ACFW

American Christian Fiction Writers – April 2017

April 2017 New Releases

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

 

Contemporary Romance:

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon - new release April 2017

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon — When a police chief and an ex-con join forces to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks fly. Given their backgrounds, it’s not a promising match—but in Hope Harbor, anything is possible. (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])

oh-baby

Oh Baby by Delia Latham — Dawni Manors seeks peace in Angel Falls, Texas. What she finds is a cowboy, an abandoned infant, and emotional chaos. If the Heart’s Haven angels really are there, what in the world are they thinking? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

General:

a-fragile-hope

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti — Where does a relationship expert turn when his wife leaves him and carries a tiny heartbeat with her? (General from Abingdon Press)

waiting-for-butterflies

Waiting for Butterflies by Karen Sargent — When tragedy strikes, Maggie discovers a mother’s love never ends–not even when her life does. Longing for her family after her sudden death, she becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family’s downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother’s death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by her family’s grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out. (General from Walrus Publishing [Amphorae Publishing Group])

Mystery:

sunset-in-old-savannahSunset in Old Savannah by Mary Ellis — When a philandering husband turns up dead, two crack detectives find more suspects than moss-draped oaks in charming old Savannah, including a scheming business partner, a resentful mistress, and a ne’er-do-well brother. (Mystery from Harvest House Publishers)

Historical:

above-rubies

Above Rubies by Keely Brooke Keith — In 1863, young teacher Olivia Owens establishes the first school in the remote settlement of Good Springs while finding love. (Historical, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

a-rose-so-fair

A Rose So Fair by Myra Johnson — Caleb Wieland would give anything to win farm girl Rose Linwood’s heart, but Rose’s stubborn independence is proving as thorny as the flower for which she’s named. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
under-the-same-sky

Under the Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer — In 1854 Illinois, Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.
Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)
the-pony-express-collection

The Pony Express Romance Collection by Barbara Tifft Blakey, Mary Davis, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Maureen Lang, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Connie Stevens and Pegg Thomas — Nine historical romances revive the brief era of the Pony Express. Join the race from Missouri, across the plains and mountains to California and back again as brave Pony Express riders and their supporters along the route work to get mail across country in just ten days. It is an outstanding task in the years 1860 to 1861, and only a few are up to the job. Faced with challenges of terrain, weather, hostile natives, sickness, and more, can these adventurous pioneers hold fast, and can they also find lasting love in the midst of daily trials? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

plain-targetPlain Target by Dana R. Lynn — Horse trainer Jess McGrath only wants to clear her disgraced brother’s name, but enemies keep coming out of the woodwork and danger only gets closer. Jess soon learns that no place is safe—and no one can be trusted…except for the last white knight she’d ever expect to ride to her rescue. Paramedic Seth Travis was the boy behind her high school humiliation, but he’s also the man keeping her alive. When they find sanctuary in the Amish community, can they uncover answers in time to stop a killer—and resolve their past in time to build a future together? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
dangerous-testimony

Dangerous Testimony by Dana Mentink — Four weeks before she’s set to testify at a gang murder trial, someone is determined to make sure that Candace Gallagher Andrews never takes the stand. When nowhere is safe for the private investigator or her little girl, Candace turns to the only person she can trust—longtime friend and former navy SEAL Marco Quidel. For Marco, protecting Candace is not just another duty. As the trial date nears and the killer stalks ever closer, Marco knows fear for the first time—the fear of losing Candace and her daughter. But while Marco begins seeing Candace as more than just a friend, her late husband’s memory is never far from her mind. So he must keep Candace alive—and not get emotionally involved—long enough to put away a killer. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

deep-extractionDeep Extraction by DiAnn Mills — Special Agent Tori Templeton is determined to find who killed her best friend’s husband. Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan’s personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer?and to each other?the more intent someone is on silencing them for good. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

final-verdict

Final Verdict by Jessica R. Patch — When Aurora Daniels becomes the target of someone seeking their own twisted justice, Sheriff Beckett Marsh is the only one who can rescue her. As a public defender, Aurora has angered plenty of people in town—and in her past. And while Beckett constantly clashes with the feisty lawyer professionally, it’s his duty to protect and serve. Guarding her 24/7 is now his sole assignment. He may not have been able to save his fiancée from a dangerous felon, but he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Aurora alive. Even if working with her to catch and convict this ruthless killer puts his heart in the crosshairs. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
guardian

Guardian by Terri Reed — When a fellow FBI agent is kidnapped and a protected witness vanishes, Leo Gallagher will stop at nothing to find them both. So when he discovers a link between the case and a single mother in Wyoming, Leo and his trusty K-9 partner rush to question Alicia Duncan. Could she be the key to locating the missing persons? Not if a killer has anything to say about it. Someone is determined to keep Alicia from talking, so Leo and his chocolate Lab must keep her and her little boy safe on their family ranch. With danger lurking around every corner, Leo must work overtime to not lose another person who’s important to him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
witch

Witch by Denise Weimer — Having restored Michael Johnson’s ancestors’ house and apothecary shop and begun applying the lessons of family and forgiveness unearthed from the past, Jennifer Rushmore expects to complete her first preservation job with the simple relocation of a log home. But as her crew reconstructs the 1787 cabin, home to the first Dunham doctor, attacks on those involved throw suspicion on neighbors and friends alike. And while Jennifer has trusted God and Michael with the pain of her past, it appears Michael’s been keeping his own secrets. Will she use a dream job offer from Savannah as an escape, or will a haunting tale from a Colonial diary convince her to rely on the faithfulness of his love? (Romantic Suspense from Canterbury House Publishing)

Speculative Romance/Fantasy:

the-fairetellings-series

The Fairetellings Series (Books 1 through 3) by Kristen Reed — Discover a trio of enchanting novellas inspired by three beloved fairy tales: Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast. (Speculative Romance/Fantasy, Independently Published)

 

American Christian Fiction Writers and Fiction Finder
New Releases April 2017

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Happy Valentine’s Day to Me – Baggage Claim is Here!

Roses for Valentine's Day and for Baggage Claim

My wonderful, supportive husband brought me TWO dozen roses today: one for Valentine’s Day and one to congratulate me on the release of Baggage Claim. Isn’t he amazing? I sure do love him. In addition to working hard so I can stay home and write, he’s been so patient as I worked on preparing Baggage Claim for publication!

Baggage Claim

It’s a little like having a baby, but instead of nine months, Baggage Claim took me nearly nine years to produce. I started it in 2009 for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), All of my sons had finally graduated from high school, and after all those years of homeschooling, I had some free time to do “me” things! Then I got a real job and didn’t have time for writing anymore. I looked at it every so often, made a few edits, changed a few plot points… and then put it away again. After a few years, I forced myself to finish it, and then I set it aside again. I started an outline for a sequel. (Oh – I  was also working on a few other books, all of which followed that pattern. I have a very short attention span.)

Squirrel!

Then I got serious (lost the day job) and decided to write a Christmas novella for a collection with my good friend, Chautona Havig, and two other authors. It didn’t take me long to realize that the novella – Snow Angels – was meant to be connected to Baggage Claim and its sequel. Having a commitment to other people forced me to finish that book and get it edited and polished up for publication. Once the novella was published, I had to get Baggage Claim cleaned up and ready to go.
Baggage Claim by Cathe SwansonIt was then that I realized how truly BAD Baggage Claim was.  It didn’t need to be cleaned up; it needed to be torn apart and rewritten. So I did it. The book needed humor, so I gave the children more distinct personalities and put my heroine into unexpected predicaments. I wanted more suspense, so I made the villain a little more villainous.

I had to update everyone’s ages, so the entire calendar was adjusted. The technology was probably out-of-date when I wrote it the first time!

 

I couldn’t have done it without them…

As I prepared Baggage Claim for publication, I had one advantage that most new authors lack: an amazing team of pre-readers. If Baggage Claim is fit to read, it’s because of their help and input. It was a team effort – and it kept me humble! I love those ladies. And in the end, I love Baggage Claim, and I’m itching to start Real Religion, the second book in the Great Lakes series.

Announcing the winners

Valentine's Day Giveaway

Thanks to all of you who entered the giveaway contest! I will be sending paperback copies of Snow Angels to three winners: Olivia R, Debbie M, and TerriSue B!  If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you will enjoy it! I think it’s a fun story!

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ACFW Christian Fiction New Releases February 2017

February 2017 New Releases

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

 

Biblical:


redeeming-graceRedeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith — When famine visits Bethlehem, Boaz holds out hope for rain while his relative Elimelech moves his wife Naomi and their sons to Moab. For a while, it appears the Lord is blessing Elimelech’s family, and his sons marry two lovely Moabite women. But calamities strike, one after another, leaving Naomi alone in a foreign land with only her childless daughters-in-law for comfort. When news reaches Naomi that the famine in Bethlehem has lifted, only Ruth will hazard the journey to her mother-in-law’s homeland. Destitute and downhearted, Naomi resigns herself to a life of bitter poverty, but Ruth holds out hope for a better future. And Boaz may be the one God has chosen to provide it. (Biblical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

 

Biblical Romance:


building-benjaminBuilding Benjamin by Barbara M. Britton — Naomi desires to dance well enough to catch the eye of a wealthy landowner. Her father needs a substantial bride price due to the deaths of her brothers at the hands of the tribe of Benjamin. But when Benjamites raid the Ephraimite feast and capture young girls, Naomi is bound and carried from her home by Eliab, a troubled shepherd who needs a wife. As Naomi awaits rescue, she finds Eliab has a strong faith in God and a just reason for abducting her. A reason that affects all the tribes of Israel. The future of the tribe of Benjamin hangs in the balance, but if Naomi follows her heart and stays with Eliab to rebuild his lineage, she must forfeit her family and become a traitor to her own tribe. (Biblical Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

 

Contemporary Romance:

grace-and-the-rancher

Grace and the Rancher by Mary Alford — Can a runaway singer and a makeshift rancher, thrust together by circumstance and held together by the common thread of loss and a love of music, find hope and a happily-ever-after under the stars of Delaney Mountain? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

 

 

 capturing-beautyCapturing Beauty by Brenda S. Anderson — Photographer Haven Carlysle is a changed man. He returns to Duluth to capture the North Shore’s beauty … and to recapture the love of his son. But that means making amends with his ex-girlfriend too. Enter Callie Beaumont. All her life, Callie has longed to work outdoors soaking up God-breathed beauty, and the opportunity is finally on the horizon. But being the liaison between the handsome photographer and his son has thrown her dreams, and her heart, into chaos. Can Haven capture her heart when she won’t let him capture her image? And will his poor choices cost Callie her dream job and him the love of his son? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

 

the-lawman's -secret-sonThe Lawman’s Secret Son by Lorraine Beatty — Suddenly a Father Police officer Seth Montgomery knows all about order—but his world is thrown into chaos when he learns he has a five-year-old son. With little Jack suddenly in his care, Seth turns to neighbor Carrie Fletcher for help. Given her checkered past, Carrie prefers to keep to herself, but there’s no denying she cares for the boy—and her feelings for charming Seth are rapidly developing, too. When someone from Carrie’s past shows up threatening to jeopardize the life she’s worked so hard to build, Carrie will have to fight for her future with the new family she’s found…or risk losing everything. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

 

maybe-it's-youMaybe It’s You by Candace Calvert — Micah Prescott’s goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive ER nurse, Sloane Ferrell. Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane’s past. Can hope spring from crisis? (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)

 

a-second-chanceA Second Chance by Alexis Goring — Newly single food critic and newspaper reporter Traci Hightower is done with dating. After the man of her dreams left her at the altar on their wedding day and ran off with her “best friend,” Traci resigned herself to being a bachelorette for life. Marc Roberts is a political reporter who is known as Mr. Nice Guy, the one who always finishes last. But his widowed sister Gina Braxton appreciates his compassion and kindness, since she’s raising her two kids alone. With God’s guidance and the help of Gina’s matchmaking skills honed by her career as a bestselling romance novelist, Traci and Marc find hope for their broken hearts. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romances)

 

the-amish-wandererThe Amish Wanderer by Laura V. Hilton — After her daed, the bishop, is admitted to a mental hospital after hurting their small Amish community, Bethany Weiss is ready to get away from Jamesport, MO—and away from God. Silas Beiler, dogged by a rough childhood and a family who blames him for each new disaster, is hitchhiking toward Pennsylvania in hopes of stability. He sleeps in barns where he can and works for food when possible. When Bethany spies a man asleep in the hayloft, she first fears the return of an unwelcome suitor. But when it is Silas who turns and speaks, the memories flood back: a happy summer six years ago, full of lemonade, long walks, and budding courtship. Can their old love overcome both this new pain and the hurt and rejection of their past? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

 

avalancheAvalanche by Gayla K. Hiss — Set in the North Cascades National Park of Washington State, Avalanche is the inspirational story of one man set on revenge and the woman who risks everything to help him find the fugitive who killed his partner. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

 

 

the-doctor's-texas-babyThe Doctor’s Texas Baby by Deb Kastner — When Carolina Mason shows up in Haven, Texas, after a three-year absence, no one is more surprised than town veterinarian Wyatt Harrow. Especially when he sees Carolina’s two-year-old son, Matty. Their son. How could she have kept his child a secret? Carolina doesn’t deny the boy is his. She thought she was doing what was best for everyone when she left, but she realizes she was wrong. Though Wyatt is eager to make up for lost time with Matty, Carolina’s not so sure that extends to her. Can these former sweethearts navigate their complicated past to make a family for their son? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

 

Sspring-rainepring Raine by Delia Latham — A last-minute decision sends a young woman to a seaside community and lodging at Paradise Pines…where life takes a whole new path. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

 

 

 

finding-joyFinding Joy by Melanie D. Snitker — A horrific accident changed everything for Parker Wilson. He returns to his family’s ranch, the scars on his face a daily reminder of all he’s lost, yet his mom still insists he needs to stop hiding and live his life again. The beautiful new employee she hires is the last thing he needs, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make the girl quit and regain the peace and quiet he prefers. Only deep desperation could force Chelsea Blake to work on a cattle ranch. But if she’s going to avoid her parents’ judgment when they arrive in three weeks, she must turn the temporary job into a permanent one. Between dodging mud, feeding longhorn cattle, and dealing with a handsome boss who keeps giving her the cold shoulder, staying gainfully employed is proving to be a challenge. Chelsea may not be cut out for ranch life, but her determination to succeed is stronger than Parker’s efforts at forcing her to leave. Surprisingly alike, will the two set aside their disapproval to find immeasurable joy? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

 

General Fiction:


the-secret-heartThe Secret Heart by Marie Wells Coutu — After a whirlwind romance, beautiful Shawna Moore marries Hunter Wilson, the governor of Tennessee. Now, she wonders if the governor ever loved her or only hoped to avoid a scandal. In this modern re-imagining of the biblical story of Bathsheba and King David, an investigative reporter is asking questions–the wedding took place only six weeks following the death of Shawna’s first husband in Iraq. If he discovers the truth about Shawna’s baby, Hunter’s chances for reelection, as well as Shawna’s reputation, will be ruined. But keeping their secret is destroying their marriage. Will Hunter’s choice mean the end of his political career or his family? (General Fiction from Write Integrity Press)

 

 

home-at-lastHome at Last by Deborah Raney — All her life, Shayla Michaels, owner of the Coffee’s On bakery, has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother’s white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn’t repeat in polite–well, in any company. Her father’s family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry’s incarceration, life has left Shayla’s father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn’t people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts? Everything changes one icy morning when Portia runs into the street and Link Whitman nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with Shayla. Can they overcome society’s view of their differences and find true love? (General Fiction from Abingdon Press)

 

 

Baggage Claim by Cathe Swanson , Christian fiction, romantic suspense

Baggage Claim by Cathe Swanson — When Ben Taylor, widower and single dad, gets caught up in a dangerous insurance fraud network, he has to learn to take a stand for right – and make a leap of faith: can he trust his nanny – who isn’t quite what she appears to be – and his newly-discovered biological father to hide and protect his four young children? (General Fiction, Independently Published)

 

 

Historical Romance:


the-matchmaker-brides-collectionThe Matchmaker Brides Collection by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Amanda Cabot, Lisa Carter, Ramona K. Cecil, Lynn A. Coleman, Susanne Dietze, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Connie Stevens and Liz Tolsma — Meet nine women of the late 1800s who have found themselves in the role of matchmaker. They think they have mastered the art of recognizing romantic potential in others, but when it comes to their own lives they have been unlucky in love. In small communities from Tennessee to Colorado, Wyoming to Indiana, love unexpectedly enters the women’s lives with men they never imagined marrying. But what will it take to get these ladies to say “I do”? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

 

 

the-reluctant-guardianThe Viscount’s Proposal by Melanie Dickerson — Leorah Langdon has no patience for Regency society’s shallow hypocrisy and unnecessary rules, especially for women. She’s determined to defy convention by marrying for grand passion instead of settling for a loveless union like her parents–or wedding a stuffy, pompous gentleman like Edward, the Viscount Withinghall. But when a chance meeting in the countryside leads to Leorah and Withinghall being discovered in his overturned carriage–alone and after dark–the ensuing gossip may force them together.Withinghall has his reasons for clinging to propriety and he certainly has no time for a reckless hoyden like Miss Langdon. But soon the two discover that Withinghall’s coach “accident” was no such thing: the vehicle was sabotaged. Strong-willed Leorah and duty-driven Withinghall will have to work together if they have any hope of saving her reputation, his political career–and his life. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)

 

 

the-reluctant-guardianThe Reluctant Guardian by Susanne Dietze — When Gemma Lyfeld inadvertently interrupts a dangerous smuggling operation in her English village, she’s rescued by a mysterious Scottish spy. Now with criminals after her and her hopes for an expected marriage proposal recently dashed, she will make her society debut in London. But not without the man tasked with protecting her… Covert government agent Tavin Knox must keep Gemma safe from the criminals who think she can identify them—a mission he never wanted. But as he escorts her and her rascally nephews around London, the lovely English lass proves braver than he ever imagined. Suddenly, the spy who works alone has one Season to become the family man he never dreamed he’d be. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin]

 

 

shine-like-the-dawnShine like the Dawn by Carrie Turansky — In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother’s millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible event reshaped their family, shattering an idyllic life and their future prospects. An event which…might not have been an accident. When Nathaniel Harcourt returns from his time in the Royal Navy and inherits his father’s vast estate, Morningside Manor, he also assumes partial control of his father’s engineering company and the duty of repaying an old debt to the Lounsbury family. But years of separation between Nate and Maggie have taken a toll and Maggie struggles to trust her old friend. Will the search for the truth about her parents’ death draw the two friends closer or leave them both with broken hearts? (Historical Romance from Waterbrook Multnomah)

 

 

the-bounty-hunter's-babyThe Bounty Hunter’s Baby by Erica Vetsch — Bounty hunter Thomas Beaufort has no problem handling outlaws, but when he’s left with a criminal’s baby to care for, he’s in over his head. And the only person he can think of to ask for help is Esther Jensen, the woman whose heart he broke when he left town. But can he convince her to put aside the past until he tracks down the baby’s outlaw father? Esther is ready to run Thomas off her Texas ranch–until she spies the abandoned newborn in his arms. Soon, working together to care for the precious babe stirs old hopes of a family. With trouble heading to their door, they could overcome it together–if she’ll entrust her wary heart to this sweet, second-chance family… (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

 

 

Thriller/Suspense:

 


raging-stormRaging Storm by Vannetta Chapman — When a massive solar flare wiped out all modern technology across the globe, the small town of Abney, Texas, was thrown into chaos. Shelby Sparks and her diabetic teenage son, Carter, have found refuge, but Shelby knows Carter can’t survive without insulin–and Shelby will risk her life traveling to Austin to make sure he gets it. Shelby’s best friend and high school sweetheart, Max Berkman, won’t let her make the journey alone. Together, they reach the capital–only to discover that Austin has turned into an urban nightmare on the brink of anarchy. Now the only thing more uncertain than finding what they need is the hope of making it out of the city alive. (Thriller/Suspense from Harvest House Publishers)

 

Speculative:


long-time-goneTime Search by Danele J. Rotharmel — While the TEMCO staff searches for clues to unravel the mystery of his real name, their enemy is lurking in the shadows searching for his targets–it’s anyone’s guess whose search will be completed first! (Speculative/Time Travel Fiction from Prism Book Group)

 

 

Western Romance:


long-time-goneLong Time Gone by Mary Connealy — Rancher Justin Boden is normally an unshakable and rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn’t help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on. With her and the doc’s timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It’s clear now that everything that’s occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine? (Western Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

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Miranda Warning – An Audiobook Review

Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert FREE Kindle book and $2 Audible audiobook!I just finished reading Miranda Warning (A Murder in the Mountains – Book One) by Heather Day Gilbert. I thought it would be a straightforward mystery, but it turned out to be a multi-faceted introduction to what I expect will be a long series.

NOTE – This kindle book is FREE on Amazon right now, and when you buy it (for FREE), you can get the audible version for $1.99.  I highly recommend it, and I think you will want to follow up with the next in the series, “Trial by Twelve.”

The author has created a refreshingly original world. I wouldn’t classify the book as “Christian Fiction.” Instead, Ms. Gilbert writes from a Christian worldview, and her setting includes a realistic mix of Christians and nonbelievers in community. None of them are perfect, and they live naturally according to their convictions. The heroine is a unique character. She bears some scars from a dysfunctional childhood, but she went to college, married into a healthy family and doesn’t wallow in angst. As a mother-in-law, I was pleased to see the loving relationship between Tess and Nikki Jo. The politically conservative characters are portrayed as intelligent and sensible instead of rednecks or greedy industrialists. They have guns but aren’t violent. A young boy is allowed to be an ordinary young boy who enjoys his family. An older woman is sometimes lucid and sometimes vague. Tess’s husband, Thomas, is allowed to be grouchy and jealous sometimes without being a bully. He is macho and vulnerable. She is vulnerable, too, but also willful and sometimes intrepid. And she doesn’t hide (too many) things from her husband; she can be foolhardy and she has common sense. On these and several other points, Ms. Gilbert succeeds in breaking free of stereotypes. Refreshing!

There were some inconsistencies that struck me as jarring: Miranda initiated the whole mystery and then became disinterested. The doctor was too accommodating, too fast. Why didn’t Tess have a concealed carry permit? Axel provided insight to Thomas’s character and feelings for Tess, but he seemed extraneous otherwise. He felt like a subplot that never developed, and then he left the country to tie up the loose end. Rosemary’s actions were odd. The friendship with Charlotte happened too quickly and conveniently. The ending felt rushed. And yet, it was still an engrossing story. I wonder if the book was originally much longer and then cut back to meet modern publishing standards.

The author’s creativity and skill were displayed in the two parallel story lines that linked all of the characters. Rose’s story unfolded slowly, changing our perceptions of each character with every installment. THAT was superbly written.

Trial by Twelve - by Heather Day Gilbert

 

Trial by Twelve, the second book in this series, features the same characters two years later and is more of a murder mystery than this one. I look forward to reading it soon!

 

 

 

I had purchased Miranda Warning in kindle form and was already reading it when the author approached me with an offer of a free audiobook in exchange for an honest review.  It was nice to have both formats. The reader did a very good job, but of the two formats, I preferred the text book.  The first-person, present tense style sounds a little dreamy and “stream of consciousness” when it’s read aloud.

There are quite a few female characters in the book, and the reader was consistent and distinct in each voice. She had to create separate young and old voices for three of the characters, since there are separate timeline passages, and she did great with that. She also did the child’s voice quite well. The Appalachian dialect was just right – not overdone. 

This kindle book is FREE right now on Amazon, and the Miranda Warning audiobook is only $1.99.  That’s $2 for 8 1/2 hours of entertainment!!

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Bite Size Book Reviews

I’m not feeling romantic this week. When I am stressed, instead of reaching for something lighthearted, I usually pick up a mystery or (slightly)romantic suspense novel. We moved two weeks ago, unexpectedly, and I listened to audiobooks while I worked on packing and cleaning.  When in Rome is an old favorite, and I always enjoy Kristen Heitzmann, but the others were new to me.

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris is a FREE KINDLE BOOK! (Price may change without notice, but it’s free right now!)

We are starting to settle into our new home – did I mention that it is an apartment in a Tudor castle? – but I’m still not ready to snuggle up with a romance. Expect more murder and violence next week…

When in Rome by Ngaio Marsh - Classic Detective Fiction, reviewed by Cathe SwansonWhen in Rome, audiobook by Ngaio Marsh, read by Nadia May

Retro Read! This classic detective story from 1969 is an old favorite. Ms. Marsh writes so clearly that the reader experiences the story more like a movie than a book. She researched Rome, its history and its legal system for this tale of blackmail and drug smuggling. Her characters are varied, each drawn with realistic attitudes and behaviors, and each has his or her own motive for murder.

 

 

 

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris - FREE kindle book as of 4/14/2016

 

~ FREE KINDLE BOOK ~

Dangerous Passage, kindle book by Lisa Harris

This book was different in that the romantic relationship is already in place at the start of the story, and the hero is a medical examiner, which places him in the criminal investigation field without having him be a police officer. The complexities of the heroine’s family life added depth to this story of human trafficking. The author has set the stage for a series, and I look forward to reading the others.

 

 

The Edge of Recall by Kristen Heitzmann

 

The Edge of Recall, audiobook by Kristen Heitzmann, read by Katherine Kellgrenn

Kristen Heitzmann writes complex stories, and this is no exception. The heroine is still living with unresolved trauma, which makes her a bit frustrating, but the hero and his sidekick are enjoyable. The plot is – as always in Ms. Heitzmann’s books – original and well-researched. I learned a lot about labyrinths! The ending seemed rushed and too “pat” for such a rich story.

 

 

The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn

 

The Patmos Deception, audiobook by Davis Bunn, read by Rich Orlow

Good writing, great setting, unique characters, cultural and political authenticity, intriguing history… that made up for the fact that the plot was a little confusing and the ending was not quite an ending. I wondered if Bunn might be setting us up for a sequel. More suspense than romance – just the way I like my books.  I do recommend it.

 

 

and now for something completely different…

Opening Moves by Steven JamesOpening Moves, audiobook by Steven James, read by Richard Ferrone

I picked this one up because my library had it listed as Christian fiction and it’s the prequel to a long suspense/thriller series. I am always looking for new authors and series.  It freaked me out. Cannibalism, torture, mutilation, violence – with descriptions of the emotions experienced by the villain and the victim as they happened.  I regret reading it. BUT – I understand the rest of the series isn’t as gruesome. The author has good writing skills, so if you enjoy this genre, give it a shot. It’s not Christian fiction, but there was very little to object to (aside from the brutality, sadism, etc.)

 

 

 

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Fascinating – Christian Fantasy!

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Highlands, by Chautona Havig

Pre-order this now, for 99 cents! Releases automatically to your kindle or kindle app on October 6th.

If you had told me yesterday that I would enjoy a book in the “Contemporary Christian Fantasy” genre – even one by Chautona Havig! – I would have smiled and nodded politely. I have good manners like that.  Well,  she sent me an advance copy. She’s generous like that. She didn’t even ask me to review it!

 

And I can admit when I’m wrong… this book caught my attention and held it. I meant to just skim, but it sucked me in and I was on chapter six before I realized what I was doing. I have three major projects due for clients, so I pulled out the fabrics I needed and tidied up the sewing room. Then I sat down to read chapters seven and eight. I closed the computer and started quilting. I spent ten minutes on the first table runner and opened the laptop  computer to read chapter nine. And so on.

Ms. Havig drops a modern young athlete (nearly naked!) into a remote, bizarre community. He is confused. He is horrified. He wonders if he has died and is in some sort of afterlife.  And then, with perfect, almost elegant pacing, the story unfolds, revealing a fascinating world in which people have unquestioningly accepted every circumstance as the will of – gifts from – God.  Our hero struggles with understanding their beliefs – and so does the reader. The themes of extreme submission and gratitude are thought-provoking in this context.

I can’t describe the physical effects of the young man’s emotional and  spiritual reactions without sharing too much of the plot, but I will say that the whole concept is FASCINATING. This gifted author continually amazes me with her eclectic creativity.

This is the second in a series. The first, Prairie, was written as a stand-alone book three years ago and is not necessary to the enjoyment of this one.  I’ve had it on my kindle and intend to read it soon.

Highlands is in pre-order right now, for 99 cents! It will be released on October 6th.

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Bite Size Book Reviews

 

I listened to audiobooks this week while I worked on a number of household, quilting, sewing, and crafting projects. These are some of my favorite contemporary writers of Christian fiction in a variety of genres, and they were all first-time reads.

 

No One to Trust, audiobook by Lynette Eason

I always watch my library for Ms. Eason’s new books. Her plotting is exceptionally tight.  This one does have a good storyline, but the characters were not her best. I wanted to slap the heroine and shake the hero. She never stopped harping on the fact that he had lied to her, even when the reason was clearly and repeatedly justified. I would have liked him better if he was just a little assertive.  That said, the plot, action and mystery were good.  The resolution was creepy.

 

 

 

Nothing but TroubleNothing but Trouble, audiobook by Susan May Warren

A fun summer read, but don’t underestimate it. The mystery is solid. The family characters and their relationships are enjoyable. The history between the first hero and the heroine creates a sensitive tension that gives them depth but doesn’t overshadow the lightheartedness of the book. I found the second hero kind of lightweight, and I’d already developed a sentimental attachment to the first.

 

 

 

 

Protection for Hire Protection for Hire, audiobook by Camy Tang

This is the first book I have read by this author. It was especially interesting because of the Japanese-American heroine and culture. All of the characters are well-drawn. I was impressed by Ms. Tang’s skill in balancing the  complexities of the heroine’s history and relationships  with the action of the story.

 

 

 

 

 

sabotagedSabotaged, audiobook by Dani Pettrey

I started this book with the knowledge that it is the last in the series.  The love story was okay – not as interesting as in the other books – but the rest of it was excellent! Action, suspense, mystery, adventure, great characters, satisfactory conclusion. Good spiritual content.  I look forward to her new series.

 

 

 

 

 

vote of confidenceVote of Confidence , audiobook by Robin Lee Hatcher

Lighthearted historical western romance. The characters and plot were fun. The feminism was the good kind – practical and with a positive result, without militant drama or whining.  I look forward to the sequel.

 

DISCOUNTED PRICE! (subject to change, but as of May 9, this kindle book is only $1.99 at Amazon)

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Happy NaNo!

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NaNoWriMo is an annual challenge activity: Write 50,000 words in one month. Ideally, a complete fictional story, start to finish in 30 days. There are always a few rebels who want to write poetry or nonfiction, but NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth was intended for fiction.

From their website:

National Novel Writing Month is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (formerly known as the Office of Letters and Light) that believes your story matters. Our mission statement:

National Novel Writing Month organizes events where children and adults find the inspiration, encouragement, and structure they need to achieve their creative potential. Our programs are web-enabled challenges with vibrant real-world components, designed to foster self-expression while building community on local and global levels.

This is my 5th attempt at a “win”. I have only finished twice before; I was working full-time during the other three Novembers.  So if you don’t see me very often, it’s because I am typing away in Scrivener, creating a story that I’m getting really excited about!

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Audiobooks

All fiction audiobooks should be read by professional actors. Writing and reading aloud are two different skills. Just sayin’.

Oh – I make an exception for John Erickson.He can even sing in his.