Tag: Christian Fiction

It is in tackling the new and the scary that we become who we are meant to be.

Book Review | A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden

Alex Duval has the dubious honour of being mayor of a town that’s about to disappear.

New York needs water, which means New York needs a reservoir. That new reservoir will flood Alex’s town in the near future. Sure, the State Water Board is offering compensation, but that doesn’t change the fact that two hundred years of family and town history will soon be buried at the bottom of a lake.

So Alex is less than impressed when a team arrives to survey the land and assess the buildings for compensation. He’s even less impressed when he realises the accountant who will determine how much the government will pay for each house is his first love, Eloise, who he hasn’t heard from in ten years despite his efforts.

Eloise isn’t exactly happy to be in town either, especially when she realises Alex is still there. She has no desire to be party to the destruction of this town, but it’s her job. Yet as she gets to know the town—and the townspeople—she wants things to be different.

Elizabeth Camden’s novels never fail to impress me, and A Desperate Hope is no exception.

As with her earlier novels, it combines complex characters with an intricate plot that incorporates an intriguing aspect of history, and a suspense element. This series has focussed on one of the major challenges of industrialisation: water.

The first book looked at some of the innovations in indoor plumbing. You might not think of plumbing as fascinating, but Elizabeth Camden turned it into a riveting read. Another looked at the importance of clean water, and the scientific battle between filtration and chemical treatment. Both were a combination of good fiction with intriguing historical detail, and a woman in a non-traditional occupation.

A Desperate Hope is the same. There is a problem, but solving that problem is going to take some innovative engineering thinking … and I don’t want to say more, because that would be a spoiler.

I recommend A Desperate Hope to all historical fiction fans, whether they’ve read the earlier books in the series (A Dangerous Legacy and A Daring Venture) or not.

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

About Elizabeth Camden

Elizabeth Camden is a research librarian at a small college in central Florida. Her novels have won the coveted RITA and Christy Awards. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.

Find Elizabeth Camden online at:

Website | Facebook

About A Desperate Hope

Eloise Drake’s prim demeanor hides the turbulent past she’s finally put behind her–or so she thinks. A mathematical genius, she’s now a successful accountant for the largest engineering project in 1908 New York. But to her dismay, her new position puts her back in the path of the man responsible for her deepest heartbreak.

Alex Duval is the mayor of a town about to be wiped off the map. The state plans to flood the entire valley where his town sits in order to build a new reservoir, and Alex is stunned to discover the woman he once loved on the team charged with the demolition. With his world crumbling around him, Alex devises a risky plan to save his town–but he needs Eloise’s help to succeed.

Alex is determined to win back the woman he thought he’d lost forever, but even their combined ingenuity may not be enough to overcome the odds against them before it’s too late.

You can find A Desperate Hope online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to A Desperate Hope at:

Book Review | Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

Aven was born in Ireland, married from the workhouse, widowed in Norway, and has now arrived in Blackbird Mountain, Virginia, to the only family she has left—even though it’s a distant link. She to find Aunt Dorothe is dead and “the boys”—Dorothea’s beloved nephews—are full grown men. Jorgan, the oldest, is betrothed. Thor, the middle brother, is Deaf. And Haakon, the youngest is full of fun. These are the three Sons of Blackbird Mountain.

The brothers invite Aven to stay—although she doesn’t have many options. She wonders if she’s made the right decision after the family receives a late-night visit from the neighbours. It appears the Klan don’t like Thor’s habit of hiring Negroes, even if they are the hardest workers. Despite the neighbours, Aven is becoming attached to the family, and especially to Thor.

One of the most interesting aspects of Sons of Blackbird Mountain was the character of Thor.

Thor has been Deaf since birth. He reads lips, and communicates through American Sign Language (ASL), and through writing notes. It’s fascinating to read this insight into Deaf life and culture in a time gone by. Thor is interesting for another reason: he’s in charge of the family cidery, brewing beverages that keep the family in fine style.

And he’s an alcoholic.

That’s an issue for Aven, because her late husband was an alcoholic, and it killed him. She’s initially afraid of Thor, but soon learns to trust him. But not completely. Not while he’s dependent on alcohol.

So Sons of Blackbird Mountain has plenty of conflict, and plenty of issues for the characters to deal with. It’s a gripping read with fascinating and original characters, and plenty of emotion. The writing is strong, although Bischof does have this weird habit of using odd sentence fragments—something I love in contemporary fiction, but which feels out of place in a historical novel. But that’s a minor niggle in an otherwise strong novel.

Overall, I recommend Sons of Blackbird Mountain for historical fiction lovers, especially those who like reading about small mountain communities.

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

About Joanne Bischof

Joanne Bischof is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference.

Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children.

You can find Joanne Bischof online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

About Sons of Blackbird Mountain

A Tale of Family, Brotherhood, and the Healing Power of Love

After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of nineteenth-century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred-acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?

A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.

Find Sons of Blackbird Mountain online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Sons of Blackbird Mountain below:

What novel has influenced you the most, and why?

Bookish Question #97 | What novel has influenced you the most, and why?

Novels are stories. But novelists can use fiction to illustrate eternal truths, just as Jesus did with the parables. The best novels are those where those eternal truths are woven in so well that we remember them, and they positively influence the way we live our future lives.

So what novel has influenced me the most, and why?

There are many. This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti opened my eyes to the reality of spiritual warfare.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers exposed the human cost of lust and greed, and showed the everlasting love of God.

And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers showed the danger of putting spiritual leaders on a pedestal. This was written during the excesses of the 1980s teleevangelists, but needs to be reread in the light of our social media and reality TV culture.

Marcus’s mother in An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers showed me how we all have a purpose in live, no matter our situation.

Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite by Lianne Simon reminded me life isn’t always black or white, right or wrong, male or female.

Grace in Strange Disguise by Christine Dillon reminded me that Christianity isn’t a free pass to an easy life.

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter showed for the illustration of God’s sacrificial love.

The list could co on …

Novel? You mean I was only supposed to pick one? Not happening.

What about you? What novel has most influenced your life, and why?

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 81 | A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden

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 A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden:

First line from A Desperate Hope: Alex Duval's first hint of trouble was when Eloise failed to appear at their hideaway.

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

About A Desperate Hope

Eloise Drake’s prim demeanor hides the turbulent past she’s finally put behind her–or so she thinks. A mathematical genius, she’s now a successful accountant for the largest engineering project in 1908 New York. But to her dismay, her new position puts her back in the path of the man responsible for her deepest heartbreak.

Alex Duval is the mayor of a town about to be wiped off the map. The state plans to flood the entire valley where his town sits in order to build a new reservoir, and Alex is stunned to discover the woman he once loved on the team charged with the demolition. With his world crumbling around him, Alex devises a risky plan to save his town–but he needs Eloise’s help to succeed.

Alex is determined to win back the woman he thought he’d lost forever, but even their combined ingenuity may not be enough to overcome the odds against them before it’s too late.

You can find A Desperate Hope online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | 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.

Do you read "clean reads"? How do you define clean reads?

Bookish Question #95 | Do you read “clean reads”?

Let’s reverse the questions.

I see clean reads as Christian fiction without the Christian world view. Both clean reads and Christian fiction avoid nudity, sexual content, and bad language. Most also avoid violence. But Christian fiction has a Christian thread of some kind: Christian characters or Christian themes. Clean reads doesn’t.

Do I read clean reads?

Yes. Some of it is marketed as clean reads (Amazon has a clean and wholesome category). Some of it is marketed as Christian fiction, but has little or no Christian content. I’m finding an increasing number of novels from the big-name Christian publishers fall into this category, and it’s a trend I have mixed feelings about.

On one hand, I feel slightly disappointed when I pick up a novel expecting it to be Christian fiction, but find it’s “Christian lite”. On the other hand, I believe Christian authors and publishers need to consider how we reach the unchurched rather than preaching to the choir. Non-Christians aren’t shopping in Christian bookstores. They don’t visit the faith or inspirational section of major book chains. So how are we going to reach them?

Here’s an example.

Last year I read a review of The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale, published by Thomas Nelson. The review criticised the novel for not being sufficiently “Christian”. But one of the commenters said that same “not Christian” novel led her to Christ.

Wow.

She said her (Christian) neighbour loaned her the book, but she’d never have read it if it had been obviously Christian fiction.

That example shows me the importance of Christians writing clean reads—novels that often reflect Christian values even if there is no mention of God or Jesus or the Christian faith.

Maybe I should be reading more “clean reads”. What about you? Do you read clean reads? Can you recommend some good authors?

New Releases in Christian Ficiton via ACFW Fiction Finder

New Releases in Christian Fiction for February 2019

It’s February, and today I’m sharing the new releases from members of American Christian Fiction Writers.

If you’re a Christian fiction writer and haven’t joined ACFW … you should! Click here to find out more. And in case you were wondering, it’s not just Americans. There is a Beyond the Borders chapter for those of us who live outside the US.

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

Amish Romance

Convenient Amish Proposal by Jan Drexler — When Bethany Zook’s childhood friend returns to Indiana Amish country a widower, with an adorable little girl in tow, she’s willing to aid him in any way. But there’s just one thing Andrew Yoder needs – a mother for little Mari. And he seems convinced Bethany is the answer, just as she’s sure any union between them would be one strictly of convenience… Andrew thought Bethany had married another. Now, determined to keep Mari despite his mother-in-law’s interference, he offers Bethany marriage in name only. But she’s quickly becoming more than a housekeeper and a mamm. Can he leave the past behind to claim a family of the heart? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Contemporary Romance

Ocean’s Edge by Cindy M. Amos — Tired of Kansas, Wynn Yardley places her wish to touch the ocean into Dreams Come True Director Teague Montgomery’s hands, and then launches into an adventure to the seashore with him to discover the tidal zone–and affections for her companion. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)

Home Another Way by Brenda S. Anderson — Can a senator’s daughter and convict’s son overcome their differences and learn what it really means to love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Love, Lies, and Homemade Pie by Sally Bayless — Cara Smith has a whole new life planned in Abundance, Missouri. If she can just avoid questions from that intriguing guy at the newspaper, no one will ever find out about her past. Will Hamlin, local editor, desperately needs a big story to keep his newspaper afloat, and Cara Smith is clearly hiding something. But after Will’s initial inquiries fail to turn up anything, he grows less interested in Cara’s past and more interested in winning her heart with slices of pie and stolen kisses. When a crime is uncovered at city hall just as Will unearths Cara’s dark secret, the repercussions shatter their romance. Has Cara really left her past behind? Can Will finally find a way to save the paper? And can they each place their trust in God and together find freedom in the truth and overcome the obstacles to their love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

I love the title and cover of this one!

Their Family Blessing by Lorraine Beatty — She owns the lodge but he owns the land. When single mom Carly Hughes the Longleaf Lodge, she gains a heap of trouble – her teenage crush Deputy MacKenzie Bridges. Her father left Mack the land around the lodge. While Carly wants to sell for her daughter’s sake. Mack wants to stay for his niece’s. and if they can’t work together, they’ll both lose everything… including the renewed spark between them. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Courting Calla by Hallee Bridgeman — Calla Vaughn is trying to get her life in order so she can go back to culinary school. No matter how hard she works, though, she feels like she is just treading water and can’t see any way out of the hole dug for her by a con artist who stole her identity. When flowers she sends to her best friend with a dinner invitation accidentally get delivered to Ian Jones, she decides to cook him the best meal he’s ever had. By the time she admits that the flowers were never for him, he is as convinced as she is that God orchestrated the mistake in the first place. All that’s left is to tell him the dark secret about her father’s widow. She waits a little too long, though, and is carted off to jail for questioning on felony charges before she gets a chance. Will Ian understand her situation, or will the deception surrounding Calla destroy any trust he has in her? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Different Season by Jennifer Heeren — How do you go on when your heart is broken? Twenty-two-year-old Lisette Carter is grief-stricken over her husband’s death—which occurred before she knew she was pregnant. Now in her last trimester, she meets David Baranski, who has a tragic past of his own. He seems to care for Lisette, but she’s not sure she can trust him. Besides, her sorrow and survivor guilt are all she can handle. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

One Thing I Know by Kara Isaac — Rachel Somers, ghost writer for America’s #1 relationship expert, is running out of ideas, but it’s keep up the charade or lose the income required to care for her father. The last thing she needs is her boss’s publicist concocting a scheme to pair her with some radio star in hopes it will spark the next book idea. Lucas Grant didn’t expect his fame on a late-night sports show to come with constant calls from women wanting relationship advice. Which means he has to waste hours on the phone with an expert like Dr. Donna Somerville talking about feelings when he’d rather be talking about his first love: football. Then a deal opens up with a big-time producer who suspects Dr. Somerville isn’t what she seems, and he wants Lucas to discover her secret. To do that, he needs to win over her tight-lipped assistant who holds the key to his success and—he begins to suspect—his heart. Can love find a way through the lies that force them apart? (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

I’ll be reviewing One Think I Know at Australasian Christian Writers in a few weeks.

Season of Hope by Lisa Jordan — His dreams can all come true…but only if his ex-wife will agree! Jake Holland’s peaceful dairy farm is a sanctuary—one he wants to share with other worn and weary veterans. He just needs one more piece of land to start his program…and it belongs to Tori Lerner, his ex-wife. A collaboration could benefit them both, but with a past full of secrets between them, is there any hope for renewed love? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Carolina Grace by Regina Rudd Merrick — She knows about God’s grace for her life, but pushes it away. He hasn’t experienced it, but finds grace in a way he never expected. First-year Special Education teacher Charly Livingston demonstrates God’s love on the outside, but is resentful that God allowed back-to-back tragedies in her family. Rance Butler is a top-notch medical intern. He’s on his way to the top, and when he meets Charly, he knows things will only get better. When he discovers family secrets and a dying father he never knew, his easy, carefree life seems to disintegrate. Even in the idyllic ocean breezes and South Carolina sunshine, contentment turns to bitterness and confusion except for God’s amazing grace. (Contemporary Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

The Street Singer by Kathleen Neely — While planning her own wedding, a law student works to help her favorite recording artist who has fallen on hard times. She finds an attorney who will work pro bono, but will her growing friendship with him come between her and her fiancé? (Contemporary Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Historical Romance

A Love Most Worthy by Sandra Ardoin — During the Nome, Alaska gold rush of 1900, a merchant sends for a serious-minded bride to help him raise his young nephews but welcomes a cheery and adventuresome woman who tests his determination to hold her at arm’s length. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

A Love Most Worthy is a fun historical romance. Click here to read my review.

When Valleys Bloom Again by Pat Jeanne Davis — After fleeing impending war in England, nineteen-year-old Abby Stapleton works to correct her stammer and to become a teacher in America, only to discover this conflict has no boundaries and that a rejected suitor is intent on destroying her name, fiancé, and fragile faith. (Historical Romance from Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.)

Ladies of Intrigue by Michelle GriepThe Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady, Cornish Coast, 1815: When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret? The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner) Dakota Territory, 1862: Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins. A House of Secrets, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890: Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Love’s Rescue by Linda Shenton Matchett — Sold by her parents to settle a debt, Rolande Bisset is forced into prostitution. Years later, shunned by her family and most of society, it’s the only way she knows how to subsist. When the Germans overrun Paris, she decides she’s had enough of evil men controlling her life and uses her wiles to obtain information for the Allied forces. Branded a collaborator, her life hangs in the balance. Then an American spy stumbles onto her doorstep. Is redemption within her grasp? Simon Harlow is one of an elite corps of American soldiers. Regularly chosen for dangerous covert missions, he is tasked with infiltrating Paris to ascertain the Axis’s defenses. Nearly caught by German forces moments after arriving, he owes his life to the beautiful prostitute who claims she’s been waiting for the Allies to arrive. Her lifestyle goes against everything he believes in, but will she steal his heart during his quest to liberate her city? Inspired by the biblical story of Rahab, Love’s Rescue is a tale of faith and hope during one of history’s darkest periods. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin — Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group in late 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights over France as the Allies struggle for control of the air before the D-day invasion. Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment and refreshments for the men of the 357th in the base Aeroclub and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement. Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Mystery

The Watch On the Fencepost by Kay DiBianca — In a deserted park on a cold winter day, twenty-seven-year-old Kathryn Frasier discovers a gold watch on a fencepost, and she has an ominous sense that it was deliberately left for her to find. But when she identifies the owner of the watch, she uncovers a dark family secret and a suspicion that her parents’ recent deaths may not have been an accident. (Cozy Mystery from CrossLink Christian Publishing)

Coffee Club Mysteries by Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Elizabeth Ludwig, Dana Mentink, Candice Prentice, and Janice Thompson — The coffee shop on the corner of First and Main in Oak Grove, Kansas, seems to attract a series of mysterious events. Or perhaps it is the six women who frequent the shop for book club who are the magnets for trouble. . . . Morgan Butler, owner of the Coffee Perk, finds a project worker hanged at her shop. Evelyn Kliff discovers a church meal organizer dead. Harper Daggett is being stalked for an antique jade owl she bought. Baker Jeanine Gransbury’s charity event money goes missing. Jo Anderson shares hazelnut coffee creamer, sending a man into anaphylaxis shock. Penny Parson finds a gun in one of her beehives. Join them as they unravel six unexplained events that have the potential to ruin business and spoil friendships if not handled with care. (Cozy Mystery from Barbour Publishing)

The Sleuth’s Dilemma by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A high school English teacher’s life is turned upside down when she becomes the object of someone’s anger. (Romantic Mystery from Mountain Brook Ink)

Romantic Suspense

Restoration of the Heart by June Foster — Leaving his beautiful fiancé’s world of alcohol, parties, and nights at her apartment, Luke Chamberlain returns to his Christian values, rededicates his life to the Lord, and vows never to fall into the lifestyle again. When the state of Idaho’s Tourism Department offers his construction company the contract to renovate Silver Cliff, an 1890’s silver mining ghost town, he accepts. Janie Littleton, project historian at the restoration of Silver Cliff, Idaho–an 1890’s silver mining ghost town–believes no man would find her attractive, with her extra pounds, eye glasses, and mousy brown hair. So when contractor Luke Chamberlain shows an interest in her, she doubts his sincerity. But strange turns to worse when someone claiming to be the miner who founded Silver Cliff in 1890 intimidates her with frightening midnight visits. Can Luke convince Janie he’s in love with the godly woman she is? Can Janie hold onto her faith as she’s harassed by frightening appearances of old Ezra Barclay who died a hundred years ago? (Romantic Suspense from Forget Me Not Romance)

Innocence Denied by Mike Garrett — Derrick Walton, to atone for past sins, helps an Arizona socialite hide out in Alabama while a nation-wide manhunt ensues. Can he help Larissa see the need for her soul’s salvation in time? (Romantic Suspense from CrossLink Publishing)

Speculative

The Soul Searcher by Erin R. Howard — Elnora’s parents gave her one rule: Stay hidden away at all costs. Elnora Scott is used to her survival depending on the decisions of others. Locked away in her safe house, it is easy to follow her parents’ dying wishes until an angel, demon, and seer show up on her doorstep. Now, waking up in a dirty cell, she wishes she would have gone with them when she had the chance, because the very ones who unknowingly ushered the kidnapper to her location may be the only ones who can save her now. When Thea learns that Elnora may be in danger, she doesn’t hesitate to go find her. Thea thought stepping through the portal would be her greatest obstacle, but it only reveals a more sinister threat. (Urban Fantasy from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Women’s Fiction

A Vow to Cherish by Deborah Raney — When his precious wife receives a devastating diagnosis, John Brighton feels his world has fallen apart. As Ellen slips away from him day by day, their love is tested as never before. Desperately needing someone to confide in, John meets Julia Sinclair, a young widow who seems to understand his pain as no one else can. Torn between doing what he knows to be right and what his heart tells him surely can’t be wrong, John soon discovers that the heart cannot be trusted where true love is concerned. (Women’s Fiction from Raney Day Press)

Young Adult

You’re Amazing by Julie Arduini and Hannah Arduini – Middle schooler Jazmin’s a natural at dance until a series of changes make her wonder if she should even keep up with her favorite hobby. Lena’s a mom with young children overwhelmed with her schedule when a woman remarks that what Lena does isn’t even important. Both Jazmin and Lena belong to Linked, a mentoring ministry where all ages encourage each other and build friendships. Can these two surrender the lies they are believing and realize they are amazing? (Young Adult from Surrendered Scribe Media)

Lots of great fiction here! What’s on your to-read pile for February?

Should Christians read fiction? Why ... or why not?

Bookish Question #91 | Should Christians read fiction? Why … or why not?

Yes, some people honestly believe Christians shouldn’t read fiction. After all, they say, fiction is made up and Christians should be focused on truth. Christ’s Truth.

I agree Christians should focus on truth.

But Christ told stories—the parables. Preachers often tell stories—they call them sermon illustrations. Non-fiction writers often tell stories to make a point.

Writing instructor Lisa Cron says this is because our brains are wired for story. As Christians, we believe God wired our brains, not evolution. So if our brains are wired for story, why would listening to or reading stories be wrong?

So, yes, I believe it’s all right for Christians to read fiction.

But not all fiction. And perhaps not all Christians.

The Bible tells us “whatever is right, whatever is pure” (Phil 4:8). I believe this should apply to our reading. What we read can influence what we think and what we believe, so we need to be sure we’re not subconsciously adopting unChristian values and beliefs based on what we read. We may also need to be wary of the sexual content of the fiction we read (Song of Songs), or excessive violence.

Also, not all things are good for all people.

Paul tells Timothy it’s all right to take a little wine occasionally on account of his stomach, but that’s not a license for Christians to get drunk. Indeed, those who are susceptible to alcoholism or addiction would be better to avoid wine or other alcohol, because they can’t stop at “a little”.

Equally, people with some health issues shouldn’t drink alcohol, either because alcohol makes the problem worse, or because the prescribed medication shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol. But that doesn’t make “don’t drink alcohol” into a blanket rule for everyone.

In the same way, there may be some Christians who shouldn’t read fiction—whether that’s general market fiction, Christian fiction, erotica, romance, violent thrillers. But that doesn’t make it a blanket rule for all Christians. The key is to listen to God and be obedient to His calling. If he calls us to not drink alcohol for a year or for life, we should give up alcohol. The same goes for coffee, or chocolate. Or books.

I suspect some of the Christians who say Christians shouldn’t read fiction are those who’ve had a personal directive from God, but who have mistakenly thought it applies to all Christians, not just to them. They shouldn’t read Christian fiction, but that doesn’t apply to everyone.

What do you think? Should Christians read fiction? Why, or why not?

Quote from Mind Games by Nancy Mehl: Those who know God should be the ones to confront the darkness, to chase evil. We have the weapons. Those who don't know Him have only themselves.

Mind Games (Kaely Quinn Profiler #1) by Nancy Mehl

Jessica Oliphant is the daughter of a convicted serial killer. Now thirty-four, she’s FBI profiler Kaely Quinn, dedicated to solving murder cases, especially serial killer cases. Her unorthodox methods have earned her supporters, opponents, and the attention of the wrong kind of people—like a persistent journalist. And a serial killer.

Kaely becomes part of the next investigation when the journalist receives an anonymous poem signalling a series of murders, and ending in Kaely’s apparent suicide. The first body is discovered soon after the note is delivered. Now the race is on to identify the killer before Kaely—or anyone close to her—dies.

Mind Games is an apt title for a great thriller.

We know from the get-go that the killer is playing games with Kaely. The challenge is to work out who … I identified several possible suspects (one of whom was later murdered, so I was 100% wrong on that one!).

Kaely is an intriguing heroine. She’s intelligent and likeable, and with a strong Christian faith. But she’s also a damaged woman who suffers nightmares and finds it impossible to allow anyone to get close to her. She’s estranged from her family, both respected and reviled at work as an object of curious fascination.

The other characters are also strong—they have to be, because Kaley is such a strong character. Noah and Kaley had some interesting conversations about faith. Yes, Mind Games is definitely Christian fiction, as there is a strong faith thread and some insightful lines about the nature of faith, and the nature of evil.

This is the first of the Kaely Quinn Profiler series.

I’ve read several of Nancy Mehl’s earlier novels, but this is her best yet. I’ll be looking forward to reading more about Kaely, Noah, and their colleagues. Recommended for fans of Christian thrillers from authors like Terri Blackstock and Carrie Stuart Parks.

Mind Games by @NancyMehl is an excellent Christian thriller. Recommended! #ChristianFiction #MustRead Click To Tweet

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

About Nancy Mehl

Author photo: Nancy MehlNancy Mehl lives in Missouri, with her husband Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored thirty books and is currently at work on a new FBI suspense series for Bethany House Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

You can find Nancy Mehl online at:

Website | Suspense Sisters | Facebook

About Mind Games

Kaely Quinn’s talents as an FBI behavior analyst are impossible to ignore, no matter how unorthodox her methods. But when a reporter outs her as the daughter of an infamous serial killer, she’s demoted to field agent and transferred to St. Louis.

When the same reporter who ruined her career claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely’s, the reporter’s ulterior motives bring his claim into question. But when a body is found that fits the poem’s predictions, the threat is undeniable, and the FBI sends Special Agent Noah Hunter to St. Louis.

Initially resentful of the assignment, Noah is surprised at how quickly his respect for Kaely grows, despite her oddities. But with a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely are tested to their limits to catch the murderer before anyone else–including Kaely herself–is killed.

You can find Mind Games online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Mind Games below:

And don’t forget to click here and check out Mind Games and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon store!

Introducing RJ Conte

Author Interview | Introducing RJ Conte and My Fault

Today I’m interviewing author RJ Conte about her writing, and her new release: My Fault. It looks like a fun read!

Welcome, RJ!

About You

First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

Hello!  I’m the oldest of four, formerly homeschooled, Christian wife and mother of three.  I’m an ESFJ from California who now lives in the Pacific Northwest.  😊

It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?

Yes!  Issue-driven is my very favorite, but there’s so few true Christian issue-driven.

My favorite authors growing up were Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Ted Dekker.  I’d now add Bethany A Jennings, Susan Vaught, Kimberly Rae, and Elyse Fitzpatrick to that list.  😊

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

Let’s see… I keep a file of every book I read all year.  I started that two years ago and it’s fun to look back and see what I read and what star rating I’d give it.  Each year I read over 50 books!  The last book I read was Windswept by Sarah Delana White.  It’s short and lovely – like candy.  I highly recommend it.  A sweet and unique little love story.  Sarah is an acquaintance of mine who I met through another friend, so it’s fun to read books from people you know in “real life.”

About My Fault

What kind of books do you write? Where and when are they set?

I write about those hard-hitting teen and young adult issues, but from a very overtly Christian point of view.  Every once in a while, I’ll write a little science fantasy short story – and I have plans for more speculative Christian fiction, but most of my books are contemporary and have some romance.  😊

Tell us about your latest book. What’s it about? Who will enjoy it?

“My Fault” is my first comedy. Usually I write extremely serious, often sad stories, so writing a comedy with a super quirky character was a brand new venture for me.  I LOVED doing it.  If people laugh half as hard as I did writing it, I’ll be thrilled.

“My Fault” is about a very outgoing, socially awkward young woman who is obsessed with getting to know the young man she hit while driving drunk, and making things right.  The guy is a quiet, serious, mysterious young man who seems overwhelmed by her yet doesn’t know how to say no to her.  They become really oddball friends who might develop further feelings for each other…

Well, if everyone from my 21-year-old fellow author to my 61-year-old father had a great time reading it, then I hope it will appeal to anyone!  Realistically, I expect all adult women will be its target audience.  😊

What was your motivation for writing My Fault?

I had just spent half of a year writing a much more serious, long YA novel, and needed a break.  Coming up with something short, sweet, and comedic over Christmas break was just what I needed to refresh my soul.  I also wanted to explore different ways young people get themselves into ruts when they think about God and their relationship with Him.  Cleo, the main girl, represents the young person who is flippant and apathetic about God, not even sure He’s watching or cares.  Grayson, the injured guy character, represents those who think God’s out to get them are always trying so hard to be perfect that they feel like giving up.  <3

Where did the characters and story come from? What were your influences?

The story is an idea I’ve always wanted to write.  I love the idea of love stories springing from strange places and circumstances.  I’ve always wanted to write a book about someone falling in love with the person they hit in their car.  But these specific characters sprang from specific trials I’ve had with people in my life.

Who is your favourite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

CLEO.  She says the things I sometimes only say in private to my husband.  She lets it all out, and it was a blast “being her” and in her voice and head.  😀

You said your main character is on the spectrum. Where did that idea come from?

Yes!  I never planned for Cleo to be an Aspy (have Asperger’s) but my mom, who worked with handicapped children and young adults as a school teacher, identified in that right away.  I embraced it and ran with it.  I’m not marketing her as official Asperger’s because that can be a sensitive topic to do correctly, and I wanted her to have the freedom to be herself, but between you and me and the blog readers, she’s definitely on the spectrum.  😊

What are you working on at the moment? What other books do you plan to write?

Right now I’m preparing to pitch that serious YA novel from last year at the Realm Makers writing convention in July.  I’m also loosely beginning to plot a speculative YA Christian book.  😊

About your writing

What motivated you to start writing?  When did you seriously start writing? How long did it take before you published your first book?

I’ve been telling stories since I could speak, and wrote my first story in my diary on my 7th birthday.  I didn’t self-publish for the first time, however, until I was twenty-years-old.

What made you choose to write for the Christian market?

I don’t have to support a family or write to market in any way, which frees me up to make my writing a ministry – and that’s what it is.  I dislike the business side of things, although I’m always learning and improving that aspect of my work, and really embrace my writing being a God-led ministry to young adults.  <3

What do you see as the main differences between fiction written for the Christian market compared with the general market?

Christians clamp down on anything original, and put writers and artists in a box.  Publishers for Christian fiction tend to be close-minded and unapproachable.  It’s sad, frustrating, and unfortunate, so to get my unique and REAL brand of writing out to young adults who desperately need something other than fluffy unoriginal love triangles, and whatever else the Christian market mass produces, I have to self-publish.  Thank the Lord that Amazon has really made it easy to do so, and that my books are now hitting readers successfully!

Do your novels have an overt faith element?

Yes!  I wrote two novellas, both my only books published under Clean Reads, and two speculative short stories, all of which are still moral in nature, before deciding once and for all that I want to exclusively write Christian fiction as a ministry.

Is writing for the Christian market harder or easier than writing for the general market? Why?

Yes.  Christians publishers tend to be picky, cliquish, and not open-minded, unfortunately.  ☹

What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel?

Get coaching, take classes, read books on craft, and be prepared to spend the money to put out a book of value.  Don’t do anything half-hearted, and humbly join groups that will correct where you’re doing less than you could.  Listen to advice and learn from it.  Be open to change!

Thank you so much for having me!

About My Fault

“I realized his eyes had lost that wary look. They were the bluest blue. Bluer than my favorite coffee mug. Bluer than the Solonaise County Public Pool when it’s actually been cleaned at the beginning of the summer before all those little kids in their floaties come and pee in it.”

Quirky Cleo Stanton has a problem: she’s falling for the guy she ran over with her car when she should not have been driving.

The devout Christian and quietly mysterious, Grayson Fox is as cute as he is kind, begrudgingly putting up with Cleo and her motor mouth. But will he ever forgive her for crushing his leg? Can she break him out of his shell? And what hilarity will ensue when the flamboyant Cleo tries to draw him out?

Find My Fault online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

About RJ Conte

Author Image - RJ ConteRJ Conte has kissed only one boy in her entire life. And she married him, inspiring her to write about sweet or powerful love stories ever since.

She writes a blog on parenting, publishing, painting, and perorating at http://blonderj.wordpress.com/

She also has recently begun a book review and rating website for parents to make informed decisions on what to allow their children to read: rjconte.com/books

RJ Conte writes realistic, issue-driven fiction that explores human nature and the depths of the soul, while pointing readers to their Creator.

Find RJ Conte online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

 

New Releases in Christian Ficiton via ACFW Fiction Finder

New Releases in Christian Fiction from ACFW | April 2018

Welcome to April! Today I’m sharing the new releases in Christian Fiction from American Christian Fiction Writers for April 2018. More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Which of these books are you planning to read this month?

Contemporary Romance:

Pelican Point by Irene Hannon — After inheriting a crumbling lighthouse, ex-Army doctor Ben Garrison wants to sell it. But Hope Harbor Herald editor Marci Weber is determined to save the town landmark. Can these two romance-wary souls finds a meeting of the minds…and hearts? (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

An Amish Heirloom by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Irvin, and Beth Wiseman — From bestselling Amish authors come four novellas about the meaning and tradition found behind every family heirloom. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Historical Romance:

This Wilderness Journey by Misty Beller — He’s been sent to retrieve the new missionary… But she’s not at all who he expects to find. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy — Deborah and her sister and two little children survive a wagon train massacre. Trace finds them and takes them home. He finds himself their accidental guardian. He must protect them all and gain justice. When he does, all these friendly visitors–especially Deborah–will leave him forever.  (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

First Love Forever Romance Collection by Susanne Dietze, Marcia Gruver, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancette Pagels, Martha Rogers, Lorna Seilstad, Connie Stevens, Erica Vetsch, and Jennifer Uhlarik — Coming face to face with a lost love can be awkward when the heartstrings are still holding on to the “what ifs.” In settings from 1865 to 1910, nine couples are thrown back on the same path by life’s changes and challenges. Can love rekindle despite the separation of time and space? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

All Things Beautiful by Keely Brooke Keith — It’s 1868 in the settlement of Good Springs, and Hannah Vestal is passionate about writing fiction and keeping her stories to herself. When her father asks to read her work, she decides to have it printed secretly for his 50th birthday. Hannah tries to arrange the printing with the settlement’s pressman, but the witty and dapper Henry Roberts has better things to do with his ink.

In order to secure settlement support for his printing press, the elder council says Henry must print an error-free copy of the New Testament before the settlement’s 8th anniversary celebration. He is determined to meet their challenge, but when the enigmatic Hannah proves to be a beguiling distraction, Henry longs for something more than a life at the letterpress. (Historical Romance from Edenbrooke Press)

This is on my to-read-and-review pile. It’s classified as historical fiction, but it also has speculative elements, as the settlement of Good Springs is in the hidden Land from the Uncharted series.

Adoration by Olivia Rae — Sir Darrin de Longue is desperate to get his lands back from Lady Faith de Sainte-Marie, the woman who betrayed him and may have had a hand in his father’s murder. But King Richard discloses on his deathbed that Lady Faith is the king’s daughter and then issues an ultimatum Darrin must obey. In order to reclaim his lands, he must marry Lady Faith and get her with child in a year’s time.

Lady Faith has loved the rowdy and bold Sir Darrin since childhood, but cannot be a true wife to the bitter, angry man whom she has wed. In order to gain his trust and love, she vows to find the truth about his father’s murder. But when she stumbles upon deadly secrets, will she be able to prove her innocence–and his–to erase the past and win Darrin’s heart? (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press)

Under Prairie Skies by Cynthia Roemer — Illinois prairie, 1855. Unsettled by the news that her estranged cousin and uncle are returning home after a year away, Charlotte Stanton goes to ready their cabin and finds a handsome stranger has taken up residence. Convinced he’s a squatter, she throws him off the property before learning his full identity. Little does she know, their paths are destined to cross again.

Quiet and ruggedly handsome, Chad Avery’s uncanny ability to see through Charlotte’s feisty exterior and expose her inner weaknesses both infuriates and intrigues her. When a tragic accident incites her family to move east, Charlotte stays behind in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the elusive cattleman. Yet Chad’s unwillingness to divulge his hidden past, along with his vow not to love again, threatens to keep them apart forever. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo — The last time New Orleans attorney Jean-Luc Valmont saw Maribel Cordoba, a Spanish nobleman’s daughter, she was an eleven-year-old orphan perched in the riggings of his privateering vessel proving herself as the best lookout on his crew. Until the day his infamy caught up with them all and innocent lives were lost.

Unsure why he survived but vowing to make something of the chance he was given, Jean-Luc has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it—until a very much alive and very grown up Maribel Cordoba arrives on his doorstep and threatens all he now holds dear. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels — Crisis pregnancy worker Marissa Moreau suspects her husband is cheating, but little does she know how close to home her husband’s infidelity hits. College student Kaitlyn Farrows is floundering after a relationship with her professor leaves her pregnant. Soon she lands a job and a support system at the local pregnancy resource center and things seem to be turning around.

But when Marissa and Kaitlyn become friends, neither one knows they share a connection—Colin, Marissa’s husband and Kaitlyn’s former professor. When their private lives collide, the two women must face the ultimate test of their faith and choose how to move forward as they live in the shadows of hope. (General Contemporary from Barbour Publishing)

I’ve already read and reviewed this—it’s excellent. Click here to read my review.

Romantic Suspense:

Secret Past by Sharee Stover — With gunmen at her doorstep, Katie Tribani learns her true identity. She’s been in witness protection since childhood, and now her crime-lord father has found her. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

 

Young Adult:

Chase by Glenn Haggerty — Tyler, a middle school newbie, shadows drug runners to rat out the methamphetamine dealer before his friend turns into a brain-dead druggie. (Young Adult, Independently Published)