Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Devil In The Dust by Cara Luecht

Devil in the Dust FB Celebration banner copy

About the Book 

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Name of book: Devil in the Dust
Author: Cara Luecht
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: April 3, 2017
June 1933 
Their small Oklahoma town is dying. Lillian remembers how acres and acres of wheat once waved under jewel-blue skies. Now the dirt stretches across the flat land as far as she can see.
Emma’s husband is missing. She keeps house, keeps her five children fed as best as she can, and keeps smiling as her hope fades. But when the days stretch to weeks, she faces the possibility that he will never come home. Left with the likelihood of losing their farm, and the ever-present pangs of hunger, she is forced to consider opportunities that, under normal circumstances, she would never contemplated.
Jessie, Emma’s oldest daughter, completes her tasks as if numb. Forced to wear her mother’s shoes to avoid the humiliation of bare feet, she watches the dead, dirt road for signs of life.
And then he comes.
His new car and shiny shoes and generous way with gifts and money catch Jessie’s eye, much to the dismay of her mother … and much to the concern of the minister’s wife, Lillian. He’s too smooth, too willing to help, and much too eager to spend time with a girl less than half his age. But who is to say he is not the miracle they all prayed for?

My Review:
The dust bowl, a time when much of America's farmlands perished. The center of crop growing for many, I've heard it called "the breadbasket", was a barren wasteland. My Grandmother spoke of it some, although she didn't live anywhere near there, this event had a huge impact on our present history and what followed after it. 

Here is what's left of a community, a few remaining poverty stricken families that haven't been able to leave this tiny town of Oklahoma, and their Pastor and his wife. The little ones, like two year old Little Henry, have never seen grass, or played in the rain. Their lives are eeking out in a wasteland fit to rival any dystopian tale. Lillian is only sixteen, but she can remember before, something that most people seem to have given up recollecting. They're now becoming dependent on the government for food, the start of welfare. Folks leave and don't come back. While this is focused on one town, scores of people died during this time frame, and in this town people perished as well. Everyone still in this town is praying for an answer, waiting to leave, or waiting to die. 

Then the possible answer rolls in. In his new car, and clean shining clothing, a man comes planning to buy up land. So much of the land is deserted and laid to waist, it's a prime opportunity for a rich man to capitalize on the sorrow of others. He's rolling in funding, and he's seen the beauty in Lillian. The question of the hour is, is he a saint come to save them, or is he a demon in disguise? 

Literally gritty in it's portrayal of much more than dirt and sand, this book proffers an honest portrayal of the struggle for survival and not loosing faith while walking through the worst of circumstances. It makes me think of the valley of the shadow of death from the Psalms. While I didn't want the characters to fear evil, I did root for them to know true evil when the saw it, so that they could cast it out from among them, in what ever form it appeared. Being a pastor's child, I appreciated the way the pastors in this book were written, and found myself cheering them on as they gave their all to try to help others keep their faith when no breakthroughs were insight. This book is well written, and worth reading. 
Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Author

140223_132100phAward winning author, Cara Luecht, lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. In addition to freelance writing and marketing, Cara works as an English Instructor for a local college. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Guest Post from Cara Luecht

Why I wrote Devil in the Dust.
One Sunday after church, we decided to go to lunch with another family. We hadn’t had the opportunity to get to know this couple well, but the conversation was amazing, we laughed until we almost cried, and I’m pretty sure the restaurant manager was glad to see us go.
On the way out, the topic grew more serious, and I mentioned something that worried me. It was maybe a sentence—I was not baring my soul—but the woman with whom we had spent the last couple of delightful hours stopped, blinked, and put up her wall-of-a-Christian-smile. In an instant, I knew I had been judged as negative. You see, for many Christians, the mantras of “the battle is already won,” “faith will get you through,” and the largely American “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” have drowned out the quieter mandate to care.
I went home chased by the feeling that, somehow, I didn’t measure up. And for a time, I dredged that place of overthinking, attempting to float a reason out of that murky pond where insecurity hides.
Of course, I came up with nothing, and decided to put my efforts into deciding what my next novel would be. Unfortunately (or fortunately), at this stage, every little life experience has potential for use.
While I had been undecided on theme, I knew I wanted the setting for the novel to be in the dustbowl in the 1930s. I began researching, and I realized the scope and human impact of this disaster was much larger than I had remembered from history class. More importantly, it lasted an entire decade. For a decade, people dealt with hunger and drought and death from breathing in the ultra-fine soot. Children were lost. Families abandoned their farms. People survived on rations of canned government meat…and that’s when they were lucky. Many felt cursed.
Life was hard. I imagine that smiles were rare, even in the church.
I started thinking about what it would take for a community to survive devastation on this scale. I considered the kind of people who make up a town: merchants, teachers, police, farmers, and ministers. And while merchants and teachers, along with everyone else, would feel the change brought on by the slow death of a drought, for a minister it would be different. A minister’s purpose is to bring people the good news of the gospel. Technically, their job would stay exactly the same, except every phrase they spoke would shift in meaning because the context—the lives of those sitting in the pews—had changed so dramatically.
Growing up as the child of a pastor, I have some knowledge about how a minister’s home works. And in all my research I was left with one question: How could a minister preach every Sunday to a congregation of people who had lost everything with no hope for improvement anytime soon?
I moved my research to the Bible, and when I did, I came across the story of Lazarus. I have heard and read this story countless times, but in the light of trying to puzzle out what a pastor might do in a situation where it looks like all has been lost, I realized something about the story that I had never considered. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he cried with Lazarus’ sisters. He shared in their grief even though he knew it would end. He stayed there with them in that moment of sorrow.
I came to the conclusion that during times of suffering, our responsibility to others should look nothing like that drought-of-a-Christian-smile that I met outside that restaurant. Rather, it should emulate Jesus’ example. When we make Christianity only about victory, and turn faith into a wish book, we strip it of its most powerful message: hope. Not eternal hope, but the hope of not being alone. More often than not, we lack the ability to change someone’s circumstances. What we can do is come up alongside someone and help carry their burden even if only for a few minutes. Christianity is not a way to avoid suffering, it’s about finding meaning through the suffering.
I wrote Devil in the Dust as an exploration of what it means to be a Christian while standing in the midst of a desert. Told through the voices of three women who endure the quiet shame of poverty, Devil in the Dust is a story about what happens to faith when everything goes wrong.

Blog Stops

Genesis 5020, October 12
A Reader’s Brain, October 13
Blogging With CarolOctober 14
Bukwurmzzz, October 15
Books n Baubles, October 17
Mary Hake, October 19
Pause for Tales, October 20
Bigreadersite, October 20
Karen Sue Hadley, October 21
Daysong Reflections, October 22

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Cara is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and signed copy of Devil in the Dust!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c201

Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig (Book 2 of The Tox Files)

I only thought book one was strong! 

Tox is back and in the book, more amazing than before. Haunted pasts, good and evil, action, love, and so much more is packed into this second book in this series. Tox has so much to work through to overcome in this book. I have read a good many of this author's books. I think this series, and this book, is my top favorite of Kendig's books. A extremely recommend read. 

My copy came from Bethany House. This review is my own, left of my own choosing. 

About

When You Stare Into the Abyss It Also Stares Into You
The bullet that rips into Cole "Tox" Russell was never meant to kill. It was meant to send a message. Only one man is skilled enough to have taken the shot, a rogue Special Forces operator who vanished months ago.
 
Alec King is perhaps the only person as skilled as Tox, and he's out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier. 

Afraid his old friend could be right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team are forced into another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is harnessing the power of a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming one.

Praise for The Tox Files

"This is a thrill ride with a story that barely stops to catch its breath before the action revs back up again. . . . Kendig has out done herself." RT Book Reviews Top Pick
"Kendig keeps the tensions high and the pace lightning fast, with military action scenes worthy of Vince Flynn."  Publishers Weekly
"Kendig's action-packed military thriller has overtones of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code crossed with Robin Cook's Contagion." Library Journal

Ronie Kendig


Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. She's penned over a dozen novels, including The Quiet Professionals series and the A Breed Apart series. She and her hunky hero hubby have a fun, crazy life with their children and a retired military working dog in Northern Virginia.

The Angel of Forest Hill: An Amish Christmas Romance By: Cindy Woodsmall





My Review:

This book is cute, cute and sweet! I do read Amish books pretty often of late. I do believe this is the first time I have read this author. Rose marries Joel to help take care of his kinner, aka children. Between the rules of the Ordung, this author got a real story squished in there. I really liked that!

It's a Christmas book, but the message is timeless.


About the Book:
Rose is asked to leave her family to marry and care for a distraught man and his family after the loss of his wife. Having been mistreated by her own family she welcomes the idea, but is afraid to let go of the hurt and open herself up to love. She must find strength, for if a marriage is not based on love, it will wither and die.

Book Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Forest-Hill-Christmas-Romance-ebook/dp/B01CBM456E/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

About the Author:

Cindy Woodsmall
Cindy Woodsmall
New York Times and CBA best-selling author Cindy Woodsmall has been featured on ABC Nightline & the front page of the Wall Street Journal. She has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life, won Fiction Book of the Year, Reviewer’s Choice Awards, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, Crossings’ Best Books of the Year & been a finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, Carol Awards, Christian Book of the Year & Christian Retailers Choice Awards.
Favorite Verse: Ephesians 3:16 (KJV) "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man."

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Almond Street Mission by June Foster

almond street mission FB cover copy

About the Book

Almond Street Mission final
Name of book: Almond Street Mission
Author: June Foster
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 6, 2016
When Glorilyn Neilson’s nineteen-year-old brother, Tannon, goes missing without a trace, she’s frantic. Prayer and volunteering at the local homeless shelter in El Camino must fill the time until her sibling returns. But her sapphire eyes and auburn hair inadvertently cause a stir among the male population at the center. Her life changes one evening when she’s attacked by a burly vagrant intent on rape in the alley behind the building.
Jeremiah Goodman loves the Lord, but he’s homeless. When he witnesses a foul-mouthed vagrant overpowering one of the volunteers at the homeless shelter, he defends her, saving her from unwanted advances.
When Glorilyn offers him a way of escape from his impoverished lifestyle, he can’t tell her why he must live the life of a vagrant. What powerful secret keeps him on the streets?
Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review:

After this book, I want more to read by this author. I loved the real life reflection of how the charters live are all intermingled. It reminds me of one of my very favorite scripture verses. 
We have so many broken people in this world, some of us in our lives. This book focused on the homeless men, but the issues brought up cover a much broader range. It's a wonderful remind of "Men look on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart." ( 1 Samuel 16:7a) This was a beautiful story, that was rather moving. 

About the Author 

100_5797An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. June’s book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC’s eBook awards and a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan’s Father was one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. Deliver Us was a finalist in COTT’s Laurel Awards.
June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan’s Father is available from WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, Books One, Two, and Three in the Almond Tree Series, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, and What God Knew are all available from Amazon.com.
Recently June has seen publication of Christmas at Raccoon Creek, Lavender Fields InnMisty HollowAlmond Street MissionRestoration of the Heartand Letting Goall published by Forget Me Not Press, a division of Winged Publications.
June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. June uses her training in counseling and her Christian beliefs in creating characters who find freedom to live godly lives. Find June on line at junefoster.com.

Guest Post from June Foster

Stories Behind the Story
Almond Street Mission tells the story of Glorilyn Neilson whose younger brother, Tannon, has gone missing, hurling her entire family into turmoil. Prayer and volunteering at the local homeless shelter fills the empty, lonely hours. One evening, she’s attacked by a brawny vagrant intent on rape. Another vagrant, Jeremiah Goodman, defends her, saving her from unwanted attention.
Jeremiah loves the Lord but is homeless. The mission director, Mr. Harris, offers him and nineteen-year-old, Tank, a place at the shelter. But when Jeremiah later tries to protect a drug addict in hope of sharing the gospel with him, Mr. Harris finds heroin on Jeremiah, and he’s booted out. Tank chooses to leave with him.
On the street, Jeremiah and Tank try to scrape up a meal, but even trash cans around the city park don’t provide food for their hungry stomachs. Taking a chance on getting arrested, they beg for food in front of an elegant downtown Italian restaurant. Two older women walk out. One ignores them but the other looks at them with kind eyes and offers an entire pizza.
All this to explain a real life happening which gave me an idea for this scene. My daughter and I were in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at an Italian restaurant. We each ordered a small pizza, but the waiter brought me a Hawaiian pizza though I’d order pepperoni.
When I pointed out the mistake, the server brought out a second pizza for me, this time pepperoni, and told me to keep the first one. No way I could eat another pizza, and we didn’t have anywhere to keep it at the hotel, so I asked him if he knew any homeless people. The waiter said yes, that they congregate nearby, and he’d deliver it to a hungry vagrant.
In the story, the other woman who gives the extra pizza to Jeremiah and Tank is above average height. I wrote myself into a brief portion of the scene, and my 5’10” height qualifies as tall! When Tank says “God bless you,” the lady says “He does, everyday.” The sentiments of my heart. Real life always provides rich fodder.
Another story behind the story is when a friend at my church mentioned a Christian homeless ministry in the nearby city of Birmingham, Alabama, The Jimmie Hale Mission. I called and asked if I could take a tour. A chaplain welcomed my husband and me and scheduled a time for us to visit. He promised to personally conduct our visit.
When we arrived, the chaplain took us through the dining facility, exercise room, chapel, clothing bank, computer rooms, classrooms, and dorms. While in the dining area, we met the efficient kitchen manager, a paid employee who provided three delicious meals a day for the residents. Tingles ran down my arms when he shared his experience. He was once a drunk and resident of the mission. Today, he loves the Lord, is reunited with his wife, and holds down the manager’s job. As a side note, I based two characters’ situations on this real life man.
While at the mission, the men learn job skills and have opportunity to take classes. When they leave, they’re fully grounded in the Lord and on their way to a new life. A few are employed at the facility.
Before we left, the chaplain generously gave me his cell phone number and offered to answer any further questions, and I had several. Research for this story provided a rich insight into how God’s power can change and equip those that society may have chosen to discard.

Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, October 5
autism mom, October 7
Blogging With CarolOctober 9
A Greater Yes, October 11
Remembrancy, October 11
Multifarious, October 12
Pause for Tales, October 13
Carpe Diem, October 17

Giveaway

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In honor of her tour, June is giving away a grand prize collection of 1 signed paperback copy of Almond Street Mission, a $25 Amazon card, and 12 handmade cards! Click the link below to enter! https://promosimple.com/ps/c0a6


Friday, October 6, 2017

Lydia by Diana Wallis Taylor

Lydia FB cover copy

About the Book:

Lydia Cover
Name of book: Lydia
Author: Diana Wallis Taylor
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Release Date: October 3, 2017
Smart, strong, and a follower of the Jewish God, Lydia has nonetheless quietly conformed to the expectations of the wealthy Roman society into which she was born. Her father marries her off at age fifteen to a much older man whom she dislikes. Despite an unpleasant wedding and a marriage that doesn’t improve with age, Lydia remains a dutiful and faithful wife. When her husband is killed, years later, Lydia vows to remain single and returns to her father’s house in Thyatira with her twelve-year-old daughter.
There, a new life begins to emerge as she is trained in the family dye business. Lydia displays an aptitude for trade in the male-dominated world of first century commerce. Her brother, who had chosen service in the Roman army rather than work in his father’s business, is at odds with his sister. Jealous of her quiet success as she learns the dye business, he’s especially befuddled by what he considers to be Lydia’s obsession with the Jewish religion. When their father dies, Cassius inherits the family’s home; Lydia inherits the business, and unbeknownst to her brother, a small villa in the city of Philippi.
Lydia flees with her mother and daughter to Philippi where she sets up shop. At the mercy of a patriarchal society, Lydia needs a man to serve as the public face for her business. She discovers the right person in the handsome face of Greek man she’d hired — an employee with whom she develops a close friendship. The plot thickens as Lydia meets a strange man named Paul the apostle who is stirring up crowds in town. When Lydia’s brother shows up in Philippi, determined to force her to sell the business, he discovers plenty of fuel to accomplish his goals. 
Click to purchase your copy.
My Review:

Lydia, her biblical story has always fascinated me. In this book, everything from the Bible as well as quite plausible fiction are woven together into one strong novel. I don't think I have read any books from this author before, but I was well pleased with story. Lydia has suffered through a difficult marriage. She doesn't believe in the Roman gods, but instead, in the footsteps of her mother who's a Jew, she is a God-fearer. That is someone who isn't quite a Jew, but isn't believing in the Roman gods either. Her beliefs aren't  common, and with some very dramatic and yet believable turns of events, Lydia is now the owner of a prospering dye business. A business that isn't run by a woman. Every step of the way Lydia and her mother work to make wise choices and follow Adonai. However, they are not without enemies or adversities. 

This book is stuffed with scripture, both from the Torah and the New Testament as Lydia is living in the time frame just after Christ's death and resurrection. I throughly enjoyed the ways in which the scriptures were brought to life in Lydia's life and the ending was quite satisfactory. Lydia has always made me think of the Proverbs 31 wife, and this book just made her so very alive and realistic on every level. 

A super five star read which I can see being used even in Bible study groups. 

About the Author:

DianaWTaylorRedDiana Wallis Taylor is best known for her creative stories based on women in the Bible. Thousands have read and enjoyed her books including Mary Chosen of God, Ruth, Mother of Kings, MarthaJourney to the WellMary Magdalene, and Claudia, Wife of Pontius Pilate. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors with the San Diego Library naming her one of 12 “Writers to Watch” in 2017 for Mary, Chosen of God. Her books have received Gold and Silver Medallion Awards for Christian Fiction and she is a San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild “Writer of the Year.” Mary, Chosen of God is a 2017 Christy Award nominee. An inspirational speaker, Diana also leads creative writing and poetry workshops. She lives in San Diego with her husband, Frank. They have six grown children and ten grandchildren

Blog Stops

Carpe Diem, October 3
By The Book, October 5
A Reader’s Brain, October 7
A Greater YesOctober 7
Aryn the Libraryan, October 9
Cordially Barbara, October 9
Pursuing Stacie, October 9
Mary Hake, October 11
Radiant Light, October 12
margaretkazmierczak, October 13
Pause for Tales, October 13
Cafinated Reads, October 14
BigreadersiteOctober 15
Henry Happens, October 16

Giveaway

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In honor of her tour, Diana is giving away
Grand Prize Package: Lydia, Woman of Philippi, “Give Thanks” painting on plate by Donna White for The Hearthside Collection, Inc., commemorative Whitaker House/Anchor Distributors coloring book (not in photo).
1st Place Package: Lydia, Woman of Philippi, abba Jerusalem pillar candle, cassia scented, commemorative Whitaker House/Anchor Distributors coloring book (not in photo).
2nd Place Package: Lydia, Woman of Philippi, abba Jerusalem Spikenard candle tin with lid!
Click the link to enter! https://promosimple.com/ps/c173