Short-listed in The Word Awards 2023. Finalist in the Angel Book Awards 2022.
Attempted murder. A hostile rescuer. And an amateur sleuth’s vow to catch the attacker before he strikes again.
Against all odds, Landon Smith and her ordinary-hero neighbour Bobby Hawke survived a murderous plot six weeks ago. Now, she’s determined to leave solving mysteries to the experts—like handsome local police officer Dylan Tremblay.
But when her friend Ciara is nearly killed in a daring daylight attack, Landon can’t sit this out. Not when she knows the anger of being a victim.
Her faith tells her to leave room for God’s vengeance. Her heart says to retaliate.
The fight to expose Ciara’s enemy will uncover secrets and betrayal that could cost Landon her life.
Discussion questions included. If you like clean mystery/suspense and Christian women’s fiction, read Bitter Truth today!Buy link: books2read.com/bitter-truth.
The chance at a partnership with the reclusive owner of a mysterious cliffside mansion brings Ashley Scott to the Oregon coast with the goal of establishing it as a premiere wedding destination.
The historic house is well maintained and stocked with period furniture. Transforming the grounds falls to local landscaper Jonathan Gray and his crew. Physically and emotionally scarred from the near-fatal explosion that ended his military service, Jon has come to the remote village of Hope Harbor to live a simple life and hide from gawkers.
Built by a lumber baron for his bride, the house’s subsequent tragic history led to rumours of haunting. But this isn’t a paranormal book, despite the isolated setting and the fog that creeps in. It’s a story of realistic, likeable people.
Filled with characters readers will embrace, this gentle story of second chances invites us to step out from any protective boundaries we may have allowed circumstances to construct around us. Sometimes secondary appear to have divine insight in what to say, especially Charley the taco truck owner. When God wants to get our attention, we’ll often meet His message at every turn. Fiction usually avoids this but when you’re looking for a heart-warming read with a comforting, almost fairy-tale feel, it’s a good fit.
Windswept Way is my first taste of Irene Hannon’s Hope Harbor series. It’s book 9 and now I’d like to pick up book 1. Linked by place, each novel seems to feature different core characters and a fair dose of feel-good serendipity. Fans of Davis Bunn’s Miramar Bay series will enjoy the Hope Harbor series, and vice versa. The main difference I see is the Hope Harbor books have a strong faith thread where Miramar Bay is clean mainstream.
Irene Hannon is a bestselling, award-winning author of over 60 books, both romance and romantic suspense. For more about the author and her work, visit irenehannon.com.
Meditative artwork, Scripture, and a brief devotional followed by reflective questions and short “breath prayers” to repeat through the day make this book a special part of Advent—or at least December 1-25, since the season of Advent usually begins in November.
The Bible verses come from Luke 1 and 2, highlighting the key figures: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Simeon, and Anna.
Making Room in Advent became a favourite part of each day for me, bringing quiet, calm, and pages of journalled response. I missed the benefit of the brief daily prayers by not taking time to write them down and keep them in view to include in my day.
The art in this book is lovely, restful, and thought-provoking. A paper copy of the book would be ideal, although I found reading the ebook on a tablet gave me a large enough view of each image. I don’t know how effective it would be on a smartphone.
Highly recommended for anyone desiring a meaningful collection of devotionals leading up to Christmas—although it could benefit readers any time of the year.
Bette Dickinson is a prophetic artist, a writer, and a speaker. To learn more about her, visit bettedickinson.com.
These devotions brim with infectious joy and confident trust in our Lord.
Taking one verse from each of the Bible’s 150 psalms, Joy that Renews invites readers to grow deeper in their relationship with God. The daily devotionals focus on God’s goodness and love and on themes like living in freedom, thankfulness, and listening to God. Although the Psalms were written many years before Christ, they contain much that points to Jesus.
Each day’s reading begins with a title, a one-line summary, and then the Scripture, a brief application, and a heartfelt response. The conversational, transparent style makes for easy reading and relatability. The author uses The Passion Translation, which puts oft-familiar verses in a fresh light.
Anyone familiar with the psalms as a whole is aware that they’re not all light and jubilant. Some are laments, and some groan with deep pain and affliction. One of the points Steve Akerson draws from these heavier psalms is that “You will always have a big choice in your life—either to focus on your problems or on God’s goodness. That choice will make a tremendous difference in the quality of your life and on those around you.” [Day 22, “Chased by Goodness,” Hoopla edition page 61]
And “It is good for you to praise Him, even if your praise is accompanied by tears and sorrows.” [Day 31, “Turn Distress Upside Down,” Hoopla edition page 77]
I appreciate how, whatever the circumstances, this book turns the focus back to God and His goodness. This helps strengthen our faith and leads us into worship. I also appreciate the encouragement to listen to God with expectancy—the more we train our spiritual ears to recognize His voice, the closer we’ll walk with Him. Or, as Day 110, “Listen—God is Talking,” says, “His words will bring richness to your soul.” [Hoopla edition page 253]
These daily readings blessed me, and I’ll be marking Joy that Renews as a book to read again. The book is also available in print and digital format from many online venues.
Author Steve Akerson is one of the Prayer Team leaders at Hosanna Church in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. For more about the author and his book, and to request the free study guide that accompanies it, visit joythatrenews.com.
Subtitled “Clinging to Hope When Life is Falling Apart,” this book takes a candid and compassionate look at the struggles that can make us want to let go and give up. And it takes a clear-eyed look at the God who holds us in His care even when life really does seem to be falling apart.
Each chapter opens with a verse of Scripture and a relevant quote. The first five address the main things that threaten to overwhelm us: feeling like life’s out of control, feeling alone, when God is silent, when we’re afraid, and when we’ve messed up.
This is an easy to read, conversational-style book that feels a little bit like we’re sitting with the author over coffee. Sheila Walsh doesn’t write “down” to us in an instructorly way. Instead, her personal stories and those she shares from others prove she has the credibility to write about this. She’s been there, and is still there, just as we are. But she’s learned some solid strategies to keep holding on.
Those strategies are the focus of the second half of the book: learning to focus on the God who is holding us. We read about His promises, His character, and he amazing things He has done for us. The invitation is to actually let go… and to be held by the One who won’t let go.
I still felt like that five-year-old girl who was afraid of being known. What if someone saw the crack in my soul. [page 78]
The simple act of thanksgiving reminds us that God is with us and that He is in control. [page 103]
If life is making you feel like letting go or if you just want a little reassurance, this book can be a helpful resource. I love how it keeps pointing back to God and to His Word.
Sheila Walsh is an author, speaker, and teacher who I first discovered in my younger years through her music. Scottish-born, she makes her home in the US. For more about the author and her ministry, visit sheilawalsh.com.
Do people who always seem at peace with whatever life may throw at them drive you crazy?
(Psst, that’s a rhetorical question. You don’t have to share your answer. Maybe not so rhetorical actually … since you probably should answer it for yourself.)
Let me transport you back in time three decades or so. When I was a brand new mom, my family and I moved to a new city.
There were members in our new church home who were going through what I then considered unimaginable hardships, including one family whose young son had succumbed to cancer. As the mother of a two-and-a-half-month-old baby boy, I couldn’t imagine why God would bless a family with a child and then take that child away.
Oh, I could recite the cliches! But I didn’t know any of them to be true—not deep down in my heart.
As time went by and I got to know some of these people better, I realized they weren’t just spouting platitudes but actually trusted that God knew what was best—even when their situation was difficult and heartbreaking.
Trust, especially trust in the God of All Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3), is a remarkable and precious thing.
But what we think is trust can actually be denial, a squashing of our feelings, doubts, and fears.
This summer, my second son is getting married. Because of COVID, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be able to attend the ceremony. (He and his bride-to-be live two provinces away.)
I’ve braced myself for this pretty much since Joshua informed me that he and Ericka had set a date. Still, it was more with a sense of fatalism than acceptance that I dealt with the reality of the situation.
And then, one day, I decided to be completely honest with myself. While I may have locked away my emotions, it didn’t mean they weren’t there. It didn’t mean that, if I gave them permission, the tears wouldn’t fall. It didn’t mean that I was truly accepting that God knows best in this, and every, circumstance.
COVID has taken many lives, and my heart goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one or is facing an ongoing battle with this horrific virus.
But, as we all know, COVID has struck a fatal blow in other areas as well—job security, relationships, our peace of mind, and on and on and on.
There’s no denying it.
And yet, there is light in the darkness, hope in the despair, trust in the denial.
But the way to find real peace is not by denying the struggles we face—physical, emotional, and spiritual.
We don’t need to cling to platitudes or cliches.
We don’t need to deny how we feel—or that we’ve locked away our emotions.
We don’t need to paste on a happy face and pretend we’re a-okay.
But if we want to come to the place of authentic trust, we must press in and get to know the God of All Comfort better than we ever have before.
I’ve read some impactful Christian nonfiction this year, but this book may be the most crucial.
Francis Chan writes here with a gentle, prayer-steeped tone, knowing some of what he has to say can sound hard and may be misused.
He actually pleads with readers not to use his words to berate leaders who may not be doing the best they could. And he confesses those times he’s been where some of those leaders may be. (He does warn readers who discover they’re in a church with false teaching to find a Bible-based church right away!)
So now you’re wondering what kind of book this is. It’s the result of the author’s study of what church looked like in the Book of Acts and what it looks like in other parts of the world today.
He challenges readers to “slow down long enough to marvel” [page 5] about Who God is and who we are in Him, advising, “don’t try to solve the mystery; just stare at it.” [page 7]
Chapters address wonder, pleasing God first, prayer, leadership, suffering, attitudes, and more. The focus is on simplifying, going back to the Gospel basics, and developing into an intimate capital-C Church family. The model is house churches, but it has plenty of insights and challenges that readers can apply in established building-based churches as well.
Remember it’s not about what I would like, what others would like, or what “works.” Church is for Him. [page 150]
My hope is that you will refuse to take the easy route. You need to care about His Church enough to fast and pray. You must believe you play a necessary role in the Church. [page 151]
One of the key takeaways is that each member of the church has a role to fulfill and that everyone working together is the church. The shepherds are to be training up other shepherds, not raising complacent sheep.
Francis Chan built and shepherded a megachurch in California before God called him and his family to missions in various parts of Asia. At the time of this book’s publication they were back in the United States, planting and growing house churches as part of wearechurch.com.
In the English Standard Version, James 1:2-5 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
I can almost guarantee we’re all going through a trial of some description. Thankfully, as believers, we can cling to the promises in this passage.
It won’t be easy. And the full effect of steadfastness won’t happen overnight, but we can rest assured that God will be with us each step of the way. And I need that assurance right now. How about you?
In the early days, COVID-19 exacerbated my tendency to procrastinate to a full-on “What’s the use?” attitude.
With God’s help, I pushed through … although I still have a tendency to put things off. However, I no longer believe my efforts to forge ahead are essentially futile.
And then George Floyd and the racial divide spotlighting the need for God-honouring forgiveness and reconciliation.
In Ontario, churches have been allowed to reopen with restrictions. You would think this would be a cause for celebration, that we would delight in the opportunity to be together again. And while that’s the case to a certain extent, we are witnessing everything from those staying away because of fear to those who think we should completely disregard the governments directives.
We have come to realize we don’t know one another as well as we thought.
Enter social media. Facebook, in particular, has become a place where we hurt one another because of the hurt we’ve been carrying, the hurt that those who attend church with us may not be aware of.
Enter, once again, the “What’s the use?” mindset.
Why would I explain myself? What good would it do?
Why would I share my perspective with that particular person? Their mind is already made up.
Why would I voice my opinion? It will only cause an argument.
Or the other extreme …
Why shouldn’t I voice my opinion? I want to start a conversation. (Sadly, this “conversation” often devolves into something completely emotion-driven and just causes more hurt—especially if posted online.)
After 35+ years in the same church, I have seen countless hurts and disagreements. Those are unavoidable. I get that.
But what do you do when one person you love and care about wounds another but you haven’t witnessed it firsthand?
You want to submit to authority.
You don’t want to cause division.
But you believe we, as the body of Christ, could be more than this, more genuine, more authentic, more loving.
I long for the day when beloved brothers and sisters don’t simply disappear into the night as it were.
However, in all this, I must cling to James 1, trusting God to work it all out not only for me but also for all those involved.
When we face trials and heartbreak, we can count on God’s promises.
When we just don’t know what to do or say, we can ask for wisdom and trust Him to provide it.
It may be cliché, but “God’s got this!” And boy, am I glad!
The full effect of steadfastness won’t happen overnight. (click to tweet)
A single mother hiding from a gang. Her
young son. And a military intelligence officer discharged with an unexplained
movement disorder that causes seizure-like muscle contractions.
Pecca Gallegos loves her job as a nurse at
the Home for Heroes. Her son, Maceo, is unhappy at school. And Captain Colton
Crawford, her newest patient, may be what they both need—if he can see beyond
Maceo has a prosthetic leg and what seems
like an impossible dream to play football. Helping him may be what Colten needs
to help himself.
My personal preference is for an
understated romantic thread, so I found Pecca and Colton’s swoony thoughts
about one another a little much in the first half. That said, their first true
date was definitely an “aww” moment.
And there’s a lot to like in this story. I
appreciated the clean suspense and the frank wrestling with the tension between
faith and painful circumstances. I also enjoyed the camaraderie among the
“D-Wing” patients. Team dynamics, belonging, and purpose play an important part
in the book, along with faith and second chances.
You look at yourself as less than. Is that the message you want your life to reflect? [Kindle location 3755]
“…Allow yourself to believe that even though this isn’t how you planned your life, it doesn’t mean it’s not exactly where you need to be.” [Kindle location 3761]
Silent Shadows is book 3 in the
Harbored Secrets romantic suspense series. I haven’t read the previous books, but
had no trouble settling into this one. Books 1 and 2 are set in the same town
of Walton, Georgia, but feature different characters.
Natalie Walters’s author bio says that she
“comes from a long line of military and law enforcement veterans and is
passionate about supporting them through volunteer work, races, and writing
stories that affirm no one is defined by their past.” For more about the author
and her books, visit nataliewalterswriter.com.
[Review copy provided by the publisher via
Should Blanche go home? But how can she
resume life with her legalistic husband now that her growing faith conflicts
with his dogma? And while he denies their shared grief over their daughter’s
William didn’t even go to the funeral. And
he denies the existence of their other daughter, Rachel, who left home many
years ago at 15.
Grace in Deep Waters is book 3 in the
ongoing Grace series (there are more books to come). New readers can start here
and not feel lost, but I’d recommend starting at the beginning with Grace in
The women in this series develop a faith that’s
nothing like the showy façade William has drilled into them. When life
circumstances hit—and hit hard—Esther, Rachel, and Blanche each discover a
truer Christianity and make the hard choices to live for God’s honour instead
of living to satisfy or defy William’s rules.
William is proud, self-centred, and
unyielding. Author Christine Dillon does a fine job of letting readers into his
head to understand him and develop enough compassion to hope he’ll change.
Part of the novel is his story: will he
change or harden himself further? Can he change, even if he wants to?
Another part is a beautiful observation of
Blanche, a fallible woman growing in her faith and trying to find a healthy way
Is this a depressing novel? Not at all.
It’s heartwarming, inspiring, and it can challenge us to prayerfully make
better choices in our own lives.
She’d let fear bind her. What might life be like if she walked free? [Kindle location 288]
The kid turned around and gazed at him with a piercing eye a high school principal would die for. [Kindle location 2159]
Anyone who thinks Christian fiction is
light and fluffy or dry like a dusty sermon needs to read Christine Dillon’s
Grace series. The faith message is strong and clear yet presented organically
through the characters’ thoughts and decisions, leaving readers free to draw
their own conclusions. The questions are real and deep.
in Strange Disguise, the challenge was “what happens when the prayer of
faith doesn’t heal?” In Grace in the
Shadows, it’s “how—and why—would God love me, after what I’ve done?” In Grace
in Deep Waters, characters wrestle with grief, marital breakdown, and that
contentious issue, submission.
As the characters wrestle, readers can
wrestle, too. This isn’t a series that hands out easy answers. Discussion
guides are available on the author’s website, for book clubs or individuals who
want to dig deeper.
Christine Dillon is a missionary whose
tag-line is “multiplying disciples one story at a time,” and the author of the
Grace fiction series. She has also written non-fiction books about the Bible
storytelling approach. For more about the author, visit storytellerchristine.com.