Congrats to The 2018 Christy Award Winners!

8 Nov

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Christy Award! I have read several on the list and concur that they are indeed award-winning. The list includes a variety of genres, so there is something for everyone. They are all good read guaranteed!

 

Contemporary Romance

True to You by Becky Wade

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

First Novel

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

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.

General Fiction 

Life After by Katie Ganshert

Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.
 
A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest. 
 
Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake. 
 
In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.

Historical

Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

In this epic Biblical narrative, ideal for fans of The Bible miniseries, a young woman taken into the prophet Isaiah’s household rises to capture the heart of the future king.
 
Isaiah adopts Ishma, giving her a new name–Zibah, delight of the Lord–thereby ensuring her royal pedigree. Ishma came to the prophet’s home, devastated after watching her family destroyed and living as a captive. But as the years pass, Zibah’s lively spirit wins Prince Hezekiah’s favor, a boy determined to rebuild the kingdom his father has nearly destroyed. But loving this man will awake in her all the fears and pain of her past and she must turn to the only One who can give life, calm her fears, and deliver a nation.

Historical Romance

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson is abandoned by her fiancé and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?

Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story.

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives — including her own — are lost?

Short Form

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Visionary 

The Man He Never Was by James Rubart

Toren Daniels vanished eight months back, and his wife and kids have moved on—with more than a little relief. Toren was a good man but carried a raging temper that often exploded without warning. So when he shows up on their doorstep out of the blue, they’re shocked to see him alive. But more shocked to see he’s changed. Radically.

His anger is gone. He’s oddly patient. Kind. Fun. The man he always wanted to be. Toren has no clue where he’s been but knows he’s been utterly transformed. He focuses on three things: Finding out where he’s been. Finding out how it happened. And winning back his family.

But then shards of his old self start to rise from deep inside—like the man kicked out of the NFL for his fury—and Toren must face the supreme battle of his life.

In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us—and one man’s only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul.

Young Adult

The Delusion by Laura Gallier

By March of Owen Edmonds’s senior year, eleven students at Masonville High School have committed suicide. Amid the media frenzy and chaos, Owen tries to remain levelheaded―until he endures his own near-death experience and wakes to a distressing new reality.

The people around him suddenly appear to be shackled and enslaved.

Owen frantically seeks a cure for what he thinks are crazed hallucinations, but his delusions become even more sinister. An army of hideous, towering beings, unseen by anyone but Owen, are preying on his girlfriend and classmates, provoking them to self-destruction.

Owen eventually arrives at a mind-bending conclusion: he’s not imagining the evil―everyone else is blind to its reality. He must warn and rescue those he loves . . . but this proves to be no simple mission. Will he be able to convince anyone to believe him before it’s too late?

Owen’s heart-pounding journey through truth and delusion will force him to reconsider everything he believes. He both longs for and fears the answers to questions that are quickly becoming too dangerous to ignore.

Book of The Year

True to You by Becky Wade

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Book Review: Reign

7 Nov

From the moment her marriage to prince Ahab thrusts her into the intrigues of palace life, Jezebel’s exotic beauty opens doors and her will breaks down walls. Torn from her homeland and wed to power in a strange country, Jezebel vows to create a legacy and power all her own. Some might call her a manipulative schemer, bent on having her way. But they don’t know the whole story, and she was much, much worse.

As she moves through the halls of power, her heart struggles between devotion to the gods she worships, the prince who loves her, and her thirst for revenge. She sparks a battle between her strangely powerless gods and the God of palace administrator Obadiah — a God who confronts her with surprising might. She will fight, though victory may cost her everything.

Ginger Garrett graduated from SMU in Dallas, Texas, with a degree in theatre arts and a focus on playwriting. Although she applied to the CIA to become an international master of espionage, she had to settle for selling pharmaceuticals for a large corporation. She eventually travelled the world on her own dime and without a disguise.

Ginger now lives in Atlanta with her husband, three children, and two rescue dogs. She spends her time baking gluten free goodness for her friends and family, and mentors middle school students who want to become working writers. Passionate about science, history, and women’s studies, Ginger loves exploring new ideas and old secrets. She especially loves good books read late at night.

Ginger is a popular speaker and a frequent radio and television guest. She has been featured by media across the country including Fox News, USA Today, Library Journal, 104.7 The Fish Atlanta, FamilyNet Television, National Public Radio, Harvest Television, and more.

My Impressions:

I lead a Bible study at my church that combines exploring scripture with a supplementary novel inspired by what we are studying. We call it The Faith And Fiction Bible Study, and it has been a great way to dive into the truth of God’s word in a unique way. I chose Reign by Ginger Garret to accompany our look into the life of Ahab and Jezebel. The study has been eye-opening for me, and Reign made real the cultural influences of the era. While many in my group described it as a hard or unpleasant read because of it’s depiction of the depravity of pagan worship, I appreciate the research that Garrett used to bring one of the most vilified characters in the Bible to life.

Reign depicts the life of Jezebel — her early life in Sidon and subsequent marriage to Ahab. A princess of the Phoenicians, Jezebel and Ahab’s marriage cemented the trade and political fortune of Israel with the seafaring nation. Unfortunately, with the increased economic prospects, Jezebel brought pagan worship to the northern kingdom and made it state-recognized and approved. This was the crux of God’s anger and judgment towards Ahab’s reign. While the framework of the novel rests on facts, the fictional life of Jezebel, the what-ifs, were fascinating. Garrett develops a character who is very much influenced by her past experiences. Pagan worship, though horrific in its implications, was a normal part of Jezebel’s upbringing. That point leads to all kinds of questions of how our own beliefs and experiences impact our actions, even if in opposition to God’s word. There’s not much to like about Jezebel and Ahab — really nothing at all. But the secondary character of Obadiah, mentioned as Ahab’s steward in the Biblical record, provides good insight into how godly people may react when faced with direct opposition to the God they believe in. God’s truth is a big part of Reign and is presented by Elijah, Obadiah and other named and unnamed prophets. Could life for Jezebel been different? I loved the very subtle wooing by God (and the depiction of the counter-action of evil) that she ultimately rejects.

Reign, as I stated above, was not an easy read. But it did provide good insight into a very dark time in Israel’s history. If you like Biblical fiction, give this one a try.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Backlist Books

6 Nov

The lure of new shiny books is so, so real. They whisper of wonderful characters, exotic locales, and stories to get lost in. But what about all those books that I have missed? My TBR pile grows ever larger as new books are released and as the ones I have missed by favorite authors demand to be read too. Today, Top Ten Tuesday is all about the backlist — books that we just haven’t gotten to — yet. 😉 I’m featuring favorite authors’ books that I need to read! All of the books on my list are from authors I love and include historical and contemporary, romance and suspense genres. They were released a few (or a lot) of years ago and are still hanging out on my shelves or Kindle. Have you read them? Let me know what you thought.

Head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to discover more books and authors. Your TBR will love you!

Top Backlist Books I Need to Read!

 

Dangerous Mercy by Kathy Herman

Five Brides by Eva Marie Everson

Junebug by Chris Fabry

 

Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

The Queen by Steven James

Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist

 

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

When Mockingbirds Sing by Billy Coffey

When The Smoke Clears by Lynette Eason

 

What backlist book do you need to read?

Happy Book Birthday! — In Too Deep

6 Nov

Happy book birthday to Lynn H. Blackburn! The 2nd book in her Dive Team Investigations series, In Too Deep, releases today. I cannot wait to dive in (sorry/not sorry 😉 )! Check it out!

 

When the dive team is called in to recover a body from a submerged car, they aren’t prepared to find an encrypted laptop–or an unsettling connection between investigator Adam Campbell and the dead accountant.

Adam turns to his friend Dr. Sabrina Fleming — a professor at the local university with unparalleled computer security and forensics skills–to recover the files from the laptop. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier the investigation becomes. When evidence uncovers a human trafficking ring and implicates members of Adam’s own family, he and Sabrina will have to risk everything to solve the case.

The truth could set hundreds free–but someone is willing to do whatever it takes to silence anyone who threatens to reveal their secrets. Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn invites readers back to Carrington, North Carolina, where everything is not as it seems and sinister elements lurk behind the idyllic façade.

To purchase, click HERE.

Lynn H. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children.

 

Book Review: The Christmas Remedy

5 Nov

When an Old Order Amish woman takes a job at a small-town pharmacy struggling to survive in a world of “big box” stores, her motive is to help her Plain community. But the advent of the holiday season brings an unusual mystery to the surface–and possibly love.

Twenty-four-year-old Holly Zook lives a unique life for a young Amish woman. Years ago, her bishop allowed her to continue her education and become the lead technician for Greene’s Pharmacy, an old-timey drugstore that looks out for the Amish community–a group largely without secure healthcare plans. She knows she can’t marry and hold onto her professional job. She’s Amish, and she can only have one or the other, so she spurns love and works toward addressing treatable diseases–like the one that claimed her father’s life.

As long as Holly continues to avoid Joshua Smucker, the one man who draws her like a warm hearth in winter, she should be fine. When something unexpected threatens Greene’s Pharmacy, Holly and Joshua must work together to unravel what’s happened and find the “missing” patient before the Board of Pharmacy shuts them down. As the snows of December arrive, with Christmas in the air, will Holly succumb to the generous spirit of the season?

To purchase, click HERE. (available in hardcover, Kindle, and audiobook editions)

Cindy Woodsmall is the “New York Times” and CBA best-selling author of eighteen works of fiction. She’s been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s “Nightline” and the “Wall Street Journal”. Cindy has won numerous awards and has been finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in Flowery Branch, GA.

Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. She is very excited about their first coauthored book.

Find out more about Cindy and Erin at http://www.cindywoodsmall.com.

 

My Impressions:

Heartwarming might be an overused word in describing books, but it is spot on in its description of The Christmas Remedy by the writing duo of Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall. I’ve already read a number of Christmas-themed novellas this year, but I have to say this one is my favorite so far. Filled with lovable characters and set in a charming town, The Christmas Remedy shares a message of community and family that is just right for holiday reading. Recommended.

Holly Noelle is an unusual Amish woman. Determined to make a difference in her community, she pushes what is expected for women. But Holly is never rebellious or disrespectful in bringing some modern ways into her Plain community. As a pharmacy tech she is in the unique position to make healthcare a top priority for her friends and family. Joining in her plans is her boss Lyle Greene, pharmacist and owner of the local drugstore. A crisis occurs, though, to derail and perhaps undo all of Holly’s work.

The characters are front and center in The Christmas Remedy. I loved that both Amish and English rang true. The setting of the little town of Raysburg, Pennsylvania and the surrounding countryside is far from the bustle and busyness of the big city, but is perfect for a story that centers on the importance of relationship. Romance is part of several characters’ stories and develops naturally and sweetly. And there’s a bit of a mystery for the characters and the reader to unravel. Characters also discover God’s plans for their lives, even as it leads in surprising directions.

All in all I loved The Christmas Remedy. A quick read, it was perfect for snuggling up with in front of the fireplace.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to the authors for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Audiobook Mini-Review: No One To Trust

2 Nov

Summer Abernathy wakes up one morning to find her husband missing, three men in her home intent on finding him, and the life she’s been living based on a lie. Which Kyle Abernathy did she marry? The computer programmer she met in line at the bank? Or the one who was apparently using that image as a cover story?

The search for her husband — and answers — takes Summer ever deeper into a world of organized crime where people are used one moment and discarded the next. And with her deepest relationship of trust already shattered, Summer doesn’t know who to believe.

Always thrilling, Lynette Eason outdoes herself in this taut, breakneck story of lies, loyalties, and love that will have readers up all night to discover the truth hidden in the shadows.

Award-winning, best-selling author, Lynette Eason writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line and for Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Her books have hit the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won numerous awards such as the prestigious Carol Award, the Selah, the Daphne, the IRCC award and more. Lynette is married, has two children, and lives in Greenville, SC.

My Impressions:

I often use my audiobook listening time to catch up on books I’ve missed in a series. I somehow managed to read books 2 and 3 without first reading book 1 in Lynette Eason’s Hidden Identity series. So the past few weeks I have spent some heart-pounding time with No One to Trust. And though this book accompanied my morning walks, it was the fast-paced suspense, action-packed situations, and the creepy villain that got my heart racing. This novel is definitely a recommended read.

No One to Trust is a bit unusual for the romantic suspense genre. The two main characters are already married, but who knows if they will remain that way. Summer Abernathy wakes up to find a gunman in her bedroom demanding she turn over a hidden laptop. The trouble is her husband Kyle (or is his name David?) has never shared his secrets with Summer. The action starts on page one, and the danger only increases as Summer finds herself with Kyle/David eluding bad guys from both sides of the criminal world. They and the reader are continually surprised by betrayals. Eason takes them and her readers on a twisting course to find justice and perhaps a renewed love for Summer. I loved that I never knew what was going to happen — this book kept me guessing right until the end. Also, the narrator of the audio version did a great job of pacing and making the characters come to life.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE. (Currently FREE for Kindle Unlimited and included in the Audible Romance Package)

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

First Line Friday — A Sparkle of Silver

2 Nov

Happy Friday everyone! This week I am featuring a novel by a new-to-me author, A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson. This book has so much to recommend it: a lot of positive buzz across the interwebs, a setting in my home state, and recommendations from people in the know. Have you read it yet? Let me know why I need to move it up to the top of my TBR pile. And of course, be sure to share your first line too.

Make sure to head over to Hoarding Books for more fabulous first lines.

 

 

Ninety years ago, Millie Sullivan’s great-grandmother was a guest at oil tycoon Howard Dawkins’ palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Now, Millie plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of the same manor. But when her grandmother suggests that there is a lost diary containing the location of a hidden treasure on the estate, along with the true identity of Millie’s great-grandfather, Millie sets out to find the truth of her heritage–and the fortune that might be hers. When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate’s private library, he threatens to have her fired. But her story seems almost too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up . . .

Get ready for a romantic escapade through dark halls and dusty corners that will have you holding your breath and sighing with delight as two charming characters get caught up in the adventure of uncovering the past and finding their way to an unexpected future.

 

By day Liz Johnson is the marketing director for a radio network. She finds time to write late at night and is a two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist. Liz makes her home in Tucson, AZ, where she enjoys theater, exploring local history, and doting on her nieces and nephews. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. Find out more about Liz at http://www.LizJohnsonBooks.com.