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Monday, October 20, 2014

Keepers of the Covenant

In one life-changing moment, the lives of the Jewish exiles in Babylon are thrown into confusion and despair when a decree arrives from the king's palace in Susa. It calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child throughout the empire on the thirteenth day of Adar, in less than one year. Ezra, a quiet Jewish scholar and teacher, is suddenly called upon to lead the community as they seek God for a reason for this catastrophe. When a second decree arrives, authorizing them to fight back, Ezra is thrust into the role of military leader as they defend themselves against their enemies.
When the battles come to an end, Ezra's brother Jude is dead and Ezra is required by the Law he so diligently studies to marry Jude's widow, Devorah, and provide an heir. Fatherhood changes Ezra, and he asks God to make a way for him and the other exiles to leave Babylon for good and return to Jerusalem. His prayers are answered and the exiles move to Judea to revitalize worship at the temple---but the fight to keep God's Law is never easy. As more and more of his community are tempted, a new battle emerges . . . this one for the survival of God's covenant and the souls of His chosen faithful.

MEET THE AUTHUR:

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 near Chicago.

Find Lynn online via: websiteFacebook.





To see what others are saying about Keepers of the Covenant you can visit HERE.

My Thoughts:
"We show our faith in God when we keep moving forward even when our prayers aren't being answered.  It's the highest form of praise to keep believing that God is good even when it doesn't seem that way."
Such truth!  And Austin's latest installment in her series The Restoration Chronicles is peppered throughout from the first page to the last with God's truth.

Keeper's of the Covenant is the second book in the series.  I really appreciate Austin's attention to not only historical narratives but biblical accuracy.  She includes in her "note to the reader" the Scripture passages from which her novel is based as well as a glossary of terms.

While several other stories are being told outside of the main character's (Ezra) story, Austin moves back and forth between the narratives fluently and weaves them together to cover one of the most significant times in Jewish history.  One of my favorite side stories was Amina's story.  Her's is such an excellent picture of God's big story of redemption and the grafting in or adoption of Gentiles into the family of God through salvation.  What grace!

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
"He (Ezra) knew that a pot couldn't be shaped without pressure.  He also knew the importance of centering the lump of clay precisely in the middle of the wheel before beginning.  If it wasn't centered, the emerging vessel would become deformed or even fly off the wheel as it spun.  Ezra had never mastered the centering process, and his pots had inevitably become misshapen beneath the pressure of his fingers.  Was that where his people had gone wrong?  Had they failed to center their lives on God's law before being shaped by Him?" 
"It's easy to have faith when we get everything we want from God, everything we pray for.  But when we don't, we have to decide if we want His will or our own.  We can't manipulate God by a display of faith or by our actions.  Only idols can be manipulated. God is sovereign, and He will do what He wills, for His purposes.  And those purposes are often hidden from us." 
Austin's books are NOT ones to miss!  Anything she writes have a prominent place on my keeper shelf.  They should be on yours as well!

Keepers of the Covenant Lynn Austin


Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Stolen

There is hope, even on the darkest of days.
Katariina Rosenblatt was a lonely and abused young girl, yearning to be loved, wanting attention. That made her the perfect target. On an ordinary day, she met a confident young woman--someone Kat wished she could be like--who pretended to be a friend while slowly luring her into a child trafficking ring. A cycle of false friendships, threats, drugs, and violence kept her trapped.
As Kat shares her harrowing experiences, her ultimate escape, and her passionate efforts to now free other victims, you'll see that not only is sex trafficking happening frighteningly close to home--it's also something that can be stopped. Stolen is a warning, a celebration of survival, and a beacon of hope that will inspire you.


Katariina Rosenblatt, PhD, is living proof of the promise she heard long ago at a Billy Graham crusade that God would never forsake her. Katariina has a PhD in conflict analysis and resolution and works closely with law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI and Homeland Security, to eliminate human slavery. She also founded There Is Hope for Me, a nonprofit organization dedicated to freeing other victims of human trafficking. She has been featured on CNN and in Today's Christian Woman and lives in Florida.

My Thoughts:
This book was haunting and difficult to read at times.  Rosenblatt is brave and transparent in telling her story.  The fact that this book is published shows Rosenblatt's bravery and unselfishness.  She has truly turned her pain into a tool to defeat the enemy in many lives.  
In Stolen, Katariina shares with readers her horrifying experience of being captured in the sex slave industry and her beautiful experience of being rescued and restored by her Savior Jesus Christ.  What the enemy meant for evil and destruction in Katariina's life, the Lord has used not only for her redemption but the restoration of many lives through Katariina's ministry and service to those who now find themselves caught in the grips of such evil.
Read Stolen and then share it with someone who you may know that needs to hear about God's grace and His power to turn the most bleak of circumstances into something beautiful and glorious.
*I received a copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Hardest Peace AND a Giveaway


About the Author:

Kara Tippetts and her husband, Jason, have four children and lead a church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cancer is only part of Kara's story. Her real fight is to truly live while facing a crushing reality. 


Find Kara online: websiteFacebook,Twitter







About the book: 

A young mother battling cancer invites readers to embrace grace in every season of life.
Kara Tippetts knows the mundane but rich days of mothering four kids, the joy of watching her children grow.and the devastating reality of stage-four cancer.
In The Hardest Peace, she invites readers to see the grace of the everyday in all seasons of life and to live well even when the living is hard. As the thousands of readers of her blog know, Tippetts explores the hardest questions of life with rare beauty and honesty. Most of all, she draws them back to the God who is present, in the ordinary and the suffering, and shapes every life into the best story of all.


My Thoughts:
I read this book in one sitting.  I couldn't do it any other way.  And I'm not sure I have the words to express the impact this book has had on my mind and my heart.  In the introduction Kara says,
"Hunting for grace and living from your heart are not simple decisions.  Learning the gift of each breath and spending it all in big, BIG love is the greatest calling of my remaining days - and yours, too.  The high calling of today is set before us both: to be humbled by the grace of God."
The Hardest Peace is not just another book.  It is the transparent baring of Kara's soul as she shares how she's learned to acquire "the hardest peace" through her battle with cancer that threatens to overtake her body.
One of the most striking portions of the book for me was the chapter titled Faith of a Child.  At one point in the chapter, Kara shares this:
"In every season of our lives, we meet the edges of life we never expected.  The unexpected pain of life often leaves us only with the choice of how we will endure it...We all have unexpected hard, but how do we face it?  But those places, those raw, broken places are the heart of life.  The brokenness of today causes us to look at tomorrow and hope for it."
Kara's story is not only one of "how to endure it", but one of "how to face it" and she teaches us well how to face it with grace and trust and delight in the One Who holds us in the palm of our hand...the One Who has every hair on our heads accounted for and knows the length of our days.  She shows her reader how to find the goodness of God in all things and in the most unlikely of circumstances.
Read Kara's book.  It will change the way you approach your days...the good ones and the very, very hard ones.
*I received a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.

I would love to bless one of you with a copy of Kara's book.  Just leave me a comment with your answer to this question:
When you pray for God to lift you out of fear and dread, do you truly believe He can and will?  Why or why not? What is an example of when He did, and what is an example of when you felt he didn't?  How did He show you Hid goodness in both answers? 


kara tippets the hardest peace
  

Blessings,
Jennifer


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Advocate

In addition to being an author, Randy is both a pastor and lawyer. He calls it his “Jekyll and Hyde thing.” You can guess which is which.  About twelve years ago, Randy began pursuing a passion to write. Tapping into his courtroom and ministry experience, Randy now pens legal thrillers designed to entertain readers while confronting them with biblical truths on controversial issues. His first novel, Directed Verdict, won the Christy award for the best Christian suspense novel. Recently, Randy was named a finalist, along with John Grisham and Michael Connelly, for the inaugural Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction sponsored by the American Bar Association and the University of Alabama Law School for the novel that best exemplified the role of lawyers in our society.
Randy is married to Rhonda and together they have two grown children. Rosalyn graduated from South Carolina Law School, clerked at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and moved back to Virginia Beach to complete her hostile takeover of the Singer Legal Group. Joshua is a wrangler in Colorado headed to vet school. Rhonda teaches high school English and wonders how she ended up with two lawyers and one cowboy in the family. Fortunately Lambeau, the family’s black lab, keeps everyone sane.

You can connect with Randy via his website.


At the trial of Christ, Theophilus, brilliant young "assessore" raised in the Roman aristocracy, stands behind Pontius Pilate and whispers, "Offer to release Barabbas." The strategy backfires, and Theophilus never forgets the sight of an innocent man unjustly suffering the worst of all possible deaths--Roman crucifixion. Three decades later, Theophilus has proven himself in the legal ranks of the Roman Empire and has an opportunity for redemption. He takes the case of Paul of Tarsus, defending the outspoken apostle in front of Nero, Rome’s cruelest tyrant. Can Theophilus mount a defense that will keep another innocent man from execution? The advocate's first trial altered the course of history. His last will change the fate of an empire.



*You can visit HERE to read an interview between Randy and his publisher (Tyndale) about the writing of The Advocate.

My Thoughts:
I know you think I say this about almost every author, but Randy Singer is absolutely my favorite in the legal thriller genre...no really...he is!  His latest book The Advocate may be my favorite he's written yet and I'm sure I'll keep believing that until he writes his next one!
In The Advocate, Randy takes us back to biblical times to two of the most pivotal trials that too place:  the trial of Jesus Christ and the trial of Paul before Nero.  Randy's steller research and attention to historical detail is showcased in the story of a biblical character about which little is known beyond his name - Theophilus.  
Because of his ambiguity in scripture, it would be obvious that Singer takes some artistic liberties with Theophilus's life story.  However, Singer does this in such a way that the truthfulness of the overall scriptural picture and historical evidences of the time period are not compromised.  Theophilus's story as Singer tells it in The Advocate is gripping and one that you won't soon forget after turning the last page of the book.  It's about forgiveness both between man and between man and God and about the legacy we leave with a life that has been captured by the lavish grace of our Lord.

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

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Magnificent Tales: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times

READ ALOUD FUN FOR FAMILIES

God mad Adam a beautiful place to call home,
a garden with flowers and trees.
The garden of Eden had plants of all kinds 
that swayed in the warm, gentle breeze.

Featuring lyrical stories that will make you laugh, this colorful collection is perfect for reading out loud.

Magnificent Tales are rhyming Bible stories with clever art and clear lessons the whole family will enjoy.  The stories and illustrations are so engaging that you won't grow tired of reading a Magnificent Tale night after night!

From "The Salty Tale of Noah's Ark" to "The Lasting Story of the Last Supper", the rhyming tales in this book remind us that God loves His people - in the Bible and today!



MEET THE AUTHOR:


Kelly Pulley has illustrated dozens of books in The Beginner's Bible series and has authored and illustrated several other children's books, including Ten Unusual Features of Lulu McDunn and The Cycling Wangdoos.  He enjoys spedning time with his four grown children and his beautiful wife, Vickie, in the Nashville area.






My Thoughts:
If you and your children like Dr. Suess books, you will love Magnificent Tales:  Treasury of Bible Stories - Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times.  I am particularly excited to have this book to read with my kindergartner.  The repetition of sounds is a great way to help little ones just learning to read and to instill good comprehension in beginning readers.  The illustrations add so much to the stories. They are very eye-catching!  I appreciated that the biblical references were given at the beginning of each story so that older readers in the family can go to the Bible and read the biblical account from Scripture.  Thank you Mr. Pulley for giving a tool that the entire family can use to engage in the story of redemption from the Bible!
*I was given a complimentary copy of the book for my review and participation in a blog tour hosted by LitFuse Publicity.

Kelly Pulley Treasury of Bible Stories
  


Happy Reading,
Jennifer

Decieved

A grieving mother. A mysterious child. And a dedicated PI who's determined to solve the puzzle.
For three years, Kate Marshall has been mourning the loss of her husband and four-year-old son in a boating accident. But when she spots a familiar-looking child on a mall escalator, she's convinced it's her son. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan for help. As the former Secret Service agent digs into the case, the boating "accident" begins to look increasingly suspicious. But if Kate's son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden--and may go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret.
As Irene Hannon's many fans have come to expect,Deceived is filled with complex characters, unexpected twists, and a riveting plotline that accelerates to an explosive finish.

MEET THE AUTHOR:
Irene Hannon has written more than 45 romance and romantic suspense novels. Her books have been honored with two RITA awards—the “Oscar” of romantic fiction—and she is a six-time finalist. Her books have also won a Daphne du Maurier award, a Carol award, three HOLT Medallions, a National Readers’ Choice Award, a Retailers Choice Award, a Booksellers’ Best Award and two Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. One of her novels was also named by Booklist as a top 10 inspirational fiction books of 2011. In addition, she is a two-time Christy award finalist.
Irene, who holds a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full-time. She is happy to say she has no regrets!
In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening and singing.  A trained vocalist, she has sung the leading role in numerous musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Brigadoon,” “Oklahoma” “The King and I” and “Anything Goes.” She is also a soloist at her church.
When not otherwise occupied, Irene and her husband enjoy traveling, Saturday mornings at their favorite coffee shop and spending time with family. They make their home in Missouri.

You can connect with Hannon via her website, Facebook and Twitter.

My Thoughts:
Deceived is my first Irene Hannon novel to read.  I am only sorry that it has taken me this long to discover her novels!  Hannon writes a gripping and at times heart-stopping story; the kind of story you do not start at bedtime, because you likely won't get any sleep.
Hannon keeps the action and suspense moving and writes in such a way that you are engaged with the characters from the very beginning.  Plot is well-developed and the twists and turns the story takes keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat.  I will be adding more titles by Hannon to my "keeper" shelf.
*I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Happy Reading,
Jennifer 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Before Amen


About the author: More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.

Find Max online: websiteTwitter,Facebook.





About the book: 

We all pray . . . some.

We pray to stay sober, centered, or solvent. When the lump is deemed malignant. When the money runs out before the month does. When the marriage is falling apart. We pray.
But wouldn't we like to pray more? Better? Stronger? With more fire, faith, and fervency?
Yet we have kids to feed, bills to pay, deadlines to meet. The calendar pounces on our good intentions like a tiger on a rabbit. And what about our checkered history with prayer? Uncertain words. Unmet expectations. Unanswered requests.
We aren't the first to struggle with prayer. The first followers of Jesus needed prayer guidance too. In fact, prayer is the only tutorial they ever requested.
And Jesus gave them a prayer. Not a lecture on prayer. Not the doctrine of prayer. He gave them a quotable, repeatable, portable prayer. Couldn't we use the same?
In Before Amen best-selling author Max Lucado joins readers on a journey to the very heart of biblical prayer, offering hope for doubts and confidence even for prayer wimps. Distilling prayers in the Bible down to one pocket-sized prayer, Max reminds readers that prayer is not a privilege for the pious nor the art of a chosen few. Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. Let the conversation begin.

Pre-order a copy of Before Amen by 9/29 and receive a FREE ebook copy of Max's best-selling Second Chances: More Stories of Grace.

Purchase a copy:  http://ow.ly/BbwcL.

My Thoughts:
If you have ever read a Max Lucado book, then you are familiar with his gift of story telling.  In typical Lucado style, Before Amen is the perfect blend of superb story and pastoral exhortation to re-think the way we approach God in prayer.  Lucado doesn't provide a "prayer formula" but encourages his readers to draw near to the heart of God in conversation and fellowship.  Lucado guides the reader like a father might gently lead his child to stop doubting and being afraid we are "getting it all wrong" when is comes to having a conversation with God.  He concisely lays out the essential elements of biblical prayer and encourages those reading to begin the conversation in faith.

*I received a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of this review.


Max Lucado Before Amen
    


Happy Reading,
Jennifer