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Monday, March 23, 2015

The Tomb

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Tomb
Howard Books (March 17, 2015)
by
Stephanie Landsem


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A word from the author:
I write historical fiction because I love adventure in far-off times and places. I’ve traveled since I was a teenager—backpacking through Germany and Eastern Europe, studying German in Salzburg, eating gelato in Italy, and riding camels in Morocco were some of the highlights. Travel kindles my imagination, fuels my love of history, and introduces me to one-of-a-kind characters. It’s the best kind of research.

When I can’t travel, I read. I love fiction, of course, but I’m often found behind a stack of history books or searching the web for historical tidbits. How people lived together, worked, and what they ate (I love food!) is usually what catches my imagination. No matter where or when we live, people are more alike than they are different. I love to find the similarities between our lives and those of the men and women of the ancient world.

I make my home in Minnesota with my husband of 22 years, four children, three fat cats, and a tortoise named Moe. When I’m not writing Biblical fiction, I’m feeding the ravenous horde of kids and their friends, volunteering at church and school, battling dandelions, and dreaming about my next adventure – whether it be in person or on the page.

Connect with Stephanie at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.

Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.

Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.

Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love.

When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Tomb, go HERE.

My Thoughts:
Stephanie Landsem has given readers three exceptional reads in her Living Waters series.  The Tomb is the third and final installment in the series with The Well and The Thief being the prior two. Landsem's research and attention to detail is evident in the way she transports you to Bethany and into a woman's heart we all love to chide...if we weren't so much like her!  I find so much of myself in Martha...the worry and desire to make everything perfect for everyone else at the cost of focus on what matters most.
Landsem writes with the perfect blend of biblical accuracy and the "what if"of artistic liberty and makes Martha's story come to life. She doesn't take away from the Bible in any way and she doesn't attempt to re-write God's Word.  Landsem's writing makes me think and search out the scripture and pray.  Martha's story shines a glaring light on the reason why Jesus came...to heal the sin sickness we all have.  I think we can all relate to Martha in some way and Landsem's telling of her story offers fertile ground to explore our own reasons for seeking after Jesus.

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

Blessings Ya'll,
Jennifer

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Double Cross



Diann Mills is a bestselling author whose novels have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, and Carol Award contests.  When she's not writing, DiAnn is busy teaching and doing research through the FBI Citizens Academy.  She and her husband live in Houston, TX.

You can connect with DiAnn at her website found at www.diannmills.com, Twitter and Facebook.








She put him in prison.

Now he's their only lead in a deadly new case.

FBI Agent Laurel Evertson's investigation into a scam targeting the elderly takes an unexpected twist when key evidence leads her to a felon she arrested on her last undercover assignment.  That case has haunted her since, and through she's vowed to forget Morton Wilmington - and what she sacrificed to put him away - he is now her best lead.

Houston Police Officer Daniel Hilton fears his grandparents may be the scammers' next targets, and he'll do anything to protect his family, including force interagency cooperation.  But he's quickly drawn to Laurel's zeal and agrees to follow her lead...even if it means teaming up with a felon.

As the unlikely trio uncovers disturbing evidence suggesting the scam is more deadly than they imagined, Laurel and Daniel find themselves in the crosshairs of a killer.  Together they must decide if they can trust Wilmingtons's claims of redemption, or if he's leading them straight into a double cross.

My Thoughts:
Double Cross is the second book in Mills' FBI:  Houston series;  Firewall was the first.  Mills' books are such a delight to read.  She fluently weaves a romantic thread among a tale of suspense and mystery.  I enjoy the journey of faith her characters take and the spiritual transformation that takes place in their lives.  Double Cross grabbed me in the prologue and didn't let go until the last page. Mills' kept me turning pages with believable characters, non-stop action, twists and turns and superbly crafted suspense with an ending I did not see coming!  DiAnn Mills' books have a place on my keeper shelf.  So grab a good cup of coffee and a frozen snickers and dive in to Double Cross.  Why a frozen snickers you ask?  You'll just have to read the book and then you'll understand.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Halo Found Hope

Machines beeping, the blur of medical staff running, a crash cart whizzing into an ICU room, was there any hope?

A young woman lay, packed in ice, as doctors attempted to somehow stop the swelling in her brain that threatened to take her life...and her family waited.

Six days turned into eight weeks.  She woke to discover that she was not the same.  She saw two of everything, couldn't feel half of her face, couldn't hear from one ear, and could not speak. She couldn't even tell anyone that she felt hopeless...or could she?

Halo Found Hope is the story of a beautiful, busy wife, and mother of three whose life changes instantly with the diagnosis of a rare brain tumor.  An exceptional ENT, a brilliant neurosurgeon and a dedicated medical team tackle the tumor, setting off a series of unbelievable miracles.

Helo's story is not one of survival, or of salvaging a life through a broken body.  It is not about endurance through pain, but victory because of it.  While the family heard her silence, God heard her prayer.  Helo's story is simply this:  Wherever you are  and whatever you are going through, God is right there. He doesn't need to be recognized by you, to be there for you.  He can replace fear with courage and discouragement with determination, if you let Him.

Helo did, and that is how she found hope.



My Thoughts:
Helo Matzelle lives a very brave life through the strength and grace of God.  Part of her bravery is evident in the transparent way she shares her journey in her book Halo Found Hope.  The book contains Helo's journey peppered with scripture and quotes and shows the power of surrender to and trust in God.
The sovereignty of God is highlighted and readers are reminded of how God uses people and circumstances to transform us as Helo shares about the string of miracles that changed her life forever.  The hand of God is clearly seen through her life.  She encourages her readers not to give in to despair because of circumstances that could steal hope, but to experience victory despite of them by leaning on God's grace.
Read Helo's story and be not only inspired, but challenged to live life differently.

You can order the book on Amazon.com by going HERE.

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

Blessings,
Jennifer

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Pharaoh's Daughter: A Treasure's of the Nile Novel

Mesu Andrews' deep understanding of and love for God's Word brings the biblical world alive for her readers.  Her first novel, Love Amid the Ashes won the 2012 ECPA Book of the Year for a Debut Author.  Her three subsequent novels, Love's Sacred Song, Love in a Broken Vessel and The Shadow of Jezebel all released to great reader enthusiasm.  Mesu lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Roy.



You would be blessed to connect with Mesu through her website found at mesuandrews.com and on her Facebook page, which can be found HERE.

Listen here as Mesu shares about the book, how she approaches her writing of biblical fiction and gives some instruction on a four week interactive Bible study based on The Pharaoh's Daughter.



"You will be called Anippe, daughter of the Nile.  Do you like it?"

Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt's good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, the god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment.  She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment which awakens in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child.  Now she is to become the bride of Sebak, a kind but quick-tempered Captain of Pharaoh Tut's army.  In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives - women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile.

When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt's gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son, Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.

As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king.  Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan - for them all?

My Thoughts:
Mesu Andrews has a gift of taking God's Word, historical fact and creative fiction to produce stories that draws readers' hearts and minds to transforming biblical truth.  When I read her books, I am driven to search out the Scriptures for the truth she is portraying in them.
In her latest book, The Pharaoh's Daughter (book one in the Treasures of the Nile series), one of the overarching themes is this:
"Fear is the most fertile ground for faith."
Mesu tells the story of Moses through the eyes of Pharaoh's daughter and by doing so, she brings a brand new perspective to the biblical narrative.  What I appreciate most about Mesu's writing is how she holds God's Word in high regard.  Her artistic liberties do not in any way change or take away from the truth as it is revealed in Scripture, but makes readers think about how to apply God's truth to their current life and circumstances.  I came away from The Pharaoh's Daughter with a renewed faith and understanding of the heart of God toward me as His own child in the midst of some of my own fears.

Mesu's books are rich in detail and character development.  Her thorough research is evident in how she transports the reader to a different time and place.  Her writing is hard to put down once started. You will be blessed by The Pharaoh's Daughter and by connecting with Mesu!

You can order the book at Amazon.com by going HERE.

Blessings Ya'll,
Jennifer

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Deadly Echoes




Nancy Mehl is the author of seventeen books including the Road To Kingdom series and the Finding Sanctuary series. She has a background in social work and writes from her home in Missouri where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their Puggle, Watson.

You'll enjoy following Nancy on her Facebook page HERE.

Nancy is also a part of the Suspense Sisters blog which you can follow HERE.





After a youth filled with tragedy and upheaval, Sarah Miller's life is finally settled with all echoes of the past silent at last.  She happily calls Sanctuary her home and spends her days teaching at the local school.
Sarah's joy at her recent reunion with her sister, Hannah, and meeting the niece she didn't know she had is too interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed.
As she learns more about Hannah's death, the circumstances are eerily similar to their parents' murder.  Sarah enlists Paul's help digging deeper into the murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong.  Paul's concern encourages Sarah's growing feelings for him. but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one person will do anything to hide -  even if that means coming after the last remaining members of the Miller family.


My Thoughts:
I became a big fan of Nancy's stories reading the Road to Kingdom series.  Deadly Echoes is the second in Nancy's new series Finding Sanctuary. The romance thread in this story felt forced to me and the dialogue between Paul and Sarah was stilted at times.  With that said, Nancy's suspense and mystery is spot on!  The twists and turns and revelations throughout the book kept me turning pages. I found myself repeatedly thinking, "Wow...didn't see that coming."  Every time I thought I knew what was going on, Nancy threw in a twist. Be ready to read this one in one sitting because you won't be able to put it down.

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

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer

Thursday, March 12, 2015

One Last Thing

Book Description

A hope-filled soon-to-be bride makes a discovery about her fiance that rocks her world and provokes a maelstrom of decisions and self-discovery.
Tara Faulkner has dreamed of her wedding and the life she and her fiance Seth will share in their hometown of Savannah . . . and by all accounts, it should be a charmed one. But when she discovers three weeks before the wedding that Seth is seriously addicted to pornography, Tara's dreams are shattered.
She must decide whether she will stand by Seth, but she also must let go of the dream she shaped for herself and discover a real vision for her life-and where it will come from. With all else falling apart, Tara encounters an unexpected-and unlikely-group of women mentors. They help her peel back the layers of shaming secrets and begin to clearly see the real issues of her generation.
In the end, she's able to make a decision based on God's vision-not her own.
Rebecca St. James, an Australian born Christian recording artist, is both a Grammy Award winner and multiple Dove Award recipient. She is also the bestselling author of Wait for Me, SHE Teen, and What Is He Thinking. She has appeared in the film Sarah's Choice and provided a voice in VeggieTales An Easter Story.
Learn more about Rebecca at her website:

Nancy Rue has written over 100 books for girls, is the editor of the Faithgirlz Bible, and is a popular speaker and radio guest with her expertise in tween and teen issues. She and husband, Jim, have raised a daughter of their own and now live in Tennessee.
Learn more about Nancy at her website:


My Thoughts:
Rebecca and Nancy have written a story that shines a brilliant light on an issue that is prevalent in our over sexualized culture.  This isn't a neat and tidy story.  The voices are genuine and the emotions experienced are raw and painful.  The authors have done an exceptional job of portraying real, lived-out faith, tried and tested trust along with a realistic picture of the ugly damage of pornography on a relationship.  But, in the midst of the hurt, Rebecca and Nancy show the beauty of soul-honored friendship that holds one up and urges one on toward health and healing.  Tara's discovery of her "Watch" group of friends was one of my most favorite threads in the story.  We all need a group of friends like this!
I also appreciated that the authors gave a plausible behind Seth's addiction while still showing his need for taking personal responsibility and ownership in order to truly heal.  The transformation Tara goes through spiritually was superbly developed by the authors and portrayed in a genuine manner that didn't feel forced.  End the end, hope and redemption reigns above the ugly.
Sometimes when life presses in...all you can do is the next thing.
You don't want to miss this true to life portrayal!
*I was provided a copy of the book for the purpose of this review.
Blessings Ya'll,
Jennifer

Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's Not Who You Know, It's Who You Are: Life Lessons from Winners



Pat Williams is senior vice president of the NBA's Orlando Magic.  He has more than fifty years of professional sports experience, has written dozens of books, including the popular Coach Wooden and Coach Wooden's Greatest Secret, and is one of America's most sought-after motivational speakers.  He lives in Florida.

Learn more at www.patwilliams.com.









We live in a culture obsessed with celebrity.

We love winners and we want to be winners.

But take it fro a man who knows more famous people than most of us will ever meet - it's not who you know that's important, it's who you are inside.

In this inspiring book, Pat Williams draws from over fifty years of brushing shoulders with the greats to help you discover what it really means to be a winner.  Through his short meditations on success, leadership, family and friends, impact and influence, and becoming a person of excellence, you'll meet.

  • a young singer who messed up the national anthem and shot to stardom anyway
  • a coach who sacrificed his time to give his players the edge
  • a marathon runner who knew the secret to pacing youself
  • a political outsider who confidently reached for an impossible goal
  • a football player who wouldn't let a broken leg stop him from getting to the Super Bowl
  • and many more ordinary people with extraordinary character like
Barry Manilow, Sandy Patti, John F. Kennedy, Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, RudyG
iuliani, Tommy Lasorda, Joe Namath, Phil Jackson, Coln Powell, Cal Ripken Jr., Laura Bush, John Maxwell, George W. Bush, Billy Graham, and many more.



My Thoughts:
The title of this book - It's Not Who You Know, It's Who You Are - really says it all.  Pat Williams has taken his life experiences with some pretty big names and shared those encounters with readers. The book is organized into five parts:  Success, Leadership, Family and Friends, Impact and Influence, Becoming a Person of Excellence.  
Typically, we learn that "it's who you know".  However, Williams shows through short readings the fallacy of that statement.  The "greats" showcased in this book understand that success and money and influence only carries a person so far in life.  The character of a person speaks louder than all the accolades the world...how you treat others on your way to the top tells onlookers what one is really all about.
I liked that this is the kind of book that you can leave laying out on a coffee or end table and enjoy throughout the year. Thank you Pat Williams for compiling a book that encourages and exhorts readers to remember what holds real value.

Happy Reading Ya'll,
Jennifer