Month: November 2017

Book Recommendation | The Heart of an Agent by Tracey J Lyons

The Heart of an Agent is the sequel to A Changed Agent, which centred on the romance of Pinkerton agent Will Benton and schoolteacher Elsie Mitchell. Lily Handland was a minor character, Will’s Pinkerton partner. Now Lily has left the Pinkertons and wants to settle down in Heartston. Start a fresh life.

But Lily needs a job, and she’s not cut out to sew seams or serve in a boarding house restaurant. The banker suggests she consider investing in a local Great Camp, owned by widower Owen Murphy. The camp used to bustle with day visitors and vacationing guests, but it has fallen into ruin since the death of the perfect Rebecca Murphy.

The setting of one of the Great Camps of the Adirondacks was fascinating.

I’ve heard of the Adirondack chair (hasn’t everyone?). I may even have read a previous book set in an upper class camp in upstate New York. But that was just the setting. In The Heart of an Agent, the Great Camp is almost a character as the repair and resurrection of the Great Camp reflects Owen’s personal journey of healing and finding love again.

The one anticlimax was when Owen found out Lily’s big secret. It felt to me like he overreacted—possibly because we’d known her big secret almost from page one (that she was an ex-Pinkerton agent, and worked under cover as a saloon girl). It might have seemed fitting if he’d thought she was a gently raised choir girl, but she’d already told him parts of her past.

No matter. The conflict was short-lived, and we were able to get back to the main event, the romance. The Heart of an Agent was a classic Golden Age romance that achieved the difficult task of bringing a widower out of his slump, and focusing almost more on the characters and setting than the romance. It was all the better for that slow build.

Recommended for fans of Christian historical romance with a Golden Age setting, from authors such as Jen Turano and Karen Witemeyer.

Thanks to NetGalley and Waterfall Press for providing a free ebook for review.

About Tracey J Lyons

Tracey J LyonsTracey J. Lyons is the author of many historical romance novels, including The Women of Surprise series and The Adirondack Pinkertons series. An Amazon Top Ten bestselling historical romance author, she is a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Novelists, Inc. Her books have been translated into several languages, and she has appeared on the award-winning Cox cable television show Page One. Tracey lives with her family in Orange County, New York. When not busy writing, she enjoys making her husband crazy with renovation projects at their 1860s home.

You can find Tracey online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest

About The Heart of an Agent

Former Pinkerton spy Lily Handland has always dreamed of a quiet, safe life, free from chasing criminals and putting herself at risk. So when the opportunity to invest in a failing Great Camp in the Adirondacks comes to her attention, she quickly jumps at the chance.

Filled with grief, widower Owen Murphy wants to run away from it all. Though he’s worked hard to forge a future for himself, his guilt has kept him mired in the past. But all that changes when a headstrong, mysterious woman shows up at Owen’s door. Together, as Lily and Owen restore the beauty of the Great Camp, he begins to finally see a future. But will learning about Lily’s past destroy it all?

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UK | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to The Heart of an Agent below:

Bookish Question #34 | How do you find new authors to read?

Bookish Question #34 | How do you find new authors to read?

Last week I asked if you read new (or new-to-you) authors.

This week I’m looking at the obvious follow-up question: how do you find out about new authors?

I’ve been reviewing books for a little over six years now, and it’s amazing to think how my answer to this question has changed in the last five to ten years. Once upon a time, I discovered new authors and new books in only one way: by visiting my local Christian bookshop (or bookshops, as they often carried different stock).

Then I discovered mail order—Koorong at first, then Amazon and Book Depository (back in the old days, before they were bought by Amazon). Then I moved to a smaller city where the public library system carried a lot of Christian fiction (helpfully identified by the cross sticker on the spine).

Later, I discovered Amazon reviews, Amazon Top 100 genre lists, and Amazon discussion forums (which have recently been deleted). Through Amazon, I discovered Goodreads and book blogs. And NetGalley, Edelweiss, and book blogger programmes. So I became book blogger …

I now find the books I read and review from three main sources, and a bundle of others:

NetGalley

I get most of the ebooks I review from NetGalley (click here to read my blog post Introducing NetGalley). I can search for books classified as Christian, or I can search through the publishers I’ve marked as favourites.

FirstLineFriday

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

There are thousands of book bloggers, and probably hundreds of blogging groups with various themes. Some groups have what they call a “meme”, where they all post a linked post at the same time each week. I particiate in FirstLineFriday, which is a group of (mostly) Christian fiction bloggers.

I add at least one book to my to-read pile every Saturday after reading the #FirstLineFriday posts! This may or may not be a good thing ..

Authors

As a book reviewer, I’m also approached directly by authors looking for reviews for the books they’ve published. Many of these requests are clearly outside my preferred genre (like being offered general market memoir when I say I review Christian fiction). Others are within my genre, but I can only accept the offers which excite me—reviewers aren’t paid, and I can’t read every book I’m offered.

Other Sources

I also find some books through other sources, such as Amazon, BookBub (and other mailing lists), Facebook (e.g. the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction group), Goodreads (what my friends are reading and reviewing), and through author email lists (perhaps that’s a topic for another week).

What about you? How do you find new authors to read?

As he reviewed the logs from Kaylene's car, he was impressed. She was venturing beyond the short leash he had given her.

First Line Friday | Week 16 | Imperfect Justice

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to open the book nearest you and share the first line.

Today I’m sharing the first line from Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman.

As he reviewed the logs from Kaylene’s car, he was impressed. She was venturing beyond the short leash he had given her.

I’m a big legal thriller fan, and I think Cara Putman is one of my new favourite authors (along with Rachel Dylan). Great characters, great plot, great writing. And plenty of legal shenannigans, but not so much that I lose the plot. Perfect!

About Imperfect Justice

The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . . can they?

To the world it seems obvious: Kaylene Adams killed her daughter and then was shot by police. Attorney Emilie Wesley knows a different story: Kaylene would never hurt anyone and was looking for a way out of a controlling, abusive relationship. Her death shakes Emilie’s belief that she can make a difference for women in violent marriages. Self-doubt plagues her as she struggles to continue her work in the wake of the tragedy.

Reid Billings thought he knew his sister—right up until he learned how she died. He discovers a letter from Kaylene begging him to fight for custody of her daughters if anything should happen to her. No attorney in her right mind would support an uncle instead of the father in a custody case, but Kaylene’s letter claims Emilie Wesley will help him.

Thrown together in the race to save Kaylene’s surviving daughter, Emily and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. If they can hang on to hope together, can they save a young girl—and find a future for themselves in the process?

Find Imperfect Justice online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UK
ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Click the button to check out what my fabulous fellow FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

You can then click on the link which will take you to the master page, which holds all this week’s #FirstLineFriday posts.

And you can click here to check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

Share your first line in the comments, and happy reading!

Book Recommendation | Birds and Bees by the Book by Patricia Weerakoon

13 – 17 November 2017

Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

Is Introducing
Publisher CEP, July 19, 2017

Book Description

People have been talking about the birds and the bees since Adam and Eve walked the earth. Yet the conversation hasn’t become easier! With so many messages about sexuality, gender and identity around them, our children need a safe space to learn about these topics now more than ever.
Designed for parents and carers to read with children aged 7 to 10, Birds and Bees by the Book has been created to help you to have these conversations at your own pace.
Written by renowned sex educator Patricia Weerakoon, the six books in this set are designed to be read in whichever order suits you and your child. They cover three foundational topics that help children to understand the family structures in the world around them, and how their body and brain are developing as they grow. There are also three extension topics that teach children what is involved in sexual activity, what it means to be a boy or a girl, and how to protect themselves against pornography if they stumble across it.
All of these topics are framed within the Bible’s message that children are unique creations of God, and that sex is a precious gift to be used carefully and wisely in the context of marriage.

About the Author

Patricia Weerakoon is a Sexologist and Writer. She trained in medicine in the University of Sri Lanka. She is an evangelical Christian. She is married to Vasantha. Her son Kamal is a Presbyterian minister. As a Sexologist she has translated her passion to bring good holistic sexual health to all people into practical sex education, sex research and sex therapy.
Her writing and speaking brings together her enthusiasm for sex and her love for the glory of God. The Christian framework of sex therapy she offers has enriched and empowered the sex life of couples and singles. She has a recognised media presence and is a highly regarded public speaker and social commentator in sexuality and sexual health.
Patricia retired in 2011 after a twenty-three year career as an academic with the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Sydney, the last eight years of which she was the director of an internationally acclaimed graduate program in Sexual Health.

My Review

Like it or not, sex is everywhere in our culture, and no one can escape the fact. Not Christians, not children, not even Christian children. As Christian parents, we need to raise our children to understand sex, and understand its place in our lives. The easiest time to introduce many of these concepts are when children are young, before it becomes the topic of playground discussion, and when they are young enough that they actually listen to us and respect our parental opinions.

Birds and Bees by the Book is a set of six books for children about sex. It is written by Patricia Weerakoon, an Australian Christian sexologist, and published by Growing Faith, an imprint of Anglican Youthworks. The books are beautifully illustrated by Lisa Flanagan. Penny Reeve, a popular Australian children’s author, served as an editorial consultant, and Alyson Officer was the Child Psychology Consultant.

The books are:

  • Me and My Family
  • Me and My Body
  • Me and My Brain
  • Learning About Sex
  • Learning About Gender
  • Learning About Pornography

I admit those last two gave me pause! However, I soon found the books are designed to be read in order, so each builds on the previous book.

Me and My Family

Me and My Family presents a traditional Christian view of marriage and family: that God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman. It is made clear this was God’s plan right back from the time of creation. Yes, it does include broad details of the sexual act, but I believe this is necessary. If a child knows and believes sex outside marriage is wrong but doesn’t know what sex is, how are they to truly know right from wrong? This lack of knowledge provides fertile ground for sexual abuse.

The book also recognises the practicalities of modern life, that “not all families have one mother, one father, and children who come from that mother and father”, and there are many reasons for that, including fostere ing and adoption. Me and My Family touches on same-sex relationships in a non-judgemental manner in that it doesn’t say these are outside God’s plan (although that could be implied). Instead, it emphasises the fact that God loves all children, no matter their family circumstances. It finishes with an invitation to join God’s family.

Me and My Body

Me and My Body tackles the inaccurate views on body image we subconsciously absorb from the media. Girls don’t have to be tall and skinny. Boys don’t have to be strong and muscly. (Yes, there are a couple of lessons here for adults as well). God made us, and we are special just the way we are. There is also a brief mention of cyber-bullying.

It moves on to point out that we cover certain parts of our bodies because they are special, and that no one should touch those parts. It’s bad touching, and children should always tell an adult if someone touches them in a way that makes them feel bad. Again, the book finishes with a brief gospel message, an invitation to become part of God’s family.

Me and My Brain

Me and My Brain manages to get into some heavy brain science in a child-friendly way, explaining that it is important to feed our brains in a good way, so we make good decisions. This means not playing lots of violent video games or watching TV programmes with adults having sex (again, probably a message for parents as much as for children). The book again ends with a promise that if we do make bad desicions, Jesus will forgive us.

Learning About Sex

Learning About Sex helps children understand why sex is meant only for marriage—becuase it binds us at a brain level (Patricia’s books for teens and adults explain this in medical terms). She goes on to explain that our bodies mature sexually before our brains, and that we have to grow up (literally and figuratively) before we are ready for marriage and sex (in that order!). It also reinforces some of the messages from the previous books in the series.

Learning About Gender

Learning About Gender talks about the biological differences between males and females, and the difference between sexual love and friendship love. It also introduces the idea that some children (very few) are born as intersex or transgender. This isn’t their fault—Patricia says ït’s just one way that our world has moved away from how God intended it to be. And this is why everyone needs Jesus.”

The key point in Learning About Gender is that it encourages children not to bully other children who don’t look or behave according to their view of “normal”, and especially not to call other people gay or lesbian or bi as an insult. Jesus never insulted or bullied people, and nor should we. He loves us as we are. I’ve come across more than a few adults who say they are Christians but have yet to learn this lesson.

Learning About Pornography

Learning About Pornograhy again builds on the previous books, using lanugage children will understand. It defines pornography as “pictures and videos that are bad and unhealthy for your brain”, and “sexual activity without love or marriage.” It takes us back to Jesus, the perfect example of how God wants us treat other people, and contrasts that with the way pornography treats people. It encourages us to use our thinking brain when we see these pictures, to like what is good, and to find something else to do so our brains don’t trick us into looking at more wrong things.

Summary

Overall, Birds and Bees by the Book strikes an excellent balance between being too vague and being too explicit. It explains some complex scientific concepts in language a child can understand, but without getting too detailed. That’s the mark of a true expert.

My one criticism is that the books occasionally feel as though they might be talking down to children, referring to “children of your age”. This probably won’t bother younger children, but it might feel patronising to older children. Having said that, the books are designed to be read to children rather than being read independently. That’s not to say they can’t be read independently. They can, and I suspect most 7 to 10-year-olds would be able to read these unaided.

But I loved the way the topics were dealt with in an age-appropriate manner, and the way God was woven in throughout. After all, God designed sex, and He made all things to be good. Including sex. It’s time we as Christians reclaimed that.

Yes, I get these are difficult subjects. I get that children shouldn’t have to know about these things. But they do—my son first saw pornography at the age of nine on a school computer that (obviously) had insufficient content controls. We need books like this to explain difficult subjects like sex and pornography in an age-appropriate and child-friendly way. And it’s even better that these books are written from a Christian point of view.

Recommended for all parents of young children.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a free set of the books for review.

Book Review | The Struggle: 4 Girls and 1 Bathroom

The Struggle: 4 Girls and 1 Bathroom is not the normal kind of book I review.

For one thing, it’s not a novel. Well, not really. The first book in the “series”, Mom and the Summertime Blues, was a summer holiday project Patrice Smith assigned her four daughters so they wouldn’t get bored (click here to read my review). This is the follow-up, written over the course of a school year. While the names have been changed, I have no doubt all these events actually occurred. This makes The Struggle more memoir than fiction.

Four sisters, two parents, and one bathroom.

I can see The Struggle! But that’s not all the book talks about. Each of the four sisters contributes three chapters, one from the beginning of the school year, one from the middle, and one from their summer trip. Mom starts with an apology, and wraps up loose ends to finish.

I enjoyed The Struggle.

I know it’s meant for middle grade and younger young adult readers, but I’d also recommend it toe homeschooling parents looking for ideas for school (or holiday) projects. I suspect there is a large market of grandparents who would love a real printed book by their grandchildren. Amazon CreateSpace and other Print on Demand printers means such an undertaking doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

I’d also recommend The Struggle: 4 Girls and 1 Bathroom to those writing for a middle grade or young adult audience because of the insight it offers into the way modern pre-teen and teenage girls think. Part of me wants to know if the whole project is Patrice Smith’s sneaky plan to get to know her daughters better … or maybe not:

“I must say, my mom has done really well with the manipulating of her kids to eat the way she wants them to. She should write a book. Wait, what did I just say?”

Parts made me laugh out loud:

“My teacher makes coffee at the same time every morning. Nothing happens until she has some coffee in her hands. If you are smart, you stay out of her way until she has had at least one cup.”

I couldn’t possibly comment. Other parts reminded me how fast trends move on:

“My mom says by the time this book is published, I won’t want a fidget spinner anymore and people willl no longer be excited by them, but I doubt it.”

I suspect Mom was right. Big surprise.

The book also includes discussion questions (with thorny questions such as “Why do parents say No?”), and a word list, including the words that some younger readers might not know or understand (like vegan and chia).

Thanks to Patrice Smith for providing a free ebook for review. I’ll look forward to reading the next family project!

About the Authors

The StruggleThe authors of the book The Struggle: Mom and the Summertime Blues and The Struggle: 4 Girls & 1 Bathroom are from Middle Georgia. The authors consist of a mom and her four daughters. The mom, Patrice Smith, is a second-time author, who has previously coauthored a healthy living cookbook. She received a Bachelor of Science in Human Resources and Family Studies from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

The four adolescent authors are Donna Smith age 16, Shannon Smith age 15, Charity Smith age 13, and Faith Smith age 12. They are all very active, school-aged girls with a variety of interests which include reading, drawing, singing, art and more. The inspiration for the first book came from their real-life mom’s summer writing assignment. This book is inspired by their real life, but it is a work of fiction. Be on the lookout for future works by these talented authors.

About The Struggle: 4 Girls and 1 Bathroom

The Struggle: 4 Girls & 1 Bathroom is the sequel to the book entitled The Struggle: Mom and the Summertime Blues. It is also about the lives of four sisters, Diamond, Shelia, Crystal, and Felicity. Previously, these sisters wrote about having to endure a long summer with their mom and her never-ending lists of chores and schoolwork. Now they are back to discuss their upcoming school year. But this time, no one is safe from their complaints!

Read the introduction to The Struggle below:

Book quote

Book Recommendation| The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

Love Jane Austen?

I’ve read and enjoyed all of Katherine Reay’s books, some more than others (isn’t that always the case?). I am an Austen fan, so I was looking forward to reading The Austen Escape. But after meeting Isabel and the other characters I suspect I’m less an Austen fan than someone who has read all her books a few times. “Fan” is apparently short for “fanatic”, and these characters are fanatics. They know their Austen.

But The Austen Escape will be fun even for those readers like me who can’t find an appropriate Austen quote for every situation. (I’ve even refused to even watch the Keira Knightley version of Pride & Prejudice, because no one can top Colin Firth’s Darcy). Once the characters arrive at Braithwaite House, they not only dress in Regency costumes but take on the identities of Austen’s characters.

This has the potential to get confusing.

However, the novel starts with a useful summary of all the main Austen characters mentioned in the book—which I glossed over, and shouldn’t have. If I’d been reading a paper copy rather than a Kindle review copy, I’d probably have been flicking backwards and forwards to keep up. As it was, I also glossed over some of the identities the characters took on, and focused on Isabel and Mary.

Mary is an intelligent and competent woman, an engineer with a small start-up in Austin, Texas, designing I didn’t understand what (but it didn’t matter). I liked her passion for her work, and her quirks such as using electrical wire to tie her hair back. She’s facing conflict at work from a new boss who wants to professionalise and systematise her workplace. She doesn’t exactly jump at the offer of a two-week all-expenses-paid first-class trip to Bath, England, with her best friend, but she does agree to go.

The story lost impetus for me at this point.

I’d enjoyed seeing Mary in her home environment, even with the conflict from her boss, and the not-conflict from her avoiding the consultant she had a crush on. But when they got to England, there were a couple of things which made me lose interest.

Isabel lost her memory (really, that’s a spoiler. But it’s in the book description so blame them, not me), Mary receives a phone call, and the story picked up again … and kept going full tilt until the finish. I loved the end—so much I read those last few chapters three times. The end definitely made up for the middle, and it had all the aww! factor required for a romance.

The air stilled ... book quote

I enjoyed visiting Bath through Mary’s eyes—she didn’t have the parking problems or the disinterested husband I had when I visited. Mary also didn’t have the jetlag most of us experience after trans-Atlantic flights.

One maybe-complaint is that The Austen Escape is published by Thomas Nelson, so some readers may pick it up expecting Christian fiction. It isn’t.

I didn’t notice as I was reading, but there was no faith aspect to the story—something which in hindsight seems odd, as Austen was a minister’s daughter and church played a major role in the lives of several of her characters. On the other hand, Austen was never overt about her faith in the way many readers expect of modern Christian authors. In this way, Reay reflects Austen, and I’m sure many readers will see that as a good thing.

Overall, recommended for Austen fans and Katherine Reay fans. That should pretty much cover most people.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Katherine Reay

Katherine ReayKatherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries—who provide constant inspiration both for writing and for life. She is the author of three previous novels, and her debut, Dear Mr. Knightley, was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist, winner of the 2014 INSPY Award for Best Debut, and winner of two Carol Awards for Best Debut and Best Contemporary.

Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University and is a wife, mother, runner, and tae kwon do black belt. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family recently moved back to Chicago.

Find Katherine Reay online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest| Twitter | Goodreads

Click below to find The Austen Escape online:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Would you enjoy an Austen escape to Bath, England?

 

Do you read books by new authors?

Bookish Question #33 | Do you read books by new-to-you authors?

We all have favourite authors—authors where we’ve read every novel they’ve written.

Where we stalk their websites and social media for cover reveals and announcements about their next release. Where we click the Amazon Kindle pre-order button as soon as it appears, or where we have a standing order with our friendly local Christian bookstore? (That is normal, right?)

[If you want to know my favourite authors, sign up for my email list and I’ll send you a list. Actually, several lists. One for each of my favourite genres. But they are all in one document. Although I need to update it.]

Then there are the good authors, the ones we’ll read if we find a book in the library, if it’s on sale on Kindle, and if we don’t already have eleventy-billion books in our to-read pile (I know some of you can count the number of books on your to-read pile on the fingers of one hand. Just don’t judge the rest of us. Please).

But what about new authors? Do you read books by new authors?

Of course, “new authors” can have different meanings. It could be debut author, where you’re reading their first ever book (like The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner). It could be debut fiction author—someone with one or more non-fiction books who has now made the jump to fiction (like Grace in Strange Disguise by Christine Dillon).

Or it could be a new-to-you author—one who has published other novels, but none that you’ve read. I had that recently. I read Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan, thinking it was her first novel. It wasn’t, but her other novels were Love Inspired Suspense.

Being a book reviewer means I read a lot of debut authors, and new-to-me authors. In fact, I often seek out books from debut or newer authors, because I want to see what’s trending in Christian fiction. Who are the new authors? What genres are they writing? What is changing in terms of writing styles.

I want to know this as a reader, because I don’t want to miss out on good books from new authors. I want to know as a reviewer, so I can recommend books to people who will enjoy them. And I want to know as a freelance editor, because I want to know I’m giving my clients up-to-date advice.

And I don’t want to miss out on good books.

What about you? Do you read books by new-to-you authors?

The world stilled. It wasn't the first time I wondered how one voice, one presence, could quicken the air and simultaneously stop all motion.

First Line Friday | Week 16 | The Austen Escape

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to open the book nearest you and share the first line.

Today I’m sharing the first line from The Austen Escape by Katharine Reay.

Well, the first two lines, because it’s the second line that really got me hooked!

“How can I help?”
The world stilled. It wasn’t the first time I wondered how one voice, one presence, could quicken the air and simultaneously stop all motion.
Nathan.

Ohh! Doesn’t that make you want to keep reading? And it’s Katherine Reay, who is a great writer, and it has the magic word in the title: Austen. If I think about it, these first few lines are very Austenesque. They foreshadow and summarise the plot in the same way as the opening line of Emma.

Yes, there will be a full review of The Austen Escape soon! (I actually typed ‘swoon’. That fits as well.)

About The Austen Escape

Falling into the past will change their futures forever.

Mary Davies finds safety in her ordered and productive life. Working as an engineer, she genuinely enjoys her job and her colleagues – particularly a certain adorable and intelligent consultant. But something is missing. When Mary’s estranged childhood friend, Isabel Dwyer offers her a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England, she reluctantly agrees in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways.

But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes she lives in Jane Austen’s Bath. While Isabel rests and delights in the leisure of a Regency lady, attended by the other costume-clad guests, Mary uncovers startling truths about their shared past, who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who now stands between them.

Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation, work out their lives and hearts.

Click below to find The Austen Escape online:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Now click the button to check out what my fabulous fellow FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

And you can click here to check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

Share your first line in the comments, and happy reading!

Quote from Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

Book Review | Vanishing Point by Lisa Harris

First in a New Series

I selected Vanishing Point to review because it was a Nikki Boyd novel, and I’ve previously read Lisa Harris’s three earlier novels featuring Nikki Boyd, and I thought this was part of the same series. It isn’t, but it is.

If you haven’t read the Nikki Boyd Files but you enjoy Christian thrillers with a touch of romance, then do yourself a favour and don’t read the rest of this review. It doesn’t share any information that wasn’t in the earlier books, but I think it would be a better read if you didn’t have the history. Or is that the future story?

The earlier novels, Vendetta, Missing, and Pursued, are the Nikki Boyd Files. Each is a contemporary Christian suspense novel, following Nikki Boyd through an case. Nikki is an agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and while the major plot of each novel is a current investigation, the subplot is her search for her sister, who was abducted outside her school more than ten years ago and hasn’t been seen since.

I initially though Vanishing Point was a sequel to the Nikki Boyd Files, but it’s not.

It’s a prequel. The first quarter of the book is set in 2004, and is the investigation into an abduction and murder of a teenage girl. The investigators work out it’s actually the third murder by a previously unrecognised serial killer, dubbed the Angel Abductor by the press.

The book then leaps forward to 2005 and the disappearance of another girl—Sarah Boyd. We are introduced to Nikki as the older sister of the victim, a teacher in a local school. Despite being the character this new series is named for, Nikki Boyd doesn’t appear again until the halfway point, in 2006, when another girl disappears.

This is awkward.

I’ve read Vendetta, Missing, and Pursued, so I know the TBI still hasn’t caught the Angel Abductor in 2016. So at the halfway point, I’m wondering what’s going to happen in Vanishing Point? Is it going to skip ten years in the future and solve the case (in which case the entire first half of the book is backstory)? Or is it going to stay in 2006 and leave the central crime unsolved, a cold case?

Like I said, awkward.

It’s probably no secret what happens, because the book description gives it away. Not that I read the book description before I started reading the book—I requested my review copy based on the fact it was about Nikki Boyd, and by Lisa Harris.

It was a good read—plenty of suspense, a little romance, and a solid underlying Christian theme.

And even though Vanishing Point was a little awkward, I’ll definitely want to read more in the series. Recommended for fans of Christian suspense.

Thanks to NetGalley and Revell for providing a free ebook for review.

About Lisa Harris

Lisa HarrisI’m a wife, mom, teacher, author, dreamer, photographer, world explorer, but most importantly a follower of Christ Jesus.

I currently live with my husband near the Indian Ocean in Mozambique where we work as church-planting missionaries. We’ve started the empty next stage with two children spread around the globe and a third—thankfully—still at home.

As a homeschooling mom, life is busy, but I see my writing as an extension of my ministry which also includes running a non-profit organization.

The ECHO Project works in southern Africa promoting Education, Compassion, Health, and Opportunity and is a way for us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” (Proverbs 31:8)

When I’m not working l love hanging out with my family at the beach, playing games, cooking different ethnic dishes, and heading into the African bush on safari.

Find Lisa Harris online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

About Vanishing Point

During Garrett Addison’s first week on the job as a criminal investigator for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his team is called out to a murder scene of a young girl. She’s the third victim in a string of disappearances with one thing in common–a Polaroid photo of each victim left behind at the crime scene.

The FBI is pulled into the case to help, and Garrett finds himself working with Special Agent Jordan Lambert, the woman he once loved. When yet another girl dies–number six–Garrett blames himself and believes he doesn’t have what it takes to be an agent. What he’ll discover is that, while he may be done with the killer, the killer is not done with him–or Jordan.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris unveils an unforgettable story of a case that has haunted the public and law enforcement for more than a decade. Fans of the Nikki Boyd Files will thrill to finally discover what actually happened to Nikki’s sister, Sarah. New readers will become instant fans after devouring this chilling tale.

Click below to find Vanishing Point online:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UK | ChristianBook | Goodreads

Read the introduction to Vanishing Point below:

New Releases in Christian Fiction | November 2017

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

Contemporary Romance

Rooted in Love by Valerie Comer — A divorcé with a set of rambunctious twins falls for the boys’ daycare administrator, but does he deserve another chance at love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Prescription for Romance by June Foster — Though history teacher Scott Townsend made a commitment to the Lord as a teen, he can’t relinquish his bitterness toward his younger brother after he squanders their parents’ money. When a beautiful, young pharmacist seeks affirmation in a way that challenges Scott’s values, he must uphold his Christian upbringing. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romance [Winged Publication])

Believing in Tomorrow by Kimberly Rae Jordan — Sammi struggles to accept the consequences for her actions and to live with her new reality—unwed mother instead of wife and then mother. Though it eats at her soul, she feels that the judgment she faces is her lot to bear. Can Levi get Sammi to see that their child deserves better? Or will she lose everything she’s dreamed of for her tomorrow because she can’t accept that forgiveness is hers for the taking? (Contemporary Romance, ACFW QIP)

Texas Christmas Twins by Deb Kastner — Miranda Morgan’s Christmas will be twice as busy now that she’s guardian of her sister’s sweet twin babies. But the celebrity photographer is happy to trade a glamorous LA lifestyle for motherhood in her small hometown of Wildhorn, Texas. Unfortunately, the twins’ handsome godfather, Simon West, is unconvinced. The brooding rancher isn’t thrilled about letting sunny, spontaneous Miranda into his carefully managed world. Though they disagree on almost everything, Simon and Miranda discover common ground as they work to make the twins’ first country Christmas cozy and bright. Could this holiday transform Miranda and Simon’s tentative friendship into a forever love? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Historical

The Legacy by Carol Ashby — A father’s martyrdom makes his son and daughter hunger for revenge on their brother who betrayed him and the people who led him to faith until God answers their father’s final prayer in unexpected ways. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

Jerusalem Rising by Barbara M. Britton — When Adah bat Shallum finds the governor of Judah weeping over the crumbling wall of Jerusalem, she learns the reason for Nehemiah’s unexpected visit,God has called him to rebuild the wall around the City of David. Nehemiah challenges the people of God to labor on the wall and in return, the names of their fathers will be written in the annals for future generations to cherish.

But Adah has one sister and no brothers. Will her father, who rules a half-district of Jerusalem, be forgotten forever? Adah bravely vows to rebuild her city’s wall, though she soon discovers that Jerusalem not only has enemies outside the city, but also within. Can Adah, her sister, and the men they love, honor God’s call? Or will their mission be crushed by the same stones they hope to construct? (Historical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Historical Mystery

Death at Thorburn Hall by Julianna Deering — Amateur sleuth Drew Farthering and his wife Madeline travel to Scotland for the 1935 British Open, but instead of a relaxing holiday, they find murder, mystery, and international intrigue. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])

Waiting for His Return by Carrie Turansky — The daughter of a wealthy Tennessee doctor falls in love with an injured artist-correspondent on assignment to cover the battles near Union occupied Nashville. (Historical Mystery from Flowing Stream Books)

Historical Romance


The Virtuous Viscount by Susan M. Baganz — Lord Remington falls for a woman he rescues and recovers in his home, but can Miss Storm trust his virtue when he risks his reputation to unbeknownst to her, saves her life. (Historical Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])


Lord Phillip’s Folly by Susan M. Baganz — Lord Westcombe finds himself falling in love with his unexpected wife and having to rescue her from the devices of the Black Diamond with the help of his friends and newfound faith. (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

The Regency Brides Collection by Amanda Barratt, Angela Bell, Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Nancy Moser, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch — Romance is a delicate dance bound by rules and expectations in Regency England…

Seven couples must navigate society’s gauntlet to secure the hand of true love…. Charity and Luke are strangers who were forced to marry three years ago. Adelaide and Walter share a love of music and disdain for elitism. Caroline and Henry are thrown together by three orphans. Helen and Isaac harbor his unlikely secret. Esther is empowered to choose between two men. Sophia is determined not to choose a man like Nash. Jamie and William face a daunting London season together. Will their faith grow and love prevail in a time when both were considered luxuries the elite could not afford? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas — Judd Markley is a hardworking coal miner who rarely thinks much past tomorrow until he loses his brother–and nearly his own life–in a mine cave-in. Vowing never to enter the darkness of a mine again, he leaves all he knows in West Virginia to escape to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s 1954, the seaside community is thriving, and Judd soon hires on with a timber company.

Larkin Heyward’s life in Myrtle Beach is uncomplicated, mostly doing volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more–maybe moving to the hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she’s never even met someone who’s lived there–until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father’s timber company. Drawn together in the wake of a devastating hurricane, Judd and Larkin each seek answers to what tomorrow will bring. As opposition rises against following their divergent dreams, they realize that it may take a miracle for them to be together. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Legal Thriller

Guilty Blood by Rick Acker — A desperate mother tries to prove her son’s innocence, but shadowy forces want to keep him in jail–and kill him there. (Legal Thriller from Waterfall Press)

Romantic Suspense

An Unexpected Legacy by Amy R. Anguish — When Chad Manning introduces himself to Jessica Garcia at her favorite smoothie shop, it’s like he stepped out of one of her romance novels. But as she tentatively walks into a relationship with this man of her dreams, secrets from their past threaten to shatter their already fragile bond. Chad and Jessica must struggle to figure out if their relationship has a chance or if there is nothing between them but a love of smoothies. (Romantic Suspense from Tulpen Publishing)

Christmas Double Cross by Jodie Bailey — Undercover Texas Ranger Colter Blackthorn’s convinced Danielle Segovia is really a wanted criminal—until she’s nearly kidnapped right in front of him. Now Colter must keep her out of the clutches of the notorious drug cartel leader whose traitor sister is a dead ringer for Danielle. The drug czar wants the drugs he thinks the pretty shop owner stole from him. And with the younger brother Danielle is raising dragged into the crosshairs, Colt has to find a way to protect them both. But a showdown at Christmas—with Danielle as bait—may be the only way to make sure they all survive the holidays. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright — Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide. A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–including her own–are lost? (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Speculative

Awakened by Morgan L. Busse — The monster has awakened. After her escape from the Tower and from her father’s experiments, Kat Bloodmayne wakes up to discover the dark power inside of her has grown stronger. Now more than ever she needs to find the doctor who holds the key to healing her, but the only one who can help her find him is Stephen Grey, the very man who betrayed her. Stephen Grey cannot change the past or what he did to Kat, but he will do everything he can to help her now. But will Kat let him? Or will his transgression be too much to overcome? Time races against them as they travel with sky pirates through harrowing storms and across the war-torn country of Austrium in search of the doctor who can cure Kat. But can he cure what is broken inside of her? Or will the monster inside of Kat consume her soul? (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)