Archives for posts with tag: Christian fiction

Sensible Shoes #6453Like most people, I enjoy a good book, but I don’t like to take time to weed through the mediocre ones. That’s why I love recommendations from friends.

And that’s why this summer’s Simply Faithful book club pick is “Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey” by Sharon Garlough Brown ($18, IVP Books). A friend suggested it, and I read it and fell in love.

Now, I can’t wait to discuss it with you and introduce you to the author during a Facebook chat in August.

Brown does a masterful job of introducing us to four strangers who meet at a spiritual retreat center and begin the difficult work of unmasking themselves. Hannah is a pastor on a forced sabbatical. Meg is a widow haunted by her past and struggling with an empty nest. Mara has experienced a lifetime of rejection and now is in a difficult marriage. And Charissa? She is a graduate student who desperately wants to do what is right.

They all wrestle with faith in such a true-to-life way – a way I often don’t see in Christian fiction – and that’s the real gift of this book. Brown, who has a master’s of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and is a pastor and spiritual director with the Evangelical Covenant Church, paints faith as a relationship that grows and stumbles and strengthens, as something more than merely a subplot to life.

She also weaves in scripture and spiritual practices, like walking a labyrinth and praying the examen, so readers come away with tools to draw closer to God in their own, non-fiction lives. In fact, at www.sensibleshoesclub.com Brown offers a free 80-page companion guide to the book, which essentially serves as a 12-week devotional.

In the next few weeks I’ll share more about the author and your chance to chat with her. In the meantime, what do you say? Will you join us for the Simply Faithful book club?

faithchatDear readers,

In case you couldn’t join us, I captured a discussion we had about books on Twitter. I hope you enjoy it, and remember to let me know which book you’d like us to read this summer for the Simply Faithful book club!

 

Dear readers,

When my oldest son says he can’t wait for the next book in a series, I pay attention. And this series by Christa Kinde? Well, my loves-to-read boy loved every book and wanted more. So, I asked the author how she got her ideas and what books she would recommend. (You can find a photo album of teen books on the Simply Faithful Facebook page, and — also on Facebook – I happen to be giving away The Threshold Series, courtesy of Zonderkidz.)

Now, Christa…

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Prissie Pomeroy never gave much thought to invisible things

until the day she met a boy she shouldn’t have been able to see.

I’m often asked why I chose to write about angels. Supernatural things never fail to capture the imagination, so I borrowed a little from what the Scriptures tell us, pondered the possibilities, gave the details a tiny twist, and let the story take flight. The result is a four-book adventure about a girl who takes three very important things for granted—her family, her friends, and her faith. God catches Prissie’s attention in a miraculous way, proving He knew her needs even before she did.

Why do I write for tweens and teens? Maybe because I have five of them at home! While it’s true that I write the kinds of books I love to read, I’m also conscious of the imprint stories can leave. My childhood reading list shaped my desires and influenced my decisions. I’m grateful to God for the good books that found their way into my hands. Because they’ve read my stories, my kids have collapsed into giggles, grabbed for tissues, cheered for right choices, and learned what’s dearest to their mother’s heart.

In my opinion, the best books remind us that the Bible isn’t boring, church isn’t a chore, prayer connects us to our Maker, and Christians will stand out. Bible stories are given an interesting twist in the six-volume Passages series by Paul McCusker. Lovers of fantasy would enjoy the 10-volume Seven Sleepers series by Gilbert Morris. And a story I’ll never forget is The Heart Reader of Franklin High by Terri Blackstock.

To learn more, visit ChristaKinde.com and watch for monthly story installments at  Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

 

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Dear readers,

This is the first of a three-part series on the importance of great literature for tweens and teens. Today I have the pleasure of turning this space over to a wise friend — one who gives much thought to the power of words and to the preparation of hearts. Lisa…

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

~Philippians 4:8 KJV

With twin boys who will soon cross the 15 year mark, I am constantly on the lookout for good reading material. The boys have always been voracious readers (we joke that our decorating style is Modern American Book, complete with shelving in every room), and through the years we had no problem finding great literature for our boys. Right up until they hit the tween and teen years.

That’s when we found out we’d have to really keep an eye out for good books. Because many books written for middle and high schoolers tend to focus on typical teen problems like identity, boy-girl relationships, drug use and bullying, they often introduce worldly concepts in the spirit of informing curious minds.

And while I have no problem with books dealing with issues, as a parent I really prefer to be the one influencing my kids. If I hand them books loaded with kids making risky choices or books that approve of ungodly behaviors, I feel as if I am condoning those practices. That’s why we’ve been really careful with what our kids read.

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Lisa Tiffin

As my boys got older, I often pre-read books.Eventually I started skimming or spot checking books as well as scouring summaries and reviews. Now I trust my guys to choose their own books. We’ve discussed issues together, talked about what is appropriate and what isn’t. We’ve even discussed how to ignore small issues or to separate personal beliefs from an author or character’s point of view.

The reward? Boys who stop reading when they feel a book is too graphic, ungodly or over the top. In other words boys with wisdom and maturity to make their own good choices.

I’m not saying all my choices would be the same as the next person’s, but what I am saying is that it’s important for us to be involved and engaged in our children’s interior lives. It’s important to steer them toward what is right and good and worthy.

Providing our kids with worthy reading, discussing what is right and wrong and talking about why a book measures up or doesn’t is vital. Because that is how our kids will grow and mature as readers and as young men and women of faith.

Lisa Tiffin is a freelance writer and author who lives with her family in Upstate New York. In addition to numerous articles published in The Democrat & Chronicle as well as many local and national magazines, Lisa has authored literature study guides and several short stories for kids and adults. She is also the author of Theft of the Star Tracker, the first in a series of novels geared toward readers ages 8 to 14. Learn more at www.lisatiffin.com.

 

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To hear Jenn Kelly tell it, it was a very fancy wedding where you had to stand through the whole thing. Somewhere amid all the pomp and circumstance her gaze fell upon a woman with hair piled high. (No, think higher than that.)

The woman was maybe 5 feet tall and looked like she usually carried a small dog with her. She was probably mad that the dog couldn’t come to the wedding, Kelly thought. But wait!

Maybe she was carrying her dog… in her massive hair.

That’s how it started, this idea to write about a boy who falls into his great aunt’s hair and discovers a whole new world of elves and bubble-gum chewing crubbies. A book about a boy who – like many of us – doubts himself a little too much and has to be reminded that the Author has a plan and a purpose for him.

“I want readers to know that life can be funny and amusing, and they are indeed loved,” said Kelly, author of “Jackson Jones: The Tale of a Boy, an Elf, and a Very Stinky Fish” ($12.99, Zonderkidz).

And somewhere between crazy Chapter 37 “In Which We Learn about the Book, the Author, and Fred the Turtle” and Chapter 38 “A Chapter that Is Not Nearly as Long as the Last One” we find gems like this one, where Jackson has had a glimpse into the future. He has improved at baseball, become a professor and won a prestigious writing award.

“So, what I saw in the mirrors, that was true?” he asked. 

“Unless you see yourself differently from the truth,” she said softly. “Unless you forget.”

Lines worth underlining.

This time all of the books in the Simply Faithful book club touch on purpose, on remembering who we are and whose we are. I hope you’ll join us and encourage the young readers in your life to give these books a try. They’ll also have the chance to ask their own questions and chat live with Kelly at 7 p.m. Dec. 3. We’ll meet online at the Simply Faithful page on Facebook.

“Jackson Jones” is written for elementary students but my almost 14-year-old laughed at some of the chapter titles, and the book practically begs to be read out loud to a classroom.

“That book is me to a T,” Kelly said. “That’s how I talk. Anyone who reads it knows me… ish.”

Jackson’s adventures continue in “Jackson Jones: The Tale of a Boy, a Troll, and a Rather Large Chicken” and Kelly has more adventures in her head, ready to escape on paper.

I can’t wait.

Meet Jenn Kelly

Photo courtesy of Jenn Kelly

Learn more about author Jenn Kelly at her Website: www.JennKelly.com. You can also find her page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Look for @JennKellyauthor.

Readers have the chance to chat live with her at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 on the Simply Faithful Facebook page.

 

About the Simply Faithful book club

For about a year Marketta Gregory, author of the Simply Faithful column, has invited readers throughout the Rochester community to join her in reading and discussing books with spiritual themes. So far, the community has read “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and “Rooms” by James Rubart. The current selections – all four – were chosen to encourage younger readers to participate in the conversation. They are:

  • “Who Built the Stable?” by Ashley Bryan ($16.99, Simon and Schuster).
  • “Jackson Jones: The Tale of a Boy, an Elf, and a Very Stinky Fish” by Jenn Kelly ($12.99, Zonderkidz).
  • “Replication [The Jason Experiment]” by Jill Williamson ($15.99, Zondervan).
  • “Graceful: Letting Go of your Try-Hard Life” by Emily P. Freeman ($12.99, Revell).

 

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