Tag: kara isaac

Which book is on your Christmas list?

Bookish Question | Week 87 | Which book is on your Christmas list?

It’s obvious I didn’t write this question, because there is no way I would have asked which “book” (singular). I definitely would have asked which “books” (plural, with emphasis on the plural. Lots of emphasis).

There are currently 528 books on my Goodreads To Read list, and that doesn’t include a bunch of books I’ve one-clicked on Amazon, or have on pre-order. It also pays no attention to the number of books already on my to-read pile … as in, actual physical paperbacks or ebooks I own and haven’t read yet.

However, my Goodreads list does include several books which don’t release until next year (e.g. the new releases from Kara Isaac, Jessica Kate, Carolyn Miller, David Rawlings, and Becky Wade), so which I can’t possibly put on my Christmas list.

So what does that leave?

That leaves my Book Depository basket, which currently holds a bunch of writing craft books, a couple of paperback pre-orders, and a book I want just for me. But I’ll have to order asap or I’ll miss the pre-Christmas shipping deadline (which is tomorrow).

The book on that list that’s just for me is probably the best answer to this question. It’s Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Have you read it?

What book (or books) are on your Christmas list?

Bookish Question: Do you have a Top 5 list of favourite reads in 2018?

Bookish Question #86 | Do you have a Top 5 list of favourite reads in 2018?

Top five? Are you kidding? Maybe I could come up with a top five list if I didn’t read so many books each year. But probably not (maybe I could do it if I only read six books …)

Anyway, I’ve decided to cheat a little. I posted five new favourite authors for 2018 a couple of weeks ago. I’m posting my Top Ten Reads for 2018 over at Australasian Christian Writers in a couple of weeks. So this post is my completely biased top five romance reads.

Cheating? Probably. #SorryNotSorry.

So here are my Top 5 romance reads for 2018:

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

Despite the fact I’m a little over writers as main characters (it’s taking ‘write what you know’ a little too far), I still loved The Saturday Night Supper Club. It was probably all the yummy food … and the fact the ending was unexpected.

Click here to read my review.

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M White

Yes, there is a good number of books set in England. There is a good number of books set during World War I or World War II. But this is the first one set in Wales, in the (small) university city of Aberystwyth, where I was born.

Click here to read my review.

More than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer

A heroine with two different colour eyes, and a pet pig. And a hero who tries to rescue her from the pig. It could be stupid to the point of ridiculous, but it’s actually a funny and touching historical romance featuring a wonderful makeshift family.

Click here to read my review.

Made for You by Kara Isaac

Yes, this is a completely biased recommendation, given I edited Made for You and Then There Was You. But I loved it, even though I’m not a reality TV fan (and I especially don’t watch shows like The Bachelor). If you’ve read and enjoyed any of Kara’s earlier books, you won’t want to miss this one.

Click here to read Fiction Aficionado’s review because it says what I would have said.

A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal

I’ve always been fascinated by ballerina stories (isn’t everyone?) A Season to Dance has plenty of ballet, but that’s actually secondary to a beautiful story of love and redemption.

I somehow haven’t reviewed A Season to Dance, so click here to read a review from Narelle Atkins, who recommended it to me.

Do you have a top 5 list of favourite reads for 2018? Which books are on your list?

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?

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 59 | All Made Up by Kara Isaac

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 All Made Up by Kiwi author Kara Isaac, which is currently on pre-order special for $3.99.

If you’ve read and enjoyed Kara’s earlier books, you’ll want to read this one—especially if you’re a fan of “reality” TV shows like The Bachelor. Here’s the first line:

First Line from All Made Up: Reality TV. A misnomer if there ever was one. Katriona McLeod studied the sheet of paper the production assistant had just delivered to her dressing room. On it were the names and pictures of five women who were to be given extra attention in her makeup chair.

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

About All Made Up:

Everyone thinks Katriona McLeod is living the dream. Her professional career as a make up artist sees her traveling the world working with the stars and she’s got no shortage of men wanting her affection. Only problem is she’s never gotten over Caleb Murphy, the one guy she’s ever loved. When she accepts a job on the latest looking-for-love reality TV show, Falling for the Farmer, she discovers to her horror that Caleb is the leading man and she’s cast as one of his harem. But she hides a secret that means that even if she wanted a second chance with the guy who broke her heart she could never have it.

Caleb Murphy couldn’t care less about C-Class celebrity fame or reality TV and he certainly doesn’t believe it could lead him to love. The one thing he does care about is fulfilling his mother’s last wish. Kat’s presence on the show seems to offer up a solution that will make both the network and his mother happy. It might have been almost ten years since they split but he knows he can trust her with his plan. Just as long as he doesn’t fall in love all over again with the woman who will never stay.

You can find All Made Up 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!

Have you met any favourite authors in person?

Bookish Question #64 | Have you met any favourite authors in person?

Yes! That’s one of the best things about going to writer’s conferences—getting to meet writers.

I attended my first writing conference in October 2012. It was held on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, and I got to meet several Australian authors I admired, including Rose Dee, Andrea Grigg, Paula Vince, Meredith Resce, and Amanda Deed. I’ve attended five conferences since, and have had the opportunity to meet other wonderful Australian authors such as Narelle Atkins, Dorothy Adamek, Nicki Edwards, and Mary Hawkins—the author of Search for Tomorrow, an early Heartsong Presents title, and the first Christian novel I ever read that was set in Australia.

I’ve also attended several Romance Writers of New Zealand conferences. I’ve met James Scott Bell (who gave a wonderful day-long presentation despite suffering from the flu), and Kristen Lamb.

I’ve also met New Zealand’s own Kara Isaac. I was visiting family in Wellington, where Kara lives, so messaged her and asked if she’d like to meet for coffee so she could autograph my copy of Close to You. We’ve met again since (so she could autograph Can’t Help Fallling, and so she could pass on my Genesis Award, which she was kind enough to collect for me in Nashville.

The other author I’ve met in person was Candace Calvert. She was on holiday, cruising around New Zealand with her husband. I happen to live in a cruise port, so Ellie Whyte, Angela Bycroft and I met Candace after she’d finished the obligatory Hobbiton tour.

(By the way, if you ever do a New Zealand cruise, look me up. If I’m free, I’d love to meet you for coffee after you’ve been to Hobbiton or Rotorua, the city of boiling mud.)

What about you? Have you met any favourite authors in person?

What’s your favourite Christian book genre?

Bookish Question #47 | What’s your favourite Christian book genre?

Asking a keen reader their favourite genre is like asking any addict about their favourite fix. Well, I assume it is. I haven’t spent a lot of time around addicts!

My favourite genre is romance, which shouldn’t come as any surpirse to anyone who reads my reviews on a regular basis. But romance is a huge genre, so what are my favourite novels within romance? I have three:

Regency Romance

Regency Romance is set in England during the period of the British Regency—when King George III was deemed mentally unfit to rule, so his son (the future King George IV) was named Prince Regent in his place. A lot of Georgette Heyer’s novels are set in the Regency period, and it’s also the time when Jane Austen was writing and publishing. Regency Romance characters are often members of the aristocracy, so the stories are complete fantasy when compared to my way of life!

My favourite Christian Regency Romance authors are Julie Klassen, Kristi Ann Hunter, and Carolyn Miller.

Romantic Suspense

I also enjoy romance with a suspense or thriller element. The mix of romance and suspense provides the classic mix of internal and external conflict, and provides plenty of opportunity for the hero and heroine to get to know each other as they work together to solve the crime (or stop one happenning).

My favourite Christian romantic suspense authors are DiAnn Mills, Lynette Eason, Terri Blackstock, and similar authors.

Contemporary Romance

My absolute favourite genre is contemporary romance. But not just any contemporary romance. I like stories that are a realistic and even a little gritty, that show life like it is but still show the hope of Jesus. And a little comedy doesn’t hurt, as a way of diffusing tension.

My favourite contemporary Christian romance authors are whichever book I’ve read most recently. Kara Isaac, Bethany Turner, Jennifer Rodewald, Brandy Bruce, Carla Laureano, Tammy L Gray, Courtney Walsh, Amy Matayo … the list goes on.

What about you? What’s your favourite Christian book genre?

Let me know in the comments, then pop over to Australasian Christian Writers and share there!

#ThrowbackThursday | Close to You by Kara Isaac

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my extremely biased review of Close to You by Kara Isaac. It’s biased because Kara is a fellow Kiwi, and it’s the first Christian novel I’ve read that is set anywhere near what I call home.

To the best of my knowledge, Close to You by Kara Isaac is the first novel from a New Zealand author contracted and published by a major US Christian publisher. That alone is worth five stars, at least from this parochial Kiwi reader. Those of you who can’t see the appeal of a romance novel set in the Land of the Long White Cloud (and the land of hobbits) … I don’t know. What do people who don’t like New Zealand or hobbits read? Do they read? Can they read?.

Anyway, on to the novel.

Allie is short of money, as her funds are currently tied up in a messy divorce. She’s working as a tour guide delivering high-class (i.e. expensive) tours of New Zealand’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie locations, making good use of her PhD in English literature. Unfortunately, she now loathes all things Tolkien.

Jackson’s company has just gone bust, and he’s accompanying a long-lost—and rich—uncle on Allie’s Lord of the Rings tour in the hope he can persuade uncle to invest in his next business idea. Unfortunately, he knows nothing about Tolkien, hobbits or Lord of the Rings … despite telling his uncle he’s a die-hard fan.

Naturally, Allie and Jackson start off on the wrong foot and equally naturally (this is Christian romance!), things change as they start to get to know each other. Throw in a tour bus full of seriously eccentric characters, a wily uncle and a weasly almost-ex-husband, and the stage is set for fun and romance.

I loved all the Kiwi touches.

The nail-biting approach to Wellington Airport. The lush greenery of the Waikato. The “scents” of Rotorua. The majesty of Queenstown. The Tolkien tourist mecca of Hobbiton (which is even better in real life. I love the Second Breakfast at The Shire’s Rest cafe). The writing was good, with a good dose of humour (people actually speak Elvish?) and a subtle underlying Christian theme.

Recommended for fans of Carla Laureano and Susan May Warren. And New Zealand, and Tolkien. So that should cover pretty much everyone.

Thanks to Howard Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Kara Isaac

Kara Isaac is a RITA® Award nominee who lives in Wellington, New Zealand, where her career highlights include working in tourism as Private Secretary for the Prime Minister. She loves great books almost as much as she loves her husband and three Hobbit-sized children.

You can find Kara Isaac online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Close to You

A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.

Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.

When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

You can find Close to You online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the opening to Close to You below:

Click here to find Close to You and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon store.

It's RITA Time!

It’s RITA Time!

It’s time for the 2017 RITA Awards! For those who don’t know, the RITA Awards are the annual published author awards presented by Romance Writers of America.

They are a big deal, the Oscars of the romance writing world. I read Christian fiction, so I’m most interested in the Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements category.

The four finalists for 2017 are:

  • My Hope Next Door by Tammy L Gray
  • Keeper of the Stars by Robin Lee Hatcher
  • Close to You by Kara Isaac (who also finalled in the Debut novel category)
  • Trust My Heart by Carol J Post

I’ve read and reviewed all four books, and I’m glad I’m not a judge!

All four books were excellent, and it’s going to be a tough decision for someone (or several someones). I’d love for Kara Isaac to win, because Close to You is set in New Zealand and she’s finalled in two categories. And I edited her latest book, Then There Was You. Not that I’m biased or anything.

Here are links to my reviews:

Close to You
Keeper of the Stars
My Hope Next Door
Trust My Heart

My review of Keeper of the Stars was a guest post at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, as part of their annual RITA challenge. They ask for guest reviewers to volunteer to review each of the (many) finalists. They post two reviews of each book in the weeks leading up to the announcement of the winners.

These reviews are interesting to read because they are mostly written by readers who don’t usually read Christian romance. You’ll see the reviews aren’t nearly as glowing as those usually seen on Christian fiction review sites.

Here are links to the other SBTB reviews:

A B- review for Close to You from Bluetomarto.
A C- review for Close to You from Hope.

A B- review for Trust My Heart from LauraL.
A C- review for Trust My Heart from DonnaMarie.

A C+ review from Julia for Keeper of the Stars.

A D review for My Hope Next Door from Samantha.

If you go by the SBTB grades, the winner will be Keeper of the Stars. But that’s based on my B+ review, and I’d have given B+ or better grades to all four finalists!

The winners will be announced at the Romance Writers of America conference, on 27 July.

Have you read any of these RITA finalists? Which do you think should win?

My Favourite Reads for June 2017

Book Recommendations June 2017 (and Giveaway Winners!) 

My Favourite Reads for June 2017. I’m usually a contemporary romance fan, but this month features three historical titles, one of which is pure thriller.

But first, our giveaway winners!

Two weeks ago, I reviewed (raved about) Then There Was You, the new release from Kara Isaac, and offered two giveaways.

The winner of the paperback was Susan.

The winner of the Kindle was Stacy.

Congratulations!

You have both received an email from me asking for your details so I can forward your prize. Please respond by 7 July 2017, or I’ll select another winner. If you haven’t received the email, then contact me through the form on my Contact page.

And now for my book recommendations for June:

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

Sweetbriar Cottage is a standalone novel by Denise Hunter, the story of a couple who thought they were divorced but aren’t. When trapped together in a snowstorm, they have to reconsider their preconceptions and decisions. I loved Sweetbriar Cottage for the illustration of the importance of unconditional love … and the challenge in putting that into practice.

Click here to read my review of Sweetbriar Cottage, and click here to find out more about Denise Hunter.

Unnoticed by Amanda Deed

Unnoticed is a Christian Cinderella story set in 1870’s Australia. I loved the unique way the author told the story, especially in the backstory she gave the characters … and the way she showed how we are products of our choices as much as of our environments.

Click here to read my review of Unnoticed, and click here to find out more about Amanda Deed.

Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M Dickson

Grounded Hearts is set in World War II Ireland, a unique setting in terms of time and place (at least, it’s not a setting I’ve come across before in Christian fiction). Ireland was neutral in World War II, so it’s the story of a Canadian RAF pilot downed in Ireland, and the efforts of a local midwife to get him to safety in British Northern Ireland. I loved the historical context, and the irreverent Irish humour.

Click here to read my review of Grounded Hearts, and click here to find out more about Jeanne M Dickson.

Enemy Action by Mike Hollow

Enemy Action is a murder mystery set in London at the height of the Blitz. It’s the third book in The Blitz Detective series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel (I haven’t read the earlier books in the series, but now I want to). It’s a great mystery with lots of twists and turns, and an authentic British voice.

Click here to read my review of Enemy Action, and click here to find out more about Mike Hollow and The Blitz Detective series.

 

What were your favourite reads for June 2017?