Book Discussions in Christian Fiction, November 2014

Book Discussions in Christian FictionI’m a big fan of a good book discussion, so I like to follow along with a number of online Christian fiction book groups and join in on the discussion when I can. Here are the books scheduled for discussion this month. See any books you’ve already read or been wanting to read? Consider joining in on the discussion!

ACFW Book Club

Inklings Discussion Series on Books and Beverages

Christian Fiction Devourers (GoodReads Group)

Fans of Christian Romance (GoodReads Group)

  • A Grand Teton Sleigh Ride: Four Generations of Wyoming Ranchers Celebrate Love at Christmas by Elizabeth Goddard & Lynette Sowell

Autumn’s Audiobook Options

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So, yeah, I’m a big fan of Christian fiction and of audiobooks.  Combine that with my librarian-ish tendencies to try to pair books and people, and you get a post kind of like this one….

For readers of Christian fiction who love audiobooks, or simply want to give them a try, here’s an overview of Christian fiction titles coming to audiobook this fall.  I’ve organized the discussion by subgenre, to hopefully help you find some titles to suit your taste.  And if you do find something you like in this post, please take a moment at the end to leave a comment and let me know.  Oh, and I’ve got a question for you at the end, on your feelings regarding audiobooks.  I hope you’ll stick around and share your thoughts!

Amish / Mennonite

For fans of Amish and Mennonite fiction, there are quite a few options this season, including releases by a number of popular authors, and a few titles featuring Christmas themes in preparation for the holidays.  Beverly Lewis’s The River and Cindy Woodsmall’s A Love Undone are sure to be popular choices.  If you’ve been following Leslie Gould’s The Courtships of Lancaster County series, you’ll be happy to know that the fourth book, Becoming Bea is available this fall.  Looking to start a new series?  Check out Kim Vogel Sawyer’s When Mercy Rains, Book 1 in The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy.  And when you’re ready to get into the Christmas spirit, look for Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher or An Amish Second Christmas, a collection featuring four romances by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Ruth Reid, and Tricia Goyer.

Biblical

Those readers/listeners wanting to immerse themselves in stories set during Biblical time periods have some great options to choose from.  Keepers of the Covenant continues the Restoration Chronicles series Lynn Austin began with Return to Me, exploring the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Oasis Audio is releasing audio editions of popular and award-winning Biblical fiction titles from Tessa Afshar including Harvest of Rubies and Harvest of Gold, both set during the time of the prophet Nehemiah.  And if you’re looking for a story set during New Testament times, look no further than A.D. 30, the start of a new series from bestselling author Ted Dekker.

Christmas

What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than with some seasonally inspired holiday audiobooks!  I already mentioned a couple of Amish Christmas themed titles with the other Amish titles, but for fans of romantic suspense and/or short story collections there’s more Christmas loveliness to be had right here.  Fans of romantic suspense will want to start their holiday season with Colleen Coble’s new releases, All is Calm: a Lonestar Christmas novella and Silent Night, Holy Night, a collection featuring characters from two of the author’s series.  Can’t get enough Christmas themed stories?  Check out Robert J Morgan’s, 12 Stories of Christmas.

Contemporary Romance

Readers (listeners?) of contemporary romance will find a lot of options from Zondervan and Brilliance Audio this season, thanks in large part to the Year of Weddings Novella series.  Titles releasing this fall include A September Bride by Kathryn Springer, An October Bride by Katie Ganshert, A November Bride by Beth Vogt, Love at Mistletoe Inn: A December Wedding Story by Cindy Kirk, and Winter Brides, a collection featuring novellas by Deborah Raney, Betsy St. Amant, and Denise Hunter.

Contemporary Fiction

Want more contemporary novels?  The Promise by Beth Wiseman is a real discussion starter, taking place partly in Pakistan.  And fans of Jan Karon’s Mitford series, will find the tenth installment available this fall, entitled Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good.

Fantasy

I could only find one speculative fiction title releasing in audiobook this fall, but it sounds like an interesting one.  Fans of Stephen R Lawhead’s Bright Empires fantasy series can get the audio edition of book five, The Fatal Tree, beginning in November.

Historical Romance

If you like Western-themed historical romances with humor, there’s not one but TWO new series starting out with audio editions to look into.  Mary Connealy’s Tried and True starts out her Wild at Heart series, and Trails & Targets serves as book one in Kelly Eileen Hake’s new Dangerous Darlyns series.  For fans of Regency romance and those following Sarah E Ladd’s Whispers on the Moors series, Book 3, A Lady at Willowgrove Hall is among those releasing this fall.  Rounding out the historical romance category, To Everything a Season starts off a new series by Lauraine Snelling, set in Red River Valley.

Suspense & Romantic Suspense

For romantic suspense, check out Irene Hannon’s Deceived, the third book in her Private Justice series, or one of the titles by Colleen Coble listed under the Christmas category, above.  For more suspenseful reads (listens?) consider Motherless by Erin Healy, In the Heart of the Dark Wood by Billy Coffey, or, for a story set on a Greek island with a secret, try The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn.

So tell me, do you consider yourself an audiobook listener?  Or more a fan of ebooks or print books?  Does it depend on the book, availability, the narrator, price, your schedule, or other factors?

Not sure how you feel about audiobooks or wondering how I feel about them?  Or just not sure where you can find a copy of one that interests you?  Check out my earlier post, “The Joy of Audiobooks.”

Book Review: Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay

Title: Lizzy & Jane
Author: Katherine Reay
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: 2014

Book Description (from publisher Thomas Nelson):

Sometimes the courage to face your greatest fears comes only when you’ve run out of ways to escape.

At the end of a long night, Elizabeth leans against the industrial oven and takes in her kingdom. Once vibrant and flawless, evenings in the kitchen now feel chaotic and exhausting. She’s lost her culinary magic, and business is slowing down.

When worried investors enlist the talents of a tech-savvy celebrity chef to salvage the restaurant, Elizabeth feels the ground shift beneath her feet. Not only has she lost her touch; she’s losing her dream.

And her means of escape.

When her mother died, Elizabeth fled home and the overwhelming sense of pain and loss. But fifteen years later, with no other escapes available, she now returns. Brimming with desperation and dread, Elizabeth finds herself in the unlikeliest of places, by her sister’s side in Seattle as Jane undergoes chemotherapy.

As her new life takes the form of care, cookery, and classic literature, Elizabeth is forced to reimagine her future and reevaluate her past. But can a New York City chef with a painful history settle down with the family she once abandoned . . . and make peace with the sister who once abandoned her?

My Thoughts:

I’m happy to report that Lizzy & Jane lives up to the exceedingly high bar set by Katherine Reay’s fantastic debut novel, Dear Mr. Knightley.  I must say, I wondered where this author could go after such a unique and wonderfully touching first novel.  After reading her second gem, I’d say she’s solidified her spot among my favorite authors.  More lovely books please?

I really enjoyed the beautiful quotable prose, complete with literary qualities including clever use of metaphors and symbolism.  These elements don’t feel forced or clichéd, but rather fresh and entirely appropriate to the characters and context of the story.  Here’s an example I highlighted while reading:

“I paused in the living room.  The sun’s rays shot over Lake Washington and ignited the room’s beige walls, warming them from ginger to gold.  New York had been cloudy this spring and I’d been cloudy with it, but in this moment all my cloudy spaces felt ablaze with light.” (from Chapter 10)  Beautiful!

Then there’s the heroine’s use of spice combinations to represent people and their characteristics.  I loved the cooking theme throughout, and the way even descriptions of colors and settings came through the lenses of the characters.  For example:

“The Infusion Center was painted a deeper shade of cream – vanilla extract added to milk, with huge plate-glass windows looking out onto the city.” (from Chapter 8)

Just as with Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy and Jane incorporates literary references to the novels of Jane Austen and other works of classic literature that carry emotional significance for the main characters.  I must admit I’d never really paid attention to the food references in Jane Austen’s books before, but after reading Lizzy and Jane, I’m sure they’ll be jumping out at me next time I read something of Austen’s and I’ll be reminded of Reay’s Lizzy.

What I loved most about the book was how the characters and their emotions rang so true to real life.  In opening themselves up to others they made themselves vulnerable to greater pain, but finally reaped the benefits of true emotional intimacy.  The gradual changes in the individuals’ behaviors and their relationships also felt more realistic and believable than a single moment of epiphany might have felt.

This book prompted laughter, tears, and yes, I found myself shuddering at the description of a particular injury sustained by one of the characters.  Cancer is a difficult subject, but this author’s treatment of the subject shows a real empathy for what the people going through it as patients and caregivers must face.

As an author, this is a book I want to re-read and learn from.  As a reader, I found this an enjoyable and thought provoking read that I would highly recommend.

Thank you to the publisher Thomas Nelson for providing an advance reader’s copy through Netgalley for review purposes.

This title can be pre-ordered now, and is scheduled to be available beginning October 28th.

Book Review: Deceived by Irene Hannon

Title: Deceived
Author: Irene Hannon
Series: Book 3 of the Private Justice Series
Publisher: Revell
Genre(s): Christian fiction, Inspirational Romantic Suspense, Mystery
Published: 2014

About the book (from publisher Revell):

A grieving mother. A mysterious child. And a dedicated PI who’s determined to solve the puzzle.

For three years, Kate Marshall has been mourning the loss of her husband and four-year-old son in a boating accident. But when she spots a familiar-looking child on a mall escalator, she’s convinced it’s her son. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan for help. As the former Secret Service agent digs into the case, the boating “accident” begins to look increasingly suspicious. But if Kate’s son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden–and may go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret.

As Irene Hannon’s many fans have come to expect, Deceived is filled with complex characters, unexpected twists, and a riveting plotline that accelerates to an explosive finish.

My Thoughts:

Deceived is another fascinating tale by Irene Hannon featuring a good blend of romance and suspense.  If you’ve read either of the other books in the Private Justice series then you already have a good idea what to expect – charming private investigator heroes, strong yet vulnerable heroines, and three dimensional villains – and you’re no doubt eager for more.  If so, then Deceived is just the book for you.

If you haven’t read Vanished or Trapped yet, check out my reviews of those books too.  You don’t necessarily need to read them first, as each book in the series can stand alone (though the later books do refer in passing to events in the earlier books), but if you enjoy one, why not enjoy them all?

I found the plot of this book to be interesting and I enjoyed watching the characters unravelling the mystery element a little at a time, but the part I liked the most about this book was the way the characters were fully fleshed out.

My heart went out to the heroine for everything she went through.  It’s hard to even imagine losing both husband and son in one fell swoop, but the opening scene of the book where Kate finds out about the accident is well done, and you really get a feeling for what she’s going through.

The element that really made this book stand out for me was the villain, because he wasn’t your classic evil guy in a black hat who exists solely to create problems for the hero and heroine.  His motivations were complex and well thought out, and he had a genuine love for the child in the story, despite the terrible things he was capable of.

In fact, one of my favorite lines in the story was a line of dialogue in which one of the characters says, “Even normal, well-adjusted, caring people can crack if they’re forced to endure enough stress or loss or grief.  We all have our limits.” (From Chapter 21)

Interesting point.  And disturbing too.  It’s almost more frightening to read about “normal” people doing terrible things for reasons they consider good or justifiable, than to read about someone who does evil for the sake of evil.  Maybe because the “normal” bad guy seems so much more… real… or potentially real?

This is a book that will bring you to the edge of your seat.  If you enjoy a suspenseful mystery with interesting characters and a clean romance, I would recommend Deceived.

Thank you to the publisher, Revell for providing me with an advanced reader’s copy via NetGalley so I could participate in the Revell Reads blog tour.  My review represents my honest opinion of the book.

Book Discussions in Christian Fiction, October 2014

Book Discussions in Christian FictionOctober has been dubbed National Reading Group Month.  If you love reading, but don’t regularly participate in a book discussion club, what better time to start!

Check out your local libraries, bookstores, and churches to connect with an in-person book discussion group, or consider forming one of your own with a few friends.

And if you’re looking for an online discussion, I’m featuring links below to some discussions happening this month that may interest you.

While you’re here, consider following my blog for recommended books, discussion questions, monthly links to online discussions, book group tips, and more for fans of Christian fiction.

ACFW Book Club

  • The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron.  October 20-25 via email list.  I already have my copy in hand and I’m looking forward to reading it!

Inklings Discussion Series on Books and Beverages

  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  Discussion begins October 15th.

Christian Fiction Devourers (GoodReads Group)

Fans of Christian Romance (GoodReads Group)

Christian Fiction Book Club on Facebook

  • To be announced.

Audiobook Review: Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

Title: Princess Ever After
Author: Rachel Hauck
Series: Royal Wedding, Book 2
Print Publisher: Zondervan
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Eleni Pappageorge
Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance
Published: 2014

If you saw my blog post last week, then you already know how much I loved listening to the audio edition of Rachel Hauck’s Once Upon a Prince.  If not, feel free to go check it out now, and then consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss out on future fun.  ;)

Okay, back to hear what I thought of the second book in the Royal Wedding series?  Sweet!  Let’s get started.

Book Description (From the Oasis Audio Web site):

Regina Beswick didn’t know she was born to be a princess.

She’s content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware that a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother’s hand-painted book of fairy tales.

Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic minister of culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation’s future — and his own.

Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever.

Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide whether she’s destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together — with a little divine intervention — Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love.

My Thoughts on the Story:

Princess Ever After is a delightfully lighthearted read, with some meaningful themes woven in amongst the fun.  Having just finished reading Once Upon a Prince, I spotted a number of parallels between the two stories, but this one still felt fresh, with enough twists and variations on the ordinary girl to princess theme to keep me happily engaged in Regina’s story.  In fact, I’d say the combination of familiar elements with new variations makes this the perfect second book for this series, and I suspect fans will love this one too.

Tanner and Regina make for interesting and relatable main characters, with their flaws, fears, quirks, and dilemmas.  The story also features some great secondary characters, and I particularly enjoyed the passages from Princess Alice’s diary, which gave glimpses into Hessenberg’s past and that of Regina’s family.

I thought the romance went – to borrow a phrase from the book – from “zero to sixty” a bit quickly and I think I might’ve liked to see a little more page time devoted to showing the development of Reggie and Tanner’s feelings toward each other.  That said, this is meant to be a modern day fairy tale, and I do think it fits that bill perfectly despite, or maybe because of the whirlwind romance.  The ending in particular is spectacular in exactly the ways a fairy tale should be, and I was willingly whisked along, enjoying every minute of the ride from beginning to end.

My favorite themes from the book are the ideas of restoration (applied in several contexts) and of overcoming fear of the unknown to take a leap of faith when necessary.  Oh, and the scene in the grand ballroom is pretty spectacular.  You’ll know what I mean when you get to it.  :)

If you enjoy a good lighthearted read every now and again, this book will definitely be worth the read.  Especially if you’re a fan of modern day fairy tales.

My Thoughts on the Narration:

As she did with Once Upon a Prince, Eleni Pappageorge has done a superb job narrating this book.  Her renditions of Tanner’s British-ish accent and Regina’s southern drawl were a delightful complement to an already excellent story.  I particularly liked the narrator’s attention to detail, right down to giving a melody to songs characters sang, and making her voice sound like a character speaking through an intercom when the text called for it.  Book 3 in the series, How to Catch a Prince, is scheduled to release in February 2015, and I will definitely be on the lookout for the audio edition!

Thank you to Oasis Audio for providing an electronic copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Audiobook Review: Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck

Title: Once Upon a Prince
Author: Rachel Hauck
Series: Royal Wedding, Book 1
Print Publisher: Zondervan
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Eleni Pappageorge
Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance
Published: 2013

Once Upon a Prince is the first book I’ve read – or listened to – by Rachel Hauck and I want to read more. Starting of course, with Princess Ever After (next in her Royal Wedding series).

Book Description (from Oasis Audio’s Web site):

A royal prince. An ordinary girl. An extraordinary royal wedding.

Once Upon a Prince, the first novel in the Royal Wedding series by best-selling author Rachel Hauck, treats you to a modern-day fairy tale.

Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess — just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school sweetheart breaks up with her instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.

The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simons Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family’s tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna’s aid under the fabled Lover’s Oak, he is blindsided by love.

Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s an ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation.

It’s the ultimate choice: his kingdom or her heart? God’s will or their own?

My Thoughts on the Story:

This sweet contemporary romance is all fairy tale, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  The premise itself requires some suspension of disbelief, but the payoff is a fun and lively story complete with a dream-come-true happily ever after ending.

What girl wouldn’t love the idea of being swept off her feet by a prince who’s ready and willing to come to her rescue, who’s not above getting his hands dirty with honest work, and who sees something special in her that even she can’t explain?

From the beaches of St. Simon’s Island, Georgia to the grand ballrooms of Brighton Kingdom, the settings are lovely and really emphasize just how different Nathaniel and Susanna’s backgrounds are.  And to watch each exploring and getting to know the other’s world?  Priceless.

Besides the sweet romance, there’s also a faith thread woven throughout.  Both hero and heroine must rely upon their faith, and recognize the importance of seeking God’s call for their lives and being ready and willing to go and do what He calls them to, even when things don’t seem to be headed in a direction they’d prefer.

Of course, in the end… well, you can probably guess.  But the journey along the way is an entertaining one full of misunderstandings, paparazzi, tricky political entanglements, barbecue ribs, and of course, true love.  Well worth the journey.

My Thoughts on the Narration:

Yes.  Just yes.

If you’re even thinking about going with the audiobook edition of this book, then go for it.  I absolutely loved the contrasting accents the narrator, Eleni Pappageorge used for Susanna and Nathaniel.  From distinctly Southern to classy British, the accents fit the dialog and the characters perfectly and brought them to life for me.  With clear enunciation and excellent pacing, the narrator made listening easy.  Both male and female voices were well done, and the narration blended into the background, highlighting and adding an extra dimension to an already beautiful tale.

Enjoyed this review?  Come back next week for my review of the audio edition of Princess Ever After – next in Rachel Hauck’s Royal Wedding series.  Or consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss a thing!  Meanwhile, what do you think?  Is this a series you’d like to start reading?  Or maybe you already have?  Either way, please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments.  Or just say hello.  I love hearing from other readers… and listeners!

September 2014: New Releases in Christian Fiction and Upcoming Book Discussions

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September means back to school, right?  In my case, my firstborn just started Kindergarten (Where did the time go?).  Oh, and there are tons of great books being released this month too.  I think I have my reading cut out for me!

Want to participate in an online book discussion?  Keep scrolling past the latest releases to see what Christian fiction titles are being discussed this month.  Know of an online book group that discusses Christian fiction that’s not on this list?  Please let me know!

So, what do you think?  Do you see some titles here that you really want to read?  I’d love it if you’d take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments section at the end of this post.

New Releases in Christian Fiction

Amish / Mennonite / Quaker

Apocalyptic

Contemporary Romance

Historical

Historical Romance

Holiday Fiction

Men’s Fiction

Mystery

Romantic Suspense

Women’s Fiction

Young Adult

Category Romance: Heartsong Presents

  • Campaigning for Love by KD Fleming
  • Ozark Wedding by Helen Gray
  • Arizona Cowboy by Jennifer Johnson
  • The Marshal’s Pursuit by Gina Welborn

Category Romance: Love Inspired

  • Her Montana Twins by Carolyne Aarsen
  • Small-Town Billionaire by Renee Andrews
  • Her Hometown Hero by Margaret Daley
  • The Deputy’s New Family by Jenna Mindel
  • Rescuing the Texan’s Heart by Mindy Obenhaus
  • Stranded with the Rancher by Tina Radcliffe

Category Romance: Love Inspired Historical

  • The Gift of a Child by Laura Abbot
  • A Home for Her Heart by Janet Lee Barton
  • Cowboy to the Rescue by Louise M. Gouge
  • His Most Suitable Bride by Renee Ryan

Category Romance: Love Inspired Suspense

  • Desperate Measures by Christy Barritt
  • Wilderness Target by Sharon Dunn
  • Sunken Treasure by Katy Lee
  • Rancher Under Fire byVickie McDonough
  • Star Witness by Lisa Phillips
  • Danger at the Border by Terri Reed

Upcoming Christian Fiction Discussions

ACFW Book Club

Inklings Discussion Series on Books and Beverages

Christian Fiction Devourers (GoodReads Group)

  • Hidden (Sisters of the Heart, Book 1) by Shelley Shephard Gray
  • Just Jane (Ladies of History, Book 2) by Nancy Moser.

Fans of Christian Romance (GoodReads Group)

Christian Fiction Book Club on Facebook

Book Review: Angels Walking by Karen Kingsbury

Title: Angels Walking
Author: Karen Kingsbury
Publisher: Howard Books (Simon & Schuster)
Series: Angels Walking, Book 1
Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Karen Kingsbury has a real talent for crafting characters, situations, and scenes that tug at a reader’s heartstrings.  Her most recent book, Angels Walking, is first in a new series and does exactly that.

About the Book (from publisher, Howard Books):

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes the first in a brand-new series about second chances—a dramatic story about a washed up baseball player, the love he left behind, and the miracles that might save them both.

When former national baseball star Tyler Ames suffers a career-ending injury, all he can think about is putting his life back together the way it was before. He has lost everyone he loves on his way to the big leagues. Then just when things seem to be turning around, Tyler hits rock bottom. Across the country, Tyler’s one true love Sami Dawson has moved on. 

A series of small miracles leads Tyler to a maintenance job at a retirement home and a friendship with Virginia Hutcheson, an old woman with Alzheimer’s who strangely might have the answers he so desperately seeks.

A team of Angels Walking take on the mission to restore hope for Tyler, Sami, and Virginia. Can such small and seemingly insignificant actions of the unseen bring healing and redemption? And can the words of a stranger rekindle lost love? Every journey begins with a step.

It is time for the mission to begin…

My thoughts:

Tyler and Sami are each striving for perfection in some area of their lives. The weight of unmet expectations and sacrifices made in other areas of their lives has separated them and changed them each in detrimental ways since they first met and fell in love. This book explores restoring broken relationships, regaining faith, and discovering that God really can bring good things out of what may look like impossible situations.

I loved the way the romance played out. The gradual reconnection and uncertain hope made sense given the circumstances. And there were a few heartrendingly wonderful scenes that made me long for things to work out for Tyler and Sami. They really did seem perfectly suited for each other.

Another element I enjoyed was the complex intertwining of the various characters’ lives. It was neat to watch how seemingly insignificant interactions could add up to have a big impact in the long run.

I was a little less enthusiastic about the scenes from the angels’ perspectives. The angels felt a bit more human than I expected, with their doubts and uncertainties about the future. Plus, I felt like the premise of their mission had (maybe unintended?) theological implications that I didn’t necessarily agree with. The idea that there’s one specific child not yet born who will be a great teacher and that “The salvation of countless souls depends on this child” (from the Prologue) seemed a little off to me. I’m not an expert or a theologian by any means, but it’s my understanding that God can and does use anyone willing, to achieve His purposes, and empowers them to do what’s necessary. The idea that God’s plans can’t go forward if one particular person isn’t born? Not sure I’m buying it.  Then again, I may be reading more into this than was intended.

All nitpicking aside, I did thoroughly enjoy the story, and the idea that there’s more at stake than just the hearts and souls of Tyler and Sami themselves is an appealing one, so I’m not going to complain too loudly on this point.

I’m definitely curious to find out how this angelic team’s future missions will go and to learn more details about what they’re trying to achieve and why. The epilogue in particular piqued my curiosity about what comes next in the series. Sounds like the next book could turn out to be a really exciting one.

My favorite parts of this installment were the touching and emotionally stirring scenes included.  There were a few points where I found myself crying.  The storytelling made me really empathize with the characters, feeling their fears, regrets, and disappointments right along with them, which made me want to root for them all the more.

A big thank you to Howard Books for supplying an advance reader copy of Angels Walking through Netgalley for purposes of this review. I would gladly recommend this book to fans of Karen Kingsbury’s other books and to anyone who enjoys a good story centered around the themes of grace and reconciliation.

If you have a minute, and you’re not already rushing to go out and purchase the book (or even if you are), check out the book trailer for this one.  It’s very well made with a great sound track and images, and seems true to the book.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Really Want to Read But Don’t Own Yet

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s topic is: “Top Ten Books I Really Want to Read But Don’t Own Yet.”  You’ll notice my list is Christian fiction themed, since that’s what I write and what I review here on my blog.  Though I did throw in a few non-fiction books about writing fiction for good measure.

Not Yet Released

  • Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay is coming in October.  I read and reviewed this author’s debut novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, and loved it so much I really want to see what’s next from this author.  The blurb sounds promising too.  Can’t wait!
  • Deceived by Irene Hannon.  I really enjoy this author’s Inspirational Romance and Romantic Suspense novels, and this is third in a series in which I’ve already read the first two (see my reviews of Vanished and Trapped).  Looking forward to its release in early October.
  • Rise of the Fallen by Chuck Black.  I just finished reading Cloak of the Light (first in the Wars of the Realm series), and can’t wait for the next installment (February 2015) in this young adult speculative fiction series exploring spiritual warfare.  The first book was very different from most of what I’ve read recently, but absolutely fascinating.  Watch for my review, coming soon to the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog.

Award Winners

  • Burning Sky by Lori Benton.  This debut novel won, not one, but three Christy Awards in 2014 - First Novel, Historical, and Book of the Year.  I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’m incredibly curious to find out for myself what all the fuss is about.
  • Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden.  Similarly, this one won three prestigious awards – the 2013 RITA for Best Inspirational Romance, the 2013 Christy Award for Historical Romance, and the 2013 Daphne de Maurier Award for Inspirational Romantic Mystery / Suspense.  For this one too, curiosity about all those awards puts it on my must read list.
  • Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter.  This book won the 2014 INSPY Award in the Contemporary Romance category and I’ve heard so many good things about both the author and the book, I really want to read it for myself. Not to mention the second in the series (Dancing With Fireflies) is already out, and there’s a third (The Wishing Season) coming in December.  I’ve got some catching up to do!
  • Outlaw by Ted Dekker won the 2014 Christy Award for Suspense.  Plus, I’ve already read several books by this author including one — Eyes Wide Open from the Outlaw Chronicles series – that includes an appearance by one of the main characters in this book.  I’m very curious to learn what that character’s story is.

Just Because

  • Somebody Like You by Beth K. Vogt.  This one caught my attention with its intriguing premise, way back before it was even released.  At the time I was busy writing to meet a very tight deadline and didn’t have time to read much of anything.  But now?  This is definitely on my reading wish list.
  • Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers.  Let’s just say I loved Redeeming Love and want to read more by this author.  This is her latest and it sounds so good!
  • Operation Zulu Redemption by Ronie Kendig.  There’s been a lot of buzz in the blogosphere recently about this serialized inspirational suspense novel.  I have part one on my Kindle, and based on what I’ve heard, I’m pretty sure that once I start reading it, I’ll be downloading the rest of the parts ASAP.

And a Bonus Book… Just in Case Ten Didn’t Make a Long Enough List

  • Okay, it’s actually a many-way tie between a number of books about the craft of writing fiction.  As I continue writing and working toward publication, I definitely want to keep building on my skills.  These books look like strong candidates to help with that.  Story Engineering and/or Story Physics by Larry Brooks, Rock Your Plot by Cathy Yardley, Write Your Novel From the Middle by James Scott Bell, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.  I could go on… but I should probably leave it at that for now.  This post is already long enough.  ;)

So there’s my list for now.  What about you?  What books are you really looking forward to reading that you may or may not own yet?