Saturday, October 25, 2014

A STORY YOU WILL NOT SOON FORGET


Title: The Best of Me
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (March 26, 2013)
Pages: 368

I was anxious to write a review about THE BEST OF ME by NICHOLAS SPARKS due to the rollercoaster ride it became. I am an aspiring fiction author. I have been writing for years, learning the craft through fellow writers, reading endless amounts of fiction, and books on the craft of writing. With that said, I am picky when it comes to “writing rules”.

I admit I have not read a lot of books by NICHOLAS SPARKS, and may not have read any if not for watching the movie A WALK TO REMEMBER. As a write, I was curious to read in written form the amazing story I watched on screen. Anyone who is an avid reader, is typically drawn to watch the movie of the book they loved so much. Equally, most are disappointed with the changes made. Even though, most of us still feel the need to go and see the story unfold on the big screen.

I made the mistake of going to see DEAR JOHN, only a day after reading the book. It was fresh in my mind, so fresh that every detail that was not the same as the book in the movie, stood out bluntly. For that reason, I recommend to let as much time pass between completing a book and seeing the movie.

Nevertheless, after seeing the trailer for THE BEST OF ME, knowing it is a NICHOLAS SPARKS story, I knew I would end up seeing it. I then had the urge to read the book first, knowing very well that it might be a mistake.

As I began to read THE BEST OF ME, I immediately had a problem with it. It was a ton of back-story, telling, and constant switching of pov’s (Character point-of-view). Not just unannounced switching. Not just in an unannounced paragraph, but within a paragraph – several time! Yikes. Really?

I am not one for giving “bad reviews”. Honesty without bad mouthing an author is what I strive for. And I am certainly not attempting to bad mouth here. NICHOLAS SPARKS is a number one bestselling author. However, that did not come with following writing rules. Equally so, I don’t believe it came from being a rule breaker, either.

What I’ve come to know about NICHOLAS SPARKS, is that he creates AMAZING stories. Is he the best writer? Not in my opinion. However, he creates such amazing material/plots/story lines, that you can forgive him for breaking the rules. Though I have to be honest, especially the constant unannounced shifts in pov, at times confused me as well as equally drives me nuts. I've come to realize that he breaks the rules better than most, in that it works better for him then other, perhaps due to his choice in words and content.

I have read a few books that didn’t follow the pov rules. Those books I HAD to stop reading. There just wasn't enough to give me reason to continue. With THE BEST OF ME – maybe in part knowing what the book was about from the trailer, and that I’d go see the movie, and that he produces amazing stories – I clawed my way through the first 120 or so pages. At about that point – though the pov shifts didn’t change – other things that were bothersome, did change.

The first 120 or so pages there is little dialogue – another craft rule broken. It was written in more of a narrative, back-story, informational dump kind of way – more rule breaking. But then the dialogue opens up, and the reader is taken into the here and now – no longer in the endless pages of back story.

THE BEST OF ME is to-date the first and only book that I’ve read that I nearly quit reading, and was very happy that I didn’t. WOW! I had not seen the ending coming. Not until near the end, and even that was played out in a way that left me guessing.

In reading the last pages, I could no longer contain the tears. I was moved, and in a huge way. The last chapters were several different scenes simultaneously happening, each building up in a way that will keep you on the edge of your seat. In the way that A WALK TO REMEMBER has resonated with me since the first time I saw the movie, THE BEST OF ME is sure to do the same. It is not a story one will forget. Days later, I found myself driving in the car, hit with emotions evoked by the characters of THE BEST OF ME, as if they were people I actually knew. That is a sign of an amazing storyteller whether or not they follow, or perhaps due to, breaking the rules of writing.

Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole’s story of past, present, and future is not one you will soon forget…if ever.

UPDATE AFTER SEEING THE MOVIE:

When I finished the book, I was left with so many emotions of such an amazing story. After seeing the movie, those feelings lessened with the confusion of the major changes. Why? Please tell me why anyone would do that. I can't say I will never read another of his books, or see another of his movies, but this is beginning to become a not so good pattern with his books vs movies. It's one thing to tweak what happened in a book for a movie, but to change MAJOR things. Things that made the book so amazing. Well, I am beyond words of how disappointed I am.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

MORE BRENDA MINTON BOOKS, PLEASE


Title: His Montana Bride
Author: Brenda Minton
Publisher: Love Inspired (September 16, 2014)
Pages: 224

Love the cover. Love the title. Love the author. Was there was ever a doubt that I would purchase and read HIS MONTANA BRIDE by BRENDA MINTON? Nope! Not a chance.

I get excited when I spot a new book by BRENDA MINTON. Of course I typically find out months before it is released, which is so unfair. If she were a writing machine, I would most likely never get to experience other authors, for I couldn’t resist reading book, after book, by MS MINTON.

Katie Archer is in Jasper Gulch for one reason and one reason only. To be a bridesmaid to her sister. The same sister she has been in the shadows of all her life.

The last thing Cord Shaw is searching for is a relationship. No, he has had his fill of finance’s. So why does organizing The World’s Largest Old-Tyme Wedding with a pretty lady, have him rethinking his vow to stay away from the commitment of marriage?

When it comes to BRENDA MINTON books, I feel like a broken record. Amazing writing. Amazing story. Amazing characters. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

I already know what the next one due out is, A RANCER FOR CHRISTMAS.  Hurry up December so I can get my next BRENDA MINTON book.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

WORTH THE STRUGGLE


Title: My Utmost for His Highest
Author: Oswald Chambers
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.; Reissue edition (January 1, 1963)
Pages: 375

After hearing references to MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST by OSWALD CHAMBERS on several occasions, I finally decided to purchase and read it. As I suspected, the meaning at times was hard to decipher. However, as I had also suspected, there were poignant words, which made for a mentally draining reading at time, and an emotionally inspirational one, other times.

Would I recommend MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST by OSWALD CHAMBERS. You bet I would. What I was able to take away by far succeeded what I found to be challenging.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

ACFW OCTOBER NEW RELEASES

October 2014 New Releases

 More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

An Amish Second Christmas by Kathleen Fuller, Tricia Goyer, Ruth Reid and Beth Wiseman -- "When Christmas Comes Again" by Beth Wiseman: Katherine Zook and her four children are facing their first Christmas without a loved one, and the future seems dim. But when a mysterious Englisch man begins to show up in the most unlikely of places, Katherine can't help but be suspicious . . . and a bit curious. "Her Christmas Pen Pal" by Ruth Reid: When Joy Stolzfus's boyfriend tells her he wants to court other women, she's shocked. She pours her heart out in a letter, but it mistakenly reaches Noah Esh. The two begin writing letters back and forth, but a misunderstanding threatens to topple the relationship they're building. "A Gift for Anne Marie" by Kathleen Fuller: Anne Marie Smucker's life is pretty perfect. Until she discovers her widowed mother is getting married and they're all moving. On top of that, Anne Marie's relationship with her friend Nathaniel has changed, and she's more confused than ever about her feelings for him. "The Christmas Aprons" by Tricia Goyer: Esther Glick bakes a Christmas pie for a fundraiser, and she soon finds herself sitting across from bachelor Ammon Schwartz. Esther receives many orders for pies, but when she breaks her wrist, she discovers what community-and love-are all about. (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Contemporary Romance:

Cover ArtAt Bluebonnet Lake: A Novel (Texas Crossroads) by Amanda Cabot -- Marketing maven Kate Sherwood's world is fast-paced, challenging, and always changing. The last thing she wants to do is slow down to a crawl at Rainbow's End, a dilapidated resort in the Texas Hill Country. But she cannot deny her ailing grandmother's request to visit the place where she and her deceased husband spent one glorious week (albeit fifty years ago). There Kate meets Greg Vange, the resort's handyman. But there's more to Greg than meets the eye--billions more, in fact, as he recently sold his successful software company and is at the resort in search of what's next for his life. Kate isn't looking for romance, but she can't deny the sparks of attraction that fly every time she and Greg are together. She even starts to see potential in the rundown resort. Could there be a future there? Or will Kate's long-sought promotion take her back to the big city? (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey -- After Taryn McKenna's high school sweetheart, Justin Callahan, abandons her to join the army, Taryn vows to never love again. And she decides to keep a closely guarded secret from him-forever. Focused on being completely independent, Taryn pours herself into teaching high school in Hollings, North Carolina and helping her spunky Grandma Jemma. But when Jemma's health takes a turn for the worse, and Justin reappears, Taryn's emotions get more tangled than a knotted piece of thread. A hand-stitched Irish chain quilt holds the message of healing Taryn needs. But will she realize the depth of God's unconditional love for her? (Contemporary Romance from Abingdon Press)

His Small-Town Family by Lorraine Beatty -- Nicki Latimer never expected to be back in her tiny Mississippi hometown-much less running a store with a baby on her hip. But when her father falls ill, Nicki will do anything to save the family business...even put her dreams on hold. And she's found just the person to help her. Ethan Stone is strong and reliable, but also haunted by his past as a war photographer. He's convinced he could never be the man Nicki thinks he is. But with Ethan by her side, Nicki's dreams of love and family are closer than she thinks. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Holiday Proposal by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- Holly Miller is steering clear of mistletoe. Just out of nursing school, Holly can't risk any distractions. She knows a slip-up could cost a life. Like the mistake she made years ago that still plagues her conscience. When she runs into old high school friend Matthew Cook, she hesitates to let romance into her life. Even if the handsome baker is as delectable as his fabulous pastries. She didn't notice him back in high school, but things have sure changed. Now that Matthew has Holly's attention, maybe the holiday season is the perfect time for him to show her that she deserves to have it all-work, family, friends and a love that lasts a lifetime. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Forever Christmas by Robert Tate Miller -- Up-and-coming literary agent Andrew Farmer is constantly on the road, wooing prospective clients and making a name for himself. Would he and his wife Beth have spent their last moments together arguing had they known that just before midnight on Christmas Eve, Beth would be hit by a taxi that would ultimately take her life? Andrew would do anything to go back and change that night. Then he meets Lionel, a straight-talking angel in disguise, who grants Andrew the gift of the last three days of Beth's life to relive, but there's a hitch: her fate cannot be changed. Only one gift will save her life, and Andrew has seventy-two hours to figure out what that gift is or he'll lose Beth forever. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

General/Contemporary:

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay -- Restaurant owner Elizabeth has lost her culinary magic, and business is slowing down. When worried investors enlist the talents of a tech-savvy celebrity chef to salvage the restaurant, Elizabeth feels the ground shift beneath her feet. Not only has she lost her touch; she's losing her dream. Brimming with desperation and dread, Elizabeth finds herself in the unlikeliest of places, by her sister's side in Seattle as Jane undergoes chemotherapy. As her new life takes the form of care, cookery, and classic literature, Elizabeth is forced to reimagine her future and reevaluate her past. But can a New York City chef with a painful history settle down with the family she once abandoned . . . and make peace with the sister who once abandoned her? (General/Contemporary from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Historical Romance:

Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin -- A shy spinster, Violet Madison secretly delivers food to the poor at Christmas and earns the title The Yuletide Angel. When bachelor Hugh Barnes discovers the truth, he vows to protect her. Neither realizes someone else waits in the shadows, threatening to ruin Violet's generosity and her reputation. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

The Farmer's Daughter Romance Collection by Mary Davis, Kelly Eileen Hake, Tracie Peterson, Jill Stengl and Susan May Warren-- Meet daughters of prairie farms from Montana south to Kansas who find love in the midst of turbulent life changes. Marty's nieces are kidnapped. Rosalind's town is overrun by a railroad company. Amy's jealousy comes between her and her twin. Beulah's answer is needed to a marriage proposal. Lilly's choice puts her at odd with her neighbors. Into each of their lives rides a man who may only make their situations worse. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Dreaming on Daisies (Love Blossoms in Oregon #3)
Dreaming on Daisies (Love Blossoms in Oregon Series) by Miralee Ferrell -- When her father's debts, brought on by heavy drinking, threaten Leah Carlson's family ranch, she fights to save it. When handsome banker Steven Harding must decline her loan request, he determines to do what he can to help. Just as he arrives to serve as a much-needed ranch hand, Leah's family secrets—and the pain of her past-come to a head. They could destroy everything she's fought for. And they could keep her from ever opening her heart again. (Historical Romance from David C. Cook)

Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman and Sarah Sundin-- A grandmother advises three siblings as they search for love and deeper faith during World War II. White Christmas by Cara C. Putman. A candy maker and a puzzle manufacturer have one thing in common: love is the last thing they're looking for and the very thing they need. I'll Be Home For Christmas by Sarah Sundin. A fighter pilot running on empty, a lonely widow, and a little girl searching for what she's lost-will an unusual Christmas gift fill their hearts again? Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Tricia Goyer. As Christmas nears, a combat nurse offers care and cheer to injured soldiers on the front line, but when her patients and the Dutch villagers discover it's her birthday they work together to give her a great gift-a reason to believe in love again. (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

Suitor by DesignSuitor by Design (The Dressmaker's Daughters) by Christine Johnson-- Minnie Fox's goal is to find a beau who can help support her ailing father and his struggling dress shop. As a working man, her friend Peter Simmons simply doesn't fit the bill. Instead, Minnie's got eyes for Peter's childhood pal-a wealthy Chicagoan. So why can't she stop thinking about Peter? Peter wishes Minnie would see him as more than a friend. As a hardworking mechanic, Peter knows he'll never be able to dazzle Minnie with fancy suits and expensive cars. But maybe he can prove to her that what's in a man's heart is worth more than what's in his wallet. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Watercolor Dreams by Sherry Kyle-- It's 1910 and Anna Lewis wants to become a premier watercolor artist of the lush beaches of Carmel, California. When a man strides down the beach and stops to face the ocean, Anna sketches him into her painting. Was it a mistake? Anna thinks so when he approaches and tells her he doesn't have spare change to purchase her work. Spare change indeed! She'd better keep her day job as nursemaid to two rambunctious boys. The minute Charles Jordan walks away, he regrets criticizing the woman's painting but as he told the artist, he's just been jilted at the altar. His former bride-to-be is in love with his cousin. Will a secret from his past prevent Charles from ever loving again? And will Anna have the hope she needs when tragedy strikes and she must rely on the one man who crushed her spirit? (Historical Romance from HopeSprings Books) The 

Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky-- Debutante Katherine Ramsey's family estate, Highland Hall, has been passed to older male cousin Sir William Ramsey. Her only means of securing her future is to make a strong debut in the London social season and find a proper husband. When a shocking family scandal sidelines Katherine, forcing her out of the social spotlight, she keeps a low profile, volunteering with the poor in London's East End. Here, a friendship with medical student Jonathan Foster deepens and her faith in God grows. But when Katherine is courted anew by a man of wealth and position, dreams of luxury surface again. She must decide whom she can trust and love-and if she will choose a life serving others over one where she is served. (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

Romantic Suspense:

Holiday Defenders by Jodie Bailey, Debby Giusti and Susan Sleeman-- Christmas Rescue by Debby Giusti: On the run from a killer, Elizabeth Tate must accept U.S. Army captain Nick Fontaine's protection for the sake of her young niece and nephew. Now her life is in the hands of the very man who broke her heart years ago. Special Ops Christmas by Susan Sleeman: Researcher Claire Reed's top secret project is stolen, putting her at risk of being kidnapped to unlock it. Her undercover bodyguard-her former love, Green Beret Travis Chapman-is on his most dangerous mission yet. Homefront Holiday Hero by Jodie Bailey: When someone tries to kill the daughter of a military official, U.S. Army major Tyler Rainey must keep Kelly Walters from harm...while guarding his own heart against very unexpected feelings. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Lawman Returns (Wrangler's Corner) by Lynette Eason -- Deputy Clay Starke has come home to Wrangler's Corner for one reason only: to solve his brother's murder. Denied official resources, Clay is forced to rely on his wits-and on the assistance of beautiful social worker Sabrina Mayfield. But Sabrina's helping him draws her into danger. Now both Clay and Sabrina have targets on their backs, and Clay is at risk of losing not only his heart, but also his life. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Deceived by Irene Hannon -- When Kate Marshall spots a child on an escalator in the mall, she is convinced it is the son she thought was killed in a boating accident. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan. The former Secret Service agent is dubious, but agrees to investigate. He discovers that the incident may have been no accident at all. But if Claire's son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden-and may be willing to go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

Speculative Fiction:
Thunder, Stone Braide Chronicles Series #1
Thunder: A Novel (Stone Braide Chronicles) by Bonnie S. Calhoun -- In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city. It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with. Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers--and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander's distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her--Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell. (Speculative Fiction from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes -- How would you live if you knew the day you'd die? Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government's crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall -- her people's death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out. (Speculative Fiction from Enclave Publishing)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A MOST AMAZING ENDING


Title: Carly M Duncan
Author: Behind You
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 1, 2014)
Pages: 208

I have to begin by explaining a couple of things. One, I read and review books for authors. Why do I offer to do so? The number one reason would be I enjoy helping others. As an aspiring author, I know how tough it can be to get your work out there and what it means to the writer. I’m a Christian, and it is not my nature to be cruel. Therefore, I do my best to not trash someone’s work. At the same time, I will not say I like something that I did not.

Another reason I offer to read and review books for others is the opportunity to read an author I otherwise may not have. I typically stay in the genre I prefer, but every now and again I break that rule and offer to read something outside of what I like. That was the case with BEHIND YOU by CARLY M DUNCAN.

Heather’s family is anything but functional. So when tragedy strikes, her family is brought together, and repaired in ways they never imagined.

Not only have I never read one of MS DUNCAN’S books before, I had never heard of her. If I had not been asked if I wanted to read her book in exchange for an honest review, I doubt I would have ever purchased it. BEHIND YOU is not something I would typically read. Though decades ago, I use to read mysteries and thrillers, I now prefer to read Christian fiction, my favorite with a ranch or farm setting, where the hero typically wears a cowboy hat.

As I began to read BEHIND YOU, I did so with an open mind. I was surprised at how quickly I was drawn in. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, if an author has the elements it takes to make a good story, it matters little what the genre is.

MS DUNCAN is a remarkable writer. I didn’t want to stop reading BEHIND YOU. I loved the way she wrote in first person, starting each chapter with a different characters point-of-view. BEHIND YOU is a true page turner, a combination of MS DUNCAN’S amazing ability to write, and weave an astounding plot.

The entire book I kept guessing who might have done it. As I neared the end, I thought it wasn’t going to be revealed and I was preparing to be very upset. I can’t recall a story that had me guessing right down to the last line. Wow! I was not expecting that. I am a fan. What a great read.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

NOT JUST A PICTURE OF A DOG


 
I started to write to a man that is incarcerated about three years ago. Not having any one in his life, he cherishes the pictures I send him of our foster dogs through Collie Rescue of Greater, IL. He feels a deep connection to our latest foster, Cuddy’s, because of Cuddle’s life journey. He has pictures of all the dogs taped to his cell wall. He – a new artist – drew a picture of his beloved Mr Cuddles.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SO GLAD I WAS NOT TOO STUBBORN TO ORDER


Title: My Stubborn Heart  
Author: Becky Wade
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (May 1, 2012)
Pages: 352
 
Before purchasing a book, I typically check the reviews on Amazon. Knowing they can be subjective, I don’t take too much stock in them. I read BECKY WADE’S book MEANT TO BE MINE, because of a friend’s suggestion, who knowing my love for cowboys, knew I would love it. Boy was she right. MS WADE suddenly became a favorite author of mine. So much so, I sought out other books by her, and ordered UNDENIABLY YOURS. With a large stack of books to read, I didn’t look into her other book. 
 
Not long after, I saw a post on facebook about MY STUBBORN HEART. I went to Amazon, and as I often do, looked at the one star review and then a five star one. Having read MEANT TO BE MINE, the one star review baffled me. Even though I couldn’t imagine I’d agree, and already having far too many books to read, I opted not to purchase it.
 
Sometime later, I spotted another post on facebook, and this time made up my mind to purchase it. After reading her amazing writing, I couldn’t imagine the one star review was accurate. At least not for my taste in writing and genre. 
 
I don’t recall ever being more happy about not letting my decision be swayed by a bad review. WOW! Even the best authors can have a “bad book”, and I feared it may be true with MY STUBBORN HEART because of the one star review, but I am happy to report that it is not the case. 
 
Kate Donovan’s life has been unsettled in a way that has her escaping from her ordinary life, to the solace of Redbud, Pennsylvania, with her grandmother.
 
Matt Jarreau is quiet and reserved, and with good reason, and no plans of changing. Working on restoring an old house, he never imagined it would lead to restoring his injured heart.
 
BECKY WADE’S writing is second to none. It is unique, witty, emotional, deep, moving, inspiring, and engaging. Her characters – every one of them, including the secondary characters – are three dimensional, tangible, distinctive, and memorable. Typically, if an author is good, a reader will enjoy one secondary character. But not so with MY STUBBORN HEART. I loved them all. I loved Kate’s sweet natured grandmother, but I was thrown into laughter many times with Velma’s distinctive personality, and outlandish comments.
 
MS WADE creates stories that are so realistic. So natural. She holds nothing back, yet maintains a clean, faith-based book. Not the kind of faith-based book that comes off preachy. No, it’s handled in a beautifully subtle way, with just the right amount of honest scenarios. She doesn’t write the expected, and each line is done with a natural flow. Her characters have flaws. Believable flaws. The characters journey through the book is done with seemingly effortless natural flow. I find myself laughing at her unique easygoing humor one minute, and tearing up with emotions in sympathy for a character, the next. 

I loved every chapter, every page, every word. I laughed, I cried. I read it easily, savoring every moment. Upon reading the last word, a sudden sadness came over me. Oh, how I will miss Matt and Kate.
 
I cannot wait to get started on the last MS WADE book I have to read, UNDENIABLY YOURS. I have no doubt I will be quickly emerged into a wonderful world of storytelling, and upon completion, will be waiting anxiously for the next to come out. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

BEYOND I DO by JENNIFER SLATTERY


Title: Beyond I Do
Author: Jennifer Slattery
Publisher: New Hope Publishers (August 4, 2014)
Pages: 320

BEYOND I DO by JENNIFER SLATTERY is packed full of scripter and Christian learning, with a message on matters of choosing a life partner. 

Ainsley Meadows is searching for more. More than just a “marriage”. More than what her past threatens she could become.

Focused on his career, with a controlling family, Richard Hollis is determined to make Ainsley his wife.

Chris Langley has a plan. A plan that include big changes in his life. One that may prove to be the biggest mistake of his life, or the greatest decision he's made.

BEYOND I DO delivers a message for those seeking a relationship or are engaged. Marriage is an important, often daunting decision. One that will be with you the rest of your life, and not to take lightly. MS SLATTERY has woven together a story that will open your eyes to the impact choosing a life partner can have on your life, if not chosen with great thought and intent.

*Please see my profile for more information on this review.

Monday, September 15, 2014

SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE



Title: 10K a Day, The Secret of Quality Speed Writing
Author: C R Myers
Publisher:
Pages: 64

I happen to run across 10K A DAY, THE SECRET OF QUALITY SPEED WRITING by C R MYERS, and couldn’t resist. After years of plugging away at writing, I have come to a point of realization that something is missing. There are several components that make up a great story, and if one of those is absent, the reader is left lacking the full potential of a great story.

I didn’t purchase 10K A DAY, THE SECRET OF QUALITY SPEED WRITING to accomplish speed writing – though I do desire to write more words a day - but to incorporate the missing pieces to my stories.

As soon as I received my copy, I couldn’t resist the urge to read it. At just 64 pages, and desperately seeking the key to better my writing, I dug in, completing it in one sitting.

MS MYERS has constructed a quick and easy to read, understand, and implement book. She went from a SOTP (Seat of the pants.) writer, to an outline. Something I’ve been wrestling with for months.

Being a SOTP writer, I have struggled with whether to change my approach, and if so, how to go about it. With much research and advice, I’ve learned there is no right or wrong way to approach your writing, yet as much as I’ve been told being a SOTP or outliner is fine, I’ve come to discover my all out SOTP approach is not working. I need to incorporate plotting, greater character knowledge, and overall story familiarity before beginning to write to flush out the issues I have with my overall story.

What I’ve gained from MS MYERS book is fresh ideas to approach my story. A key moment was in reading “working with your brain, not against it.” It was eye opening to realize that, in not using the right approach, you are actually hindering your writing/making it more difficult and timely to accomplish your story.
Though I may not incorporate every idea MS MYERS has, to the extent that she does, I am left with a fresh look in how to approach my writing. At just 64 pages, I found 10K A DAY, THE SECRET OF QUALITY SPEED WRITING to be a wealth of information. Often, less is more, and that is certainly the case with this gem of a book.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

YOU WILL BE READING AT FULL STEAM AHEAD


Title: Full Steam Ahead
Author: Karen Witemeyer
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (June 3, 2014)
Pages: 352

If you read my reviews for KAREN WITEMEYER, you might think perhaps I write all reviews with such excitement and praise, but that is not the case. However, that is the case with all the books I’ve read by MS WITEMEYER.

Where do I begin? FULL STEAM AHEAD by KAREN WITEMEYER is amazing! Each time MS WITEMEYER delivers not only a story well written, but an engaging, inspiring, intriguing, and compelling story.

Nicole Renard’s father requested that she find an heir for the family business. She is determined to not only carry out his wish, but to keep her family and their dowry safe. Something that proves to be life threatening and life altering.

Darius Thornton is focused - obsessed might be a better word. Obsessed with finding a solution to the horrific reality of boiler explosions. But that doesn’t mean he’s blind to the beautiful, intelligent, and determined Nicole Renard.

MS WITEMEYER always manages to create characters that are so tangible, you dread flipping to the last page where you will be forced to no longer be a part of their lives. Nicole and Darius are fascinating. I LOVED their quirks. I LOVED how they complimented one another, both in strengths and weaknesses. I especially LOVED how Darius has a flaw that didn’t just disappear by the end of the story. No, instead it was Nicole that helped to keep his weaknesses and flaws in check, without completely fixing them. I found that to be brilliant. Too often Christian fiction  doesn’t allow for specific flaws, and for the most part by the end of the story the flaws have been resolved. But that isn’t how life always plays out. Too often, we struggle with a weakness or flaw for the majority of our lives, never quite able to conquer them.

In FULL STEAM AHEAD, I was blown away with MS WITEMEYER’S ability to keep the reader, reading. She has mastered the art of ending a chapter - and beginning one – where the reader can simply not put it down. As an aspiring fiction writer, she inspires in me the desire to create such stories.

Every aspect of FULL STEAM AHEAD is brought full circle. MS WITEMEYER didn’t leave any unanswered questions, or pieces unresolved. To say the least, one is left completely satisfied.

Honestly, I can’t think of one book by MS WITEMEYER that I didn’t become fully engaged in, and wasn't left inspired and satisfied. Can’t wait for whatever she has in store for the future.

 

Monday, September 8, 2014

WILD WEST CHRISTMAS


A novella is not an easy task to undertake, but that is what all three authors did in WILD WEST CHRISTMAS: A FAMILY FOR THE RANCHER/DANCE WITH A COWBOY/CHRISTMAS IN SMOKE RIVER (HARLEQUIN HISTORICAL)

A FAMILY FOR THE RANCHER by JENNA KERNAN

A FAMILY FOR THE RANCHER is the first book I’ve read by JENNA KERNAN. I loved the storyline MS KERNAN created. Right away, it grabbed my attention.  

Dillen Roach did just fine by himself. Well, fine might be stretching it...just a bit. When he sent off a message to two different parties, he is shocked when he discover he sent them to the wrong individuals.

Alice Truett is given a mission. A mission that seems to be a misunderstanding. One that just may lead to something she never expected.

DANCE WITH A COWBOY by KATHRYN ALBRIGHT

Truth be told, DANCE WITH A COWBOY by KATHRYN ALBRIGHT is why I wanted to read WILD WEST CHRISTMAS. I’ve previously read her books and loved them. THE ANGEL AND THE OUTLAW still holds a warm spot in my heart. MS ALBRIGHT is truly a gifted storyteller.

This is the first I have read of MS ALBRIGHT’S books that is not of Christian genre, and I have to be honest, I was a little surprised and worried. Especially when the first story in WILD WEST CHRISTMAS has cuss words on the first pages.

I soon realized my fears were unfounded. MS ALBRIGHT may have not woven in faith elements, but she also didn’t weave in anything that a Christian would find offense, or in question. For that, I applaud her. It is my belief that all authors could do the same.

Kathleen Sheridan is hesitant to see her in-laws. After all, the last time she saw them, they weren’t very welcoming.

Garrett Sheridan is on edge at that thought of seeing his brother’s wife. What was she up to, moving back to their little community? Even more perplexing, why hadn’t she come to visit his family?

CHRISTMAS IN SMOKE RIVER by LYNNA BANNING

This is the first time I’ve ever read anything by LYNNA BANNING, and I am terribly sadden to say that it will probably be the last. Not because is wasn’t good. No, just the opposite. It was amazing. What will keep me from purchasing her books in the future is the reason content.

I was shocked to see the word “Lord” and cuss words within the same pages. However, I do appreciate that she didn’t use foul language I loathe and that makes me cringe. The sexual content was far from the most explicit I’ve read, but I could have certainly done without it.

Gale McBurney is a private man. A man with secrets he keeps to himself. When he encounters the lovely Lilah Cornwell, all his plans to live alone is blow to the wind.  

Lilah Cornwell, shy around others, likes to keep to herself. She does fine with her writing, and the flowers she loves to grow. When a handsome cowboy arrives at her door, offering to fix and paint her picket fence, she can’t decided if she loathes or likes the man.

MS BANNING is an amazing writer. I was blown away with the unique – at least to me – format she chose to write in. I have read first person, but I don’t recall ever reading first person in what I like to call “Cowboy” stories. It isn’t just the fact that she wrote in first person that makes her writing original. It’s the way she went about it. I loved that she started a new chapter with each person/point of view. The way she wrote, it was as if you are reading a personal journal, which was quite fascinating.

LYNNA BANNING spun together a complete story. Something not many authors are capable of doing in so few words. Truly amazing. Any author wanting to know what it takes to create a great novella, I’d urge you to read and study what MS BANNING has done in CHRISTMAS IN SMOKE RIVER. She has captured what it takes to write a complete and satisfying short story. Too often, they will start out fine, but soon turn into a rush of drama, action, and words. Often leaving you questioning the believability and feeling unsatisfied.

Now if only MS BANNING would try her hand at Christina fiction, I’d have a new favorite author. At the very least, keep all the foul language and sexual content out, and I’d be sure to purchase each she wrote.  

*Please see my profile for more information on this review.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

AN ENDING YOU WILL NOT SOON FORGET


Title: The Lawman's Oklahoma Sweetheart (Love Inspired Historical\Bridegroom Brothers)
Author: Allie Pleiter
Publisher: Love Inspired (June 3, 2014)
Pages: 288
 

If you look at my reviews, it’s no secret that I’ve read several of ALLIE PLEITER’s books. And yes, I have a few of my favorites. And yes, I prefer her historical over her contemporary. I have yet to read an author who has the ability to change her voice with each genre she writes, the way MS PLEITER, can.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was when I spotted the upcoming cover for THE LAWMAN’S OKLAHOMA SWEETHEART (LOVE INSPIRE HISTORICAL/BRIDEGROOM BROTHERS) by ALLIE PLEITER. My heart started to race, not just from the choice of the picture, but the title. You see, I am a cowboy/western/ranch, freak. Yes, I will admit to it.

As I began to read THE LAWMAN’S OKLAHOMA SWEETHEART, I was immediately drawn in. Not just drawn in to the first paragraph, or even the first chapter, but from the first page to the last.

Sheriff Clint Thornton is all about the law. When a team of bad guys attempt to harm his good friends sister, Clint will stop at nothing to insure Katrine’s and her brothers safety.

Katrine Brinkerhoff will never forget what the good Sherfiff did for her. But the lie he insist they keep to protect her brother, is nothing short of heart wrenching.

Clint and Katrine’s growing attraction is left unspoken. After all, they both have secrets that won’t allow their feelings for one another to take root.

MS PLEITER did an amazing job with THE LAWMAN’S OKLAHOMA SWEETHEART. I didn’t think her writing could get any better or different then what I’ve read in the past, but was I wrong.

Being a HUGE fan of western settings, I tend to be judgmental. I place THE LAWMAN’S OKLAHOMA SWEETHEART right at the top of my list of beloved cowboy stories. Up until now, two others of MS PLEITER’S novels were my favorite PLEITER books. They have just moved down a notch, being replaced with this amazing novel as number one.

MS PLEITER did an remarkable job with the plot, incorporating her typical witty lines that will leave you in wonder. The characters are distinct and three-dimensional. From start to ending I was captivated. Some books start out great, then fade a bit, then pick up speed in the end. THE LAWMAN’S OKLAHOMA SWEETHEART continued on a steady up climb, not stopping until the very last word.

Every aspect of the writing process in a novel is important. However, the wrong ending can ruin all the good efforts one puts into a story, literally going from becoming a great book, to leaving a sour taste in your mouth. It’s a shame that the last few pages of a story can hold the power to destroy a book. Sadly, something I’ve experienced firsthand.

However, that was not the case in THE LAWMAN’S OKLAHOMA SWEETHEART. As the story ended, I was a bit surprised the author chose that route, but not in an unpleasant way. I was satisfied with the way it ended.

But then I started the prologue! MS PLEITER spared nothing in taking her story to a whole other level. It’s done beautifully, with believability that brought me to tears. It warmed my heart, and made me want to cheer, and love the story all the more. Truly one of the best endings I’ve ever read. 

So taken I was by the story, I desire to purchase the other books in the series to read about the other men I encountered in THE LAWMAN’S OKLAHOMA SWEETHEART. Looking forward to any future – what I like to call “cowboy books” – by MS PLEITER.
 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

AUGUST 2014 ACFW NEW RELEASES

August 2014 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Action/Adventure:
The Promise by Beth Wiseman -- Mallory Hammond is determined not to let her boyfriend, parents, or anyone else get in the way of her #1 goal-to save a life. A new friend she met online offers her the chance, but she'll have to leave behind everyone she loves to take it. Tate Webber has loved Mallory for years. He begs her not to go, but Mallory embarks on the dangerous journey to Pakistan anyway, only to discover how swiftly and easily promises can be broken. And Mallory can only pray she'll make it out alive. Inspired by actual events, this riveting story will take you on a wild journey and have you asking yourself: How far would I go for love? (Action/Adventure from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Amish Romance:
A White Christmas in Webster County by Laura V. Hilton -- Mercy Lapp relocates from Shipshewana to Seymour, Missouri to heal after the death of her beau. Abner Hilty flees Shipshewana to Montana to work on a ranch after he and his twin brother witnessed a murder. Now that the killer is safely behind bars, Abner decides to visit his brother Abram in Missouri. Mercy is surprised to see Abner there, and equally surprised by how much he's changed physically since she's last seen him. As Christmas approaches, an unexpected heavy snow lets Abner and Mercy spend a lot of time together in wintertime fun. Abner hopes to interest Mercy in a more permanent relationship. But then Mercy has a potentially life changing discovery. Will she return to Shipshewana to answer the summons of the past? Or settle in a new place? (Amish Romance from Whitaker House)

Biblical Fiction:
The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen by Tosca Lee -- There is the story you have heard: A foreign queen journeyed north with a caravan of riches to pay tribute to a king favored by the One God. The tale of a queen conquered by a king before returning to her own land laden with gifts. That is the tale you were meant to believe. Which means most of it is a lie. The truth is far more than even the storytellers could conjure. In the tenth century BC, the new Queen of Sheba has inherited her father's throne and all its riches at great personal cost. Solomon, the brash new king of Israel famous for his wealth and wisdom, will not be denied the tribute of the world-or of Sheba's queen. With tensions ready to erupt within her own borders and the future of her nation at stake, the one woman who can match wits with Solomon undertakes the journey of a lifetime in a daring bid to test and win the king. But neither ruler has anticipated the clash of agendas, gods, and passion that threatens to ignite-and ruin-them both. (Biblical Fiction from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

Contemporary Romance:
Christmas Comes to Bethlehem - Maine by Lorraine Beatty, Elizabeth Ludwig, Sandra Robbins and Virginia Vaughan -- This year, spend Christmas in Bethlehem, Maine, as the town prepares for annual living nativities. Will stepping into the roles of Mary and Joseph help empty nesters David and Kate Walters discover the joy of becoming parents again unexpectedly? Can a young pastor and a pretty choir member convince the town to be like three wise men of long ago when a devastating hurricane threatens tradition? Can veterinarian Leesa McElroy survive working alongside a man more at home with camels than Christians? Will the truth about singer Angeline Monroe's abandoned career come to light at Christmas? (Contemporary Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Her Hometown Hero by Margaret Daley -- Home to a Cowboy In a split second, a tragic accident ends Kathleen Somers's ballet career. Her dreams shattered, she returns home to the Soaring S ranch...and her first love. Suddenly the local veterinarian, Dr. Nate Sterling, goes from her ex to her champion. With the help of a lively poodle therapy dog, the cowboy vet sets out to challenge Kathleen's strength and heal her heart. He'll show her there's life beyond dance, even if it means she leaves town again. But maybe, just maybe, he'll convince her there's only one thing in life worth having...and he's standing right in front of her. Caring Canines: Loving and loyal, these dogs mend hearts. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Campaigning for Love by KD Fleming -- For Katherine Harper, running for city council is about protecting children from the kind of grim childhood she had. And she won't let privileged politician's son Nick Delaney ruin her chances. Like he once ruined her dreams of true love and a family of her own. Nick has his sights set on public office, not on rekindling a star-crossed romance from years ago. Yet as he and Katherine spend time together on the election circuit, his competitor compels him with her beauty and heart of gold. Falling for the opposition was never in his plans, but Nick will give anything to earn Katherine's forgiveness and renew their love. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant -- Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. At twenty-six years old, Kat is still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie's bakery in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single. But when Lucas Brannen, Kat's best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York. As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself---her---is suddenly in danger of slipping away. Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

General/Contemporary:
Last Family Standing by Jennifer AlLee -- Twenty-five years ago, Monica Stanton gave up a baby girl for adoption. Now, Jessica is willing to meet her birth mother, but she wants the reunion to air on a reality TV show. Monica would rather chew glass than appear on TV. But she'll swallow her pride-and a few other unsavory items-if that's what it takes to reconnect. As if getting to know her grown daughter while competing on a remote island isn't hard enough, Monica is further confused when Jessica's long-lost birth father shows up, complicating both her relationship with her daughter and the attraction Monica has to the hunky reality show host. The fruit-basket upset of emotions, accusations, and regrets might make for good TV, but will it destroy the family in the process? (General/Contemporary from Abingdon Press)

Driftwood Tides by Gina Holmes -- When Holton lost his wife, Adele, in a freak accident, he shut himself off from the world, living a life of seclusion, making drifwood sculptures and drowning his pain in gin. Until his late wife's illegitimate daughter, given up for adoption without his knowledge, knocks on his door. Together Holton and Libby form an unlikely bond as the two struggle to learn the identity of Libby's father and the truth about Adele, themselves, and each other. (General/Contemporary from Tyndale House)

Chapel Springs Revival by Ane Mulligan -- With both the town and her marriage in need of restoration, Claire and her best friend embark on a journey of mishaps and miscommunication. (General/Contemporary from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Historical Romance:
Ozark Wedding by Helen Gray -- Gavin is determined to bring his sleepy hometown of Deer Lick, Missouri, into the electric age. But he doesn't count on his wayward brother's schoolhouse hijinks getting in the way-or the lovely teacher who sends Gavin's heart into a tailspin. Teacher Irene Delaney is a talented pianist who dreams of making music far beyond her small town. As the electricity humming between her and Gavin begins to grow, she worries falling for the striking man will douse her big-city plans. Can Gavin convince Irene she can keep her dreams-and they can still have forever? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Bride In Store by Melissa Jagears -- Unfortunate events bring mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell to her fiancé's town a week early with no dowry. But Axel, her groom-to-be, isn't even in town. When his friend's mail-order bride arrives in town with no money and no groom in sight, William Stanton feels responsible and lets her help around the store--where she quickly proves she's much more adept at business than he ever will be. The sparks that fly between Will and Eliza as they work together in close quarters are hard to ignore, but Eliza is meant for Axel and a future with the store, while Will is biding his time until he can afford medical school. When Axel finally returns, both Will and Eliza must decide what they're willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams--or if God has a new dream in store for them both. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing Group])

The Christmas Brides Collection by Kristin Billerbeck, Lauralee Bliss, Irene B. Brand, Lynn A. Coleman, Kelly Eileen Hake, Vickie McDonough, Tamela Hancock Murray and Therese Stenzel -- Journey back into history to experience Christmas alongside nine brides-to-be whose wedding dreams are overshadowed by doubts and troubles. Meet an English immigrant wanting to return home. A ranchero's daughter being forced to marry a despicable man. A soldier's fiancée facing the realities of war. An optimist who believed a lie. A snowbound woman near death. A do-gooder fighting for orphans. A bride sought only for an inheritance. An orphan protecting her father's land. A motherless daughter wishing for yesterday. Will love shine its light of hope and truth into each life? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Westward Christmas Brides Collection by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Susan Page Davis, Melanie Dobson, Cathy Liggett, Vickie McDonough, Olivia Newport, Janet Spaeth, Jennifer Rogers Spinola and MaryLu Tyndall -- Take the journey into the American west alongside nine women who are chasing their dreams-Cynthia, for security; Beryl, for a new family; Adeline, for freedom; Molly, for marriage; Beth, for a new start; Belinda, for a place to heal; Suzette, for adventure; Carolina, for peace; and Caroline, for a future for her children. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Grand Teton Sleigh Ride by Elizabeth Goddard and Lynette Sowell -- Four Generations of Wyoming Ranchers Celebrate Love at Christmas. Wyoming's spectacular mountains have drawn many, from trappers to ranchers to skiing enthusiasts. This Christmas, spend the holidays with the Covington family, who have called Wyoming home for generations. Rough, bristly rancher Zebulon sets his sights on eastern lady Belle Murray. Forward-thinking Emily would rather stay a dog musher than become a bride. Outfitter Sam wants to make his name in Wyoming, not say, "I do." Hayley's quest for her father's approval goes sour when she takes an interest in a local ski bum. Will four festive sleigh rides rein in romance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Historical:
The Lyre and the Lambs by Sydney Avey -- Modernity and tradition clash as two newlywed couples set up house together and their young relatives begin to show up; when a body is found in the backyard, the life they are trying to build comes undone. (Historical from HopeSprings Books)

Romantic Suspense:
Hidden in the Stars: Quilts of Love Series by Robin Caroll -- Following an attack that killed her mother and stole her ability to speak, 21-year-old Sophia Montgomery has no choice but to accept her estranged grandmother's offer to return to their family home. Detective Julian Frazier is working hard on the case, but Sophia's silence frustrates him and thwarts her eyewitness evidence. The fact that Julian is undeniably attracted to Sophia doesn't help either. Little do they know, the clues to solving the case may be right in front of them, displayed in Sophia's mother's "special" quilt design. When the truth comes to light, will Sophia find her voice again? Or will the murderer-still at large-silence her forever? (Romantic Suspense from Abingdon Press)

Under A Turquoise Sky by Lisa Carter -- When Aaron Yazzie is assigned to protect the only witness to a drug cartel execution, he hides high-maintenance Southern belle Kailyn Eudailey in the safest place he knows-the vast, untamed wilderness of the Navajo Nation. (Romantic Suspense from Abingdon Press)

Nowhere to Turn (Hidden Identity) by Lynette Eason -- The day Danielle Harding takes her 11-year-old son, Simon, and flees from her abusive husband, is the same day Kurt Harding dies. A relieved Dani believes she and her son are finally safe--but in reality, the danger has just begun. When Kurt was alive, he took something important to a mysterious person. That person wants the item back and believes Dani now has it. As she and her son run for their lives, they have nowhere to turn, until she hires Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge and goes into hiding. Unfortunately, she won't be able to hide for long. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

Sunken Treasure by Katy Lee -- Shipwreck diver Gage Fontaine is used to modern-day pirates chasing after his boat and the buried treasure he salvages. But when he unknowingly leads a dangerous criminal to the waters off Stepping Stones Island, he puts a beautiful fisherwoman in grave danger. Rachelle Thibodaux has spent the past year hiding on her boat to avoid the town's censure for her father's crimes. But when she comes face-to-face with a gun-wielding pirate, she becomes a new kind of target. To save her own life, she'll have to work with Gage to find the treasure before the pirates do. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Rancher Under Fire by Vickie McDonough -- Jackson Durant would go to any lengths to protect his young daughter and his ranch. He knows the puzzling incidents on his homestead are no accidents. Someone is after him...but who? And why? Reporter Mariah Reyes is determined to find out. She never expected her pursuit of a story on the reclusive rancher would endanger her life-nor that she'd fall for the cowboy. But when Jackson's daughter is kidnapped, she'll do anything to help save the little girl-even if it means becoming a target herself. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Danger at the Border by Terri Reed -- When a mysterious toxin threatens lives and livelihoods near the border between the U.S. and Canada, Dr. Tessa Cleary is called to trace the source. But when the no-nonsense doctor is forced to work with border patrol agent Jeff Steele, she finds the lone wolf's dedication to his job-and country-chipping away at the walls around her heart. Just as Tessa and Jeff are about to uncover the toxin's deadly source, armed thugs kidnap them in the forest. Now they must trust each other to survive before time runs out. (Romantic from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Marshal's Pursuit by Gina Welborn -- When her brother is arrested for a gangster's murder, Malia Vaccarelli is plunged into danger. Hiding Malia on his grandparents' Tuxedo Park estate may not be the best idea, but U.S. marshal Frank Louden is determined to do anything to protect her. As their romance blossoms, will Malia's criminal connections force her to choose between her family and her heart? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Speculative Fiction:
Seek and Hide (Haven Seekers #1) by Amanda G. Stevens -- Six years ago, the government took control of the church. Only re-translated Bibles are legal, and a specialized agency called the Constabulary enforces this and other regulations. Marcus Brenner, a new Christian, will do anything to protect his church family from imprisonment—including risk his own freedom to gain the trust of a government agent. Aubrey Weston recanted her faith when the Constabulary threatened her baby. Now released, she just wants to provide for her son and avoid government notice. But she's targeted again, and this time, her baby is taken into custody. If only she'd never denied Him, maybe God would hear her pleas for help. When Aubrey and Marcus's lives collide, they are forced to confront the lies they believe about themselves. And God is about to grab hold of Marcus's life in a way he'd never expect, turning a loner into a leader. (Speculative Fiction from David C. Cook)

Women's Fiction:
The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate -- Successful New York editor, Jen Gibbs, is at the top of her game with her new position at Vida House Publishing -- until a mysterious manuscript from an old slush pile appears on her desk. Turning the pages, Jen finds herself drawn into the life of Sarra, a mixed-race Melungeon girl trapped by dangerous men in the turn of the century Appalachia. A risky hunch may lead to The Story Keeper's hidden origins and its unknown author, but when the trail turns toward the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a place Jen thought she'd left behind forever, the price of a blockbuster next book deal may be higher than she's willing to pay. (Women's Fiction from Tyndale House)