Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: The Good Book


The Good Book
By Deron Spoo
David C. Cook, 2017


Summary

The Good Book offers a user-friendly guide to the Bible's biggest ideas.

A chapter from the Bible accompanies each chapter of the book, which helps readers understand the context and content of the Scripture passages in a way that can open the whole Bible.

Designed as a forty-day journey through forty key chapters of the Bible, The Good Book will appeal to those who already love and read the Bible regularly as well as to those who are just beginning their Christian journey.

The Good Book:

-- is a great evangelism tool for explaining the major themes of Scripture to those who want to know more about God, Jesus, and the core beliefs of Christianity;
-- gives new believers an overview of the Bible and lays a framework to help them understand Scripture passages;
-- helps longtime Christians rediscover the basic themes of Scripture and experience these truths in a new way; and
-- encourages Scriptural literacy as it pushes readers to read both one chapter of the book and one chapter of the Bible each day for forty days.

The Good Book is great for individuals, and it can also be used by small groups in an eight-week church-wide program or a forty-week journey that focuses on one Bible chapter each week.

The Good Book will help people understand and live by the transformative truths of the Bible.

Learn more and purchase a copy.


My thoughts

The Good Book by Deron Spoo is a most excellent book and can be used in several different ways, as mentioned in the description above. I was drawn to this book by the recommendation of my favorite teaching pastor, Kyle Idleman, and I encourage you to watch the video at the end.

I love the uniqueness of The Good Book, for I’ve thought long and hard, and can’t come up with anything similar. It’s informative in its overview of the Bible as it highlights 40 key truths or ideas about God, from Genesis to Revelation. These aren’t exhaustive, but rather 40 that the author chose – and I have to say that he chose well.

The book is divided into eight major sections, each with five chapters. Sections include themes such as … God Is Good When Life Gets Messy, God Is Big, Jesus Has Just Entered the Building, and God’s Message for You. Some chapters from the Bible are what you would expect to find … Genesis 1, Psalm 23, John 1, Acts 1, 1 Corinthians 13. Others that might not be as familiar beautifully contribute to the overall goal.

The Good Book would be excellent for new believers or seekers, especially those with little to no church background, and I’ve already recommended it to our pastor. It’s not a substitute for Bible reading, nor is that the author’s intention. Rather, I believe it would motivate and increase the desire to delve further into God’s Word.

In an interview with my friend Carrie at Reading Is My Superpower, Deron Spoo said, “This book is about more than understanding the Bible.  This book is about falling in love with God.  Let’s do more than accumulate knowledge about the Bible; let’s allow the love of God to alter our heart and transform our lives.” I believe that’s the real strength of The Good Book, and in that regard, it is suitable for Christians at all maturity levels. I read with highlighter in hand, enjoying its inspiration and freshness.

Highly recommended.





I was provided a free copy of this book through Litfuse Publicity and David C. Cook. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

http://litfusegroup.com/author/DSpoo

_________________________


Deron Spoo is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Over the past 16 years, Spoo has guided the church as it transitions from being simply a downtown church to a regional church committed to urban ministry. 

Church members describe him as "down to earth" and "authentic." His television devotionals, "First Things First," reach 100,000 people each week. 

Spoo is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Paula, have three children.

Find out more about Deron at http://www.readthegoodbook.com.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Becky Wade’s ‘True to You’ Prize Pack and $100 Giveaway


Do opposites really attract? John and Nora might just be the perfect match. Find out in True to You, book one in Becky Wade's new series! Genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now. Former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

Celebrate the launch of Becky Wade's new series by entering to win a fabulous prize pack and $100 cash card!


 


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of True to You
  • A $100 Visa cash card
  • A prize pack hand-picked by Becky

 


Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 30. The winner will be announced May 31 on the Litfuse blog.




Review: What Hope Remembers


What Hope Remembers
By Johnnie Alexander
Misty Willow #3
Revell, 2017


Summary

When you need a new beginning, sometimes the best place to start is home

When Amy Somers leaves her job as a lobbyist, she moves to Misty Willow, well aware that she's crossing bridges she'd burned years before. With all the mistakes she's made and the things she's done, she can hardly believe that happiness will find her--especially when Gabe Kendall, her first crush and her first kiss, rides back into her life atop a buckskin mare.

A former Marine, Gabe is at loose ends after serving a prison sentence for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He sees beyond Amy's hard exterior to the girl he once knew and loved, and he longs to see her open her heart. Yet with his vision clouded by shame for his past and fears about the future, it's difficult to see the path ahead.

But the memory of that long-ago kiss just may have the power to reignite a romance that brings out the best in both of them.


My thoughts

The Misty Willow series is one of my favorites. Each story is well written, filled with rich characterization and engaging storylines – and there is a certain “something” that resonated with me and captured my emotions. Amy and Gabe’s story in What Hope Remembers is a poignant, heartwarming conclusion. It’s primarily a contemporary romance with a bit of suspense, especially toward the end.

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness
and in trust shall be your strength.”
Isaiah 30:15

This verse from the beginning beautifully captures the essence of Amy and Gabe, two characters so real that they don’t seem fictional. Amy, a secondary character in the previous two books, wasn’t very likeable and I longed for her story to be told. Christian fiction at its best conveys a redemptive spiritual journey and that’s exactly what we experience as her journey unfolds.

Amy presented a cold exterior; she had worked hard, often at the expense of others, to climb that proverbial corporate ladder – until a life-altering event brings her back to Misty Willow, where she is confronted with a first love. Gabe is such an appealing character and the chemistry between them is palpable.

Both Gabe and Amy have a past, present and future that feature prominently … a past with haunting regrets … a present of uncertainty, not quite belonging, seeking … and a future filled with hope and promise. Most beautiful of all, What Hope Remembers is a story that reflects all that is possible through God’s amazing grace.

Highly recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book from the author and Revell. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

_________________________


Johnnie Alexander is the award-winning author of Where Treasure Hides and Where She Belongs. Johnnie is an accomplished essayist and poet whose work has appeared in the Guideposts anthology, A Cup of Christmas Cheer

In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, spending time with her grandchildren, and taking road trips. She lives near Memphis, Tennessee.

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Review (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Return to Huckleberry Hill



 
Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book


Book: Return to Huckleberry Hill  
Author: Jennifer Beckstrand  
Genre: Inspirational Amish Romance  
Release Date: May 30, 2017  

When it comes to matchmaking, Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin’s unstoppable octogenarians Anna and Felty Helmuth never seem to run out of opportunities—or grandchildren…

Reuben Helmuth is plenty bitter. John King, his best friend—or so he thought—is engaged to the girl Reuben loved. Humiliated, Reuben flees from Ohio to his grandparents’ home on Huckleberry Hill, where he knows he’ll find comfort. He’s enjoying wallowing in his misery—until John’s sister, Fern, shows up. She won’t stop pestering Reuben about forgiveness—or trying to help him find love again. Yet Fern’s efforts only reawaken Reuben’s long-buried feelings—for her…

With her brother too ashamed to face Reuben, it’s fallen to Fern to help mend fences. But as she and the Helmuths do all they can—even organizing a knitting club event filled with eligible girls—it may take one more challenge to inspire Reuben to forget his heartache, recognize his own blunders, and embrace the true love that’s right in front of him…



My Thoughts

Jennifer Beckstrand will never be able to write enough Felty & Anna stories to quench my hunger for them, so I am thrilled with Return to Huckleberry Hill. Fans of this couple in their eighties will find that Anna’s cooking is still extremely creative, Felty is still making up his own song lyrics and playing the license game, they continue to successfully play matchmaker with their grandchildren – and they reflect a lifetime of love for God and for each other that sets an example for all of us. On the surface, this is a sweet romance with Beckstrand’s signature humor, but there’s much spiritual depth to this story with its nod to the Prodigal Son parable.

Reuben, Anna and Felty’s grandson, isn’t very likeable for most of the book. This rich and handsome minister’s son seems like a good catch, except for the fact that he’s prideful, concerned with popularity, acceptance, and reputation. Betrayed by his best friend and the girl he planned on marrying, Reuben visits Anna and Felty for an extended time, and he “wore his self-pity like a badge.” I loved Fern, sister of Reuben’s best friend, who has loved him since childhood. She’s goodhearted and caring; she recognizes his flaws and calls him out on his attitude, yet offers unconditional love. There’s some really funny scenes, such as Reuben's visits to the ladies of Anna’s knitting club in an effort to apologize for his loss of temper.

Social structure plays a prominent part and Beckstrand does a great job at humanizing the Amish through the concept of underlings, something I’ve never come across in Amish fiction before … “Underling families were never completely accepted by the rest of the community. Their opinions didn’t count for much in the church – no matter how upstanding they were – and their children had a difficult time finding someone to marry.”

Spiritual journey and growth are key elements in this story, and Reuben’s transformation is so very satisfying. I loved Felty’s words to Reuben, which reflect the essence of Return to Huckleberry Hill

The measure of a man isn’t how popular he is with his friends,
but how he treats those who have nothing to give him.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the romance and humor, it’s the spiritual gems that made this book special – because it made me examine how I perceive other people, consciously or subconsciously.

I believe Return to Huckleberry Hill is a book that all would enjoy, even if Amish fiction isn’t your thing. And if you're new to the series, this story stands alone. Highly recommended.

I was provided an electronic copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


About the Author

Jennifer Beckstrand is the award winning Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series and The Honeybee Sisters series for Kensington Books. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth and the Honeybee sisters’ aendi Bitsy. 

Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a passion for Jane Austen and Shakespeare. She and her husband have been married for thirty-two years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and soon-to-be six adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.



Guest post from Jennifer Beckstrand

Anna Helmuth is starting a knitting club, but that’s not all she’s got up her sleeve.

In Return to Huckleberry Hill, Anna Helmuth and Fern King decide to start a knitting club in order to introduce Anna’s grandson Reuben to some girls from Bonduel, Wisconsin. Anna is a very good knitter, with years of practice making baby blankets, scarves, mittens, and potholders. One of Anna’s scarves actually saved someone’s life, and her potholders have helped her make many a match.

When I was a young teenager, I learned how to knit and crochet. My mom taught me how to sew and quilt, and I made several of my own dresses in high school. I never learned to love sewing, but it was an invaluable skill that I am so grateful to have. Now that I’m a little older, I love putting together simple quilts for baby gifts and making quilts for the local children’s hospital. There is nothing like a homemade gift to say, “I care about you.”

I have a friend who is a wonderful cook. Making a delicious, beautiful meal is how she tells her family she loves them. I don’t consider myself a great cook, but I still take pride in putting something nutritious and satisfying on the table for my family.

It seems to me that some of the “home arts” that our mothers and grandmothers practiced are dying out. Who knows how to tat anymore? Or embroider? Some of these arts have died because of expediency. Who doesn’t think today’s stocking choices are more comfortable and practical than knitted wool ones? Others have died out because so few people want to learn.

What about you? Do you still practice any of the home arts that your grandmother did? What do you want to pass on to the next generation?


Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away a $15 Amazon gift card to three lucky winners!! Please help by clicking on this link and sharing my Facebook post, then leave a comment here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spotlight (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Alice's Notions



Click here to purchase your copy.


About the Book

Book: Alice’s Notions
Author: Tamera Lynn Kraft  
Genre: Christian historical romance
Release Date: April 1, 2017

In this quaint mountain town, things aren’t always what they seem. 

World War 2 widow, Alice Brighton, returns to the safety of her home town to open a fabric shop. She decides to start a barn quilt tour to bring business to the shop and the town, but what she doesn’t know is sinister forces are using the tour for their own nefarious reasons. 

Between her mysterious landlord, her German immigrant employee, her neighbors who are acting strange, and a dreamboat security expert who is trying to romance her, Alice doesn’t know who she can trust.


About the Author

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. 

She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novellas in print. 

She’s been married for 38 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and two grandchildren. 

Tamera has two novellas in print: A Christmas Promise and Resurrection of Hope. Her first full length novel, Alice’s Notions released in April through Desert Breeze.

You can contact Tamera on her website at http://tameralynnkraft.net
 

Guest Post from Tamera Lynn Kraft

How Classic Movies from the 1940s Made Their Way in My Latest Novel

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

One thing I loved about writing my post World War Two novel was my main character’s passion for movies. Alice Brighton and her late husband loved to go to movies on Friday nights. Now, even after the war made her a widow, Alice still loves movies and compares everyone she meets to a movie character.

Of course for Alice, all these wonderful classic movies and movie stars and a part of her culture, but for me, it was so much fun because I love classic movies. In the novel, Alice compares her landlord to Cary Grant. Cary Grant is one of my favorites. After starring in movies like Suspision, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Notorious, Grant was one of the biggest stars around in 1946 when Alice’s Notions takes place. My favorite Cary Grant movie wouldn’t be made until a few years later. An Affair to Remember, released 1957, with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr is one of my all-time favorites.

At one point in the novel, Alice thinks back to when her late husband always said she reminded him of Judy Garland. Garland would have been twenty-four at the time, just a bit younger than Alice, but she became a big star in her teens. She began acting at two years old when she debuted as Baby Francis and sang Jingle Bells. After playing in various roles including a few movies with Mickey Rooney, Garland had her big break in The Wizard of Oz. She went on to star in a ton of movies and had a thriving singing career until she committed suicide in the 1960s. One of my favorite Judy Garland movies released in 1945 during the war was The Clock. The Clock was about a woman who met and fell in love with a GI on leave. Their romance was intensified because they only had the weekend before he was shipped out again for the remainder of the war. This movie must have been in Alice’s mind since she had lost her husband shortly after the movie came out.

During Alice’s Notions, Alice goes on a date to see the movie, The Postman Always Rings Twice, starring Lana Turner and John Garfield. It was released in 1946 and was considered scandalous at the time because the two main characters have an affair and murder her husband. The main theme of the movie is you can’t get away with your sin. The truth will be revealed. In Alice’s Notions, the truth being revealed is also a main theme.

So you may be wondering what classic movie Alice’s Notions reminds me of. Charade with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn was released in 1963. In that movie, Hepburn is being pursued and doesn’t know who she can trust. The movie has light hearted intrigue, suspense, and romance just like Alice’s Notions. Alice, also, doesn’t know who she can trust.


Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Tamera is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Spotlight (+ Tour GIVEAWAY): Mighty to Save




Mighty to Save sounds like a great story for historical romance fans. Read all about it below, as well as Caryl’s guest post, which I enjoyed very much – and then enter her exciting giveaway.  (Carole)

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Book: Mighty to Save  

Author: Caryl McAdoo  

Genre: Christian Historical Romance  

Release Date: May 15, 2017

Contrary to her parents’ wishes, Evelyn married a nonbeliever, but it all works out . . . or does it? Not only did the love of her life accept Christ, Nathaniel got baptized by fire and became a minister of the gospel. 

Woven into the breathtaking tale of love and redemption are two additional stories, Evelyn’s novels of faith, family, and forgiveness.


About the Author

Caryl McAdoo loves writing stories for all ages that glorify God and is thrilled Christian fiction fits her life purpose so well. Bold not bashful, she’s quick to share the Bible principles she lives by through her characters and hopes each title ministers His love, mercy, and grace. 

Known as the “Singing Pray-er”—with a YouTube channel to prove it—the prolific hybrid author also loves praising Him with new songs He gives her. 

Her high-school-sweetheart-husband moved the family from the DFW area—home for fifty-plus years—to the woods and seat of Red River County. After Ron, Caryl counts four children and sixteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings. The McAdoos live a few miles south of Clarksville in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State with two grandsons. 


Guest Post from Caryl McAdoo

Mighty to Save, book nine, is unlike all the other stories in the Texas Romance family saga as the heroine, Evelyn Eversole—you’ll remember her as little Evie in book eight, Covering Love—and hero, Nathaniel Nightingale, are already married in Chapter One. Where’s the romance, Caryl? You may ask. But I think you’ll see that Mighty to Save is brimming with all the stuff love is made of!

The depth of the Nightingales’ love is revealed and tested, and because Evelyn is a novelist like her MayMee (May Meriwether), we are privileged to experience the love of another couple whose progeny is intertwined with the Nightingales’ lineage. (knowing the characters of the next novel Chief of Sinners that was written over twenty years ago and served as the foundation of the Texas Romance series, it’s been a labor of love, tying all these characters together.

And while a very few have remarked that it’s a little hard jumping back and forth in time, the majority of readers have expressed their satisfaction and appreciation for getting to know the backstories in such a fun way. This tale deals with imperfect people—as we all are. I hope my characters come across as real, someone in your family or who might live next door.

In this world, we will have tribulation . . . but being of good cheer isn’t always so easy. Sometime those trials knock us off our foundation, and we find ourselves in an ocean of mire, like trying to swim through jello . . . weary of it to the point where only God can save us. And so we cry out to Him. And He does.

Should that mean what waylaid us no longer has any effect on our lives? Not every time.

I pray that you will enjoy Mighty to Save. This story is another reason why I’m so blessed that God led me to publish independently of the traditional houses, as I’m most certain it would definitely not fit their pigeon hole titled Christian Romance. Life offers hills and valleys. Could we truly appreciate one without the other?

Fair warning, don’t be expecting same-O same-O!

Thank you so much for being a part of my Celebrate Lit Blog Tour Launch! Bloggers, readers, reviewers, and visitors all—everyone at the awesome Celebrate Lit Tour Company, too—y’all are such blessings to me! So much so, I could never repay your kindnesses, encouragement, and support. But my Father can, And I pray He will send every blessing back to you a hundred fold!


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Caryl is giving away:

  • Grand Prize: ALL NINE books in the Texas Romance series!
  • 1st Prize: Four first books in four of Caryl’s series
  • 2nd-6th Prize: Print Copy Vow Unbroken

Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Review: Forensic Faith


Forensic Faith
By J. Warner Wallace
David C. Cook, 2017


Summary

A cold-case detective helps you rethink and share your Christian beliefs.

J. Warner Wallace has asked this question in churches across America over the past several years, and the answer he gets is often disappointing; it's almost always rooted in some sort of personal, subjective experience. As a community, we Christians aren't typically prepared to make the case for why we believe Christianity is true from the objective evidence of history, philosophy or science. Worse yet, many of us don't think we have any obligation to do so.

In J. Warner's first two books, he made the case for God's existence (God's Crime Scene) and the case for Christianity (Cold-Case Christianity). In Forensic Faith, J. Warner completes the trilogy by making the case for... making the case! In Forensic Faith, J. Warner helps readers understand why it's important to defend what they believe, and provides them with a unique template to help them become effective "Christian Case Makers." Forensic Faith will help readers:

-understand why they, as Christians, have a duty to defend the truth
-develop a training strategy to master the evidence for Christianity
-learn how to employ the techniques of a detective to discover new insights from God's Word
-become better communicators by learning the skills of professional case makers

With real-life detective stories, fascinating strategies, and biblical insights, J. Warner hopes to teach readers the daily cold-case investigative disciplines they can apply in their lives as believers. Forensic Faith is an engaging, fresh look at what it means to be a Christian.

Learn more and purchase a copy.


My thoughts

Forensic Faith is not only a well-written, interesting and informative book, I’d say that it is a vital book, especially in today’s times. My faith is strong and I’ve done a lot of study over the years, but could I give an adequate defense for why I believe? Probably not.

I’ve always found apologetics interesting and have read some works by authors like Lee Strobel, which can be quite deep. What I like about Forensic Faith is that it is thorough, comprehensive and logical – and easy to follow. Wallace has journeyed from atheism to being a passionate, knowledgeable, and clear communicator.

Through his creative approach – that of a forensic investigator pursuing a cold case – Wallace first makes a compelling case for why our defensive knowledge is important and that Christianity was never intended to rely on “blind” faith – and he’s right. I especially liked how, while presenting evidence in a step-by-step flow, he doesn’t diminish the part that faith plays.

It’s no secret that our children’s faith will be attacked when they get to college. While Forensic Faith has a personal benefit for the reader, it would also be a great resource for parents to use as a teaching tool. I’m eager to start at the beginning and work my way slowly through this book.

Highly recommended.

I was provided a free copy of this book through Litfuse Publicity. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

http://litfusegroup.com/author/JWWallace





J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective who has been featured on Dateline, Fox News, and Court TV. A former atheist, he is the author of "Cold-Case Christianity" and "God's Crime Scene." Wallace has a master's degree in theology and lives in California with his wife and four children.

Find out more about J. Warner at http://coldcasechristianity.com.