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Top 10 Tuesday — Best Mystery/Suspense Novels of 2017

12 Dec

I was snowed-in over the weekend! Really? In Georgia!? Yes! What started as a weekend getaway to our mountain cabin turned into a struggle for survival. The light-dusting forecast became a 10-inch snow dump accompanied by a power outage. If not for the intrepid Domino’s driver who delivered to the end of our road and our uber-prepared neighbors who generously supplied our flushing needs, I don’t know what we would have done! Seriously, my husband is a prepper wannabe so we were sitting pretty (except for the above mentioned toilet issue). My contribution to preparation? A big pot of homemade soup and a fully-loaded and charged Kindle. Priorities, you know. I read two really great mystery/suspense novels, my genre of choice. Focusing on the life threatening adventures of the characters keeps the mind off the dwindling supply of oreos. 😉

The theme of this week’s Top 10 is Best of 2017. So here are the mystery/suspense books that I read this year that should always be in stock during a weather emergency. All are part of a series, so that takes care of the many hours of waiting for the power trucks to appear.

To find our what other books bloggers found exceptional this year, head over to The Broke And The Bookish.

Top Mystery/Suspense of 2017

Always Watching by Lynette Eason

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

The Cover Story by Deb Richardson-Moore

Dangerous Illusions by Irene Hannon

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

Death in The Shadows by Paul McCusker

Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering

Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert

If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

Moving Target by Lynette Eason

Still Life by Dani Pettrey

Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

 

What book makes your must-have list?

 

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Top 10 Tuesday — Literary Settings

5 Dec

 

Oh the places you’ll go . .  . when you are in a book! This week the folks at The Broke And Bookish are talking settings. You can travel just about anywhere without leaving your chair, which comes in handy if you are short of money, or the place you want to go requires a time capsule or a space ship! Want to know where other bloggers have been traveling? Click HERE. Bon voyage!

Top 10 Book Settings

I’ve been to lots of places thanks to a book — mountains, jungles, Merry Olde England, the Middle East  . . . . You name it, I’ve probably been there. But that would mean this post ought to be titled Top 1000s of Book Settings. In order to fit within the theme’s parameters, I have chosen 10 beautiful and/or unique settings that I have encountered in my reading this year — settings that made reading a deeper experience. I’ve included both contemporary and historical novels that showed me a different world or a destination that’s fit for a bucket list. Hope you enjoy the trip!

 

East Africa — Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

Early 1900s Appalachia — Christy by Catherine Marshall

Arizona Back Country — Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll

Ancient Israel — Delilah: Treacherous Beauty by Angela Hunt

California Wine Country — The Memory of You by Catherine West

Victorian England — A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd

Mount Ranier, Washington — The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

The Oregon Coast — Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon

Apartheid-era South Africa — Child of The River by Irma Joubert

Sudan — Door to Freedom by Jana Kelley

 

Where do you want to travel in your next book?

If You Liked A Time to Stand . . .

30 Nov

If you liked BTB’s November 2017 selection, A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow, check out these books!

The Color of Justice by Ace Collins.

Two racially charged cases. Two attorneys searching for the truth. But only one will stay alive long enough to find it. 

1964

Justice, Mississippi, is a town divided. White and black. Rich and poor. Rule makers and rule breakers. Right or wrong, everyone assumes their place behind a fragile façade that is about to crumble.  When attorney Coop Lindsay agrees to defend a black man accused of murdering a white teenager, the bribes and death threats don’t intimidate him. As he prepares for the case of a lifetime, the young lawyer knows it’s the verdict that poses the real threat—innocent or guilty, because of his stand Coop is no longer welcome in Justice. As he follows his conscience, he wonders just how far some people will go to make sure he doesn’t finish his job?

2014

To some, the result of the trial still feels like a fresh wound even fifty years later, when Coop’s grandson arrives in Justice seeking answers to the questions unresolved by the trial that changed his family’s legacy. When a new case is presented, again pitting white against black, this third generation Lindsay may have the opportunity he needs to right the wrongs of the past. 

But hate destroys everything it touches, and the Lindsay family will not escape unscathed.

Home at Last by Deborah Raney.

Why did their differences matter so much?

Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he’s stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters’ efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.

All her life, Shayla Michaels 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 a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl’s aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee’s On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society’s view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse. (BTB’s February 2018 Selection)

There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse’s stunning debut, Missing Isaac.

It is 1965 when black field hand Isaac Reynolds goes missing from the tiny, unassuming town of Glory, Alabama. The townspeople’s reactions range from concern to indifference, but one boy will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his unlikely friend. White, wealthy, and fatherless, young Pete McLean has nothing to gain and everything to lose in his relentless search for Isaac. In the process, he will discover much more than he bargained for. Before it’s all over, Pete–and the people he loves most — will have to blur the hard lines of race, class, and religion. And what they discover about themselves may change some of them forever.

No Greater Love by Kathi Macias.

Forbidden romance, an unlikely martyr, and an even more unlikely hero. Orphaned four years earlier when their parents, active in the African National Congress ANC movement against Apartheid, were murdered, 16-year-old Chioma and her 15-year-old brother Masozi now live and work on an Afrikaner family’s farm. When Chioma and Andrew, the farm owner’s son, find themselves attracted to one another, tragedy revisits their lives. Chioma escapes to join an ANC rebel band in her effort to survive and gain revenge for her family and culture. When cultures clash in life-or-death struggles, Chioma must choose between violence and revenge or forgiveness and selfless love. Loosely based on historical events and set near Pretoria, South Africa, in the violent upheaval prior to ANC leader Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and his ascendance to the presidency of South Africa, this story of forbidden romance produces an unlikely martyr who is replaced by one even more unlikely.

Top 10 Tuesday — Thankfulness Edition

21 Nov

I have been a nag, bully, proponent of Christian fiction for some time now. Not only can you be sure of a clean read, but you get a book that encourages, enlightens, or just plain entertains. It’s no surprise — God is the master storyteller! And when you have an author who wants to bring glory to Him, then you are sure to have a winner. So when the folks at The Broke And The Bookish set this week’s theme as Books I Am Thankful For, I knew I would have a hard time sticking to just 10. I decided to pick the books I have read in 2017 that made me think, taught me something, or were a joy to read. I kept the list to an even dozen. To find out what books other bloggers are thankful for, click HERE.

A Dozen Books I Am Thankful For

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti

Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

Home at Last by Deborah Raney

How Sweet The Sound by Amy Sorrells

The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser

Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

A Trail of Crumbs by Susie Finkbeiner

A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow

True to You by Becky Wade

Why The Sky Is Blue by Susan Meissner

Yankee in Atlanta by Jocelyn Green

 

Top Ten Tuesday — Halloween Freebie aka Reformation Day Reading

31 Oct

The Top 10 Tuesday topic is in keeping with today’s date — Halloween! However, as a reader and reviewer of Christian Fiction, I struggled with coming up with another Halloween-themed list. In the past I have had Halloween Cozies and Spooky Christian Fiction. There just isn’t a lot of Halloween-inspired novels in CF. But . . . besides today being Halloween, it is also Reformation Day. So for this freebie, I give you my list of Top Reformation Books. My list includes historical fiction, one non-fiction book, and a book that is set beyond the Reformation dates, but whose subject is about a Protestant sect that made its way to America. To check out other bloggers’ lists, click HERE.

 

Top Reformation Day Reading

Anna’s Crossing by Suzanne Woods Fisher

On a hot day in 1737 in Rotterdam, Anna König reluctantly sets foot on the Charming Nancy, a merchant ship that will carry her and her fellow Amish believers across the Atlantic to start a new life. As the only one in her community who can speak English, she feels compelled to go. But Anna is determined to complete this journey and return home–assuming she survives. She’s heard horrific tales of ocean crossings and worse ones of what lay ahead in the New World. But fearfulness is something Anna has never known.

Ship’s carpenter Bairn resents the somber people–dubbed Peculiars by the deckhands–who fill the lower deck of the Charming Nancy. All Bairn wants to do is to put his lonely past behind him, but that irksome and lovely lass Anna and her people keep intruding on him.

Delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions test the mettle and patience of everyone on board. When Anna is caught in a life-threatening situation, Bairn makes a discovery that shakes his entire foundation. But has the revelation come too late?

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the beginning of Amish life in America with this fascinating glimpse into the first ocean crossing — and the lives of two intrepid people who braved it.

The Heretic by Henry Vyner-Brooks

In 1536 it seems the entire known world is changing–strange new lands are discovered and the Reformation is challenging Rome and its power. In England the king’s declaration of a new church and dissolution of the monasteries overturns the customs and authorities of centuries. In the new world order, spies abound and no one can be trusted.

To Brother Pacificus of the Abbey of St. Benet’s in Norfolk, it looks like his abbey alone will be spared dissolution. But this last Benedictine house is mired in murder and intrigue. Then when Pacificus falls under suspicion, more than his own dark past comes to light, while the body count keeps rising. Pacificus’s fate becomes entwined with that of three local children after their parents are arrested for treason and heresy. Protected only by this errant monk, a mysterious leper, and a Dutch eel-catcher, the children must quickly adjust; seeking their own identity, they soon find that neither parents nor protectors are quite what they seem.

Based on historical events, this post-medieval mystery is laced with romance, fueled by greed, and punctuated with bouts of feasting, smuggling, and jailbreak.

Loving Luther by Allison Pitman

Germany, 1505
In the dark of night, Katharina von Bora says the bravest good-bye a six-year-old can muster and walks away as the heavy convent gate closes behind her.

Though the cold walls offer no comfort, Katharina soon finds herself calling the convent her home. God, her father. This, her life. She takes her vows―a choice more practical than pious ― but in time, a seed of discontent is planted by the smuggled writings of a rebellious excommunicated priest named Martin Luther. Their message? That Katharina is subject to God, and no one else. Could the Lord truly desire more for her than this life of servitude?

In her first true step of faith, Katharina leaves the only life she has ever known. But the freedom she has craved comes with a price, and she finds she has traded one life of isolation for another. Without the security of the convent walls or a family of her own, Katharina must trust in both the God who saved her and the man who paved a way for rescue. Luther’s friends are quick to offer shelter, but Katharina longs for all Luther has promised: a home, a husband, perhaps even the chance to fall in love.

Luther And Katharina by Jody Hedlund

She was a nun of noble birth. He was a heretic, a reformer, and an outlaw of the Holy Roman Empire.

In the 16th century, nun Katharina von Bora’s fate fell no further than the Abbey. Until she read the writings of Martin Luther. His sweeping Catholic church reformation—condemning a cloistered life and promoting the goodness of marriage—awakened her desire for everything she’d been forbidden. Including Martin Luther himself.

Despite the fact that the attraction and tension between them is undeniable, Luther holds fast to his convictions and remains isolated, refusing to risk anyone’s life but his own. And Katharina longs for love, but is strong-willed. She clings proudly to her class distinction, pining for nobility over the heart of a reformer. They couldn’t be more different.

But as the world comes tumbling down around them, and with Luther’s threatened life a constant strain, these unlikely allies forge an unexpected bond of understanding, support and love. Together, they will alter the religious landscape forever.
The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund

In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John’s protests of her aid. She’s even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family. Yet Elizabeth’s new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John’s boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher’s enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she’s more determined than ever to save the child and manshe’s come to love.

To Die For by Sandra Byrd

In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John’s protests of her aid. She’s even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family. Yet Elizabeth’s new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John’s boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher’s enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she’s more determined than ever to save the child and manshe’s come to love.

Tyndale by David Teems

It was an outlawed book, a text so dangerous “it could only be countered by the most vicious burnings, of books and men and women”. But what book could incite such violence and bloodshed? The year is 1526. It is the age of Henry VIII and his tragic Anne Boleyn, of Martin Luther and Thomas More. The times are treacherous. The Catholic Church controls almost every aspect of English life, including access to the very Word of God. And the church will do anything to keep it that way.

Enter William Tyndale, the gifted, courageous “heretic” who dared translate the Word of God into English. He worked in secret, in exile, in peril, always on the move. Neither England nor the English language would ever be the same again.

With thoughtful clarity and a reverence that comes through on every page, David Teems shares a story of intrigue and atrocity, betrayal and perseverance. This is how the Reformation officially reached English shores ― and what it cost the men who brought it there.

Wolves Among Us by Ginger Garrett

This richly imagined tale takes readers to a tiny German town in the time of “the burnings”, when pious and heretic alike became victims of witch-hunting zealots. When a double murder stirs up festering fears, the village priest sends for help. But the charismatic Inquisitor who answers the call brings a deadly mix of spiritual fervor and self-deceptive evil. Under his influence, village fear, guilt, and suspicion of women take a deadly turn. In the midst of this nightmare, a doubting priest and an unloved wife — a secret friend of the recently martyred William Tyndale — somehow manage to hear another Voice . . . and discover the power of love over fear.
 
Dinfoil, Germany, 1538. In a little town on the edge of the Black Forest, a double murder stirs up festering fears. A lonely woman despairs of pleasing her husband and wonders why other women shun her. An overworked sheriff struggles to hold the town — and himself — together. A priest begins to doubt the power of the words he shares daily with his flock. And the charismatic Inquisitor who arrives to help — with a filthy witch in a cage as an object lesson — brings his own mix of lofty ideals and treacherous evil. Under his influence, ordinary village fears and resentments take a deadly turn. Terror mounts. Dark deeds come to light. And men and women alike discover not only what they are capable of, but who they are…and what it means to grapple for grace.

 

 

If You Liked The Amish of Summer Grove Series . . .

31 Oct

The Amish of Summer Grove series by Cindy Woodsmall was a big hit with my book club. Whether you are a fan of Amish books or are new to the genre, I can recommend the following series. All are great!

The Sister’s of The Quilt series was Cindy Woodsmall‘s debut. As a book club we read it and were hooked on anything by Woodsmall. Here is the blurb from book 1, When The Heart Cries.

Despite being raised in a traditional Old Order Amish family, seventeen-year-old Hannah Lapp desires to break with custom, forgo baptism into the faith, and marry outside the cloistered community. She’s been in love with Mennonite Paul Waddell for three years, and before returning to college for his senior year, Paul asks Hannah to be his wife. Hannah accepts, aware that her marriage will change her relationship with her family forever.

On the evening of their engagement, tragedy strikes and in one unwelcome encounter, all that Hannah has known and believed is destroyed. As she finds herself entangled in questions that the Old Ways of her people cannot answer, Hannah faces the possibility of losing her place in her family, in her community– and in the heart of the man she loves.

 

Tricia Goyer writes in a variety of genres, but her Big Sky series is one of my favorites. It is unique in Amish fiction, because much of the series is set in an Amish community in Montana. Check out book 1, Beside Still Waters.

Raised among the Amish of Indiana, 18-year-old Marianna Sommer plans to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and set up life in the only community she has ever known. But when her older brother chooses the world’s path following his rumschpringe, and a younger sibling begins showing interest in Englisch ways, Marianna’s parents move the family to Montana.

Although she is also in her rumschpringe years and not obligated to move, Marianna makes the journey to dutifully help her mother who is expecting another child. Surprisingly, from strangers on the cross-country train ride to the less rigid stance of the new Montana community, many Englisch influences awaken within Marianna—and even her father—the desire to pursue a deeper kind of joy and love for God.

After an accident, Marianna tells her friend Ben a defining story about the Sommer family, and his response further illumines the active relationship God seeks with His followers. In due time, she learns the move from Indiana was not about losing anything, but finding out who God really is. Despite all the shake-ups, Marianna feels a sweet peace, like still waters, in her soul.

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes Amish contemporary and historical fiction. For something a bit different check out her Amish Beginnings series. The first book is Anna’s Crossing.

On a hot day in 1737 in Rotterdam, Anna König reluctantly sets foot on the Charming Nancy, a merchant ship that will carry her and her fellow Amish believers across the Atlantic to start a new life. As the only one in her community who can speak English, she feels compelled to go. But Anna is determined to complete this journey and return home–assuming she survives. She’s heard horrific tales of ocean crossings and worse ones of what lay ahead in the New World. But fearfulness is something Anna has never known.

Ship’s carpenter Bairn resents the somber people — dubbed Peculiars by the deckhands — who fill the lower deck of the Charming Nancy. All Bairn wants to do is to put his lonely past behind him, but that irksome and lovely lass Anna and her people keep intruding on him.

Delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions test the mettle and patience of everyone on board. When Anna is caught in a life-threatening situation, Bairn makes a discovery that shakes his entire foundation. But has the revelation come too late?

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the beginning of Amish life in America with this fascinating glimpse into the first ocean crossing — and the lives of two intrepid people who braved it.

 

What’s your favorite Amish series?

Top 10 Tuesday — Unique Book Titles

24 Oct

Besides the cover art, the title of a book is one of the most important means for getting a reader to pick it up. Sometimes the title is inspired by a quote within the book, other times it is a play on words featuring the subject. Whatever, the source, I admire the authors/editors/publishers’ creativity in coming up with the title. This week the folks at The Broke And The Bookish are challenging bloggers to share Unique Book Titles. Where do I start! This truly is a tough topic. I decided to go with book titles inspired by Art/Music/Literature. Some I have read; others are languishing on my shelves. All are worthy of a look!

 

Top Unique Book Titles from Art, Music, and Literature

 

Art

A Fool And His Monet by Sandra Orchard

Another Day, Another Dali by Sandra Orchard

Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard

Music

Cold As Ice by M. K. Gilroy

Cuts Like A Knife by M. K. Gilroy

Every Breath You Take by M. K. Gilroy

How Sweet The Sound by Amy Sorrells

It Had To Be You by Susan May Warren

Murder Mezzo Forte by Donn Taylor

Rhapsody in Red by Donn Taylor

You’re The One That I Want by Susan May Warren

 

Literature

Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Patillo

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo

Lizzie And Jane by Katherine Reay

The Raven by Mike Nappa

 

What Are Some Unique Book Titles You Love?