Thursday, October 28, 2010

CFBA: A Season of Miracles by Rusty Whitener

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

A Season of Miracles
Kregel Publications; Reprint edition (August 3, 2010)


Rusty Whitener

Due to time constraints I chose not to review this book.


Looking back on the 1971 Little League season, Zack Ross relives the summer that changed his life…

Gunning for the championship is all that matters until twelve-year-old Zack meets Rafer, a boy whose differences make him an outcast but whose abilities on the baseball field make him the key to victory.

Admired for his contribution to the team, Rafer turns everyone’s expectations upside down, bestowing a gift to Zack and his teammates that forces them to think—is there more to life than winning or losing? And what is this thing called grace?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Season of Miracles, go HERE.


Rusty Whitener is a novelist, screenwriter, and actor. His first screenplay, Touched, won second place at the 2009 Kairos Prize at the Los Angeles Movieguide Awards and first place at the Gideon film festival. That screenplay soon became A Season of Miracles. The movie version of this book is now in production with Elevating Entertainment. Find out more at and Videos and book club discussion questions are also available at


“A Season of Miracles is a must read for anyone who has ever played youth baseball. I read the book, and was reacquainted with my childhood. In the midst of an enjoyable read that took me down memory lane was a touching, challenging and beautiful story about how God can use the unlikeliest among us to draw us to Him.”—Matt Diaz, outfielder, Atlanta Braves
“Baseball, inspiration and childhood memories—a great combination. I couldn’t put it down!”—Richard Sterban, bass singer for The Oak Ridge Boys
“Rusty Whitener weaves a deft tale of young friendship and the curve balls of faith, the whole story seasoned with sunshine and the leathery scent of baseball gloves!”—Ray Blackston, author of Flabbergasted
A Season of Miracles is a heartwarming all American story of small town boys and Little League baseball. You’ll be cheering this captivating bunch of characters all the way home both in their game of baseball and the bigger game of life.”—Ann Gabhart, award-winning author of The Outsider

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CFBA: Lydia's Charm by Wanda E. Brunstetter

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

Lydia's Charm
Barbour Books (September 1, 2010)


Wanda E. Brunstetter

Due to time restraints this month, I was unable to review this book.


Widowed and jobless, Lydia King moves her son and herself to Charm, Ohio, to be close to her mother and help with her grandfather. Menno Troyer, a furniture store owner, is also recently widowed and the father of four energetic boys.

Levi Stutzman, another newcomer to the area, is the only one in his family not handicapped by dwarfism and has dedicated his life to caring for them. As fall colors the countryside, will anonymous gifts left for Lydia bring her hope for a new life and romance, or will another tragedy flood her with infinite despair?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Lydia's Charm, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:


A Note From Wanda:

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a writer. When I was in the second grade, I wrote my first poem about a moth. Luckily, I received encouragement from my teacher. During my teen years, I wrote skits that my church teen group performed during special holidays.

It wasn’t until 1980, that I took a course on writing for children and teenagers. I became serious about a career as an author. Soon after that, I began to write stories, articles, poems, and devotionals, which appeared in a variety of Christian publications. Later, I had 5 books of puppet/ventriloquist scripts published. *These books are currently available by contacting me. (

My first novel was released by Barbour Publishing’s book club, Heartsong Presents, in Dec. 1997. I have now written nearly fifty books, with over 4 million books in print. Many of the novels I've written are Amish-themed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

CFBA: A Very Private Grave by Donna Fletcher Crow

Song Stuck on the Brain: If You Have Faith by Brother John

I love this song, it brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Today was a day I really needed the reminder of His promises. The song ran through my head all day.

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

A Very Private Grave
Monarch Books (August 1, 2010)


Donna Fletcher Crow


This is such a unique and exciting new view of mystery suspense. It reminded me a little of Stephen R. Lawhead with the detail involved in the research of St. Cuthbert's history. Sometimes in-depth detail into historical tails like this fall flat when mixed with a fast paced modern mystery, but Ms. Crow handled it beautifully. I found myself anxiously waiting for more historical details, just as much as I wanted to know the identity of the killer. The answers to the mystery don't come easy either and it's fun to feel as if you're in the process of solving it along with Antony and Felicity.

Despite a few theological issues that are brought up that I don't fully agree with, I didn't find that they kept me from enjoying the novel, and in fact found it really intriguing to see 'inside another world' so to speak, and understand how other Christian factions both differ and agree with one another.

The characters were fresh, uniquely flawed and heroic in their own way, and completely engaging. I look forward to the sequel.


Felicity Howard, a young American studying for the Anglican priesthood at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic bludgeoned to death and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood.

Following the cryptic clues contained in a poem the dead man had pressed upon her minutes before his death, she and Fr. Antony—who is wanted for questioning by the police—flee the monastery to seek more information about Fr. Dominic and end up in the holy island of Lindisfarne, former home of Saint Cuthbert.

Their quest leads them into a dark puzzle...and considerable danger.

If you would like to read the Prologue and first Chapter of A Very Private Grave, go HERE.

Watch the book video:


Donna Fletcher Crow is author of more than thirty-five novels. She has twice won first place in the Historical Fiction category from the National Association of Press Women, and has also been a finalist for "Best Inspirational Novel" from the Romance Writers of America. She is a member of The Arts Centre Group and Sisters in Crime. Find out more at


"History and mystery and murders most foul keep the pages turning ... A fascinating read." –Liz Curtis Higgs, bestelling author of Thorn in My Heart
“A Knickerbocker Glory of a thriller, a sweeping, page-turning quest served up with dollops of Church history and lashings of romance. Donna Fletcher Crow has created her own niche within the genre of clerical mysteries.” – Kate Charles, author of Deep Waters
“As in Glastonbury, Donna Fletcher Crow’s descriptions of the English and Scottish settings in her new mystery are drawn with real artistry. Lovers of British history and church history will be impressed by her grasp of both.”—Sally Wright, Edgar Award finalist and author of the Ben Reese Mysteries

Monday, October 18, 2010

CFBA: While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin

Song Stuck on the Brain: Put You in a Song by Keith Urban

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

While We're Far Apart
Bethany House (October 1, 2010)


Lynn Austin


Lynn Austin gives us a window into life that is particular to WWII, but could easily be a window into our present day world as well. War and love, prejudice and fear of the unknown, and courage are at the heart of each of the characters lives. A rather unassuming cast really, but each so unique and tender that you find yourself sinking into each of their lives to live out each moment with them. The story captured me quickly and I couldn't put it down. Although it's a romance, it wasn't the romance I expected. Girl gets boy and there is definitely a happily ever after, but it was as much a romance between God and His children. In a way each character, Penny, Esther, Mr. Mendel - each had their own love story fulfilled, their own happy ending. What a journey and what a fantastic read. I love this one.


In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother.

Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember; now that Eddie's wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war.

And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary. But during the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front will go from bad to worse.

Yet these characters will find themselves growing and changing in ways they never expected--and ultimately discovering truths about God's love...even when He is silent.

If you would like to read the first chapter of While We're Far Apart, go HERE.


It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CFBA: Ember's of Love by Tracie Peterson

Song Stuck on the Brain: Independent Woment by Destiny's Child

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

Embers of Love
Bethany House (October 1, 2010)


Tracie Peterson


Due to a busy schedule this month, I wasn't able to request a copy of Embers of Love for review. I'm happy to share this book tour with you in hopes you'll check it out for yourself.


The logging industry in eastern Texas is booming, and Deborah Vandermark plans to assist her family's business now that she's completed college. Unexpectedly, her best friend, Lizzie Decker, accompanies her back home--fleeing a wedding and groom she has no interest in.

Deborah, the determined matchmaker, puts her sights on uniting her brother and dear friend in a true love match. Deborah soon meets Dr. Christopher Clayton, a much-needed addition to the town. As their lives intersect, Deborah realizes that she has a much greater interest in medicine and science than the bookkeeping she was trained in.

But when typhoid begins to spread and Lizzie's jilted fiance returns, Deborah wonders if true love can overcome such obstacles...for those dearest to her, and for herself.

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


Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 85 novels.

She received her first book contract in November, 1992 and saw A Place To Belong published in February 1993 with Barbour Publishings' Heartsong Presents. She wrote exclusively with Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership's vote for Favorite Author of the Year for three years in a row.

In December, 1995 she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers to co-write a series with author Judith Pella. Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers.

She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research.

Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and her books have won numerous awards for favorite books in a variety of contests.

Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family--especially her three grandchildren--Rainy, Fox and Max. She's active in her church as the Director of Women's Ministries, coordinates a yearly writer's retreat for published authors, and travels, as time permits, to research her books.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

CFBA: Snow Day by Billy Coffey

Song Stuck on the Brain: A Year Without Rain by Selena Gomez

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

Snow Day
FaithWords (October 11, 2010)


Billy Coffey


Due to a busy schedule this month, I wasn't able to request a copy of Snow Day for review. I'm happy to share this book tour with you in hopes you'll check it out for yourself.


In this debut novel, Peter is a simple man who lives by a simple truth--a person gains strength by leaning on his constants. To him, those constants are the factory where he works, the family he loves, and the God who sustains him. But when news of job cuts comes against the backdrop of an unexpected snowstorm, his life becomes filled with far more doubts than certainties.

With humor and a gift for storytelling, Billy Coffey brings you along as he spends his snow day encountering family, friends, and strangers of his small Virginia town. All have had their own battles with life's storms. Some have found redemption. Others are still seeking it. But each one offers a piece to the puzzle of why we must sometimes suffer loss, and each one will help Peter find a greater truth--our lives are made beautiful not by our big moments, but our little ones. (2010)

To read an excerpt from Snow Day, go HERE.


When you’re raised in small-town Virginia by a redneck father and a Mennonite mother, certain things become ingrained. And when you marry a small-town girl and have two small-town kids, all you want to do is pass those ingrained things along.

Like believing the best life is one lived in the country enjoying the pleasures it provides—summer nights beneath the stars, rocking chairs on the front porch, deer grazing in the fields. And believing that no matter how iffy life can get sometimes, there are some things that are eternal and unchanging.

But above all else, believing that in everything there is story waiting to be told.

That’s where I come in.

Billy Coffey was raised on stories. The first ones came on the front porches of relatives, tales laced with local charm and deep meaning. Then came the stories from people like Max Lucado and Robert Fulghum, who write with a charm and deep meaning of their own.

Billy lives with his wife and two children in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. If you drive by his house, you’ll probably spot him on the front porch. If you do, give him a wave. He’ll wave back.

Friday, October 08, 2010

CFBA: Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe

Song Stuck on the Brain: In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe
Summerside Press (September 1, 2010)


Irene Brand & Anita Higman


Ahh, nothing like a good Christmas romance, or in this case two. An Appalachian Christmas is set in a time period I've always been drawn to, WWII. Julia and David are great characters with enough complexity to their lives to keep the novella from feeling to easy. Sometimes, novellas seem a little too hurried, but neither An Appalachian Christmas or Once Upon a Christmas Eve felt hurried or incomplete. Where the historical novel was poignant and a little heartrending at times, the modern day story of Holly and Owen kept the balance with a more lighthearted and fun twist. Both equally enjoyable and compelling. Although, if forced, I might just choose Noel, Missouri simply for being set in my home state. :) I love the Ozark mountains and spent a lot of my childhood with relatives in Springfield and southern Missouri.

I think what I appreciated the most though, was that the stories addressed true Godly love, real life and tough decisions (all set in very romantic Holiday settings) without being cheesy or corny. So pour a cup of hot cocoa, grab a snugly blanket, and curl up for a good read. This one should be enjoyed be everyone.


Two Christmas stories - one historical, one contemporary - under one cover!

Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: An Appalachian Christmas

A promise to her dying sister compels Julia Mayfield to take her young nephew to Mistletoe, Kentucky, a tiny town tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains. Sparks fly when she meets David Armstrong, a World War II veteran like herself. Even as shadows from the past weave a dangerous web around Julia and David, will their love flourish like the mistletoe that blankets the nearby hills?

Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: Once Upon a Christmas Eve

Holly Goodnight's store has just been voted best Christmas shop in America. All the new publicity draws flamboyant novelist Van Keaton to the cozy town of Noel, Missouri, demanding to write Holly's story - a dramatic tale of misfortune and triumph. She is swept up in his world of beautiful words and fanciful interludes. . .until Owen Quigly, her lifelong best friend, launches a plan to win her back.

If you would like to read an excerpt of Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:


Irene Brand has written Sunday School curriculum, edited a two-year series of mission curriculum, and her works have appeared in five program-material anthologies. Her publishers include Zondervan, Standard Publishing, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Fleming-Revell, Barbour Publishing, Kregel Publications, Steeple Hill (inspirational imprint of Silhouette), and Summerside Press. She has had 4 non-fiction books published, and 43 fiction works. Her first inspirational romance was published in 1984.

Award-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-six books published (several coauthored) for adults and children, and she has been honored as a Barnes & Noble Author of the Month for Houston. Anita has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Her favorite things include exotic teas, movies, and all things Jane Austen.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

CFBA: Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

Song Stuck on the Brain: You Drive Me Crazy by NSYNC

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing:

Within My Heart
Bethany House; Original edition (September 1, 2010)


Tamera Alexander


This follow up book in the Timber Ridge series left me teary eyed and heart warmed. This novel tells Rachel and Rand's story. Bringing together two scarred lives and making them whole with love. Not just their own, but the love of God, family and friends.

Tamera touched some very deep emotional chords. Both Rand and Rachel suffered great emotional trauma, but they weren't the only ones. The author included the stories of others' heartbreaks as well, giving the Hero and Heroine a chance to see their pain through different eyes and different circumstances. Ben and Lyda, Rachel's closest friends, were as deeply entrenched in the story as Rachel and Rand. Their love story was just as amazing and important to the story. I love how Tamara wove all the separate story lines together. She did an amazing job.

It was obvious that the author was writing from the heart and real life experience. I felt it with every tear that slipped out while reading. I don't cry easily when reading a story, but I connected so completely with the characters, I couldn't stop myself. And yet, the humor was clear and I laughed out loud too. That is the mark of a fantastic story. When it worms it's way down into your heart and comes to life inside of you. When you put the book down feeling like you've grown because of the experiences you've read. When it makes you stop and think about what you would do in their place, and whether you would have had the faith to stand strong.

I highly recommend this book and those proceeding it. Be sure to read Tamera's note at the end of the story explaining her own experience with death as she lost her mother to cancer during the writing of the book. It shows how deeply she connected with the story and how much she bared her soul to her readers during the writing process. It's very moving.


Determined to fulfill her late husband’s dream, Rachel Boyd struggles to keep her ranch afloat with the help of her two young sons. But some days it feels as though her every effort is sabotaged. When faced with a loss she cannot afford, she’s forced to trust Rand Brookston, the one man in Timber Ridge she wishes to avoid. And with good reason. He’s a physician, just like her father, which tells her everything she needs to know about him. Or so she thinks . . .

Dr. Rand Brookston ventured west with the dream of bringing modern medicine to the wilds of the Colorado Rockies, but the townspeople have been slow to trust him. Just as slow in coming is Rand’s dream to build the town a proper clinic. When a patient’s life is threatened, Rand makes a choice—one that sends ripples through the town of Timber Ridge. And through Rachel Boyd’s stubborn heart.

From the beloved, bestselling author of From a Distance and Beyond This Moment comes an unforgettable story about faith in the face of fear, about tarnished hopes and second chances, and ultimately about the resilient courage and tenacity of hearts broken––and mended––by love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Within My Heart, go HERE.


Tamera Alexander is the best-selling author of Rekindled, Revealed and Remembered, the critically acclaimed Fountain Creek Chronicles historical series with Bethany House Publishers. Her second historical series, Timber Ridge Reflections (From a Distance, Beyond This Moment, and Within My Heart), penned in her style with deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose have earned her devoted readers—and multiple industry awards.

These awards include the 2009 and 2008 Christy Award, the 2007 RITA for Best Inspirational Romance, the 2009 and 2007 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, 2007 Bookseller’s Best Award, and Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction for 2006, among others.

After living in Colorado for seventeen years, Tamera has returned to her Southern roots. She and her husband now make their home in Nashville with Tamera's father, Doug. They enjoy life there with Joe and Tamera's two adult children, and Jack, a precious—and precocious—silky terrier.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Dead Rise First by Alton Ragan & Robert McLaughlin

Song Stuck on the Brain: Sigh No More from Much Ado About Nothing's Soundtrack

Today I'm reviewing a self-published book sent to me by Hamby Media. Although I don't typically review self-published books, this one intrigued me. Being a self-pubbed author myself, I believe in giving others a chance if they've put the work into making the book a quality product.

The book is The Dead Rise First by Alton Ragan and Robert McLaughlin. Although, I can't say I see eye to eye with them on every point of religious philosophy, I think they made some very interesting points. The biggest being that as a whole the Christian community has become apathetic. We don't put enough focus on preparedness for the coming of Jesus. I also appreciated that they bring into focus that we can't choose to believe in something just because it's what we've always heard. You have to study the Scriptures and believe what Jesus said. It's all about following His word, not someone else's interpretation.

So, I'm posting the information for you to choose whether to read it or not. I think it has merit, but as in all things, read it prayerfully asking Jesus to show you truth in all things.


In the small town of Jordan, Oklahoma residents find themselves the victim of a shocking terrorist attack. A society so completely dependant on technology for its security and commerce has suddenly been turned upside down. Even worse than the uncertainty of their immediate safety is another problem that no one can explain.

People who have been dead for years are popping up all over town, appearing and giving witness that the Rapture of the Church is eminent but for the lost, the Great Tribulation. Who will listen to their message and repent and who will refuse to believe their own eyes?

Meet Jack, a pastor who is suddenly slapped in the face by what has happened and then baffled when he spots Sister Gregg, a former member of his church. The only trouble is the last time he saw the woman was at her own funeral. The town begins to shake at these events and as a church turns to their leader, Pastor Jack desperately searches for the answers he must give his congregation. How much time remains for people to repent is anyone’s guess, for Jack and his flock it’s a race to reach the lost.

The Dead Rise First is a fast paced, intriguing read for anyone interested in the Rapture. This book brings something new to readers and is provoking discussion among scholars with this one question: why do the dead rise first? Although purely fiction, the events are based on scriptural answers that unearth a new understanding concerning the rapture of the Church. Does it reveal a mystery about how God will raise the dead in Christ as seen in 1Thess. 4:13-14? Will it be the same way Jesus resurrected in Matthew 27:52-53? You decide.


Alton Ragan is an author, business owner and presently serves on the board of Shawnee Rescue Mission, an inner urban outreach, where they feed the hungry and meet the needs of people with open air witnessing and preaching. He has served on the board of two churches and co hosted a small television program, in the late 1990s called "Truth Talks" on channel 11 in Norman, Oklahoma. He has been an avid student of God’s Word for more than thirty years and his heart burns for souls in these last days. He is the father of two children and three grandchildren. Alton Ragan resides with his wife of 34 years in central Oklahoma where he continues to write.

Robert McLaughlin started writing after he had a few discussions with an acquintance about the kind of books they enjoyed reading, along with ones they wanted to see written. He finally decided he could write those kinds of books, which actually were ones that had no conclusion but ended in an apocaleptic fasion. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be a market for them but there is a market for many other types of fiction.