Monday, July 28, 2014

In the Field of Grace

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
In The Field of Grace
River North; New Edition edition (July 1, 2014)
by
Tessa Afshar


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


TESSA AFSHAR was voted "New Author of the Year" by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader's Choice Award 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. She was born in Iran, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last thirteen years in full-time Christian work.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Destitute, grief-stricken, and unwanted by the people of God, Ruth arrives in Israel with nothing to recommend her but Naomi's, love. Her loftiest hope is to provide enough food to save Naomi and herself from starvation.

But God has other plans for her life. While everyone considers Ruth an outcast, she is astounded to find one of the most honored men of Judah showing her favor. Long since a widower and determined to stay that way, Boaz is irresistibly drawn to the foreign woman with the haunted eyes. He tells himself he is only being kind to his Cousin Naomi's chosen daughter when he goes out of his way to protect her from harm, but his heart knows better.

Based on the biblical account of Ruth, In the Field of Grace is the story of a love that ultimately changes the course of Israel's destiny and the future of the whole world.


If you would like to read the first chapter of In The Field of Grace, go HERE.

Book Review

I am friends with Tessa Afshar on Facebook.   She has no idea who I am, but once I read her first book I became addicted and I kind of became a stalker.   I find myself holding my breath waiting on her next book to be released.   Right now I am kind of turning blue since she last night she posted she just finished the first chapter of her next book and only has 29 more to go!  

"In the Field of Grace" is the story of Ruth and Boaz.   The story of Ruth is one that speaks to my heart.  Losing your husband is a great fear as a wife.    Tessa writes so eloquently about all those emotions and all those struggles in this book.   She also portrays Ruth as the woman of grace and Boaz as the man of integrity that I have always felt them to be when reading the Biblical account.  

If you have never read a Tessa Afshar book I highly recommend it!

SPECIAL thanks to CFBA for providing a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a book review. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Firewall

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Firewall
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (July 1, 2014)
by
DiAnn Mills


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


DiAnn Mills believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” She is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. Her books have won many awards through American Christian Fiction Writers, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005, 2007, and 2010. She was a Christy Award finalist in 2008 and a Christy winner in 2010.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and is the Craftsman Mentor for the Christian Writer’s Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops.

DiAnn and her husband live in Houston, Texas. Visit her website or find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/diannmills


ABOUT THE BOOK

After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be.

Agent Grayson Hall’s number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day’s act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. Is her naiveté just for show, or could she truly be another victim of a master scheme, possibly linked to the software she recently developed for her company?

With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson have no choice but to trust one another . . . and pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties.

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

Book Review

Diann Mills is one of my favorite authors.   I mark her release dates on my calendar so I don't miss a book.   Why?  I never have to worry about whether I will like the book.   I know that I will be hooked from the first page and won't want it to end.   Also, I know that it will most always be something my husband will love reading also which is a win/win. 

Loved the plot line of this book involving computers, national security and other very relevant topics.   With three very tech savy guys in my house and a family full of computer geeks, this is a highly discussed topic in our home.   

Thanks to the CFBA for providing a complimentary copy for me to read in exchange for a review. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Where the Spirit of the Lord Is...

I grew up in a church that believed in and taught holiness.  It permeated everything.  Music, Sunday School, sermons, devotionals, and every conversation that was had.  I was fully aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit from a very young age before I fully comprehended just how powerful a presence He truly could be in my life.

It was something I took for granted although I had no idea I was taking it for granted.   It is kind of like air.  You breathe, but you don't think about it.  However, I am sure if the oxygen was suddenly gone you would definitely notice it.

A few years ago my boys and I started attending a new church.  It isn't in the same denomination as we grew up in, but we felt good about the teachings and beliefs.   However, gradually I have realized that something was missing.   I couldn't breathe.   "Oxygen" was low.

The permeation of the teaching of the Holy Spirit just hasn't been there.   It has been the nagging frustration.   The thing I couldn't put my finger on.  

I love what Francis Chan says, "“God is not just one thing we add to the mix called life. He wants an invitation from us to permeate everything and every part of us.”

Now I sit and wonder.   Have I been irresponsible as a parent picking a church that hasn't given them this same constant teaching on the Holy Spirit and failing to recognize it as I grew up with?   

Monday, July 14, 2014

Shenandoah Dreams

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Shenandoah Dreams
OakTara Publishers (July 1, 2014)
by
Lisa Belcastro


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lisa Belcastro lives with her family on Martha’s Vineyard. She loves chocolate, gardening, outdoor activities, cooking, laughing, reading, traveling, a healthy dose of adventure, and her cat Ben, who keeps her company while she spends hours working at the computer.

She was inspired to write Shenandoah Nights, the first book in the Winds of Change trilogy, while chaperoning two Tisbury School summer sails with her daughter, Kayla, aboard the schooner Shenandoah. The weeklong adventure, sans electricity, Game Boys, iPods and modern conveniences, kindled her imagination to dream of an altogether different voyage.

In addition to writing romance novels, Lisa currently pens the cuisine column for Vineyard Style magazine. She has worked as a staff and freelance reporter and photographer for The Chronicle of the Horse and as assistant editor at The Blue Ridge Leader. She has written articles for USA Today, Dressage (London), USA WEEKEND Magazine, The Blue Ridge Leader and Sidelines.

When she’s not at her desk, Lisa is living in paradise, volunteering at her daughter’s school, serving in her church community, planting and weeding her numerous gardens, trying to run a marathon a month, or walking the beach looking for sea glass.

ABOUT THE BOOK

What if she met the man of her dreams...in another century? Tisbury, Massachusetts, Martha s Vineyard. It s just a dream, Melissa Smith whispers as she stares into the intense eyes of a man dressed in Colonial clothes, as though stepping out of an American Revolution movie set. A school chaperone with Holmes Hole Elementary, she d boarded the old schooner Shenandoah for a weeklong educational sail. But they are not visiting Plimoth Plantation, the Boston Tea Party Museum, or the Concord Bridge reenactment. They re sailing the waters around the island of Martha s Vineyard. Yet, when she awakes in Cabin 8, the captain claims to be Isaiah Reed, who sailed the original Shenandoah in the eighteenth century. He cannot possibly be real, Melissa thinks. And traveling back in time is impossible. But days pass, and she s still in 1770. What if Isaiah, who is simply too handsome to be real, is real? What if the fire he ignites in her from barely a touch isn t in her imagination? Can a dream last for weeks on end? If so, how will she find her way home...to the twenty-first century? And can she bear to leave the one man who has captured her heart, when everything in her longs to stay? A Vineyard Romance Romance, history, adventure. Get swept into the exciting Winds of Change series.

If you liked to read the first chapter of Shenandoah Dreams, go HERE.

Book Review

Time travel was entertaining when my boys were little and we read Magic Tree House books, but in an adult book?   Yawn.    When the lead character, Melissa, began dreaming about past historical events I thought maybe she was going to uncover some clue to the boat's significance.   However, when she was thrown back in time I completely lost interest because of the book's improbability.   I mean, really? 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hope Deferred

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Hope Deferred
HopeSprings Books (July 1, 2014)
by
Elizabeth Maddrey


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Elizabeth Maddrey is a semi-reformed computer geek and homeschooling mother of two who loves a good happily ever after.

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of computers, math, and organization steered her into computer science at Wheaton College, she always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. This continued through a Master’s program in Software Engineering, several years in the computer industry, teaching programming at the college level, and a Ph.D. in Computer Technology in Education. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity.

She lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Christian fiction for women.
Can pursuit of a blessing become a curse?
June and July and their husbands have spent the last year trying to start a family and now they're desperate for answers. As one couple works with specialists to see how medicine can help them conceive, the other must fight to save their marriage. Will their deferred hope leave them heart sick, or start them on the path to the fulfillment of their dreams?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Hope Deferred, go HERE.



Book Review

If this book had a theme song it would definitely be Laura Story's "Blessings".  If you are familiar with the words to that song it says, "'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops?  What if Your healing comes through tears?  What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near?  What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?"  

Hope Deferred is book two in the Remnants Series.   It continues the story of twin sisters, June and July.    This book lays bare their struggle with infertility.   It is a raw and emotional look at a reality that is all to real for so many couples.  

It is refreshing to see the author include the spouses and their emotions in this storyline.   This emotional, spiritual and marital roller coaster is one that is often portrayed from the point of view from the wife, but often the husband's perspective is left out. 

I must admit that I am not a fan of "cliff hanger" endings.  I do not like being forced to read the next book in a series to find answers.   I find that very manipulative and is not something I admire in a writer.



Please note:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Chalfont House and CFBA in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rival Hearts

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Rival Hearts
Abingdon Press (June 17, 2014)
by
Tara Randel


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tara Randel has enjoyed a lifelong love of books, especially romance and mystery genres, so it didn't come as a surprise when she began writing with the dream of becoming published. After finding Romantic Times magazine in a bookstore many years ago, she found information about writing organizations. Soon after, she joined Romance Writers of America. She located the local RWA chapter and immediately attended her first meeting. There was no stopping her after that!

Through Tampa Area Romance Authors, Tara learned all about the business of publishing, starting with the craft of writing to behind the scenes of publishing. She served as contest coordinator for four years and served as President for one year, enjoying the organization and the lasting friendships made there.

When not writing, Tara owns a business with her husband and stays busy with her two daughters. She lives on the West Coast of Florida, where gorgeous sunsets inspire the creation of heartwarming stories, filled with love, laughter and the occasional mystery. Enjoy!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Molly Henderson and Ben Weaver have been rival magazine writers for the same publishing group for years. When both come up for the same promotion, they find themselves in an unexpected competition to win the spot. Molly, editor of Quilter’s Heart, and Ben, editor of Outdoor Adventures, must switch roles, each working for the other for one month, then submit an article at the end of their quests.

Can girly-girl Molly survive the outdoor adventures that Ben has planned? Can Ben navigate the perils of the social dynamics of quilting events without destroying a valuable quilt in one short month? More importantly, in this he-said, she-said situation, will Molly and Ben give in to their attraction and fall in love, no matter who wins?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Rival Hearts, go HERE.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Am Thinking About Taking My Child Out Of Public School To... Homeschool?

I received another phone call today from a mom who is going to start homeschooling her children.   She seems to be joining a growing trend in our state.   Moving her children out of public school and into homeschooling.   "What am I doing?  How do I start?  Am I going to mess them up?"  Listening to her questions automatically threw me back six years to the point where we started making the decision. We had just hit a wall.   I was so blessed to have a very close friend who was already homeschooling and gave me so much incredible advice.   However, I just want the chance to encourage you with a few basics as you make the transition from public school to start homeschooling.  

Take time to reset.    My boys had been in the public school system for six years when we started thinking it was time to make a change.    We were all fully invested in our schools.    I served on the PTO boards every year that my boys were in school including two separate years as PTO president.   We had the public school routine and way of doing things down pat.  

That was our first obstacle in homeschooling.   You need time to reset yourself.   Since one of the reasons we decide to homeschool was the fact that my boys were losing their love of learning, we took an entire month off from anything that resembled "school".    We made a list of every museum, art show, sporting event, or educational opportunity that we could find in our area.   For one month we did nothing but read a LOT of books, visit the places on our "field trip" list and play a lot of educational and strategy games.  

I did not make a lot of great decisions in my first year, but that is one that I would definitely do again.   Even six years later we take a "reset" day if things get too out of control.   That brings me to my second item...

Throw away your expectations.   The most discouraging part of starting is the fact that you feel like you do not know what you are doing and if you have picked the right curriculum.    The first year is a huge learning curve.   For you and for your kids.    Just because your friend, Susan, has all of her children starting school at 8:30 and finishing up at 2:00 so they can head to piano and guitar does not mean you have to.    Just because your friend, Olivia, has a perfectly organized homeschool room where everyone has their desks that they sit at and do their work does not mean that is going to work for your kids.   You can create your child's learning situation in any way you want.   That may be different for each of your children.    One of my boys needs complete quiet and sitting at his desk to get his work accomplished.   My other son can be stretched out across his bed, on the trampoline or under the dining room table.   Their learning styles are different.

Basically, this year is a learning process.   Will you make mistakes?  Most definitely.  Mistakes are not fatal.  Learn from what didn't work and go with another option until you find what does.

Every day is a new day.   When the dishwasher floods in the middle of math and you have to call it quits for the day?  It happens.   My boys often hear me say, "It is what it is."   Some days go as planned and some days won't.   The good thing is that tomorrow is a new day!

Set boundaries.   You have just added a new hat to your hat rack:  teacher.   One of the biggest mistakes of my first year was not setting boundaries to our school day.   One of my boys is an early morning child and would get up at 6:30 and work until he was finished with school.   My other child is a night owl.    By the time he woke up enough to start school it was 10:00 and he wouldn't finish until time for my husband was coming home.   I was exhausted.   I needed to set some boundaries so that at some point in the day I could take off my "teacher" hat and just be mom for the rest of the day.    At first I tried putting us into this rigid schedule but it just made all of us frustrated.  Then it dawned on me.   I set "office hours" of 9:00 - 2:00.   They now know that all questions, assignment review and lesson teaching that require me have to be done during this time.  

Don't drown in the textbooks and curriculum choices.
   Going to public school meant they handed our kids a book and they learned from it.   Now we have the freedom and opportunity to choose what they learn!   It is a wonderful blessing and an overwhelming decision.   I never realized just how many choices there were out there.   A lot of people pick from one particular publisher for their needs, but I have always chosen from lots of different approaches and publishers.   Above all, don't get bogged down in the curriculum.    You will HATE homeschooling if you try to recreate "school" at home.   

If someone asks you about socialization... LAUGH!   homeschool co-op activities, homeschool co-op classes, church, student choir, library, guitar lessons, tennis lessons, 4H shooting sports, volunteering at the nursing home, bowling club, swimming, mountain biking club....  Do I need to go on?   The reality is that there are often so many opportunities to socialize that you have to put a limit on them.    If they were still in school they would only be hanging out with kids of their same age group all day.    I love that they have met and learned from war veterans while volunteering at the nursing home.   They hang out at lunch with our co-op group which will consists of all ages.  Times like these have been great "communication class" experiences.

Relax and enjoy it.   You have been given a gift.  Precious time with your kids.  You will get to know them and they will get to know you.    Enjoy it!

Pray.   Last, but definitely NOT least... Before you make that final decision:  Pray!  Make sure that this is what God wants for your family.   If this is in His will for your family then He is going to "make your paths straight" for this new adventure ahead!



Yankee in Atlanta

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Yankee in Atlanta
River North(June 1, 2014)
by
Jocelyn Green


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jocelyn Green is a child of God, wife and mom living in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She is also an award-winning journalist, author, editor and blogger. Though she has written nonfiction on a variety of topics, her name is most widely recognized for her ministry to military wives: Faith Deployed. Her passion for the military family was fueled by her own experience as a military wife, and by the dozens of interviews she has conducted with members of the military for her articles and books, Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives and its sequel, Faith Deployed...Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives. She is also co-author of both Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front (forthcoming, May 2012). Her Faith Deployed Web site and Facebook page continue to provide ongoing support, encouragement and resources for military wives worldwide.

ABOUT THE BOOK

When soldier Caitlin McKae woke up in Atlanta after being wounded in battle, the Georgian doctor who treated her believed Caitlin's only secret was that she had been fighting for the Confederacy disguised as a man. In order to avoid arrest or worse, Caitlin hides her true identity and makes a new life for herself in Atlanta. Trained as a teacher, she accepts a job as a governess to the daughter of Noah Becker, a German immigrant lawyer, who is about to enlist with the Rebel army. Then in the spring of 1864, Sherman's troops edge closer to Atlanta. Caitlin tries to escape north with the girl, but is arrested on charges of being a spy. Will honor dictate that Caitlin follow the rules, or love demand that she break them?

Id you would like to read the first chapter of Yankee in Atlanta, go HERE.