Monthly Archives: October 2016

Audiobook Review: Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Title: Sea Rose Lane
Author: Irene Hannon
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Therese Plummer
Published: June 2016
Series: Hope Harbor, Book 2
Genre: Christian fiction, Contemporary Romance
Length: 10 hours, 20 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Two people starting over . . . in a town known for second chances

After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to Hope Harbor–only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed and breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he’s constantly distracted by noise, chaos–and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect who’s invaded the house with her motley crew. As for BJ, her client’s son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn’t high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to help Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?

Come home to Hope Harbor–where hearts heal . . . and love blooms

My Thoughts on the Book:

Fans of Irene Hannon’s Hope Harbor (see my review of the first book in this series) will be delighted to return to this small seaside town for another fun contemporary romance with emotional and spiritual depth. The romance between Eric and BJ is sweet, with some whimsical interruptions by local wildlife – namely harbor seal Casper and seagulls Floyd and Gladys. The lead characters are sympathetic and relatable, as they work through past hurts and challenging decisions. And I appreciate the roles faith and community play in both the main plot and several subplots.

Sea Rose Lane could easily be read as a stand-alone, but those who have read Hope Harbor will enjoy spotting a number of striking parallels in plot and theme between the two stories, as well as familiar people and locations. The lead characters (and seagulls) from the last book make cameo appearances in this one. And Charley, with his seaside taco stand and incredible intuition, takes on an even bigger role than last time.

Speaking of which, after reading Hope Harbor, I made a point of trying fish tacos the next time I found the opportunity, and discovered I really like them! Reading this book brought them back to mind, so writing this review is making me hungry. LOL! Too bad Charley’s taco stand isn’t right around the corner, or I know what I’d be doing for lunch.

This book touches on some thought-provoking issues in a gentle manner that could make for a natural conversation starter. So if anyone’s looking for a book for their discussion group, this one could be a great pick. There’s even a pre-made discussion guide available on the publisher’s Web site.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

After listening to two full-length audiobooks read by Therese Plummer, her vocal inflections are becoming very familiar. I have a feeling that even if I read the upcoming Book 3 (Sandpiper Cove) in print format, I’d still “hear” it in her voice… but I plan to seek out the audiobook edition anyway. Her voice feels very natural to the series. Perhaps it’s the laid-back, casual quality that fits the small-town vibe of the book? Either way, the emotion and the characterization reflected in her reading results in a satisfying listening experience – one I would highly recommend.

Thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of the audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Series | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site | Publisher’s Site

Three for the Books: Featured Reads in Christian Fiction, October 2016

Featured Reads in Christian Fiction, October 2016

The monthly “Three for the Books” post is where I feature new (Hot Off the Presses), best selling (Topping the Charts), and award winning (Cream of the Crop) Christian fiction books. I select one title to feature in each category, as well as providing links to where you can browse additional newly released, best selling, and award winning titles. Have you read any of these featured titles? Any others you’d like to give a shout-out? Comments are always welcome!

Hot Off the Presses

A Time to Rise by Nadine Brandes released this month from Gilead Publishing. It’s the conclusion of the dystopian Out of Time series. Since this is a series you’ll want to read in order, you may want to start by checking out my review of the first book, A Time to Die. These novels are available in print and electronic editions.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More New Releases

Topping the Charts

Priceless by Joel and Luke Smallbone of the band for King & Country appears on the October 2016 ECPA Bestsellers list. This is a novelization of the movie with the same name that just started playing in theaters on October 14th. The book is available from Worthy Publishing in print and electronic formats, with an audio edition available from christianaudio.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More Best Sellers

Cream of the Crop

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund is winner of the 2016 ECPA Book Award for Fiction, as well as the Christy Award in the Historical Romance category. It is historical biographical fiction published by WaterBrook Multnomah, and is available in print and electronic editions.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site | More Award Winners

Audiobook Review: An Open Heart by Harry Kraus

Title: An Open Heart
Author: Harry Kraus
Print Publisher: David C Cook
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Tim Gregory
Published: June 2013
Genre: Christian fiction, suspense
Length: 11 hours, 18 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s description on Amazon)

Their Messages—From Beyond the Grave—Might Destroy Him

They hover between life and death, their hearts stopped on the surgery table. And the messages Dr. Jace Rawlings’ open-heart surgery patients bring back from beyond the grave cannot be ignored. For they predict the deaths of people around him, and point a finger of suspicion straight at him.

It thrusts Jace into a firestorm of controversy and danger. A maelstrom blown by the darker winds of political intrigue and spiritual warfare. And the forces working against him will do anything to stop him from uncovering a truth they will kill to hide. He’d come to Kenya to establish a heart-surgery program for the poor. But what he will find in that place where he grew up will put everything at risk–his marriage, his career . . . his life.

My Thoughts on the Book:

I first heard about this book while I was in the midst of writing the first draft of my own novel about a missionary and a doctor that’s set partly in Kenya. Because I was struck by the similarities in setting and characters, I really wanted to read this one, but forced myself to wait until I’d finished writing the first draft of my own. And having read it at last, I’m glad I did take the time to read it, and particularly that I was able to listen to the audiobook edition, which is fabulous.

There’s a lot going on in this story. There’s medical drama including interesting details of a number of surgical cases in America and in Kenya. There’s the suspense surrounding who’s out to get our lead character and why… and what part a (rather creepy) witch doctor might play in that. There’s a mystery to unravel surrounding the events of one particular night that our lead character doesn’t remember following a head trauma. There’s an inspirational thread involving lost faith regained. And there are believable characters struggling through their hurts and fears.

I think my favorite part was the setting, which is vividly described in specific and authentic detail. Frequent readers of Christian fiction may have noticed that settings outside of the United States are fairly uncommon in the genre. With that in mind, I applaud the author’s choice to take a chance on a more exotic setting. It was interesting to consider the economics of saving lives and the difficult choices made in a country with limited resources. And in some ways, the setting became almost a character in its own right, as the local culture and customs had such an impact on the plot and characters.

Overall, a fascinating book, and if you’re an audiobook fan, I highly recommend Tim Gregory’s reading of it. His voice fits the main character well, and he uses variations in tone and inflection to portray the other characters of both genders well too. I was particularly impressed by his accurate (to the best of my knowledge anyway) pronunciation of foreign words and his portrayal of believable Kenyan accents. There are some very emotional scenes in this book, and the reading revealed just the right degree of emotion in those scenes to complement the written word and immerse the reader in the story.

I accessed this audiobook by checking it out from my library’s electronic collection via Hoopla.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | Author’s Site

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, October 2016

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the October 2016 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by! Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place. Please consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Today I’m providing information on Christian fiction discussions scheduled to take place around the web this month. I’m also featuring a handful of recently released Christian fiction titles for which a discussion guide is available, either included in the book itself or on the author’s or publisher’s web site.

Online Discussions Coming Up This Month

The ACFW Book Club‘s October selection is Medical Judgment by Richard Mabry. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

For October, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey AND A Spy’s Devotion by Melanie Dickerson. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The Fans of Amish Fiction Goodreads group discusses one Amish fiction title per month. The selection for October is Saving Gideon by Amy Lillard. To join in, visit the group’s online discussion board.

Jamie of the Books and Beverages blog hosts a monthly Inklings discussion series for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, the title for the month of October is All Hallow’s Eve by Charles Williams. The discussion is planned for October 19th.

The Christian Fiction Book Club, and the Fans of Christian Romance Goodreads group are taking breaks from discussion for the time being. The Christian Book Lovers’ Hideaway group is no longer on Goodreads.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

Deadly Encounter by DiAnn Mills (August 2016, Tyndale House, Romantic Suspense)

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L Rubart (August 2016, Thomas Nelson, General Fiction)

An Amish Harvest: Four Novellas by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Amy Clipston, and Vanetta Chapman (August 2016, Thomas Nelson, Amish Romance)

So, friends, what have you been reading lately? Any titles you’d recommend for book club discussions?