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Monday, November 29, 2010

My review of Nightshade by Ronie Kendig!

5/5 hearts for writing style, pacing, and intrigue. 3/4 hearts for healing hearts and spiritual message and insight. :) Great story!

Nightshade 

About the book:

Soldiers all across the globe are returning home to their families after brutal tours of duty. They are discharged from the service. . .and on their own. Meet Max Jacobs, one of these discarded heroes, as he faces a wall of failure—in his career, his friendships, and his marriage. Failing again—this time to end his life—he is offered a thread of hope. Are covert government operations the answer for him, or will they only bring more danger and dissension upon his broken family?

My review:

Nightshade is a fast paced military thriller. I liked how the author showed that PTSD can negatively touch many areas of a soldier's life. Spiritual, emotional, mental, physical. Even relationships between friends and family. There were many complexities in this story that required solid plotting, and that was very well done. I didn't see any inconsistencies. The author did a great job with the setting as well. I felt like I was traveling around the world with Syd and with the Nightshade team. The author was not afraid to hurt the characters... a lot. Of course, that just made this reader care more. Nicely done!

This might sound strange, but to me it almost felt like a guy wrote this story because the violence and action wasn't skimmed over like women tend to do. That was a good thing in this case because it made the story that much more believable. There were enough bullets flying and things blowing up to make any guy reader happy. Now I know some ladies like that, too. Just sayin'.

The author clearly understands the way men think and did a great job showing that. Same with the strained marriage relationship and the ex-military type teamwork. The Nightshade team acted like they were ex-special ops, which made the story that much more intriguing. I want to know, who is paying for these missions and why? Maybe a future story will reveal that mystery. Meanwhile, I'll keep enjoying the ride as I dodge bullets in the sequel, Digitalis.


Nightshade was published by Barbour and released in June 2010.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Giveaway! Enter for a chance to in In All Things by Shawna K. Williams!

For a chance to enter this contest and win a copy of In All Things simply read my review and post a comment about whether or not you have a favorite black and white film and what it is. Second, if you were an actress how would you feel if you were told you needed to passionately kiss the other person in a scene and they weren't your spouse?

My answers: I love The Wizard of Oz, but I suppose that's cheating I suppose because it all turns into color after that. But it's still my favorite "old" film. Other favs are The Ten Commandments, The Sound of Music, etc. And the second answer is if I had to passionately kiss an actor for my job, part of me would think that would be cool and the other part would feel like I was betraying my spouse. That's called a war between the flesh and the spirit, I suppose. :) Your turn! I'll pick a winner using the Randomizer program next Sunday!

 Oh, and I just had to tell you that I gave this book 5/5 stars for excellence all around, 4/4 hearts for spiritual significance and healing hearts!

In All Things

About the book:

Jakob and Meri's story continues...

Meredith Louis's Hollywood career is at a point of transition. No longer under Majestic Studios control, Meri is free to broaden her appeal as an actress and finally earn the recognition she desires.

Meri and Jakob return to their hometown for the holidays where Meri hopes to reconcile with her parents after a decade of silence. But after a disastrous encounter, Meri is plunged into turmoil as old fears resurface in unexpected ways.

Jakob, already dealing with unresolved family issues of his own, is further burdened by his inability to help his wife. Can he learn to step aside and trust God's plan.Will Meri recognize what she already has?

In All Things is a story of faith and restoration, cemented in the belief, "...that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

My review:

I didn't think I could possibly enjoy the second book in this series more than the first. After all, No Other made my top fiction list for 2010. It's rare that more than one book in a series ends up on my favorites list in the same year. But In All Things struck a chord in me that resonates still. It had to do with characterization. Ms. Williams does a better job than most novelists in this department because she's not afraid to create human characters. Flawed characters. Characters who act like people act, not how we wish they would act or like some people's idea of publishing standards tells us they should act. I loved that about this book. The spiritual journey of each character flowed naturally and thus inspired me. Nothing seemed forced or contrived. Was anything "over the top?" Nope. Was there real emotion in this book? You betcha! I loved that. I also loved how the author showed the marital conflict and issues that came up in their relationship. Anyone could relate to those situations.

My heart engaged with each of the characters to some degree--even a few of the unlikable ones. They all made mistakes and had convincing regrets for those mistakes. They also made some good decisions along the way. The characters often tried to solve problems on their own rather than trusting God, and it took some major pitfalls to help them see that they needed to give everything they were trying to control over to God.

I loved the message about expectations and about trying to prove yourself to people. Sometimes people do things for the dumbest reasons, but to hurting hearts those things made a whole lot of sense at the time. People want to show their rivals that they weren't like some said they were or implied they were. Getting caught up in jealousies and insecurities made them vulnerable to all of the schemes the enemy cooked up to destroy their relationships with the Lord. This book exposes many of those nefarious tactics through the power of storytelling. I could go on and on but don't want to accidentally post any spoilers, so I'll refrain.

One of my favorite things about this book were Meri's dreams. The one about her seeing the housemaid when she was little was so realistic that I felt like I was watching a movie. I even heard the creaking and could see the maid's terrified face. That was a powerful scene, and the child's point of view that it was written in was flawlessly done. Also, the dreams Meri had about the future had almost a "Christmas Carol" feel to them, making them quite effective.

I loved how the author clearly showed the manipulation and seduction used by selfish people and how these schemes are often hard to detect at first. I was rooting for Meri and holding my breath at the same time. I loved how she had to deal with what really mattered most and loved experiencing with her the road she traveled to come to that conclusion. Bottom line--it had to be her choice. This issue was quite powerfully written and effectively shown.

There were so many insightful lessons in this book that were naturally woven into the plot and characterization that I could write a novel just posting them all. However, I want everyone to read this book for themselves. It had so much heart to it, unlike some of the anemic books I've read this year that barely touched on the inner workings of the heart and focused more on the era or the setting. This book was brave on so many levels, and I felt like I got to know the characters personally. I'm sure going to miss them. They'll have to live on forever on my favorite reads list for 2010.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I just had to share this pic of the sunset that I took tonight from my driveway!

My review of Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe by Irene Brand and Anita Higman.

4.25 stars for craft, and 3/4 hearts for spiritual strength. 4/4 hearts for healing heart potential. That was the best part of these two stories. They weren't fluff.

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe

About the book:

Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: An Appalachian Christmas by Irene Brand

A promise to her dying sister compels Julia Mayfield to take her young nephew to Mistletoe, Kentucky, a tiny town tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains. Sparks fly when she meets David Armstrong, a World War II veteran like herself. Even as shadows from the past weave a dangerous web around Julia and David, will their love flourish like the mistletoe that blankets the nearby hills?


Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Anita Higman

Hollie Goodnight's store has just been voted best Christmas shop in America. All the new publicity draws flamboyant novelist Van Keaton to the cozy town of Noel, Missouri, demanding to write Hollie's story - a dramatic tale of misfortune and triumph. She is swept up in his world of beautiful words and fanciful interludes. . .until Owen Quigly, her lifelong best friend, launches a plan to win her back.


My review:

More like 4 stars for novella #1, and 4.5 stars for #2, making it average at 4.25 stars overall....

At first I thought I'd like the first book by Irene Brand best, since I'm a fan of historical fiction and have always enjoyed her Love Inspired stories. But then I decided to read Anita Higman's book and ended up loving it even more. Probably because it was deeper in regards to love, the heart, motivation, infatuation, and what it means to be committed to someone. However, I really enjoyed the first book, too.

They were both very different and spoke to different issues of the heart. What I enjoyed about the first book was the idea that if you love someone, are you willing to give up what you think you want and be open to something better? It also had to do with keeping promises and what real love is, versus a commitment made while grieving. Do you honor it even if it no longer applies?

Regarding the second story, I loved the whole "nobody wanted me then I received two marriage proposals in the same day" theme. I loved how the author had the heroine examining her heart and her motivation. Did she want what was comfortable and safe because of her abandonment issues? Did she want something new and exciting if it meant losing her best friend? How do you decide for the long haul what is best? Also, do you do what people expect, or do you risk doing the right thing when no matter what you do somebody gets hurt? Where does God fit into all of this...? :)

Great stories, both of them, but if I were to choose my favorite I'd have to say I liked the second story best. But they were both heart-warming and can be read any time of year, not just during the holidays.

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe was published by Summerside and released in Sept 2010.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Black Friday is the perfect time to avoid crowds and shop online! Get autographed books here!

 



Michelle's author page (to order her books)

Above is a direct link to my author page. Help a starving artist (me) this season and order my autographed books for your friends! Thanks everyone! I have the best friends and fans ever!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New giveaway! Now I'm giving away Reinventing Rachel by Allison Strobel!

For a chance to win this book simply read my review and post a comment about your favorite coffee drink. If you don't comment with a response to this question and a way to reach you if you win, you won't be entered into the drawing. Sorry! My answer is I have a lot of favorites but my first choice would probably be an iced soy caramel macchiato - from my church coffee shop which is way better than Starbucks! (Oh, did I mention I endorsed this book? You'll find it inside if you win.)

Reinventing Rachel: A Novel About the book:  

God rewards the faithful; Rachel is living proof of that—until the people she loves most let her down. Now she's done with God. Twenty-six-year-old Rachel Westing has been a faithful Christian her entire life. Then she learns her fiancĂ© is cheating on her and her parents are getting a divorce. Where is God in all this? Wounded, bitter, and with her faith shattered, Rachel goes cross-country to live with her friend Daphne. Confident, fun-loving Daphne sets about to help Rachel reinvent herself, and for a while it's exciting. When another tragedy shakes her to the core, what little she has left unravels. Reinventing Rachel gives readers a true-to-life story that draws them in and keeps them biting their nails until the end.

My review:

Reinventing Rachel was so honest and well-written that I can see many lives being touched and changed by the life-changing themes in the story. This novel addresses some common questions and does it so naturally that I couldn't help being impressed. I loved how the author didn't just have her character going to the edge of the cliff, but had her dangling over the side several times and even slipping over the side on occasion. That kind of conflict makes up a powerful story, and Ms. Strobel did a fantastic job telling it. I truly empathized with and adored the characters. I literally hurt for them and rejoiced with them when they started to make better choices.

There were so many parts of Reinventing Rachel that hit on deep truths, I'm not sure where to start but will say that the author's insight blew my mind. I loved how the cynicism Rachel experienced was so genuinely written that it was easy for anyone to identify with...especially people who have grown up in the church. I loved how Rachel's attempt to live without a relationship with God was so realistically portrayed. It's hard to say much more without dropping spoilers into my review. I can attest to the fact that this awesome book contained great tension, romance, and heartache. I know they don't seem to go together well, but I felt all of those emotions, so I had to share. The edgy content in the story just made it even better.

I am so impressed with the books being published by David C. Cook these past few years that I know just about any book I pick up that they have published I will enjoy, with few exceptions (that was just a side note.) I highly recommend this book because it's not just entertaining, but powerfully written. It's making my best fiction for 2010 list!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My review of Entangled by Barbara Ellen Brink!

5/5 hearts for storytelling and craft. 3/4 hearts for the spiritual message and healing hearts potential. This was not a "Christian" fiction title, but it had spiritual truth embedded in it, plus the message exposed darkness and was ultimately uplifting. Great healing story!

Entangled

About the book:

A Minneapolis attorney inherits a small California winery, reawakening memories that have lain dormant for twenty years. One summer of her childhood is a mystery she intends to solve. But digging up her past also lays bare the skeletons of others, including her mother’s. Entangled between what she once believed and a new reality, will she be able to live with the consequences of full disclosure?

My review:

The cover is kind of dark, so I'm not fond of it, but it does show that there is some darkness to this suspenseful novel. However, a light shining through the grape leaves would have depicted the heart of the story more, because the light from discovering the truth casts away the darkness and provides healing. While this story had its terrifying moments, it left me feeling good at the end because of the resolution and healing message that was (thank God) not sappy or forced. I loved that. Quite often suspense stories leave me scratching my head because the resolution was not believable, or the great "revelation" seemed staged. This story flowed naturally. The tension built and built until there was nothing left but the inevitable explosion. And what a bang it carried! I was truly impressed.

Given my background of working with sick-o people for several decades I had a feeling there was some stuff in the past that would come to light. I love when my instincts are spot-on, but that also tells me that the author knew how to frame a believable scenario. Not many authors do that so convincingly that my gut says, "yep, that's just what it would look like, too." The author did a great job with the whole mystery and suspense. She also tied in a great romance with Handel, who was not only a childhood friend, but a very heroic figure in this story. I wanted to cuddle up next him when I got scared along with the heroine. Well done!

The coolest part of this story is that while published by the author, the craft part of the storytelling was impressive. This could easily have been published by a big publishing house. It was that well done. Just so you know, it's worth way more than the $2.99 the author is charging for her Amazon kindle edition of her novel. I'd easily pay $9.99 for it because the quality of the writing and storytelling is so good. There is nothing too sick or crass for the average reader to enjoy and nothing to make a Christian's conscience cringe. There are a few minor cuss words and an occasional glass of wine, but she is living at a winery, so it fits the setting. The heroine's memories that are pretty realistic, but that just makes the story more powerful. I highly recommend this book.

Entangled was published on Amazon digital and Smashwords by the author and is a smoking deal for a well told story. Check it out!

Friday, November 19, 2010

My review of Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury! (I am so passionate about the subject of autism!)

5/5 hearts for excellence in all areas. 4/4 hearts for spiritual strength and a healing hearts message.

Unlocked

About the book:

Holden Harris, 18, is locked in a prison of autism where he's been since he was a happy, boisterous three-year-old. At school he is bullied by kids who do not understand that despite his quiet ways and quirky behaviors, Holden is very happy and socially normal on the inside, where he lives in a private world all his own. Then one day the head cheerleader and star of the high school drama production is rehearsing when Holden stops and listens, clearly drawn to the music. Ella Reynolds notices and takes an interest in him, learning about autism and eventually helping Holden win a spot in the school play.

At the same time Ella makes a dramatic discovery. Long ago, her parents and Holden's parents were good friends, and she and Holden played together until his diagnosis of autism, at which time Ella's mother distanced herself from the friendship. Now Ella's mom and her MLB baseball player father are trapped in an unhappy marriage and a life that is shallow and meaningless. Not until a tragedy takes place at the high school does Ella take a public stand against the way the more popular privileged kids treat those who are different.

At the same time, Ella continues to be a friend to Holden and in time their mothers realize that something special is happening. Hurts from the past are dealt with and all around Holden miracles begin to happen in various relationships. The greatest miracle is the change in Holden, himself, and everyone is stunned by the transformation they witness. Ultimately, the community comes to understand that many people walk around in a personal prison and that only by love and faith can the doors become unlocked, the way they dramatically do for Holden Harris.

My review:

Unlocked is an engrossing story and had so many emotionally evocative moments that I couldn't help getting teary eyed a few times. The author made an amazing statement at the end of the book in the form of a letter to readers that garnered a lot of respect from me, mainly because I'm a social worker.

The author made a point of explaining that no two diagnoses of autism are exactly alike. People are different and their symptoms are different. Levels of autism vary from mild (also known as high-functioning) to severe. She went into describing what autism can be like for the individuals who have it, and how it influences behavior because it is a neurological disorder. I appreciated that a lot. You see, I understand people like Holden and what the families go through. I've worked closely with children and adults who have a diagnosis of autism and have for over a decade now. I also work closely with their families to provide support for them.

Kingsbury captured the emotional journeys of people touched by autism in a profound and believable fashion. She showed that autism effects everyone. Stories like Holden's gives people hope and the desire to press on. Autism is exhausting to deal with and most children can't be left unsupervised for even five minutes. The sad thing is so few people truly understand the disorder. They often treat young men and women with the diagnosis like they are still children even though they are adults. The author showed this well. She also showed how jaded people can be about the symptoms of autism that they don't even try to reach the person inside (even though they are supposed to be educators.)

I would recommend this book to anyone who has difficulty understanding autism or the struggles people go through who love individuals with that diagnosis. As readers can see by Kingsbury's story, Holden was not an autistic person in the sense that it had to define who he was (which is one reason why I dislike that label). She showed that he was a real person with feelings, ideas, and a personality who just happened to have autism. It's such an unfair thing for a parent to watch their child slowly slipping away. I've had parents describe to me with tears in their eyes how their child used to talk to them and make eye contact, then start to lose their personality and ability to communicate and connect with people. It's heartbreaking and there is no worse feeling for parents than to see their child slowly slipping away. Like Tracy said, she felt like someone had kidnapped their child, yet he was still with them, but only in a physical sense.

On the bright side, I have seen children completely locked out of the real world and virtually non-verbal change through music therapy and different methodologies because their loved ones kept trying to reach them. For some it took five or more years, but I have seen parents blown away the first time they discovered that their non-verbal child had feelings and thoughts like anyone else. Their child just couldn't express it before they received the intervention that made a difference. So they were silent or did quirky things to show their emotion (like pacing, flapping, screeching, spinning, etc.) There are amazing people hidden inside and while not everyone experiences a miracle like in Holden's case, people need to see that there is a person "locked" inside. For some individuals, music is a very effective way to break through the locked persona and reach the person inside. Kingsbury does an incredible job of showing this.

I have to say I was skeptical of some things at first. One, because in the community where I live the way things are set up promotes interaction with children who have disabilities, so the teasing and bullying is not like it is in other cities. That just shows that mainstreaming kids with disabilities into classrooms with kids who don't have disabilities is essential to this type of positive influence. Anyway, that was just an aside.

The bottom line was that I loved the heart of this story. It touched me deeply because the author was spot on about so many things. I see this as a true ministry tool for families and I believe every high school should carry this book. The writing was excellent, too. But even though that is a given, I wanted to mention that the author made me forget I was reader numerous times. You may not want to read this book in public though, because you may need to explain why you are crying to onlookers. It's impossible to not feel some joy and pain while reading this book. The most intense emotion for me as I read Unlocked was the feeling of hope because I know this is true. It just reminded me of the reason I do my job. I think this is probably Kingsbury's best book yet, though I still have several titles she has written that I haven't gotten to read yet. Unlocked is making my best fiction of 2010 list.

Unlocked was published by Zondervan and released in Oct. 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Healing Hearts, the series: Real Characters with Real Lives - post by Linda Cl...

Healing Hearts, the series: Real Characters with Real Lives - post by Linda Cl...: " I write about hard issues. I admit it. But I don’t tackle alcoholism, substance abuse, mental illness and other hot-button issues because I..."

Monday, November 15, 2010

My review of Tandem by Tracey Bateman.

4/5 stars for being compelling and well-written, and 2/4 hearts for spiritual content. The sporadic flutters of faith most often connected back to Billy, his faith journey, and testimony. This book is unique from other vampire stories because it has a faith thread.

Tandem: A Novel 
About the book:

As obsession and loss become dark partners, how far must the people of Abbey Hills go to survive?

Six months ago, brutal murders shook the small Ozark town—murders that stopped after a house fire reportedly claimed the killer’s life. Lauryn McBride's family auction house has taken responsibility for the estate sale of one of the victims—the enigmatic Markus Chisom. Submerging herself in Chisom’s beautiful but strange world, Lauryn welcomes the reprieve from watching Alzheimer’s steal her father from her, piece by piece. She soon realizes that centuries-old secrets tie Abbey Hills to the Chisom estate and a mysterious evil will do anything to make sure those secrets stay hidden. Even the man who grew up loving her may not be able to protect Lauryn from the danger.

When Amede Dastillon receives an unexpected package from Abbey Hills, she hopes it might be the key in tracking down her beloved sister, long estranged from her family. Visiting Abbey Hills seems the logical next step in her search, but Amede is unusually affected by the town, and when mutilated carcasses begin turning up again in the small community, the local law enforcement isn’t sure if they are confronting a familiar evil or a new terror.

Two women brought together by questions that seem to have no answers.  Can they overcome the loss and darkness threatening to devour them—or will their own demons condemn them to an emotional wasteland?


My review: 

I'd rate this more like 3.75 stars, but it's close enough to four to round it up. I read this book in just a few days. The writing is top notch, but the point of the story was a bit confusing to me. I'm usually really good at seeing symbolism in a book or perceiving the author's message. This one is a bit murky in my mind. I am probably at a major disadvantage from not having read the first book.

This was a compelling story. It wasn't boring or same old same old. But it was also very...strange. I am not totally sure how I feel about it. It seems like quite a number of recent Waterbrook novels are dark and a bit scary. I couldn't even finish the one by Sigmund Brouwer. It was too freaky. When it comes to scary stuff I'm a bit of a chicken. I never did like Halloween type movies or any of that stuff. But thankfully this wasn't just a vampire story (those blood sucking parts did make me shudder.) It was also a mystery because you were trying to figure out who was killing people. Bateman does a fantastic job with sticking enough Red Herrings in the plot so as the reader you aren't quite sure who is killing the people either. That increased my anxiety level and I was concerned for the characters at every turn. That was interesting and not something I commonly experience when I read.

I enjoyed the whole antique cataloging business theme and the characterization of Lauryn. I loved the relationships she had with people and her realization that she was pretty alone in the world. By trying to hang on to some things she was actually short-changing herself, and her own life would suffer. I found it odd that a vampire helped her gain some insight into her life, but they were all good points that were made.

Regarding Lauryn's story...I enjoyed the romantic thread a lot. It was pretty heart-fluttering with some yummy kissing scenes, so that was really good. In fact, I would have loved it even more if there had been more of this in the book. I never quite figured out the connection between the parts Lauryn wrote about her past with Billy (and others) and the vampire parts of the novel. Maybe I'm just dense, but it wasn't clear to me.

That said, I have to go back to the story itself. It seemed to sort of wrap up, but also open to a possible third book in the series. I don't know if there is one in the works or not, but I can see it as a possibility. I didn't quite see the connection between some of the characters and the point of it all. But it's hard to explain that without posting spoilers, so I'll leave it at that.

Bottom line...this book was interesting. There was a faith thread, and though it was weak, it was there. That made it a better-than-average vampire novel. Bateman's writing is always compelling. That's one thing I like about her writing style. My favorite stories she has written are her historical fiction titles. She always does an excellent job with developing internal conflict and looking into the human mind, motivations, emotions, and other issues that need resolution in her books. I know I can always count on her to deliver in that area. I enjoy complex characterization, and Bateman is good at that.

Tandem was published by Waterbrook and released in October 2010.

New Giveaway! Now I'm giving away Hometown Ties by Melody Carlson!

For a chance to enter and win this book please post a comment with your email and an answer to this question... When you were in school, how many people in your graduating class had the same name you did? Were you friends with any of them?

There were two other Michelles in my class and I was acquainted with both, but not chummy. After I became a Christian (after high school) I hung out with another twenty-something named Michelle and when people saw us they called us the two Michelles. We were both blondes, too, and about the same height. :)

Hometown Ties: A Novel (The Four Lindas)

About the book: 

After decades out of touch, four fifty-something childhood friends have returned to the little coastal town of Clifden, Oregon, where they grew up. They look forward to supporting one another as they reinvent their lives. But second acts can be a challenge, and each woman feels the stretch. Widowed lawyer Janie struggles to leave the past behind and move forward. Emerging artist Marley wrestles with “painter’s block.” Empty-nester Abby fears no one takes her seriously, while beautiful Caroline has all she can do to keep her Alzheimer’s-patient mother at home…and wearing clothes! Plus, old resentments and new misunderstandings are beginning to strain the friendships they all count on. Can the Four Lindas sisterhood continue to thrive in the close quarters of one little hometown?

My thoughts:

I haven't read this book.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Order directly from the author...

Want to see video clips of your favorite authors (including me?)

The Person Behind the Pen 
(note: the author videos are in alphabetical order)

Connect with your favorite Christian authors as they offer a glimpse into their lives. We asked them to share their inspirations, typical work days and more. Just click on one of the following buttons to find out what they had to say.

If you'd like to join Christian Retailing's Author Corner, click here. 


What inspires you to write?

Three books everyone should read.

Listed above are links to two of the questions so you can see what they are like...

My review of The Mermaid's Pendant by LeAnn Neal Reilly.

3/5 stars for good characterization, but too much detail and crass language, 2/4 hearts due to a few prayers to Jesus and God, but not much else. It's almost a 1 heart rating, but since it's not completely spiritually dead, I gave it two. NOTE: This is not a Christian book, but a secular fantasy novel.

The Mermaid's Pendant

About the book:

Inspired by the beloved classic The Little Mermaid, THE MERMAID’S PENDANT is a modern fairy tale about growing up and discovering who you are—and what you believe in. At times lyrical, this novel is a fantastic journey filled with magic, myth, romance, and adventure.

Four years after John Wilkerson claims the mermaid Tamarind for his wife, they have an idyllic marriage that depends on a talisman that she crafted on their island paradise. But Tamarind learns a painful truth: it takes more than legs to live on land and more than magic to sustain a bond. When the talisman breaks, she and John are forced to rely on themselves instead of magic.

Three wise women play key roles in the young lovers’ journey to mature love. Ana, Tamarind’s aging mentor, casts spells and performs seductions to keep the lovers apart. Valerie, an ex-pat jewelry maker cum fairy godmother, works her own magic to bring them together. Lucy, their widowed neighbor, grounds the couple in the realities of marriage, parenting, and family.

My review:

My rating? It's more like 3.5 stars...

Let me explain my reasoning. First, I have never read the story about the Little Mermaid, nor have I even seen the Disney cartoon. Hey, I have boys, and it's not their thing. So I can't give it a plus or minus on how closely it fits to the actual fairy tale. In regards to the length of this book, I could easily see it divided into two or three books. It was too long, and could have been more effective if it was a series. That said, there were a lot of things to like about this book. I loved how the first part of the story was set in Puerto Rico. I don't recall ever reading a novel in this setting before, so that was nice.

The characterization was also pretty good. I felt like I knew John and Tamarind on a deeper level than the other characters because I understood much of their internal conflict. On the flip side there were too many points of view, though there was thankfully no head hopping. That would've driven me crazy. I don't think it was necessary to be in so many people's heads. Maybe Ana's, John's, Tamarind's and Zoe's. The rest seemed to bog things down. And while I liked Lucy, I am not sure why she was in there as deeply as she was toward the end. Yeah, she was a good version of an old mentor, but all of the complex stuff with her kids and grandkids seemed to take away from the overall story.

I did like the subplot with the medicine and the crooked doctors at John's company, though I'm not sure I needed that much detail either, or any of the points of view. It would have been just as enjoyable with less. Their were spurts of faith in Jesus and God mentioned in the book, but more from a religious perspective. I was surprised (in a good way) that a few characters prayed once or twice. I didn't really get the magic part of the story or the reason that Ana was so set on messing with Tamarind's life. I thought I would understand that at some point but it must've gone over my head somehow. I didn't see it. The language was a bit rough at times. If you dislike F bombs or an occasional semi-graphic sex scene, you will not want to read this story. Same with the black magic. That bird Ai gave me the creeps.

Overall, this was a good story. It just got bogged down at times with so many details and could have been shorter. The fact that I actually finished it is a compliment because I've given up on about fifty books this year, many of them no more than 250 - 300 pages in length. This book is almost twice that length.

Did I enjoy the story? Yes. Would I read it again? Probably not (due to the length, mostly.) Would I recommend it just anyone? No. Christians who don't like to read about sordid things will find some parts of this book offensive. Same with teenagers. Had there been less references to sexual situations and fewer cuss words, it would have been a much stronger book. Regardless, it challenged my mind and made me think, and I liked that.

The Mermaid's Pendant was published by Zephon books and released in March 2010.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My review of Faithful by Kim Cash Tate!

5/5 stars for excellence in everything (writing, plot, themes, characterization, etc), and 4/4 hearts for spiritual strength and healing hearts.

Faithful

About the book:

Three life-long friends experience life-altering struggles. Will they find the strength to be faithful to the covenants they've made with God...and each other? Cydney Sanders thought she knew God's plan for her life. She'd marry, have kids, and then snap her body back into shape with Tae Bo. But she's celebrating her fortieth birthday as the maid of honor at her little sister's wedding . . . and still single. Why would God give her this desire to marry, but no husband? And why is her life suddenly complicated by the best man-who's the opposite of what she wants in a husband? Cydney's best friend Dana has the perfect marriage. But when Dana discovers her husband's affair, her world goes into a tailspin. And Phyllis is out of hope after six years of unanswered prayers for her husband to find faith. When she runs into an old friend who is the Christian man she longs for, she's faced with an overwhelming choice. With life falling apart around them, can they trust God like never before?

My review:

I SO love the cover of this book. Now that I've read the story, I see the symbolism in it, and that made me appreciate the cover even more. I'm glad that the author was "Faithful" to write this book as I believe it will benefit a lot of people and I can easily see why it was chosen for Women of Faith. I hope I don't give away any spoilers in my review, but it's from my heart, so please forgive me if I do...

As far as realism goes, I found this book to be very sincere and believable. I sensed the author's heart for marriage and healing in this story. I could tell that she poured her heart into the message that was so skillfully woven into the story. This book, while dealing with Scriptures, church, and other Christian themes, did not feel preachy at all. I dislike preachy stories. This was so natural in flow and theme that I didn't feel like a sermon was being preached. That is a good thing, especially if people of weak faith read this book. It won't turn them off to the message.

Having known people in just about every situation written about in this story, I found the conflict to be well done. It showed the dark side of sin and temptation without getting too ugly. So many books where women were cheated on show rage that goes on and on and frankly, that gets old. I want to walk into the pages and tell the characters, "A-hem, you are supposed to love Jesus and believe in grace and forgiveness, remember?"

There was such a godly balance in this story that was refreshing. The author didn't shy away from showing the beauty of marital love and true peace in the home. These issues are so important and many authors skim over them, probably out of fear that it won't be well-received. I loved how deep the author delved into the story regarding the marital themes. Sex in marriage is beautiful and if the author had totally shied away from showing this, then the book would have been weak, at best. I also loved how the author showed that honesty is essential in any relationship for it to be solid enough to withstand temptation. Real love doesn't hold back.

Things tied up well at the end, but the story wasn't too neatly wrapped up. Some situations were still unresolved, but this wasn't bad because it was dealt with in such a way that it worked for the story. There was a very positive ending to this book, and in this current economy I think readers will find that refreshing as well. I'll bet that many couples aren't divorcing right now because it's simply too expensive to do that, so they live in misery. Kim shows that marriage is worth fighting for, and that friends need to support each other through the hard times.

I loved Cyd's struggle with Cedric. I've known guys who were players and honestly, after they've been doing that for years, some guys simply tire out from living the playboy lifestyle and start to regret the lack of true intimacy in their relationships. A strong Christian woman would be very attractive to a man who is tired of playing the field. I loved how she sensed the need to be cautious and not give in to the desires she felt because she'd just turned forty and had been faithfully single for many years. I also loved how she sought the Lord in regards to the relationship and listened to his voice. Plus, she was accountable to other women who were Christians.

I felt Phyllis's agony over the lack of spiritual connection with her husband and can see how easily that could be a snare for a woman who wanted more from their marriage. I also understood her husband's pain and the reason for his issues. This was powerfully done. I found it very realistic in regards to the temptation she felt and the emotions she experienced while fighting her emotional demons. In essence, she was having an emotional affair and that can be just as hard to break in some ways. But friends, faith, and good fellowship helped turn her around. I loved how much these ladies prayed for each other, too.

Dana's painful situation probably touched my heart the most. I loved the message in this subplot as well. Dana felt all of the emotions and grief that a woman would feel in her situation, but did so with a heart who had a personal relationship with the Lord. So she was sensitive to His voice. She also loved her husband. So many people think adultery is a rift that can never be repaired in a marriage. I've known several couples who have healed after adultery and it was always because both parties wanted to work it out, and while grieving, the person sinned against was willing to work through the pain rather than beating up the spouse that hurt them.

I loved how Scott never gave up and was willing to publicly humiliate himself for a greater purpose. Despite his mistakes he was committed to their marriage. I believed he was sincere and his confession sounded totally realistic to me. The whole church body benefited from his boldness. And Dana was such a wonderful example to all women who have been hurt. The message about Israel being unfaithful to God and how we are all unfaithful at times was a good one. We all need to be aware that we are capable of falling. It's when we stand on our own self-righteousness that we're the most vulnerable.

This book was so awesome that I almost read it straight through. It ranks high on my list of favorites for 2010. I've read a lot of good books this year and this was one of the most inspiring for me personally. I highly recommend it.

Faithful was published by Thomas Nelson and published in Sept 2010. This novel was provided to me for review by the publisher, however, this doesn't mean that I have post a favorable review. This is my honest opinion of the book.

Official blog tour stop for Red Ink by Kathi Macias!

Red Ink with Kathi Macias
Blog Tour Itinerary
November 1-15, 2010
Red Ink (Extreme Devotion Series, Book 3)
NOTE: I reviewed this book before it was published for the purpose of endorsing the book, so my actual review and endorsement are inside the book. I did not request an additional book to participate in this blog tour. Visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.
Questions/Answers from Kathi Macias

Red Ink is the third book in your four-book Extreme Devotion series. Each book is set in a different country, with the theme of first devotion and commitment to Christ above all else running through all four. How is Red Ink different, and who/what inspired you to write this book?

Red Ink is the only one of the four books that actually deals with someone being arrested and suffering specifically for her faith in Christ. The story is loosely based on my own personal heroine, Li Ying, who is currently serving a ten-year sentence in China for printing/distributing Christian materials, particularly to children. I pray for Li Ying daily, and I remind myself how very blessed I am to have the freedom to do what she did—without paying the price she now pays.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of this story?

A young Chinese woman, Zhen-Li—raised to observe the party line, including its one-child-per-family doctrine—falls in love with and marries a Christian, and adopts his faith. Though the couple downplays their Christianity in an effort to survive, Zhen-Li’s family is appalled, and she and her husband are ostracized. When she becomes pregnant for the second time and refuses to have an abortion, the persecution begins in earnest. Zhen-Li’s parents, under pressure from the government, pay to have Zhen-Li kidnapped and the baby aborted.

It is then Zhen-Li decides she must live up to her name—"Truth"—and take a firm stand for her faith, regardless of the consequences, and so she begins to regularly teach children about Zhu Yesu ("Lord Jesus") and to distribute Christian literature every chance she gets. Based loosely on the life of Christian magazine editor Li Ying, currently serving a ten-year prison sentence in China, the story of Yang Zhen-Li tells the desperate tale of her incarceration and separation from her family, as she continues to minister to other prisoners, and even to her guards, leading to a surprising conclusion that will both stun and challenge readers.

How did you get into writing? Has it always been your passion, or is it something you came to later in life?

I’ve always wanted to write, for as long as I can remember. I was an avid reader even before I started kindergarten. I wrote a short story in third grade that the teacher liked so much she showed it to the principal, and they decided to turn it into a play for the entire PTA. I was hooked! One day when I was about 13, I was walking home from school with my then boyfriend (now husband), Al, and I told him I’d be a writer some day. He often reminds me how blessed I am to have been able to do what I dreamed of all my life.

I understand you’re running a special contest that has to do with this book. Can you tell us about it?

Actually, I’m running the same contest twice—two chances to win a free Kindle! To be eligible, follow these three steps:
  • You have to read Red Ink and post reviews on Amazon, CBD, etc., and/or your personal blog;
  • You must also be a follower of my Easy Writer blog (address below); and,
  • Let me know via my website contact email: mailto:ezyrtr@ca.rr.com that you have met the requirements and want to be entered.
The first winner will be announced in early November; the second in mid-December, just in time for a last-minute Christmas gift.

In addition to writing, you are a popular speaker at women’s event, writers’ conferences, and various venues around the country. How can people find out more about you, your writing and speaking, sign up for your weekly devotional newsletter (in English or Spanish), and/or just view your many book videos, etc.?

They can find me at my website (http://www.kathimacias.com) or blog (http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com). There is a “contact” button on my website if they’d like to send me a message. I always respond to all my emails!

Kathi Macias
About the Author
Kathi is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where they spend their free time riding their Harleys.




For more on Blog Tour Management, please visit:

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Cool announcement regarding Loree Lough's latest book! (I endorsed it, so I have good taste!)

Beautiful Bandit (Lone Star Legends V1) 

The prestigious “Library Journal” gives two thumbs up to Loree Lough’s Beautiful Bandit! This novel’s cover was chosen to illustrate an article featuring a select number of recent Christian fiction releases, and reviewer Nanci Malone hill called Lough “ … a prolific author with many fans,” saying of Beautiful Bandit “…the clean, crisp writing and slowly unfolding love story here will appear to readers of Western romances and fans of Lori Wick.” 

My review of In All Things by Shawna K. Williams!

5/5 stars for excellence all around, 4/4 hearts for spiritual significance and healing hearts!

In All Things

About the book:

Jakob and Meri's story continues...

Meredith Louis's Hollywood career is at a point of transition. No longer under Majestic Studios control, Meri is free to broaden her appeal as an actress and finally earn the recognition she desires.

Meri and Jakob return to their hometown for the holidays where Meri hopes to reconcile with her parents after a decade of silence. But after a disastrous encounter, Meri is plunged into turmoil as old fears resurface in unexpected ways.

Jakob, already dealing with unresolved family issues of his own, is further burdened by his inability to help his wife. Can he learn to step aside and trust God's plan.Will Meri recognize what she already has?

In All Things is a story of faith and restoration, cemented in the belief, "...that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

My review:

I didn't think I could possibly enjoy the second book in this series more than the first. After all, No Other made my top fiction list for 2010. It's rare that more than one book in a series ends up on my favorites list in the same year. But In All Things struck a chord in me that resonates still. It had to do with characterization. Ms. Williams does a better job than most novelists in this department because she's not afraid to create human characters. Flawed characters. Characters who act like people act, not how we wish they would act or like some people's idea of publishing standards tells us they should act. I loved that about this book. The spiritual journey of each character flowed naturally and thus inspired me. Nothing seemed forced or contrived. Was anything "over the top?" Nope. Was there real emotion in this book? You betcha! I loved that. I also loved how the author showed the marital conflict and issues that came up in their relationship. Anyone could relate to those situations.

My heart engaged with each of the characters to some degree--even a few of the unlikable ones. They all made mistakes and had convincing regrets for those mistakes. They also made some good decisions along the way. The characters often tried to solve problems on their own rather than trusting God, and it took some major pitfalls to help them see that they needed to give everything they were trying to control over to God.

I loved the message about expectations and about trying to prove yourself to people. Sometimes people do things for the dumbest reasons, but to hurting hearts those things made a whole lot of sense at the time. People want to show their rivals that they weren't like some said they were or implied they were. Getting caught up in jealousies and insecurities made them vulnerable to all of the schemes the enemy cooked up to destroy their relationships with the Lord. This book exposes many of those nefarious tactics through the power of storytelling. I could go on and on but don't want to accidentally post any spoilers, so I'll refrain.

One of my favorite things about this book were Meri's dreams. The one about her seeing the housemaid when she was little was so realistic that I felt like I was watching a movie. I even heard the creaking and could see the maid's terrified face. That was a powerful scene, and the child's point of view that it was written in was flawlessly done. Also, the dreams Meri had about the future had almost a "Christmas Carol" feel to them, making them quite effective.

I loved how the author clearly showed the manipulation and seduction used by selfish people and how these schemes are often hard to detect at first. I was rooting for Meri and holding my breath at the same time. I loved how she had to deal with what really mattered most and loved experiencing with her the road she traveled to come to that conclusion. Bottom line--it had to be her choice. This issue was quite powerfully written and effectively shown.

There were so many insightful lessons in this book that were naturally woven into the plot and characterization that I could write a novel just posting them all. However, I want everyone to read this book for themselves. It had so much heart to it, unlike some of the anemic books I've read this year that barely touched on the inner workings of the heart and focused more on the era or the setting. This book was brave on so many levels, and I felt like I got to know the characters personally. I'm sure going to miss them. They'll have to live on forever on my favorite reads list for 2010.

Note: I reviewed an ARC of this book, but the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Monday, November 08, 2010

This is sooooo cool! A newspaper that pulls the twitter headlines into a readable format!

Don't believe me? You should subscribe in a reader. I can't believe how many writer's tips, contests, articles, etc. I have discovered that I would have missed if I had not created a twitter paper from the people I am following. It even has tabs to separate categories! Tell me what you think. Seriously, it's awesome!

Here is the link!  http://paper.li/MichelleSutton

New book contract signed today. In Sheep's Clothing by Michelle Sutton to release in September of 2011.

I thought this picture depicted my upcoming romantic suspense title well. The woman appears to be looking for a wolf inside that sheep. :) Actually she's just shearing off the wool, but the picture makes me want to add a thought bubble by her head that says, "I just know there is a wolf in here somewhere!"

Anyway, look for In Sheep's Clothing by Michelle Sutton - coming Sept 2011. Just wanted to share the good news.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

New giveaway! Now I'm giving away Love Finds You in Deadwood, South Dakota by Tracey Cross.

For a chance to enter the drawing to win this book simply post a comment about the toughest job you've ever had to do to support a family. If you haven't been in this situation personally, then just post what you think the toughest job would be if you had to support your family back in the pioneering days. I'll go first. The toughest job I've ever had was working for Child Protective Services. I had to work to support my family and provide health insurance for us all. If I'd had to pick the toughest job (for me) in the pioneer days (outside of the obvious saloon girl/prostitute?) I'd have to say being a wet nurse. Weird that this came to my mind, eh? I loved nursing my babies but don't know if I could do it all the time and for other people's infants.

Love Finds You in Deadwood, South Dakota

About the book:

Jane Albright is newly widowed, with one child to care for and another on the way. When she learns that she is at risk of losing the family home and freighting business to greedy moneylender Franklin Lloyd, she has no choice but to brandish a bullwhip and haul freight all the way to Deadwood, South Dakota. Franklin agrees to give Jane six months to pay the note, and it’ll take every ounce of grit she has to secure her children’s future. Franklin admires the strong and beautiful woman - but how can he help her when he is her greatest enemy?

My thoughts:

Got this book the same day I got LFY in Sugarcreek, Ohio. Haven't gotten a chance to crack this book open yet because I read the other one first. Too many books, so little time.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Two giveaways going on right now for my books. These are the last of them...

Never Without HopeTombstone Treasures Book Two: First Love



If you have wanted to read Never Without Hope  







or First Love (Tombstone Treasures, # 2)





then you might want to check these out and enter ASAP. I think these are the last of the giveaway opportunities for each book. :)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Whoo hoo! Christianbook.com now carries my Desert Breeze titles!



All of my Desert Breeze e-books are now on Christianbook.com so if you love CBD, check them out! CBD also takes PayPal in case you like that payment method. I know I do! I order more often from CBD because they take PayPal. Anyway, here is a link...

Link to my list of e-books on CBD

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Blog tour stop for The Mermaid's Pendant by Leann Neal Reilly!

The Mermaid’s Pendant Virtual Book Tour Oct & Nov ‘10  

Authors on Tour, Featured — By Dorothy Thompson on September 17, 2010 at 11:07 pm

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Join LeAnn Neal Reilly, author of the general fiction novel, The Mermaid’s Pendant (Zephon Books), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in October and November ‘10 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

 

About LeAnn Neal Reilly

LeAnn Neal Reilly

LeAnn Neal Reilly grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri, near the Missouri River, in that fertile land where corn, children, and daydreams take root and thrive. She spent countless hours reading and typing chapters on an old Smith-Corona in her closet, which luckily for her didn’t have doors. Then she put away her daydreams and her stories and headed off, first to graduate magna cum laude from Missouri Western State University, and later to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for a master’s degree in professional writing. Along the way, she majored briefly in chemistry, served as opinion editor and then editor of her college newspaper, and interned for the international design firm Fitch RichardsonSmith in Columbus, Ohio. The highlight of her internship came when she generated the product name renata for a Copco teakettle (although designing the merchandising copy for ceramic tile adhesive and insulation packaging surely runs a close second).
After graduate school, LeAnn worked first for a small multimedia startup and then a research group in the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science. At the startup, she spent her time writing user manuals and multimedia scripts for software to train CSX railroad engineers. While working among geeks, LeAnn became enamored and decided to take one home for herself. After getting married and starting a family, she returned to her adolescent daydreams of writing novels. Never one to shirk from lofty goals, she added home schooling her three children as her day job.

After years of working in an office not much better than an unfinished closet, LeAnn has finished The Mermaid’s Pendant and is currently working on her next novel. LeAnn joined GoodReads three years ago where she writes reviews regularly.

LeAnn lives outside Boston with one husband, three children, a dog named Hobbes (after Calvin &), and a cat named Attila.

LeAnn’s Web site is www.nealreilly.com.

 

About The Mermaid’s Pendant


The Mermaid's Pendant
Inspired by the beloved classic The Little Mermaid, THE MERMAID’S PENDANT is a modern fairy tale about growing up and discovering who you are—and what you believe in. At times lyrical, this novel is a fantastic journey filled with magic, myth, romance, and adventure.

Four years after John Wilkerson claims the mermaid Tamarind for his wife, they have an idyllic marriage that depends on a talisman that she crafted on their island paradise. But Tamarind learns a painful truth: it takes more than legs to live on land and more than magic to sustain a bond. When the talisman breaks, she and John are forced to rely on themselves instead of magic.

Three wise women play key roles in the young lovers’ journey to mature love. Ana, Tamarind’s aging mentor, casts spells and performs seductions to keep the lovers apart. Valerie, an expat jewelry maker cum fairy godmother, works her own magic to bring them together. Lucy, their widowed neighbor, grounds the couple in the realities of marriage, parenting, and family.

THE MERMAID’S PENDANT is a story for anyone who has ever believed in the transforming power of love.

Watch the video trailer!




The Mermaid’s Pendant Tour Schedule

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Friday, October 22
Interviewed at Pump Up Your Book
Book spotlighted at Virginia Beach Publishing Examiner
Monday, October 25
Book reviewed at Colloquium
Tuesday, October 26
Interviewed at Blogcritics
Wednesday, October 27
Guest blogging at The Cajun Book Lady
Thursday, October 28
Book reviewed at The Cajun Book Lady
Friday, October 29
Book reviewed at Ohio Girl Talks
Monday, November 1
Book reviewed at Books and Things
Tuesday, November 2
Book reviewed at Edgy Inspirational Author
Wednesday, November 3
Book reviewed at Yzhabella’s Bookshelf
Thursday, November 4
Guest blogging at Yzhabella’s Bookshelf
Friday, November 5
Book reviewed at Down Under Views
Monday, November 8
Book reviewed at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, November 9
Guest blogging at Diva’s Bookcase
Wednesday, November 10
Book reviewed at Diva’s Bookcase
Thursday, November 11
Book reviewed at Just Another Book Addict
Friday, November 12
Book reviewed at Marta’s Meanderings
Monday, November 15
Book reviewed at The Fiction Enthusiast
Tuesday, November 16
Book reviewed at Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm
Wednesday, November 17
Book reviewed at The Neverending Shelf
Guest blogging at Acting Balanced
Thursday, November 18
Book reviewed at You Have How Many Kids?
Book reviewed at Acting Balanced
Friday, November 19
Book reviewed at 2 Kids and Tired
Book reviewed at A Room Without Books is Empty
Monday, November 22
Book reviewed by Book Reviews by Molly
Book reviewed by Sherri’s Jubilee

This tour is brought to you by the fine folks at Pump Up Your Book.  If you’d like to find out how you can book your own virtual book tour with us, click on banner below!


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My review:

Eek! I didn't realize my review was due by Nov. 2nd! I thought it was later in the month around the 20th. Well, anyway, I started the book and I like it so far... but it will take me a few days to finish and write my review so stop back soon and check out my review later!

Monday, November 01, 2010

New November releases from ACFW authors!

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW website.

1. A Daughter for Christmas; Helping Hands Homeschooling Series by Margaret Daley -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. Can Dr. Max Connors make his dream of a family come true when he must tell the widowed mother of the daughter he never knew he had who he really is?

2. A Suitor for Jenny; Rocky Creek #2 by Margaret Brownley -- A Historical from Thomas Nelson. Jenny Higgins is determined to find husband for her two younger sisters and nothing, not even a handsome marshal, will stand in her way.

3. Behind the Scenes; Tabor Heights, Ohio Series by Michelle Levigne -- A Romance from Desert Breeze. Surrounded by crises, best friends transition to life partners, to their own surprise and the amusement of those who love them most.

4. Betrayal in the Badlands by Dana Mentink -- A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Steeple Hill. Isabel Ling and Logan Price must battle an enemy more deadly than the mighty Badlands.

5. In All Things, Sequel to “No Other” by Shawna K. Williams -- A Historical from Desert Breeze. Jakob and Meri never imagined that the tragedies of their past would one day be transformed into something wondrous and beautiful.

6. Lassoed in Texas by Mary Connealy -- A Romance from Barbour. A three-in-one of romantic comedy with cowboys.

7. Long Time Coming by Vanessa Miller -- Women's Fiction from Abingdon. Two women from different worlds find hope together in this heart gripping story of faith, forgiveness and reconciliation.

8. Mail Order Cowboy; Simpson Creek Brides by Laurie Kingery -- A Historical from Steeple Hill. A small-town Texas spinster finds love with an unlikely mail order groom.

9. Masquerade Marriage by Anne Greene -- A Historical from White Rose. When Lady Megan MacMurry chooses a husband from a secret list, she opens her broken heart to a Highland warrior's fight for life.

10. Soaring Home by Christine Johnson -- A Romance from Steeple Hill. A small-town girl plans to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.

11. Tales of the Dim Knight by Adam Graham and Andrea Graham -- A Sci-fi/Fantasy/Futuristic from Splashdown Books. Mild-mannered janitor and superhero fanboy Dave Johnson gets all his wishes at once when an alien symbiot gives him supernatural powers.

12. The Blacksmith's Bravery; #3, Ladies' Shooting Club
by Susan Page Davis -- A Historical from Barbour. A former saloon girl proves she can drive a six-horse hitch--and drive her boss crazy.

13. The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson -- A Historical from Summerside Press. A Cleveland detective pursues the Mafia family responsible for murdering the woman he loved until he meets an Amish woman with a secret that changes his life.
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