Friend's of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury

Monday, July 6, 2015

In our everyday lives, friends are the people whom we spend the most time with, go through struggles with at times, and who know us best. Each of Jesus’ friends—Peter, John, Matthew, Judas, Mary Magdalene, and Lazarus—traveled with Jesus and were part of His daily ministry, and each has a compelling story to tell. There were some who would question or doubt Him…and one would even betray Him. Kingsbury brings these fascinating personalities to life in ways that will not only help bring you closer to the truths found in Scripture, but also to Christ.

By combining valuable, instructive Bible study with compelling, insightful character sketches of Jesus’ companions, Kingsbury provides you with a deeper understanding of the scriptural teachings featuring these fascinating people. Emotionally powerful, thought-provoking, and soulful, The Friends of Jesus will help you to appreciate the Bible and understand how it applies to your relationships with the most important people in your life.

Karen Kingsbury is a #1 New York Times Bestselling novelist with more than 25 million books in print. She is America’s favorite inspirational storyteller as her last dozen novels have hit top spot on national bestseller lists. Several of Karen’s books are in production as theatrical and Hallmark original movies. 
My Thoughts:
This is the second book in Karen's Life-Changing Bible study series. I loved the way she portrayed each of the disciples and friends that traveled with Jesus. They were a mess and I saw parts of me in each of them. Mainly Peter, I have a lot in common with him. Being able to recognize the traits within ourselves that were evident in Jesus' friends confirms once again that He is the friend to the friendless, Father to the orphans, and Husband to the widows. He is all to all of us. This was a quick read, I couldn't put it down once I started. This is a perfect summer read!


Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant

About the book:
Love Arrives in Pieces (Zondervan, June 2015)

For so long, Stella was known for her beauty. Now, with her heart stripped bare, she must discover who she really is.

Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn't trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to brokenness, so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but she always falls short. So she keeps her passion for art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn't get another job soon, she'll be stuck living with her parents.

Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancée. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he'll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town's old theater and is shocked to discover that the designer for the project is his old flame, Stella.

Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and past as they struggle to compromise and work together on a vision for the theater. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness---and their unresolved feelings for each other-until Chase discovers the hidden parts of Stella, while losing her trust in the process.

A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice---to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from their brokenness.

Purchase a copy:
About the author:

Betsy St. Amant
lives in Louisiana with her young daughter and has a heart for sharing the amazing news of God's grace through her novels. A freelance journalist, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she's not reading, writing, or singing along to a Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing.
Find Betsy online: website, Facebook

My Thoughts:
The two things in life that seem to cause the most pain is death and divorce. In her sophomore book, Betsy tackles both of these issues. I know from personal experience the pain of divorce. It is like a train wreck barreling into your life that rips everything apart, and you find yourself standing among the rubble picking up the pieces of your life. Using her main character, Stella, Betsy shows the mess, along with all of the emotions that go along with it. This is not a somber book, but a book about healing and how God can put the pieces back together if we let Him.
Highly recommended!

In Good Company by Jen Turner Turano

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

After spending her childhood in an orphanage, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen. Unfortunately, her playfulness and enthusiasm tend to bring about situations that have employers looking askance at her methods. After her most recent dismissal, Millie is forced to return yet again to an employment agency.

Everett Mulberry has suddenly and quite unexpectedly found himself responsible for three children he’s never met. Attempting fatherhood while also pacifying the less-than-thrilled socialite he intends to marry is made even more complicated when the children scare off every nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he’s desperate for competent childcare.

At wit’s end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance–with each other. Everett is wary of Millie’s penchant for disaster, and she’s not entirely keen on another snobby, grumpy employer, but they’re both out of options. As Millie falls in love with her mischievous charges and tries to stay one step ahead of them, Everett is more focused on achieving the coveted status of society’s upper echelons. As he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the children’s parents’ death, will it take the loss of those he loves to learn whose company he truly wants for the rest of his life?

About this author

Jen Turano is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in Clothing and Textiles. She pursued a career in management for nine years before switching to full-time motherhood after the birth of her son. When she's not writing, Jen can be found watching her teenage son participate in various activities, taking long walks with her husband and dog, socializing with friends, or delving into a good book. She lives in suburban Denver, Colorado. Learn more at

My Thoughts:

I had the best time hanging out with Millie and Everett, and of course the three little kids that have been entrusted to Everett. I love books that have kids in them, they add such a fun dimension to the story, and these kids were a hoot. In true Jen style this book was laugh out loud funny, with a little mystery to add intrigue. With Jen's books I find myself wanting to jump into the pages and be apart of the story. While this is the second book in her A Class of Their Own, it can stand alone and is a perfect summer read!
Highly recommended!


Summer's List by Anita Higman

Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer's List (River North, June 2015)

A dying wish alters the course of a young woman's life.

Life hadn't been easy for Summer Snow. In acts of selflessness---caring for her ailing parents and running her grandmother's bookstore---she had forfeited her youth and dreams for the needs of others. And the only tries she had at love . . . didn't turn out. She had the bookstore, she had her beloved granny, but she was missing something---or someone.

Opportunity strikes when Granny sends Summer on an unexpected adventure with one Martin Langtree, a kind but gangly young man from Summer's past. A childhood friendship is rekindled, a romance is sparked, and mysteries are solved in one magical Texas summer. Will Summer strike out on love again, or will things finally go her way?

Purchase a copy:

 About the author:
Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She's been a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

Find Anita online: website, Twitter, Facebook

My Thoughts:
I was pleasantly surprised by this book, I loved the idea of giving a young adult a pre-bucket list of things for them to do, I loved Summer's name, Summer Snow, it was a fun name. When Summer's granny tells her that she is dying from congestive heart failure she gives Summer a list of things to accomplish. As Summer works through this list she finds her childhood friend Martin, and herself.
I am a Gramma and this book has given me an idea for my grandchildren. I am going to give them a list to work through after they graduate from high school. This was a perfect Summer book and I highly recommend it!

The Ticket by Debra Jeter

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Ticket
Firefly Southern Fiction (May 20, 2015)
Debra Jeter


A Vanderbilt University professor, Debra Coleman Jeter has published fiction and nonfiction in popular magazines, including Working Woman, New Woman, Self, Home Life, Savvy, Christian Woman, and American Baby. Her story, "Recovery," won first prize in a Christian Woman short story competition, and her nonfiction book "Pshaw, It's Me Grandson": Tales of a Young Actor was a finalist in the 2007 USA Book News Awards. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered in 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at nearly forty film festivals around the world, and captured several international awards. She lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her husband. She is currently working on a novel based on the life of her grandmother, Effie Shultz McClain (1900 to 1985).


Tray Dunaway longs to be part of the popular set at school but, she's growing too fast and her clothes no longer fit. The only person who understands Tray's need for acceptance is her grandmother, but when Tray wears Gram's hand-sewn clothes to school, the kids make fun of her tall, boney appearance. Tray's luck improves when Pee Wee Johnson, a down-and-out friend of her father's, buys two lottery tickets and gives one to Mr. Dunaway as a thank-you for driving him to Hazard, Illinois. When her father's ticket turns out to be the winner, Johnson demands his cut of the proceeds, but Tray's dad refuses. What seems like a stroke of good fortune suddenly becomes a disturbing turn of events as Johnson threatens to cause problems for the family and Tray.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Ticket, go HERE.

The Midwife's Tale by Delia Parr

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Midwife’s Tale
Bethany House Publishers (June 2, 2015)
Delia Parr


Delia Parr is the author of sixteen historical and inspirational historical romance novels, including Hearts Awakening, Love's First Bloom, and Hidden Affections. The mother of three grown children, she was a long-time high school teacher in southern New Jersey before retiring to Florida.


Martha Cade comes from a long line of midwives who have served the families of Trinity, Pennsylvania, for generations. A widow with two grown children, she's hopeful that her daughter will follow in her footsteps, but when Victoria runs off, Martha's world is shattered.

Worse, a new doctor has arrived in town, threatening her job, and she can't remember a time when her faith has been tested more. Still determined to do the work she knows God intended for her, Martha is unprepared for all that waits ahead. Whether it's trying to stop a town scandal, mending broken relationships, or feeling the first whispers of an unexpected romance, she faces every trial and every opportunity with hope and faith.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Midwife’s Tale, go HERE.

Justified by Varina Denman, Plus an Interview with Varina

In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.

Justified perfectly captures the rhythm and romance of life in a small town, telling the unforgettable story of a woman searching for renewal, a man looking beyond what others see, and a community torn between judgment and love. It is the unforgettable story of broken dreams, second chances, and relentless hope.

Varina Denman
Author of the Mended Hearts series, Jaded, Justified, and Jilted.

Did you always know you wanted to write?

Not at all. In fact, as a child, I dreaded writing assignments. Most of the writing I did in school consisted of research papers and essays, and I only recall one creative writing assignment which was way back in seventh grade. It wasn’t until I grew-up and started reading novels like a maniac that I began to appreciate the nuances that writers used in their writing, and I wondered if I might enjoy writing as much as I enjoyed reading.
Did your series come out of personal pain?

The Mended Hearts series revolves around church hurt, but I never experienced a church hurt situation—at least nothing as monumental as what I’ve dished-out to my characters. However I’ve felt little jabs over the years, and I’ve watched negative things happen to friends and family. Because of that, I can empathize with my characters, and their pain seems quite real to me as I write their story.

What do you hope readers takeaway from your books?

Since the books deal with forgiveness and redemption, I hope readers can take away the understanding that God is big enough to forgive us, no matter what we’ve done. And in the same way, we should be ready to forgive others when they sin against us.

Are you an outliner or a pantser?

I’m a fastidious outliner. Like … so bad my writer friends make fun of me. But I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t change my style, because even though I do all that outlining, I end up re-writing almost the entire book. It’s crazy. Not to mention, time consuming.

Describe your writing space. 

Since my older children have left the nest, I’ve taken control of one of the upstairs bedrooms which I converted into an office. It’s fairly plain: a desk and a couch. But all I really need is my laptop and a set of earplugs, so it works out beautifully.

What is your favorite book from your childhood? What is the last book you’ve read?

Ah, my favorite book from childhood is From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg. When I was in fourth grade, my teacher played the audio book (on cassette tapes) during our quiet time after lunch, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to the kids in the museum. Years later, I read it with my children and fell in love all over again.
The last book I read was Behind Bars, Surviving Prison, by Jeffrey Ian Ross. Not quite as exciting as the kids in the museum, but it definitely helped with my research for book three. Now I understand a little more about the character of Clyde Felton who spent twenty years in prison.

 My Thoughts:
Justified is book two in Varina's Mended Heart Series. Varina creates characters you'd like to smack, others you want to give a great big hug to. My heart went out to Fawn, who became the center of public ridicule because she was pregnant, Tyler the father of her baby was one that I wanted to knock into the middle of next week. 
As with book one, Jaded, we see that gossip is as painful as any situation a person is going through. 

James 3:3-6
 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

This series is very encouraging and shows that our God is bigger than any situation we are going through. His forgiveness is wider and deeper than any sin.

Highly recommended!

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