An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti — Review

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

Publisher Info:

On the way to Christmas with his family, Micah asks Katie to marry him. She says no, but there is no getting out of Christmas now. The Binder family celebrates every Christmas as if it were their last. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it’s Christmas.

Review:

An Endless Christmas is a heartfelt holiday tale of faith, family, and love. One of my very favorite types of books, it’s a holiday novella focused on family during the Christmas season. This is the first book by Cynthia Ruchti that I’ve had the pleasure to read, and it was such a great experience! The characters are well developed and lovable, the story has a few unexpected twists, and the setting screams picturesque holiday. This book is by no means holiday fluff (though I do love such stories!), Ruchti weaves a bit of suspense and mystery into the story. The pace is perfect–which is tricky for some authors when it comes to novellas. You’ll finish this story longing to spend more time with the Binder (pronounced Bender) family, but also aching to hug your own! An Endless Christmas stresses the importance of family, forgiveness, and living in the moment. This is a must-read for the upcoming Christmas season, and it may well become a Christmas tradition in your holiday reading. Highly recommended for fans of Christian fiction, holiday novellas, and inspirational fiction.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry, Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels and novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals, and speaking for women’s and writers’ events. Her books have been recognized by Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards, Selah Awards, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Christian Retailing’s BEST Awards, and Carol Award nominations, among other honors, including a Family Fiction Readers’ Choice Award. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in Pittsville, Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

*I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Prime of Life by P.D. Bekendam – Blog Tour & Review

“Follow Ben on a journey from a thriving cardiac surgeon to his unexpected decision to become a retirement home janitor, where he lives a much less stressful life – until his past catches up with him and his new world unravels.”

If you told me one of my favorite books of the year would take place in a nursing home, I probably wouldn’t believe you. And I’d be wrong.

Prime of Life is the story of Ben–a retirement home janitor and former heart surgeon. It’s P.D. Bekendam’s debut novel and winner of Worthy Publishing’s Operation First Novel 2013 Contest. I honestly didn’t know how much I would like Prime of Life, but I’m SO glad I read it! My mom actually picked it up first when it arrived, and she tore through it. [She even wrote her own review, which I’ve included in this post!] She couldn’t stop talking about it, but I was still a bit skeptical. When I finally picked up the book, I read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. I finished it the next morning, and I’ve been recommending it to people left and right.

The story is told from Ben’s point of view. We’re introduced to several residents of the retirement home who become major characters in Ben’s life. The title, Pr1me of Life, is two-fold in describing the story. Ben is in the prime of his life, but he also has some neuroses, including an affinity for prime numbers. I was especially intrigued with Ben’s quirks and anxieties, and they are numerous! I felt the book was very believable. I was worried at one point that everything was going to be resolved too easily, but Bekendam stuck to the story and gave us a completely realistic conclusion. Prime of Life shows how one incident, or your feelings about it, can derail your entire life. One of my favorite things about the story actually drove me crazy when I was reading it! I had to keep myself from flipping to the end to see how things turned out. Bekendam ends the story abruptly and picks up years later in the epilogue. You’re left wondering about something for awhile, but the story ends (in my opinion) in the perfect way. I know this review is a bit vague, but I’m trying really hard to avoid giving spoilers! I want you to read this book. Prime of Life is interesting, emotional, smart, believable, and well written. I look forward to Bekendam’s future work!

Info from the Publisher:

PRIME OF LIFE

by P. D. Bekendam

A Novel

Operation First Novel 2013 contest winner, Prime of Life was released in Kindle edition only and has garnered in excess of 200 positive reviews with over 6,000 paid downloads.

Ben used to be a cardiothoracic surgeon before he suddenly abandoned his career and became a janitor at a retirement facility. Now, other than dealing with minor problems such as an unhealthy obsession with prime numbers, an inept boss, and a feud between two cantankerous retirees, he lives a relatively stress-free life. There is even hope for romance when an attractive podiatrist shows an interest in him. But it is not long before his past catches up with him and his carefully protected world begins to unravel. Filled with humor and quirky characters, Prime of Life delivers a satisfying and entertaining read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author and practicing eye surgeon, Dr. Bekendam is happily married and the proud father of two boys. Proceeds from his writing go to help fund his activities in developing countries as he works to bring cataract surgery to the needlessly blind. Prime of Life is his debut novel.

My mom’s review:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Prime of Life. This is one of those books that you hate to sit down. I used every spare moment and even ‘created’ spare time to read until I finished this book in 3 evenings. Dr. Bekendam keeps your attention with superb writing that keeps you coming back for more. He gives just enough so you want to know what comes next. Bekendam describes real individuals, each with their very own personalities, so lifelike, making his story so undeniably believable. The difficulties faced, the day to day living, the happy times, the questions of the mind and calls of the heart–all are addressed here in such a unique and captivating method. Hats off to the author…can’t wait for more.

Prime of Life is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com, and in book stores across the country. I hope you’ll check it out!

*Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

New Books to Check Out!

Worthy Publishing kindly sent me copies of 2 new gift books to review. They are both small in size but strong in content. Check out the press release and my reviews below for more info!

GRAMMY AND DOVE AWARD-WINNING RECORDING ARTISTS

PEN TITLES WITH WORTHY PUBLISHING

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – June 11th, 2013—The Worthy Publishing Group rounds out its Spring/Summer 2013 list with two gift titles penned by award-winning singer/songwriters Michael W. Smith and Travis Cottrell.

Smith’s book The Power of an Ordinary Prayer (Worthy Publishing, 9781617951923, July 2013, $14.99, hardcover) explores the heart of prayer and its power to transform your world. The beautifully-designed, hardcover gift book inspires readers to pray blessings over their loved ones, and in return discover the abundant joy and peace that can be theirs through the power of this simple blessing.

Dove-award winning artist, Travis Cottrell’s 144-page gift book entitled He Knows Your Name (WorthyPublishing, 9781617951916, July 2013, $14.99, hardcover), looks at those surprising times and places when God proves his radical love. With a remarkable introduction by NewYork Times best-selling author Beth Moore, Cottrell reminds readers that God is the hope, strength, and deliverance they desperately need in every circumstance—especially those moments when it is least expected.

“These books, written by award-winning recording artists, come on the heels of our success with titles from contemporary Christian music artists Laura Story and Nichole Nordeman,” says Jeana Ledbetter, Vice President of Editorial.Within the past year Worthy Publishing has struck a chord with readers with the release ofGrammy-award winning songwriter Laura Story’s devotional, What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops?(Freeman Smith, 9781605873220, March 2012, $11.99, trade paper) along with Dove-award winning artist Nichole Nordeman’s Love Story (Worthy, 9781617950513, August 2012, $16.99, hardcover). “It seems we have found a niche transforming best-selling recording artists into widely read authors,” Ledbetter continues. Worthy is also scheduled to release Big Daddy Weave’s devotional Redeemed (Worthy, 9781605875224, August 2013, $11.99), based on the song recently awarded “Song of the Year” at the K-Love Fan Awards on June 1st.

book-LG-power-of-ordinary-prayer

THE POWER OF AN ORDINARY PRAYER

by Michael W. Smith

A touching gift book that helps readers understand the power and beauty of prayer and how it can transform our hearts, so that we can be a catalyst for transformation in others. Many of us seek to be blessed more than we seek to bless others. It’s our heart aligned with the heart of God that brings blessing, because He is by nature extravagantly generous and loves giving gifts. No matter where readers are on their journey with God, they will be motivated and inspired to open their hearts and discover the abundant joy and peace that can be theirs through the power of a simple prayer of blessing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In addition to winning several Grammy and Dove awards, Michael W. Smith has recorded more than 22 albums and had numerous hit songs in the Christian market and on mainstream radio. He is also involved in relief work, at home and around the world, and is the founder of Rocketown, an outreach to teenagers in a 38,000 square-foot facility in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. He has written several best-selling books including Old Enough to Know and Friends Are Friends Forever. He and his wife, Debbie, have 5 children and live in Nashville.

My Review

The Power of an Ordinary Prayer has a great fall themed cover. There are tree branches at the top right and autumn leaves are falling down on the rest of the cover. I love the feel of this book–it’s kind of slick and shiny. It makes me feel like the book is quality made! I also think they chose the perfect font & colors for the cover. Now that I’m done obsessing over that, I hope you want to know what I thought about the content of the book. I really liked it! The book is written in a devotional/journal type format. At the beginning of each chapter you’ll see the chapter title, a one-sentence prayer, and an applicable verse. The next few pages will have a story and an explanation, followed by a section on application. Next, there are a few questions for you to think through and answer on the provided lines. The story will then continue, followed by another question & journal area. Repeat that again, read a few verses, and then you’ll arrive at the next chapter. There are six sections. They are “Praying for…” The Promises of God, Spiritual Health, a Pure Mind, Personal Holiness, Backyard Blessings, and Spiritual Victory. I like the organization and tone of this book. You never feel like Michael W. Smith is talking down to you or preaching ‘at’ you. Instead, it’s obvious Smith seeks to help the reader understand prayer and blessings. As a gift book, I think this would be appropriate to give to a very close friend or family member. I’d also recommend reading it and passing it on, if you so desire. You may want to keep a separate journal for answering the questions if you plan on doing this.

book-LG-he-knows-your-name

HE KNOWS YOUR NAME 

by Travis Cottrell

Surprised by God When You Least Expect It

 Beth Moore joins her dear friend Travis Cottrell in showing you how to fully experience God’s presence at surprising times and places in your own life.

 According to Cottrell, God’s goodness is predictable. His mercy is dependable. His ability to work in every moment of every reader’s life, leading them to him, is unfailing. But often in those moments, even the most devout are distracted by great distress, failing to see or acknowledge God’s presence and provision. Cottrell reminds readers that God is the hope, strength and deliverance we desperately need. In every circumstance, especially those moments when we least expect it, God’s voice can be heard and his presence discerned. He Knows Your Name is a beautiful, 2-color gift book sure to be treasured.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Dove Award-winning artist Travis Cottrell has been worship leader for Beth Moore and her wildly successful Living Proof Live! conferences for 15 years. Travis has been on LifeWay’s Top 10 Artists list for the past five year; Alive Forever has sold more than 150,000 units. He has 15,000 Twitter followers and approximately 11,000 Facebook friends. Cottrell lives in Jackson, Tennessee with his wife, Angela, and their 3 children.

My Review

Once again, Worthy Pub did a great job with this cover! The colors are gorgeous, and a small bird is featured on the cover. It’s the same size as the other book, so a great gift book size. I actually let my mom read this book, so I’ll share her thoughts with you! The introduction was written by Beth Moore. If you’re a fan of hers, I’m sure you’ll want to give this book a try. For my mom, it was a bit slow in the beginning. She had to push herself through it! Once she got into the actual book it picked up a bit. Cottrell has a great writing style and is easy to follow. He makes lots of good points and lays them out in an organized manner. At the beginning of each chapter you’ll find the title, a definition of a main word for the chapter, and a verse. There’ll be a few pages of text, a verse, more text, and a quote. Then you’ll see a few pages ‘For Reflection and Application’ with questions and answer space. The next page will feature two applicable verses and a short prayer. The ten chapters are as follows: Surprises; I Got Chills, They’re Multiplyin’; Not Without Hope; The Sweet, Sweet Sound of Worship; The Wide, Wide World of Worship; Words, Wounds, and Worship; Fear Not; The Great Adventure; Surviving Death; and Surrender. I really like the quote from the back cover: In the moments when you wonder how God will provide…In the nights when you long for His presence…In every season when you need to know His hope…God is speaking your name. I think this book would be a great gift for someone who is trying to see if God still cares or who is yearning for God’s presence in everyday life. It may be a positive reinforcement for someone going through a troubling time. Cottrell longs to see every person experience intimate worship with ‘the God who knows you by name.’

 Both books are 5.5″ x 6.5″ hardcovers and 144 pages long. They both released July 2 and list price is $14.99 for each. You can purchase these books at christian bookstores, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and christianbook.com. If you purchase one for a gift, get one for yourself, too! I think every christian can benefit from reading and experiencing these books.