First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 64 | Return to Baragula by Mary Hawkins

It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m celebrating the re-release of Return to Baragula by Mary Hawkins by sharing the first line:

First Line from Return to Baragula: As Emily's breathing slowed, the awesome feeling of ecstasy evaporated, and the full realization of what had happened raced through her.

What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

About Return to Baragula

When overcome by being alone with the man she loved on the romantic beach setting, teenager Emily Parker failed to keep her promise to God never to make love until married. She never dreamed how it would impact her own life and the lives of many others. Six years later, despite the hateful way she’d been treated there, she has to return to her home town, but discovers that Matthew Davidson, the man she’d yielded to, is now the local doctor.

While Emily’s faith is now weak, even believing God can no longer love her, Matthew’s life has changed since he committed his life to Christ. However, now he has to deal with all the consequences of his actions with Emily. When he becomes ill and is still weak when disease attacks the community, Emily, a registered nurse, has to help him. But danger from her life in the city has followed her, and now also threatens her family. Through it all, will Matthew and Emily’s faith and love be strong enough to forgive each other, and deal with all the consequences of their behaviour?

You can find Return to Baragula online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

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

You can then click the link which will take you to the master page of 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!

And don’t forget to check out my Amazon shop for my top picks in Christian fiction!

#ThrowbackThursday | Book Review | Kept by Sally Bradley

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Kept, the debut novel from Sally Bradley.

I first saw Kept reviewed by Rel Mollet of Relz Reviews. Like me, Rel is tired of reading Christian novels which have the same feel as every other Christian novel. We’re looking for something real, something different, but something which still affirms our Christian faith. Rel raved about Kept, and while I bought it immediately, it’s taken me a while to get around to reading it. I kept (ha ha) hearing good things about it from people whose opinions I respected, and I started to wonder … could it really be that good? Or was I setting myself up for disappointment?

Well, it really is that good.

Kept isn’t perfect. There was one amusing typo (a segue is a change of topic in conversation; the two-wheeled ride-on has the same pronunciation, but it’s a Segway. Silly name, if you ask me). There was one scene from the point of view of a minor character that didn’t seem to add anything to the plot (and in hindsight, could have been eliminated), and there were a couple of minor plot points that didn’t make sense (maybe they’ll make more sense on the re-read). And there were times when I would have liked to better understand what was going on inside Dillan’s head. He plain didn’t make sense at times. Of course, he’s a man, so that could explain things.

Those details aside, Kept clocks up a number of achievements that rate highly with me.

Sally Bradley has managed something completely original—a story about a kept woman, a euphemism for a high-class prostitute—yet it’s unashamedly a Christian novel, a story of forgiveness and redemption that reminded me of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. The writing is excellent, and manages to cover some gritty ground without ever spelling out the ugly details.

Sally Bradley has created a cast of likeable characters who feel true to live, even in their failings. Dillan, at “six foot thirteen”, is a complete klutz, which perhaps forces him to cultivate a friendship with Miska even when he’d rather avoid her. His brother, Garrett, is a loveable lawyer with a past he’s still trying to get over.

Miska is complex.

At first she comes across as the sweet girl-next-door—until we begin to get to know a bit more about her, and realise she’s caught up in the oldest profession, and telling herself the biggest lie: that he’ll leave his wife for her. One day. It’s never exactly explained how she became a kept woman, but we see enough of her background to realise it’s a logical progression, and that she feels no qualms for taking the men in her life for everything she can get. After all, that’s all men have ever done to her.

Miska’s scenes showed how good the writing was, because I was completely engaged in her character. She’s an intelligent woman who does dumb, DUMB, things when it comes to me, and there were times I wanted to give her a good shake. Dillan and Garrett were similar, and even at the end I was thinking that Dillan needs to get over himself, while Garrett just needs to get his head examined. They were frustrating, but in a good way—like a teenage daughter.

Their actions might be annoying, but you love them anyway.

Yes, that pretty much sums up Kept. Recommended for those who want something real in their Christian fiction.

About Sally Bradley

Author Photo Sally Bradley

Sally Bradley writes big-city fiction with real issues and real hope.

A Chicagoan since age five, Sally has been fascinated by all things Chicago (except for the crime, politics, and traffic) for almost as long. She now lives in the Kansas City area with her family, but they get back to Chicago from time to time for important things, like good pizza and a White Sox game.

A freelance fiction editor and former president of her local writing chapter, Sally has won a handful of awards for Kept and another work-in-progress.

You can find Sally Bradley online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Kept

Life has taught Miska Tomlinson that there are no honorable men. Her womanizing brothers, her absentee father, and Mark, the married baseball player who claims to love her—all have proven undependable. But Miska has life under control. She runs her editing business from her luxury condo, stays fit with daily jogs along Chicago’s lakefront, and in her free time blogs anonymously about life as a kept woman.

Enter new neighbor Dillan Foster. Between his unexpected friendship and her father’s sudden reappearance, Miska loses control of her orderly life. Her relationship with Mark deteriorates, and Miska can’t help comparing him to Dillan. His religious views are so foreign, yet the way he treats her is something she’s longed for. But Dillan discovers exactly who she is and what she has done. Too late she finds herself longing for a man who is determined to never look her way again.

When her blog receives unexpected national press, Miska realizes her anonymity was an illusion. Caught in a scandal about to break across the nation, Miska wonders if the God Dillan talks about would bother with a woman like her—a woman who’s gone too far and done too much.

You can find Kept online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to Kept below:

Click here to find Kept and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!

Which lesser-known Christian authors do you wish more readers knew about?

Bookish Question #80 | Which lesser-known Christian authors do you wish more readers knew about?

It’s easy to find out about the big-name authors in Christian publishing.

Think Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury. It’s not hard to find out about some of the middle rank—the authors whose books you see reviewed, or you find on the shelf of your local Christian bookstore.

But, as a reader, it can be harder to find out about the lesser-known Christian authors.

It’s equally hard—or harder—for those authors to find readers.

I try and feature some lesser-known Christian authors on my blog, either through book reviews, author interviews, or First Line Friday posts. But I still have to find out about them somehow, and that’s often through them contacting me to request a review or interview.

Anyway, here’s my completely biased list of ten lesser-known Christian authors I suggest you watch out for:

What do you think? Which lesser-known Christian author do you wish more readers knew about?

Book Review | Lethal Legacy by Carol J Post

Lethal Legacy opens with Andrea Wheaton experiencing a home invasion at the family holiday home, which she’s visiting following the death of both parents in a car accident. It soon becomes apparent that the evildoers are looking for something … and they’ll be back.

Bryce Caldwell, next-door neighbour and high-school sweetheart finds her, and her trashed house. It soon becomes apparent that Andi’s father had some secrets, which raises an obvious question: was the car wreck which killed him and Andi’s mother an accident or something more sinister?

Andi is sure it was no accident, which means she needs to find out the why—no matter how painful that might be for her personally. But she’s not expecting other people to be searching around the property as well, to the point where she might be in danger.

Lethal Legacy is published by Love Inspired Suspense, which means it’s an almost-perfect blend of romance and suspense (well, assuming you’re a romantic suspense fan like I am). It’s also a quick read, with all the focus on Andi and Bryce as they try to stay safe … and explore their feelings for each other.

Yes, I’m a big romantic suspense fan, and Lethal Legacy ticked all the genre boxes, as well as strong writing (no less than I’d expect from Carol J Post), page-turning action, and a Christian thread that enhanced the story without being preachy. Recommended for romantic suspense fans.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

About Carol J Post

Carol J PostFrom medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol’s resume reads as if she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She currently pens fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award.

Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

You can find Carol J Post online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Lethal Legacy

Someone wants her family secrets buried.
He’s her only chance to survive

Andrea Wheaton thought her parents’ tragic deaths were accidental – until she’s attacked during a burglary at their home. Now she’s also being targeted. Her ex–sweetheart Sheriff Deputy Bryce Caldwell insists on protecting her, though she refuses to trust him again.

But with a killer closing in, can she and Bryce uncover her family’s secrets before it’s too late for them both?

Find Lethal Legacy online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Lethal Legacy below:

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 63 | Brother Betrayed by Jenny Wheeler

It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Brother Betrayed by Jenny Wheeler, the second book in the Of Gold and Blood series:

First line from Brother Betrayed: Business magnate and mine owner Sir John Russell had slept only fitfully when he had retired after saying goodnight to Chung Ting Hon and Beautiful Jade, his beautiful young wife.

What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

About Brother Betrayed

A mysterious death. A missing partner. Can an opera singer and a businessman catch the culprit before he strikes again?

New Zealand-born Pania Hayes has won the hearts of her Californian crowds. But after her husband’s untimely death, the opera singer realizes fame and fortune mean nothing without loved ones to share it with. So when her closest friend gets caught in a web of mysterious deaths and disappearances, she vows to find the real culprit and clear his name… even after he turns his back on her.

Hong Kong-born John Russell prides himself on building his business empire from nothing. But after his beloved mentor’s death and business partner’s disappearance, he realizes the company is slipping out of his control. Within the ranks, tensions have turned deadly. And a shameful secret from his past threatens to unleash even more destruction. Without knowing who he can trust, he sets off alone to find his missing partner and piece together his broken legacy.

United in their grief but unable to reach out, Pania and Sir John must learn to work together to solve the mystery before more blood is shed.

Brother Betrayed is the second standalone book in the captivating Of Gold & Blood historical mystery series. If you like accurate portrayals of the Western frontier, fast-paced action, and tales of redemption, then you’ll love Jenny Wheeler’s pitch-perfect saga.

Buy Brother Betrayed to travel back in time for an unforgettable mystery today!

You can find Brother Betrayed online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

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

You can then click the link which will take you to the master page of 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!

And don’t forget to check out my Amazon shop for my top picks in Christian fiction!

As for her safety, God already knew when the end of her days would be.

#ThrowbackThursday | Book Review | Where We Belong by Lynn Austin

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing my review of Where We Belong by Lynn Austin, one of my favourite novels from one of my favourite Christian historical fiction authors.
The Adventure of a Lifetime for Two Indomitable Socialite Sisters

In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert–and into a sandstorm.

Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies’ maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.

Where We Belong by Lynn Austin

Where We Belong starts in 1890, in the Sinai Desert, with forty-five year-old Rebecca Hawes traveling to St Catherine’s Monastery to search for ancient copies of the Bible. It’s a start that hooked me immediately, both because of the historical setting, and because of the age of the heroine—it’s refreshing to read a novel where the heroine is out of her twenties.

I was also intrigued because I could relate to Rebecca’s thoughts about the desolate nature of the Sinai between Cairo and St Catherines. Her journey took seven days by camel. In comparison, mine took seven hours by minibus, but that was quite long enough to feel for the stubborn Israelites, condemned to spend forty years in the heat and dust.

But then Where We Belong left the Sinai in 1890, and travelled back to 1860 Chicago—and I wasn’t impressed. It was still Rebecca’s story, but now Rebecca was a pampered teenager in the days before the Civil War (which I knew was coming, even though she didn’t). Fortunately, it soon became apparent that Rebecca was no ordinary Victorian-era teenager, and nor was her sister, Flora.

The novel followed Rebecca and Flora from their teenage years in Chicago through to showing why they are travelling to the Sinai in 1890 with only a couple of young servants for protection. The most fascinating thing is that Rebecca and Flora are based on real-life adventurers, Agnes and Margaret Smith, born in Scotland in 1843.

This explains one of the strengths of the novel—the feeling of historical authenticity that can only be gained by extensive research (and then leaving out most of the detail of that research). The other strength was related, and that was the Christian element. Rebecca and Flora (like the real-life Agnes and Margaret) were women of deep faith. They were intelligent women who had the strength of character to choose to follow God, not society, and who had endless compassion for the poor.

Lynn Austin has yet to write a novel I haven’t enjoyed, but I do think this is her best yet. Recommended for Christian historical fiction fans, especially those who enjoy authors such as Elizabeth Camden and Jody Hedlund.

I’m a history fan, and I loved it from the first line to the last. (I don’t think I stopped in between). Even better, a recent article from the Smithsonian shows new manuscripts are still being discovered at St Catherine’s:

Lost Languages Discovered in One of the World’s Oldest Continuously Run Libraries

Isn’t that cool?

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Lynn Austin

Lynn AustinFor many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband’s work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she’d earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Along with reading, two of Lynn’s lifelong passions are history and archaeology. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published 24 novels.

Find Lynn Austin online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Find Where We Belong online:

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

Read the introduction to Where We Belong below:

Click here to find Where We Belong and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon store!

Introducing the World’s Most Beautiful Bible

Today I’m sharing a different kind of post—a Kickstarter for a unique project:

An heirloom Bible.

Magnificent Bible that can be passed from generation to generation

If you ever had just one book… what book would it be? For most Christians the answer is simple: it’s The Holy Bible. But what if the most important book of all this time could also be the most beautiful, sturdiest and important your family’s heirloom Bible? The one, which is passed from generation to generation: from you to your children and grandchildren.

Probably the most magnificent Bibles is Cassell’s Illustrated Family Bible, dated from 1840s-1860s, which is considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful King James Version Bibles ever published. With 1600 pages and more than 900 iconic illustrations and detailed maps, it had almost an encyclopedic value.

Paulius Virbickas, entrepreneur and publisher who has published over 1000 books found this Bible sitting on a shelf, covered in dust, in an old antique bookstore. It seemed like it was just waiting for him patiently. As he slowly opened its cover and started carefully browsing through old pages, he immediately understood – this is it.

Together with his team Paulius devoted almost a year to painstakingly restore the magnificent graphic illustrations and decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign for The World’s Most Beautiful Bible. Just recently their Kickstarter has surpassed 100% funding and there are still some time left for those who want to get this magnificent bible.

This is a majestic Bible that contains extensive commentaries in parallel columns, as well as a complete Concordance and a comprehensive Bible Dictionary:

  • The extraordinary Holy Bible is over 1600 pages long and dramatically oversized (9’’x11.88’’)
  • Original King James Version (KJV) – a translation that is so important, that it is considered to be a driving force in the shaping of the English-speaking world.
  • Embossed cover with gold finishing & gilded book edge.
  • Handmade solid wood box
  • All pages are printed on acid-neutral non-fading archival quality paper, sewn into binding to last long usage and could be open flat
  • 3 satin ribbons in black, red and gold to mark your favorite passages
  • Personalized cover with your family’s name
  • Printed and bound in Europe.

Creators of this project promised produce 5 versions of The World’s Most Beautiful Bible + 1 “stretch goal” version after they’ll reach $12 000 funding.

Here are the 5 versions of The World’s Most Beautiful Bible:

1. Personalized Limited Edition

2. Personalized CHRISTMAS SUPERSAVER Edition – The World’s Most Beautiful Illustrated Family Bible in a solid wood box

3. Deluxe AMBER Edition in Handmade Wooden Box From Reclaimed Oak + hand bind premium black Italian leather covers & genuine Baltic amber cross

4.  Deluxe SILVER Edition in Handmade Wooden Box From Reclaimed Oak + hand bind premium Italian royal blue leather covers & silver cross

5.  Deluxe GOLD Edition in Handmade Wooden Box From Reclaimed Oak + hand bind premium Italian burgundy leather covers & gold cross

You can support this project and order one of the bibles, listed above here.

Do you participate in online reader groups?

Bookish Question #79 | Do you participate in online reader groups?

We’ve all heard of book clubs, but did you know there are also online versions?

I’m a member of several online reader groups, but the two I follow most closely are both Facebook groups: Avid Readers of Christian Fiction, and Inspy Romance. As you’d expect, both specialise in Christian fiction (however published).

I’m also involved in a couple of reader/writer groups: Australasian Christian Writers (which posts a book review each Thursday), and International Christian Fiction Writers. Both are open to readers and writers from anywhere.

Some of the groups (e.g. Avid readers) also have a nominated book of the month, and an author-hosted discussion towards the end of the month. But I haven’t actually participated in any of the discussions … There are also a lot of reader groups on Goodreads. Again, many have books of the month which they discuss, but I haven’t participated.

This is sometimes because I’ve either already read and reviewed the book, or because it’s not a book I’m interested in. More often, it’s because I forget, or because I already have so many books on my reviewing pile that I don’t want to add another.

What about you? Do you participate in online reader groups? Which groups?

Quote from Life After: We worship a God who might not give us the miracle,but He will always give us the comfort.

Book Review | Life After by Katie Ganshert

A year ago, Autumn Manning was the sole survivor of a train crash that killed twenty-two people in Chicago. She still hasn’t recovered. She has nightmares. She hasn’t returned to work. She can barely leave her apartment—except to tend the graves of the twenty-two victims. She’s alive, but not living.

Psychologist and marriage counsellor Paul Elliott lost his wife in the crash. Life has gone on, propelled by the need to raise his two children. It’s not easy, especially as his daughter is twelve and acting out. Then Reese disappears, and Paul finds her in the last place he’d expect: Autumn Manning’s apartment.

Autumn and Paul begin an awkward friendship that begins with Reese but builds as circumstances bring them together. They both still need to heal, and the irony is that they heal through each other, and through a project inspired by Reese.

Life After is strong in every way.

An intriguing concept. A solid plot. Flawed and realistic characters. Excellent writing. A strong Christian message, but without being overwhelming. The story hints at secrets and lies, then reveals them at exactly the right time for maximum impact.

I definitely recommend Life After for readers looking for deeper Christian women’s fiction.

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

About Katie Ganshert

Katie GanshertAward-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate.

Find Katie Ganshert online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About Life After

It could have been me.

Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.

A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.

Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake.

In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.

Find Life After online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Life After below:

Click here to find Life After and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 62 | Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills

It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills:

First Line from Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills: Eerie feelings are rarely something to ignore, and hostage negotiator Special Agent April Ramos feared her arrival at the critical scene might be too late.

What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

About Burden of Proof

Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder.

As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.

Find Burden of Proof online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

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

You can then click the link which will take you to the master page of 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!

And don’t forget to check out my Amazon shop for my top picks in Christian fiction!