It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving followed closely by Black Friday. The two often seem ironic so close together, but if not celebrated in excess, Black Friday can be a way of being smart with your money as you make purchases you’ll be thankful for in the year to come. The Indie Christian Books Black Friday sale is near and dear to my heart, and I’m expecially thankful that Kendra E. Ardnek took charge of the sale this year when I was too busy to organize it.
Easter books are one of my favorite ways to renew my wonder over the miracle of the Easter story.
The two most joyful proclamations in the Bible are “Unto us a child is born” and “He is risen!”
These are words that cause the Christian heart to thrill. Yet, to our shame, sometimes even these pronouncements of joy loose their luster. Over the years, many books have renewed my sense of wonder over various aspects of of the Good News. If you want to look at the Easter story with fresh eyes this year, here are some Easter book suggestions.
My Best Easter Books
When I grabbed this book off a shelf in our basement, I didn’t give the title much thought. About halfway through the book, I began to feel a sinking sense of dread about the term comrade of the cross. Florence M. Kingsley wrote this book just before the 19th century turned to the 20th. According to Goodreads, it was written in response to a publisher’s challenge to “write a manuscript that would set a child’s heart on fire for Jesus Christ.” This book will bring you to Golgotha through the eyes of the believing thief.
If you read the story synopsis for this book, you won’t understand why I put it on this list. It’s a contemporary novel about a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and a chaplain who has seen better days. Riven is also one of the longest books I’ve ever read, so it would take quite a time commitment to finish in one week. However, I can promise you will see Good Friday with new eyes after reading this. It’s one of the most unique, powerful stories I’ve ever read. It’s also the only book I continued crying over long after turning the last page.
Note: Not recommended for readers under 16.
Good Friday & Easter
This is a good read if you prefer something a little less intense than Riven or Titus: Comrade of the Cross. Vinegar boy would make a great family read-a-loud. The story follows the life of an orphan boy who wants nothing more than to be healed from a birthmark (a port wine stain) that leads people to believe he’s cursed. If he was healed, he would be adopted and have the opportunity to lead a normal life. The Rabbi from Nazareth seems his only hope–a hope dashed when he finds himself beneath the cross of Jesus’, wetting Christ’s lips with sponge of vinegar.
Good Friday & Easter
I freely admit that I have yet to read this book front to back–the one time I digested the whole story in literary form was when I listened to it from Focus on the Family Radio Theater. However, this classic tale is the first to come to mind when considering Easter stories. This novel is a great representation of a life healed by tragedy of the crucifixion and the triumph of the resurrection. If you don’t have time for the book or audio drama, there’s always the more frequently consumed movie.
FREE FOR KINDLE
The Easter Surprise
The resurrection story for the smaller members of the family. The Arch Books Bible stories are among the first books I ever read on my own. We had a good stock of them both at home and in our church’s nursery. There is a whole collection of Arch Books for this time of year, including: The Week That Led to Easter, The Day Jesus Died, The Story of the Empty Tomb, The Resurrection, He’s Risen! He’s Alive!, and The Easter Stranger.
Bonus After Easter Books
Acts of Faith Trilogy
Enter the world of the early church. Authors Janette Oke and Davis Bunn teamed up to write these stories of faith, persecution, and determination. Book two, The Hidden Flame, was my personal favorite as it gave me a deeper appreciation for the faithfulness and sacrifice of Stephen.
Note: Recommend that younger teens check with their parents before reading this trilogy.
What are your favorite Easter stories? Which novels have helped you gain a renewed appreciation of Bible events?
Watching people experience things for the first time is one of my favorite things. For example, I go to church near several colleges that draw a large number of international students. I love seeing new friends from Central and South America experience New England snow for the first time!
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever lets readers watch as kids from “the wrong side of the tracks” experience the Christmas story for the first time.
The Herdmans are the worst kids in town. Their teachers and classmates are pretty sure their the worst kids ever. They don’t learn anything except cuss words and manipulation tactics, and they certainly don’t pay any attention to those trying to teach or correct them. Until they stumble into church looking for snacks and forcibly insert themselves into the yearly Christmas pageant. While church regulars and their children yawn their way through the annual pageant, the Herdmans are shocked by the age old story.
Many thanks to my friend Hannah Mills for telling me about this book and the readers of Leah’s Bookshelf for convincing me to purchase it. It’s currently on sale for $3.29 on Amazon if anyone else wants to see the Christmas story in a whole new way.
Like most other bookworms, great books make their way onto my “things I’m thankful for” list every year. It’s hard to choose favorites, but I went ahead and picked five books I read in 2015 and am thankful for.
- The Word Unleashed, by Steve Rzasa: This book really encouraged me in my faith and helped me through a period of change in my life. I deeply believe that quality fiction is one of the most powerful ways to communicate truth and inspiration. This book was proof of that to me.
- The King’s Scrolls, by Jaye L. Knight: Like Rzasa’s The Word Unleashed, my brother read this first and insisted that I needed to prioritize it on my to-read list. He has good tastes! I adore Jaye’s characters.
- When Sorry Isn’t Enough, by Gary D. Chapman: This is the non-fiction book that impacted me most this year. It’s due for a re-read since I can’t remember all of the concepts very well at this point.
- Priscilla & Aquila, by Lois T. Henderson: This is the last book I read, and I’m thankful for it because it bumped me out of the dystopian reading rut I’ve been in. Don’t get me wrong. I still adore dystopian and gravitate to it, but it’s always good to get a change of scenery. I’m currently working on Ruth by the same author.
- The Maze, by Will Hobs: I’m grateful for this book because it was really fun and relaxing to read it while I was traveling through the very place the story was set in. It was a great, surprisingly good find in a Grand Canyon visitor’s center.
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to another great year of reading! Speaking of more reading, here’s one more thing to be grateful for. Books on sale! In honor of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a group of independent Christian authors banded together to offer over seventy discounted books on Nov 27-30. There’s literally something for everyone.
Every single book listed on Indie Christian Books (Including my two books, Counted Worthy and Stories for God’s Glory) is on sale in one or more ways. Find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals and more. Even if you have a budget of $0, new reading material awaits you.
What awesome reads of 2015 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?
A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good for her work organizing this sale, Gloria Repp for completing the time consuming job of uploading book info to the sale website, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.
Picture books are one of the rarer categories to appear here on Leah’s Bookshelf. Since I have a predominately mid to late teen audience, they don’t really fit. But every once in a while, even teens and adults can enjoy a good picture book. Plus I know a lot of you have younger siblings who probably like being read to and receiving books for birthdays.
The Small One is about a boy and his beloved donkey. Unfortunately, the donkey has become to old and weak to pull his weight in the family business. The boy’s father says Small One must be sold. The boy is devastated, but asks his father for permission to bring Small One into town himself in order to make sure he finds a good home. The father agrees. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any kind people in need of a donkey. And then, just when all hope seems lost, someone shows up who needs a donkey to bring his wife to Bethlehem.
Yes, Christmas is over. And this is most definitely a Christmas story. But the story is just as fun and touching after Christmas as before. I pulled it out on New Year’s Eve and enjoyed spending about five minutes reading it (it’s a short picture book). Apparently it’s based on a Disney movie. Has anyone seen it?
What’s your favorite fictional Christmas story?
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! Hope both days were wonderful for you. 🙂
2. All of the wonderful people who have been reading my book, leaving reviews, and even emailing me to share their thoughts about Counted Worthy. So grateful for all of you!
3. These eyes the Lord blessed us with that we can use to read.
4. The power of fiction. It’s been used to tell some bad stories. I’m not thankful for that. But I am incredibly thankful for fiction’s ability to package truth in such a unique, heart-touching way when handled properly.
5. Writer friends. Creative, crazy, and attached to our fictional people. We have a lot of fun together.
6. Books that have inspired me. Right now I’m thinking especially of Do Hard Things, Safely Home, and Secret Believers.
7. My Kindle! As much as I love the feel and smell and lesser eye strain of “real” books, the cost efficiency of Kindle books is hard to beat.
8. Book editors. Writers come up with the stories, but editors make them readable. Can you image how much less enjoyable our books would be if an editor hadn’t polished them up?
9. Memories that allow us to remember the stories we read and even retain our favorite phrases to quote at opportune moments.
10. Other readers to share stories with and rehash favorite details after we’ve read them.
What bookish things are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
The story of Mary Magdalene visiting the tomb of Jesus early on the morning of His resurrection has always intrigued me. Of all the people involved in the discovery of his empty tomb and victory over death, Mary Magdalene stands out. Jesus had impacted her life in such a huge way, casting seven devils out of her (Mark 16:9). He had given her hope. How she must have grieved his death. She must have questioned everything, searching for something to cling to. And yet something drew her back to his grave. She couldn’t even wait till dawn. She went to the tomb while it was still dark (John 20:1) and was the very first person Jesus revealed himself to. I wrote this poem about her several months ago but saved it to share now. I figure you all will have more time to read it today, though, so hear you are. 😉 And while you’re at it, you might want to read Dawn for My Soul, last year’s Easter poem (also written from Mary Magdalene’s perspective).
How can I ever sleep again?
My hope, my light, my Lord is dead.
My cheeks are wet, my words unsaid,
I cannot stay upon this bed.
Oh how I miss Him, gone three days,
Without Him life is but a haze.
My purpose buried in His grave,
His presence now is all I crave.
The darkness heavy on this morn,
It matches well my soul forlorn.
While others sleep I slip away,
My vigil keeping where He lays.
My soul, oh, must you break again?
My journey to his grave in vain.
The stone rolled back, my Savior gone.
They took Him by the break of dawn.
The others come and see this thing,
We mourn together our lost King.
The others leave, but still I stay,
I look into his burial cave.
The empty grave now fills with light,
Two angels stand before my sight.
They ask me why I shed these tears,
I tell them He’s no longer here.
And then the gardener speaks my name
My heart will never be the same.
My ears can hear, my heart now knows,
That Jesus vanquished all his foes!
My hope, my light, my Lord is back,
My heart no more shall ever lack.
My Christ arose, and so shall I,
Be ever with Him in the sky.
(Copyright 2014 by Leah E. Good)
Happy Valentines Day everyone! In honor of the day, here’s a review of a sweet, newly released love story. Yes. It is a love story and I am reviewing it. Miracles do happen. And, as I said, it’s very sweet. And clean. The giveaway is open to residents of the continental USA. To enter just leave a comment explaining why you’d like to read the book. The winner will be announced on Thursday (or as close to Thursday as my schedule permits).
Calida Harper has big dreams, a depressing reality, and a pain ridden past. When she’s offered a position as assistant to one of the countries most famous and successful reporters, she knows she’s just had the biggest break of her career. But one false step and she’s out of a job. Matters get further confused as Callie’s emotions begin tying themselves in knots. Her boss, Mr. Burnett, is infuriating and “a darling” all at the same time. His down to earth boyishness and Christian faith remind Callie of things she’s sworn to leave in the past. But when a jealous co-worker presents her with a dreadful either or, Callie must face both her traitorous emotions and her past.
When Rachel Heffington contacted me to ask if I’d like to review her soon-to-be-released book, I was a little skeptical. After all, she presented it as a “christian/historical romance” and I don’t read those! She assured me the romance was clean, and I agreed to give it a try. I’m glad I did. This is as much a story about friendship, trust, and forgiveness as a romance. And the romance aspect is my kind of love story too. Both characters fall for each other’s character and heart instead of lusting over physical characteristics. This isn’t a story I’d hesitate to recommend because of blush factors.
Knowing it was self-published also made me a little wary at first. At the beginning of the book, I occasionally felt the description and historical detail was a bit heavy handed, but I suspect that might have been a result of hyper-awareness more than anything else. Over all the book was well written and well told. Thumbs up.
Note: I received a review copy of this book from the author. I was under no obligation to give a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.