Saturday, January 20, 2018

Gospel Fluency Handbook by Jeff Vanderstelt & Ben Connelly, with a giveaway

Book description:

"I'm an unbeliever. So are you," Jeff Vanderstelt tells us in his book, Gospel Fluency. We slip in and out of believing God's word about us and trusting in His work on our behalf. We forget who He is, what's He's done, and in light of that, who we are.

Do these statements resonate with you? Then the Gospel Fluency Handbook was written for you. For those who've realized there are areas of life---your normal, everyday, busy life---where you disbelieve God, His goodness, and His gospel. It's for those who are keenly aware and weighted down by a failure to connect the way gospel truths actually matter to everyday life.

The Gospel Fluency Handbook is designed to help you and your group become fluent in the gospel---in other words, to help you move from unbelief to belief. The discussions and
exercises in this 8-week interactive handbook provide a step-by-step immersion of your mind, heart, soul, and life in the gospel. Each week follows a simple format: three sets of personal Readings and Reflections and a weekly guide for Group Discussion and Exercises that will lead to becoming a
more gospel-fluent people---people who are learning to see and then speak the truths of Jesus into the everyday stuff of life.

My review:

  I reviewed two other books by these authors: Saturate (just Jeff), and Saturate: The Field Guide (both authors). I found both books excellent reads, with a lot of great information and advice in them. When I got the chance to review this book, it was a no-brainer.

 Books like this are different to review than most. They are not mean to be read, but are meant to be read, studied, and followed. This is a Bible study type book. It is split up into 8 week segments. Each week starts with a reading. That is followed by a section to write down thoughts on the Scripture verses referenced in that reading. That is followed by reflection, which is a couple pages of questions to answer and reflect on.

 There are 3 readings and reflections for each week. After the 3rd, there is a group discussion with questions and an exercise to do.'

 The whole idea of the book is designed to make the participant become fluent in the Gospel, and the authors do a great job of doing that. Though the questions and discussion has a likelihood of causing deep thought and reflection, the book is interesting and easy to read.

 Gospel Fluency is extremely well done and laid out in an easy to use way ideal for a group study. I would definitely recommend it.

About the authors:

Jeff Vanderstelt


As the visionary leader of the Soma Family of Churches and Saturate and the lead teaching
pastor at Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA, Jeff Vanderstelt gets to spend his days doing what he loves---training disciples of Jesus to make more disciples of Jesus and equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. Jeff is the author of Gospel Fluency, Saturate, and the Saturate Field Guide. He and his wife, Jayne, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.

Ben Connelly

Ben Connelly, his wife, Jess, and their children, Charlotte, Maggie, and Travis, live in Fort Worth, Texas. He started and now co-pastors The City Church, part of the Acts29 network and Soma
Family of Churches. Ben also directs church-planting for Soma churches across North America, has taught university classes, and has published a few books. With degrees from Baylor University and Dallas Theological Seminary,
he writes for various publications, trains folks across the country.



Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.


  Are you constantly slipping in and out of believing God's word about you and trusting in His work on your behalf? Do you forget who He is, what's He's done, and, in light of that, who you are? Learn how to connect the way gospel truths actually matter to everyday life with Jeff Vanderstelt and Ben Connelly's new book and resource, Gospel Fluency Handbook. The discussions and exercises in this 8-week interactive handbook provide a step-by-step immersion of your mind, heart, soul, and life in the gospel. Each week follows a simple format: three sets of personal readings and reflections, a weekly guide for group discussion and exercises that will lead to becoming a more gospel-fluent people.

Start the new year on the right track with your small group by entering to win a Saturate bundle full of goodies.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • 10 copies of Gospel Fluency and Glospel Fluency Handbook
  • 8-cup Chemex Coffeemaker
  • Level Pour Over Kettle
  • Big House Beans Coffee Sampler (Big House Beans is to empower individuals through unconditional love and second chances. #morethanjustcoffee)

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on January 23. The winner will be announced January 24 on the Litfuse blog.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Out of the Ashes, The Heart of Alaska #2 by Tracie Peterson and Kimberly Woodhouse

Book description:

Can the Majesty of Alaska Foster Hope and Healing for Those Who Need it Most?

After the death of their father, Collette and Jean-Michel Langelier are no longer tied to post-war France. While his sister dreams of adventure, Jean-Michel is hoping to finally escape reminders of the horrors he faced in the Great Syrian Revolt of 1925. When an unexpected invitation for them to visit Alaska and the Curry Hotel arrives, it seems the perfect opportunity.

Young widow Katherine Demarchis is also traveling to the foot of Mt. Denali with her grandmother--a last trip before she retreats into a quiet and solitary life, finally free of the dangerous husband she was forced to marry. Yet when she encounters there a Frenchman from her past, her plans for the future are thrown into question. 

Both haunted by the violence of their pasts, can Katherine and Jean-Michel rediscover the bond they once had? Or, when Jean-Michel's nightmares return with terrifying consequences, will it be impossible to heal what's been broken for so long?

My review:

  I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series, In the Shadow of Denali, and have been eagerly awaiting this second book. Now that I have finished it, I am eagerly awaiting the third book. Seriously.

 Out of the Ashes does not disappoint as a sequel. Though the two main characters are new to the series, the cast of the first book are all back, along with the same setting as the the first book. If you are not an avid fiction reader, you may not understand the sentiment of this, but the reader can get attached to fictional characters, and that has happened in this series. I really liked the hero of the story, Jean-Michel, and felt an empathy. We are all broken in some way, and I have had my share in that area. Though Jean-Michel's was different with his nightmares of the horror of war and losing his best friends in that war, I too have felt the hopelessness and other emotions our fictional hero felt.

 The book has a lot to offer with its drama, ploy,  and the relationships between the characters, often at times making me laugh out loud. Slight spoiler - To me the highlight of the story was when Jean-Michel was presented with true hope - God - by the ever likable character Thomas. I won't give anything else away, but I truly appreciated the emphasis in this book of hope and the answer for broken people being Jesus. There was also a lot in the book in that area for the heroine of the story, but the part with Jean-Michel was more dramatic, and probably resonated with me more since I am a guy. I found my eyes watering, and it gave me a boost of hope and faith.

 Peterson and Woodhouse make a tremendous writing duo. I had the privilege of meeting them on their book tour for In The Shadow of Denali, and they are both awesome ladies. This book and "Denali" are the result of two great minds and writers combining their God-given talents, and the results are top notch. Although they are writing these books to be able to stand alone, I personally would recommend reading them in order. If they keep up the trend they are on, book three will be even better than these two they have written so far. I definitely recommend both books.

About the authors:


Kimberley Woodhouse (www.kimberleywoodhouse.com) is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than fifteen fiction and nonfiction books. A popular speaker and teacher, she's shared her theme of "Joy Through Trials" with more than half a million people across the country at more than 2,000 events. Kim and her incredible husband of twenty-five-plus years have two adult children. She's passionate about music and Bible study and loves the gift of story. You can connect with Kimberley on her website and at www.facebook.com/KimberleyWoodhouseAuthor.


Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana. Learn more at www.traciepeterson.com.


Out of The Ashed and In The Shadow of Denali are available from Bethany House Publishers.

Thanks to the authors for the review copy.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The House On Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Book description:

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious demise fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather's Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house's dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy's search leads her into dangerous waters, resurrecting painful memories and forcing a reunion with the man who broke her heart. Can Ivy unravel the mystery and find a renewed hope before any other lives--including her own--are lost?

My review:

 Jamie Jo Wright is a new author, and not just to me. This is her debut novel, and what a debut it is. I have had had a few people tell me how good the book was, and they were correct.

   This book is about two different women in two different time periods: Ivy in 1906, and Kaine in 2018. The book goes back and forth between the two, interweaving the stories of these two different women in a very easy to follow manner, helped by the author starting the chapter changing to the other woman with her name.

  Debut novels are interesting things. I find myself wondering will I like it, what will I think of this author, and will I want to read more of their books they write in the future? The answer is yes to those. I finished a book this afternoon that I started last night, and was trying to decide which book to start next. As I went through my stack, I ran across this one and remembered the recommendations from friends. I really had no intentions of reading the whole book this evening, but I did. I got caught up in the stories of Kaine and Ivy, and the suspense in both stories kept me reading until the very end.

 I really liked the going back and forth between two time periods, and the merging of the two stories. There were a few things I thought I had figured out, and was wrong. Mrs Wright has done herself and her publisher proud, and this is a book that can stand up with the rest of the great Christians suspense novels out there.

 The message throughout the book in both stories was one of hope - hope in God that He will protect and work things out for the best. A great message, and a great book. I look forward to reading more of this author in the future.

And I loved the author's book dedication to her husband: To Nathan, my Cap'n Hook.The pirate I despised, then tolerated, then finally loved. I don't need my heart back. "You can keep it. Pirates treasure those types of things."

Very cool, Mrs Wright.

About the author:


Jaime Jo Wright is the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas, and a human resources director by trade. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two children, and The House on Foster Hill is her debut novel. Find her online at www.jaimewrightbooks.com.


The House On Foster Hill is available from Bethany House Publishing, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Bethany House for the review copy.

#GOSPEL: Life, Hope, and Truth for Generation Now, by Daniel Rice

Book description:

Five to ten seconds.
After that, the filter kicks in.

In our day and age, five to ten seconds is usually all the time we’re given to persuade someone that what we have to say is worthy of his or her time. You and I live in a world suffering from a relentless bombardment of information. Television, social media, advertising, acquaintances, friends, and family all vie for time and an attentive ear. If we don’t adapt and learn to filter out what we believe does not apply to us, we quickly become overwhelmed. In this new world of burst communication, our presentation of this Gospel needs to be adapted as well, and while it’s critically important that the content remain unchanged, the style and vehicle in which it is delivered must fit the culture it reaches. Through current cultural references and true stories, Daniel Rice, founder of #Gospel, will help you come to see the gospel for what it really is and how it can radically alter your everyday life. Rice invites you into the conversation as he breaks down Paul’s explanation of the gospel in Romans in a way that is accessible and engaging.  Hash-tagging (#) a term invites others to join an open conversation and adds the author’s thoughts to our modern-day global exchange of ideas. This is the heart of #Gospel.

My review:

  I don't read enough non-fiction, so I decided to review this one. It sounded interesting, and different..... and it was both of those.

 We live in different times. Everything is fast paced, and though God and the Gospel never changes, our methods of presenting it may need to adapt to the changing times. This book is not an attempt to water down or change the Gospel in any way, but it is a book to help break down our ways of presenting it in a more engaging way to catch the interest and attention of this fast paced drive through world we live in.

 The author is new to me, but I liked both his writing style and what he has to say in the book. He has a lot of good ideas, and even opened my eyes to some new things. I recommend.

About the author:


Daniel Rice is the founder of #Gospel, an organization created to bring the gospel to the current generation in a way that syncs with their culture and uniqueness. Before #Gospel, Daniel spent 10 years on staff with Calvary Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, working with small groups, young adults, and students. He and his wife Melissa have 5 children.


#Gospel is available from Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Books Publishing.

Thanks to Barbour for the review copy.

Unwrapping the Names of Jesus by Asheritah Ciuciu

Book description:

**RECAPTURE THE WONDER OF CHRISTMAS MORNING**

Do you wish you could experience the awe you once felt as a child on Christmas morning? Now you can. Rediscover the beauty of the greatest gift of all by unwrapping His Names one at a time.
Unwrapping the Names of Jesus is an Advent devotional for women who want more from the season than holiday parties, hors d'oeuvres, and a new leather purse. You want a deeper walk with Jesus. You want to know Him and touch Him. You want to find rest in Him and talk with Him.
In this devotional, Asheritah Ciuciu provides brief but insightful devotionals and family activities that will help you

* Grow in your understanding and love for Jesus

* Create fun memories with your family

* Worship Jesus as you never did before

By unwrapping the many facets of Jesus' character, you will experience the Advent season in a fresh way and wake up on Christmas morning excited to herald His coming.

My review:

 Yes, Christmas is over, but I requested and received this book too close to Christmas, and didn't have time to get it read and reviewed.... so it is happening after Christmas.

 This book is an Advent Devotional,  split up into 4 sections, one section per week of Advent. Each section starts out with something about the Advent, then has 5 days of different names of God, followed by a challenge, a prayer, and verses for further study. The next section has  an activity or activities to do.

 I enjoyed the devotional. Yes, I got it too late to read during Advent, but it was still an enjoyable book to read and think about Christmas and Advent. The author did a great job of pulling this small book together and putting information about Advent and the names of God in it. I highly recommend this to use for Advent next Christmas.

About the author:


Asheritah Ciuciu is a writer and speaker who helps women find joy in Jesus in the midst of an overwhelming life. She and her husband, Flaviu, grew up in Romania but now raise their spunky children in northeast Ohio. Connect with her at www.OneThingAlone.com.


Unwrapping the Names of Jesus is available from Moody Publishers.

Thanks to Moody for the review copy.

The Empowered, A Trevor Black Novel #2 by Craig Parshall

Book description:

Just when a mysterious death in Washington, DC, appears to have voodoo connections rooted in New Orleans, Trevor Black also receives an invitation to speak at the national ABA convention in the city.

He knows he'll be in enemy territory, both as a disbarred attorney and as a follower of Jesus, but he determines to travel there and confront the supernatural element. Right after a grisly murder in his hotel room puts him on the suspect list, his daughter disappears, leaving a note that suggests a connection to the local cult religion. Now Trevor must not only crack the case but try to protect Heather from forces of darkness clutching at her soul as well. And just as he discovers that his ability to sniff out the supernatural has its limitations, Trevor learns that this web of evil extends far beyond isolated murders, enslaving scores of innocent children, with its head perhaps linked to the highest seats of power.


My review:

   This series is a bit reminiscent of Frank Peretti's earlier books, but with more of a suspense angle. If you're wanting a gentle soothing read, this book nor the one it follows is for you.

 This was not what you'd call an easy book to read. Though it is not graphic, it deals with voodoo, the occult, human sacrifice, human trafficking, and sexual abuse. It is a riveting story with non-stop action, yet shows how God can protect us from anything and that He can step in and work good out of bad.

 In this book, the main character has his 22 year old daughter tagging along, whose existence he has only recently found out about. I enjoyed the dynamic between the two as they got to know each other, and Heather learned more about her father's Christian ways and beliefs, and his ability to see the evil around them.

 This was the kind of book you didn't know what was going to happen next, nor who the good guys and bad guys were. There were a lot of surprises along the way, and the book had more than its share of suspense and tense situations for the main characters.

 There is a world around us that we don't see, a battle between good and evil. Though this was a fictional novel written by a human guy, he does a great job of showing what that might look like if we could see that other world.

 I felt the book had a slow start, but the rest of it more than made up for that. I enjoyed the book, in spite of the topics it addressed, and was happy to see good win in spite of all of the hindrances and bad guys. Hopefully Parshall will write more in this series.

 A side note: Trevor Black resides in my favorite vacation spot, the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Though we don't stay where he resides, Okracoke Island, we have visited that island and its lighthouse many times.

I was given a copy of this book  in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

Craig Parshall is a bestselling fiction author with twelve suspense novels to his credit. His tales of human drama and spiritual encounter have garnered rave reviews from critics and readers alike. Craig is also a Washington insider serving as special counsel to the American Center for Law and Justice on matters before the US Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill, and before state supreme courts. As a constitutional lawyer, Craig has testified frequently before committees of Congress and the FCC, and has been interviewed on a wide range of cultural issues by most of the major media networks and newspapers nationwide.

Check out his website at CraigParshallauthor.com


The Empowered is available from Tyndale Publishing.

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The View From Rainshadow Bay, #1 in the Lavender Tides Series by Colleen Coble

Book description:

After her husband, Jack, dies in a climbing incident, Shauna has only her five-year-old son and her helicopter charter business to live for. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet and she lives in constant fear of losing even more than she already has.

When her business partner is murdered, his final words convince Shauna that she’s in danger too. But where can she turn? Zach Bannister was her husband’s best friend and is the person she blames for his death. She’s barely spoken to him since. But right now he seems her only hope for protecting her son.

Zach is only too happy to assuage his guilt over Jack’s death by helping Shauna any way he can. But there are secrets involved dating back to Shauna’s childhood that more than one person would prefer to stay hidden.

In The View from Rainshadow Bay, suspense, danger, and a longing to love again ignite amid the gorgeous lavender fields of Washington State.

My review:

  I have stated it before, but I was late coming to be a Colleen Coble reader. Since I have come to enjoy her books, she has become an author I truly love to read. The quality of her writing is above the normal, and her books are very easy to get caught up in.

 This book is the first in a new series, and what a great start to the series. Coble always comes up with great likable characters, and she outdid herself in this one. There is Shauna, the lovely widow harboring unforgiveness to her husband's best friend for causing her husband's death. There is Zach, carrying a load of guilt for helping to cause his best friend's death, and Alex.....the 5 year old fatherless boy caught between the mother he loves and the best friend of his father who he adores and misses.

 I may be single for life, but even I can appreciate a good romance...... and yes, it is obvious from the start of the book that a romance will happen between these two wounded souls, but I still enjoyed watching it happen amid all of the suspense, mystery, and drama. I tend to be a sucker for stories involving little kids, and Alex was an easy character to like.

 The bad guy remained a mystery until close the end of the book, along with what the bad guy was after. The plot was very well done, and I enjoyed being along for the ride as the sheriff and the two main characters tried to figure out what was going on, and who wanted what..... and why and how they were involved.

 Everything came to a very tense climax and standoff, but the book had a great ending with the suspense angle and the romantic angle. Coble has proven she has still got it, and that her best writing days are not behind her. This was definitely a 5-star read, and one I enjoyed very much, having read the book in one day.

About the author:


USAToday bestselling author Colleen Coble lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana. She is the author of dozens of novels including the Rock Harbor Series, the Aloha Reef Series, the Mercy Falls Series, the Hope Beach Series, the Lonestar Series and two Women of Faith fiction selections, Alaska Twilight and Midnight Sea. She has more than 2 million books in print.

Check out her website at ColleenCoble.com


The View from Rainshadow Bay is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.