Tag Archives: suspense fiction

Reading Roadtrip — Alabama

3 Jan

For a while now I have been contemplating adding a new feature to the old blog — a sort of reading road trip featuring books set in each state. This is the inaugural post, and I hope you find it interesting and find a new book or author to read. Every month I will travel to a new state, including several genres — a little something for everyone! For the kick-off, I am heading to Alabama. Hope you enjoy the ride!

 

Alabama, known as The Heart of Dixie, has over 4 million residents. Its capital is Montgomery, the state flower is the camellia, and the state bird is the northern flicker. It is also the setting of a number of great Christian novels. You can begin with colonial Alabama (part of Louisiana) with The Pelican Bride by Beth White. Visit the state during the Civil Rights movement with Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse. A couple of novels — How Sweet The Sound by Amy K. Sorrells and Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton —  involve family drama. Then finish off with thriller Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa.

The Pelican Bride by Beth White

It is 1704 when Genevieve Gaillain and her sister board a French ship headed for the Louisiana colony as mail-order brides. Both have promised to marry one of the rough-and-tumble Canadian men in this New World in order to escape religious persecution in the Old World. Genevieve knows life won’t be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of beheading. But when she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer whose courageous stand for fair treatment of native peoples has made him decidedly unpopular in the young colony, Genevieve realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. And a secret she harbors could mean the undoing of the colony itself. (This is the first of a 3-book series, all set in Mobile, Alabama.)

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.

How Sweet The Sound by Amy K. Sorrells

Wealth and etiquette can hide a lot of things in the South, as the esteemed Harlan family of sleepy Bay Spring, Alabama, knows. But behind the gentle facade of white pillared porches and acres of cultivated pecan orchards, family secrets smolder.

Young Anniston Harlan cares little for high society and the rigid rules and expectations of her grandmother, Princella. She finds solace working the orchards alongside her father and grandfather, and relief in the cool waters of Mobile Bay.

Anniston’s aunt, Comfort Harlan, has never quite lived up to the family name, or so her mother Princella’s ever-apparent scowl implies. When she gleefully accepts the proposal of her longtime boyfriend, Solly, a flood tide of tragedy ensues that strips Comfort of her innocence and unleashes generations of family secrets, changing the Harlan family forever.

While Comfort struggles to recover, Anniston discovers an unlikely new friend from the seedy part of town who helps her try to make sense of the chaos. Together, they and the whole town of Bay Spring discover how true love is a risk, but one worth taking.

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have long since buried their desire for children of their own. While Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget her dream of motherhood. But when her free-spirited sister, Jenna, drops off her two young daughters for “just two weeks,” Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

As the two weeks stretch deeper into the Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world— and revel in the laughter that now fills their home. Meanwhile, record temperatures promise to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

Attending an art retreat four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She finally has time and energy to focus on her photography, a lifelong ambition. But she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home as a single mom.

When Hurricane Ingrid aims a steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that will change her family’s future, even as Betsy and Ty try to protect their beloved farm and their hearts. Hurricane Season is the story of one family’s unconventional journey to healing — and the relationships that must be mended along the way.

Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa

Fourteen miles east of Peachtree, Alabama, a secret is hidden. That secret’s name is Annabel Lee Truckson, and even she doesn’t know why her mysterious uncle has stowed her deep underground in a military-style bunker. He’s left her with a few German words, a barely-controlled guard dog, and a single command: “Don’t open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me.”

Above ground, a former Army sniper called The Mute and an enigmatic “Dr. Smith” know about the girl. As the race begins to find her, the tension builds. Who wants to set her free? Why does the other want to keep her captive forever? Who will reach her first?

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill need to piece together the clues and stay alive long enough to retrieve the girl – before it’s too late.

 

 

 

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By The Book’s 2019 Selections

1 Jan

Happy New Year! On the first of the month I usually share my book club’s selection. But since today is the first day of a brand new year, I thought it fitting to share all the books we are reading in 2019. There is a mix of genres — romance, suspense, Biblical, historical — something for everyone. We would love for you to join us. Check out our FB page.

 

January — Chosen People by Robert Whitlow
February — Five Brides by Eva Marie Everson 
March — Delayed Justice by Cara Putman
April — The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin
May — Mind Games by Nancy Mehl
June — Almost Home by Valerie Fraser Luesse
July — The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright
August — The Memory House by Rachel Hauck
September — The Cost of Betrayal by Dee Henderson/Lynette Eason/Dani Pettrey
October — Judah’s Wife by Angela Hunt 
November — Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore
December — Christmas book

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Best of 2018

1 Jan

I am bowled over by the number of excellent books I read in 2018! It was very, very, very hard to come up with a list of the best, let alone trying to limit it to just 10! So I cheated (of course) and made two Top 10 Lists — one contemporary and one historical. And before you say but, but . . . I know that three of the books on the historical list are dual timelines, but without the historical component, the book would not have existed. There is also plenty of suspense and romance — really something for everyone on this list. Those with an asterisk were book club books that got unanimous thumbs up! I hope you find one or two (or all) that will pique your interest.

Head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to discover other bloggers’ best of the best lists.

 

Top 10 Contemporary Novels of 2018

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

Chosen People by Robert Whitlow

Falling for You by Becky Wade

Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells

*The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Miles from Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti

Mind Games by Nancy Mehl

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay

Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

 

Top 10 Historical Novels of 2018

Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson

*The House of Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Lady of A Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd

*Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green

A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano 

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

Shelter of The Most High by Connilyn Cossette

When The Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma

 

What book was your favorite in 2018?

Top 10 Tuesday — Winter TBR

18 Dec

The weather outside has been frightful so far this winter — rainy and cold — so it’s a good thing I have a lot of good books on my Winter TBR List! What about you? What are you planning on reading during the long, dark days of winter? Check out That Artsy Reader Girl for lots of great suggestions.

 

Top 10 Books on My Winter TBR List!

 

Breach of Trust by Rachel Dylan

Brunch at The Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano

Code of Valor by Lynette Eason

 

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Emergency Case by Richard Mabry, M.D.

How The Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim

The Liberty Bride by Marylu Tyndall

 

Searching for You by Jody Hedlund

Secrets at Cedar Cabin by Colleen Coble

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartles

 

What are you reading this winter?

Book Review (+Giveaway!): Mind Games

13 Dec

About the Book

Book: Mind Games

Author: Nancy Mehl

Genre: Suspense

Release Date: December, 2018

Publisher: Bethany House

FBI Behavioral Analyst Kaely Quinn’s methods may be highly unorthodox, but her talent is undeniable. She’s done her best to establish a new life for herself after being demoted and transferred to St. Louis when a reporter revealed she’s the daughter of an infamous serial killer. But when that same reporter claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely’s, it seems her old life has followed her.

When a body is found that fits the poem’s morbid predictions, Kaely and her new partner, Special Agent Noah Hunter, are forced to move past his skepticism of her approach and work together to unravel the deadly riddle.

With a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely are tested to their limits to catch the murderer before anyone else, including Kaely, is killed.

Click Here to purchase.

 

My Impressions:

Wow! That is my first impression of Mind Games by Nancy Mehl. From the opening paragraph I was hooked on this psychological thriller. It is definitely going on my best of 2018 list. Great characters, taut plotting, and a premise that is as clever as you will find make this one highly recommended!

What is so great about Mind Games? First, the premise of the daughter of a serial killer who becomes a profiler and then has to find a killer targeting her through copy-cat crimes — that is definitely a mind-bending mind game! The plot twists and turns and keeps everyone, including the reader on his/her toes. I had my own list of suspects that constantly changed. Like main character Kaely, I didn’t trust anyone. Mehl did a great job of making everyone look guilty. LOL! Second, main character Kaely is intriguing and complex. Admired, feared, and even ridiculed within the FBI, she is a force to be reckoned with even as she uses unorthodox methods to get into the heads of UNSUBS. I loved her analytical mind and her desire for justice and truth. And while she had a father who betrayed her and friends who abused her trust, she stands firm in her belief in the goodness of God, even as evil seems to win at every turn. Supporting characters are well-written too, making this novel have a depth not always found in plot-driven suspense. I found the references to the many FBI cases a clear clue into the exhaustive research Mehl had to have done to write this book. While there is a definite creep-factor going on in Mind Games, it was never graphic or gory. And the best part of all? This is just book 1 in a series. Yay! I am so looking forward to working more cases with Kaely Quinn!

Mind Games is on my book club’s 2019 reading list. I can’t wait to get the discussion going. My group is going to love it!

Highly recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 


 

About the Author

Nancy Mehl (www.nancymehl.com) is the author of more than thirty books, including the Road to Kingdom, Finding Sanctuary, and Defenders of Justice series. She received the ACFW Mystery Book of the Year Award in 2009. She has a background in social work and is a member of ACFW and RWA. She writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their Puggle, Watson. She is part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.

 

Guest Post from Nancy

Writing Mind Games is a dream come true. I’ve been interested in FBI profiling for years. I’ve read about it, studied it, and watched every TV special I could find on the subject. So when the chance finally came to write the book I’ve always wanted to write, I jumped at it. Thankfully, through the help of another writer, I was hooked up with a retired FBI profiler. I was so excited. Until I found out I had almost everything wrong. Yes, I had some understanding about profiling, but I knew nothing about the FBI and how it works.

First of all, the FBI doesn’t call the men and women who profile criminals, profilers. They’re called Behavioral Analysts. The plot for Mind Games had my analyst running around the country solving crimes while she was stationed in St. Louis. Uh, no. Behavioral analysts do travel, but they all work out of Quantico in Virginia. So…I rewrote.

There were ways around my conundrum, but one solution led to more and more problems. We finally worked through them. Then I spent the next few months learning acronyms. CIRG, CJIS, NCAVC, HRT, UNSUB, CNU, THU, ViCap, CODIS, SWAT, ERTU, OPU, THRU, ERT… Well, the list goes on and on. The FBI is made up of many specialized units. And a plethora of acronyms, it seems.

I rewrote Mind Games three times before my source said we were good to go.

If you assume I’m out of the woods now, you’d be wrong. I haven’t had the nerve to open up the manuscript I sent her for book two in my Kaely Quinn Profiler series. I figured I had Fire Storm right but… Well, I can tell from her email comments I’ll be doing more rewriting. Sigh.

So is it worth it? A resounding yes! I love learning, and as long as my analyst friend hangs in with me (she has the patience of Job), I’ll keep at it.

I hope you enjoy Mind Games. It’s edgy but fun. Kaely Quinn is a quirky character. She was thrown out of Quantico because her version of profiling is… Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 11

The Lit Addict, December 11

amandainpa, December 11

A Reader’s Brain, December 12

Daysong Reflections, December 12

Livin’ Lit, December 12

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 13

By The Book, December 13

Lighthouse Academy, December 13

Multifarious, December 14

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, December 14

Splashes of Joy, December 14

Back Porch Reads, December 15

Real World Bible Study, December 15

Robin is Bookish, December 15

Janices book reviews, December 15

C Jane Read, December 16

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 16

The Becca Files, December 16

Bigreadersite, December 16

Quiet Quilter, December 17

Margaret Kazmierczak, December 17

Godly Book Reviews, December 17

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 18

Just the Write Escape, December 18

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 18

Simple Harvest Reads, December 19 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Mary Hake, December 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 19

For the Love of Literature, December 20

Remembrancy, December 20

Inklings and notions, December 20

Carpe Diem, December 20

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 21

Pause for Tales, December 21

A Baker’s Perspective, December 21

Have A Wonderful Day, December 22

Book by Book, December 22

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 22

Bibliophile Reviews, December 23

To Everything a Season, December 23

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 23

Cafinated Reads, December 24

Texas Book-aholic, December 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 24

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Nancy is giving away a grand prize of a copy of Mind Games and the three books in Nancy’s Defenders of Justice series, plus a $20 Starbucks gift card!

Two additional winners will also receive a copy of Mind Games!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/d73b/mind-games-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Review: Dead Sea Rising

10 Dec

Nicole Berman is determined to find there the first concrete evidence of the biblical patriarch Abraham while leading her first archeological dig in Jordan. During the excavation, Berman discovers a 4,000-year-old complex that includes evidence she believes proves her theory. But a devastating cave-in nearly kills her and she awakens in a Saudi clinic, haunted by visions of what she may have seen ― evidence of Abraham and his two sons, the half-brothers Isaac and Ishmael. One discovery leads to another and Nicole sets off across the region to connect pieces of an ancient puzzle. She is secretly opposed by a striking Palestinian, Abed Hassan, whom she falls in love with, unaware of his ties to a clandestine organization, as the head of the World Islamic Network (WIN). Nicole is on the brink of revealing new truths that could revolutionize the relationship between Jews and Arab Muslims. Meanwhile, a new volunteer on her dig team, Max Nguyen from Vietnam, discloses alarming revelations that affect everything Nicole thought she knew about herself and her family. While she doggedly pursues pieces to the Abrahamic puzzle ― which she believes holds explosive implications for the 21st century ― her own history may be coming apart at the seams.

Author of more than 195 books with sales of over 70 million copies, including the best-selling Left Behind series, Jerry B. Jenkins is former vice president for publishing and former chairman of the board of trustees for the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

Jerry’s writing has appeared in Time, Reader’s Digest, Parade, Guideposts, and dozens of Christian periodicals. Twenty-one of his books have reached The New York Times best-seller list (seven debuting number one).

Jerry owns the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild, through which he trains writers online.

 

My Impressions:

I have always enjoyed novels by Jerry Jenkins. His best-selling Left Behind series was riveting, and more recently, The Valley of Dry Bones earned a recommended read from me. However, I found his latest book, Dead Sea Rising, to be a mixed bag. There are three storylines in this first book in the Dead Sea Chronicles series — present day suspense involving archaeologist Nicole Berman and family, a Vietnam-era thread focusing on Nicole’s father Ben, and an ancient tale detailing the history of Abraham’s father Terah. Just what all these have in common I never figured out. The book leaves the reader with some big cliffhangers. And therein lies the rub — I never felt like I was getting anywhere in any of the stories. Short chapters alternate between the three, and they are easy to follow, but I was frustrated by the lack of forward motion. Modern-day characters were appealing, and I was genuinely interested in their difficulties. The Biblical account? Not so much. Biblical may be stretching it a bit too. Terah’s story involves a good bit of what-ifs and some pronouncements from God that sound like something He would say, but are not actually found in the Biblical record. Terah is a thoroughly despicable character and cartoonish in my opinion. This portion of the book did make me want to dig into what the Bible has to say — a definite positive.

I hate to be so negative, but I really had a hard time with this novel and am not sure I am invested enough in any of the stories to read the next book, Dead Sea Conundrum. To be fair, there are many positive reviews on Amazon. Be sure to check them out.

Audience: adults.

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

Book Review: My Hands Came Away Red

28 Nov

Right up until the day they burned the church, I thought I understood things. You know… God, people, myself. Life. Then, suddenly, I understood nothing except that we had to run. And that we might never make it home.

When eighteen-year-old Cori signed up for a mission trip to Indonesia she was mostly thinking about escaping her complicated love life, making new friends, and having fun on the beach.

She never expected a civil war to flare up on the nearby island of Ambon.

She never expected violence to find them.

And she never expected that seven teenagers would be forced to flee into the hazardous refuge of the mountains on their own.

Now, haunted by blood and fire, Cori and her teammates must rely on each other to survive.

Lisa McKay is an author and psychologist specializing in stress, trauma, and resilience. She is currently living in Laos. You can connect with Lisa at LisaMcKayWriting, FB, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

My Impressions:

Lisa McKay’s debut novel (re-released in 2018) My Hands Came Away Red, takes the reader from the highs of a mission trip to a beautiful and exotic locale to horror, fear, and anger at God. This powerful YA suspense novel is achingly beautiful in its depiction of 6 young westerners forced to rely on each other to survive a nightmare in Indonesia. The author describes her book as a work of passion, and that comes through loud and clear in the first person narrative that takes the reader on an emotional journey along with the characters. And even though I am far away from my YA years, I loved this book. It is a very highly recommended read.

Cori is confused about her life — relationships, college choices — when she embarks on a grueling mission trip to build a church in a remote part of the world. Boot camp bonds the team and prepares them for their challenging task — or so they thought. Following the victory of finishing the small village church comes the devastation of death and destruction the team could never imagine. Cori’s narrative describes the highs and lows the team faces, along with the changes in their own understanding of life and God. The characters are all well-developed and become so very real to the reader. Of course Cori is the main focus, but McKay does a great job of bringing all the characters to life. There is plenty of drama, suspense, danger, and life-and-death moments to keep the pages turning. But it is the faith journey that the characters are forced to take that spoke to my heart. As the team’s situation deteriorates through illness, fatigue, dehydration, etc., their faith in God suffers as well. It is hard to maintain thankfulness and forgiveness when faced with extreme privation. And even the return to the safety of home does not bring the healing they expect.

There is a lot to discuss in My Hands Came Away Red, making this novel a great choice for a youth group or book club. It is a great springboard for conversations about the plight of believers around the world, the real meaning of a missional life, and the faithfulness of God even when we can’t or won’t see it. And don’t let the YA label fool you, adults are going to love this one too.

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase, click HERE. (It is currently FREE for Kindle Unlimited!)

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