Saturday, January 10, 2015

Beside Bethseda by Toni Erickson Tada (Review)



  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: NavPress (September 1, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612917122

A 31-day devotional from bestselling author and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada that takes readers on a month-long journey toward the deepest healing God offers. The entire book is framed against Joni’s visit to the healing pool of Bethesda to seek healing where Jesus healed.

As Joni relates aspects of her own journey in dealing with the most painful “unanswered prayer” of her life, readers will learn to see beyond potential quick fixes to the deepest and greatest solutions God has for them. As the journey continues, readers deal with topics such as contentment, patience, unanswered prayer, transformation through suffering, wrestling with God, and hoping in God.

My Review:

Before this book I did not really know this author. I recognized her name but did not know her story. She is well known Christian author and speaker. She was also left a quadriplegic after a diving accident when she was 17. Her full bio can be found here: http://www.joniandfriends.org/jonis-corner/jonis-bio/
This book is a 31 day devotional. It is a small book and quick to read. Each day has scriptures, a personal story from her, and a going deeper section. It centers around her trip to Betheseda. She prayed for healing but did not receive it. She shares how it affected her. She shows us to rely on God and him alone. She is encouraging and inspiring. 

Joni Eareckson Tada is founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, an organization that accelerates Christian outreach in the disability community.  Joni and Friends provides practical support and spiritual help to special needs families worldwide, and equips thousands of churches in developing disability ministry.  Joni is the author of numerous best-selling books, including When God Weeps, Diamonds in the Dust, A Lifetime of Wisdom, and A Step Further, winner of the Gold Medallion Award.  Joni and her husband, Ken, have been married for over 30 years.  For more information on Joni and Friends, visitwww.joniandfriends.org


I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Churchless: Understanding Today's Unchurched and How to Connect With Them by the Barna Group (Review)


  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale Momentum (September 19, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414387093


Churchless people are all around us: among our closest loved ones, at our workplaces, in our neighborhoods. And more and more, they are becoming the norm: The number of churchless adults in the US has grown by nearly one-third in the past decade. Yet the startling truth is that many of these people claim they are looking for a genuine, powerful encounter with God—but they just don’t find it in church. What are they (or we) missing? How can we better reach out to them? What can we say or do that would inspire them to want to join a community of faith? Containing groundbreaking new research from the Barna Group, and edited by bestselling authors George Barna (Revolution) and David Kinnaman (You Lost Me), Churchless reveals the results of a five-year study based on interviews with thousands of churchless men and women. Looking past the surface of church attendance to deeper spiritual realities, Churchless will help us understand those who choose not to be part of a church, build trust-based relationships with them, and be empowered to successfully invite them to engage.

My Review:

This was a very interesting nonfiction book about people who do not go to Church and why. I liked all the data the editors presented. The book features the results from years and years of interviews with thousands of men and women. I liked how they broke the book up with inserts of some of the questions they asked and the percentages of answers. It really opened my eyes. The authors figured out that Americans fall into one of four categories as it relates to their relationship to church :

1. The Actively Churched are those who attend church on a regular basis, meaning one a month or more.

2. The Minimally Churched are those who attend church services several times a year and whose attendance patterns are unpredictable.

3. The de-Churched are those who have been “churched” in the past but are now taking a break from the church. The authors discovered that this group is the fastest growing segment. (I am in this one currently.)
4. The Purely Unchurched are those who never attend a Christian worship service.

 They ask them questions on different subjects like religion, behavior of church members, atheists, goals and morals. The subtitle is understanding today's unchurched and how to connect with them. The book did not go into great detail on the last part, connecting with unchurched. Some of the suggestions made were do not blind call and invite to church and tone down the advertising. Unchurched are more likely to attend if invited by a friend or see the church active in the community. I agree with them. I know that I personally would not go because of a phone call or advertisement. The church is made of people and to me the way the people act influences the most. Recommended to those curious about this topic and church leaders. 



Review copy provided by Netgalley and Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

Buttermilk Sky by Jan Watson (Review)




  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 30, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414389851


Weary of the expectations imposed on her by her strict upbringing, eighteen-year-old Mazy Pelfrey prepares to leave her home in the Kentucky mountains for the genteel city of Lexington, where she’ll attend secretarial school. She knows her life is about to change—and only for the better. Everything will be blue skies from now on.

But business school is harder than she thought it would be and the big city not as friendly, until she meets a charming young man from a wealthy family, Loyal Chambers. When Loyal sets his sights on her, Mazy begins to see that everything she’d ever wished to have is right before her eyes. The only hindrance to her budding romance is a former beau, Chanis Clay, the young sheriff she thought she’d left firmly behind.

Danger rumbles like thunder on a high mountain ridge when Mazy’s cosseted past collides with her clouded future and forces her to come to terms with what she really wants.

My Review:

This was a good Christian historical fiction book. This is part of the Troublesome Creek series. For the most part it can stand alone. The only thing you might miss is some of the background between Mazy and Chanis. At first I was a little concerned that I would not like Mazy because in previous books she acts like a spoiled brat and got on my nerves. This book tells her story and I am happy to say Mazy starts to mature and I grew to like her. In this book Mazy has left her sister's house in the mountains to go to the city, Lexington. She is in secretarial school and it is harder than she expected. She lives in a boardinghouse with several other girls who are in the program. They do not always get along great. Then Mazy meets Loyal Chambers, a local man from a wealthy family. The other girls are jealous. Then Mazy's friend Chanis from home shows up. He has been preparing a house for them and thinks things are more serious than she does. I enjoyed all the details the author puts about the other characters. The book held my attention all the way through. The ending was satisfying. The characters and plot are well developed and interesting. Recommended.  






Former registered nurse and peri-natal loss counselor, Jan Watson won the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild First Novel Contest in 2004 with Troublesome Creek. Written with a dollop of romance and a smidgen of suspense, Jan's award winning historical novels, are uniquely set in the Appalachian Mountains.
Jan lives in Lexington, Kentucky and spends her days writing and entertaining her Jack Russell terrier, Maggie. Her favorite hobby is reading antique medical books.

Review copy provided by Netgalley and Tyndale Publishing.

Driftwood Tides by Gina Holmes (Review)




  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (August 15, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414366425


He made himself an island until something unexpected washed ashore.

When Holton lost his wife, Adele, in a freak accident, he shut himself off from the world, living a life of seclusion, making drifwood sculptures and drowning his pain in gin. Until twenty-three-year-old Libby knocks on his door, asking for a job and claiming to be a friend of his late wife. When he discovers Libby is actually his late wife’s illegitimate daughter, given up for adoption without his knowledge, his life is turned upside down as he struggles to accept that the wife he’d given saint status to was not the woman he thought he knew.

Together Holton and Libby form an unlikely bond as the two struggle to learn the identity of Libby’s father and the truth about Adele, themselves, and each other.

My Review:

This was a good contemporary Christian fiction book. It held my attention from beginning to end. The author does a good job making the characters feel real. The plot and characters were well developed and interesting. It is not a pleasant feel good book though. Holton is an alcoholic and not a very nice one. When she shows up looking for his dead wife, Adele, he cannot believe that his wife had a child and gave it up for adoption and did not tell him. Libby will not give up on him even though she is not his biological daughter. This book has a few twists and turns. The conclusion is good and satisfying. Recommended to fans of Contemporary Christian fiction. 





Gina Holmes is the founder of popular literary site, Novel Rocket and the author of award-winning novels: Crossing Oceans, Dry as Rain, Wings of Glass and Driftwood Tides. Holmes writes about flawed people living in a flawed world with the help of a perfect God. She's also a practicing Registered Nurse, a wife to the love of her life, mom to two boys and stepmom to 3 daughters. She and her family make their home among the Blue Ridge Mountains in South-Western Virginia. 

You can find her at: www.ginaholmes.com or, on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorginaholmes or twitter:@1GinaHolmes

Review copy provided by Netgalley and Tyndale Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

The Song by Chris Fabry (Review)



  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (December 18, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1496403339

Jed King’s life has been shaped by the songs and mistakes of his famous father. He wants to sing his own song, but the words and melody are elusive. Haunted by the scars inflicted by his broken family, Jed’s dreams of a successful music career seem out of reach . . . until he meets Rose.

As romance quickly blooms, Jed pens a new song and suddenly finds himself catapulted into stardom. But with this life of fame comes temptation, the same temptation that lured his father so many years ago.

Set in the fertile mid-South, this quest for success leads Jed and Rose on a journey that will force them to deal with the pain of loss, failure, and the desire to be who God created them to be.

Lyrical and deeply honest, The Song asks the hard questions of love and forgiveness. When even the wisest of men are fools in love, can true love persevere?

My Review:

This is the book version of the movie The Song. I have not seen the movie. At first the book started slow then picked up in the second half. The first half set up the background it seems and the action happened in the second half. The book flew by then and held my attention. Rose and Judd seem to have it all until temptation comes to call. I was not happy with all the all the choices Judd was making. The book is loosely based off The Book of Solomon in the Bible. I liked how the author actually put lyrics to some of the songs Judd wrote in the book.  The main theme of redemption and forgiveness is illustrated perfectly.  The characters and plot were interesting and well developed. Recommended especially for married women.



Review copy provided by Netgalley and Tyndale publishing.

Masterpiece Marriage by Gina Welborn

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Masterpiece Marriage
Abingdon Press (December 16, 2014)
by
Gina Welborn


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
After Gina Welborn earned a Communications degee from an Oklahoma university, she thought the perfect career choice was working at a news radio station writing commercial copy, public service announcements, and news reports. A PSA writer, sadly, can only be so creative when describing ketchup and Geronimo’s grave. (No, she never combined those two elements in the same script, but now that she thinks about it, she wishes ... ) Thus Gina "retired" to focus on goal, motivation, and conflict within her family before discovering her niche in writing romances. A member of RWA and ACFW, Gina has four published novellas, including one in the ECPA-bestselling Mistletoe Memories, and three short historical romances: The Heiress's Courtship, The Marshal's Pursuit, and Masterpiece Marriage. A moderately obsessive fan of Community, Once Upon a Time, and Chopped, Gina lives in Oklahoma with her pastor husband, their five Okie-Hokie children, a box-lab, two rabbits, four guinea pigs, and a fancy Russian dwarf hamster named Tom Bob Deucalion. Gina is represented by the Steve Laube Agency.


ABOUT THE BOOK

After a flood damages the looms at Zenus Dane’s Philadelphia textile mill and the bank demands loan payment, Zenus turns to his aunt for help repurposing his textiles. Trouble is . . . his aunt has already been hired by the lovely yet secretive Englishwoman Mary Varrs. Eager to acquire his aunt’s quilt patterns, Zenus attends the summer Quilting Bee, a social event his aunt has uniquely designed with the secret purpose of finding Zenus a wife. However Zenus only has eyes for Mary, but Mary has no such desire for him. Though his aunt is determined to design a masterpiece marriage, both Zenus and Mary will have to overcome their stubborn ways. Can he realize that love requires stepping out of his routine? And will she recognize that following her heart doesn’t mean sacrificing her ambition?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Masterpiece Marriage, go HERE.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Books I am looking forward to reading


I have seen lists floating around of books everyone is looking forward to reading in 2015 and I wanted to make one of my own. This list only covers the first half of the year because it is hard to find later release dates. I am really excited to read all of these.

1. The Edge of Dreams by Rhys Bowen
2. Double Fudge Brownie Murder by Joanne Fluke
3. The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig
4. Taken by Dee Henderson
5. By Your Side by Candace Calvert
6. Deadly Echoes by Nancy Mehl
7. Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey
8. Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon
9. Always on my Mind by Susan May Warren
10. Gone Without a Trace by Patricia Bradley
11. Veronica Mars Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
12. Drawing Fire by Janice Cantore
13. The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
14. The Promise of Palm Grove by Shelley Shepard Gray
15. Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin
16. The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren