Review: Letters to the Church, by Francis Chan

Letters to the Church, by Francis Chan (David C Cook, 2018)

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.

Favourite lines:

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.

[Review copy from the public library.]

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Gifts of Good Words: Christmas Devotions

Visit the Facebook event page by clicking the image above, or click here.

Follow the Gifts of Good Words Blog Hop taking place from November 4-18, 2020, and find quality Canadian Christian books for those on your Christmas list! Then on November 18th, join the Good Words Virtual Book Fair on Facebook (click here).

Who doesn’t need a little extra encouragement this December, after the year we’ve had? Yes, there’s been good as well as the bad, but many of us are a little weary.

Give yourself an early Christmas present! Or give one to a friend.

Tenacity at Christmas is a collection of short, conversational daily devotions for the month of December (hence the “early gift”).

Funny enough, I’ve been working on this little book since releasing the 365-day devotional book A Year of Tenacity back in 2017. Originally this was going to be a free ebook with 7 entries. Then it grew to 12. Now it’s 31.

And did you ever have a project come together so easily it stunned you? That’s this book for me, this year. Even the formatting, which I do myself and which usually leaves me pulling my hair. It took more than one try but far less than the 17-plus my other books need.

I feel like God gave me a bit of extra grace in the writing, finishing, and releasing this one. Not that I’m claiming it has any “special anointing” content-wise! But this is a year when we need extra sources of encouragement. From that perspective, here’s one more resource.

Tenacity at Christmas: 31 Daily Devotions for December
Click the image for more details or click here.

The ebook simply contains the daily devotions. The print version also includes daily guided prayer journal pages. For more about Tenacity at Christmas, click here.

Looking for other books? I’d be remiss if I didn’t let you know about my mystery-suspense fiction and my reader’s journals. Here’s a picture, but you can also find them through the tabs at the top of this page: Green Dory Inn Mysteries, Redemption’s Edge series, and Non-fiction.

Please check out books by my fellow Canadian Christian authors!

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New Releases in Christian Fiction (November 2020)

November 2020 New Releases from Members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

 

Snowbound in Winterberry Falls by Ann Brodeur — Owning her own PR firm is all reporter Stephanie Clark wants for Christmas, but the idea of running a prestigious election campaign in the country’s capital throws her stomach into knots. A last minute vacation road trip to focus and to seek God’s direction for her life ends up in disaster when she gets caught in the worst snowstorm to hit Vermont in over a decade, crashing her into a small town and the one person she’d rather forget. Former photojournalist Jason Miller hadn’t planned on being solely responsible for saving his family business from financial ruin. He’s barely keeping the newspaper in print, his News Editor has gone AWOL during the town’s most celebrated holiday festival, and reports of missing Christmas decorations have everyone on edge. When a desperate knock at the newsroom door brings a ghost from Christmas past back into his life, can Jason make up for his prior behavior without breaking his promise to Stephanie’s father? Will Stephanie’s quest to solve the town’s Christmas caper, and uncover the truth about Jason’s disappearance, cost her everything she’s ever wanted? (Contemporary Romance from Anaiah Press)

The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson — All’s fair in love and prank wars. As a live theater actress, Bree Leake doesn’t want to be tied down. But just when it’s time to move on again, Bree’s parents make her an offer: hold steady for a full year, and they will give her the one thing she’s always wanted—her grandmother’s house. And then there’s Chip McBride—her handsome and infuriating next-door neighbor. Chip just might be the only person whose stubborn streak can match Bree’s. She would move heaven and earth to have him off her cul-de-sac and out of her life, but according to the bargain she’s struck, she can’t move out of her house and away from the man who’s making her life miserable. So begins Bree’s obsessive new mission: to drive Chip out of the neighborhood—and fast. But as their pranks escalate, the line between love and hate starts to blur—and their heated rivalry threatens to take a hilarious, heartwarming, and romantic new turn. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

The Calm I Seek by Christina Lourens — After the violent death of her husband, Rebecca Holmes is content leading a quiet life spending time with her sisters and niece. When her younger sister Hannah asks her to plan her wedding, Rebecca discovers her friends and family all think her life is empty. Determined to prove them wrong, Rebecca takes up salsa lessons where she meets the charismatic salsa teacher, Gabriel Rodriguez. Falling in love is the last thing Rebecca wanted to do, but she is inexplicably drawn to Gabriel. Just when she’s decided to give her heart to Gabriel, disaster strikes her family, and she is forced to confront her past actions. Can there be redemption for her and can she forgive those who betrayed her? (Contemporary Romance from Pheasant Hill Press)

His Christmas Wish by Allie Pleiter — All he wants for Christmas is a family… To make his little nephew happy, this bachelor will need help… After his nephew, Cole, is orphaned, Jake Sanders vows to give the little boy the best Christmas possible…except Jake doesn’t know the first thing about kids! So when Cole’s preschool teacher, Emma Mullins, offers to pitch in, Jake’s grateful for her guidance. But while Jake and Emma share an immediate connection, their blossoming love must first survive the secret she’s hiding… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Together for Good by Penelope Powell — Having lost her mother in a tragic accident, Laney Spence is no stranger to grief and loss. Despite this tragedy touching her life at such a young age, Laney has maintained her belief that God brings good out of even the most difficult circumstances. For her, that good came in the form of her older brother’s best friend, Matthew Jordan. Kind and compassionate, Matthew helped her grieve—and she’s been harboring a crush on him ever since. Years later, when tragedy shatters Matthew’s life, Laney is there for him the same way he’d been there for her all those years ago. But they’re not kids anymore. She’s a teacher with little life experience, and he’s a jaded divorce lawyer with a past he’d rather keep secret. Neither of them can ignore the attraction that blooms, though, leaving them both wondering—is attraction, history, and a shared faith in God enough to keep them together for good, or will circumstances beyond their control drive them apart? (Contemporary Romance from Anaiah Press)

 


Historical Romance:

 

Rocky Mountain Revelation by Lisa J. Flickinger — Widowed at nineteen, Madeline Lamb seeks to find a new husband amongst the crew of the Rocky Mountain log drive. With a baby growing inside her, she has no choice. She signs on as cook’s helper, and it soon becomes apparent her options for a mate are limited. Madeline’s grieving heart wavers between the security an older man offers and the tender feelings a new crew member stirs. Will Matheson earned the chance to work the high-paying spring log drive. The boon ensures he can recoup the logging wages stolen by a pretty face with some fast fingers. Frustration builds when the boss pulls him from the river and assigns him the job of camp chore boy. If it wasn’t for the pretty cook’s helper, he’d take the first train home. When the dangers of the river journey prove more treacherous than anyone expects, the budding attraction between Will and Madeline is put to the test. If they survive the adventure, life as they know it will never be the same. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

 

A Bride for Seamus by Linda Shenton Matchett — When her father dies after a lengthy illness, Madeline Winthrop is horrified to discover his will bequeaths their home to his business partner, a cruel and dishonest man, leaving her destitute. With no job or marriage prospects, she seeks help from her pastor who suggests she considers becoming a mail order bride. There’s just one catch. She’s to marry the man by proxy before ever meeting him. After three mail order brides refuse to stay and marry Seamus Fitzpatrick because of his brother’s mental issues and two rambunctious children, Seamus decides a proxy marriage is the only way he’s going to secure a wife. When the Boston-bred socialite arrives with few practical skills, he wonders if he made the biggest mistake of his life. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

 

Romantic Suspense:

 

Dangerous Deceptions by Evelyn M. Hill — Rachel Garrett has the ideal life in a small town, surrounded by people she trusts—until a stranger arrives and tells her that she is living a lie. Michael Sullivan’s claim that she’s been brainwashed can’t be right. Her life is perfect. But ever since he’s shown up, she’s had to deal with people attempting to manipulate, drug, or even kidnap her. Now Rachel must decide if she believes her closest friends…or the one man who makes her feel truly safe. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Forgiven Again by Gina Holder — Annie Staten, now known as Kathleen Phillips, has dreamed of pursuing a political career and following in her father’s footsteps. But Richard was a hated man during his tenure as governor and now his enemies will stop at nothing to prevent his daughter from winning the election. Ryan Whitestone has loved Annie since high school, but his heart is broken by the woman she has become. When the daughter she gave up for adoption comes back into her life, can he help Kathleen heal from her pain and remind her of who she used to be? Will Kathleen be able to forgive herself, put the past behind her, and find love again? The continuing story of No Greater Love. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Grave Christmas Secrets by Sharee Stover — Discovering buried evidence makes her a target. At a prehistoric site, forensic anthropologist Taya McGill uncovers a recently buried body days before Christmas and finds herself in a killer’s sights. Now on the run with undercover ATF agent Keegan Stryker, she must rely on him to guard her as they figure out why someone would kill to keep this murder unsolved. But can they unearth the truth before someone silences them both for good? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

 

Speculative:

 

Uncharted Freedom by Keely Brooke Keith — Naomi McIntosh is running from her family’s oppressive expectations and the loathsome man her father has demanded she marry. Renaming herself to live incognito, she takes a housekeeping job at the Inn at Falls Creek and promises God this false identity will be her last. When shepherd James Roberts goes home to the Inn at Falls Creek for his sister’s wedding, he doesn’t expect the woman who once broke his heart to be working there. No matter how much he wants to be with Naomi again, he can’t go along with her charade, especially since he is trying to persuade his father to make him the inn’s heir. Though Naomi yearns for a future with James, if she confesses her deception to everyone, her estranged fiancé will find her. And the longer James goes without telling his family the truth about Naomi—and their growing relationship—the further he jeopardizes the inheritance. But just when their relationship looks promising, the inn proves to be a poor hiding place from Naomi’s past. (Speculative Romance, Independently Published)

 

Thriller:

 

Termination Zone by Adam Blumer –In the Justice Club, you’re either all in, or you’re dead. Pianist Landon Jeffers has been hiding in Georgia’s woods to keep his loved ones safe from the Justice Club, the cybercrime network seeking to control him through his brain implant. But when his means of blocking their controlling signals is compromised and he receives word that a family member may be in danger, he is forced out of hiding. Now Landon covertly works with unexpected allies including the FBI to help shut the Justice Club down from the inside. But when he is prepped during his concert tour for a high-profile hit targeting the highest levels of the US government, the stakes have never been higher. Can he and his allies thwart the Justice Club’s mission of violence in time? Even if that means placing the woman he loves in danger? The deadline is coming. And death is certain if he fails. (Techno-Thriller Suspense, Independently Published)

Soul Raging by Ronie Kendig — Leif Metcalfe is done waiting for answers and seizes control, a move that comes with a high price and a deadly risk: teaming up with the enemy. He can only hope that what he uncovers will heal the wounds he’s inflicted on those he loves. Iskra Todorova believes Leif is on a collision course with death and knows firsthand the irrevocable cost of that path to the soul. While trying to protect her daughter and intervene with Leif, Iskra is forced to set her sights on the man behind the evil organization ArC–Ciro Veratti. Torn apart by injuries and opposing views on how to handle Leif’s act of treachery, team Reaper hunts one of their own. The only thing they agree on is not stopping but starting the final battle prophesied in the Book of the Wars. (Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

 

Young Adult:

 

Fortune’s Fall by Katherine Barger — While her classmates prepare for elite careers across America, Nyssa Ardelone trains for her secret job as the president’s dream interpreter. But when her mentor lies to the president about the prophecy in his latest dream, Nyssa must figure out why before the lie unravels. What she learns could destroy her own future. Fearful of a rumored rebellion, the president has launched a gas attack on Nyssa’s hometown, and her mentor lied about the dream to protect the survivors from more harm. When Nyssa learns her parents were injured in the attack, she flees with a stranger sent to steal the antidote—a stranger who claims to know her. Together, they race to deliver the cure as well as an interpretation of another prophetic dream only Nyssa can provide. But a devastating loss dulls her caution, and she learns too late that not everyone is trustworthy. To survive the president’s deadly pursuit, Nyssa must break every rule she’s ever followed, learning along the way that faith is the only thing that can save her. (Young Adult from Anaiah Press)

 

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

 

Methuselah Project S.O.S. by Rick Barry – In order to rescue a friend, Air Force Captain Roger Greene accepts temporary duty with the CIA–and lands in more danger than he ever imagined. (Romantic Suspense)

 

Mercy Will Follow by Sarah Hanks – Natassa is a devoted, and slightly devious, wife and mother. But when the unthinkable happens, she is forced to reexamine what she believes about life, truth, race, and the God she always thought she believed in. (Contemporary)

 

Hearts Aglow by Chautona Havig, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, and Jaycee Weaver – Scrap quilts, bridal gowns, an old Swedish farmhouse, and a hidden family heirloom. What more could you want in a Minnesota Christmas romance? (Romance)

 

Lighter Than Air by Linda Hoover – Elena Bishop’s father has gambled away their home, but she feels God has shown her what to do to save it in spite of interference from Justin Ramsay, her neighbor, who has an agenda of his own that doesn’t allow both of them to succeed. (Historical Romance)

 

Bag of Bones by Jackie Layton – Andi Grace Scott puts her sleuthing skills to the test when the island’s Cat Lady is found dead. (Cozy Mystery)

 

Seasoned ~ A Love Story by Jayme H. Mansfield – If you had one last chance to love, would you take it? (Contemporary Romance)

 

Verdict at the River’s Edge by Colleen K. Snyder – In a test of faith, God challenges Collin Walker to face her deepest fears for no other reason than, “Because I love you.” (Mystery/Suspense/Thriller)

 

Always and Forever by Cathe Swanson – Scrap quilts, bridal gowns, an old Swedish farmhouse, and a hidden family heirloom. What more could you want in a Minnesota Christmas romance? (Romance)

 

Ghost by Michael Jack Webb – The FBI’s youngest, most brilliant Profiler is tracking a serial killer with supernatural abilities, and the life-threatening case will challenge her beliefs about the world around her and her understanding of what is real, what is myth, and what is something in between. (Supernatural Suspense)

 

Resisting by H. L. Wegley – Civil war has begun and a band of patriots takes on the president in a battle for the soul of America. (Romantic Suspense)

 

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Choosing Gratitude (Guest Post)

Choosing Gratitude

By Steph Beth Nickel

Twenty twenty.

Enough said. Right?

COVID. Hurricanes. Wildfires. And so much more.

Pivot has become a way of life and “overwhelm” a state of being.

Remember back in the olden days—say this time last year? Maybe you were looking forward to 2020. Maybe you’d purchased a shiny new planner and had begun filling it in with goals and dreams for the following 12 months.

And then—March!

True confessions. For the first little while, I was relieved not to have so many obligations on my To Do list. (Bear in mind that I didn’t know anyone who had COVID. In fact, the number in my community has remained relatively small.)

When I thought about it, the word surreal came to mind.

As an extrovert desperately in need of continued “human contact,” I began to listen to more audiobooks and podcasts. Familiar voices and all.

While the optimists declared we would have so much more time for those projects we’d been putting off, it soon became clear that lethargy, lack of motivation, and full-fledged depression were taking their toll on many people. Even though I’m typically positive and upbeat, I found a heaviness settling in.

While I was able to keep up with my church work, I did very little writing and editing. I simply didn’t have the wherewithal or mental ambition.

When laziness, procrastination, and pandemics hit, we have to make a choice. (We may also need counseling, and those who seek it are to be commended. And in some cases, physician-prescribed medication is the right route to take.)

Still, gratitude is an important practice for all of us.

Since Ann Voskamp released One Thousand Gifts in 2011, many people have begun to keep a gratitude journal.

It’s actually amazing how quickly we can think of 1000 things to be thankful for—when we set our mind to it.

Where should you look for things to add to your gratitude journal?

  • Make a list of family and friends and things you appreciate about each of them.
  • Consider the people who indirectly and unknowingly make your life easier and more secure each day.
  • Make a list of material blessings you are especially thankful for—and then move on to those that simply make your life more enjoyable.
  • Instead of focusing on those things you are unable to do, make a list of things you can do.
  • If you’re able, go for a walk and be mindful of all the things around you that you have to be thankful for—including the ability to see, hear, feel, move, and think.
  • Make a list of unexpected blessings. While this may take longer, it will warm your heart and, perhaps, easy the heaviness.
  • Whether you’re attending church services in person or watching them online, there are many people working together—and a lot of tech—needed to make it possible.

These are only a handful of ideas, but they can get you started.

When we choose gratitude, it won’t make COVID go away. It won’t put an end to natural disasters. And it won’t magically cure anxiety and depression. However, it is an important discipline and will remind us just how much we have to be thankful for.

Do you keep a gratitude journal? What are you especially thankful for these days? Where do you look for ideas?

Tweets

Twenty twenty. Enough said. Right? (click to tweet)

Gratitude is an important practice. (click to tweet)

Gratitude is an important discipline and will remind us just how much we have to be thankful for. (click to tweet)

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

Review: Fair Trade, by Heather Day Gilbert

Fair Trade, by Heather Day Gilbert (WoodHaven Press, 2020)

This third instalment in The Barks & Beans Café Mystery Series sees brother and sister co-owners Bo and Macy Hatfield on location at the West Virginia state fair with a booth for iced coffee, snacks, and a few of the shelter dogs who make up the “barks” side of the name.

This time, Macy reconnects with an old school friend, now a country music star, who’s in town for a couple of concerts at the fair. Macy enjoys the chance to see behind the scenes in the band, but when there’s an attempt on her friend’s life the rest of the band suddenly look like suspects.

The fairground atmosphere took me back to fun childhood memories of rides, food, and exhibits. Favourite line:

It was a curious concoction of popcorn, hot dogs, and caramel, mingled with the very human scent of something I could only describe as undiluted excitement.

[Kindle location 719, Macy describing the scent of the fair]

I found the psychology especially interesting in this story, and of course Coal the Great Dane is a treat. I like how he’s always featured on the covers. Waffles the clueless shelter dog is back, as well of course as the likeable siblings and their staff and friends. And there’s a surprise cameo appearance by someone fans will recognize from another Heather Day Gilbert series.

Another thing I appreciate about this series is the overarching plot threads that link the books. Not that a reader couldn’t start here and be happy, but continuity-wise it’s better to start at the beginning and watch it all unfold. Each story is complete on its own, but as well as developing relationships there’s the shadowy background villain who keeps inserting himself into Macy’s life.

Fair Trade is a quick, clean cozy mystery that may have you wishing for a chance to take in your own local fair.

Award-winning author Heather Day Gilbert writes cozy mysteries, suspense and romantic suspense, and Viking historicals. For more about the author and her books, visit heatherdaygilbert.com.

[Advance review copy provided by the author. My opinions are my own.]

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Review: Never Let Go, by Elizabeth Goddard

Never Let Go, by Elizabeth Goddard (Revell, 2019)

What a treat to find a new-to-me, established author with a book that could keep me reading past my bedtime.

This one engaged me to the point of trying to figure out the mystery myself when usually I just follow the characters along for the ride. Did I solve it? No, but I did guess the main villain before it was obvious to the characters!

Willow Anderson is a forensic genealogist who wants to honour her grandfather by taking the one last case he’d been investigating at his death. Even if that means working with her ex-boyfriend, Austin McKade.

The objective: solve an FBI cold case, a baby abducted from a hospital 20 years ago. Attempts on Willow’s life quickly make it clear that someone wants the case to stay unsolved.

The search takes them back to Austin’s hometown, unlocking the family secrets that had kept him from committing to Willow in the past.

I liked the writing, the characters, the faith elements, and the beautiful Wyoming scenery.

Favourite lines:

While death was no stranger to her, a courteous knock on the door to give warning this time would have been appreciated. [Kindle location 192]

Seeing her like this felt like a dull-bladed knife was cutting open his insides. [Kindle location 540]

Never Let Go is book 1 in the Uncommon Justice series, and I’ll definitely be reading the rest. Book 2, Always Look Twice, is Heath’s story (the second of the three McKade brothers). For more about Elizabeth Goddard and her work, visit elizabethgoddard.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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Review: One Night in Tehran, by Luana Ehrlich

One Night in Tehran, by Luana Ehrlich (Luana Ehrlich, 2014)

When CIA covert operative Titus Ray is smuggled out of Iran after a failed mission, he’s placed on medical leave in an Oklahoma university town. Titus is confident and adept in the field, but civilian life leaves him twitchy and looking over his shoulder. Especially when he’s told there’s a skilled assassin on his trail.

What he doesn’t expect is to become involved in a local murder investigation that may be linked to the assassin—or to find himself romantically interested with the detective in charge.

Titus is a new convert to Christianity, thanks to his time in hiding in the home of some Iranian Christians. He’s still trying to figure out what his faith means in an occupation where lying and deceit are necessary tools of the trade.

Readers who want to begin the Titus Ray Thrillers series at the very beginning can start with the prequel, One Step Back.

One Night in Tehran is a clean thriller with minimal gore, told in a taut first-person narrative.

In addition to the Titus Ray Thrillers series, Luana Ehrlich has also started the Mylas Grey Mystery series.

For more about the author and her books, visit luanaehrlich.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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New Christmas Devotional Book

Need a little daily encouragement this December?

Tenacity at Christmas: 31 Daily Devotions for December
Click the image for more details or click here.

Give yourself five minutes and pour a cup of your favourite hot beverage. Let’s read a Bible verse or two and remind ourselves of the Reason for the Season.

In your busyness and life circumstances, good or bad…

In your relationships, sweet or strained…

These short, uplifting readings will strengthen your spirit and inspire your heart.

May this Christmas season bring at least one new treasured memory, and may you be blessed to be a blessing.

Print version includes prayer journal pages.

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New Releases in Christian Fiction (October 2020)

October 2020 New Releases from Members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

 

Children’s:

 

The Firefly Warriors by Susan Count — They chase a light and then it chases them. (Children’s from Hastings Creations Group)

 

Harvey, the Traveling Harmonica by Becky Van Vleet — Meet Harvey, a little harmonica that likes to travel. From Grandpa to Dad to Walter, Harvey sings tunes sweeter than candy. But Harvey has competition with Buddy, the family dog, whose howling is so annoying that even the birds fly away. When Harvey accidentally falls into the rushing creek waters, losing sight of Walter, can Buddy save him? Young children will delight in this fun tale filled with colorful illustrations about a little harmonica’s adventures. (Children’s from Elk Lake Publishing)

 

Contemporary Romance:

 

 

Saving Grace by Amy R Anguish — Michelle Wilson’s one goal in life was to become a top journalist at the local paper back in her hometown of Cedar Springs, AR. But on the way to bringing that dream to reality, a life-changing wreck interrupts Michelle’s plans and adds an orphaned baby into the mix. Now, she has tough decisions ahead—did God put her in that accident to save baby Grace? And if so, why is it so hard to convince everyone else she should be the baby’s new mommy? Greg Marshall has been Michelle’s best friend his whole life. He’s thrilled she’s moving back home, but not so sure about her sudden desire to be a single mom. His feelings for her have grown through the years, but she’s never seemed to notice. Can he help Michelle with the adoption and grow their relationship at the same time? (Contemporary Romance from Scrivenings Press)

 

Melodies of Christmas Love by Lynnette Bonner, JoAnn Durgin, Chautona Havig, Annette M. Irby, Dawn Kinzer, Lesley Ann McDaniel, and Sylvia Stewart — Seven Contemporary Christmas Romance Novellas, each centered around a Christmas carol. The Heart of Christmas by Lynette Bonner, Love on a Mission in Millcreek by JoAnn Durgin, The Bells of New Cheltenham by Chautona Havig, A Christmas Duet by Annette M. Irby, A Night Divine by Dawn Kinzer, To Hear the Angels Sing by Lesley Ann McDaniel, and Prairie Rose by Sylvia Stewart. (Contemporary Romance from Pacific Lights Publishing)

 

The Christmas Bargain by Lisa Carter — All she needs is a date for the holidays… She needs a date for a wedding. But a fiancé wasn’t part of the plan… Unwilling to attend a wedding alone, artist Lila Penry makes a deal with Sam Gibson—art lessons for his adorable niece in exchange for being her date. But their Christmas agreement becomes a nightmare when everyone thinks they’re engaged. All Lila wants is to leave town for her dream job…so what happens when Sam steals his way into her heart? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

 

Christmas Lights and Romance by Joi Copeland, Judy Goodman Howard, Elizabeth Ludwig, Patti Jo Moore, J. Carol Nemeth, Martha Rogers, Diane Yates — Christmas contemporary romances sure to warm your heart during the Christmas season. Romance, mystery, suspense. This collection has it all. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)

 

His Love Revealed by Cynthia Herron — Since childhood, Ida Mae Hoscutt, the beloved proprietress of the Come and Get It Diner, has loved Charles “Chuck” Farrow from afar. Now on the eve of her thirty-ninth birthday with no marriage proposal in sight, Ida Mae mourns past mistakes and contemplates a makeover. When a radio commercial wrenches Ida Mae’s heart, will a sudden turn of events sabotage her chance for happiness or will a long-held secret be the answer to love ever-after? As Ida Mae’s right-hand man at the Come and Get It, Chuck yearns to shift gears and start over. He’s ready to shelve bachelorhood and blunders in favor of possibilities and new beginnings. When he prepares to move forward, two things challenge his objective. One is the father who walked away and never looked back. The other? A decades-old question that only Ida Mae can answer. And Ida Mae isn’t talking. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

 

Falling For the Foe by Milla Holt — She can’t stand him, and he blames her for his company’s woes. But now HIV treatment activist Nia and pharma boss Magnus have to work together to get what they want. He’s out to rescue his business, and she’s trying to save lives. Neither ever dreamed it would be their hearts on the line. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

 

Christmas in Galway by Elizabeth Ludwig — It’s been two years since a drunk driving accident claimed the life of Elinor Walsh’s fiancé. Though she’s forged on to create a thriving design business for herself, the past still haunts her. Prompted by her friends, she finally capitulates and schedules a flight to Ireland—a trip that should have been her honeymoon. Armed with just a list her fiancé wrote and the keys to a rental car, Elinor heads to Galway, never dreaming that the people she meets there will change her life forever. Confronted with a choice—her past with an old friend or her future with a new one—will she finally be able to move beyond her grief? Or will she cut her losses, and her trip short, and miss out on the one thing she never expected? (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)

 

The Key To Love by Betsy St. Amant — The only thing Bri Duval loves more than baking petit fours is romance. So much so, she’s created her own version of the famous Parisian lovelock wall at her bakery in Story, Kansas. She never expects it to go viral–or for Trek Magazine to send travel writer Gerard Fortier to feature the bakery. He’s definitely handsome, but Bri has been holding out for a love story like the one her parents had, and that certainly will not include the love-scorned-and-therefore-love-scorning Gerard.
Just when it seems Bri’s bakery is poised for unprecedented success, a series of events threaten not just her business but the pedestal she’s kept her parents on all these years. Maybe Gerard is right about romance. Or maybe Bri’s recipe just needs to be tweaked.
Novelist Betsy St. Amant invites you to experience this sweet story of how love doesn’t always look the way we expect–and maybe that’s a good thing. (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A division of Baker Publishing Group)

 


Contemporary:

 

 

 

The Soft Whisper of Roses by Myra Johnson — Rebecca Townsend has only been married six months and already doubts Gary’s promise of “till death do us part.” Betrayed by her first husband, she’s trying her hardest to get it right this time. But when her new husband’s unresolved family issues resurface, she’s afraid she and her son will be abandoned once again. Just when Gary thought he’d found happiness with a woman who truly understood him, the death of his first wife blindsides him with unanticipated grief and guilt. After years of letting his career get in the way of being the husband and father he should’ve been, he must now live up to his new wife’s expectations while attempting to fit his resentful teenage daughter into the mix. But high-pressure careers don’t leave much time for stopping to smell the roses, and this family is almost out of time. A radical plan conceived by Gary’s ex-wife before her death risks tearing them all apart…or will it finally bring them together as the family God meant them to be? (Contemporary, Independently Published)

 

The Cedar Key by Stephenia H. McGee — Stuck in a quirky little Mississippi town, Casey’s hope for a fresh start died as soon she had to lay the grandmother she’d just met to rest. (Contemporary, Independently Published)

The Sowing Season by Katie Powner — An old farmer who regrets his past, a young girl who fears her future, and an unexpected friendship that will change the course of their lives forever. (Contemporary from Bethany House)

 

Historical Romance:

 

 

 Joy to the World: A Regency Novella Collection by Amanda Barratt, Carolyn Miller, and Erica Vetsch — In Joy to the World, three popular romance authors come together to offer a heartwarming collection of holiday Regency romance. Based on lines from a beloved Christmas carol, these three novellas have depth, faith, and satisfying stories all packed into the perfect length for readers to curl up and take a brief break from their holiday busyness. “Far as the Curse Is Found” by Amanda Barrat “Heaven and Nature Sing by Carolyn Miller, and “The Wonders of His Love” by Erica Vetsch. (Historical Romance from Kregel Publications) 
 
The Lost Heir by Candee Fick — A foundling raised by the local vicar and his wife finds herself the ward of an earl and on a direct path to a London Season. If only her heart wasn’t still drawn to her childhood friend and their small Yorkshire village. (Historical Romance, Independently Published) 
 

Setting Two Hearts Free by Janet Grunst — Donald Duncan joined the Patriot cause for noble reasons, battling the British while enduring deprivation and hardship on every side. The war has changed him, and now the battle is internal. Returning home to Virginia is in sight where a new life and his Mary wait for him. Mary Stewart spends the war years with her family at Stewarts’ Green, helping them operate their ordinary. Daily, she prays for Donald’s safe return, eagerly waiting for him … until that day the evil side of war touches her. Two hearts changed by a war that dragged on for six years. Two hearts left hurting and struggling to find the love and trust they once knew. Is there a path for them to rekindle what was lost; Setting Two Hearts Free? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

 

A Haven For Her Heart by Susan Anne Mason — A young woman struggles to find redemption by helping troubled women and in doing so finds love but deems herself unworthy of happiness. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

 

A Doctor in the House by Linda Shenton Matchett — Emma O’Sullivan is one of the first female doctors to enlist after President Franklin Roosevelt signs the order allowing women in the Army and Navy medical corps. Within weeks, Emma is assigned to England to set up a convalescent hospital, and she leaves behind everything that is familiar. When the handsome widower of the requisitioned property claims she’s incompetent and tries to get her transferred, she must prove to her superiors she’s more than capable. But she’s soon drawn to the good-looking, grieving owner. Will she have to choose between her job and her heart? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano — A career-minded woman in Victorian England sets out to deliver a lost love letter to its rightful owner–unless it’s already too late. (Historical Romance from Revell – A division of Baker Publishing Group)

 

Mystery:

 

 

Solid Ground by Danny & Wanda Pelfrey — Seven years between them, Kirby and Riley, nurtured by their pastor father and loving mother, experience almost ideal childhoods growing up in the Boston area. Then a season of misfortune culminated in the worse of all possible tragedies – the death of their beloved parents. Four years have passed. Kirby, having failed at marriage and pro-baseball, is now a Florida police detective. He finds himself in little Adairsville, Georgia along with Riley, his law school bound sister. They are there to settle their uncle’s massive estate. It is soon apparent that Uncle James’s death was no accident. But the worst of it is their names at the top of the suspect list. The siblings are embraced by spunky caretakers, Amos and Carol, whose love, wit, faith, and plain ole horse-sense bolster efforts to solve the murder and put Kirby’s life back on track. (Mystery from CrossLink Publishing)

 

Romantic Suspense:

 

 

Dangerous Deceptions by Lynnette Bonner, Luana Ehrlich, Lynne Gentry, Elizabeth Goddard, Lisa Harris, Lisa Phillips, Jan Thompson, and D.L. Wood — Lives…and hearts…are on the line in eight brand-new Christian Romantic Suspense novels from the genre’s most explosive authors. “Lethal Outbreak” by Lisa Harris & Lynne Gentry, “Collision Course” by Elizabeth Goddard, “Glimmer in the Darkness” by Robin Patchen, “Expired Plot” by Lisa Phillips, “Ice” by Lynette Bonner, “Never a Traitor” by Jan Thompson, “Ben in Love” by Luana Ehrlich, and “Liar Like Her” by D. L. Wood. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

The Sound of Falling Leaves by Lisa Carter — After aspiring opera singer Tessa loses her voice in a fire, she needs both a place to heal and a way to keep music in her life. Amid the autumn splendor of this isolated Appalachian community where she retreats, Tessa uncovers an unnerving connection between a murder case and a long-ago disappearance. This leads Tessa and orchard caretaker, Zeke, on an intricate tale of danger, family intrigue, and romance. (Romantic Suspense from Kregel Publications)

Certain Threat by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Katrina White’s garage explodes and she fears someone is out to get her. When things escalate further, Frank Davis is certain of two things—he cares a lot for Katrina and he can’t let anything happen to her. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Deadly Connection by Jennifer Pierce — Private Investigator, Reid Lucas, and his mentor, Joe Lockhart, haven’t spoken in years, but when Joe wants to meet in a small-town diner, Reid’s interest is piqued. Without explanation, Joe calls and tells Reid he has five minutes to get waitress, Quinn Matthews, and her son out of the diner before they’re kidnapped by the group of thugs about to walk through the diner’s front door. Quinn Matthews’ life is simple and safe, exactly how she likes it—until Reid Lucas walks into the diner. Now, she and her son are running for their lives, and she has no idea why. But when the father of her son shows up and dies saving them, she realizes they all have one deadly connection: Joe Lockhart. Now, she’ll have to trust the mysterious private investigator to not only save their lives but connect her past to her present so they can figure out who is after them. And why. As the danger escalates, unexpected feelings arise. Reid doesn’t believe he’s worthy of Quinn’s love–or God’s. And Quinn is too worried about having her heart broken again and the effect of having a new man in her son’s life. Can they let go of their preconceived notions of love and relationships, or are they doomed to just let go of each other? (Romantic Suspense from Anaiah Press)

Signs in the Dark by Susan Miura — Deaf, beautiful and brilliant Haylie Summers struggles to escape her kidnappers as Nathan Boliva does whatever it takes to find her, despite his role as key suspect in her abduction. (Romantic Suspense from Vinspire Publishing)

 
 

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

 

 

 
Murder, Mysteries, & Romance in Tarryton, Missouri by Alice K. Arenz, The Case of the Bouncing Grandma, The Case of the Mystified M.D., The Wedding Barter, and Hiding from Christmas. (Romantic Mystery)
 
 
Brides of the Wild West by Anne Greene, Abby Hollister must find a husband in one month. (Historical Romance)
 
 
The Promise of Hope by Julie Lessman, A woman of deep faith, a husband with deep joy, until one careless comment steals it away. (Historical Romance)
 
 
Guardian Prince by Lauricia Matuska, A healer running for her life is aided by fey as she joins a prince in a race to secure humanity’s freedom. (Speculative Fantasy)
 
 
For the Love of Llamas by Patti Jo Moore, When a realtor tries to buy out a Georgia farm girl, more than the land draws them together, but can she trust him with her heart? (Contemporary Romance)
 
 
Dogwood Plantation by Carrie Fancett Pagels, An injured veteran and a plantation belle team together to care for younger family members, but can their wounded hearts heal when the War of 1812 is just getting started? (Historical Romance)
 
 
Charlotte Masterson Gets a Life by Carol Raj, When Charlotte Masterson gets a life, life gets interesting. (Young Adult)
 
 
The Pulse of His Soul: The Story of John Lothropp, a Forgotten Forefather by Ora Smith, When his wife refuses to break from her Anglican roots, John must decide whether to obey his conviction to renounce the Church of England and become an outlawed Separatist or conform and save his marriage, his family, and his life. (Historical)
 
 
A Home for Her Daughter by Jill Weatherholt, Love-shy single mom Janie finds a fresh start with the inheritance of a house and a camp, but she must work with her childhood friend and crush to get the camp running. (Contemporary Romance)

 

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Narrowing Your Focus (Guest Post)

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Narrowing Your Focus

by Steph Beth Nickel

Despite the craziness that is 2020, many of you have even more balls in the air at this time.

  • Working from home or in the community.
  • Learning new tech, like Zoom.
  • Diving into a new entrepreneurial endeavour.
  • Fulfilling volunteer responsibilities.
  • Facilitating your children’s schooling like never before.
  • Juggling your budget.
  • Getting used to being together with the same people day in and day out.
  • Trying to figure out how to stay in touch with friends and family you can’t visit.
  • Obeying the protocols when you do get together.
  • Figuring out what Sunday worship looks like.
  • Figuring out what the holidays will look like.
  • Arranging drive-by celebrations.
  • And on and on the list goes.

For months (years?) I’ve been thinking of setting aside specific days of the week for each of my many eclectic pursuits. Well, I finally did so. Mondays are for fulfilling my intern responsibilities and developing my Nurture and Inspire brand. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are for editing, which, for now, will be my primary source of income. Thursdays are for writing. Fridays are for fulfilling my doula recertification responsibilities. Saturdays are for creative endeavours (writing poetry, practicing modern calligraphy, learning to create poured paintings). Sundays are for worship, reading, and resting.

This isn’t a rigid schedule, but it does assure me that I will be able to get more done when I’m not trying to do a little of this and a little of that each day.

Here are nine things to consider if you want to set up a schedule that will help you accomplish more by paring down your To Do List:

  • Consider what you truly need to do every day.
  • Remember that you’ll get more done if you don’t switch from one responsibility to the next to the next.
  • Ask for help. You don’t have to do it all on your own.
  • Create a flexible and achievable schedule, leaving margins of time for those things beyond your control.
  • If at all possible, focus on 1-3 main things each day.
  • Leave time in your schedule for adequate sleep, meal prep, etc.
  • Offer yourself grace and permission to make changes to your schedule as needed.
  • Make time for rejuvenation, possibly something as simple as closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths.
  • Do something fun every week. Every day?

So, how about you? Do you have a daily schedule? A weekly schedule? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Tweetables

Despite the craziness that is 2020, many of you have even more balls in the air. (click to tweet)

A weekly schedule assures you you’ll be able to get more done when you’re not trying to do a little of this and a little of that each day. (click to tweet)

Make time in your schedule for rejuvenation, possibly something as simple as closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. (click to tweet)

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire