Monthly Archives: November 2017

Christmas 2017’s Must Reads

With Thanksgiving over, it seems Christmas will be right around the corner. I’ve already taken family photos and ordered Christmas cards, and actually accomplished a fair amount of Christmas shopping. Yay! So, with some of my to-do list knocked out, my thoughts are turning to the stories I want to read this Christmas season. There are five Christmas themed new releases I’m excited about so far.


The Beloved Christmas Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter

Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander

The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson

One Enchanted Noel by Melissa Tagg

Twelve Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

Which Christmas titles are you most looking forward to this holiday season?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Thankful For


With Thanksgiving right around the corner, my thoughts are turning to turkey and gravy, and family, and stuffing, and mashed potatoes… and some of the things I’m thankful for… and pumpkin pie. In no particular order. And, since this week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic at The Broke and the Bookish is “Top Ten Books I’m Thankful For,” that’s what I’ve decided to blog about. I’d love to hear what books you’re thankful for too.

The Bible.  If you know my reading habits and my beliefs, this one kind of goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. No other book can ever be as life changing or important to me as this one. The overarching story of the Bible is a beautiful tale of God’s love for mankind and his plan of grace and redemption. It amazes me how, after reading it for years, I still glean something new with each reading.

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron.  I won an autographed copy of this novel in a Goodreads giveaway. And reading it introduced me to an author who quickly became one of my favorites. Then I got to meet her in person at a writing conference and discovered what a sweet and thoughtful person she is. The book itself is both meaningful and beautifully written, and I highly recommend reading it.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.  The summer between second and third grade, the children’s librarian at my local library recommended I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I loved it so much then, and I love it (and the rest of the titles in the series) even more now that I can better appreciate its allegorical elements.

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst.  This inspirational nonfiction book reassured me that letting go of busywork is okay, even a good thing, when it makes room for more meaningful activities. It sounds kind of obvious, but it was something I really needed to hear at the time, and still do every now and then.

The Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems.  I first heard of this series in a Library conference session where the speaker discussed fun book related activities to do with kids, such as using elephant and pig masks or puppets along with these books. My kids and I love the humor and the fun of reading and acting out these characters’ antics. In fact, these books have played a part in some of our family’s most enjoyable reading experiences.

The Haven Seekers Series by Amanda G. Stevens.  This series exemplifies what I would like to see more of in Christian fiction. A thought provoking premise, realistically flawed characters, and Christian themes that are neither preachy nor superficial. You’ll want to start reading with Seek and Hide, the first title in the series, but I think it’s the fourth and final one that’s my favorite, called Far and Near.

The Story Equation by Susan May Warren.  Susie and fellow author Rachel Hauck presented and demonstrated the story building concepts from this book at a writing conference I attended before this book had become a book. I was fascinated by what I heard, but had to miss half their talk in order to keep my appointment to pitch my novel to an agent. So you can imagine I was thrilled to find this book a few years later and fill in the missing pieces. I’m in the midst of reading it now, and already planning to read it through again.

A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert and Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry. These were the books that first introduced me to two of my favorite authors. Both use beautiful language to tell the kind of meaty and discussable story that I find fascinating, and that can be perfect for a book discussion group.

To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer. This book holds a special place in my heart because the heroine is a librarian like me, and the hero is a blacksmith like my husband. It was also my first taste of this author’s humorous writing style. It’s been way too long since I’ve read this one though, so I’m thinking I may need to revisit these characters again soon.

So those are a few of the titles that came to mind, when thinking of books I’m thankful for. Which books would you put on your list?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Audiobook Review: If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

Title: If I’m Found
Author: Terri Blackstock
Publisher: Zondervan
Narrator: Kate Rudd
Published: March 2017
Series: If I Run, Book 2
Genre: Suspense, Christian fiction
Length: Unabridged. 7 hours, 45 minutes.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

In this riveting sequel to the USA TODAY bestseller If I Run, evil lurks, drawing Casey out of the shadows . . . but there is light shining in the darkness.

Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily.

As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail cell.

My Thoughts on the Book:

The scenario Casey faces in this series is huge and overwhelming, and yet, she’s battling her impossible odds and helping others too, even at risk to herself. I find that beautiful and inspiring. And even if her choices at times stretch credulity a bit (there was one point in this book where I wanted to shout at her that there was a better option she hadn’t considered), they do seem to fit her, and I can’t fault her for them.

Casey’s faith journey is a gradual one and doesn’t feel forced. That’s probably my favorite part of this series so far. I haven’t even seen the full story unfold yet, but I love where it seems to be going and the way it’s woven into the fabric of her day to day existence.

The multiple first person present tense viewpoint used here is refreshingly different and yet, paradoxically, feels familiar and comfortable, particularly in audiobook format. Speaking of audio format, the narrator for this one is fabulous. Her reading of each character is friendly and personable, and overall, well suited to that character. But I was particularly impressed by her rendition of the slurred speech of one particular character.

In summary, this is shaping up to be among my favorite series in quite a while, one that I would highly recommend. I can’t wait for Book 3! And the audio edition is definitely the way to go. At least it is if you’re the type to savor a good audio performance.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library. I was not expected to write a review, but wanted to share how much I enjoyed listening to the book.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Series | Audio Sample | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection: November 2017

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the November 2017 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.

Online Discussions Coming Up This Month

The ACFW Book Club‘s November selection is Beyond Justice by Cara Putman. 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.

By the Book is an in-person book discussion club that has introduced an online Facebook-based discussion option. To join in online, like the By the Book Facebook page, and be sure to check back there periodically for any discussion that may not have made it into your news feed. November’s selection is A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow.

For November, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing Life After by Katie Ganshert AND Masquerade by Nancy Moser. 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 Fans of Amish Fiction Goodreads group discusses one Amish fiction title per month. The selection for November is Northkill by Bob Hostetler and J.M. Hochstetler. To join in, visit the group’s online discussion board.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

Light of Dawn by Vannetta Chapman (Harvest House, July 2017, Speculative Fiction)

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck (Zondervan, July 2017, Historical Romance)

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh (Tyndale House, July 2017, Contemporary Romance)

So, friends, what have you been reading lately? Any titles you’d recommend for book club discussions?