Dusty Rugs in the Sanctuary: An Outcry Against Abuse in Christian Culture by Cyan Fambrough

Dusty Rugs in the Sanctuary:
An Outcry Against Abuse
in Christian Culture

Book cover shows a dark red Bible with a golden cross on the front, sitting on dusty gray carpetThe problem may be bigger than you think.

Through generations, Christians have joined a wide variety of churches and church communities, seeking to draw closer to God and fellow believers. Seeking to grow in the faith, to love and be loved.

Yet, for too many people, much of what they’ve experienced in their church communities hasn’t been love at all. And not enough believers are aware of how common and serious the issue of abuse is in Christian circles.

In this essay, an abuse survivor shares reflections to raise Christians’ awareness, discussing some key ways in which abuse finds a place in churches, and expressing thoughts on how to combat this issue—an issue Christianity can’t afford to ignore.

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Meet Nadine C. Keels

The Disability Experience: Working Toward Belonging by Hannalora Leavitt

Social Issues

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received an advance reading copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

4 Stars

Teal illustrated book cover shows a diverse group of teenagers with disabilitiesThe Disability Experience: Working Toward Belonging by Hannalora Leavitt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ll say right off that I did and didn’t find exactly what I was expecting from The Disability Experience: Working Toward Belonging by author Hannalora Leavitt (with illustrations by Belle Wuthrich). After reading the blurb for this nonfiction book aimed toward young adults, I thought it would have multiple people telling their stories, perhaps through interviews, with supporting information woven in.

As it turns out, the boxes throughout the book that tell a little about different people’s experiences are this book’s supporting feature. The majority of the book is a layout of information from the author, almost like a short textbook.

Nevertheless, I also did find what I was expecting: content to help expand my perspective.

For instance, while I’ve heard about barriers people with disabilities face when it comes to education and employment, I hadn’t heard as much about barriers to healthcare. What do you do when the doors inside the doctor’s office are too narrow to fit your wheelchair? Or the nurses in the emergency room don’t know how to take blood or draw urine from someone in a wheelchair? Or a doctor with allergies turns you away from his office because of your service dog?

I got a look at positive points that were new to me too. Like, I’ve seen wheelchair basketball and para ice hockey before, but here I learned a little about how visually impaired athletes play hockey, golf, softball, and tennis. I also found out about accessibility advancements through smart technology I hadn’t heard of.

Now, I think it’s important to note that this author, who’s legally blind, focuses on the North American disability experience, and she assumes from the start that the reader doesn’t have a disability. I don’t think the book quite addresses all the questions raised in the introduction. As for the writing style, I found the flow of ideas to be awkward to follow at times when there could have been smoother transitions.

Even so, while it’s by no means exhaustive, this book does a nice job overall of giving an introductory look into what people with disabilities face and what readers can do after finishing the book.

Go to Nadine's Books of Hope and Inspiration

Favorite Book Titles 2020

Oh, I know— “a rose by any other name” and all that. 😀 Still, it’s something when a book is so well-named that the title itself makes a remarkable impression on me. Here are the books I read over the past year with titles that stood out to me the most. They’re listed in the order I read them.

Youniversal Innergy: A Threefold Collection
Lewis P. Bryon

Go to Youniversal Innergy on Goodreads

“…complication is simplified
with movements of a pen”

The Memoir of Johnny Devine
Camille Eide
Christian Historical Romance

Go to The Memoir of Johnny Devine on Goodreads

A struggling lady writer. An ex-Hollywood heartthrob. And a Communist hit list.

I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know
W. Lee Warren, MD
Christian Memoir

Go to I've Seen the End of You on Goodreads

How can a surgeon genuinely offer hope to patients with fatal brain cancer?

The Biggest Hole in the Iron Curtain: The Batizy Story
Levente Batizy

Go to The Iron Curtain on Goodreads

After the revolution in their Soviet-controlled homeland fails, a Hungarian family plans a dangerous escape to America.

Sing Down the Moon
Scott O’Dell
Middle Grade Historical Fiction

Go to Sing Down the Moon on Goodreads

Danger is coming to a teenaged girl and her people…

Fit to Be French Fried
Celia Kinsey
Cozy Mystery

Go to Fit to be French Fried on Goodreads

A retiree mysteriously collapses after leaving Felicia’s food truck. Was it a stroke?

In the Shadow of Lions
Ginger Garrett
Christian Historical/Supernatural Fiction

Go to In the Shadow of Lions on Goodreads

Two women. Their guardian angels. And the rumblings of a 16th-century Reformation.

You Have the Right to Remain Innocent
James Duane
Nonfiction, Civil Rights Law

Go to Right to Remain Silent on Goodreads

American citizens’ Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights exist for important reasons.

K.M. Shea
Young Adult Fantasy

Go to Enthroned on Goodreads

She lands back in time to be crowned the legendary…King Arthur of Britain.

Script for Scandal
Renee Patrick
Historical Mystery

Go to Script for Scandal on Goodreads

The script for an upcoming film essentially accuses her beau of real-life murder.

Power of Pinjarra
Sandy Dengler
Christian Historical Fiction

Go to Power of Pinjarra on Goodreads

Dreams of the big city. Ambition in the midst of drought. And revenge for a massacre.

‘Twas an Evening in Bethlehem
Jenelle Leanne Schmidt (Author), Sierra Klein (Illustrator)
Children’s Biblical Fiction

Go to Evening in Bethlehem on Goodreads

The story of the Nativity through the eyes of an innkeeper’s daughter.

Heirs of the Motherland
Judith Pella
Christian Historical Fiction

Go to Heirs of the Motherland on Goodreads

Although she was raised as a peasant, the life of a countess now awaits her—if she wants it.

In the Arms of Immortals
Ginger Garrett
Christian Historical/Supernatural Fiction

Go to In the Arms of Immortals on Goodreads

The year 1347. A blindsided village. And the impact of crisis on three women.

Somebody Give This Heart a Pen
Sophia Thakur

Go to Give This Heart a Pen on Goodreads

“…the right light is coming to find you.”

The Dawning of Deliverance
Judith Pella
Christian Historical Fiction

Go to The Dawning of Deliverance on Goodreads

A young countess. The front lines of war. And dangerous vendettas back home…

For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World
Michael W. Waters (Author), Keisha Morris (Illustrator)
Children’s Fiction

Go to For Beautiful Black Boys on Goodreads

He’s a kid with hard questions about real-life events…

Cause of Conflict
Amelia C. Adams
Historical Romance

Go to Cause of Conflict on Goodreads

A spirited nursing student aggravates a serious young doctor in 1875 New York.

Free Reads

Do pick up free copies of Fit to Be French Fried, Sea of Strangers (Cause of Conflict above is its sequel), and The Movement of Crowns (one of my books, with a title pulled from a line of spoken word poetry I wrote years ago). Be sure to check the prices before downloading!

  Go to The Movement of Crowns page

Author and Book Lover Nadine C. Keels

Speaking of titles, I originally called the latest contemporary romance I wrote A Copycat Courtship? before I changed the title to Kiss and ’Telle? during the writing process. You can find reasons for each title in the story. 🙂

Go to Kiss and 'Telle? page

Meet Nadine C. Keels

Favorite Covers 2020

I received complimentary copies of some of these books for honest reviews of their content, which is separate from my personal assessment of their covers here.

I’m not strictly a “judge a book by its cover” kind of reader. Still, I have an appreciation for cover art as a part of the overall reading experience. Here are covers that particularly stood out to me from books I read this calendar year. The books are listed in the order I read them, except for some series books that I grouped together. 🙂

To the authors of these books, if you’d like a medal (one for you and/or for your cover artist) for being on this list, see the bottom of this post.

War of Hearts by Annette Lyon

Sweet Historical Romance

Go to War of Hearts on Goodreads

Two distraught hearts find each other in the midst of the Winter War in Finland. The cover of this novella drew me right to it, what with its soft but striking, creamy glow of frosty winter light in the snowy woods, and the appearance of the woman giving it its historical feel. The typography and gently faded flourishes around the title are lovely, too.

All is Calm and All is Bright by Colleen Coble

Christian Romantic Suspense

Go to All is Calm on Goodreads Go to All is Bright on Goodreads

A woman runs to a ranch for safety, and a dangerous accident near a seaside hotel is no accident. There’s nothing like that holiday twinkle, and I couldn’t resist the twinkling nighttime stars and Christmas lights on this first novella followed by the Christmas lights and the homey feel captured on a softly bright evening on the second novella. While these two romantic suspense reads are also available in a single volume, I reviewed them separately just so I could enjoy both covers.

In the Shadow of Lions and In the Arms of Immortals by Ginger Garrett

Christian Historical Fiction/Supernatural Fiction

Go to In the Shadow of Lions on Goodreads Go to In the Arms of Immortals on Goodreads

The rumblings of a 16th-century Reformation, a Sicilian village blindsided by the Black Death in 1347, and fierce angels behind the scenes in different women’s lives. Yes, these Chronicles of the Scribe novels are dark/grave reads, and the book covers are in accordance with that while they each also make dynamic uses of light and a dominant color. Not to mention the gold typography for the titles—gah! Strong but with a flourish, a great match for stories with both epic and supernatural elements.

Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl by Laura A. Grace

Inspirational Nonfiction

Go to Dear Author on Goodreads

A simple book with a simple task: to encourage authors. The book cover matches that simplicity with a clean and clear design that makes great use of angles—then its duo of complementing, vibrant colors makes the cleanness and clarity stand out with remarkable effect.

True: A Contemporary Retelling of Rahab by S.E. Clancy

Christian Contemporary Fiction

Go to True on Goodreads

She may be able to save herself and her family during an enemy army’s attack. When I first came across this book, I skipped the book blurb beforehand but was pulled right in by the grayscale cover, stunning in its clear and simple understatement of emotion. A calm, a peace, before a coming storm.

The Starlight Inn by Lucie Ulrich

Christian Contemporary Romance

Go to The Starlight Inn on Goodreads

A mysterious matchmaker has set her sights on a seamstress and an innkeeper… This lovely book cover drew in my Christmas-loving self immediately. It’s got homey and Christmassy cold with bright, white lights woven in and shining through, and festive holly around the border for good measure. The cover rightly sets one’s expectations for this holiday romance.

Arcade and the Fiery Metal Tester by Rashad Jennings

Christian Children’s Fantasy

Go to Arcade and the Fiery Metal Tester on Goodreads

Arcade’s magical journey heats up to test his mettle! The cover of this third book in The Coin Slot Chronicles has a lot of action even though the hero is standing in one spot. The golden Triple T Token is shining/sparkling around his neck, he appears to be slapping his jacket on in preparation for his next adventure, and it’s all bursting with FIRE while keeping the actual flames pretty minimal so as not to compete with the clear focal point—Arcade. Let’s go!

Not in the Plans by Jessica Marie Holt

Sweet Contemporary Romance

Go to Not in the Plans on Goodreads

A bachelor with an empty house, a divorced mother in trouble, and an unplanned Christmas. I couldn’t pass up this novella when I got a look at that bright red door decorated for the holidays: an uncomplicated yet striking and festive image with clear, white typography that takes a prominent place without getting too fancy.

Once Upon a Short Story Series by A.G. Marshall

Fairy Tale Retellings

Go to the Grandmother with Enormous Eyes on Goodreads Go to Once Upon a Short Story on Goodreads Go to The Bruised Princess on Goodreads

“Grandmother, what big eyes you have!”—and so on. 😀 A great deal of the power here is in how the covers of the multiple stories in this series look together. Even so, the deep background colors, the elegant embellishments, and the gold images depicting the stories really accomplish the “old-fashioned fairy tale” look for each cover.

Dancing and Doughnuts by Rachel Kovaciny

Christian Historical Western

Go to Dancing and Doughnuts on Goodreads

He’s out to find out who spiked the dance hall girls’ cider! Well, now! Super-illustrated images can sometimes have a scribbly or stringy look. But the texture of this cover’s artwork is full-bodied with its hearty browns and blues while the overall style adds a delightfully homey feel to the Western theme. A perfect match for this wholesome retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Song in the Dark by Jessica White

Christian Romantic Suspense

Go to Song in the Dark on Goodreads

A gifted harpist. A stoic homicide detective. And a chance to break through to new freedom. The cover of this novel with ties to Greek mythology intrigued me to no end. Without spoiling the art’s dark theme, the dynamic sunset casts its heat and last burst of intensity between the silhouettes of the Dobermans and the harp, and the strong typography plays on darkness and light. The whole scene radiates with atmosphere. Just awesome!

Petrified Flowers by Joiya Morrison-Efemini

Christian Young Adult Fiction

Go to Petrified Flowers on Goodreads

Six young sisters. A devastating tragedy. And what it takes for them to bloom—written as a novel-in-verse. Clearly, this book cover is all about the multicolored bouquet, representing six sisters named after flowers. A vibrant centerpiece with the softness of watercolor, set against a light background of weathered wood. Bright, simple, and telling.

Cindi/Ella: When Shoes Speak by Bokerah Brumley

Fantasy Fiction

Go to Cindi/Ella on Goodreads

Stunning (but deadly?) crystal shoes grab her attention—and won’t let go. Yeah, it was the (Victorian steampunk-inspired?) book cover that drew me to this contemporary retelling of a classic fairy tale. The white, light blue, and different pinks against fade-to-black. The striking fingernails, the lace gloves, the hat and feathers… And Cindi/Ella’s pretty intense look which I find pretty creepy, but in a way that works. It’s all rather fascinating.

Mixed Messages by Steve Rzasa

Christian Sci-Fi

Go to Mixed Messages on Goodreads

What’s coming next may turn Captain Vincent Chen’s world on its head… Gee, the covers for this science fiction series are just fantastic. Here we’ve got the hero surrounded by planets (or a planet and its moon?) and open space with stars, a smoky haze that adds atmosphere without taking over, the interior of a ship behind Vincent—all brought with the hue of electric green and the title’s great typography. There’s so much going on without at all looking too busy or cut-and-pasted together. Love it!

My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love by Amanda Barratt

Christian Biographical Fiction

Go to My Dearest Dietrich on Goodreads

He’s a German pastor, plotting against the Nazi regime. And falling in love. The title and this misty, somber, but romantic cover let me know what kind of historical love story I was in for, striking a serious tone that captures the emotional depth of the story. Once I unwrapped a hard copy, I discovered a bonus: deeper red to the lettering with a satiny shine, subtly enhancing the sense of romance. A bittersweet kind of beautiful.


Entries for 2020’s Favorite Covers giveaway are now closed, but comments on the post are remaining open.

Author and Book Lover Nadine C. Keels

Speaking of book covers, one of my novels got a new look this year! Yella’s Prayers is available for purchase at Amazon.

Go to Yella's Prayers on Amazon

Yella’s Prayers: Deleted Scenes
(free download, *contains spoilers*)

Go to Yella's Prayers: Deleted Scenes

Congratulations, authors, and thank you for writing your books! If yours has one of my favorite covers this year, you’re welcome to a complimentary medal to display on your website, blog, social media—wherever you wish. Click the image below and contact me to receive a full size PNG medal. If you know the artist who designed your cover, feel free to pass on the word about the award. The artists are welcome to display the medal as well. Thanks again!

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