Radiant Lit Blog Tour for Jilted!

Jilted

Title:  Jilted

Author: Varina Denman

Genre: Drama

Publisher: David C. Cook

Release Date: June 1, 2016

Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago. Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life where the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.

Jilted tells of a woman who has lost the joy of living, a man determined to draw her back toward happiness, and a town that must—once and for all—leave the past where it belongs. It is a gentle reminder that all things can work together for good.

Varina Denman handles the demons of depression with raw honesty. Her characters learn that unresolved pain turns into deeper issues; they only find restoration through confrontation. I appreciate her sensitivity toward an illness that is not easy to identify. If you had a broken arm, you would wear a cast. Depression is the result of broken links in the brain, and yet has no outward Band-Aid to warn others to approach cautiously.

Denman also tackles feelings of abandonment and grief. Throughout Jilted, Lynda Turner sees herself as a gal who looks at life as a half-empty glass. Her efforts to face life head on, only leave her depleted. However, in the end, Lynda says, “I had finally realized it didn’t matter if my glass was half full or half empty. That’s not what life was about. What mattered was that God stood behind me with a full pitcher, waiting to refill my plastic tumbler… if only I’d let Him.”

Lest you think these topics are depressing, there are other twists to the plot to keep your attention! Look at my review of Jaded, Book 1 here. And the review of Justified, Book 2 here. This has been an interesting series about a small town in West Texas and how they handle the skeletons in their past. Some that surface, literally, in Jilted, Book 3! Denman’s research into the legalities of a registered sex-offender status, the basics of wind-farm procedures and the dangers involved for workers on the turbines, and the stages of crime scene investigation all pay off to provide an exciting read!

Author Bio

Varina Denman is author of the Mended Hearts series and a native Texan. She spent her high school years in a rural town and now writes stories about the struggles women face in similar small town settings. She and her husband live near Fort Worth, where they enjoy spending time with their five mostly-grown children.

Note: I received this copy of Jilted as a part of the Radiant Lit Jilted blog tour. The book is available for purchase at Amazon.com.

Sally


Book Review: Jaded

Jaded

What do small town gossip, outsiders and forgiveness have in common? They all collide in an unforgettable book called Jaded. Ruthie was a child when she and her mom were kicked out of church. But she always thought the action represented God. When secrets are unearthed that shake her theories, they also shake the church.

Varina Denman has managed to take a look at the worst side of the church, and find good. Her insights into human nature and the result of following others blindly, create opportunity to look in the mirror. We have the same propensity to believe the worst of others, and the use of fiction lays it all bare.

With this first novel, Denman won the 2013 ACFW Genesis Award! She says, “Not all congregations are as bitter as [this], but as long as we’re on earth, the church will be filled with humans who have real-life flaws and opinions. I pray we have the humility and strength to forgive each other’s sins until we reach heaven, where everything will be so, so much easier.”

It is so important that the church listen. We turn others away without knowing their stories, and lose something of ourselves in the process. It is by embracing our differences, that we will really embrace wholeness. And the power of fiction to flesh out a truth is packed beautifully in the pages of Jaded.

Take a look at my review of Book 2 here. And watch for my review of Book 3 on June 30. But, you just may not be able to wait that long! Get your own copies of the Trilogy, and judge for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Sally

Note: I received this book as part of the Jilted blog tour from Radiant Lit. I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Review copy provided by the publisher for Radiant Lit Blog Tours.


Review & a Giveaway: The NKJV American Woman’s Bible!

NKJV American Womans Bible

The timing for the release of The NKJV American Woman’s Bible, and a celebration of our heritage of faith, could not be better. As we approach the birthday of our nation, we reflect on ways the Lord has intervened for our country, and the principles on which it was built. To say this book is patriotic would be true, but it is so much more. It begins with “A Woman’s Journey To Godliness,” and continues with examples from our nation’s history of women who fleshed out what it meant to embrace faith in tumultuous times.

General Editor, Dr. Richard G. Lee has done his research! Indeed, he compiled the American Patriot’s Bible and authored another twenty-one books. His works highlight the legacy of the Judeo-Christian values that created a foundation for our government and justice system. He says, “American history is no stranger to the fact that God uses humble, unassuming ‘everyday’ people to do extraordinary things.”

I love the behind-the-scenes look at our country. Sidebars are filled with quotes and qualities of virtuous women. Biographies add detail to the lives of many unknown, but influential people. And glossy inserts are packed with the stories of those who sacrificed and served their Lord and country.

In a time when patriotism is ebbing low, this book is an important standard. It lifts up the Word of God and shows how applicable it continues to be, in every generation.

The fascinating biographies include immigrants, pioneers, presidents’ wives, missionaries, writers, peasants, celebrities, slaves, singers and songwriters. Here’s a sampling of the quotes that grabbed my attention:

“You can be too big for God to use, but you cannot be too small.” – Nelle Reagan

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.” – Corrie ten Boom

“Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.” – Helen Keller

“Faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It’s simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step.” – Joni Eareckson Tada

“Democracies have been, and governments called, free; but the spirit of independence and the consciousness of unalienable rights, were never before transfused into the minds of a whole people…The feeling of equality which they proudly cherish does not proceed from an ignorance of their station, but from the knowledge of their rights; and it is this knowledge which will render it so exceedingly difficult for any tyrant ever to triumph over the liberties of our country.” – Sarah Josepha Hale

”The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

Do you love stories of heroes of the faith? Hebrews 12:1 says we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. They are the ones who endured hardship and overcame difficulties with a shining faith in God. The NKJV American Woman’s Bible is an inspiring look at the sacrificial ways women gave their devotion to God’s truths and the practice of those truths in a young nation.

I am giving away a copy, courtesy of Thomas Nelson Publishers, to one reader in the continental United States. Leave a comment on my blog (Comments are at the top, under the title) about a favorite hero of the faith, and you will be entered into the drawing, to be held one week from today, June 16, 2016. Side note for those from my area, there is even a biography of Mary A. Lathbury, who helped found the Chautauqua Movement in Western New York!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the The Blog Spot Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Book Review: Miriam

Miriam

Do you ever wonder what it must have been like to experience the Ten Plagues of Egypt, and escape? Or, what cataclysmic event had to happen for the Israelites to be willing to uproot from everything they knew? Miriam, a novel by Mesu Andrews, gives a glimpse behind the scenes, to equip the mind and senses in that process.

Who is Mesu Andrews? She is a student of God’s Word and the award-winning author of Love Amid the Ashes and numerous other novels, including The Pharaoh’s Daughter. She uses fiction to fill in the blanks of long-loved stories of the Bible. Her imagination and research bring details that explain gaps in the passage, causing the stories to jump to life with new vibrancy.

Through the doubts of Miriam and her family, we experience the turmoil they faced in the new revelation Moses brought of God. Andrews captures the pain of unanswered questions and the 400 year silence of El Shaddai. But, like Miriam, we also experience Yahweh anew, as we learn to trust the One who leads us into the unknown.

You’ll want to experience this book, and yes, it is an experience. Through the questions asked by the Israelites, we come to understand the enormity of God’s sacrifice for us, as His Son was represented by the sacrificial lamb, slain at Passover. It sets the stage for the greatest event in history, the sacrifice and resurrection of the Lamb of God.

Miriam is a book that inspires awe and trust in the God who rescued Israel from bondage, and rescues us from a life enslaved to sin.

Sally

FTC disclaimer: “I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.”


Book Review: Kisses from Katie

 

This book is profoundly disturbing. And it shakes me to the core. Kisses from Katie is the story of a high school senior who travels to Uganda and subsequently invests her life in the people she meets there. Katie Davis says her life is not extraordinary, but she goes on to describe extraordinary ways the Lord shows up in desperate circumstances.

Katie Davis came with no formal training, no formal backing and no formal plan. She was compelled to get involved, and took the first step. She used her hands and feet to show God’s love in practical ways, and became known in an impoverished land as “Mommy.” Indeed, at age 18, she fed, schooled, applied medical help, housed and eventually adopted. Now, ten years later, Katie’s nonprofit has a Board of Directors, farming education to sustain life, food outreach, a self-sustaining vocational program and sponsors over 700 children.

Amazima-Masese-2000x1333

Katie says, “Jesus wrecked my life.”

I’ve run into that phrase before. It means she became uncomfortable with her comfortable life. And her words create discomfort with the way we’re doing things in Western society.

Katie found a paradox in Uganda: “amazing, breathtaking beauty juxtaposed against immense poverty and desolation.”

She says, “Materially speaking, the people who began to fill my life were the poorest I had ever met and yet they overflowed with the riches of the heart. They lived in houses of sticks or stones and mud; they slept on hard dirt floors. But they did not blame God for this or ask Him for more. They knew their circumstances were due to the brokenness of this world and they simply praised Jesus for keeping them alive through it all.”

Katie saw children dying from preventable diseases and knew she had to find help. She began to contact people in her hometown of Nashville, TN in search of those willing to come alongside her. She described the need, not as statistics, but as “people I know and love.”

Katie’s approach to her life and work in Uganda might be considered radical, even controversial. She gives to people who cannot repay. She helps those who should be able to help themselves. Yet, the message is an important one. We must get involved. When God’s people reach out to others, that love will transform people, one life at a time.

If you want to stay comfortable, don’t read this book. It gets under your skin. However, I challenge you to get your own copy and a pen. Highlight ideas, quotes and values. Let two worlds merge in your own heart as you seek how the Lord will lead you to be obedient, as a missionary, right where you are. And, in your imperfect, inadequate efforts to serve Him, you will find new release as you lean on Christ.

Sally


The Nest

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How does she do it, that Momma bird? She makes a home for her babies that is tightly knit. It rests on the ledge of my windowsill like a little castle on top of a mountain. Twigs, feathers and all manner of layers are woven together to create a safe haven. We startle Momma Bird every time we walk into the room, so I took to leaving the blinds closed. I wanted her to know we wouldn’t harm her brood.
We stick together, us Mommas. We find ways to help each other as we bring our babies into the world. We protect and feed our babies and we provide a safe haven for them, all in the hopes that one day they will discover their own wings.

It’s a tricky thing, this process of letting go. You raise your brood to be independent thinkers, yet when they achieve that, they no longer need Momma anymore. Or, so I thought. In the same weekend we watched our daughter march across the platform to get her diploma, she reminded me of words of wisdom from my own Mom. And I knew for a fact that you never outgrow your need for your Mom.
Sally
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When All You Can Do Is Pray

Praying woman hands
Praying woman hands

Ever feel so helpless that you can think of nothing else to do to help a situation, except to pray? I’m task-oriented, and that means a task gives me purpose. But, what if my greatest purpose is to pray? Prayer is hard work. It is a discipline that harnesses the mind and will and channels it to seek God’s will. So, instead of prayer being the last resort, it becomes my first choice.

Scripture is a great tool for prayer. It mobilizes and empowers prayers. For example, which prayers are more effective?
A. “Lord, bless Nate today.”
B. “Lord, enable Nate to know how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)
A. “Lord, be with Kenzie today.”
B. “Lord, may Kenzie know the truth of Your Word today and be reminded that You will never leave her or forsake her.” (Hebrews 13:5b)
A. “Lord, protect Anna today.”
B. “Lord, may Anna find refuge in You today. Carry her safely in Your everlasting arms. Destroy any evil intended for her.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)
In every A example, I am asking good things for my family. But the B examples help me to feel I’ve really been specific and gone to bat for them. One of the places I learned to be very specific in prayer was through Moms In Prayer, International. Moms In Prayer organizes moms to pray for their children and schools. And they have equipped countless families to build a strong foundation in God’s Word. It helped ours through some tough times, as well. Check out their website for more prayer tips.
As author, Mary DeMuth prompts, May I pray for you today?
“May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:17-19a) Amen.             In the comments section (located under the title), tell me what Scripture you will use to infuse your prayers today!
Sally


Book Review: The Third Target

Third Target

A heart-stopping thriller, The Third Target is the story of a clash of world views. The Free World wants to foster Peace Treaties; ISIS wants annihilation of the infidels. The reporter, James Collins is in a race against time. ISIS wants credit for mass destruction against Israel and the U.S., but they also want the element of surprise. If he can verify his leads and facts in the story, he can get it to press before it’s too late to warn people. But someone has other plans for J.B. Collins.

Joel C. Rosenberg has pulled together another spellbinder about the turmoil in the Middle East that has pulled our shores closer to the battle.   Rosenberg “spent more than a decade in Washington as a senior advisor to a number of U.S. and Israeli leaders including Steve Forbes, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Natan Sharansky.”

His novels have gleaned huge attention, as world events unfold similar to what he has written. How can he be so close in detail? He was convinced a War on Terror was coming, mapped out what it could look like, and then researched his map.

The timing of Rosenberg’s books is uncanny. In an age when Biblical prophecy is unfolding before our eyes, Rosenberg is connecting events with narrative fiction in a compelling way. He is explaining prophesies through dialogue with the characters and scenes in locations where events are happening daily.

Can one person make a difference? One thing I questioned was the weight a news correspondent carried with political leaders. Would world rulers in real life summon a journalist? Maybe not, but it made for an exciting story.

I loved the background research in the importance of the Temple Mount, The Dome of the Rock and the city of Jerusalem to Moslems, Christians and Jews. The author used dialogue to inform and show details to great advantage. And he explained why a journalist’s reporting of stories helps to stop a wrong by exposing it.

What an incredible book! It would be of interest to anyone who watches the evening news or reads the newspaper. It catalogues current events with a captivating storyline. It makes me excited to live in this time in history, by seeing it through different eyes. And I struggled with J.B. as he questioned faith and how it applies to facing death. It all comes down to the question J.B.’s brother asks, “What are you going to do with Jesus?”

Indeed, a question we will all have to answer, soon.

Sally

Note: I received this book as part of the Tyndale Rewards Program. I received no compensation for this review. Do you want to get free books too? Here’s my link.


B & B Review: The Teacher’s Pet

A venture down a country road in Pennsylvania turns out to be an adventure to another era. Innkeepers Dave & Judy Clum have created a cozy step back in time with antiques in every nook and cranny. The rooms of their B & B are homey and inviting, with the school theme everywhere, and apple motifs bring back memories of the respect shown toward a cherished profession. Both teachers by trade, Dave & Judy’s home has become a getaway for the student in all of us, yearning for a quiet place to read a good book.

Hubby and I were greeted with mint chocolate chip cookies and a tour. We had our choice of upstairs bedrooms, both with their own bathroom. Ours had a covered four-poster bed with quilted covers and steps for my short legs to climb into the tall bed.

Our Innkeepers steered us to a lovely supper at Log Cabin Inn in Harmony, where we were treated like royalty for an unusual opportunity of uninterrupted dialogue. We finally had a chance to catch up with each other’s hearts!

The morning’s meal was a sight for the eyes, as well as a treat for the taste buds. Our hosts prepared fresh fruit, French toast with confectioners’ sugar, eggs, and toast with homemade blueberry preserves. I sipped from my china teacup in front of a roaring fire and realized it had been far too long since I had actually used a teacup at home. A mug says tackle the day! The teacup is a reminder to slow down and treat life gently. Another simple but special treat was the addition of orange sherbet to the orange juice. It’s one of those things that I could easily put together at home, but never thought to do. It makes an ordinary morning feel extra special.

Dave & Judy Clum

The cherry on top for our breakfast, however, was a visit with our hosts. Dave is a history buff and knowledgeable about subjects from furniture building to the George Washington Trail that runs through Portersville. The antiques they’ve amassed over the years create a warm atmosphere for a visit with new friends. And the motifs nudge a bent toward conversation on a sunny day. It was a B & B worth repeating!

Sally


Book Review: Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love

Raising Big Kids

Did you get an eye-roll with a “whatever,” today? Then you might be the parent of a tween or teen. And you might have realized by this point in your child’s life, that there is no perfect formula for parenting. However, Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love comes pretty close to being a near-perfect parenting manual. Cleverly disguised as a book for parents to glean skills in child-rearing, it actually teaches us to be better adults.

Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love is packed with tools, examples and suggestions for a way to role-play the various hats we wear as parents. The authors, Lori Wildenberg and Becky Danielson bring their collective experience with their own families, as well as examples gleaned through conducting parenting classes. Wildenberg and Danielson are co-founders of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, and authors of three parenting books. They are licensed parent-family educators, certified teachers, and moms of six between them. Their writing style is straight forward, as they advocate parents can engage with the teen’s world in a healthy and growing relationship.

In a time when we’re worried about being politically correct, the authors hold a high standard for child-rearing. They tackle tough issues like cyber bullying, peer pressure and sexual activity, and lay out a guide to providing a safe and secure home in a shifting culture. Their reliance on Scripture and prayer is refreshing, as they provide practical tips for conversations with teens and a desire to reach their hearts. I love the emphasis on character development and the encouragement to persevere, when you’d rather throw in the towel.

I wish I would have had this book when my own were teens. It reassures that times of failure are when we are most teachable, and we can develop character traits that will benefit our kids their whole lives. It provides a way to navigate the murky waters of expectations and miscommunication. And it is an encouraging and empowering book that is an important part of every parent’s arsenal!

Sally

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the The Blog Spot Network book review program in exchange for a fair and honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”