Monthly Archives: September 2015

Book Review: Found and Lost by Amanda G Stevens

Title: Found and Lost
Author: Amanda G. Stevens
Published: February 2015 by David C Cook
Series: Haven Seekers, #2
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Inspirational

About the Book (from the author’s site):

When Violet DuBay’s friend Khloe confides that her dad is a Christian, it’s the one secret Violet can’t keep. Turning in Khloe’s dad to the Constabulary is her duty. Her decision becomes an opportunity to infiltrate the Christian resistance; but as she gets to know Marcus, Lee, and the others, she’s compelled to question the things her society has taught her about God and His followers.

Clay Hansen persuades his family to join him at an underground church meeting and brings Violet, his teen daughter Khloe’s best friend. That night, the church is raided. He and his wife escape, but in the chaos, he loses Violet and Khloe. How can he find them with the Constabulary monitoring his every move? If the God who once spared Khloe won’t intervene, Clay will have to save her himself.

My Thoughts on the Book:

Found and Lost (Book 2 in the Haven Seekers series) is just as amazing as Seek and Hide (Book 1) was, and together they’ve left me eager to read more from this series. Thankfully, Take and Give (Book 3) has recently released, with a fourth book (Far and Near) on the way!

So what’s to love? For starters, the series has a fascinating (and chilling) premise. The books take place in a near-future society in which there’s a government sanctioned church and a revised Bible, but Christianity as we know it is illegal, as are traditional Bibles. Citizens are led to believe that Christians are extremists in need of re-education. And that’s exactly what they get, if they’re caught. It’s the kind of premise that grips you and really makes you think.

Then there are the characters. While Book 1 focused on Marcus, Aubrey, and Lee, Book 2 focuses more on Clay, Violet, and Khloe who bring along a whole new set of personalities and challenges. Clay’s desperation to restore his family and Violet’s journey of discovery both feel so real, it’s easy to get caught up in their stories. I found myself marveling at the unique perspectives each character brings to the series and how their viewpoints complement each other, giving a clearer picture of their society as a whole.

I think my favorite part of this book is the scene where a character reads a black market Bible and discovers that “This Jesus was different.” (Chapter 36) That scene in particular is so well done. The details, the emotion, the truth. It’s powerful.

I highly recommend this book. You’ll want to start with the first in the series though, since they build on each other. Oh, and fair warning, loose ends are not all tied up by the end of this one, and you will be left wanting more. Which is a good thing, considering there’s more to come!

Thank you to publisher David C Cook for providing an electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Quick Links: Goodreads | Author’s Site

Three for the Books: Featured Reads in Christian Fiction, September 2015

Three for the Books, September 2015

The monthly “Three for the Books” post is where I feature new (Hot Off the Presses), best selling (Topping the Charts), and award winning (Cream of the Crop) Christian fiction books. I select one title to feature in each category, as well as providing links to where you can browse additional newly released, best selling, and award winning titles. Have you read any of these featured titles? Any others you’d like to give a shout-out? Comments are always welcome!

Hot Off the Presses

The Methuselah Project by Rick Barry releases this month from Kregel Publications. It’s a suspense novel, set partly during WWII and partly in the present.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More New Releases

Topping the Charts

War Room by Chris Fabry appears near the top of the ECPA Christian Fiction Best Sellers list for September. Published by Tyndale House, it’s a novelization of the movie by the same name, playing in theaters now. It’s also available as an audiobook, narrated by the author.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More Best Sellers

Cream of the Crop

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris won the 2014 Christy Award in the Contemporary Romance / Suspense category. It’s the first book in the Southern Crimes series, and was published by Revell in September 2013.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More Award Winners

Audiobook Review: Burning Sky by Lori Benton

Title: Burning Sky
Author: Lori Benton
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Published: August 2013 by WaterBrook Press (print) and April 2015 by Recorded Books (audio)
Genre: Historical Romance, Christian Fiction
Audio Length: 13.75 hours, Unabridged

About the Book (publisher’s description):

Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life with the People. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path. Feeling obliged to nurse his injuries, the two quickly find much has changed during her twelve-year absence—her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.

When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal botanist who does not fit into in her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure.

Willa is a woman caught between two worlds. As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman called Burning Sky must find a new courage–the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again?

My Thoughts on the Book:

Burning Sky came to my attention quite some time ago, when it won not one, but three Christy Awards in the 2014 awards cycle. It won in both the first novel and historical categories, as well as receiving recognition as Book of the Year. Wow! So this one was already on my wish list when I saw that Recorded Books was releasing an audio edition. As you might expect from an audiobook lover like me, I was thrilled to learn about the new edition and I leapt at the chance for a review copy.

This book is well worth the listen! The story lived up to my expectations, with a deep and multifaceted plot, believable characters who have a lot at stake, and immersion in vivid historical details from a fascinating time in American history. Willa / Burning Sky is a strong and compelling heroine, caught between two worlds, facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, but determined to make a life for herself, even after suffering heartbreaking losses. Her character growth and healing make for a great story. And the suspense, mystery, and romance unfolding along the way makes it all the more captivating. This book is a must-read for fans of historical fiction who haven’t already read it.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The narration of this audiobook by Saskia Maarleveld is excellent. The pacing is just right, narration spoken in a clear and pleasant voice, and the character voices stand out as unique and perfectly suited to the characters. The children’s voices struck me as some of the best I’ve heard among audiobooks read by adult narrators, and Neil MacGregor’s accent is simply wonderful.

Whether this is your first time reading the book, or if you’re considering reading it again, I highly recommend the audio edition.

The copy I received initially had a few tracks out of order, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a brand new and corrected copy of the audiobook on my doorstep a few weeks later. Gotta say, I’m impressed that Recorded Books went to the trouble of sending a replacement without my even having to ask. I think it really shows they care about the quality of their product and stand behind it.

A big thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of this audiobook for review purposes (and for sending a corrected copy). All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Quick Links: About the Book (from the publisher) | Author’s Web Site | Goodreads

Find this title at: audible | christianaudio | | downpour

Writing Update: Preparing to Attend the ACFW Conference

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend! Mine was busy but fun. I got to spend some time shopping without children in tow (a rare occurrence for me) and found some great deals on professional attire and a gown for the conference I’m attending in a little over a week. Yay!

Did I mention I’m attending the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference this year? I am, and I’m excited about it!

(Technically I also mentioned that, among other things, in an interview over at the Books and Beverages blog last week. If you missed it, here’s the link where you can check out that interview.)

For anyone unfamiliar with writer’s conferences, you may be wondering why I’m so excited. This is an opportunity for me to:

  • learn more about the craft and business of writing from authors and publishing professionals.
  • network with others in the industry, and meet people face to face that I’ve only ever met online.
  • meet with literary agents to discuss my novel, and hopefully connect with an agent who loves the premise and writing enough to want to represent me.
  • shop for a lovely new evening gown to wear to the awards gala. Hey, I didn’t say all my reasons for excitement were equally compelling. 😉

This is my first writing conference, which I guess makes it extra exciting. Or maybe just extra nerve-wracking? Anyway, I’ve been busy preparing myself by reading up on what to expect, designing and printing business cards, creating a “one sheet” to introduce my novel and myself in… one sheet, and putting together a “proposal” with basically everything an agent or editor might want to know about my novel and me along with some sample chapters.

Whee! I’ve still got work to do before my flight departs, but I’m making good progress and looking forward to the conference. Here’s a preview of my new business cards to serve as proof that I really am making progress. 😉


So, how was your Labor Day weekend? And for my fellow writers out there, are you attending the ACFW Conference this year? Do you have any tips for first-timers like me?

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, September 2015

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the September 2015 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by! Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place. Please consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Today I’m providing information on Christian fiction discussions scheduled to take place around the web this month. I’m also featuring a handful of recently released Christian fiction titles for which a discussion guide is available, either included in the book itself or on the author’s or publisher’s web site. Then I’ll wrap up the post with a discussion question I’d like you to chime in on.

Online Discussions Coming Up This Month

The ACFW Book Club‘s September selection is Gone Without a Trace by Patricia Bradley. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

For September, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing Gods and Kings (Chronicles of the Kings #1) by Lynn Austin AND The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The #HedlundChallenge2015 features discussion of one of author Jody Hedlund’s historical fiction novels each month. The discussion is hosted in alternating months by Jamie of Books and Beverages and Cassie of Bookshelves and Windows. For September, participants will be discussing A Noble Groom at Cassie’s blog beginning September 22 (discussion details here and here).

For fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Jamie of the Books and Beverages blog hosts a monthly Inklings discussion series. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, the title for the month of September is Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis. Discussion is scheduled to begin on September 16th.

The Cherished Book Club, the Christian Fiction Book Club, and the  Fans of Christian Romance Goodreads group are taking breaks from discussion for the time being.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

Counting on a Cowboy by Debra Clopton (August 2015, Thomas Nelson, Western Romance)

Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke (August 2015, Tyndale House, Historical Fiction)

When Love Returns by Kim Vogel Sawyer (September 2015, WaterBrook Press, Amish Romance)

Let’s Chat!

Recently, some of the online Christian fiction discussion groups I follow have been taking breaks from discussion. Perhaps for busy schedules? One group cited lack of participation. Does your group (online or off) like to do anything differently during busy seasons of the year like summertime and the Christmas season? Or do you keep the same schedule throughout the year?