Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Grand Design by Amber Stockton

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Grand Design
Abingdon Press (August 19, 2014)
by
Amber Stockton


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Words from the author:

Hi, I'm Amber, but my friends call me Tiff, short for Tiffany, my first name. I am in my mid-30's, married to the love of my life since July 2007, have a daughter and a son, and live in Colorado. Here, I am content to do what I love—write, speak, and offer virtual assistance.

Thanks to the gentle nudging of a fellow author -- Tracie Peterson -- in 2002, I joined the American Christian Fiction Writers and wouldn't be published today without them. For those of you who are also fiction writers looking for a wonderful support group, check them out! My very first book, Promises, Promises, sold in December 2006 and released in February 2008. I've been going steady ever since.

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Alyssa Denham, a single career woman, wins a fun getaway for two on Mackinac Island where her grandmother lives, she gives her carefree best friend a call. Together, they tour the old shops and hidden treasures of the quaint island while helping Alyssa’s grandmother piece together an heirloom quilt. Their quest gains them entrance into the homes of many longtime residents of the island, parts of the city that are otherwise off limits to tourists. As the quilt’s story takes shape, Alyssa gains amazing insight into her grandmother’s life . . . and attracts the attention of the handsome Scott Whitman, an island resident in charge of hotel transportation. Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will the quest to piece together the heirloom quilt restore Alyssa’s fractured heart—and bring healing to her entire family?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Grand Design, go HERE.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said Follow Me by David Platt (Review)







You may think you are a Christian—but are you sure? Jesus’ call to follow him is more than an invitation to pray a prayer. It is a summons to lose your life and find new life and ultimate joy in him. In David Platt’s book Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live he asks the question, “What did Jesus really mean when he said, ‘Follow me’?” What if we really listened to Jesus’ words and heard what he is saying? When people truly engage with Jesus’ personal invitation to follow him, everything changes, for he is worthy of all our trust and affections.

What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said Follow Me? builds on the message of Follow Me to motivate readers to experience our grand purpose: to exalt the glory of God by spreading Christ’s gospel—to make disciples who are making disciples. This booklet is a great resource to share with others to discuss crucial faith questions in a personal and grace-filled manner and engage others to be disciple-makers in obedience to Jesus. Ideal for small groups or personal and mass evangelism.

My Review:

This is a short booklet.  It was well written. It explains the basics of what it really means to be a Christian and follow Jesus. I read it in an hour. I think it would make a good short bible study for new or existing believers. The book refreshed my memory on why I believe what I believe. Recommended.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sky Zone by Creston Mapes

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Sky Zone
David C. Cook (June 1, 2014)
by
Creston Mapes


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Creston has fond memories of his boyhood in Bath, Ohio, where he became enchanted with his future wife, way back in the fourth grade. His father, Bernie, owned and operated The Weathervane Furniture Shop in town. The whole family lived right upstairs in the century-old house known as "The Shop."

Creston studied journalism at Bowling Green State University, then began his writing career. During the past 30 years, he has worked as a reporter, corporate copywriter, creative director, freelance writer, and author.


ABOUT THE BOOK

A rally for a controversial presidential candidate.
A terrorist threat.
A nightmare of cataclysmic proportions.


Jack and Pamela Crittendon have hit the breaking point. After months out of work as a reporter, Jack is playing Mr. Mom and working part-time at Festival Arena with his survivalist friend Brian Shakespeare. Meanwhile, Pamela has gone back to work full-time while eight months pregnant. Having her recently widowed mother on hand isn't making matters any easier. With financial pressures boiling, Jack reports for duty at a rally for controversial presidential candidate Martin Sterling where he expects a mindless night on the job. But when Homeland Security picks up intel about a potential terrorist threat, Jack and Shakespeare are thrust into a life-or-death battle to save their own lives--and the lives of thousands of innocent people.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Sky Zone, go HERE.


Evergreen by Susan May Warren (Review)




  • Series: Christiansen Family
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 1, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414394015



An empty nest has Ingrid Christiansen dreading the upcoming holidays, but her husband, John, couldn’t be more excited about this new season of life. He even has a surprise trip abroad planned. He’s sure she’ll love it. What’s more romantic than Christmas in Paris?

Before he can stop her, however, Ingrid agrees to spearhead a major church project. Then their faithful dog, Butterscotch, needs emergency surgery, draining their savings. And then—because disasters strike in threes—an unexpected guest arrives, dredging up old hurts.

As a beautiful blanket of snow transforms the north woods into a winter wonderland, a deep chill settles over John and Ingrid’s marriage. With the holidays fast approaching, their only hope of keeping their love evergreen depends on turning the page on the past and embracing a new chapter of their future.

 My Review:

I thought this was a good novella. It is part of the Christiansen series. It's the holidays and John and Ingrid are dealing with empty nest syndrome. Ingrid is especially taking it hard. Then the family dog gets sick and her nephew from her estranged sister shows up needing a home. Their marriage is strained and they feel disconnected. It will take a Christmas miracle to turn things around. The ending is sweet and satisfying. This will be a great addition to Christmas novellas. I have liked the entire series. Recommended.



Growing up in Minneapolis and attending the U of MN, I learned to love city life, although I'm a woodsy girl at heart. Or maybe I'm an adventurer -- having lived and traveled all over the world, including Siberia Russia as a missionary for eight years. Probably that's why my characters can't sit still, and seem to get into one scrape after another -- they're too much like me! I love God, my family, my country, my church, and feel privileged every day to be able to write stories, that I hope inspire and entertain!

Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Heart to Heal by Allie Pleiter

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Heart to Heal
Love Inspired (July 15, 2014)
by
Allie Pleiter


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and nonfiction. An avid knitter, harp player and non-reformed chocoholic, she spends her days writing books, doing laundry, running carpools and finding new ways to avoid housework. Allie grew up in Connecticut, holds a BS in speech from Northwestern University and currently lives in suburban Chicago, Illinois. The "dare from a friend" to begin writing eight years ago has blossomed into a career that includes numerous public speaking engagements, two books on parenting; Becoming a Chief Home Officer and Facing Every Mom's Fears and now novels for Steeple Hill Books. She is the mother of two children and, most recently, a Havanese dog named Bella.


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Courage To Hope.

Guidance counselor Heather Browning is desperate. She needs a mentor to help Simon, a disabled student who is struggling at Gordon Falls High School. Unfortunately, hotshot Max Jones is her only option. Confrontational and cavalier, Max uses his flashy persona to hide the bitterness he's felt since his life-changing accident. Perpetually cautious, Heather finds Max's bad-boy bravado as intriguing as it is infuriating. But as Heather and Max work together to build Simon's self-confidence, they begin to trust each other. Max has never been slow and careful with anything. Can he be gentle with Heather's heart?

Gordon Falls: Hearts ablaze in a small town.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of A Heart to Heal, go HERE.


The Fight by Luke Wordley (Review)






  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (April 18, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414389493


Sam Pennington’s life has fallen apart. His father is dead. His mum’s started drinking. And now they’ve been dumped in a dismal public-housing complex in East London. Sam’s anger at his circumstances puts him on the brink of expulsion from school and into dangerous conflict with those around him.

Professional boxing trainer Jerry Ambrose has finally gotten everything together. After a turbulent early life, his newfound faith has helped him reconcile with his past and dedicate his life to helping others.

But when a brutal street fight leads Sam to Jerry’s boxing club, both their futures are thrown into question. As Jerry reaches out to Sam, an extraordinary fighting talent emerges—a talent that reopens the wounds of Jerry’s own life. Both find themselves battling what can happen to a man’s soul when his anger is channeled through his fists.

Despite wowing ringside crowds, Sam’s boxing success fails to bring him peace or happiness, while Jerry’s inner struggles threaten the very core of his beliefs. Can Sam be saved from his rage? Or will Jerry’s reawakened ambition tear them both apart?

 My Review:

I thought this was a good debut book. The author does a good job with descriptions. The characters and plot are well developed and interesting. I am not big into fighting but those scenes did not distract from the book. Most of the book is focused on relationships. Sam and his mom have struggled since his father died and she turned into an alcoholic. He basically is raising himself. Jerry is a boxing trainer at a local gym who is a Christian after a rough past life. He loves his wife and young children but when he meets Sam his past comes back to haunt him. Sam has the potential to be the best fighter and Jerry wants to take him there. There are costs to every decision. The pages flew by. I was engaged from the beginning to the end. I could not wait to see what happened next. The faith element fits naturally. The conclusion was satisfying and fits the book. Christian guys especially might like this book. I look forward to the next book by this author. Recommended.



Luke Wordley lives with his wife and three children in the South of England. A passionate Christian, he has worked mainly in International Development, where he has developed a love for Africa and a passion for social action and justice. The Fight is his first novel. 

Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Epic Grace by Kurt Bubna (Review)



  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale Momentum (August 30, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414385044


God never wastes anything—our strengths, our successes, or our mistakes. In this collection of true stories, Kurt Bubna, a self-confessed “recovering idiot,” chronicles his own honest, heartfelt, and often hilarious missteps along the path to grace. You’ll discover what it means to experience the unconditional love of God, regardless of how often you stumble, and you’ll gain a fresh view of how to find God’s purpose for your life. Learn from Kurt’s trials and triumphs that God is indeed the God of second chances—and His epic grace can transform even the most imperfect life into something priceless.

 My Review:

I think this was an interesting book. It felt more like a memoir than self help spiritual book. He was very open about his mistakes and what he learned about epic grace in his life. It sometimes helps to realize that everyone else is a "recovering idiot" too. "If you haven't figured it out by now, the words Grace, Love, and Forgiveness are nearly synonymous." That is one of my favorite quotations from the book. The chapters were short and flew by. There were also many hilarious moments in his life he shared. Overall I enjoyed reading this book.



 Kurt W. Bubna serves as the founding and senior pastor of Eastpoint Church--a large, community-focused congregation in Spokane Valley, Washington. He loves to write about where life and faith inter-connect in a raw and real way. Learn more at www.KurtBubna.com