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Monday, May 18, 2015

The Art of Losing Yourself

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Art of Losing Yourself
WaterBrook Press (April 21, 2015)
by
Katie Ganshert


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate.

Katie can be reached through the Contact link on her Website.



ABOUT THE BOOK

Just like in my dream, I was drowning and nobody even noticed.

Every morning, Carmen Hart pastes on her made-for-TV smile and broadcasts the weather. She’s the Florida panhandle’s favorite meteorologist, married to everyone’s favorite high school football coach. They’re the perfect-looking couple, live in a nice house, and attend church on Sundays. From the outside, she’s a woman who has it all together.  But on the inside, Carmen Hart struggles with doubt. She wonders if she made a mistake when she married her husband. She wonders if God is as powerful as she once believed. Sometimes she wonders if He exists at all. After years of secret losses and empty arms, she’s not so sure anymore.

Until Carmen’s sister—seventeen year old runaway, Gracie Fisher—steps in and changes everything. Gracie is caught squatting at a boarded-up motel that belongs to Carmen’s aunt, and their mother is off on another one of her benders, which means Carmen has no other option but to take Gracie in. Is it possible for God to use a broken teenager and an abandoned motel to bring a woman’s faith and marriage back to life? Can two half-sisters make each other whole?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Art of Losing Yourself, go HERE.

My Thoughts:
The Art of Losing Yourself is the first book by Katie Ganshert that I have read.  Her story is full of raw emotion and characters with a sincerity and depth that causes the reader to feel the emotions along with them.  I am now a Ganshert fan!
I so appreciated that Ganshert's characters weren't all neat and tidy with the predictable "happily ever after" stories.  Because of this, Ganshert's characters are believable and easy with which to identify. My favorite character may have been Ingrid (Carmen and Gracie's aunt).  While teetering between lucidity and living in the past, Aunt Ingrid gives readers sound bites like the following that will be rolling around in minds long after the book is finished:
"Not all things are worth saving, you know.  But some are worth every ounce of fight you can throw at them." With all the dignity in the world, she took a few small bites of her dessert.  "You just have to know the difference."
"So what did you and Gerald do?"  "All we could do - we helped him get through it, not over it."  She flipped over an ace.  "Because there are some things in life we aren't meant to get over."
 Simply said, The Art of Losing Yourself, is a blessing to read.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Wood's Edge

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Wood's Edge
WaterBrook Press (April 21, 2015)
by
Lori Benton


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Benton spent her late teens and early twenties pursuing a career as a wildlife artist, attending the Maryland College of Art & Design before she began painting professionally. When not writing or researching, Lori can be found exploring the mountains of southern Oregon with her husband, Brian. Lori's first novel, Burning Sky was nominated as an ECPA 2014 Christian Book Award Finalist and also received double nominations for 2014 Christy Awards. The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn is her second novel.



ABOUT THE BOOK

At the wood’s edge cultures collide. Can two families survive the impact?

The 1757 New York frontier is home to the Oneida tribe and to British colonists, yet their feet rarely walk the same paths.

On the day Fort William Henry falls, Major Reginald Aubrey is beside himself with grief. His son, born that day, has died in the arms of his sleeping wife. When Reginald comes across an Oneida mother with newborn twins, one white, one brown, he makes a choice that will haunt the lives of all involved. He steals the white baby and leaves his own child behind. Reginald’s wife and foundling daughter, Anna, never suspect the truth about the boy they call William, but Reginald is wracked by regret that only intensifies with time, as his secret spreads its devastating ripples.

When the long buried truth comes to light, can an unlikely friendship forged at the wood’s edge provide a way forward? For a father tormented by fear of judgment, another by lust for vengeance. For a mother still grieving her lost child. For a brother who feels his twin’s absence, another unaware of his twin’s existence. And for Anna, who loves them both—Two Hawks, the mysterious Oneida boy she meets in secret, and William, her brother. As paths long divided collide, how will God direct the feet of those who follow Him?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Wood's Edge, go HERE.

*Review to come in an updated post!

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Monday, May 11, 2015

No Place To Hide



Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series, as well as No One to Trust and Nowhere to Turn.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.  She has a master's degree in education from Converse College, and she lives in South Carolina.

You can connect with and learn more about Lynette at her website www.lynetteeason.com.









She'll defend her friend until the bitter end - but is she in over her head?

It's not every day you see your childhood friend and onetime crush on national news.  Jackie Sellers just wished it were under different circumstances.  She can't believe that Ian Lockwood is wanted in connection with a terrorist plot, and she's determined to find him and help him clear his name.  Unfortunately, she's not the only one looking for him.  The FBI wants him captured.  The bad guys want him dead.  Ian just wants to stay alive long enough to prove his innocence and prevent a catastrophe.  





My Thoughts:
No Place to Hide is the third book in Eason's Hidden Identity series.  Eason easily grabs the reader's attention in the prologue.  While this story was a little hard for me to follow at various points due to the jumping around between character groups and scenarios, Eason delivers a fast paced story full of twists and turns with an ending that is not expected.
Eason is able to provide readers with a picture of well thought out characters using very few words. Back stories are given in spurts throughout the book and is one reason why it is very easy to keep turning the pages in addition to the driving action of the story.  This is certainly one of those books you shouldn't begin at bed time!  You won't get any sleep, because one you start reading...you can't stop until the last page!

*I was provided a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of my honest review.

Happy Readying Ya'll,
Jennifer

Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church



Collin Hansen serves as the editorial director for the Gospel coalition.  He is the author of Blind Spots, Young, Restless, Reformed:  A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists, and co-author with John Woodbridge of A God-Sized Vision.

He earned an MDiv from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and an undergraduate Journalism degree and History degree from Northwestern University.  

He and his wife belong to Redeemer Community Church in Birmingham, AL.  He serves on the advisory board of Beeson Divinity School.  

You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.




What if our differences became opportunities?

The world needs bold, united followers of Jesus.  It needs you and me to understand and appreciate the contributions of our brothers and sisters in faith.  However, too often, our blind spots lead to divisions and disagreements, preventing God's people from testifying to his grace with one voice.

In the provocative book, Collin Hansen helps us view our differences as opportunities to more effectively engage a needy world with the love of Christ.  Highlighting the diversity of thought, experience, and personality that God has given to His people, Blind Spots lays the foundation for a new generation of Christians eager to cultivate a courageous, compassionate, and commissioned church.


You can Download the Blind Spots Quiz to find where your blind spots are!

You can also listen to conversations with Collin Hansen and several leaders on recognizing blind spots in the church by clicking on each of the names below:
Read an excerpt of the book HERE.

I highly recommend Blind Spots by Collin Hansen.  The book is only 118 pages in link, but Collin says a lot in those few pages!  Collin succinctly shows readers how the threads of doctrine, cultural engagement, and revival don't have to be separate, but can and should be strongly woven together.  In the introduction he says,  "God doesn't want us to look down on and suspect the worst of one another.  Rather, He intends us to use these diverse gifts to love the world in a church united by the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This moment demands our humility, bravery, and creativity.  Why should the world know us by our disharmony, discouragement, and disillusion?"

Blind Spots would be a powerful and useful tool for use in your Sunday School department or in a small group study.  You can find your copy where Christian books are sold or through the publisher, Crossway.

*I was provided a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of my honest review.

Blessings,
Jennifer

Monday, May 4, 2015

Buried Secrets

Irene hannon is the bestselling author of more than forty-five romantic suspense and contemporary romance/women's fiction novels, including the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series.  Her books have garnered dozens of honors, including two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America.  She is also a two-time Christy Award finalist.

You can connect with Irene through her website found at www.irenehannon.com.








They both wanted quieter, safer lives.  But crime never sleeps...and killers keep killing.

After years as a Chicago homicide detective, Lisa Grant is ready for the kinder, gentler life of a small-town police chief.  But the discovery of a human skeleton by a construction crew at the edge of town taxes department resources.

Enter ex-Navy SEAL Mac McGregor, the detective sent by the county to assist on the case.  As they work to solve the mystery behind the unmarked grave, danger begins to shadow them.  Someone doesn't want this dead person telling any tales - and will stop at nothing to make certain a life-shattering secret stays buried.

My Thoughts:
The Library Journal has named Hannon as the "queen of inspirational romantic suspense" and I would have to whole heartedly agree!  Hannon has hit the ground running with her first installment in her new series:  Men of Valor.  Buried Secrets grabbed on to me from the first page of the prologue and didn't let go until I had turned the last page. Hannon is a master at weaving raw emotion and genuine characters into a fast-paced story that shines a light on the transformative power of faith.  In Burried Secrets, the reader gets a gut wrenching view of the depth of damage greed does to the human heart.  I really liked getting to know Mac McGregor and his brothers.  While this book featured Mac, I get the feeling that future books will introduce us a bit more to his siblings.  I really appreciate a strong, faith-filled male character in Hannon's books.  I think this picture of manhood is needed in today's culture.  Hannon's books are keeper shelf material!

*I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for giving my honest review.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Together With You

Victoria Bylin is a romance writer known for her realistic and engaging characters.  Her books have finaled in multiple contests, including the Carol Awards, he RITAs, and RT Magazine's Reviewers' Choice Award.  A native of California, she and her husband now make their home in Lexington, KY, where their family and their crazy Jack Russell terrier keep them on the go.

Learn more at Victoria's website:
www.victoriabylin.com.

Sometimes the most unexpected love can be exactly what a heart needs...

When a Lost Child warning blares over the mall's PA system, Carly Mason finds the little girl laying with a stuffed rabbit.  Something about Penny Tremaine is different. An ex-social worker, Carly recognizes that the child suffers fetal alcohol effects, and a piece of Carly's past suddenly confronts her.  Never again will she become personally involved with a client.  The risks are far too great.  But something about Penny - and Penny's handsome father - tugs at Carly's heart.

Dr. Ryan Tremaine is trying to put his life back together.  With his ex-wife remarried and on a trip far away, his two teenage sons and Penny are living under his roof full time.  Ryan has put his faith in his Sink-or-Swim List, a plan to reconnect with his children.  The first step:  recruit Carly Mason to be Penny's nanny.

Ryan never anticipated being so drawn to Carly, an attraction Carly seems to fight as much as he does.  could Carly be the missing piece that helps his family stay afloat, or will their blossoming romance only complicate things further?

My Thoughts:
I need to get the negative out of the way first...I absolutely did not like this cover.  For me, it is too reminiscent of Harlequin Romance covers.  And quite frankly, I think it does the content of the book a huge disfavor.
While the plot is a little too predictable, Bylin weaves a story that shines a light on the transforming power of grace and educates readers about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and its effects.  There were points in the story that the plot progression felt a little too forced...the conversion of one of the main characters near the end is a case in point.
With those things said, overall Bylin tells a story that is engaging with characters that are realistic.  I gave several passages throughout the book a hearty "amen".  Passages like these two:
"Where was God in this big messy world?  Carly knew the theology, but her prayer life was nothing but static and garbled pleas for help..."
"All parents make mistakes.  What counts far more is what comes next, how a person makes a bad situation better.  That's what a child learns."
In the end, I found Together with You a delight to read and I think you will enjoy the story as well.

*I received a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of giving my honest review.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Side by Side

About the author:

Jana Kelley
 is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend college. She and her husband married a month after she graduated and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. Together with her husband and three boys, Jana enjoys travel and overseas living. After thirteen years in Africa and the Middle East, Jana and her family moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live.

Find Jana online: websiteFacebookTwitter



About the book:
Side by Side (New Hope Publishers, April 2015)

In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia's life collides with that of another young woman.

A young Christian American mother, Mia finds more than one dark secret on the streets of Khartoum. She finds Halimah, a young, upper-class Arab student with a bright future in her family's business whose risky and secretive decision has put her life in danger. What happens when the path of young mother intersects with that of a spunky Sudanese student? God transforms them both . . . forever.

Part of New Hope® Publishers' contemporary missional fiction line, Side by Side opens the reader's eyes to the life of Muslims in Sudan as well as some of the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith as well as pray for the salvation of those who persecute.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1DPUKiO

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

To see how you can win one of five copies of Side by Side, go HERE.

My Thoughts:
Jana Kelley has written a book that is so relevant for the times in which we live.  Side by Side is a story of the great cost of lives surrendered to Jesus Christ.  Kelley gives readers a picture of Muslim life in Sudan.  Kelley flawlessly weaves important facts about Muslim life among a fictional account with characters that come to life and jump off the pages of the book and into your heart and mind.  
The story is hard to read in some places.  With 24 hour news and constant media images, it has been too easy to become desensitized to what our brothers and sisters all around the world are facing in their attempt to live their lives in faith for the One True God.  Kelley's story and her characters bring the reader face to face with a genuine look at and evaluation of their own personal commitment to Christ in the face of persecution.
While reading Side to Side, I kept asking myself these questions:  Do I love God enough to spend myself for others like Mia?  Would I follow Christ in faith and trust as Halimah did regardless of the cost to me physically and emotionally?  
After reading Kelley's book, I am burdened with the need to pray for the Mia's and Halimah's across the globe like never before!  I encourage you to get this book, read it and then share it with others!

*I received a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of giving my honest review.

Blessings,
Jennifer