Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Bookbag * Christian Fiction & Bookish Puzzles & Link Love

Hey, you're here, my book loving friends!

What's more satisfying in deep mid-winter than a small stack of anticipated reads with a few bookish jigsaw puzzles thrown into the mix?  Around here I gather a quilt around me and order up a hot chocolate with extra whipped cream as I settle in for a few hours of quiet bliss.

As always, candlelight illuminates a small corner of the room.  These days, a guava tangerine scent whispers that yes, someday spring will come.

'Til that awaited day, let's enjoy where we find ourselves.  Find a cozy spot, curl up, and let's open The Bookbag together ...

This month we're talking about Christian fiction!  Whether you're an avid fan {or not so much}, I think you might discover some gems in this post.

My dear friend Carol's been a big advocate of Christian fiction for years.  If I wanted a volume to curl up with, she'd know exactly the right one.  And while she readily admits that her reading interests have enlarged over time, I still can count on her to share her best recommendations.

I asked her to do so and before I knew it, this list arrived in my inbox.  I've linked the author's names right up to their oft' fascinating websites and their books right up to Amazon where you can check out the myriad of story lines.  And yes, as an Amazon associate, I earn from your qualifying purchases when you use the links on my blog.

The astericked ones are Carol's favorites, the quotes are Amazon customer reviews.

Lynn Austin
Candle in the Darkness *
'enthralling ... absorbing ... amazing'
Gods and Kings Series *
'hooked from the first page ... gripping ... page turner'

David Bunn
Miramar Bay
'well crafted ... beautifully written ... a story of hope'

Julie Klassen
Painter’s Daughter
'wonderfully diverse characters ... enthralling ... keeps you guessing'
The Dancing Master
'a classic in the making ... perfect mix of Bronte meets Austen ... too good to pass up'
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall *
'immensely comforting and satisfying ... very captivating ... awesome'

Joanna Davidson Politano
Lady Jayne Disappears *
'hauntingly beautiful ... spellbinding mystery ... a decadent rich treat'
Thing of Beauty
'witty ... thought provoking ... beautiful tale of healing' 
Church Ladies
'emotional ... gritty ... refreshing'
Club Sandwich
'she writes my heart ... deep psychological character study ... humorous' 
The Passion of Mary Margaret
'remarkable ... rich ... resonant'


check out the paperback here
the Kindle version there
and JUST LOOK at the incredible
pre-order bonuses right here!

I'm in ... and I can't wait to get my copy in hand.

The mid-winter was made especially
for long quiet hours of contemplation.
I've loved pulling these together,
piece by piece.
Best therapy ever ... and
thoughtful gifts for the readers in your life!
I'd Rather Be Reading

The Cosy Shed

Reader's Paradise

  A number of readers in this community have written their own Christian fiction books.  Would you please share titles and links and all the goodies in the comment section?  Hundreds of people will be reading this bookish post ... and I'd be honored to share your work with them.

  And for those of us unpublished?  Name your favorite Christian fiction writers!  Feel free to share a link of your review of one of those favorite reads ...

Read well ~


I publish a fresh edition of The Bookbag by the 15th of each month.  You'll never know what you'll find!  Please subscribe right here so you won't miss a single post.


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Photo by Pixabay from Pexels


  1. Thanks for the list of books Carol and Linda! I have read some of Julie Klassen's so it will be good to read some of the others!

  2. It's harder, now, to get involved
    in stories where God's blessings flow
    when my own life has devolved
    to something like the Alamo.
    The sun might not come out for me;
    I see no loom of morning light
    and I hear the ill-claimed victory,
    the sharp Deguello in the night.
    I think that there was once a time
    when my heart was open, filled
    of angelic handbell-chime,
    but that song has now been stilled
    by the beating of the drums,
    and the footfall of what comes.

    1. Yes, yes, anything jolly or fun kind of flies in the face of where you find yourself.

      I hope that today will give you quiet gifts of joy from above that far surpass anything happy-clappy here on earth.

      Praying even as we speak, friend ... my best to Barb and all your 4 footed beasts.

    2. Andrew, if you have the time and inclination to read, you might want to try biographies. They're true-to-life, and Christian ones often contain a fair amount of wrestling with suffering. You may have too much suffering on your own plate right now to want to read others, but I've found it helps me wrestle with the "whys" -- why God didn't answer prayer for that person's healing but He did for this. We know it's because He has different things He's doing in different lives, but it helps me to see how that works out in others. Anyway, some of my favorites are: Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot, Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand, To the Golden Shore by Courtney Anderson.

    3. Barbara ... thanks for reaching out.

  3. Thanks so much for posting Erin Loechner's words. I found so much confirmation and truth in her words. You always have much to offer us, Linda. Thank you!

    1. I do love reading whatever Erin's writing ... a lovely cadence mixed with lots of wisdom, a fresh perspective.

  4. What an amazing selection of books. I love Lynn Austin and have read the ones referenced above. I’m excited about the new authors you are introducing to me. I’m heading to my book list to add these books and hope to read many of them soon-ish. Thanks for lovely list and recommendations.

    1. Oh I'm so glad, Mary, that you've found some lovelies here this afternoon.

      That makes me happy!

      You and Carol would enjoy each other's company, for sure ...

  5. Thank you for all the goodies here, Linda. :) I read Lynn Austin's Candle In the Darkness (2004) and the following ones of the series way back when the first editions came out. I don't remember details, but I do remember I loved it. She is a great historical fiction writer. The others sound great, too. Anne Bogel's Don't Overthink It grabs my attention. I was reading some of the first pages at Amazon and according to the quiz, I am definitely an over-thinker. I guess I did know this as I'm always over-analyzing things and second-guessing myself. It's on my wish list. I am looking forward to you going further into the topic of when bloggers hurt each other. Love and blessings to you!

    1. Yeah, I have a feeling more of us are overthinking than we realize. I'm guessing fear comes into play somewhere in there. A lack of confidence? The need to control outcomes?

      It will be interesting to see what Anne says ...

  6. As you know, Linda, I write Christian fiction books, (as well as humourous ones). Your readers may wish to visit for more information. Thanx.

    God bless.

    1. READERS - Check out Victor's books! He's one of a kind, for sure!

  7. These all sound so enticing, Linda! Yes, I've written a series of Christian-themed novels that readers can check out at my author's website: Hope to hear from some soon!

    1. READERS - Check out Martha's books! Her series might be exactly what you're looking for!

  8. My dad did the Reader's Paradise puzzle for me and I varnished it and hung it in my sun favorite reading spot. Can't wait to check out some of these titles!

    1. I love the idea of framing a favorite puzzle, Valerie. Table space is kind of lean around here, so the finished product doesn't usually hang around too long.


      Would love to hear your take on some of these books ...

  9. I *love* Christian fiction, so I am happy to see this post. :-)I've enjoyed many of Lynn Austin's and Davis Bunns' books, but haven't read the ones you listed. Suspense isn't my literary first love, but in looking for something my mom might like, I discovered Terri Blackstock (I reviewed her If I Run series here: and Dee Henderson and got hooked. :-) I love what I have read from: Lisa Wingate, Ann Tatlock (I'll Watch the Moon was one of my top ten books of 2019:, Elizabeth Musser, Nancy Moser, Siri Mitchell, Adam Blumer (also suspense), Sarah Sundin (WWII fiction), Susan Meissner, Jamie Langston Turner, Melanie Dobson. A new find last year was Cathy Gohlke. Her Saving Amelie was another of my top ten last year:

    I agree with the article about reading goals. I like to challenge myself with them, and they bring me to some books I might not otherwise have read. But it's important to enjoy and benefit from the books rather than just sail through them just to do so.

    I have not read Erin Loechner before, but her post resonated with me. In writing my book, I am trying to keep one eye on the requirements of the Christian publishing industry. I keep hearing that a presence on social media and a large following is a must for some publishers to even consider you, at least as a new author. I keep reading about finding my "brand." I stopped getting one writing guru's newsletters when he said it wasn't about the books you wanted to write, it's about your business. But I don't want to start a business! I just want to write what's on my heart. So I am trying to learn and be discerning and praying for God's leading.

    1. Barbara ... thanks so much for taking the time to share all these links and recommendations! You always bring a bounty to the table and we all thank you for your generosity!

      Your last 3 lines touched me ... I hear what you're saying about writing what God's laying on your heart as well as being discerning and prayerful even as you're figuring out your own personal journey.

      May we all have that same mindset.

  10. You are my book sister, Linda. YOu will find me cozy under a blanket and reading most evenings.

    1. Book sister. I love that, Theresa!

      I'm with you. I've learned over time that an hour or so with a gentle, quiet book at the end of the day is the best way to settle in for a night of restful sleep.

  11. I look forward to Anne's book, too. I definitely know what overthinking is, unfortunately. This was my first time to watch the video even though I've seen it around. Thanks for linking it here.

    I love to do a jigsaw puzzle over the Christmas holidays but didn't do one this year. I definitely need to get one now to have on hand for this Christmas because, let's face it, it'll be here before we know it! lol.

    Now I'm off to read the links I clicked here! Thanks for such a treasure trove of goodness every time I'm here, Linda.

    1. Anne's generous pre-order bonuses came in this week ... her first chapter let me know that I'm going to be loving her book ... BIG TIME!

      Meanwhile, enjoy some leisurely link reading. I know this is a super-busy season for you, friend ...

  12. Oh, I LOVE those jigsaw puzzles!! Especially the one called "The Cosy Shed." You reminded me that I have a few jigsaw puzzles in our bedroom closet that our sweet boy bought me and I haven't taken the time to do yet. I need to get them out and get started! Thank you for the motivation, sweet friend!!

    1. So relaxing, stress-relieving ... and a good break from any and every screen, for sure.

      Enjoy your weekend, friend!

  13. I have to confess I haven't really read much Christian fiction so I will need to look at some of these recommendation and think about giving it a try. One author whose books I have enjoyed is Adrian Plass, especially his Sacred Diary series - it's written like the diary of an ordinary Christian and it contains lots of humour but is very thought-provoking too.

    1. That Sacred Diary series sounds intriguing, Lesley ... as an avid journaler, I think I'll check it out!

      Thanks for this suggestion, friend!

  14. Linda, I think I’ve read every one of Julie Klassen’s books ... they are so good and so well-written! It’s been years since I took the time to do a puzzle, but yours are beautiful. And thank you for reminding me about Erin Loechner ... her post is worth going back to more than once.

    1. To hear that yet another sister reader enjoys Julie Klassen makes me want to head right over to our library website and see what's sitting there waiting for me to check out.


      And yes, please, to Erin. Always good stuff!

  15. The stack of books on my nightstand is getting very low. I am currently in the middle of a Dietrich Bonhoeffer biography (very thick) but after I finish, I will need some new reading material. Thanks for the recommendations, Linda!

    1. I hear ya', Laurie. After a heavy read or two, I'm ready to lighten up!

  16. I wish I could make the comments work.

    I wish I could sit down to a puzzle with you! I thought we were the only ones who still do puzzles!

    1. Well, I wish there were no glitches with the comment-thingy! But I sure am glad that you continue to email them my way.

      That means a whole lot to me.

      And yes, wouldn't it be fun to do a puzzle together? Very serendipitous and soothing. And who doesn't need a little of that right about now?


  17. A friend and fellow book club member recently recommended Gods and Kings so I am eager to pick that one up soon, now that I have heard about it from several sources!

    1. I'm with you, Elle! When I hear a bunch of people talking about a book, I lean in to listen for the title!