Monthly Archives: August 2014

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


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?

Book Review: Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert

Title: Miranda Warning
Author: Heather Day Gilbert
Series: Murder in the Mountains Series, Book 1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Mystery, Christian Fiction
Published: 2014

I first discovered Heather Day Gilbert’s writing through her book God’s Daughter, the first in her Vikings of the New World Saga, which I thoroughly enjoyed and reviewed over at the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog.  When I found out her next book was taking the leap from historical fiction to contemporary mystery, I was curious and eager to see what this one would be like.  I found it highly enjoyable, sharing some of the best features of the author’s earlier work, including vivid settings and a strong and relatable heroine.

About the Book (From the author’s Web site):

Child of the Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache.  The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive whatever life throws at her.

But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox – a note written in a dead woman’s handwriting – Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia.  Hot on a cold trail, she must use limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to unmask the killer… or the next victim might be Tess herself.

Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains’ lush, protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains Series.

My Review:

Just like in God’s Daughter, Miranda Warning features settings vividly described with just the right details to put you in the scene with the characters without bogging down the action.  In this case the setting is modern day West Virginia… and West Virginia from forty years ago.

Each chapter features a short segment from the past, followed by more lengthy scenes set in the present.  Tess Spencer is trying to figure out just what happened in the past before her friend Miranda makes what could be a dangerous mistake in the present.  Meanwhile, someone or something is threatening her and her investigation.  I thought the format worked very well, with the details from the past being revealed at just the right times to keep suspense high and complement the modern day investigation.  The mystery and suspense elements definitely kept me on the edge of my seat.

Then there’s the strong and spunky heroine.  I really liked Tess, especially her dry sense of humor, and I found myself relating to her in a number of areas.  Loved her line about preferring a throwing star to practice her ninja skills.  She’s friendly and down-to-earth, but she keeps a knife or gun in her pocket just in case.  I have a feeling I’d really enjoy hanging out with her … if she were a real person … except maybe for the danger she seems to attract.  With that in mind, it’s probably safer for me to just continue reading the series as it’s published.  😉

Faith played a relatively small part in this story, but I enjoyed what was there.  Miranda makes an interesting point when she compares Tess’s situation to another character’s, saying, “She wouldn’t go to church or read her Bible. So her views of God got warped, like wet floorboards.”   (Page 273.  I loved the wet floorboards comparison so I had to include that quote.)  Anyway, I’m curious to see how Tess’s faith might develop over the course of the series.

A big thank you to the author for providing me with an electronic review copy for purposes of this review.

To learn more about Heather Day Gilbert and her books, check out her Web site and Facebook page. You can also connect with her on Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Looking Back on Entering The Search for a Killer Voice

Regular readers of this blog may remember from past posts that I entered my first completed novel in the Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense contest called The Search for a Killer Voice.  If you missed those posts and you’re curious about the whole journey, here are some links (in sequential order) to catch you up.  Then again, if you’re busy, suffice it to say, my entry did very well, making it all the way to the final round of the competition and garnering a full manuscript request on the strength of my synopsis and first three chapters.

The contest wrapped up with final notifications and a big announcement this past Friday.  I learned that my manuscript was not accepted for publication.  Not the news I was hoping for, but not all bad either.  The editor who reviewed my novel gave me detailed feedback and encouraged me to submit more work to her in the future.  I greatly appreciate her encouragement and the time she put into offering constructive feedback.

All in all, the contest has been a great experience, and I’m glad I entered.  It afforded an opportunity to get to know the Love Inspired Suspense (LIS) editors and learn more about what they’re looking for, as well as a chance to get to know a number of authors and aspiring authors for LIS.  It also pushed me to finish my manuscript in time for the deadline, which was a great experience in and of itself.  And of course, the feedback I received should prove valuable as I continue to read, write, and hone my craft.

I would like to wish a hearty “Congratulations!” to the authors whose work was accepted for publication.  I’m looking forward to reading your books when they release and being able to say, “I knew her when….”  And for those, like me, who are still working towards publication?  Let’s keep at it, and we’ll get there one of these days.  :)

Top Ten Books I’d Give to Readers Who Have Never Read Christian Fiction


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and I’m participating today for the first time! This week’s topic is: “Top Ten Books I’d Give to Readers Who Have Never Read x.”

I chose to go with a Christian fiction theme.  That is kind of the focus of my whole blog….

The librarian in me rebels at the idea of a single one-size-fits-all list for those who haven’t yet tried Christian fiction.  I want to sit down with one reader and find out what makes him or her tick — favorite authors, genres, and themes; reason(s) for branching out into Christian fiction; etc — and THEN point to a personalized list of books.  Since that’s not possible here, I’m going to do the next best thing, and go for a broad sampling with (hopefully) something that’ll appeal to (most) everyone.

First, a few recent favorites of mine, with links to my reviews.

Next, I’ll round out the list with a smattering of titles by a few of the best known authors in Christian fiction.

  • C.S. Lewis. The Chronicles of Narnia would be an obvious first choice, but The Screwtape Letters is a fun and entertaining read too.
  • Karen Kingsbury. This author has such a huge selection of wonderful books, it’s impossible to recommend just one.  Among her most recent is Fifteen Minutes, which sounds great, though I haven’t had the chance to read it myself yet.  Or… one that I did read and really enjoyed was Unlocked.
  • Frank Peretti.  Probably best known for This Present Darkness, my introduction to this author was through the audiobook version of Prophet.  Think action, intrigue, and spiritual warfare.
  • Ted Dekker. If you’re into action/suspense/thrillers with unexpected twists… start here.  Outlaw recently won a Christy Award and sounds like it’d make a great jumping off point for those new to this author’s work (though I still need to read this one).  Then again, I have read Eyes Wide Open and loved it, so maybe that’s the one I should  include in this list?
  • Francine Rivers.  Redeeming Love is a must read.  A classic historical romance and a personal favorite.  And if you like that one, there are plenty more by this talented author to choose from.
  • Dee Henderson.  Okay, I confess, I haven’t read anything by this author yet myself.  (Hangs head in shame.)  Thing is, I really need to because I love Inspirational Romantic Suspense, and that’s totally her thing.  I know her O’Malley series has been hugely popular, and since there’s a prequel, Danger in the Shadows, that won the prestigious RITA award, that’s where I’m tempted to start reading her books.

So, what do you think?  A good sampling?  Any other authors/titles you would’ve liked to see on this list of recommendations for someone new to Christian fiction?  Please comment.  I know I found it hard to stop at ten!

Update: Can’t get enough?  I found a few more top ten lists on this theme from Kate at Too Read or Not Too Read, Abbi at Christian Novels, and Rissi at Dreaming Under the Same Moon.  Check them out too for more great reads in Christian fiction!