Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Book Review: The Renewal by Terri Kraus

I'm one of those HGTV junkies (House and Garden Channel), so when my friend Terri Kraus asked for influencers for her new book, The Renewal, the second book in her Restoration series, I raised my hand. As a professional interior designer, Terri knows her stuff and I was excited to read the story she crafted in such a setting as restoring older buildings to their prime.

Leslie Ruskin, a single mom looking for a new start, comes to Butler, Pennsylvania and purchases an old structure known as the Midlands Building. A place with good bones in need of some TLC. She sees it as a place to put down roots with her five-year-old daughter Ava.

At the same time, Jack Kenyon is looking to make a new start with his one-man construction business. He's got some skeletons in his closet he'd prefer keeping there and figures starting over in a new town he'll be able to do that. But God has other plans.

When Leslie hires Jack to help renovate one of the apartments in her new building, neither realizes how God will work on these two lonely souls, restoring them while they restore the building.

Terri tells the story in the manner of storytellers of old. With the turn of each page more facets are revealed and woven into the fabric of a whole through the intermingling of the townspeople both Leslie and Jack meet and how, as the story progresses, the issues that drive them are brought out. The spiritual arc also weaves itself into the story like a golden thread of hope, drawing both Jack and Leslie to a place where they are finally able to trust in God and in each other.

Along with the story, I found the setting of an old building in need of restoration a wonderful parallel to the lives in need of the same attention.

This is a great story to curl up with a cup of tea and spend an afternoon devouring. You can pick it up at Amazon or Christian Book Distributors.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour: A Cry in the Night by Colleen Coble

Several years ago I picked up Book One of Colleen Coble's Rock Harbor series about a young woman and a search dog named Samson who lived in a fictional town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. From the first page I was hooked. Fell in love with Bree, the heroine. Fell in love with Samson, her dog. Fell in love with her mother-in-law and their relationship in spite of Bree's husband being killed in a plane crash. I also fell in love with a number of other characters, and when a new man came into Bree's life in later books, I fell in love with Kade. All along I fell in love with Rock Harbor the town and the surroundings. As always Colleen always has a way with making her story settings almost become a character in the story unto themselves. Then the books stopped and Colleen went on to write other amazing novels set in other places.

When I heard Colleen was going to write another Rock Harbor series I was elated to say the least. And when it arrived in my mailbox several weeks ago I couldn't wait to rejoin my favorite characters in one of my favorite settings. I wasn't disappointed either!

Almost from the first page of enjoying my reunion with old friends the tension was ratcheted up and it never stopped. Colleen is a master at doing this as she spins a tale that keeps the pages turning. The story twists and turns and keeps the reader guessing up to the end as to how all the puzzle pieces will fit together.

I hope that with this novel more will be forthcoming for this wonderful series. Below you'll find a bio of Colleen and a short description of the story. You can link to a copy of the first chapter and also to Amazon to purchase your very own copy!


Author Colleen Coble's thirty novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best awards. She writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.

2004 More Than Magic winner for Best Inspirational Romance
Without a Trace, Thomas Nelson
2004 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year


The highly anticipated novel that delivers what romantic suspense fans have long awaited-the return to Rock Harbor.

Bree Nichols gets the shock of her life when her husband-presumed dead-reappears.

Bree Nichols and her search and rescue dog Samson discover a crying infant in the densely forested woods outside of Rock Harbor, Michigan. Against objections from her husband, Kade, who knows she'll become attached, Bree takes the baby in. Quickly she begins a search for the mother-presumably the woman reported missing just days earlier.
While teams scour the forests, Bree ferrets out clues about the missing woman. But she soon discovers something more shocking: Bree's former husband-long presumed dead in a plane crash-resurfaces. Is he really who he says he is? And should she trust him again after all these years?
An engaging, romantic suspense novel from critically-acclaimed author Colleen Coble.

If you would like to read the first chapter of , go HERE

Buy it at Amazon!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Book Review: Chronological Study Bible NKJV

Last fall I agreed with Thomas Nelson's new book review program to accept a copy of their beautiful new Chronological Bible to use for study and Bible reading. Normally, when I agree to do this for a book, I can read said tome in several days. The Bible is somewhat different.

I have seen other publisher's chronological Bibles and expected to receive pretty much more of the same. I never expected to receive such a beautiful book in such a readable format.

The volume is loaded with colorful maps, study notes, and other tools such as a feature called "Time Capsule." These little charts place in sequential order highlighted events of the part of the book where they appear. Another handy feature is the Transition sections that serve to tie together other parts of the Word with what the reader is reading. For example, in the gospels where Matthew 11:2-19 appears, a transition sidebar compares a similar account of that section as it appears in Luke.

One of the great features I enjoyed, particularly in the Old Testament, was the sidebar expository sections. World history scholars and affectionados will appreciate how the notes tie in events in world history to what was recorded in Bible at that particular time. For example, Isaiah 22:11 says:

You also made a reservoir between the two walls
For the water of the old pool.
But you did not look to its Maker,
Nor did you have respect for Him who fashioned it long ago.

On the next page a full explanation called "Hezekiah's Tunnel" outlines how in order to stave off attack from the Assyrians, King Hezekiah had a tunnel carved into the hillside on which Jerusalem sits. That way water could be provided to the city and its people wouldn't have to go outside its walls to get their water from the springs. Reading the detailed explanation gave me a greater understanding of the correlating scripture.

The biggest negative I noted in this Bible is that at times the explanations can come across very secularized. For example, in explaining Job 1: 6-12, the writer discussed the Adversary as being modeled after the courts of the ancient Near East, likening the Adversary in Job, who is Satan, to someone with a particular job to do for God. In another section while discussing Abraham, one of the Patriarchs of the Old Testament, the writer of a referance note refers to Abraham's God. Although he uses capital G on God, I still had a level of discomfort. Perhaps this feeling comes from the cliched statements that make me cringe such as when someone says something like, "I passed the test. There is a God." Or a nonbeliever will say something to the effect, "You have your God, and I have mine."

Even with these detractors I would recommend this Bible for anyone who loves digging into the depth of God's word, loves history, and loves research. Being able to tie it all together in this wonderful format makes scripture come alive in a new and fresh way. I know I'll be referring to this Bible in many ways for many years to come.

You can learn more about it by going to an especially designed web site for the book by clicking here.

Friday, February 06, 2009

A Wilderness Experience

Do I still have readers here?

I hope so. Because with the start of February, I intend to get this blog back up and running. I began the month of January with a vision of writing my WIP (work in progress) like mad so the first draft would be complete by February 1st. Then reality hit. I had a huge project to do in relation to my board position with ACFW. So time consuming that it ate up most of my time, day and night.

Then when that began to ebb, a huge situation rolled into my life that led me straight into the 'wilderness' where the only One to hold me up was God.

I can't share details here, but suffice it to say it's been both the best of times and the worst of times. I've learned so much through these past weeks as God spoke to me in the deepest part of my spirit and I wouldn't trade a single moment. It isn't completely over yet, but I know like it says in Psalm 139, there is no place I can go and be away from God. And praise Him for that! He has been the anchor for my soul during all of this.

As I have been led through my wilderness experience, all but what is absolutely essential has fallen to the wayside. Over the past month, I haven't written anything that wasn't absolutely necessary. No story, no blog, no queries for magazine article. Nada. What I have written are reams and reams in my journal, and what I've read has been Scripture.

As I said, I am still not completely out of the 'wilderness' but just ahead is an oasis. God promises in Isaiah that He will be with us when we go THROUGH the waters and fire. We won't be left in the middle to drown or be burned. And I can trust that the wilderness can be included there. I won't be left to die of thirst.

Today I am giving this blog CPR. And it starts with a huge praise to God.

He is awesome!

Stay tuned.