Archives For Christian Fiction Book Club

Former Marine Colton “Cowboy” Neeley, codename Digitalis, can’t figure out why the woman he loves is lying to him. What he does know is that Piper’s secrets can’t possibly be worse than his own—-a belief which keeps him from deepening their relationship. Too bad his daughter Mickey wants Piper to be her new mother, and Colton’s father is convinced that Piper is “The One” God picked out for his son.

If Colton’s life would just slow down for a day or so, he might be able to figure it all out. Instead, he finds himself hopping from special ops mission to special ops mission until God brings the enemy right to his ranch’s back door.

The "real life" guys from Black Hawk Down

This unputdownable page-turner has just about the right amount of everything: action, romance, humor, and espionage. And I loved the stunning climax in Israel. I did grow a bit frustrated with Colton’s secretive love interest Piper, but after she dried her tears and tried trusting Colton, I decided she might be worthy of him.

As for me, I discovered that Digitalis is good for my heart. In other words, Colton Neeley is my new favorite hero. Of course, I haven’t read the other books in this series yet!

John Wayne in The Green Berets

I’m writing about Digitalis today as part of the Christian Fiction Book Club. Digitalis is the second book in author Ronie Kendig’s Discarded Heroes Series. Having grown up enjoying John Wayne movies with my dad, I think I was predisposed to love this kind of story.  I’m a flag-waving supporter of the military, those brave men and women who willingly put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe. I’m so thankful for their many sacrifices! I love books and movies that show them for the heroes they really are.

The hero in this book has to overcome much even just to find happiness in his personal life.

from We Were Soldiers

But with God’s help he does. His theme verse becomes ~Isaiah 26:3~ “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”

Or hear it from The Message: “People with their minds set on You, You keep completely whole, steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit.”

About the author: Ronie Kendig is an Army brat, married to a military veteran, homeschooler, and active member of ACFW. She has a great website with a special page called Ground Support, which highlights organizations that support the military and how you can help. Follow this link to her website.

***This is the link to Ronie’s Amazon Author Page. You might want to pick up one of her exciting stories for your Kindle right now! (I was fortunate enough to grab Digitalis during a sale. Now I’m waiting for a break in my schedule to start on Wolfsbane!)

Today’s hostess for the Christian Fiction Book Club is Julie at My Own Little Corner of the World. You might want to hop over there to read her moving testimony concerning her mom and her review of this book.

Giveaway Coming Soon! My August giveaway begins with my review of The Colonel’s Lady in just a few days. Don’t forget to come back and check it out!

Update: Winner of this sweet story is Tracy! I’ll be emailing you soon!

“When my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”~~Psalm 17:10

This verse kept running through my mind as I read Julie Klassen’s historical novel, The Girl in the Gatehouse. In the story, Mariah Aubrey stumbles into disgrace and, as a result, is harshly rejected by her autocratic father. He banishes his heartbroken daughter from their home—with only a brief good-bye for her mother and sister—and hides her away in a relative’s gatehouse. It is there, in a quiet corner of a country estate, which happens to be across the street from the poorhouse, that she builds a new family from the eccentric and endearing characters who come her way—servants, orphans, outcasts, and even a handsome Navy captain.

In writing this story, Julie Klassen was inspired by Jane Austen as she created her main character, premise, and a few scenes, and I know many of you are Jane Austen fans. However, I sometimes find an Austen novel a bit cutting in its treatment of a character’s weaknesses. Also, it seems to me that Austen often portrays the secondary characters as either scoundrels or fools.

So the tone of The Girl in the Gatehouse reminded me more of one of my best-loved authors: Louisa May Alcott. Mariah is a secret author, like Jo March in Little Women. She is rejected by proper society, like Phoebe from Rose in Bloom. Mariah and her friends perform the theatricals she has written, as do Jo March and her sisters. And the gatehouse world is peopled by unconventional folks who charm and entertain—as are Louisa May Alcott’s warm, homey novels.

(Follow this link to download a copy of Rose in Bloom for your Kindle for $.99, or at this link, it’s free in several formats.)

I loved how Mariah was pulled into the lives of the poorhouse inhabitants and soon became enmeshed in their troubles more than her own. And I would have a difficult time choosing a favorite out of the droll characters she comes to love. Would it be the tough old sailor who uses his spyglass to look into her garden from the roof of the poorhouse? Or maybe the boys who stretch a rope across the road to catch a girl for kissing Friday? Perhaps sweet Miss Amy with her love of scarlet knitting thread and gentle words of wisdom . . .

And since I’m a suspense lover, any novel that combines charming characters, an inspirational thread, dashes of romance, plus a mystery will always win me over. I enjoyed piecing together the mystery along with Mariah and was surprised at how—without any dead bodies to be found or deranged killers on the loose—it kept me turning pages.

Did you also read and review The Girl in the Gatehouse? If so, link up your review here at Edgy Inspirational Romance.

I’m always happy to find a modern-day novelist who carries on the tradition of great authors from the past. How about you? Who are your favorite authors from years gone by, and who have you found to bring you similar stories today? I’d love for you to share any suggestions with me in the comments section.

Follow this link to view Julie Klassen’s Amazon Author’s Page so you can pick up this book or one of her other novels. The paperback versions of her books are $5 and $6. The Girl in the Gatehouse is $7.68 for your Kindle.

***Thanks to Bethany House Publishing for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

Christian Fiction Book Club News: The next book club meeting is on May 21st to discuss the book Words by Ginny Yttrup. Joy, who began this online book club, has the whole schedule listed in this post. I’ve read two of the upcoming novels–Digitalis and The Preacher’s Bride–and they were GREAT!!

Here’s the book blurb for Words: Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn’t speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary. Sierra Dawn is thirty-four and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter’s death, the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself. Brought together by Divine design, Kaylee and Sierra will discover together the healing mercy of the Word-Jesus Christ. You can read the reviews and purchase the book at this link.

And, finally, the Giveaway: I’m giving away my copy of The Girl in the Gatehouse to one fortunate reader! All you have to do is let me know that you wish to be included in the drawing when you comment. I’ll announce the winner on Monday!

This first post of a new week contains fun family photos, book club news, and an update on my newest hot spot on the internet.

First, the Christian Fiction Book Club news: We’re currently reading The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen, but the discussion won’t begin until April 9th. So you should have plenty of time to grab a copy of the book and take part.

Joy at Edgy Inspirational Romance started this book club, and now she’s overhauled it by proposing some changes to help involve more readers and bloggers. She’s wondering if some of you might be able to participate if the time between each discussion is lengthened and if book clubbers know the book choices several months in advance. Joy has provided an array of books and asked us to choose 6 favorites. If you’d like to be involved in choosing books for the clubs in months to come, follow this link to Joy’s survey. Also, you can follow this link to purchase a copy of The Girl in the Gatehouse from Amazon.com.

FYI: A few days ago, my friend Shirley told me about a new author she’d discovered named Jill Marie Landis. And then I found a giveaway going on of Jill’s book, Heart of Lies, at this link. Take it from my friend Shirley, Jill’s an author you won’t want to miss! UPDATE: This giveaway is now over!

Next order of business: In my desire to become a more tech-savvy woman, I’ve recently begun tweeting! I can’t take advantage of all the best aspects of Twitter without a great iPhone, but I’ve truly been enjoying dipping my toes in the water of the Tweeting Community. If any of you out there tweet, you can find me here. I’d love to follow you!

And lastly, the photo-fest: Here are a few of the shots I took at two family events, my nephew’s thirteen birthday and my sister and brother-in-law’s fortieth wedding anniversary. God has blessed me with an encouraging, supportive family. And sometimes I just like to show them off!

The ski jump cake I made for my snowboarding nephew

Cool at any age

Why is the box more fun than what was inside?

A gift I pretended to open again and again and again . . .

Niece G. with special friend

Niece M. with hubby

Getting ready for the photo shoot

A great looking bunch, don't you agree?

Feel free to leave a comment and fill me in on what’s new in your life. Hope you have a week filled with blessings!

Yay! It’s Book Club Day! The February Free-for-all and Friday are both finally here! I hope you’re ready to tell us all about the book you read. If you’re a blogger, you know what to do–enter your blog post in the linky list at the end of this post. If you’re not a blogger and want to share, just write about your book in the comments section. Then lets all hop around and comment on each others’ reviews.

I’ll leave this post up for the weekend. And just for fun, if we have enough participation, I have a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate Giveaway to share with one fortunate reviewer.

This month I chose to read Nicole Baart’s beautiful coming-of-age novel, After the Leaves Fall, which focuses on the life of a young girl named Julia. Here’s how the story begins . . .

“Waiting is a complicated longing. I lost my father when I was fifteen, and I’ve been waiting ever since . . .

I began to exist in a tension between wanting and not wanting—waiting for something I couldn’t even pin down in my most naked and honest moments. Waiting for a balance where I neither ached nor forgot, regretted nor accepted. Waiting for my heart to be light again yet fearing the implications of that same lightness. I suppose I waited for peace—an end to my own personal warfare . . .”

Then Julia’s grandmother shares the words of wisdom from which the novel takes its title: “‘You know what my favorite time of year is?’

I blinked for the first time in minutes and looked up at her. ‘Huh?’

She continued without looking down at me, ‘I love it best when the leaves fall.’

I didn’t know what to say.

‘Lots of people like autumn because the leaves turn such pretty colors.’ Grandma smiled at this as if she had a secret, something sweet and unforeseen that she was going to share with me. I watched the familiar, wrinkled profile soften. ‘I like it when all those leaves fall because it’s such a small thing that means so very much.’ Pulling her hand out of mine, she turned to me and tilted my face toward her own. ‘Do you know what I mean?’

I didn’t.

She searched my face. ‘There’s this subtle sadness—winter is coming, and it’s going to be hard and cold. And there’s a feeling of good-bye. But there’s also . . .’ She searched for the right word. ‘Suspense? Maybe hope? Because it’s not over, everything is just waiting for spring. Do you know what I mean?’

Grandma sounded expectant, and I smiled at her because I loved her better than anyone else in the world now that Dad was gone. ‘I think so,’ I said quietly.

‘You can see more clearly when it’s all stripped bare. You can see that everything gets to be new.’ Grandma smiled at me with every hope for our future shining in her eyes. ‘That’s the good part.’

A gust of wind from the southwest shot through the trees and showered us with cold water and soggy leaves that were anything but hopeful.

I’ve been waiting a long time for the good part . . .”

My take on the story: This young heroine crept into my heart. At times her words reminded me of things I have felt and struggled with. Other times, I simply wanted to be the mother she was longing for. As I read, I kept thinking of the verse, “When my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” (Psalm 27:10)

I hurt with Julia as she struggled to become a new creation without the power of the Savior. I wished she hadn’t chosen to learn so much the hard way. However, though some of her missteps were painful, the end of the book brought hope and healing.

BTW, I would welcome her wonderful grandmother into my home any day! When I was a teen, I would’ve loved to know someone like Julia’s Grandma–just to sit at her feet and soak in all she’d learned about God and His ways . . . As you can tell, these characters seemed very real to me! Continue Reading…

Hey, guys, great news! If you’ve read a Christian fiction book this month, you can write about it, link up or share your review here, and be eligible to win a prize! If you’re not a blogger, you can email your thoughts on your book to me (reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com) or you can share your thoughts in the comments section of my review when I post it.

I’ll post my review on Friday, February 25th, and we will have the weekend to link up and read each others’ reviews.

This is a great way to fellowship by sharing our values, hearts, and special favorites with each other. So join us. It’ll be fun! I promise!

If you’re new at this and don’t know what to write, consider these questions . . .

  • Which character did you relate to and why?
  • Which character did you love and want for a friend?
  • How did the author’s story touch your heart or affect your view of some aspect of life?
  • Could you relate to the situation in your book because of something in your own life?
  • Did the dialogue or situations in the book make you smile?
  • Would you read another book by this author?

For further details about books suggestions and how this all works, see my original book club post at this link.

 

Maybe all of us have asked the question at one time or another, “Is there more to life than this?” One of my favorite country songs says it this way, “You know I’m more and more convinced the longer that I live that this can’t be–No, this can’t be. No, this can’t be all there is!” (from Believe)

A book I read recently brought this strongly to mind. It put me through an emotional wringer (for reasons I might share in a future post) and sent me to my Bible to soak in some of God’s familiar promises. The novel is this month’s book club selection, Crossings Oceans by Gina Holmes.

Since some of you may have the same question in your heart, I’d like to focus on one aspect this significant story brought out: What happens when life on earth is through?

First, a story summary: Crossing Oceans, by Gina Holmes, is the poignant and lovely story of Jenny Lucas, who must “navigate the rough and unknown waters of the new reality in her life when she returns home with her young daughter to her stoic, distant father and her oxygen-toting grandmother.” The story speaks to some of the universal themes we all deal with—moving on from unrequited love, learning to forgive, letting go of the past, becoming a better person for those we cherish, and adjusting to whatever ‘new normal’ life throws our way.

One of the key relationships in the book is between Jenny and her dad. These two can’t even discuss the weather without throwing in digs and accusations.

 

The main source of misunderstanding between them stems from the fact that they’ve both been marked by watching beloved wife and mother, Audra, suffer the ravages of cancer. Since Jenny was a teen when her mother died, she sorely needed the comfort of her surviving parent, but her dad closed himself off behind a wall of bitterness. Only after many heartaches and wasted years, are they able to bridge the gap between them.

Look at how the following lines from the novel describe one of Jenny’s visits to her mother’s grave:

I knelt on the grass, ignoring the lumpy ground pressing into my bare knees. Though some found it sacrilegious to set foot on a grave, let alone sit atop it, to me it was as close to my mother’s lap as I’d get on this side of heaven.

Even as an adult, Jenny longs for her mother. Audra’s death has shadowed her life. We’ve probably all read about the process of grieving and the steps involved, even if we’ve never experienced them. Yet, like Jenny and her father, we’re reticent to speak of it, deal with it, or prepare for it. But we don’t need to be if we’ll simply educate ourselves from a trustworthy source. The Bible says that we were created to live forever.

 

I believe deep down inside, we all know this to be true because God has placed eternity in our hearts. We find ourselves longing for permanence. We try to build things that will last forever: pyramids filled with mementos, towers that reach the sky, unsinkable ships. Yet eternity may only be found in Christ. Through Him, we’re promised a new heaven and a new earth.

Just think of it: all that we love and none of what we detest. No more crying, sickness, death, disease, abuse, power-struggles, tsunamis, earthquakes, unemployment, poverty—you name it!

And I also believe that the more firmly convinced we are of our salvation, of Christ holding our lives in His hands, the more confident we’ll feel that there’s more to life than this. Not that we’re eager to see our happy lives on earth end any time soon! But don’t we all want to know that there’s more to come? That this life is just prologue to an incredible future?

Jenny believes it. After witnessing her mother’s experience with death, she becomes convinced that there is life everlasting for the child of God. While at the grave, she thinks of this:

I looked back down to her headstone. “Here lie the remains of Audra Ann Lucas, beloved wife, daughter, friend. Do not mourn her, for she lives.” As if I hadn’t see these words a thousand times, I stared, amazed at the profoundness of them.

Jenny’s new perspective also gives her an appreciation for the beauty of life here on earth:

I closed my eyes, letting the sun rays soak into my anemic flesh. They felt as nourishing to my soul as Isabella’s kisses or Mama Peg’s touch. The simple joy of breathing fresh air, feeling the sun and being among the green God created filled me with amazement. I scanned the trees with their heavy limbs, the grass cushion under me, and the wisps of white sailing on a sea of blue above. The simple grandeur of it all took my breath away. Placing a hand over my heart, I marveled at such beauty—so familiar and yet it felt new. I’d had all this at my disposal my entire life, but I’d never really appreciated it.

Jenny learns much from her mother’s death and comes to truly believe that she’ll see her again. Her epiphany reminded me of an old story told by Bible teacher and preacher J. Vernon McGee:

 

There is a story of sweetness and beauty which enlightens the heart of every person who has lost a loved one to death. It concerns a custom among the shepherd folk of the Alps. In the summertime when the grass in the lower valleys withers and dries up, the shepherds seek to lead their sheep up a winding, thorny, and stony pathway to the high grazing lands. The sheep, reluctant to take the difficult pathway infested with dangers and hardships, turn back and will not follow. The shepherds make repeated attempts, but the timid sheep will not follow.

Finally a shepherd reaches into the flock and takes a lamb and places it under his arm, then reaches again and takes another lamb, placing it under the other arm. Then he starts up the precipitous pathway. Soon the mother sheep start to follow and afterward the entire flock. At last they ascend the torturous trail to green pastures.

The Great Shepherd of the sheep, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, has reached into the flock and He has picked up a lamb. He did not do it to rob you but to lead you out and upward. He has richer and greener pastures for you, and He wants you to follow. For as He promised:

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I [Christ] go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” ~John 14:2,3

Now that’s a promise you can build your life upon!

If you haven’t read Crossing Oceans, follow this link to purchase a copy for yourself.

Follow this link to contact the author, Gina Holmes, at her website.

Lydia at The Overweight Bookshelf has written a great review of this novel and is hosting a linky list of book club reviews for you to check out here.

How about you?

  • Can you relate to Jenny’s experience?
  • What are your thoughts on eternity?
  • How should our view of eternity affect our lives today?
  • Any words of hope to share?

There will be a day . . .

How would you like to read a great book, share your thoughts about it, and maybe win a prize? That’s what I’m inviting you to do for this month’s Christian Fiction Book Club. What’s the book? Whichever one you choose!

By letting each participant choose her own book, I’m hoping to entice more of you—new friends, old friends, former student/friends, homeschooling moms, moms with little kids, busy working moms, grandmothers, non-bloggers, and bloggers—to participate.

So I’m calling this month’s chapter of the club, the Christian Fiction February Free-for-all.

Here’s how it works:

  • Find a Christian fiction book that you can read by the end of the month. It might be the book you have right there on the top of your To-Be-Read pile. If you have nothing in mind, I’ve listed some wonderful suggestions in this post.
  • Read your book in time to post here between February 25th and 28th.
  • Jot down your thoughts about the book. Sometimes it helps to answer a few specific questions about the story. If your book doesn’t come with discussion questions, I’ll be posting a few on a special page in my header soon.
  • Then you can choose how you’d like to share with the rest of us: 1. You can stop back in on book club day and post a mini-review of your book in the comments section. Or . . .
  • 2. You can email me your thoughts about the book, and I’ll include them in my post on book club day. I’d love to put your first name, the state you’re from, and maybe a picture of you with your comments. My email is reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com. Emails should be sent by February 23rd.
  • 3. If you’re a blogger, you can blog about your book. Then link up here on book club day.

Do you feel like you’re back in English class? Are you thinking, “Why should I take the time to do this?” I have an answer for that question . . .

  • When a new friend tells me what she likes about a favorite character, I catch a glimpse of what she values in others.
  • Often when a booklover explains why she relates to a particular theme or situation in a story, she ends up relating a real-life experience that helps me know her better.
  • When I find out someone I just met loves the same characters and books that have meant much to me, I know I’ve found a kindred spirit.

As C. S. Lewis said, “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.” So talking about the books that bring us closer to the Lord can bring us closer to each other.

Don’t know where to start? I have favorite books for every mood and season of life I’ve experienced! Here are some suggestions from among my many favorites. Most of these books have been out for a few years, so you may be able to find them through your local library. Did you miss any of these treasures the first time around? Or maybe it’s been a while since you’ve read one of these. They’re all worth a second look! Continue Reading…

January’s book club selection has been compared to A Walk to Remember and The Notebook, and the author has been compared to both Charles Martin and Karen Kingsbury, as well as Nicholas Sparks. The book has also been described as similar in tone to Hope Floats, Steel Magnolias, and Terms of Endearment. That’s a lot of acclaim for one debut novel!

This month’s Christian Fiction Book Club choice is Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. Here’s what Gina’s website says about the book:

Nothing deepens a stream like a good rain . . . or makes it harder to cross. Jenny Lucas swore she’d never go home again. But life has a way of upending even the best-laid plans. Now, years after she left, she and her five-year-old daughter must return to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form of her oxygen tank-toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father, and David, Isabella’s dad. Who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter.

As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love to change everything—to heal old hurts, to bring new beginnings. Even to overcome the impossible.

So what’s been holding you back from joining in the Christian Fiction Book Club fun? I know time is at a premium for most of us. Perhaps spending money on extras–like a book you don’t even know you’ll like–is an issue. Or maybe you’re too shy to share your opinion in the comments section of the blog.

This might be the time, the first month of the new year, to change all that!

Our hostess for this month’s club is Lydia at The Overweight Bookshelf. And Book Club Day is January 29th.

Purchase Crossing Oceans, new or used, at Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or Half.com.