February Free-for-all: Are you in?

Renee Ann Smith —  January 23, 2011 — 42 Comments

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!

The Last Storyteller by Diane Noble: From the Romantic Times: Stubborn and free-spirited, Taite Abbot refuses to jeopardize her boyfriend’s career aspirations by telling him she’s pregnant. Instead, she runs to her Welsh grandmother for refuge while she contemplates abortion. A woman of deep faith, Taite’s grandmother sees her dilemma and begins to share stories from generations past.

Noble pens a thought-provoking tale that explores sensitive topics in a unique manner. Moving from the present to the past and back again, the novel proves that grace can be ministered through a true understanding of history.

You can purchase your copy at Amazon.com or Half.com. Go here for Diane Noble’s website.

All the Way Home by Ann Tatlock. From RT book reviews: Lonely, unloved Augusta Schuler finds her life changed when Sunny Yamagata and her family enter her world. Though children when they meet, their childhoods are cut short just a few years later, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. But by then, Augie and Sunny had formed a bond no war or hate could ever break.

The two are separated by an internment camp, and Augie moves on with her life, writing about the civil rights movement, and eventually finds love and healing taking the place of emptiness and painful memories. An eloquent voice . . . strong characters and beliefs.

Follow this link to purchase a copy of this book. Read more about Ann Tatlock here.

If I Gained the World by Linda Nichols. From RT book reviews: Plain Lenore loves handsome Daniel desperately. Enough to live with him and bear his son without ever testing the depth of his affection. Finally, she can cope with her insecurity no longer. Does Daniel love her enough to marry her, or does he love his rising acting career more? She asks the question and receives silence in answer. Broken and abandoned, Lenore tries to start a new life with her son, while Daniel rushes toward the glitter of fame and fortune.

Both seem destined for lives of loneliness and despair, but God has a better plan and special people picked out to help them each ask a more important question: “If I gained the world, but lost my soul, what would it profit me?” Linda Nichols’ emotionally gripping style renders a challenging, insightful and fulfilling read.

Purchase the book through Amazon.com or at Half.com. Find Linda Nichol’s website here.

This Fine Life by Eva Marie Everson. From the RT book reviews: After Mariette Puttnam graduates from boarding school, she returns home to Georgia to decide what to do with the rest of her life. When Mariette meets Thayne Scott, everything she imagined for her future is changed. The budding romance means that Mariette’s life might be different than what any of them could have dreamed.

Everson deftly uses Mariette’s first-person point of view to pull readers into life in the 1960s. Themes of growing love and developing faith make it easy to find common ground with the characters. This family saga will stay with you long after you finish the book.

You can purchase your copy at Amazon.com or Christianbook.com. Follow this link to read more about Eva Marie Everson.

Fallen Angels by Patricia Hickman. From Publisher’s Weekly: Hickman kicks off her new series with this gentle, enjoyable yarn about four misfits cast adrift in Arkansas during the Great Depression. When Jeb Nubey flees Texas for Arkansas because of a possible murder charge, he picks up the three abandoned Wilbey children as unexpected hitchhikers along the way. After spending a stormy night in the Church in the Dell in Millwood Hollow, they wake up to the beaming faces of the parishioners who mistake them for the widowed reverend and his three children. For Jeb, Angel, Willie and little Ida May, the misunderstanding is manna from heaven. “They’s money to be had, Jeb Nubey, in God’s work!” gloats 13-year-old Angel.

With her coaching, the illiterate Jeb fakes his way through his new persona. Soon, the generosity of the smalltown folks and the attentions of a comely schoolteacher, Fern Coulter, soften Jeb’s heart, and he yearns to be a better man. Hickman tells her story with warmth, humor and some lovely descriptions.

You can follow this link to purchase the book through Amazon.com or as an e-book only at Christianbook.com. You’ll find Patricia Hickman’s blog here.

The Frontiersman’s Daughter by Laura Frantz. From the RT book reviews: Frantz’s debut will find a place in your heart as she draws readers deep into the Kentucky wild where women are as tough as nails, Shawnees are a constant threat, and men make risky decisions in the name of survival. The joy, suspense, sorrow and surprising twists will have readers begging for more.

Young, lovely Lael Click has a compassionate heart. But secrets and family rivalries will ruin her chance for marriage and she’s sent away to continue her education. Three years later, Lael returns home and fights to reclaim her independence even as she struggles to stay away from the handsome new doctor who’s a believer. Lael will learn everyone needs some divine assistance and that God is always ready to forgive and to love.

You can purchase the book at Amazon.com or at Christianbook.com. Laura Frantz blogs at this site. (She posts often and responds to her commenters.)

Like a Watered Garden by Patti Hill. From the RT book reviews: Recently widowed Mibby Garrett can’t seem to find her way out of a fog of grief. Everywhere she looks, failure threatens—as a mother to her 12-year-old son, as a business owner and as a Christian. She feels like she’s lost her faith, or that at least it’s on vacation. Why is God messing with her wounded heart by sending that attractive new client who wants to plant a memory garden in honor of his late wife?

Even Mibby’s deep friendship with her neighbor is threatened by the unexpected. The last thing she needs is a young woman appearing out of her husband’s past with a painful secret. Or maybe that’s exactly what she needs to awaken her drooping spirit and breathe life into her soul again. Hill plots a fine-tuned story of a woman’s journey from life-wilting grief to fresh hope.

Purchase the book as a paperback through Amazon.com or Half.com. Follow this link to Patti Hill’s website.

Oceans Apart by Karen Kingsbury. From the RT book reviews: Flight attendant Kiahna Siefert has room for only one man in her life: her 7-year-old son, Max. An ocean away, airline captain Connor Evans lives with his wife and daughters, unaware of his son, Max. Nothing can disturb their life, not even the half-buried memory of a brief and regrettable infidelity. Until tragedy strikes, and Connor must choose between the son he’s always wanted and the wife he loves. Max believes God will do a miracle and teach the Evanses the truth of his mommy’s words: “Love happens when you forgive.”

Kingsbury has outdone herself with this sensitive portrayal of sins, consequences and the power of forgiveness. The characters possess fine-tuned depth, and Max’s voice rings with authenticity and grace.

Follow a link to purchase the book at Amazon.com or at Christianbook.com. Read more about Karen Kingsbury here.

The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers. From the RT book reviews: Sierra Clanton Madrid can’t believe her husband Alex would take a new job and uproot the family to Los Angeles without consulting her. Armed with righteous anger, Sierra turns their home into a battleground, even after they make the move. Both Alex and Sierra are so caught up in themselves that neither tries to understand the other or seeks God’s will.

Soon their perfect marriage lies in shambles. Then Sierra’s mother gives her the journal of a female ancestor and a handcrafted quilt made with a scarlet thread. A long-ago story of pain and redemption bears remarkable parallels to Sierra’s situation. Will she learn her lesson before it’s too late?

Rivers tells a powerful story of marital love tested in a crucible. Your hanky will not be dry, nor your heart unchallenged, as the characters learn the lessons of surrender to God’s sovereignty and unconditional love.

You can purchase a copy at Amazon.com or Christianbook.com. You’ll find Francine Rivers at this link.

Stepping into Sunlight by Sharon Hinck. From the RT reviews: Penny Sullivan is involved in a horrible situation right before her husband is due to be deployed for three months. She’s left home alone to take care of their 7-year-old son, and many days, she finds it difficult to even go out of the house. Fear takes over, and depression seeps into every area of her life. But with help from a support group and a project she develops, Penny takes one small step at a time toward healing.

Hinck takes us on a journey through depression and back, but manages to show readers hope throughout. The story is meaningful and significant.

Purchase the book at Amazon.com or as an e-book at Christianbook.com. Go here to learn more about Sharon Hinck.

Wings of Refuge by Lynn Austin. From the RT book reviews: When Abby MacLeod signs up to participate in an archeological dig in Israel, she does not expect to become a suspect in a murder. But she was the last one to see an Israeli secret agent alive. Things get complicated as she navigates friendships between both Israelis and Palestinians. She learns the significance of the age-old request, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” She also must come to terms with her ex-husband, his betrayal and desire for forgiveness.

Wings of Refuge weaves the story of a first-century Jewess with that of her contemporary in the early years of Israeli statehood, to add historical background and introduce Messianic Judaism. The plot is engaging and the setting relevant. Readers interested in Israel and Zionism should enjoy this novel.

You can purchase a copy of this book at Amazon.com or Christianbook.com. You’ll find Lynn Austin here.

Madman by Tracy Groot. From Publisher’s Weekly (starred review): Groot’s well-paced, beautifully written historical novel begins in the tombs of Kursi in Palestine on the Sea of Galilee. The story focuses on Tallis, an Athenian servant and scholar who has come to Hippos to learn about the fate of a Socratic academy his master has assembled and bankrolled. As he pieces together cryptic, horrifying details of the academy’s dissolution, Tallis finds himself drawn to the owners and staff of the inn where he is a guest.

Groot reveals the secrets of the lost academy as well as those of the innkeepers gradually and with virtually no contrivance. Important moments, such as the attempted rescue of a little boy, unfold with understated suspense. Perhaps most gratifying about the novel is its subtle Christian message; all but the last few pages take place during Jesus’ ministry but before the characters have encountered him. Groot depicts these characters as good souls hungering for a greater good with which they might fight the almost overpowering evil forces sucking the life out of their community. Jesus’ miraculous entry into their lives provides a satisfying and believable conclusion to this entertaining and compelling book.

Purchase the novel at Amazon.com or Christianbook.com. Follow this link to Tracy Groot’s website.

Besides these suggestions, you can check the Free Kindle Downloads page in my header. Don’t own a Kindle? Simply download the free Kindle for PC app, download a free book, and start reading!

Have I enticed you to try one of these novels or reminded you of an author you love? Then my work here is done!

Please don’t leave me all alone on book club day, guys! I hope some of you will join me 🙂

Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

42 responses to February Free-for-all: Are you in?

  1. I have a book I would like to read within the month! I am in… 🙂

  2. I have a book sitting beside my bed that I only read a page or two a day. We’ll see… 🙂

  3. Two actually. I haven’t decided on which one. The first is ‘A Promise for Ellie’ by Lauraine Snelling and the second is ‘The Preacher’s Bride’ by Jody Hedlund. The second is actually written by an author local to Jon’s hometown!

    • Those are both so good! I enjoyed A Promise for Ellie and loved The Preacher’s Bride. Jody Hedlund lives in Jon’s hometown? Neat. Have you ever met her? I think she has a bunch of kids and maybe even homeschools and still finds time to write–Wow!

  4. What a great idea! You clever clever lass.

  5. I’m in! I love this idea and there should be no excuses for some of our best blogging buddies not to join us in February. Cough, Cough…Renee, Amber, Casey, Julia, Hannah…Cough, Cough. 😉

  6. Hi Thanks for visiting my Blog. I’m noe following you back and am going to grab your button. I love reading Books by Christian Authors, I will deff. have to check out some of the ones that you have posted. A couple other Christian Authors that I like are Siri Mitchell and Deeanne Gist. Don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them but they are deff, worth Checking out.

  7. Love love love this idea!! You smart lady 🙂 Definitely count me in. Now the real dilemma arises…which book do I choose? So many great options, so little time.

  8. What a great idea! My stack of books seems to grow instead of shrink! I am in the middle of two non-Christian books right now. My goal for the next week or so is to finish one of them so I can start a Christian one for this event. I am co-facilitating a Christian women’s group at my church. It is called Significant Women. In a nutshell, it is about how we are a special pearl of God’s, identifying our gifts, creating a mission statement for ourselves, and applying it to our lives so we can live a life more meaningful in alignment with God’s will. I went through this program about a year ago. It was great! Now I am actually helping to lead about 13 more women through it. It is pushing my boundaries teaching adults, rather than children, but I am loving it!

    • I’m so glad for you, Maureen! Usually when you teach other women, you not only learn such great stuff yourself, you have the benefit of all that fellowship and prayer. The women’s Bible study I’d been attending is on hold for two months, and I’m really missing it. Sounds like a great program. I’ll have to look it up after school today!

  9. The book club is a great idea. I really like your list of suggested books, too. I’m always on the lookout for good books, and several of these sound intriguing.

  10. Looks a good idea. Visiting from Monday Mingle.

  11. Renee Ann, You are gifted at blogging and being creative! I’d love to join in as I’ve just finished an amazing book. Thanks for the opportunity:) Love how you foster a love of reading and great fiction!

  12. Thanks for visiting my blog! I love your blog! Maybe because I love reading~
    It’s so great to find a blogger who writes about Christian books! Love it!!!

  13. This looks like so much fun Renee Ann and so many good book choices. The Last Storyteller looks wonderful since I just got home from the March for Life. As much as I want to participate and sit down and relax to enjoy a good book, I don’t know if I can make the time 🙁 between homeschooling 4 children and of course blogging! 🙂 But, maybe I’ll surprise myself and check out one of these books????? Great idea and thanks for linking it up to No Ordinary Blog Hop! 🙂

    • Yes, Tracy, you’d love The Last Storyteller. And also a book I didn’t put on this list: The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers. Both go with the March for Life topic . . . I can tell from your blog you’re busy. I don’t know how you have time to do all that you already do!

  14. Hi Renee Ann
    I read a lot of historical fiction just finished “The Heretic’s Daughter” which is about the Salem witch trials. It was excellent. I am now reading the next book in Andover’s wolves which is the prequel to the first book. I will have to look up some of these books and get them for my Kindle.

  15. Wow, you listed some really good books – I just added a few to my wishlist! The Last Storyteller looks REALLY good! 🙂

    ~ Katy

  16. I don’t know what I am going to read yet, but I’ve got plenty of books to choose from! I’m going to see if I can’t round up a couple of my friends. I think they’d like this, too!

  17. I am so glad I found your website. I found it through the Woman of Faith newsletter that I get. I love books and the books that you suggested look great. Not that I don’t have tons of books to read already. I got an iPad for Christmas and I plan on downloading “The Last Storyteller” by Diane Noble. I will do my best to complete it by February 25th. Thanks for a great website.

    • I’m so glad you came by, Leslie! If you return to this post, be sure to click on Home in my header and join the giveaway if you’re so inclined. Looking forward to hearing from you on Book Club Day!

  18. thx for the offer ~
    i’ll take it with you “)

  19. Hey there following you back and would love to join your book club

  20. Hello Renee Ann,
    Thanks for stopping by Jewelry4Change and leaving me a comment on my “Incredible Freedom” post. I’m so excited to find your blog! I’m a Christian teacher, breast cancer survivor and avid reader. I see lots of links on your blog I’ll be checking out. 🙂
    Have a great day!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Quintessentially Quilly - January 29, 2011

    […] February’s host is Renee Ann.  You can learn more about joining the club by visiting her February Free For All post.  January’s hostess was Lydia from The Overweight Bookshelf.  You’ll enjoy […]

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