenness
  • Better Together
  • Daily Grace
  • Everyday Leadership
  • Friendship on Purpose
  • Hope in the Hard
  • Imperfect Hospitality
  • Intentional Gratitude
  • Second Chances The Scared Brave
Beautiful colors are used throughout the Bible making it easy to follow the devotional themes and reading plans.
I especially appreciated the journaling space provided on each page of the biblical text.  My only criticism is that the pages are really thin so I would provide a word of caution as to the choice of pen/marker used.  I have found the Pigma Micron 05 pens to be the best in not bleeding through the thinnest Bible pages.
The (in)courage Devotional Bible would be a great Christmas gift for someone special in your life and a great way to encourage consistent time in God's Word.  This Bible is not only beautiful in its aesthetics but more so in the clear way it exalts God's plan of redemption from Genesis to Revelation.

Learn more about this resource by visiting HERE.

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

You can enter to win your own copy of this devotional Bible by going HERE.

Many Blessings,
Jennifer

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Hidden Peril

Irene Hannon is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than fifty contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels, including Dangerous Illusions.  In addition to her many other honors, she is a three-time winner of the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America.  She is also a member of TWA'a elite Hall of Fame and has received a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews.  All of her suspense novels have been ECPA/CBA bestsellers.
Connect with Irene on her website:  www.irenehannon.com.

The most dangerous enemy is the one who has nothing to lose.

As teenagers, Kristin Dane and her two best friends took a vow to make the world a better place.  Twenty years later, she's fulfilling that pledge through her fair trade shop that features products from around the world.  All is well until, one by one, people connected to the shop begin dying.

Detective Luke Carter, new to the St. Louis PD, wants to know why.  Before he can answer that question, however, the FBI weighs in and Kristin suddenly finds herself in the middle of international intrigue -  and in the sights of the ruthless mastermind behind an ingenious and deadly scheme.  Can this cold-blooded killer be stopped before more people die...including Kristin?

My Thoughts:
Irene Hannon has long been a favorite suspense author to me.  She writes great suspense that keeps me engaged until the last page is turned and weaves a romantic piece into her stories that never comes across as forced or syrupy sweet but genuine.
Hidden Peril was a ball knocked out of the ballpark for Hannon.  I loved how she peppered the backstory for Luke and Kristin in a way that as the story progressed I felt like I was gaining two new friends.  Hannon is a master of in-depth characterization and edge of your seat suspense.  I thought I had an idea about this one due to the way Hannon expertly wrote the "bad guy's" character, but still in the end I just sat back and said, "Wow!"  Grab Hidden Peril...you won't be disappointed!
*I received a complimentary copy of the book.  All opinions are my own.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Playing for More: Trust Beyond What You Can See

Case Keenum has traveled one of the most unique paths of any NFL quarterback.  Case received only one scholarship offer, from the University of Houston, and went undrafted despite breaking multiple NCAA football passing records.  He has overcome every obstacle to become a successful starting quarterback.  In 2017, Keenum captured America's imagination by leading the Minnesota Vikings to a 13-3 record and an NFC North title.  His game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of their divisional playoff game against the Saints, the "Minneapolis Miracle," made Case part of NFL history.
Keenum holds the all-time college football mark for passing yards, touchdown passes, total touchdowns, and completions.  He was Conference USA Freshman of the year in 2007, Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year in 2008, and Conference USA Most Valuable Player in 2009 and 2011.  He is one of only two quarterbacks to win the Sammy Baugh Award for the nation's outstanding passer twice.
Keenum signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2012.  He has a record of 20-18 as an NFL starter with the Texans, Rams, and Vikings.  He posted career-highs in passing yards and touchdowns with Minnesota in 2017 and signed with the Denver Broncos in March 2018.

* Andrew Perloff (co-author) is an on-air personality on the television and radio sports talk program "The Dan Patrick Show" and contributing writer for SportsIllustrated.com.  Perloff interviewed Keenum for a Sports Illustrated feature in 2013 and has covered him throughout his NFL career.










My Thoughts:
My 13-year-old son, who absolutely devours sports figure biographies, read and loved this book.  The book is a shorter, just under 200 pages, volume but held my son's attention.  Case's story is told in a conversational tone.  My son kept coming to me as he read telling me some about the different pieces of Case's life.
Case clearly presents his faith in the book...
"Faith is the foundation for everything.  I play for an audience of One.  I don't just play for the name on the front or the back of my jersey.  I play to glorify God.  Life is too hard to go about it alone."
I'm thankful that Case Keenum shared his faith story with us through this well-written book.  Our sons and daughters need more role-models like Case.

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

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Miles From Where We Started

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Shelter Of The Most High

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

Connect with Connilyn at www.ConnilynCossette.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading ya'll,
Jennifer

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A Secret To Die For

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

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

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



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

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Legacy of Mercy/Interview with Lynn Austin

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer


Monday, September 17, 2018

Reload Love: Transforming Bullets To Beauty And Battlegrounds To Playgrounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

Blessings,
Jennifer

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thirst of Steel

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

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











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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

By The Waters of Babylon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Blessings Readers,
Jennifer

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thief of Corinth

Tessa Afshar is the Christy Award-winning author of several works of biblical fiction.  She holds an MDiv from Yale University, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School.  She has worked in ministry ever since.

You can connect with her via her website:
www.tessaafshar.com.


First-Century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm.  It's also filled with danger and corruption - the perfect setting for Ariadne's greatest adventure.

After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father's home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage:  though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city's corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.

Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father's apprentice.  As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire.  But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future - and very lives -  hanging in the balance.

When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they've fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.

My Thoughts:
Afshar has a gift...a gift of transporting her readers back in time.  With amazing attention to detail derived from careful research, Afshar takes readers on a journey to and through Corinth in New Testament biblical times in her latest book, Thief of Corinth.

With the very first line of the Prologue...
"You asked me once how a woman like me could become a thief.  How could I, having everything - a father's love, a lavish home, an athlete's accolades - turn to lawlessness and crime?"
Afshar draws the reader into another world.  I found that once I started Ariadne's story, I could not put it down.  The sites, sounds, and smells were so vivid as I read.

I also appreciated how Afshar's writing in this book is so clear with the gospel in a number of passages such as this one...
"It would be sad indeed if the world were at the mercy of an impersonal force, a detached power without the ability to love.  The God I speak of gives life and breath to everything.  To this clump of mint, to you, to me.  He knows the number of hairs on your head.  He cares for the desires of your heart.  Underneath the currents of your life, he stretches his everlasting arms.  He has set his affections on you, though he knows your every weakness.  The broken and the good in you.  His love makes you whole.  No man can give you this.  Only God."
Afshar has a particular way of weaving in references to Scripture and this was especially so in Thief of Corinth.  She drives me to search out the Scriptures for myself.

Afshar also includes such glorious truth as a natural part of the dialogue and thoughts of her characters...
"Perhaps it is not so much the years we live as the experiences we have in them."
"I thought the worst troubles in life came through unfulfilled desires.  Came because our longings went unmet.  I did not realize that the answers to our deepest pleas could be a s painful as they were healing."
"Somehow mercy had won the battle.  I had not received what I deserved.  Paul would have called it grace.  I just knew I was loved when I deserved to be spurned."
"Love is kind.  When the Love that established the universe starts moving in you, I suppose you lean toward kindness too."
I don't often re-read books that I keep on my shelf.  Afshar's books are on my keeper shelf and most of them have been read more than once.  Thief of Corinth is in that category.

*I received a complimentary Advanced Reader's Copy of the book from the publisher.  All opinions stated here are my own.

Blessings readers,
Jennifer

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Less Than Perfect

Ann Spangler is an award-winning writer and the author of many bestselling books, including Women of the Bible, Praying the Names of God, and Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus.

You can connect with Ann and learn more about her writing via her website which can be found HERE.




Meet your spiritual ancestors...
as they really were.

What can the Bible's most flawed men and women reveal about who God is and how he reaches out to less-than-perfect people?  Bestselling author Ann Spangler takes us beyond cardboard cutouts of 38 biblical characters to reveal real people with many of the same dreams, temptations, and weaknesses we have.

Whether considering the murderous Herodias, the scheming Jacob, or the doubting Sarah, Spangler approaches both familiar and lesser-know characters with fresh eyes, bringing them to life for modern readers by including key cultural and historical insights.  As you learn more about the people who are part of your spiritual family tree, you'll discover why God loves to use imperfect people to tell his perfect story of redemption.  


My Thoughts:
If I had to assign a passage of Scripture to put a summary to Spangler's latest book, it would be...
"Brothers and sisters, consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth.  Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong.  God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world - what is viewed as nothint - to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one may boast in His presence.  It is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us - our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that as it is written:  Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."  1 Corinthians 1:26-31  (CSB)
Beginning with Adam and Eve and then covering biblical characters like Sarah, Tamar, Miriam, Michal, Bathsheba, Jezebel, the woman who wiped the feet of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene, Spangler highlights those aspects of life that we who would like to think ourselves "super spiritual" tend to sweep under the rug.

Through Spangler's writing, it is obvious that once God got a hold of her heart and life, she was wrecked for an attachment to this world.  Each biblical character highlight begins with a "story form" section with sidebar notes explaining key cultural and historical aspects that are key to understanding context.  These notes were extremely helpful in bringing a new level of knowledge of the Scriptures for me.  Then Spangler includes a section called "The Times" where she gives the time period and where in Scripture that particular character's story took place followed by a bit of commentary from Spangler.  Each section is concluded with "The Takeaway" which gives the reader questions that really do a good job of helping to apply the Scripture personally.  

I've been going through the book devotionally, taking one chapter a day.  I have been blessed beyond what I can express here.  Spangler clearly shines a light on the great truth that all of our life...ALL of it can be used for God's glory and our good.  And that He is the Great Redeemer.

Less Than Perfect would be a great resource for personal use but also for small group or one-on-one discipleship use.
*I was given a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

Blessings,
Jennifer

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond

Jaime Jo Wright is the author of the acclaimed novel The House on Foster Hill.  She's also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas.  Jaime works as a human resources director in Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and two children.
To learn more about Jaime and her writing, visit jaimewrightbooks.com.



For over a century, the town of Gossamer Grove has thrived on its charm and Midwestern values, but Annalise Forsythe knows painful secrets, including her own, hover just beneath the pleasant facade.  Yet her strange and sudden inheritance of a run down trailer home - full of pictures, vintage obituaries, and old revival posters - leaves her wholly unprepared for how truly dark and deadly those secrets may be.

A century earlier, Gossamer Grove is stirred into chaos by the arrival of controversial and charismatic twin revivalists.  The chaos takes a murderous turn when Libby Sheffield, while working at her father's newspaper, receives an obituary for a reputable church deacon hours before his death.  As she works with the deacon's son to solve the crime, it becomes clear that a reckoning has come to town - but it isn't until another obituary arrives at the paper that they realize the true depths of the danger they've waded into.

Two women, separated by a hundred years, must unravel the mysteries of their own town before it's too late and they lose their future - or their very souls.


My Thoughts:
Wright, a.k.a. "Time Slip Queen" has knocked another one out of the ballpark with her latest novel The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond.  With her keen ability to weave past and present together, Wright is a master at writing stories that have a bit of eerie, mixing in well-developed characters, and the perfect amount of twists and turns that keep readers engaged and often on the edge of their seats...like, all night on the edge of their seats!  Once you begin Annalise and Libby's story, you won't be able to put it down until the last page has been turned.  And, on top of all that, Wright peppers sound theology throughout this book that isn't "preachy" but there as a natural part of the story.
*I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.  All opinions stated here are my own.

Happy "up all night" reading ya'll,
Jennifer