Monday, January 30, 2012

Falls Like Lightning

Shawn Grady is on my list of authors to watch. If you've read his work, you understand why.

Let’s begin with the summary:

When hotshot smoke jumper Silas Kent gets his own fire crew, he thinks he's achieved what he's always wanted. But a lightning-sparked fire in the Desolation Wilderness of the Sierra Nevadas has his team in a plane before they can even train together.

Pilot Elle Westmore has been called up to drop the crew into the heart of the forest infernos. A single mother of a mysteriously ill six-year-old, she can't imagine her life getting any more complicated.

It doesn't take long for things to go very wrong, very quickly. A suspicious engine explosion forces Elle to make an emergency landing. Silas is able to parachute to safety but soon discovers his crew can't be trusted. They're hiding something, and now Silas is on a race to save himself and Elle from the flames--and from a more dangerous threat: his own team.

And now, my review:

I like Grady’s voice. His ability to keep the pace going. His obvious knowledge of his subject matter. He’s so knowledgeable (both in deep POV and smokejumping) I was lost a couple times. But that didn’t bog the reading down for long. We spent a tad more time setting things up on this novel, but I liked the pace there too, the relational focus.

Suspense readers will enjoy this book. I break from my usual preferred genres whenever this author comes out with a new work. And from about 2/3rds in, I had to read to the finish, even though it was pushing 1:00 a.m. Really love a reading night like that.

With this subject, you’d expect men to enjoy this read. But there’s something here for everyone. Moms will relate with Elle as she wants to help her daughter through her illness. She’s heroic in her own right. There are mysteries to solve, including that of how Elle’s father died. Not to mention, who’s taking advantage of the fires. Oh, and there’s money involved. Big surprise. Overall, an enjoyable read. I’ll be watching for more from this author.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Paper Angels by Jimmy Wayne with Travis Thrasher

I know we're a little past Christmas, but this story is timeless.

Let's begin with the summary:

Kevin Morrell is a forty-three-year-old husband and father who runs a successful design and marketing firm that's crashed into the suffering economy. Attempting to navigate the busyness of the mall at Christmas, Kevin is humbled when he stumbles across the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Project. His wife insists that he take a paper ornament.

The name on the ornament is Thomas Brandt, a fifteen-year-old still reeling from the implosion of his family—from years of verbal abuse from an alcoholic father to a mother who finally left him behind, only to find herself and her children penniless and struggling. The only thing has allowed Lynn to survive is her faith. Thomas shares that faith, but he also wonders why God has seemingly abandoned them.

This is the story about a man and a boy one December. A man whose life is changed by a simple expression of kindness, and a boy who takes that expression of kindness and shows the true meaning of Christmas.

And now, my review:

This story was all heart. And hope. Lots of hope. And though the story was set at Christmastime, I read it in January and didn’t feel the least disconnected from the plot.

I loved the humble, old soul character of Thomas. This ridiculed boy changed his community by responding unexpectedly to derision. From the looks of him, he doesn’t have much to offer. But he’ll surprise you.

Our other hero, Kevin, just wants to get it right. His business. His role as father and husband. Same is true for our heroine, Thomas’ mother. You’ll relate with these characters and root for them.

With a balance of hardships and hope, this book will inspire you. To give. To care. To love. Don’t miss it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie

This one doesn't release until February, 2012, but I wanted to give you a heads-up so you can be watching for it. Jamie's one of my favorite authors.

Let's begin with the summary:

The Guardian Duke is award-winning novelist Jamie Carie’s most exciting story yet, a uniquely arranged Regency-era romantic adventure where hero and heroine know each other through written letters but have yet to meet.

Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, is ordered by the King to take guardianship over Lady Alexandria Featherstone whose parents are presumed dead after failing to return from a high profile treasure hunt. But Alexandria ignores this royal reassignment, believing her parents are still alive and duly following clues that may lead to their whereabouts. Gabriel, pressured by what are actually the King’s ulterior motives, pursues her across windswept England and the rolling green hills of Ireland but is always one step behind.

When they do meet, the search for earthly treasure will pale in comparison to what God has planned for both of them.

And now, my review:

Oh, the chase is so delicious. Jamie draws it out and keeps us turning pages (or advancing e-book screens). That wasn’t the only element I loved about this story. Whenever there are love letters, I’m always intrigued. And the humor. Jamie gave us fun, quirky characters writing with such yummy subtext you’ll chuckle aloud. Loved the interplay between these two characters.

Jamie also explored deafness and the supernatural experience of her hero where music was concerned. (You’ll have to read the story to see what I mean.) And while the duke struggles with his human frailty he asks himself if he should let it be known he’s deaf, let his “people” know that he’s human too. For this confident leader, that admission is a tough call.

One of the reasons I enjoy reading Jamie Carie’s work is her excellence with romance. From Snow Angel to this latest book, I’ve enjoyed her characters’ love stories. She’s skilled with prose, so getting there is more than half the fun. I was so wrapped up in this adventure, I didn’t want to set this story aside for other activities. And I appreciated her underlying theme of choosing faith. Very entertaining read. Looking forward to the next book in the Forgotten Castles Series.

Here are e-book and paperback version links for your convenience.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado

Let's begin with the summary:

Do you find it hard to believe that the One who made everything keeps your name on His heart and on His lips? Did you realize that your name is written on the hand of God (Is. 49:16)? Perhaps you've never seen your name honored. And you can't remember when you heard it spoken with kindness. In this book, Lucado offers the inspiration to believe that God has already bought the ticket-with your name on it.

And now, my review:

Nuggets. That’s why I read Max’s books. Nuggets of wisdom tucked into anecdotes full of delicious prose. Max covers multiple topics in his essay-type book. One of the insights that stuck out to me was about a people mover.

He wrote of a delightfully exaggerated trip through Dallas-Fortworth’s sprawling airport, complete with descriptions of day-long hikes to find his terminal, mirages and a canteen. But there, in the distance, a people mover—one of those moving walkways that require little to no energy on the part of the person “riding” the belt for long stretches. He tied this to how sometimes we need to rest in God and let Him move us forward. He’s always moving us forward. That ministered to me and I think will speak to anyone who has ever gotten stuck in the striving mentality of having to earn every inch of progress. God commands rest (see the Ten Commandments), but sometimes we forget this.

Wherever you are in your life, this book will speak to you. Hope-filled chapters abound. And who couldn’t use someone coming alongside them and encouraging them? That’s what Max does. He links arms with you, whispers some helpful tale tied to a moral and urges you not to give up, unless it’s to give in to God.

I’ll leave readers to discover why he titled the book as he did. Loved those chapters! If you’re looking for light reading full of heavy doses of hope, this one’s for you.

*I was provided a free e-book copy of this nonfiction title from the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review. This title is a reprint from 1999.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Shadow of Your Smile by Susan May Warren

Welcome to the blog tour for Susan May Warren’s latest novel, The Shadow of Your Smile. I’m thrilled we get to go back to Deep Haven for this one. Love that series! Read on for contest info.

First, the summary:

A beautiful blanket of snow may cover the quaint town of Deep Haven each winter, but it can’t quite hide the wreckage of Noelle and Eli Hueston’s marriage. After twenty-five years, they’re contemplating divorce . . . just as soon as their youngest son graduates from high school. But then an accident erases part of Noelle's memory. Though her other injuries are minor, she doesn’t remember Eli, their children, or the tragedy that has ripped their family apart. What’s more, Noelle is shocked that her life has turned out nothing like she dreamed it would. As she tries to regain her memory and slowly steps into her role as a wife and mother, Eli helps her readjust to daily life with sometimes-hilarious, sometimes-heartwarming results. But can she fall in love again with a man she can’t remember? Will their secrets destroy them . . . or has erasing the past given them a chance for a future?

And now, my review:

One of the things I love about Susan’s writing is how varied it is. She writes historicals, thrillers, and contemporaries. But you’ll find a variety of characters, settings, and plots. It’s as if she brainstorms with each book and tries to figure out a new way to avoid climbing into any literary boxes. The Shadow of Your Smile was no exception. Filled with a cast of characters at different points in their lives, this story kept me engaged throughout. It’s not just Susan’s plots that hook me. It’s her prose and her romance. This book had plenty of romance, and not just formulaicly so. We followed a middle-aged couple through a very rough patch, bringing hope back into their pain-filled relationship. We also tracked a young couple reunited after their high school years.

Hope is a theme in that aforementioned relationship, but it’s also evident in Noelle’s life as she comes to terms with an unusual take on a midlife reevaluation. Her memory’s patchy, but she recalls always wanting to be a painter. So, what happened? And how did she end up in this older woman’s (larger) body? She has to come to terms with what derailed her, and decide if it’s too late to pursue her dreams. And then there’s the stranger calling her his wife, which plot element Susan handled very believably. Loved being in Eli’s point of view. Very realistic and layered. And just in case middle-aged heroes and heroines aren’t relatable for younger readers, the musician and her high school crush are very well written as well. Loved all the musical jargon. It was fun to find out Susan borrowed from her talented daughter.

Another great read from Susan, and definitely outside the mold, not that this author has one.

Highly recommended.

And now, the contest information:

Come Back to Deep Haven and Win a $200 Visa Card from @SusanMayWarren!

Sometimes love requires a little forgetting ... Come back to Deep Haven and find out what's been happening in your favorite quaint hamlet. If you're new to the Deep Haven series - this is the perfect book to start with - each book in the series is a stand alone story.

Susan is celebrating the release of The Shadow of Your Smile by giving away a prize pack worth over $200 from 1/9-1/28.

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A $200 Visa Gift Card (Use that to rekindle a little romance, treat yourself to a spa day, snap up those shoes you’ve been eyeing, or purchase a few great books!)
  • The entire set of Deep Haven Books 
The winner will be announced on 1/30/12 on Susan’s blog, Scribbles! Just click one of the icons below to enter and tell your friends about Susan's giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Christian Fiction Releases: January, 2012

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website. With each listing below, you'll find Amazon links for both print and e-books for your convenience.

Halflings by Heather Burch -- One girl. Three half-angel guys. And the fate of the world. (Young   Adult from Zondervan).

Summer of Promise by Amanda Cabot -- Stagecoach robberies and a certain lieutenant make Abigail Harding's summer at Wyoming's Fort Laramie unforgettable. (Historical Romance from Revell).

The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden -- Libby Sawyer's quiet, respectable life in Colden, Massachusetts is shattered when a bold stranger from Romania invades her world. Fascinated by this enigmatic man, Libby uncovers layers of mystery surrounding Micahel Dobrescu's amazing past...and his plans for the future in which she plays a startling role. (Historical Romance from Bethany House).

Injustice for All by Robin Caroll -- Who can you turn to when everything you believe in is shattered? (Romantic Suspense from B&H Publishing).

A Life of Joy by Amy Clipston -- Take a trip to Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, where you'll meet the women of the Kauffman Amish Bakery in Lancaster County. As each woman's story unfolds, you will share in her heartaches, trials, joys, dreams ... and secrets. (Romance from Zondervan).

An Amish Family Reunion by Mary Ellis, -- As Phoebe embarks on a new romance and an unlikely career choice for someone Amish, the Miller family tries to put aside differences long enough to attend a joyous family reunion. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House).

The Keeper by Suzanne Woods Fisher -- Julia Lapp has planned on marrying Paul Fisher since she was a girl. Now twenty-one, she looks forward to their wedding with giddy anticipation. When Paul tells her he wants to postpone the wedding--again--she knows who is to blame. (Contemporary Romance from Revell).

The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter -- Two high-school sweethearts, a wedding reenactment, and one absent-minded preacher. Is it a recipe for disaster or a chance for a new beginning? (Contemporary Romance from Thomas Nelson ).

All Roads Lead Home by Christine Johnson -- An orphanage agent must drive her car across the United States to save a boy from a disastrous placement with the man who claims to be his father, but she needs the assistance of a mechanic, and the only one willing to help is the man she jilted two years ago. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired).

Firethorn by Ronie Kendig -- Explosive Conclusion to Ronie Kendig's Discarded Heroes series. Blown and dismantled, Nightshade is ready to repay the favor. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing).

Tomorrow's Sun by Becky Melby-- Faith reaches across the centuries when Emily Foster finds old letters in the 160-year-old house she's remodeling, but Jake Braden, the contractor she's just hired, doesn't share her vision. (Contemporary Romance from Barbour Publishing).

Cherry Blossom Capers by Cara Putman, Lynette Sowell, Gina Conroy, and Frances Devine -- The lives of four neighbors are irrevocably changed amid mystery and romance. Assistant chef Tara Whitley is seeking a state dinner saboteur. Attorney Ciara Turner is tracking down a murderer. Budding archeologist Samantha Steele encounters a forger. Shop owner Susan Holland is someone's target. Will God protect them in life and love? (Romance/Mystery from Barbour Publishing).

The Secret Heiress by Terri Reed-- An adopted woman discovers she's heir to a fortune, only someone doesn't want her to live long enough to inherit. So she must hire a bodyguard to keep her safe but soon realizes her heart's in danger as well. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired Suspense).

Amelia's Journey by Martha W. Rogers-- When young rancher Ben and socialite Amelia meet again after six years, they are attracted to each other immediately, but Amelia's parents have other ideas for their daughter and forbid the relationship. (Historical Romance from Realms).

Winter Promise by Martha W. Rogers-- Abigail Monroe comes to Porterfield, Texas to open a library and to join her brother, Daniel and best friend, Rachel Reed with no thoughts of marriage, but young Doctor Elliot and Deputy Sheriff Cory Muldoon are both smitten and vie for her heart. (Historical Romance from Realms).

Where Wildflowers Bloom by Ann Shorey-- Will Faith Lindberg follow her heart, or marry the wrong man to achieve her goal? (Historical Romance from Revell).

Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK by Betsy St. Amant-- Sixteen-year-old Addison Blakely has tirelessly played the role of PK-preacher's kid-her entire life. But after Wes Keegan revs his motorcycle into town and into her heart, Addison begins to wonder how much of her faith is her own and how much has been handed to her. (Young Adult from Barbour Publishing).