Posted 5/12/15 at 1:42 PM | Audra Jennings
Against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent times in American history, the post-Civil War era, one woman struggles against prejudice, injustice and suffocating conventions of the 19th century to pursue her dream. Tamera Alexander’s To Win Her Favor (Zondervan/May 12, 2015/ISBN: 9780310291077/ $15.99), the second stand-alone novel in the Belle Meade Plantation series, is already receiving high praise. According to Library Journal, “Strong characters, a sense of the times and the themes of love, friendship and the importance of loyalty and determination make To Win Her Favor a triumph.”
Maggie Linden lost nearly everything in the Civil War — including most of her family. She’s about to lose her stables and land at Linden Downs and her thoroughbred racing hopes as well. A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie is determined that her mare, Bourbon Belle, will become a champion. Indeed, her only hope of saving Linden Downs is if the horse takes the top purse in the inaugural Peyton Stakes, the richest race ever run in America. To give his daughter a chance, Maggie’s wily father makes a barter. But his agreement includes one troublesome detail: Maggie must marry a man she’s never met — a man she never would have chosen for herself.
An Irishman far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once-prosperous life in England because of a horse-racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and begin farming, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. With “No Irish Need Apply” signs greeting him at every turn, Cullen finds starting over proves much more difficult than he wagered. When Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn't accept, he finds it impossible to refuse.
In this page-turning tale, Alexander includes revealing insights about the challenges females faced in the 19th century and the courage it took to overcome them. In marriage, women were to be passive, obedient and cooperative. But in horse racing, women weren't even allowed to participate. White men owned the blood horses, and young slave boys were the ones who jockeyed the magnificent thoroughbreds. Women and girls weren't allowed— at least, not without a fight.
To Win Her Favor captures a challenging and pivotal time in American history when social and racial tensions ran high in the years following the Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 granted freedom to slaves in the 10 states still in rebellion, but it didn't outlaw slavery, nor did it grant citizenship to ex-slaves. But Freedmen weren't the only ones who suffered enormous abuse and ridicule. Irish immigrants, like Cullen, were scorned by society and routinely ridiculed alongside Freedmen in both newspapers and daily life.
While revisiting this chapter in American history can be painful, Alexander, a Southerner herself, believes it’s important to learn what the era can teach us about ourselves and others. Her latest novel encompasses not only themes of forgiveness and extraordinary courage, but it also explores burgeoning love and the intimacies of marriage between a man and woman who didn't choose to be together. And yet, because they hold the key to each other’s dreams, they struggle to make it work.
Alexander hopes ultimately readers will close the covers of To Win Her Favor motivated to search their own hearts in relation to prejudice and have the courage to take whatever steps are necessary toward healing the divide.
About the Author
Tamera Alexander is the USA Today bestselling author of numerous books, including A Lasting Impression, A Beauty So Rare, To Whisper Her Name and From a Distance. Her richly drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide, as well as multiple industry awards.
These awards include two Christy Awards for Excellence in Christian Fiction, two RITA awards for Best Inspirational Romance, three Gayle Wilson Awards of Excellence, two Bookseller’s Best Awards and being listed among Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction, among others.
After living in Colorado for 17 years, Alexander has returned to her Southern roots. She and her husband now make their home in Nashville where they enjoy life with their two adult children who live nearby and Jack, a precocious terrier.
Author draws a definitive parallel to today’s persecution of Christians in the Middle East
The current persecution of Christians in the Mideast has its echo in the religious cleansing that swept Asia Minor early in the last century. Over the course of ten years beginning in 1912, three million Christians were slaughtered. It was the first genocide of the 20th century. Smyrna was a majority-Christian city inside the mostly Islamic Ottoman Empire, and its destruction was the final episode of the genocide. A small-town minister whose faith in God gave him the strength to save hundreds of thousands of lives during the Armenian genocide is at the center of a new book, THE GREAT FIRE: One American's Mission to Rescue Victims of the 20th Century's First Genocide (HarperCollins), written by critically-acclaimed author Lou Ureneck.
The book tells the story of Reverend Asa K. Jennings who arranged the evacuation of the city of Smyrna (Turkey) after it was burned and a slaughter of its Christian inhabitants was begun by the Turkish army in September 1922. The arson and slaughter at Smyrna occurred as the navies of the great powers – the United States, Great Britain, France and Italy -- stood by as neutrals. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of helpless people seemed inevitable until an American minister came forward to stage a bold rescue with the help of a courageous U.S. Naval officer. FULL POST
Posted 5/11/15 at 11:43 AM | Audra Jennings
Just like a single candle can brighten a dark room, a glimmer of hope can sustain the soul in dark times. In her highly-anticipated second novel, Kristy Cambron shines a light on the resiliency of the human spirit in A Sparrow in Terezin (Thomas Nelson/April 7, 2015/ISBN: 978-1401690618/$15.99).
Posted 5/11/15 at 12:47 AM | Ramona Tucker
A field trip to the zoo for a group of kindergartners is definitely an educational experience. A field trip to the zoo for a kindergartner’s grandfather chaperone is most definitely one too.
The kindergartners from Drew’s school went to the Montgomery Zoo last Friday. Kindergartners on any field trip require a great deal of adult supervision. Drew’s parents both had to work and couldn’t take the day off to go. His Gigi was in the hospital recovering from knee replacement surgery. She certainly could not go run after young’uns. Somebody needed to go and yours truly was available. I thought it would be fun and indeed it was. After all, all I had to do was keep up with three kindergarten students - three boys - three five year old boys. How hard could that be, right? An ever so slight tinge of trepidation coursed through my brain as I watched bus after bus from other schools pull up and unload. I didn’t know, but I thought it must have been school day at the zoo. I noticed with amazement at how many of those students looked and dressed alike. I suddenly realized if my boys got away from me that looking for them in that crowd would be like searching for three drops of blue water in the Pacific Ocean. FULL POST
Posted 5/7/15 at 1:07 PM | Audra Jennings
Becky Wade weaves a moving tale of the hope of redemptive love in her new book, A Love Like Ours (Bethany House/May 5, 2015/ISBN: 978-0764211096/$13.99). In it she introduces us to former Marine Jake Porter, who carries scars far deeper than the one that marks his face. After serving his country in the Middle East, he returns home struggling with symptoms of PTSD. His pain causes him to live a solitary life, avoiding relationships even with his dearest loved ones.
All of this is challenged when Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas. Despite his misgivings, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbred horses. He pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run. Jake finds his old friend to be tender-hearted, fiercely determined and afraid of nothing — just like she was as a little girl.
Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope Jake thought he’d lost forever returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?
According to statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs, 11-20 percent of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD in a given year. “I’m extremely grateful to our veterans for their service,” Wade says. “I cast Jake as my hero because I was moved by news stories I’ve seen and read throughout the years about service men and women who come home with physical injuries and/or disorders such as PTSD.”
A portion of the proceeds from A Love Like Ours pre-orders and post-release sales through May 17 will go to support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF), which builds centers on U.S. military bases to aid veterans in their recoveries from combat injuries. Wade selected this charity because IFHF goes beyond addressing physical rehabilitation, also helping with traumatic brain injuries and psychological health conditions.
Wade reveals she wants readers to walk away from A Love Like Ours with a renewed compassion for those who are hurting. “My desire is that this novel will remind readers that in God, there’s always reason to hope. He has the power to redeem all things in His time.”
About the Author
Wade and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad when Wade’s passion for reading turned into a passion for writing. She published three historical romances for the general market then put her career on hold to care for her kids. When God called her back to writing, Wade knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.
These days Wade can usually be found trying but failing to keep up with housework, carting her kids around town, playing tennis, hunched over her computer, or collapsed on the sofa watching TV with her husband.
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Posted 5/6/15 at 10:41 AM | Audra Jennings
Every married couple has tensions they need to work through, but can a relationship survive hundreds of miles and endless yards of razor wire? The tenacity of God’s love and His longing to redeem broken people and their relationships are principles at the core of award-winning author Cynthia Ruchti’s new novel, As Waters Gone By (Abingdon Press/May 5, 2015/ISBN: 978-1426787270/$14.99). FULL POST
Posted 5/4/15 at 12:30 PM | Audra Jennings
Bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer believes in the power of second chances — a theme she’s captured with poignant grace in her new book, When Grace Sings (WaterBrook Press/March 17, 2015/ISBN: 978-0307731333/ $14.99), which follows the CBA bestseller When Mercy Rains in The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy. Sawyer says the series is based on one simple truth: “God gives second chances. We as humans make our mistakes, we flounder and err and build walls that seem insurmountable,” Sawyer reveals. “When we confess our wrongdoings and ask God to redeem us, He brings restoration.” FULL POST
Posted 4/17/15 at 11:49 AM | Tim Challies
A friend and I were talking recently, and we discussed the current state of Christian publishing. He asked me, “What really good books have not yet been written?” I thought about it for a little while and came up with 7 books I would definitely read.
Al Mohler’s memoirs. There are some people whose lives merit a biography, and Mohler is definitely among them. But I would prefer to read Mohler’s memoirs than to read a traditional biography. He has a unique way of expressing himself and of relating his experiences, and I am convinced that some of this—too much of this—would be lost if someone else wrote an account of his life. So Dr. Mohler’s memoirs: this is at the top of my list, and I hope that some day he will publish them. I’d be first in line at the bookstore.
A biography of John MacArthur. Yes, I know that Iain Murray has already written a biography of John MacArthur, and it was pretty good. But, by Murray’s own admission, it is far from the final word. After all, its subject is still alive and still active in life and ministry, so the story of his life is not yet complete. What is undeniable is that MacArthur has had a profound influence on the world and on the church; few people have a real understanding of all he has accomplished, and all the Lord has accomplished through him. A great biography would allow us to glorify God for all he has done through MacArthur’s life and ministry. FULL POST
Posted 4/15/15 at 1:52 PM | Audra Jennings
Part 2 of an interview with Helo Matzelle,
Author of Halo Found Hope
Machines beeping, the blur of medical staff running, a crash cart whizzing into an ICU room, was there any hope? Helo Matzelle laid packed in ice as doctors attempted to somehow stop the swelling in her brain that threatened to take her life.
What was supposed to be six days of recovery in the hospital turned into eight weeks. She awoke to discover that she was not the same. She saw two of everything, couldn't feel half of her face, couldn't hear from one ear, and could not speak. She couldn't even tell anyone that she felt hopeless.
Halo Found Hope is the story of a busy wife and mother of three whose life changed instantly with the diagnosis of a rare brain tumor. An exceptional ENT, a brilliant neurosurgeon and a dedicated medical team tackled the tumor, setting off a series of unbelievable miracles. Helo’s story is not one of survival, or of salvaging a life through a broken body. It is not about endurance through pain, but victory because of it. While the family heard her silence, God heard her prayer.
Helo’s story is simply this: Wherever you are and whatever you are going through, God is right there.
Q: Prior to surgery, your doctor expected you to go home about a week after the surgery, but it took eight weeks instead. What happened that caused the delay?
My projected hospital stay was only six days. In 29 years of practice, my neurosurgeon only had one other patient in stay the hospital for more than a week after brain surgery. Of diagnosed brain tumors, mine was one in two million with a particularly nasty trait. When the tumor is touched, it’s like touching poison ivy; when doctors went in to extract it, my brain swelled, and I became non-responsive. At first, my coma was drug-induced, and then I slipped into one on my own. Life-threatening complications persisted, yet miracles counteracted them.
Q: What was your recovery process like? What did you learn during those difficult days?
My recovery process was lengthy. After three weeks in the ICU, I spent five weeks in in-patient rehabilitation learning how to walk, talk, eat, think and function again. I was an exhausted, floppy, Raggedy Ann doll with contorted double vision and felt completely trapped inside my body. I slept more than 19 hours a day, and the goal of three hours of daily therapy was not simple to accomplish. Learning how to do so much over again was frustrating, but I learned the battle was not my own to fight. God stayed by my side the entire time and helped me turn frustration into determination.
After eight weeks of hospitalization, I was finally discharged to go home — but therapy didn't stop there. I endured an additional 20 weeks of in-home therapy in an attempt to gain a new normal. My patience, endurance and strength were monumentally tested, but I held on to 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV), which says, “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
Q: What were some ways that your friends and loved ones showed support to you and your family during this time?
For the eight weeks I was hospitalized, my husband and parents rotated shifts so someone stayed by my side every day. My children and extended family visited as often as they could. Loved ones, family and dear friends lifted us up in daily prayer, dropped off home-cooked meals, drove our boys to school and various activities, ran errands and did their best to fill in the gap when my husband and I were not around. When I returned home, my mother-in-law, a retired ICU nurse, flew across the country to take care of me. The support and affection of family and close friends did not waiver. It was humbling to ask for continual help, but I will always be grateful for it.
Q: How did you work through your feelings of doubt and fear?
I got real with God and held nothing back. He is one amazing listener. When I doubted Him, I let Him know. When I was terrified, I wasn't afraid to let Him see my fear. Nothing can be hidden from God. That is beautiful and comforting. He has this tender way of understanding and never holds back His perfect affection. Sometimes I thought He did, but I learned quickly He does not let go. When I felt like He had abandoned me, it was because I wasn't looking upward. Over and over again, I’d ask God, “Will I walk, talk, eat, think and function again? My strength is wearing thin. I’m afraid. Why did this happen to me? God, I am scared and sometimes I feel like you aren't really there.” Time and time again, I reflected on Psalm 121:1 (NIV), “I lift my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth.” God reached down and asked “Helo, do you trust Me?” Over and over again, I said, “Yes.” and when doubt set in and I felt like quitting again, He repeated, “Helo, do you trust me? Remember, I promised you I’d never leave you.” Now that is one amazing love.
Q: How would you have described your relationship with God before your health scare? What about afterwards?
Before my health scare, I thought my relationship with God was as good as it gets. I convinced myself I spent enough time with Him, knew how much He loved me and thought I loved Him back enough. I was wrong about that. After my health scare, I fell in love with Him all over again, in ways I never imagined possible. Over time, I saw the more I fell in love with Him, the more I wanted to get to know Him. That cycle of falling in love and wanting to spend time with Him didn't stop. His affection is contagious. At times, I felt I couldn't get enough — and still do today. That’s beautiful. After the storm hit, I placed God as my first priority. Before it hit, I admit I didn't consistently put Him there. I learned when we ask God for something in His name, He doesn't always give us what we want but rather gives us what He wants — for our good.
Q: How has this experience changed your perspective on life? How has your faith grown?
I look at everything differently now. I take nothing for granted — well, I’m better at trying not to. Given a second chance at life here on earth, I’m humbled, have a new heart and new motive, and made my top priority loving Jesus. I live life not simply following God and calling myself a Christian, but live for Him. I've learned to trust God more. I've learned to be patient and wait upon Him. I've learned Jesus doesn't say, “Just ask me, and I’ll give you exactly what you want.” God doesn't work that way. And I am happy he doesn't. His ways are perfect, and mine are not. He takes what He pulls us through to make us stronger and molds us. He knows how to show us what He alone is capable of. We simply need to pay attention. He’s a great teacher who is not done with me (or you) yet. God knows how to show His children what He alone is capable of. All accolades go to Him.
Q: In what other ways has God used your brain tumor for good?
He’s taken this journey and not only helped those with brain tumors, but those facing various afflictions, including cancer, Parkinson’s, depression, frustration and loneliness. Many tell me my journey inspires them and sets their day in perspective. I tell them this is all about what God can do — not me. I am bolder now in sharing God’s strength and affection for each and every one of us.
Q: Do you still experience any side effects from your tumor and surgery?
A large portion of the left side of my face is permanently numb due to nerve damage — as if I go to the dentist every day — but when I smile, no one can tell. I’ll be on anti-seizure medication for the rest of my life. I am challenged and tire easily. My “new normal” brain can only handle so much stimulation, so if I overdo it in one of three areas (cognitive, emotional or physical), I start to shut down and exhaustion sets in. But I've learned to pace myself and recharge my brain capacity with rest. Quiet time with God restores me emotionally; physical rest helps me to press on.
Q: What would you like readers to learn or realize from reading Halo Found Hope?
If I were sitting right across from a reader of Halo Found Hope right now, I’d lock eyes with him or her and say, “No matter who your are, what you are going through, God is right there. You don’t have to face anything alone. He can replace fear with courage, doubt with trust and discouragement with determination — if you let Him. My hope and prayer for you is that you will see — in Jesus, hope is always found. Reflect on His words in John 16:33 (NIV), ’I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’”
Posted 4/14/15 at 1:38 PM | Audra Jennings
God promises in Psalm 68:6 He will place the lonely in families, and in The Inn at Ocean’s Edge (Thomas Nelson/April 14, 2015/ISBN: 978-1401690267/$15.99), author Colleen Coble paints a picture for readers of how comfort, acceptance and love can come from the most surprising sources and in the most dire of circumstances. In the first installment in the new Sunset Cove series, Coble introduces us to Claire Dellamore, who — at first glance — seems to have lived an idyllic life. Even to Claire, her childhood seemed like a fairytale, but a business trip to Sunset Cove turns her world upside down.
The minute she steps inside the grand Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Claire Dellamare knows something terrible happened there. Her anxiety runs so deep she has a panic attack, causing quite the scene and embarrassing her father. To quiet her nerves, she goes for a walk on the beach but ends up seeing a woman fall to her death from a nearby cliff. Claire believes she has witnessed a murder, but local police find no evidence of foul play and quickly write off the “nervous” woman’s testimony as less than credible.
Local resident Luke Elwell has reason to believe Claire, though. His mother disappeared years ago, and the local law enforcement never investigated it as a potential homicide. Wondering if this new incident could be connected to his mother’s disappearance, Luke steps in to help Claire solve the mystery. As old family secrets are revealed, Claire begins to wonder if her fairytale upbringing was really an elaborate lie.
As their pasts leave them wondering whom they can really trust, Claire and Luke are drawn together into an unexpected bond. “Some families are born and some families are made,” Coble explains. “God brings people into our lives who can fill in some of our missing pieces and help us grow stronger and closer to him.”
Coble has experienced this principle firsthand. Growing up with three brothers, she always longed for a sister, and in her adulthood, she found one in Diann Hunt. Coble says before meeting Diann, she never knew people unrelated to you by blood could feel so much like family. Sadly, Diann lost her battle with ovarian cancer in 2013, with Coble at her bedside. Coble reveals, “My love for and connection with her inspired me to write about complex family situations that extend beyond just the traditional nuclear family.”
Readers’ minds will be captivated by the thrilling mystery unraveled in The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, while their hearts will be reminded that ultimately, their identity doesn't come from the family they were born into, but from the Lord — and it doesn't always take blood for love to flourish.
About the Author
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 more than two 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.
Watch Colleen Coble give a sneak peak at The Inn at Ocean's Edge:
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