Thursday, May 23, 2013
After Paul Stutzman finished hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, he found himself longing for another challenge. Trading his hiking boots for a bicycle, Paul set off to discover more of America.
Starting at Neah Bay, Washington, and ending at Key West, Florida, Paul traversed the five-thousand-mile distance between the two farthest points in the contiguous United States. Along the way he encountered nearly every kind of terrain and weather the country had to offer-as well as hundreds of fascinating people who represent the challenges and triumphs of the entire country. Through cold and heat, loneliness and exhaustion, abundance and kindness, Paul pedaled on. His reward-and yours-is a glimpse of an amazing country that inspires us all.
If you long for adventure, love to meet new people, and love this place called America, get ready for the ride of your life.
I've always enjoyed stories of people traveling across America, and since I already read and reviewed Paul's other book, Hiking Through, I knew he was an interesting author.
This book was even better and more interesting than Hiking Through. Paul runs across more interesting people and landmarks, and his narrative made me want to jump on my bicycle and head out on a trip myself, but reason prevailed. He relates some great stories of how God worked in people's lives, and also of how people are doing things for God all across this country. He gets in a little "preaching" to the reader now and then, but it was all good.
I found the book to be a challenge to myself, to let God use me and to get out there and really live. The book makes you want to do more and be more than you are.
I really enjoyed reading the book and getting a glimpse into parts of our great country that I have never been in.
About the author:
Paul Stutzman is the author of Hiking Through. A former restaurant manager who left his career
after his wife's death from breast cancer, Paul hiked the Appalachian Trail in search of peace, healing, and freedom. He continues to seek out adventure in new ways every day. When he is not hiking or on a cross-country bike ride he makes his home in Berlin, Ohio. Find out more at www.paulstutzman.com.
Available May 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Thanks to Revell for the review copy.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
There are certain authors that define quality Christian fiction, and Ronie Kendig has quickly become one of those authors. With the exception of her first book, Dead Reckoning, all of her books center around the military and special opps, and are full of suspense, drama and excitement. She is an author who proves fiction can be clean, Christian, and worth reading.
Talon: Combat Tracking Team is the second book in the Breed Apart series, which focuses on Military War Dogs, which is something I didn't know much about until I started reading this series.
This book centers on Aspen and MWD Talon, who were introduced in the first book, Trinity: Military War Dog, but had minor roles in the story. Ronie also brought back several other characters from Trinity, and added some new ones. She always has some great characters in her novels, and this book was no different. In creating Dane, she created a terrific character with tremendous depth, and although he is fictional, shows that no matter how bad things are in our past, God can still redeem us and make us into something worthwhile. I don't think its a bad thing when a fictional character inspires the reader to be a better person, and that is what the fictional Dane does.
There is a lot of excitement, drama, romance, and military action in the book, which all makes for a great read. I loved the book, which is not a surprise, and couldn't put it down, so I read it all in one evening, and loved every single page of it. There were a couple of surprises in the book, and I was one very satisfied reader when I reached the end of the book. In addition to being a great story, the book also has a great message of hope, and helps the reader better appreciate all of our military heroes, even the four-footed ones.
Trinity launched this awesome series, and Talon continues the pulse pounding suspense and military action that Ronie's books bring. I highly recommend any of her books to men or women, and if you have a friend or family member in the military, her books would make great reading for them.
About the author:
An Army brat, Ronie Kendig grew up in the classic military family, with her father often TDY and her mother holding down the proverbial fort. Their family moved often, which left Ronie attending six schools by the time she’d entered fourth grade. Her only respite and “friends” during this time were the characters she created.
It was no surprise when she married a military veteran—her real-life hero—in June 1990. Married more than twenty years, Ronie and her husband, Brian, homeschool their four children, the first of whom graduated in 2011. Despite the craziness of life, Ronie finds balance and peace with her faith, family and their three dogs in Dallas, TX.
Ronie has a deep love and passion for people, especially hurting people, which is why she pursued and obtained a B.S. in Psychology from Liberty University. Ronie is an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and has volunteered extensively, serving in a variety of capacities from coordinator of a national contest to appointment assistant at the national annual conference.
Since launching onto the publishing scene in 2010, Ronie and her books have been gained critical acclaim and national attention, including:
- 2012 Christy Award Winner – Wolfsbane (Contemporary Romance)
- 2012 Carol Award Finalist – Wolfsbane (Romantic Suspense)
- Finalist in Christian Retailing’s 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards (Nightshade)
- RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love’s 2011 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Awards in Romantic Suspense (Nightshade)
- Named one of the Top 25 Christian Fiction Suspense, Mystery, and Thriller Writers by FamilyFiction (Sept 2011)
- 2011 FamilyFiction Readers’ Choice Awards – 3rd place as New Favorite Author, 8th place with Nightshade for Novel of the Year.
- INSPY Award Shortlist final in Mystery/Thriller (Dead Reckoning)
- The Christian Manifesto’s 2010 Lime Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction (Nightshade)
Talon: Combat Tracking Team and most of her books are available from Barbour Publishing.
I have an extra copy of Trinity: Military War Dog to give away to a lucky winner. I don't usually do extra entries, but am going to do so with this giveaway. I will let it run for two weeks, then pick a winner on June 4. If there is a way to contact the winner, I will do so, and I will list the winner here on June 4.
The first entry is mandatory, a comment on this blog post. You can comment on whether you have read any of Ronie's books, or whatever you want to say, and you have to comment through blogger, not Rafflecopter. Comment on the blog post, then click that you commented on Rafflecopter. Sorry, its my first time using it.
If you're already doing what the extra entry asks for, you can still have the extra entry.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Monday, May 20, 2013
A hard-working man with a pink slip.
A desperate teen girl who has a terrible secret.
All are running out of time, and the choices they make will change their lives forever.
Out of Time:
Snatching my purse off the passenger seat, I jump from my Volvo. Gotta hurry. I keep the girl in the corner of my eye as I walk toward the automatic door, my favorite heels clipping on the pavement. Her jeans are ripped at both knees, some rock band on her faded t-shirt. Doesn’t she have a coat?
Go talk to her.
And say what? “Hi, you don’t know me from Eve, but let’s sit and chat?” Don’t think so. I’m old enough to be her mother.
I give the girl a wide berth, confiscating a shopping cart from inside the store to avoid walking past her twice. Gotta rush. I’m on a mission. What was I thinking, inviting the whole Bible study over for dinner? Now I actually have to cook something. And it has to be good. No Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese tonight.
Produce first. Without thinking, I plop four heads of lettuce, three cucumbers, and a tomato in my cart. Hope they like salad.
There’s the girl again. I don’t see her face, but there’s no mistaking that hair. She saunters past me, the frayed ends of her jeans dragging on the floor. She glances around before grabbing a handful of freshly cut apple slices from one of those tempting freebie displays. I throw a bunch of carrots in my cart next to the lettuce.
See if she needs something.
I really don’t have time, and there are plenty of employees around. She doesn’t need, or probably even want, my help.
Off to the bakery. I’ll get a crusty loaf or two. Pastor’s message this morning will make for some nice discussion material for us. He’s always inspiring, and today was no different. Talked about hearing God’s voice, but that’s no surprise. God talks to him everywhere, in the shower, shaving, eating cereal. He’s always hearing something from the Father; but after all, he’s a pastor.
Hamburger. Some nice, lean ground round will do just fine. I’ve got three packs in my hands when I spot the girl again. This time she’s gobbling down salsa and chips from another display, crunching with her mouth open. Gross. Just a few feet from me, too. She glances over, and I quickly pretend I’m examining the beef packs.
Smile at her.
Why? That’s silly. I drop the meat in my cart.
This is a short book, even with three stories, but all three are very thought provoking and convicting. The first story makes you think about how we need to love people more and try to reach out to them. The second and third stories bring out the point that there is always something to be thankful for, no matter how hard things get, that there are people who need us in our lives, and that with family and God, we can get through anything.
C.J. writes with a great style, and in these three short stories has come up with some great characters and some deep thoughts. It doesn't always take a long book to get a good point across. She has done so in three very short and very interesting stories. Definitely worth reading.
About the author:
C. J. is the award-winning author of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over fifteen years, scouting for stores similar to the ones described in her novels before cofounding her own online bookstore.
In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site TitleTrakk.com with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction ever since. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky.
I'm not much for romance books, but I do enjoy romantic suspense and have read several books in the Love Inspired Suspense line, so when the author wanted some people to review her book, I got on the list.
Susan is a new author to me, and if this book is any indication, she is a great author. These books aren't long, but she packed a great suspense story into the pages that kept me turning the pages to see what was going to happen next. I liked her characters, especially the Justice family, and hope to read the other books in this series, which this book is #3 of. After reading this book, I would say you don't need to read them in order, though if you're going to read them, you may as well read them in order.
A book like this proves that an author can write a great suspense novel and keep it Christian, clean, and curse-free. I give the book five stars.
About the author:
SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational romantic suspense and mystery novels. In addition to writing, she hosts the popular internet website TheSuspenseZone.com. Susan currently lives in Oregon, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson. To learn more about Susan visit her website www.susansleeman.com.
Thanks to the author for the review copy.
Friday, May 17, 2013
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dee Henderson is the bestselling, award-winning author of 15 previous novels, including the acclaimed O'MALLEY series and UNCOMMON HEROES series. These days, most authors are out there energetically promoting their books in print and broadcast and via social media—wherever they can get attention. But Dee Henderson keeps a low profile. She avoids telephone interviews because of hearing problems, declined to provide a current photo, and will say only that she lives in Illinois.
ABOUT THE BOOK
It's a summer of change for Jennifer O'Malley. The busy physician has a pediatrics practice in Dallas, and meeting Tom Peterson, and falling in love, is adding a rich layer to her life. She's sorting out how to introduce him to her family--she's the youngest of seven--and thinking about marriage.
She's falling in love with Jesus too, and knows God is good. But that faith is about to be tested in a way she didn't expect, and the results will soon transform her entire family.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story, go to HERE.
This is not a suspense story as Dee Henderson usually writes, but strictly a short romantic novella featuring one of her O'Malley characters. It is a decent story, but it is short. Too short. If you're expecting an O'Malley book like she has written before, you may want to skip it, but if you're wanting a short book to give you more insight into one of the O'Malleys, you may enjoy it.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kathi is passionate about The Voice of the Martyrs and Open Doors. To learn more about the persecuted church, please visit VOM’s website and Open Doors Website.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Lynn Myers is still reeling from losing her husband of thirty-five years when word comes that her only sibling, an older brother, has also died. With no one else to settle the estate, she must return to her small hometown of Bloomfield, however briefly, to settle his affairs.
Lynn’s daughter, Rachel, has just graduated from Bible college and with no other commitments comes along to sort through her uncle’s huge old home, right next to the local cemetery.
It isn't long before Rachel has two men -- a handsome CPA and the youth pastor -- seriously vying for her attention. At the same time, Lynn's attention is drawn to a set of journals her brother has left behind detailing a long-standing Bloomfield mystery.
As they pursue solving this mystery, Rachel must make some personal decisions about her future, while Lynn is forced to face unexpected issues from her own past.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Last Chance for Justice, go HERE.
This book sounded more like a suspense novel than it turned out to be. Had I known that it wasn't really suspense, I would have passed on reading it, which would have caused me to miss reading a really good book.
There is a mystery in the book, but its an old one that doesn't involve any bad guys, guns, or cops. I still liked the book, a lot. It was an enjoyable read, and had interesting characters set in the kind of town that sounds like a place I'd want to live. There was romance in the book, but it wasn't overdone.
I'm amazed at the amount of Christians who don't read Christian fiction. I worked in a Christian bookstore for five years. I saw how many people went to the fiction section, tracked sales for inventory. Obviously enough people buy it for there to be a market, but there are more people who don't read it, than do.
I've gone to church with people who spoke with a derisive sound in their voice when mentioning the Christian novel. I'm not sure how prevalent that attitude is, but there are probably several people with that attitude. And yes, there are Christian novels that are light and fluff...... and that is OK. We don't have to sit around and read John Wesley, John Calvin, and other writers of the past 24/7.
I love Christian fiction. Really love it. I read secular fiction so rarely, you could almost say I never read it. I don't like the language that is in most of them for one thing. Another reason, is I miss the Christian element. In Christian fiction, there is always hope, and God is presented as the ultimate source of help and hope, even if it isn't majorly stated. I miss that when I read a secular book.
I guess that is why some things bother me that are becoming too common. One is an attitude I've noticed from a lot of people who leave book reviews/comments: That a book is too preachy, or they were glad it wasn't. Uh, it is Christian fiction... if you don't want a Christian message, go read a secular book. The other: the too common practice of inserting curse words, vulgarity, and/or inappropriate content. Last year, a Christian author did a blog post cheering on another Christian author for daring to push the envelope on some language she used in her book. I thought it was sad. How much cursing can be in a Christian book before it isn't Christian? To me, the answer is easy: don't put any in. People say it isn't realistic..... if you want realistic, the Christian way isn't for you. If you want realistic, you'd better ignore Jesus and what He did.
For those who scoff at the idea of Christian fiction being worth reading, you must not know your Bible very well. It is full of stories. Jesus Himself told a lot of stories. Ever hear of a parable? I hate to break it to you, but some of them were fiction, from what I understand. He used them to make a point. There is power in a story.
As I said, there are a lot of books on the Christian market that are fluff and light, but there are many that are not. I am 100% convinced that God can use Christian fiction just as much as non-fiction books, or even a sermon in church.
Karen Kingsbury has written a lot of great books. On her website there were comments from people. One couple's marriage was saved by reading one of her books. A teenage boy commented and said one of her books convinced him to get help for his addiction to pornography. There were many more. Her books deal with marriages on the rocks, grief at the loss of loved ones, an HIV+ diagnosis, depression, and the list goes on.
Like suspense? Check out Kathy Herman. The issues of faith, infidelity of a spouse, father issues, and more have been dealt with in her books.
Ronie Kendig writes military/suspense novels that have a strong Christian message. In one I read most recently, it talked about God having our back, and still having faith in God even when every door seems to slam shut in your face.
Kim and Kayla Woodhouse, mother and daughter, has written a couple of great suspense novels together, and most recently I was moved and convicted by a short novel I read by Kim that compared giving up on God and blaming Him, to letting go of a rope while mountain climbing and blaming the rope.... was a great sermonette in a Christian novel.
Like nursing stories? Check out Candace Calvert, who writes a great romance story centered around hospitals, nurses, and doctors, all with a great Christian message. Want some suspense with that? Check out Richard Mabry, who writes similar, only with a strong suspense element.
Enjoy books with a supernatural element? Check out Mike Dellosso. They are suspenseful, and always have a great message.
Adam Blumer only has two books out so far, but they are great suspense, and his books are great examples of what Christian fiction should be. He isn't afraid to put a Christian message in his books, and is determined to.
Jim Rubart is a hard author to describe, but his books are excellent and go beyond great Christian fiction. His first book, Rooms, was a story about a young man inheriting a large house, and it turned out to be his heart. Awesome story, very moving.
Want to read a good legal thriller? Read Randy Singer's books. He is better than John Grisham, in my opinion, and his books always have a great Christian message.
There is so much variety on the Christian fiction market, anyone could find something they would enjoy: Romance, suspense, historical, fantasy, and the list goes on.
I have read three different novels recently that had a major focus on having faith in God, even when, and especially when things are falling apart. When it seems He is absent and doesn't care. And man, is that a message I need. Along with the message that God always has my back, and to never let go of the rope, no matter how tough things get.
I have also read a few books lately that dealt with forgiving people when they do really bad things. Another message I needed. I have a hard time forgiving people, and mostly forgiving myself. I have had people do bad things to me, say bad things to me, about me, but there has been worse things that people forgave people for, than what I have had done.... and although these books had fictional characters, it was still a sobering reminder that I needed.
Over the years, I have been moved, inspired, encouraged, and convicted by things I read in a "novel". There have been times I had given up, and was encouraged to try again by something I read in a "novel."
And by my promoting reading Christian fiction, I am in no way saying it should be a substitute for reading your Bible, other helpful books, and for going to church.
In closing, here is a true story that happened around 13 or more years ago. A young girl had a little baby, not sure of the age, but it seems the boy was under a year old. I think the little guy was fussing, and the mother's boyfriend put him the clothes dryer and turned it on. I don't how long, but long enough to hurt the baby and damage some of his motor skills. The young man was arrested, as was the mother, since she watched and allowed it to happen. The grandmother was given custody of this little boy, and was telling a lady she worked with, Huldah, who attends my church. She told Huldah she knew she needed to forgive her daughter and the boyfriend, but just couldn't, she was so angry. Huldah was telling our pastor's wife about it, and my pastor's wife suggested a book for the lady to read. The book was a Christian fiction book I had lent to my pastor's wife, Waiting for the Morning by Karen Kingsbury. It is about woman whose husband and oldest daughter are killed in a car accident when struck by a drunk driver. Although fictional, the story is an awesome story of loss, grief, bitterness, and forgiveness. Huldah bought the book and gave it to her co-worker, and the woman read it and said it helped her a lot. And it was a "novel."
It doesn't have to be a sermon or even a passage of Scripture. God can use, and does use, fiction to speak to people, to encourage, inspire, heal, and even convict. And even if the book doesn't do all of that, you will still have read a great story.