Sleep deprivation must be an ancient form of the cruelest punishment. And one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. I’ll spare you the gory details and suffice it to say that my babies went through a long, messy phase and I was an angry zombie.
I didn’t do much besides stay afloat…but somehow there was a little time for books. And thank God for that. Being honest, I was in rough shape. I wasn’t praying. I wasn’t reading my Bible.
I didn’t want to.
Still, God had a message for me through the fictions I read. Each of these novels spoke to me, encouraged me, convicted me. And they meant so much that I want to give you a chance to win one of the following (or a single title in the If I Run series) as an ebook.
Not all of these books are strictly romance, but (if you read the back covers it’s not a spoiler to say) they all have strong romantic elements.
So browse the titles, explore the links, and leave a comment below with your email and the ebook you’d like to win.
Luther and Katharina, by Jody Hedlund
Why I read it: This was a 2016 Christy Award winner and Reformation history fascinates me.
Why I loved it: The history didn’t disappoint, but also—the romance! A nun and a monk who’ve vowed off romance, marriage, and family discover that God may have different plans for them. Now what do they do with their growing feelings for each other?
Writer’s takeaway: The author painted Luther and Katharina as equally sympathetic and deeply flawed. I rooted for them to succeed and to change—something that makes interesting, three-dimensional characters.
Homestands, by Sally Bradley
Why I read it: Sally is a fellow American Christian Fiction Writers KC West chapter member and I enjoyed reading her first novel, Kept.
Why I loved it: Forgiveness is a tough brick to swallow, and the book wasn’t afraid to get down to business. The message of the novel doesn’t shy away from (without glorifying) the messiness of sin in all shapes and sizes. What is glorified in this story? The power of Christ to transform a life.
Writer’s takeaway: The reviews. Holy freaking cow. I remembered Sally mentioning at a chapter meeting that she’d gotten some negative feedback, so after reading the book I checked out her one-stars on Amazon and Goodreads. A writer’s gotta have thick skin! You can’t maker everyone happy, but a faith-based writer who chooses to tackle tough issues really really can’t make everyone happy. Truth isn’t about happiness though. Can I get a witness?
Count Me In, by Mikal Dawn (which just made the short list for the 2018 INSPY Awards for Debut Fiction—Congrats, Mikal!!)
Why I read it: Mikal is a fellow blogger at Romance Readers’ Café, and the story looked like a fun time.
Why I loved it: I’ve had “Fear Is a Liar” by Zach Williams on replay for a while. And then I heard NEEDTOBREATHE’s “Walking On Water.” And then I read Mikal’s novel, and I identified with elements so much more than I cared to. The what if’s in life are paralyzing. The many forms of fear are deceptive. But God is not the one who kills, steals, and destroys! He is the one who upholds, sustains, carries, and rescues (Isaiah 46:3-4 for those who need some meditation time).
Writer’s takeaway: Setting! Readers enjoy an escape—give them someplace fun, exciting, and refreshing. Seattle made it to my bucket list of places to visit. And I drank (and craved) so much coffee while reading this book.
Lady Jayne Disappears, by Joanna Davidson Politano
Why I read it: I stumbled across a blog interviewing the author on her debut novel and was so inspired by her commitment to the Lord and family, first and foremost. As a mom of little ones (close to the same age as the author’s), I wanted to celebrate the triumph of her first published novel.
Why I loved it: I didn’t need to read the blog to know that the author has a real and deep connection with Jesus Christ. You can just tell when an author’s faith is genuine. But the mystery, the romance, and the overall storyline was simply delightful.
Writer’s takeaway: The twists and turns kept me engaged throughout the book. Something in each chapter took me by surprise. I had to keep turning pages to see what would develop next.
If I Run Series, by Terri Blackstock
Why I read it: If I Run was a 2017 Christy Award winner, and the cover just said, “I’m gonna keep you on the edge of your seat!” I continued reading the series because…wow.
Why I loved it: You jump right into the action. The pace is fast. The threat is real. But I was so caught up in the story that the message blindsided me—hard. I can choose to be miserable, or I can choose to look for God. I can focus on every (very real) problem, or I can focus on thankfulness.
Writer’s takeaway: The author’s notes at the end of the first book had me in tears. All through the series the author doesn’t skimp on the fact that life gets messy. In fact, hardship is a promise. I hate that Christians have bought the idea that we deserve all kinds of physical blessings if we do it all right. That only leaves us feeling like we’ve messed up when the road gets rough. It’s my deepest hope and prayer that God breathes stories to life in me that take readers on a wild ride, and then slam us both (author and reader) with the truth we need right in that moment.
Have you read any of the above books? What did you think? Don’t forget to leave your email and the ebook you’d like to win 😊
Beth Olsson, in a pen cap, is all about Jesus, her Viking, and their two adorable babies. If you know what it means when she says her childhood heroes were Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Green Gables, and Jo March, then you get it! All kidding aside, they’re still her heroes. Beth started creating stories as early as she can remember, staying awake well after bedtime dreaming up daring characters and precarious situations. As a writer of contemporary romance, with a dash of suspense, she believes the best stories weave the raw beauty of real life with unbelievable adventures.
A proud resident of Kansas City, Missouri, Beth enjoys world travel, genealogy, and sitting around the dinner table for hours, talking about both. The best souvenir she ever brought home was a husband from Sweden. Like any good writer, she has a love affair with chocolate and coffee, but it’s a lifeblood connection with Jesus Christ that keeps the words flowing and heart beating. At the tender age of fourteen, on a tile floor in Costa Rica, she surrendered all to the one she calls Lord. Through life’s twists and turns she’s thankful for this steadfast foundation every day!