Book Review: Deadly Commitment

5 Dec

Will the truth about her fiancé be more unsettling than the stranger stalking her? 

As Danielle Kemp walks out of her downtown Nashville condominium, she gets the eerie feeling someone is watching her. As days go by, she becomes convinced the homeless man outside her building is stalking her. But after learning the real identity of the intimidating stranger, she faces something even more threatening ― the truth about her fiancé.  

Deadly Secrets is a new fiction series with southern charm and big-city twists. Set in the author’s hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, it is filled not only with intrigue and suspense but subtle glimpses into how God is at work in the lives of ordinary people doing ordinary jobs . . . or maybe they aren’t so ordinary after all.

 

Kathy Harris is an author by way of a divine detour into the Nashville entertainment business. She graduated with a Communications degree from Southern Illinois University and has spent the past several decades employed as a marketing director in the Nashville music industry.She has contributed to a number of anthologies. Her first novel released in 2012. Her latest, Deadly Commitment, released in October 2019. Kathy regularly interviews literary and music guests on her blog at http://www.divinedetour.com.

Visit her website at http://www.kathyharrisbooks.com and/or follow her on Facebook (facebook.com/KathyHarrisAuthor), Twitter (@divinedetour), and Instagram (@kathyharris_author).

My Impressions:

A commitment to do what’s right can sometimes plunge you into danger! That’s what you’ll find in Kathy Harris’ romantic suspense, Deadly Commitment. Set among the tall buildings of downtown Nashville, this southern-vibe novel introduces the reader to all sides of the drug epidemic — law enforcement seeking justice, innocent victims of other’s choices, those fighting to recover, and the drug traffickers that put everything in motion. With likable characters and a true-to-life story, this book will appeal to those who like suspense with a strong Christian message.

Main characters Danni Kemp and Caleb Samuels are at odds when they first meet. Danni defends her soon-to-be fiance’, Rob, when faced with Caleb’s accusations that Rob is a big part of a drug trafficking ring. Soon, though, her sense of right and wrong has her facing difficult truths and joining the efforts to put an end to the criminal activity around her. I really liked Caleb’s character — a man with past sins who is working hard to trust God and make the world a better and safer place. I was initially frustrated with Danni’s character. She was naive and wishy-washy, but as the book progressed she found a backbone and some smarts 😉 . Both characters struggle with baggage from their pasts that color their perceptions of themselves and others. They each lean on God for direction and protection. The book moved a little slow at first, but towards the end the action heats up and their is a good deal of danger facing all the characters.

With the news full of drug crimes, Deadly Commitment is a timely read. If you enjoy romantic suspense with a strong message of God’s grace, then you need to check it out.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to JustRead for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Children’s Corner — Exciting Christmas Books from Zonderkidz

4 Dec

Looking for some books to put under the tree for your favorite child? Then you are in luck! Zonderkidz has you covered. Check out some of the books available below. And if those aren’t enough, they have a handy gift giving guide too!

 

Board Books

Christmas Cookie Day!, written by Tara Knudson and illustrated by Pauline Stewart, celebrates the beloved tradition of making Christmas treats and even features a special Christmas cookie recipe for you and your child to create. The bright illustrations by Pauline Siewert and sweet, rhyming text by Tara Knudson are sure to capture the wonder of young readers and parents alike. Perfect for building new memories, this board book has a beautiful, glittery cover.

My Christmas Story Tree, written by bestselling author Mary Manz Simon and illustrated by Gavin Scott, is a board book that sparkles with glitter and foil and leads little ones through the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree. Follow along to add the angel, ornaments, candy canes, lights, and finally place the star on the top of the tree while learning the story of the very first Christmas.

 

Storybooks

In Mouse’s Christmas Gift, written by Mindy Baker and illustrated by Dow Phumiruk, one tiny church mouse must find a way to bring Christmas spirit to his little town when Parson gets sick and the usual Christmas Eve service is cancelled. Mouse never gives up hope as he prepares the nativity set and lights a small candle in the window to signal the villagers. Mouse’s small act of faith sparks a chain reaction of hope and love, demonstrating that even the smallest creature can make a big difference. This adorable book, with a cover adorned with foil and glitter, captures the spirit of Christmas and the joy of doing for others during the holiday season.

Mary Engelbreit presents A Night of Great Joy, a delightful picture book that celebrates the joyful season of Christmas. This book tells the story of the nativity through the performance of a children’s Christmas pageant. With adorable illustrations and simple storytelling, Engelbreit paints a wonderful picture of the night that Jesus was born.

A Night of Great Joy recalls that fateful night with wonder and awe. From the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem to the gathering of many before the baby Jesus, this holiday treasure leads children through the tale of the birth of Jesus, guiding them with the star of Bethlehem

For over 200 years, families have gathered on Christmas Eve to hear the much loved words of Dr. Clement C. Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. This year, families can gather together to share the real Christmas story — the story of Jesus’ birth. ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas, by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Elena Selivanovaechoes the familiar language and rhythm of Dr. Clements’ poetry, but instead of focusing on Santa, it focuses on the baby Jesus, who is, after all, the true hero of Christmas. All families will delight in this simple retelling of the most famous story ever told. With a cover that comes alive with foil and sculpted embossing, this book is sure to become a Christmas classic.

 

Bibles

Millions of children and their parents can’t be wrong. The bright and vibrant illustrations throughout and stunning binding of The Beginner’s Bible Gift Edition enhance every word, introducing boys and girls to the timeless stories of the Bible in a way they can read, remember, and, most importantly, live out. Kids will enjoy reading the story of Noah’s Ark as they see Noah helping the elephant onto the big boat. They will learn about the prophet Jonah as they see him praying inside the fish. They will follow along with the text of Jesus’ ministry as they see a man in need of healing lowered down through the roof of a house.

Parents, teachers, and pastors, if you’re looking for a gift that isn’t just beautifully presented but is also a proven, memorable way to introduce children to the beloved stories and parables of Scripture, look no further than The Beginner’s Bible Gift Edition.

All the beauty and love poured into the original Moonbeam Award gold medal winner in a clothbound gift edition that includes a ribbon marker. Whether for baptisms or First Communions, birthdays or Christmas, this is one gift that never fails to be a family favorite. If you are a parent, grandparent, pastor, or teacher looking for a way to teach the children in your life about God’s “Never Stopping, Never Giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love,” look no further than The Jesus Storybook Bible Gift Edition.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — A Heartwarming Christmas

3 Dec

This week, Top 10 Tuesday is all about the Christmas reads. Every year I look forward to some just-for-fun reading featuring the tinsel, mistletoe, and joy of Christmas. Most of the books are novella length — perfect for the busy season — and involve plenty of romance. But sometimes I just want a heartwarming story that is more than kisses 😉 . The following books fit the bill. I hope you find one to love.

For more of bloggers’ favorite Christmas reads, please visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Top Heartwarming Christmas Books

 

The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson

Five women from different walks of life have become close friends through their book club — enjoying one another’s company even more than they enjoy the books. So when the leader of the book club unexpectedly passes away on the cusp of the Christmas season, the four remaining friends are stunned. They relied on Abby for inspiration and motivation. She was the glue that held them together, and they’re sure that without her the group can’t continue.

When the group gathers “one last time” to open a bag Abby’s husband gives them, they find Abby had made each of them an angel ornament for Christmas, crafted especially for each woman and accompanied by a sweet and personal note. Inspired by their beloved friend, together Cassidy, Louisa, Grace, and Belinda decide to commit themselves to becoming Christmas Angels to others in need. Each woman will use her life situation and talents to reach out and help others in her own unique way — little knowing that her own life and her relationships will be changed forever.

A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias

During Isabella Alcantara’s seventh month of pregnancy, her parents and siblings are murdered in gang- and drug-related violence, simply because their home was targeted by mistake. Isabella knows she was spared only because she now lives in a different location, but she knows too that the same thing could easily happen to her and her husband, Francisco. When her grandfather offers to hire a “coyote” to bring them across the border to America, she agrees. But Francisco and Isabella are abandoned by the coyote and left to die. Francisco then valiantly sacrifices himself to get Isabella to safety. Homeless, nearly penniless, pregnant, and alone, Isabella determines to find a way to honor her promise to her beloved husband.

Living on one of the smaller spreads along the Arizona border, Miriam Nelson becomes furious with God and turns from her faith when her border patrol agent husband, David, is killed in a skirmish with drug smugglers. Though her mother and young son do their best to woo her back from the anger and bitterness that have overtaken her, they make little headway.

Two widows — one driven by fear and a promise, the other by bitterness and revenge — must make their journeys along different pathways, but with the same destination: a barn full of animals that stands waiting for them on Christmas Eve. Forced to face their personal demons, Isabella and Miriam soon discover a common yearning that will bind them together in a most miraculous way.

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins

Robert Reed gave his life for his country in the early days of World War II. His sacrifice was honored when his widow and son were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Each Christmas the final decoration Madge Reed hangs on the family’s tree is that medal. Rather than being a symbol of honor for young Jimmy Reed that shining star represents loss, pain, and suffering.

Yet a letter delivered by one of Robert’s fellow soldiers and a mystery posed in that letter put a father’s sacrifice and faith into perspective and bring new meaning to not just the star hanging on the Christmas tree but the events of the very first Christmas. Then, when least expected, a Christmas miracle turns a final bit of holiday sadness into a joy that Jimmy has never known.

The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson

Award-winning author Eva Marie Everson wraps up a Christmas story of hope, love, and forgiveness just in time for the holidays.

The Ornament Keeper, a contemporary Christmas novella, features Felicia and Jackson Morgan who are spending their first Christmas apart after twenty years of marriage. But a lifetime of gifted ornaments helps Felicia piece together the story of their marriage and the one mistake of unforgiveness she made before they said, “I do.”

Can these memory-filled ornaments reunite this family before Christmas? Only time will tell.

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flag

Deep in the southernmost part of Alabama, along the banks of a lazy winding river, lies the sleepy little community known as Lost River, a place that time itself seems to have forgotten. After a startling diagnosis from his doctor, Oswald T. Campbell leaves behind the cold and damp of the oncoming Chicago winter to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas in the warm and welcoming town of Lost River. There he meets the postman who delivers mail by boat, the store owner who nurses a broken heart, the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, who do clandestine good works. And he meets a little redbird named Jack, who is at the center of this tale of a magical Christmas when something so amazing happened that those who witnessed it have never forgotten it. Once you experience the wonder, you too will never forget A Redbird Christmas.

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

Rick Denton lives his life on his terms. He works hard, plays hard, and answers to no one. So when his mother calls on Thanksgiving weekend begging him to come home after his stepfather has a stroke, Rick is more than a little reluctant. He’s never liked Art and resents the man’s presence in his life, despite the fact that his own father abandoned the family when Rick was just twelve. When what was supposed to be just a couple days helping out at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and running off the homeless man who keep hanging about, Rick’s attitude sours even more.

Still, slowly but surely, the little bookstore and its quirky patrons -– as well as the lovely young woman who works at his side each day –- work their magic on him, revealing to Rick the truth about his family, his own life, and the true meaning of Christmas. With skillful storytelling, Dan Walsh creates a Christmas story will have readers remembering every good and perfect gift of Christmas.

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences–and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.

A classic tale for modern times, Skipping Christmas offers a hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that have become part of our holiday tradition.

Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias

Never expecting to be homeless, Josie Meyers and her children are shocked when circumstances force them to live on the streets. Rick, a down-and-out disabled vet, befriends them, reawakening memories of a faith Josie had in childhood. But can she reconcile her once-held beliefs with her current situation? Will she and her children even survive long enough to try to rekindle Josie’s faith?

 

Happy Release Day! — Echoes Among The Stones

3 Dec

Happy release day to Jaime Jo Wright! Echoes among The Stones, a time slip novel with mysterious overtones, is now available!

 

After Aggie Dunkirk’s career is unceremoniously ended by her own mistakes, she finds herself traveling to Wisconsin, where her grandmother, Mumsie, lives alone in her rambling old home. She didn’t plan for how eccentric Mumsie has become, obsessing over an old, unsolved crime scene — even going so far as to re-create it in the dollhouse.

Mystery seems to follow her when she finds work as a secretary helping to restore the flooded historical part of the cemetery. Forced to work with the cemetery’s puzzling, yet attractive archeologist, she exhumes the past’s secrets and unwittingly uncovers a crime that some will go to any length to keep quiet — even if it means silencing Aggie.

In 1946, Imogene Flannigan works in a local factory and has eyes on owning her own beauty salon. But coming home to discover her younger sister’s body in the attic changes everything. Unfamiliar with the newly burgeoning world of criminal forensics and not particularly welcomed as a woman, Imogene is nonetheless determined to stay involved. As her sister’s case grows cold, Imogene vows to find justice . . . even if it costs her everything.

Daphne du Maurier and Christy Award-Winning author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful, mysteries stained with history’s secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!

 

Author, Author — Andrew Huff, Author of A Cross to Kill

3 Dec

I am pleased to have Andrew Huff on the blog today talking about his writing journey and new book, A Cross to Kill. Check out the info and the great giveaway!

 

John Cross is a small-town pastor, bent on leading his flock to follow God’s calling. He’s not the sort of man one would expect to have a checkered past.

But the truth is that the man behind the pulpit preaching to his sheep was once a wolf–an assassin for the CIA. When John decided to follow Christ, he put that work behind him, determined to pay penance for all the lives he took. He vowed never to kill again.

Now someone wants the peaceful pastor to pay for his sins with his own life. And when a terrorist out for revenge walks into the church, John’s secrets are laid bare. Confronted with his past, he must face his demons and discover whether a man can truly change. Can he keep his vow–even when the people he loves are in mortal danger? Will his congregation and the brave woman he’s learning to care for be caught in the cross fire? In the end, his death may be the only sacrifice he has left to offer . . .

Andrew Huff’s thrilling debut is not only a riveting story of suspense, it’s also a deep exploration of the moral quandaries that face those who choose to follow the Prince of Peace in a violent world.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Q&A With Andrew Huff

A Cross to Kill is your first book release. Tell us about your journey to become an author.

Storytelling is something that’s been a part of my life since an early age, though I wasn’t convinced I could actually be an author until much later in life. I would write stories every day using toys, sometimes turning those stories into drawings, and on occasion, writing ideas down. I spent my high school years telling stories through video, even helping develop narrative projects with my home church. Yet I still wasn’t motivated to sit down and attempt to write something longer than a five-minute screenplay. That changed right around the time I finished college.

I was an avid reader growing up, and after finishing my undergraduate degree, I started consuming full length mystery/suspense novels. The problem I ran into was that many of the authors I enjoyed did not hold to the same worldview or values that I did. And whenever I found a thriller that did, I was often left wanting. So, I decided if I couldn’t find the type of book I wanted to read, then I should try to write it. It took many years of learning the craft and discovering the right story before I was able to sit down and not only start, but successfully finish, a full length, action-packed, suspense story that I was ready to share with readers. 

Introduce us to your new series, and specifically A Cross to Kill. What inspired the story?

I love letting real-life events inspire fiction, and my new series is no exception. When I first started developing the storyline, there were a handful of high-profile executions of journalists at the hands of terrorists overseas. What made these executions unique to this era was the fact that videos of the killings were spread across the internet. As these tragic events were taking place, I found myself wishing someone had intervened. Thus, the rescue attempt at the beginning of A Cross to Kill was born.

The other aspect of real-life that inspired the story was my own experience in ministry and the reality of how unique that calling is in the life of a person. I not only spent time in local church ministry myself, but my father was also a small country church pastor during my early elementary years. I loved the idea of capturing the fish-out-of- water experience of someone who did a very different job finding themselves learning what it means to spiritually care for a group of people. I also have to admit, I’m greatly inspired by the thrills of such action franchises as Mission: Impossible, Jason Bourne, and James Bond. I want my series to take the Bible and the Church seriously while offering the same kind of jaw-dropping action those novels and films excel at.

The main character, John Cross, is a small-town pastor with a top secret past the members of his church would find hard to believe. What are some of things John left behind in his former life?

John didn’t just leave behind a past filled with poor choices and immoral behavior. Almost immediately, we get a sense that he performed actions in his role with the CIA and on behalf of his country that he is unable to forgive himself for. At a key moment in the story, we discover that John’s marksmanship was put to use by his superiors in unpleasant ways. You’ll have to read the book for all the details, but what I can say is John can’t help but evaluate his actions through a rigid view of Scripture, and as a result he’s struggling to believe God could truly forgive him. 

What I find interesting is the theological question surrounding his previous life that he’s finding himself at odds with. Is the taking of a human life ever justifiable? There’s much to unpack with that question, but when we first meet John, he’s not yet taken the deep plunge into his theological training, and therefore, has very black and white opinions on complicated issues. This creates a conflict within him as he struggles to cope with the memories of his time with CIA and strive to live under the forgiveness of God in Christ.

What events led up to John finding and following Christ?

John’s conversion has already happened when A Cross to Kill begins, but later in the book we get to hear his version of it. It’s a rather unconventional story, but that’s what I like about it. The fact that his conversion happens while he’s on assignment is such a great picture of the two competing forces in his life, that of his ingrained training and his newfound commitment to Christianity. 

The short version is that after performing operations of a lethal nature with the CIA for so long, John lost his sense of humanity. While tracking a target in Spain, he ends up in a cathedral during a Catholic service. Unable to understand the liturgy, he still found himself drawn to the religious symbols. Compelled to know more about the man hanging from the cross, he forgot about his target, found an English Bible at a local shop, and devoted himself to knowing more. While everyone’s story is different, John’s story is one of God reaching down with an irresistible draw to set aside an undeserving man for His great purpose. 

What are some of the faith struggles that John faces along the way that readers can identify with? 

 I know there are faith struggles John faces that readers can identify with because they are ones I struggle with even to this day! For one, John can’t seem to shake loose from past habits and hang-ups. Sometimes those habits can be used for good, but more often than not, John finds himself fighting to walk in faith and love and not let his flesh take control when things go awry. Much of the Christian life is about this same battle. I am at constant odds with the desires of my flesh, and at times, I have sympathized with the ancient monks who punished themselves to try and defeat their own impulses (a practice called flagellation, and one which John has adapted in his own way). 

Another faith struggle that I know many readers can identify with is the difficulty of accepting God’s forgiveness for not only the sins we’ve committed in the past, but the sins we will commit in the future. John struggles to believe God could forgive him for what he did while in the employ of the CIA, and that affects his ability to pass forgiveness on to others. This is something I, myself, have also found difficult. It’s not hard to believe God might forgive a single mistake here and there, but after failing again and again and again, it’s easy to expect a limit to God’s forgiveness. That’s when we can become trapped in the erroneous belief that faith is not enough, and we must work to retain God’s favor.

Writers usually write what they know. Is there any of you in John Cross?

If there was, I wouldn’t be allowed to tell you. Just kidding! The more exciting aspects of John’s story are nothing like mine, and I only wish I had half of his intuition and skill. It is true, however, that writers usually write what they know, and I’m no exception. The part of me in John Cross is less the man and more the day-to-day experience in local church ministry. 

When I wrote A Cross to Kill, I was on staff with a Southern Baptist church in Central Virginia, though a much larger church than Rural Grove. So much of what John experiences with the church and its members is based on real experiences that I drew from during my time on a church staff as well as from growing up as a preacher’s kid in rural Tennessee churches. The congregants we get to know are not based on individuals as much as an amalgamation of wonderful people I had the opportunity to get to know through the years. 

The book description states that A Cross to Kill is not only a riveting story of suspense, it’s also a deep exploration of the moral quandaries that face those who choose to follow the Prince of Peace in a violent world. Can we talk more about the moral quandaries?

A big moral quandary John faces, and I believe many of us wrestle with, is whether there is any legitimate justification for the taking of the life of another person. Is it ever right to kill another person? The Scripture could not be clearer that we are not to murder, and Jesus goes further by condemning any hateful thought toward a fellow human. There is much more Scripture to consider on the issue, but the answer to the question is not cut and dry.

The debate always seems to yield the same “yes,” “no,” and “sometimes,” answers. I didn’t want to try and provide a rigid response one way or the other in the novel, but I did wanted the characters to wrestle with the question and answers. Naturally, they probably wouldn’t ultimately agree. But for John in particular, what the characters decide, would drive the decisions they make when faced with danger. This is what we have to understand about the issue ourselves: If we believe Scripture gives a clear answer, whatever answer that might be, we must be prepared to let that answer influence how we respond to particular situations and issues regardless of how unconventional and perhaps even countercultural that may be.

Is it possible to truly put our pasts behind us? How should we respond when our previous mistakes and decisions don’t stay in the past? 

I don’t believe it’s possible to truly put our pasts behind us, and I don’t think that’s ever been God’s intention. We see many times in the Scriptures how God seeks to remind His people not only of the good they’ve experienced, but also the bad. The past is not meant to be forgotten, but to shape our response today. And that can be both the pleasant memories as well as the painful regrets we carry from before.

When we remember God’s goodness in our past, it is cause for celebration and worship. In much the same way, when our previous mistakes and decisions come back into our present, it is a moment for us to acknowledge how God continues to be good in the midst of a broken world. We see His goodness in the fact that those mistakes are still covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and there’s nothing we did then or could even do now to change that. When our past mistakes return and remind others of pain we may have caused, it’s important to not only acknowledge God’s grace and mercy but also seek reconciliation and restoration to the best of our ability. Ultimately, when we humble ourselves before the Lord, He is faithful to do a work in us and in others so that even in our shortcomings, He can be glorified.

Without giving away too much, what can readers expect as the Shepherd Suspense series continues?

I’m so excited to continue the story with these characters, and I can’t wait for readers to pick up the next books in the series. One thing that is true about the Christian life is that it is a life-long pursuit of Christlikeness includes many ups and downs. We won’t find our sanctification complete this side of heaven, and so neither will my characters! 

For John, he may have crossed a hurdle with accepting God’s forgiveness for his past, but that doesn’t mean he’s dealt with every decision he’s made leading up to becoming the pastor of Rural Grove Baptist Church. And John’s not the only one with a complicated past. The thing I’m most excited about sharing is the action-packed twists and turns that promise to keep the characters on their heels and the readers up past their bedtimes.

 

Andrew Huff spent 10 years in local church ministry before pursuing God’s calling into creative storytelling and media production as the Product Director at Igniter Media, a church media company (ignitermedia.com). He is a two-time finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest for unpublished authors (2014 & 2017) and also won the Best Screenplay award at the 2015 48 Hour Film Festival in Richmond, VA.

Andrew holds a Bachelor of Science in Religion degree from Liberty University and a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary. He resides in North Texas with his beautiful wife Jae and their two boys.

Learn more at andrewhuffbooks.com.

Facebook (@huffwrites)
Twitter (@andrewjohnhuff)

 

Giveaway!

Click HERE for the giveaway post.

 

Book Review: A Christmas Haven

2 Dec

Old Order Amish Ivy Zook is wrestling with her need to shed her community’s ways so she can grow the business of her dreams: planning parties. As long as she’s stuck living without modernization, she can barely get her business on its feet. But if she leaves too soon, she’d cause trouble for her sister, Holly, who is planning her wedding to Joshua Smucker. All of their plans become twice as complicated when an old car crashes into the storefront of Greene’s Pharmacy, carrying a Swartzentruber (ultra-conservative sect) Amish man, Arlan, and his very ill sister.

The Zooks take in Arlan and Madga, tending to the woman’s illness and Arlan begins helping around the family farm. Ivy and Arlan are on different tracks, one wanting to leave her community and the other to return to his. But both young people are trying to discover what God has in store for their futures and what miracles might lie around the corner this Christmas season.

Cindy Woodsmall is the “New York Times” and CBA best-selling author of eighteen works of fiction. She’s been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s “Nightline” and the “Wall Street Journal”. Cindy has won numerous awards and has been finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in Flowery Branch, GA.

Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. She is very excited about their first coauthored book.

Find out more about Cindy and Erin at http://www.cindywoodsmall.com.

 

My Impressions:

Cindy and Erin Woodsmall return to Raysburg, Pennsylvania and the Zook family with A Christmas Haven. (The Christmas Remedy introduced readers to the quaint town and its Amish/English community.) This novella-length book features Ivy Zook, a young woman who identifies more with glitter and tulle than the Plain community in which she was born. But her plans to join the English world are put on hold when an unexpected crash into the Green Pharmacy front window brings new people and new perspectives into her life.

As always, Cindy and Erin Woodsmall created a community that resonates with all faith traditions. In A Christmas Haven the rules of the Old Order Amish actually seem pretty lenient against the extreme legalism that Arlan and Magda Keim experienced in their Swartzentruber Amish family. Readers may be surprised with the differences between Plain communities that the Woodsmalls describe. But the true message is that of mercy and grace and being true to what God has designed for your life. I liked the easy pace of this novel and the true-to-life characters. While the book is billed as a Christmas novella, most of the action takes place before the holiday season, so this book can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

Likable characters, charming setting, and a relevant faith message makes this a good choice for your Christmas reading.

Recommended.

Audience: YA to adults.

(Thanks to Waterbrook for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

December Book Club Selection

2 Dec

This month is combining our love of romantic suspense and Christmas in the 2-volume novella selection — Silent Night, Holy Night by Colleen Coble. Fans of Coble’s Aloha Reef and Rock Harbor series will like these offerings. Won’t you join our discussion?

‘Tis the season for mystery and romance featuring characters from two of Colleen Coble’s most popular series!

Silent Night

As Christmas day nears, Bree Matthews and her faithful search-and-rescue dog Samson follow the trail of a troubling mystery into the snowy forests of Rock Harbor.

Newlywed Bree Matthews and her husband Kade are preparing for Christmas guests when word arrives that a parachuter has disappeared in the North Woods, along Lake Superior’s icy shore. Bree and Samson plunge into the search.

Will this snowy, silent night search lead Bree and Samson to the missing girl?

Holy Night

One sinister phone call has derailed their Christmas wedding. Will it keep them apart forever?

Leia and Bane are looking forward to their long-awaited Christmas wedding on the beach. Everything is going as planned—until Leia’s phone rings and her world skids out of control. A muffled voice informs Leia that her sister has been kidnapped and will be killed unless Leia calls off the wedding without explanation—and no police. If she disobeys instructions and tells Bane, she’ll risk her beloved sister’s life. But can she handle this trauma without his help? And will he ever trust her again if she lies to him now?

Irresistible romance meets thrilling suspense in this holiday update to USA Today best-selling author Colleen Coble’s Aloha Reef series.

Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website at http://colleencoble.com.