30 November 2012

Review: Special Intentions by Claire Coleman

How many times have you told someone “I’ll pray for you”, and then only remembered once or twice? Have you ever felt there is so much need in our world that it is impossible to pray for all of them, and even only praying for a few can still feel like a laundry list of prayer.

Special Intentions: Remembering Others in Personal Prayer provides an interesting alternative: say one prayer, every day, for someone other than yourself, from the almost two hundred intercessory prayers in this book. The prayers are not formal and liturgical, rather they are freeform, almost like poems. And it’s not the kind of book you sit down and read cover-to-cover. It’s more about reading, meditating on and praying one or two prayers a day, either in order, or by theme, or randomly.

The prayers are collated in themes: Love One Another, Carry the Burdens, No Greater Love, With Thanks, For Perseverance, Prayers and Intercessions, Give Each Other Strength, For Unfailing Faith, Imprisoned, The Suffering, and You Are In My Prayers. There are prayers for the homeless, the single mother, the volunteer, the foster parent, the person who knits hats, gloves and scarves for the needy.

I think this is what I like most: the prayers aren’t just for ‘the world’, which is too big a concept. They can be for an individual, a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger. They can be for someone who is a Christian or who isn’t. But what is most special is that most are for unsung heroes, the people who make our cities and towns into communities. Special Intentions would make a lovely Christmas or birthday gift, for yourself or someone else. Recommended.

Thanks to Claire Coleman and MM Book Publicity for providing a free book for review. You can find out more about Claire Coleman her website.

28 November 2012

Review: Betrayal on the Border by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

A year ago, communications specialist Madeline Jerrard was one of two surviving witnesses of a compromised mission in the Rio Grande. She has no memories of the event, but that hasn't stopped those who want to kill her. Now her temporary cover as apartment janitor Madison Jameson is about to be blown, the other witness is dead, and she is on the run again.

Love Inspired Suspense is a Harlequin imprint, publishing relatively short novels, not known for their deep spiritual themes or writing of outstanding literary merit. Some are good, others struggle to achieve mediocre. The lower word count can make it difficult for authors to properly develop their plots, characters and particularly their spiritual themes. I don’t tend to read a lot of them, but picked this one up because I’ve read other suspense novels by Jill Elizabeth Nelson and really enjoyed them. I’ve also read her non-fiction title about writing with Deep Point of View – so was interested in reading this to see if she practices what she preaches! (She does.)

While the plot of Betrayal on the Border was somewhat predictable (which is par for the course for Love Inspired), the characters were interesting and the writing was excellent. It even manages to get in a subtle dig about the dangers of self-publishing through a vanity press. Better than most.

Thanks to Love Inspired and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Jill Elizabeth Nelson at her website.

26 November 2012

Review: Sarah's Gift by Skye Wieland

Sarah White was raised by foster parents after witnessing her father murder her mother when she was ten. As a result, she has problems forming real relationships with people. She has no such problem with horses, which serves her well in her role as Stable Manager for a safari company on the border of South Africa's Kruger National Park. She enjoys her job, but doesn’t really get on well with Johnno, her boss, or Mark, another park employee who often accompanies her supervising tourist safari rides.

What seems like a normal trek turns strange when Sarah hears a gunshot and finds a huge area of the veldt devoid of wildlife. And there is something strange, almost like a presence, even though no one is around. Her natural curiosity and care for the animals puts her at risk when the elephant culls begin and she is approached by a local witch doctor, then begins to have strange dreams of a man in white. This is a Christian novel, so there is no real surprise about the identity of her dream man, but this is the only predicable element.

Sarah's Gift is set in 1990, a time when South Africa was going through a huge racial upheaval, and this theme of change and equality is also touched on. The novel also manages to deliver a clear Christian message of redemption and finding our place in the world using the gifts God has given us. However, this does mean there is quite a bit of 'Christianese' which some readers might find off-putting, like references to a move of God, and a powerful testimony

Sarah's Gift is Skye Wieland's first novel, and while she still has a lot to learn about the technical craft aspects of writing and editing, Sarah's Gift does demonstrate an ability to develop characters and utilise conflict to drive the plot forward, and good action sequences. Although this book has undergone extensive editing, there are still numerous grammatical, point of view and homophone errors which occasionally impact on the reading experience. Despite these faults, the end was gripping and I didn't want to finish reading. The author has managed to show us an Africa setting in a time and place that is not normally seen in Christian fiction, a refreshing change.

Thanks to Skye Wieland and ShadeTree Publishing for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Skye Wieland at her website.

23 November 2012

ACRBA Review: Bethlehem's Warrior by Ray Hawkins

This is another ACRBA blog tour review, this time for Bethlehem's Warrior Baby, a 31-day devotional by Ray Hawkins.

19 - 23 November

is introducing

(Even Before Publishing November 2012)
About the Author:

Ray Hawkins

Ray Hawkins, retired after over 40 years as a Churches of Christ minister, enjoys sharing themes from the Scriptures through Devotional writing. Married to Mary, multi-published inspirational romance author, they have three children and five grandchildren. Ray shares his insights in his first two books on Marriage and Children with more ideas to come about ministry and much more. Living in Beauty Point Tasmania Ray heads up a new Christian Fellowship as well as doing relief preaching, community work and writing.

Book Description:
Bethlehem's Warrior (31 Day Devotional)
Short Book Description: In 31 daily devotional meditations Bethlehem's Warrior Baby takes you out of a sentimental nativity scene and into a contest with eternal significance.

It walks you through God's promise in Genesis 3:15 of Someone coming and the clues to His identity in the old Testament. You become aware that in the Christmas event that 'Someone' has come.

I believe Christmas is the culmination of Heaven's countdown to reclaim men, women and creation from the tyranny of sin, death and Satan. The cost involved to God to achieve this should make the reader bow in awe and gratitude.

My Review:

I haven't yet worked my way through all the devotions in Bethlehem's Warrior Baby, but I am impressed by what I have read, and I will get them finished well before Christmas! The overall theme is Jesus, the warrior baby, born to conquer sin, death and Satan on our behalf.

Each devotional starts with a Bible reading of up to one chapter, then a one to two page discussion of the reading, then a short prayer and a gift. This is quite unique, at least in my experience of reading devotionals. It is our gift to God: a promise of what we can (and should) do to bring us closer to God. As an example, the gift for Day 15 (The Time Has Arrived) is "My gift to you is to hang up my personal calendar and accept what you do and the time you choose to do it. I'll learn to wait and persevere until your time is ripe".

Ray Hawkins has an extensive background in Christian ministry, and this shows. The devotions are like the best sermons - easy to read and understand but not simplistic, yet covering some complex ideas and concepts without the language becoming so theological that the lay reader is lost. Recommended.

21 November 2012

Review: 'Til Grits Us Do Part by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

'Til Grits Do Us Part is the final book in Jennifer Rogers Spinola’s debut Southern Fried Sushi series. Becky and Tim are still making fun of Shiloh's culinary tastes (I've never eaten grits, but where I come from, grit is dirt, so I don't think I'd want to. I do, however, love sushi).

Shiloh has a wedding to plan, a car in dire need of repair, no money and a fiancé who hasn't even kissed her yet, (just in case doesn't have enough problems already) she also appears to have a stalker who sends her red roses with creepy notes. The stalker then goes one step further, and starts leaving threatening messages for her friends.

I really enjoyed the passages where Shiloh was reminiscing about her time in Japan. Even though I've never been there, I could understand her feelings. After all, at some point or another, we all have to say goodbye to someone or something we love, often before we're actually ready.

However, I have to say that I found several of the characters, especially Becky, rather annoying. This is probably because the focus of 'Til Grits Do Us Part was more on the mystery and less on the development of the characters and their relationships. The pace felt much faster than in the previous books, and the number of characters and subplots made it harder to follow. For this reason, while the novel was enjoyable enough, I think it was the weakest of the trilogy.

Thanks to Barbour Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Jennifer Rogers Spinola at her website.

19 November 2012

Review: If We Survive by Andrew Klavan

If We Survive is the story of four teenagers in the fictional Central American country of Costa Verdes, on a mission trip to rebuild a school, destroyed by the volcanoes.  Nicki Wilson, Jim Nolan, Meredith Ward and Will Peterson, supervised by Pastor Ron, have finished their week in the village and are waiting for Palmer Dunn, their pilot, to finish his drink and fly them back to the capital of Costa Verdes, so they can catch their flights home. But revolution erupts, and they are caught in the middle.

If We Survive is told in the first person from the point of view of sixteen-year-old Will, who tells us his story in a very conversational tone that directly addresses the reader. The language is very visual. For example, in introducing us to each of the people on the mission trip, Will gives a physical description, a character assessment, then tells a story illustrating their personality. So even when he tells, he's also showing us what happened.
“I just wish I could tell you that all of us made it home alive.”

That's how Chapter One ends. With lines like that, Klavan has certainly perfected the art of creating an unputdownable page turner. As I was reading, I was telling myself that Will must survive, if for no other reason than he is the narrator. After all, very few novels attempt a dead narrator, and even fewer succeed (but it has been done). Was I right? You’ll have to read it to find out.

It has to be admitted that the characters (especially Jim and Nicki) are somewhat stereotypical, but these kinds of characters have become stereotypes because there is something in them we recognise. But they each learn and grow as the story progresses and their beliefs about themselves are challenged. Will is a Christian and prays a lot, but (in line with a typical teenage boy) is never preachy.

If We Survivee is a novel aimed at the Young Adult (teenage) market. There is a lot of violence (mostly implied, without any real detail) but no sex, no sensuality and no swearing. It reminded me of CrossFireand Betrayedby JM Windle, but more fast-paced and with a teenage focus. A Christian YA novel that will appeal to lovers of adventure (and their parents). Recommended.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and BookSneeze® for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Andrew Klavan at his website

16 November 2012

Review: Be Still My Soul by Joanne Bischof

Shy Lonnie Sawyer is forced by her abusive father into a shotgun marriage with handsome Gideon O'Reilly after he walks her home from a dance and kisses her goodnight. But marriage isn't what Lonnie expected. She leaves her home with Gideon, who wants to move to the nearby town of Slade to find work. But even that doesn't go according to plan as Gideon forges on without any thought for his wife and ends up walking in circles, lost. Close to starving, they are taken in by an older couple who form an immediate attachment to Lonnie, and agree to allow Gideon to stay for her sake.

The early Gideon was a thoroughly unlikeable character, but I saw Gideon gradually change, saw him grow up and realise that he was not the man he should be. What I didn't see was Lonnie seeing this. At one point she acknowledges that she loves Gideon (this is a Christian romance—we expect the married couple to live happily ever after), but I never really saw where she had changed her mind or why she had fallen for him. It seemed that on day she loathed him and the next she loved him—we never really saw Lonnie grow and change, either emotionally or spiritually. I also found the Christian elements very understated, possibly too much so.

As a first novel, Be Still My Soul shows promise. The author has captured the atmosphere of the Blue Mountains beautifully, the writing is good, and her characters feel very real. So, despite the faults noted above, I think Joanne Bischoff is a writer to watch.

Thanks to Multnomah Books and BloggingforBooks® for providing a free ebook for review (note that this book was first published in 2008 as Cry of My Heart). You can find out more about Joanne Bischof her website.

14 November 2012

Review: The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann

Morgan Spencer is one of my favourite fictional characters, but Kristen Heitzmann has been pretty tough on him. In A Rush of Wings, he and his younger brother, Rick, were both after the same girl, and Morgan lost. In The Still of Night he reunited with his high school sweetheart, Jill, as they battled to save the life of their daughter, Kelsey. The Breath of Dawn opens at Jill’s funeral service, with Morgan holding their baby daughter.

Frankly, I thought that after all Morgan had been through in the first two books, he deserved a happy ending with Jill, and I was rather annoyed with Kristen Heitzmann for not allowing him to have that. So, I was a bit hesitant about starting this, but thawed quickly when Jill’s death was described as ‘cruel and excessive’. I like the acknowledgement that we, as readers, aren’t supposed to just forget Jill and move on, ignoring the past.

That was one of the underlying themes of the novel: moving on while remaining true to the battles that have gone before. Most of Heitzmann’s contemporary novels are romantic suspense, and this is no exception. Quinn is living under the radar in Juniper Falls, Colorado, not far from Rick Spencer’s ranch. She left home four years ago after her testimony put a man in prison, and has had little contact with her family since.

Quinn is now operating as an eBay seller, cleaning out deceased estates on behalf of the family – her latest project is the house next door to the Spencer ranch, with its piles of clutter, a creepy basement, a history as an insane asylum and a hidden locket. But what is scarier than the basement is the fact that Markham’s sentence is now complete, and he is threatening her. Quinn has befriended the Spencer family, and Morgan, the ‘Success Guru’, offers to help because that’s his style. And perhaps because Quinn is starting to thaw him out from the losses of Kelsey and Jill.

The writing style is quite restrained, in that sometimes there is more in what Heitzmann leaves out than in what is actually said, particularly when it comes to the romantic tension between the lead characters. She has a dry sense of humour which appeals to me (Morgan’s music playlist “sounded like an orc uprising”), and while the novel is definitely Christian, the faith aspects are understated, consistent with her overall writing style. Although I tend to read suspense rather quickly (impatient to get to the end), I found myself stopping to admire the beautiful writing and use of language. The Breath of Dawn is highly recommended, and one I will certainly reread.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can read more about Kristen Heitzmann at her website.

12 November 2012

Review: You Don't Know Me by Susan May Warren

Everyone in Deep Haven thinks that Annalise and Nathan Decker have a perfect life with their three children, Jason, Colleen and Henry. Nathan's a successful real estate agent who's running for mayor, she's a soccer mom to three children who volunteers at Goodwill and bakes perfect cookies. But everything is not what it seems. Nathan's business is in the red, he’s spent Jason’s college fund on his mayoral campaign and Annalise has just had a visitor from the past--Frank Harrison, who was responsible for rescuing drug addict Deidre O'Reilly twenty years ago, as part of a witness security programme, and relocating her to Deep Haven.

And Annalise hasn't told her husband that Jason has auditioned for the lead in the school play instead of getting a job like Nathan wanted, that Colleen is dating a bad boy and Henry wants to quit soccer. And she hasn't told him that Uncle Frank isn't really her uncle, but is here to warn her that Garcia is out of prison and wants to make good on his threat to murder her for putting him inside for the last twenty years.

The Deep Haven stories have gradually changed from new love and romance with an element of suspense to romantic suspense featuring married couples with children and teenagers. Yes, there is still a Happy-Ever-After, but the focus has changed (and I'm still waiting for Lisa from the first book to get her HEA). While part of me really enjoyed the young love stories, it’s good to see an author whose stories and characters are staying true to the readership and growing with us. It makes the stories relevant in a different way, as we see characters struggling in their lives and marriages, yet finding a way to forgive and stay true to their marriage vows.

As with the previous Deep Haven novels, You Don't Know Me is well written, with engaging characters facing problems we can relate to (well, keeping secrets and things not always being what they seem, if not the part about being an ex-drug addict in a witness security programme), and a clear but understated Christian element. The book was inspired by a real-life situation, which makes it all the more poignant. An enjoyable read.

Thanks to Tyndale House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Susan May Warren at her website.

9 November 2012

Review: Soul's Gate by James L Rubart

Thirty years ago, Reece Roth was given a prophecy: “there will come a day when you will train them—they will be four. The song, the teacher, the leader, the temple.” That day has now come, and Reece, along with Marcus Amber, Dana Raine, Brandon Scott, and Tamera Miller, are scheduled to go on a retreat together. Before they leave, Reece instructs the four to read the gospels and the book of Acts, and watch a movie - The Matrix.

Once on their retreat, Reese shares with the others some of the things he has learnt on his Christian walk. This is heavy, serious, spiritual stuff that threatens to break the four out of their everyday Christianity as they work together to get to know each other and break down spiritual barriers.

Jim Rubart is the award-winning author of RoomsBook of Days and The Chair, and from reading Soul’s Gate, I can see why. Soul's Gate is a story of freedom in Christ, with a strong emphasis on the spiritual battles that sometimes must be fought for that freedom. While Soul's Gate finishes the story, the ending makes it equally clear that this is only the start of the journey for the four warriors, just as this is the first book in what I hope is planned to be a series.

This is not comfortable Christian fiction. The reader of Amish romance who occasionally branches out into a Western romance or a Love Inspired title is not going to enjoy Soul's Gate. But the reader who wants something a bit more challenging and who can deal with a bit of the "woo-woo demons and angels" stuff while find this book worth reading, if only to debate which aspects are fiction and which just might be true. Recommended.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and Netgalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about James L Rubart at his website

7 November 2012

ACRBA Review: Return to Baragula by Mary Hawkins

This is the first review for the new Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance blog tour. A blog tour is a group of blogs all reviewing and promoting the same book in the same week. ACRBA will be touring two books each month: one novel, and one non-fiction or children's title.

5 - 9 November

is introducing 

(Ark house March 2008)

by Mary Hawkins

About the Author:

Mary Hawkins is a best-selling inspirational romance author with other 825,000 romance books in print. During the first few years of being published she also had five medical romance novels released by Harlequin Mills & Boon before concentrating on inspirationals for Barbour Publishing (Ohio). Return to Baragula is her first single title and the first released by an Australia publisher.

Mary was a Queensland farmer's daughter, became a registered nurse and has a graduate diploma from a Sydney Bible College where she met her husband. Ray is a retired minister who is also a published author. They enjoyed ministries in Australia, three short term mission trips to Africa and two years at a church in England before settling in beautiful Tasmania. They have three adult children and are now proud grandparents. Mary is a member of several writing organisations including American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of Australia, Romance Writers America, their Faith Hope Love chapter and Australian Omega Writers. She enjoys speaking appointments and writing workshops where she can share the journey she has been walking for many years with her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. You can find out more about Mary at her website,

Book Description:Return To Baragula

Over the years Emily Parker's actions as a teenager have impacted not only her own life, but the lives of many different people.

Now, six years later, she returns reluctantly to her home town of Baragula only to discover the man at the heart of those actions, Matthew Davidson, is the community's respected doctor.

While Emily's faith is now severely weakened by all that has happened, Matthew's life has completely turned around since he committed his life to Christ. His personal relationship with God is tested when he discovers how his behaviour when a non-believer hurt so many, especially Emily, and feels responsible for her hardness of heart towards the Lord.

Disease attacks the community while danger from another source threatens Emily and her family. Through it all, will Matthew and Emily's faith be strong enough to forgive each other and put the past behind them?

My Review

Emily has returned Baragula, the small Australian town where she grew up. The first person she trips over (almost literally) is Matthew Davidson, her best friend's brother. And, although he doesn't know it, the father of her twins. Matthew and Emily met at Schoolies week (like Spring Break) and were instantly attracted, although Emily knew that as a Christian, she shouldn't form a relationship with Matthew, who had no faith.

Yet now, six years later, Emily has lost her faith and Matthew is a stalwart member of the local church as well as being the town's doctor. Emily has to deal with her reaction to Matthew's new faith, and as a Nurse, is forced to work beside him as the town faces an epidemic. Meanwhile, Matthew is struggling to work out why such a strong Christian as Emily has lost her faith, and where her children fit in. Mixed in with this are some strange happenings, like a brick through the window of Emily's house.

Return to Baragula is the first book of a trilogy, and I own all three. The second book, Outback from Baragula, is even better than this, although I didn't enjoy the final book, Justice at Baragula, as much. I really like Mary Hawkins characters and plots (although her writing can be a bit strained at times), and I particularly like the fact that the book is not based in the US, as so much Christian fiction is. I have read and re-read this book and the sequel, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a romantic suspense novel that is just a bit different.

5 November 2012

Review: Take the Trophy and Run by Gail Stattler

Amber Weathersby owns the Gardens and Gifts Galore. Each year, she places a gnome in the garden that wins the Bloomfield Garden Club prize. Except this year, Gnormon (with a silent ‘g’) the gnome has gone missing, along with the trophy. She soon finds a clue, a poem comprised of letters cut out of the local paper, and this leads her and her best friend, Stan Wilson, to the gnome. But no trophy. And then Gnormon disappears, and so starts the chase to find Gnormon’s next location, and hopefully the trophy.

As he works with Amber, Stan discovers that Amber isn’t just the girl he grew up with, his oldest, closest friend. He’s in love with her. And she seems to be drawing away from him. Stan doesn’t know that Amber is also struggling with financial issues. Her parents are dead, and her uncle is pressuring her to repay his business loan, on which he has doubled the interest payments (not exactly sure how he could do that with a written contract, but never mind. Don't want to let logic get in the way of the story).

I found Take the Trophy and Run difficult to get into, although I usually enjoy cozy mysteries and I have a real soft spot for friends-to-lovers plots (this is Christian fiction, so lovers in the Victorian sense, not the modern sense). The style of writing didn’t really work for me, although there was nothing I could pinpoint as why. I think my main problem was that I was more interested in the relationship between Amber and Stan than in the mystery of the missing gnome or Amber’s financial issues. And even this has been done better, particularly in the Smart Chick Mysteries by Mindy Starns Clark. Take the Trophy and Run wasn’t bad, it just didn’t grab me until about three-quarters of the way through, and that wasn’t enough to make up for the weaker start.

Thanks to B&H Publishing and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Gail Stattler at her website.

2 November 2012

New Releases: November 2012

Note that this list doesn't include reprints, self-published novels, books from known vanity presses, books with no cover image, or books from Love Inspired or Heartsong Presents. For a complete list of November 2012 new releases, see Amazon. Books are in no particlar order.

The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann (review coming)

Morgan Spencer has had just about all he can take of life. Following the tragic death of his wife, Jill, he retreats to his brother's Rocky Mountain ranch to heal and focus on the care of his infant daughter, Olivia. Two years later, Morgan begins to make plans to return to his home in Santa Barbara to pick up the pieces of his life and career. Quinn Riley has been avoiding her past for four years. Standing up for the truth has forced her into a life of fear and isolation. After a "chance" first meeting and a Thanksgiving snowstorm, Quinn is drawn into the Spencer family's warm and loving world, and she begins to believe she might find freedom in their friendship.

A Bride Sews with Love in Needles, California by Erica Vetsch

When her brother is injured fighting in France, Meghan enlists her fellow Harvey Girl waitresses to sew a Red Cross signature quilt to raise money for wounded doughboys. Local horse breeder Caleb McBride longs to join the battle, but the army won’t take him. Because he has kept his shameful infirmity a secret, the townsfolk have labeled him a coward and war profiteer. When Meghan uncovers his malady, her poor opinion of Caleb unravels. Can this beautiful seamstress find a way to mend his heart?

A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

Lady Eliza Sumner is on a mission. Her fortune was the last thing she had left after losing her father, her fiance, and her faith. Now, masquerading as Miss Eliza Sumner governess-at-large, she's determined to find the man who ran off with her fortune, reclaim the money, and head straight back to London. Mr. Hamilton Beckett, much to his chagrin, is the catch of the season, and all the eyes of New York society--all the female ones, at least--are on him. He has no plans to marry again, especially since his hands are full keeping his business afloat while raising his two children alone. Eliza's hapless attempts to regain her fortune unexpectedly put her right in Hamilton's path. The discovery of a common nemesis causes them to join forces.

The Greenfield Legacy (reviewed)

How can one decision cause so much pain? Can it also bring hope? Mattie was in love with Billy, but she was too young to wed. When Billy was conscripted to fight in Vietnam, they made a decision that impacted their lives and their future. But so much pain resulted that Mattie never really healed. Every turn Mattie made affected her daughter and her granddaughter in ways she didn't even realise. But forty-six years later, is it time for things to be set right? Navy is a young woman who has never known her family. But what could be a wonderful opportunity is met with jealousy and apprehension from her cousin, Brooke and her aunt Connie, especially with handsome Aidan around. Each must look past their struggles and find forgiveness and trust, and perhaps even love.

Parrish the Thought by Catherine Leggit (review coming)

Unlovable people plague Christine Sterling s world. Most difficult of all is Amanda Colter, a surly Goth teenager accused of murdering prominent Nevada City matron, Bessie Parrish. When Christine answers Amanda's call for help, she is thrust into a frightening and unfamiliar world populated by misfits and outcasts. In her zeal to help Amanda, she must face the ugliness of her own prejudiced heart. That means she must decide whether to run from those who live on the fringes or to give up her judgmental attitude and instead embrace God's command to love the unlovely.

Starflower by Anne Elizabeth Stengl

When a cursed dragon-witch kidnaps the lovely Lady Gleamdren, Eanrin sets boldly forth on a rescue mission...and a race against his rival for Gleamdren's favor. Intent upon his quest, the last thing the immortal Faerie needs is to become mixed up with the troubles of an insignificant mortal.But when he stumbles upon a maiden trapped in an enchanted sleep, he cannot leave her alone in the dangerous Wood Between. One waking kiss later, Eanrin suddenly finds his story entangled with that of young Starflower. A strange link exists between this mortal girl and the dragon-witch. Will Starflower prove the key to Lady Gleamdren's rescue?

Strong and Stubborn by Kelly Eileen Hake

Ride out west to join the last sawmill bride as she attempts to select her mate. Naomi Higgins isn’t about to settle for just anybody. Carpenter Michael Strode and his son—a chip off the old block—are ready to start a new life. Can they convince Naomi to be a part of their future when problems from the past still haunt Hope Falls? Will secrets sabotage the struggling town—and any hope of romance?

Til Grits Us Do Part by Jennifer Rogers Spinola (third in series, review coming)

Shiloh Jacobs is planning her wedding without family, without money, and without a clue—and trying to make a go of small-town Southern life. Until she stumbles on an unsolved case about a missing woman that makes her run in the opposite direction—right into the would-be killer’s web of plans. In the midst of sorting through her tragic past and strained relationships, Shiloh finds herself on the run from a madman—and hoping she can make it to her wedding alive.

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas by Jennifer AiLee

Upon her grandmother's death, Izzy Fontaine finds herself in possession of a Wild Goose Chase pattern quilt that supposedly leads to a great treasure. Of course, once the rest of the family finds out about the "treasure map," they're determined to have a go at the treasure themselves. And, if that weren't enough, Max Logan, a local museum curator, contacts Izzy and says that Grandma Isabella promised him the quilt. What is it about this quilt that makes everyone want it? Is Izzy on a wild goose chase of her own, or a journey that will lead her to the treasure her grandmother intended?

A New Resolution by Rose Dee (reviewed)

Resolution Island is a safe haven for Anika Deumer.A chance to fulfill dreams, find her place in the world, and a new life for her and young son, Kye. But her dreams of a future are shattered when her son's security is challenged, and the rich and privileged Texan, Nate, sails into the bay. Now Ani must not only fight for her son, but also a growing attraction she has to the one type of man she loathes. Nate Hollingsworth is on a mission.He needs to fulfill his mother's last wish and change his life. Dropping anchor in the idyllic Resolution harbour, he didn't anticipate becoming involved in illegal fishing, a murder or an unexpected attraction to the most exasperating woman he has ever met. The Australian tropical Island, Resolution, sets the scene again for adventures, dreams and new beginnings.

Judge by R J Larson

The last thing Kien Lantec expects on his first day of military leave is to receive marching orders from his Creator, the Infinite. Orders that don't involve destroyer-racing or courting the love of his life, Ela. Adding to Kien's frustration, his Infinite-ordained duties have little to do with his skills as a military judge-in-training. His mission? To warn the people of ToronSea against turning their backs to the Infinite to worship a new goddess.But why Kien? Isn't this the role of a true prophet, such as Ela of Parne?Seeking answers, Kien visits Ela and finds her stricken by a devastating vision of her own.

Courting Cate by Leslie Gould

When Amish farmer Pete Treger moves to Paradise Township, Pennsylvania, seeking a better life, he meets sisters Cate and Betsy Miller. Both are beautiful, but older sister Cate is known more for her sharp tongue and fiery temper than her striking appearance. Betsy, on the other hand, is sweet and flirty--and seems to have attracted most of the bachelors in Lancaster County!However, the sisters' wealthy father has made one hard and fast rule: elder sister must marry first, before the younger can even start courting. Unfortunately for poor Betsy, and for the men who want to court her, her older sister, Cate, doesn't have any suitors--until Pete comes to town, that is. Oh, I know this story! Health Ledger and and Julia Stiles in Ten Things I Hate About You.

No Substitute by Susan Diane Johnson

First loves never last . . . except when they do. When Amy Welsh returns to Goose Bay as a substitute teacher, she has no intention of seeing Quentin Macmillan, the man who once left her waiting in the rain clutching her suitcase and dreaming of becoming his wife. Seventeen years later, his teenage daughter shows up in Amy's class with plans to reunite her widowed father with the woman he has always loved. When the assignment is forgiveness and healing, will this young teacher pass the test?

A Christmas for Katie by Sally Shepherd Gray

It isn't easy to be Katie Weaver. Her sister-in-law Ella is about to have a baby, making Katie an aunt for the second time . . . and she's only six and a half! Plus, her favorite librarian, Miss Donovan, seems sad. She won't even fix up the rundown nativity in front of the library in time for Christmas. Then, an old woman is attacked outside the library, and, one by one, the nativity figures start to disappear! Luckily, there's a new deputy in town, Connor Fields.

Fire of the Raging Dragon by Don Brown

When the new, power-hungry Chinese President, Tang Qhichen, orders Chinese Naval forces to attack Taiwanese forces on Itu Aba, U.S. President Douglas Surber responds, ordering the U.S. Seventh Fleet to try and quell a burgeoning naval showdown between the two Chinas. Aboard the submarine tender U.S.S. Emory S. Land, one of the first ships in the naval war zone, is Ensign Stephanie Surber, a recent Naval Academy graduate who is also the First Daughter of the United States. As the Emory S. Land steams into harm's way, Ensign Surber's life is gravely threatened. The President must make a decision. Will he take a stand against evil? Or will he save the life of his daughter? Note that Don Brown is a Christian author, no relation to Dan Brown.

Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher

It's the turn of the twentieth century and drifter Hugh Brennan is a man well acquainted with betrayal. Hugh finds himself drawn to the attractive widow, Julia, yet when he looks into her eyes, he recognizes the same hurt that haunts him. Julia Grace has little reason to trust men, but she's going to have to trust someone if she's to keep her ranch from the clutches of her dead husband's half-brother. Is it possible God had a hand in bringing Hugh to her door?

Isle of Shadows by T L Higley

Revised and updated from the original, Christy-award finalist Shadow of Colossus. Raised as courtesan to wealthy and powerful men, Tessa of Delos serves at the whim of her current patron, the politician Glaucus. After ten years with him, Tessa has abandoned all desire for freedom or love, choosing instead to lock her heart away. But when Glaucus meets a violent death in his own home, Tessa grasps at a fragile hope. Only she knows of his death. If she can keep it a secret long enough, she can escape.

War of the Worlds by Adrian Plass

Adrian Plass considers the pull of the spirit and of the flesh and how this often leads us to live compartmentalised lives. We allow God only into certain bits and suffer embarrassment when our compromised private lives and shiny public lives collide. War of the Worlds is about spiritual warfare, maturity, prayer and the fear of true commitment. It's a book that battles to reunite the secret world of what we are, with the public world of what we appear to be, in an outrageous and seriously funny advance into the no-man's-land of genuine Christian engagement.

The Blue Door by Christa Kinde (Young Adult)

Prissie Pomeroy is a teen who discovers she can see what others cannot: angels all around. Even more startling is the surprising secret she uncovers about people she thought she knew. As she wrestles with this unexpected ability she must come to grips with the spiritual battles surrounding her. Especially when she learns she received this gift because God has a unique role for her in his bigger plan. But if she's to fulfill it, she'll need faith like never before.

Mason Michael: The Heaven Projection by Dawn Dyson (third in series)

In the final hours of Earth’s existence, eighteen-year-old Alexa Dyson holds the hope of humanity—the key to salvation of lost souls in a world where proclaiming Christ is a death sentence. Frightened and alone, Alexa finds herself warming up to an unlikely protector who vows to care for her and her unborn child. But when faced with a series of incredible events, Alexa realizes there may be more to her handsome young savior than meets the eye. With judgment day approaching and countless lives hanging in the balance, will Alexa accept her divine assignment before it is too late? And when the time comes, will she be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Paper Angels by Jimmy Wayne and Travis Thrasher

Thomas let out a deep breath and started to write the words to the man who surely didn’t want to hear them. After he was finished, he sat there for a moment, looking at the two words right above his name. Merry Christmas. So common and so casual. Christmas doesn’t have to come once a year. It can happen every day.

Rosemary Opens Her Heart by Naomi King (second in series)

Zanna Lambright is finally marrying Jonny Ropp, and friends and family have come from far and wide to celebrate. Among them is young widow Rosemary Yutzy, mother of toddler Katie, whose husband was tragically killed last fall. With a willing heart Rosemary has taken over care of her in-law’s family and continued to run a baked goods business from home, but privately she still mourns her lost Joe...and is unprepared for the changes that are coming...

Soul's Gate by James Rubart (review coming)

What if you could travel inside another person’s soul? To battle for them. To be part of Jesus healing their deepest wounds. To help set them free to step boldly into their divinely designed future. Now God has drawn Reece out of the shadows to fulfill a prophecy spoken over him three decades ago. A prophecy about four warriors with the potential to change the world . . . if Reece will face his deepest regret and teach them what he has learned.

The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish

Seventeen-year-old Molly Fisk does not go outside. She's ruled by anxiety and only feels safe in the tiny tourist-town museum she and her mother run and call home. Yearning to live free but unable to overcome deep wounds from her past, she stays hidden away. Then the chance arrival of a woman Molly knew six years ago changes everything. Six years ago, newly single Claire Rodriguez was an empty shell. Only in the unique friendship she strikes up with a young girl--a silent girl who'll only talk to Claire--does she see the possibility of healing. But one day the girl and her mother vanish, their house abandoned. What happened that drove them away? And how can Claire now offer Molly the same chance at finding a life anew?