Favorite Friday Fiction: Rooms by James L. Rubart

My all-time favorite contemporary novel is Rooms by James L. Rubart. I found its message to be life-changing. The way Rubart weaves a supernatural feel into his down -to-earth stories will take your breath away. And that’s a good thing…

 

Rooms

On a rainy spring day in Seattle, young software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a cryptic, twenty-five-year-old letter from a great uncle he never knew. It claims a home awaits him on the Oregon coast that will turn his world inside out. Suspecting a prank, Micah arrives at Cannon Beach to discover a stunning brand new nine-thousand square foot house. And after meeting Sarah Sabin at a nearby ice cream shop, he has two reasons to visit the beach every weekend.

When bizarre things start happening in the rooms of the home, Micah suspects they have some connection to his enigmatic new friend, Rick, the town mechanic. But Rick will only say the house is spiritual. This unnerves Micah because his faith slipped away like the tide years ago, and he wants to keep it that way. But as he slowly discovers, the home isn’t just spiritual, it’s a physical manifestation of his soul, which God uses to heal Micah’s darkest wounds and lead him into an astonishing new destiny.

Click to tweet: My all-time favorite contemporary novel is Rooms by James L. Rubart. #speculative #amreading

Small Acts of Kindness: Do Something

By Jennifer Hallmark

Acts of kindness. One reason I like sharing what others are doing to make the world a better place is to inspire others. Everyone can do something. From helping a neighbor to donating time and/or money to community projects, you have value inside of you to share with others.

I found this article on the top ten most amazing Christian charities. You can look over their sites for ways to volunteer and/or donate.

(1) Samaritan’s Purse

(2) Compassion International

(3) Lutheran World Relief

(4) Operation Blessing International

(5) Advancing Native Missions

(6) Children’s Hunger Fund

(7) The Salvation Army

(8) Catholic Relief Services

(9) Lifeline Christian Mission

(10) Food For The Poor

Click to tweet:  You have value inside of you to share with others. #kindnessmatters #compassion

Whether you look within your community or around the world, opportunities abound to help others. Here’s a good video by Matthew West that made me think.

Favorite Friday Fiction: Annabelle’s Ruth & Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens

What’s better than our Favorite Friday Fiction book of the week? When I share two books, of course! Today I introduce Betty Thomason Owens, good friend and author extraordinaire. I loved Annabelle’s Ruth (The Kinsman Redeemer series book 1) when it released in 2015. And when book two, Sutter’s Landing, released in June of this year, I wasn’t disappointed. You’ll love these books set in the 1950’s…

Annabelle’s Ruth

“If you think you can come back here and throw yourself on my mercy, you are quite wrong.” 

After their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Connie Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, from Southern California to Tennessee. Her misgivings begin as they cross the bridge over the muddy Mississippi River. In their new town, where living conditions are far below their previous expectations, they must set up a household and hunt for work to survive. Thanks to the kindness of Annabelle’s handsome, young cousin, life begins to settle down. But Connie has a secret that could uproot them once again.
 
Inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era “Ruth” story, set in western Tennessee.  How will Connie adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, racial tension, and culture shock? 

Sutter’s Landing

Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep.

In early spring of 1955, Annabelle Cross and her daughter-in-law, Connie have nearly made it through the first winter on their own. Then the skies open up as West Tennessee and much of the south endures one of the worst floods in history. As many of their neighbors endure losses due to the flooding, Annabelle and Connie sit tight on dry ground.

As spring gives way to summer, Annabelle begins to dread Connie’s upcoming marriage and removal to Sutter’s Landing. Though she’s happy to note the growing affection between Alton Wade and her daughter-in-law, their marriage means Annabelle will be on her own for the first time in her life.

Connie’s doubts increase when Alton’s bigoted brother Jensen uses every opportunity to drive a wedge between them. Is she doing the right thing? Did she move too quickly? Unexpected summer visitors and anticipation of a new neighbor provide diversion and open possibilities for both Annabelle and Connie.

Favorite Friday Fiction: The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham

The first Friday of the month is when I share my best-loved classic fiction and Margery Allingham is one of my favorite authors. In her long series of literary detective fiction with universal uncle, Albert Campion, The Tiger in the Smoke is the most thrilling. It will keep you looking over your shoulder…

The Tiger in the Smoke

London, ‘the Smoke’ to Cockneys and the hipsters who appropriate their slang, is living up to its nickname: an unusual cold snap has combined with the fug from coal-fires to produce the ‘Great Smog’, blanketing the city in choking shadow. And lurking in those shadows is Jack Havoc, a killer with a particular fondness for knives. Havoc is by far the most dangerous villain that Albert Campion has ever encountered, and his startlingly realistic menace, combined with the light touch common to all the Campion novels, gives the book a modern feel, as it straddles a line between Golden Age detective fiction and contemporary psychological suspense.

 

Small Acts of Kindness: Good Samaritan

By Andrea Merrell

Sometimes we don’t realize how one tiny act of kindness can impact someone.

It was late one night during a writers’ conference as I headed back to my room—exhausted. I could hardly wait to slip into my PJs and eat that last piece of dark chocolate that was waiting for me.

Almost to my room, I noticed a young woman sitting on the floor a couple of doors down the hallway. The contents of her large bag were spread all around her. Thoughts raced through my mind as I approached her. Was she sick? Had she fallen? When I got closer, she looked up with a rueful smile.

“I can’t find my key,” she said, obviously as tired as I was.

My heart went out to her. “Are you sure it’s not in there?”

She shook her head. “No, I’ve been through everything. I might have left it in my room. Guess I’ll have to walk all the way down to the front desk to get another key.”

It was then I remembered the app on my phone that gave us access to the front desk. “Wait, let me text them and see if they can send someone up to let you in.”

The relief on her face almost made me cry. Sure enough, within a short time, someone from the office came to her rescue. She thanked me and called me a Good Samaritan.

“Well, I don’t know about that. Never been called a Good Samaritan before. I’m sure anyone who came by would have stopped to help,” I said.

She shook her head again and looked a little sad. “Actually, they wouldn’t. Two people already passed by without saying a word. You were the third and the one to stop.”

To say that I was blown away would be putting it mildly. It was hard to imagine anyone passing this woman by without offering to help. Once she was inside her room and all was well, I slipped into my own room, thankful that I had not been the third one to look the other way.

We all need help from time to time, whether it’s from a friend or a stranger. God never meant for us to walk this journey of life alone. In fact, the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NKJV) that two are better than one. The Message puts it this way: It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps. But if there’s no one to help, tough!

Be that Good Samaritan when you see someone in need. It can be the smallest, simplest acts of kindness that mean the most.


 

Andrea Merrell is an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. She teaches workshops at writers’ conferences and has been published in numerous anthologies and online venues.

Andrea is a graduate of Christian Communicators and a finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards. She is the author of Murder of a Manuscript and Praying for the Prodigal. Her newest book, Marriage: Make It or Break It, is now available on Amazon. For more information visit www.AndreaMerrell.com or www.TheWriteEditing.com.


Marriage: Make It or Break It

Some say marriage is a dying institution. Others say, “Stop the bus and let me get off.” But Andrea Merrell—after forty-plus years of marriage—believes this God-ordained institution is one of His greatest gifts to men and women. Marriage: Make It or Break It is a result of a lifetime of trial and error, keen observation, and years of studying God’s Word. With her signature dash of humor, she takes a candid look at attitudes and behavior that can make or break a relationship, the difference in how men and women think and approach life, and the importance of honest communication. You’ll find danger signs, roadblocks to bypass, and Scriptures to personalize and pray on a daily basis.

This journey won’t be perfect, and the road is guaranteed to be full of potholes. But if you’re ready to learn a few truths that will make marriage strong—and a lot of things that will destroy it—buckle your seat belt and let’s get this bus moving.

Favorite Friday Fiction-Rain Song by Alice J. Wisler

My two favorite genres are Southern fiction and fantasy. Yes, I know, it’s a weird combination, but it’s what I like. Today’s novel is by one of my favorite contemporary Southern fiction authors. I’ve read most of her books and this is one of my favorites…

Rain Song

Nicole Michelin avoids airplanes, motorcycles, and most of all, Japan, where her parents once were missionaries. Something happened in Japan…something that sent Nicole and her father back to America alone…something of which Nicole knows only bits and pieces.

But she is content with life in little Mount Olive, North Carolina, with her quirky relatives, tank of lively fish, and plenty of homemade pineapple chutney. Through her online column for the Pretty Fishy Web site, she meets Harrison Michaels, who, much to her dismay, lives in Japan. She attempts to avoid him, but his e-mails tug at her heart.

Then Harrison reveals that he knew her as a child in Japan. In fact, he knows more about her childhood than she does…

Small Acts of Kindness: Aiding a Veteran

By Josh  Drzewicki

Living in metro Detroit isn’t an easy feat. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of poverty stemming from the decline of the Motor City that started in the 1950s, continued with urban decay throughout the 1970s, that has evolved to now.

In fact, Detroit was the only city in the 50 biggest cities to lose population between 2010 and 2015. I didn’t grow up in Detroit or the metro area, but I feel a strong sense of belief in the biggest city in my state.

I know it’s a digression from the story, but many people just assume that Detroit is some horrible place that looks like it’s out of a Dystopian video game. While it’s not beautiful everywhere you go, and there is noticeable poverty, it’s still like other cities. That includes the care that we show the people who find themselves begging for money underneath the bridges or outside ball parks.

I was in the Do Random Acts of Kindness club while in university, and it taught me to give back. I was inspired to help this older gentleman, Matt, that I always saw near 8 Mile in my city. He was always sitting at the corner begging for money. He’s African American and an Army vet as I later found out.

The first time I encountered Matt was shortly after I moved to the area. It was June, hot, and sprinkling. He walked up to my window at a red light and asked for some change. I didn’t have anything in my car at the moment, so I told him next time. I encountered him a week later when I ran to get groceries. Again, I told him I didn’t have any money on me, but he could get in and we could get some food.

He hopped into my aging Chevy Cavalier and I drove a half mile to McDonald’s. I told him to order whatever and we could hang out and eat. I ordered a side salad and french fries (I’m vegetarian). Matt ordered a Big Mac meal and two more cheeseburgers. I thought it was a lot of food at first. Then I listened to him tell me his story. It helped me realize that even buying someone a meal can increase their quality of life. Even if it’s just one time.

I learned that Matt was in the Army in the 1990s, back when I was just a little kid. He was injured during a drill and discharged. Through the years, he’s been dealing with the VA system with little luck. Eventually, in the early 2000s, he was given some prescription painkillers. Despite having a steady job, he fell into addiction which caused him to lose his job and his girlfriend. A year later, he lost his house without steady work. By 2012, he was on the street devoting his whole life to finding drugs.

In 2015, some clergymen helped Matt. They taught him how to get help as a drug addict. While it got him off drugs, it didn’t get him off the street. He’s been living there since. He said it was the first time someone had bought him a meal in six months.

Not everything is like it seems. The city of Detroit or even Matt. With a little help and a little bit of food. Anything is possible. I haven’t seen Matt in months. I’m hoping it means he got off the street.


 Josh Drzewicki is a variety writer hailing from metro Detroit. In his free time, he enjoys long walks through the city while listening to NPR podcasts. He spends time attending the local National Stuttering Association meetings and playing video games.

 

Favorite Friday Fiction-Alone by Edie Melson

Today’s book is in the science fiction genre. Alone is a dynamic read that, at times, reminded me of the debut Star Wars, my all-time favorite science fiction movie. If you like science fiction, you’ll love Edie Melson’s debut novel…

Alone

After her family is killed in the cleansing, Bethany’s purpose in life has changed. No longer will she be allowed to work to save her dying planet. As a slave, endurance is her goal as she marks each day as one moment closer to an eternity spent reunited with those she loved. But when her planet is invaded, everything changes.

Now she must decide either to align herself with those from her planet who condemned her faith and killed her family, or with the warriors who have conquered her world. Ultimately her choice will mean life or death for more than just her planet’s ecosystem.

She alone holds the key to a powerful secret, and the fate of the entire galaxy depends on her decision.

Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens

I’m so excited to announce that Betty’s latest book releases today! Don’t miss this great read. But make sure you go ahead and buy book one, Annabelle’s Ruth, also…

Sutter’s Landing

Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep.

In early spring of 1955, Annabelle Cross and her daughter-in-law, Connie have nearly made it through the first winter on their own. Then the skies open up as West Tennessee and much of the south endures one of the worst floods in history. As many of their neighbors endure losses due to the flooding, Annabelle and Connie sit tight on dry ground.

As spring gives way to summer, Annabelle begins to dread Connie’s upcoming marriage and removal to Sutter’s Landing. Though she’s happy to note the growing affection between Alton Wade and her daughter-in-law, their marriage means Annabelle will be on her own for the first time in her life.

Connie’s doubts increase when Alton’s bigoted brother Jensen uses every opportunity to drive a wedge between them. Is she doing the right thing? Did she move too quickly? Unexpected summer visitors and anticipation of a new neighbor provide diversion and open possibilities for both Annabelle and Connie.

Purchase at: Amazon

Favorite Friday Fiction-The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom has written many great books and this is one of my favorites. The characters and story itself grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I think you’ll enjoy it too…

 

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him, as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It’s a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers.

One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?”