Monthly Archives: October 2014

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


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.


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.


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.


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.