Author Archives: Janet Sketchley

About Janet Sketchley

Janet Sketchley is an Atlantic Canadian writer whose Redemption’s Edge Christian suspense novels have each been finalists in The Word Awards. She's also the author of the devotional collection, A Year of Tenacity. Janet blogs about faith and books. She loves Jesus and her family, and enjoys reading, worship music, and tea. Fans of Christian suspense are invited to join her writing journey through her monthly newsletter: bit.ly/JanetSketchleyNews.

Review: Shadows’ Sorrow, by Galadriel Pittman

Shadows' Sorrow, by Galadriel PittmanShadows’ Sorrow, by Galadriel Pittman (publisher, 2018)

Raven and his horse, Taikon, are a telepathically-linked team of Deinya warriors, sworn to protect against the returning dark forces of the Rakon. As if their current quest weren’t hard enough, Raven becomes the unwilling master of an honourable thief – and the party grows from there.

Tara, the thief, is my favourite character in the book (except perhaps for Taikon the horse). She’s skilled at reading people and situations and knowing how to fit in and gain whatever information or goods she needs.

The world of Shadows’ Sorrow has a medieval feel, poised for a battle between the opposing light/dark forces and the people who serve each side. In this book we begin to see the history of this conflict and the prophecies which may help the Deinya to succeed. We begin to see characters grow, and they have the rest of the series to become who they’ll need to be to defeat the darkness.

I enjoyed the novel, and would like to see what happens next. It’s a clean read (purists might take objection to one or two words) and it introduces interesting characters with significant potential for growth and heroism.

Shadows’ Sorrow is book 1 in the Morovian Destiny series. For more about the author and her work, visit galadrielpittman.com.

New Releases in Christian Fiction (June 2018)

June 2018 New Releases from Members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)

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


Contemporary Romance:

The Sleuth’s Miscalculation by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Librarian Nancy Daley loves a good mystery and enjoys moonlighting as a consultant for the sheriff’s department. When license plates go missing in Tipton County, she’s on the case. But she’s been partnered with the new deputy, Carter Malone, and he’s not interested in her help. When the minor case they are working morphs into something more, things quickly go from harmless to scary. Can they solve the mystery before it’s too late, and more importantly, what will they do about their growing attraction? (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Falling for the Cowgirl by Tina Radcliffe — Hiring Amanda “AJ” McAlester as his assistant at the Big Heart Ranch isn’t foreman Travis Maxwell’s first choice—but his sisters insist she’s perfect for the job. And AJ’s determined to prove she’s just as qualified as any man. But with money on the line, AJ and her innovative ideas could put him at risk of losing everything…including his heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Enduring Love by Toni Shiloh — Belle Peterson is hiding a secret. Seeking sanctuary in the small town of Maple Run, she’s intent on starting her life over—one she hopes honors Christ. The plan was going great until an undeniable attraction to Micah Campbell has her wondering if she’s changed at all. Can love really conquer all or will Belle’s past be too much for Micah to handle? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)


General Contemporary:

A Firm Place to Stand by Lori Altebaumer — Out of options, Maribel takes a safe enough seeming job, but soon finds herself in the middle of a murder, a search for a missing girl, and a race to find a lost treasure. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

Kuwaiti Seeker by Jim Carroll — A young Kuwaiti Muslim searches for truth in Islam, but God finds him anyway. (General Contemporary, Crosslink Publishing)


General Historical:

Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett — Watercolorist Olivia Rutherford has shed her humble beginnings to fashion her image as an avant-garde artist to appeal to the region’s wealthy art-collectors. When she lands a lucrative contract painting illustrations of Yosemite National Park for a travel magazine, including its nightly one-of-a-kind Firefall event, she hopes the money will lift Olivia and her sisters out of poverty. After false accusations cost him everything, former minister Clark Johnson has found purpose as a backcountry guide in this natural cathedral of granite and trees. Now he’s faced with the opportunity to become a National Parks Ranger, but is it his true calling? As Clark opens Olivia’s eyes to the wonders of Yosemite, she discovers the people are as vital to the park’s story as its vistas–a revelation that may bring her charade to an end. (General Historical from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])


Historical Romance:

Orphan Train Sweetheart by Mollie Campbell — Spring Hill is the orphan train’s last stop—a final chance for Simon McKay to find homes for his young charges. When his fellow placing agent quits, Simon enlists help from the frontier town’s pretty schoolteacher. Cecilia Holbrook is as intriguing as she is independent, yet Simon’s devotion to his mission will soon call him back to New York. Long overshadowed by her flirtatious sister, Cecilia is done with waiting for a man to choose her. She’s already fighting the school board to keep her position. Now she’s struggling not to lose her heart to Simon. Could their shared concern for the children show them how to follow a new dream, together? (Historical Romance Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Love Restored by Kelly Goshorn — She was nothing like the woman he’d envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she’d ever dreamed of-until a promise from his past threatened their future. (Historical Romance from Pelican Book Group)

The Road to Magnolia Glen by Pam Hillman — In 1792, Quinn O’Shea leaves Ireland for Natchez, Mississippi, ready to force his oldest brother to reclaim the role of family guardian so Quinn can be free to pursue his own adventures. While aboard ship, a run-in with tenacious yet kind Kiera Young and her two Irish sisters lands him in the role of reluctant savior. Upon arriving in the colonies, Kiera realizes her intended groom never existed and a far more sinister deal has been negotiated for her and her sisters. Quinn offers to escort his charges safely to Breeze Hill Plantation and his brother’s care, fully intending to seek his freedom elsewhere. But the longer he remains, the greater his feelings toward Kiera grow and the more he comes to realize true freedom might be found in sacrifice. (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)

A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter — When Katherine “Kit” FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she’s forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. Graham, intent on finding his friend’s missing sister, is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she’s telling. After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different, but long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. As much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn’t worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer — Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes–one bright blue, the other dark brown–Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. She’s made a safe haven with Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers. Seeking justice against the gambler who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father’s death. Instead, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach’s sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


Romantic Suspense:

Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley — It’s Elvis Week in Memphis, and homicide Detective Rachel Sloan isn’t sure her day could get any stranger when aging Elvis impersonator Vic Vegas asks to see her. But when he produces a photo of her murdered mother with four Elvis impersonators–one of whom had also been murdered soon after the photo was taken–she’s forced to reevaluate. When yet another person in the photo is murdered, Rachel suddenly has her hands full investigating three cases. Lieutenant Boone Callahan offers his help, but their checkered romantic past threatens to get in the way. Can they solve the cases before the murderer makes Rachel victim number four? (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

A Vast and Gracious Tide by Lisa Carter — After losing his closest friends and now his girlfriend to the ravages of war, Caden Wallis arrives on the Outer Banks for one final mission–to thank the woman who sent him a quilt while he was recuperating at Walter Reed Army Hospital. McKenna Dockery knows about loss. She juggles the family business, her ailing father, and an aging grandmother. Much to Caden’s surprise, she–not some elderly lady–is the quilter. The quilt was something she’d begun for her future husband but shipped to the military hospital after the tragic death of her fiancé. When a man is found snared in a net and murdered on McKenna’s property, she and Caden must work together to bring the killer to justice. (Romantic Suspense from Gilead Publishing)

Ransom of the Heart by Susan Page Davis — Police Captain Harvey Larson’s exhausting day takes a big detour when a teenaged girl approaches him at the diner, announcing that she is his daughter. When Harvey is on his way home from work a few hours later, his sister-in-law Abby calls him. She went to meet her husband for a dinner date and found a dead man on the floor at his place of business, and Peter has vanished. Harvey calls in his detectives and turns his car around. It’s going to be a long night, too. Once again, Harvey depends on his wits, his faith, and his squad, the Priority Unit, to solve a tough case and carry out Maine Justice. (Romantic Suspense from Tea Tin Press)


Speculative:

Song of Leira by Gillian Bronte Adams — Reeling from her disastrous foray into the Pit, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, retreats into the mountains. But in the war-torn north, kneeling on bloodstained battlefields to sing the souls of the dying to rest, her resolve to accept her calling is strengthened. Such evil cannot go unchallenged. Torn between oaths to protect the Underground runners and to rescue his friend from the slave camps, Ky Huntyr enlists Birdie’s aid. Their mission to free the captives unravels the horrifying thread connecting the legendary spring, Artair’s sword, and the slave camps. But the Takhran’s schemes are already in motion. Powerful singers have arisen to lead his army—singers who can shake the earth and master the sea—and monsters rampage across the land. As Leira falters on the verge of defeat, the Song bids her rise to battle, and the Songkeeper must answer. (Speculative High Fantasy from Enclave Publishing)

Review: Always Watching, by Lynette Eason

Always Watching, by Lynette Eason. Elite Guardians book 1, romantic suspenseAlways Watching, by Lynette Eason (Revell, 2016)

Olivia Edwards is an expert bodyguard, but when she’s thrust into the key role in guarding psychologist Dr. Wade Savage from an obsessive stalker, the personal walls she’s built start to crumble.

Olivia must keep Wade and his daughter, Amy, safe and maintain a professional distance even as she and Wade discover a strong mutual attraction. But Wade and Amy’s faith may help her find her way back to God.

Always Watching is a fast-paced, enjoyable read, with a bit of a twist at the end. The characters are likeable, and it’s far too easy to keep reading “just one more chapter.”

Lynette Eason is a multi-published author of Christian romantic suspense. Always Watching is book 1 in her four-book Elite Guardians series. For more about the author and her books, visit lynetteeason.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Can’t Writers Just Write? (Guest Post)

"Writers are expected to do so much more than just write."

Image credit: Pixabay

Can’t Writers Just Write?

by Steph Beth Nickel

If you’re a writer—and even if you’re not—you’ve probably seen posts about the GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation. It makes sense to be concerned about how our personal data is collected, stored, and used, but the GDPR has caused a lot of trouble for many authors, bloggers, and other writers.

While this post isn’t about rules and regulations, all the talk about the GDPR did lead to the thought … why can’t writers just write?

If money were no object, perhaps, a writer could outsource everything except the writing itself. But are there really any writers who do that? Highly unlikely.

Authors and other writers are expected to do so much more than write.

Develop and maintain a website and possibly, a blog.

While creating content is a big part of this, there are domain names to be purchased, website themes to be chosen, and “branding” to be considered … among many, many other things.

Develop a social media presence.

In this, the cyber age, readers want to feel connected to the authors and writers whose posts and books they read. They want to know they’re real people with real lives. They also want to know that their favourite writers are willing to give them a glimpse into their life and that they care about more than simply selling their next book.

Find one’s tribe and connect with them regularly.

People can smell a sales pitch from a mile (or 1.61 kilometres) away—and many will run in the opposite direction. However, if an author is willing to truly connect with their readers and potential readers and offer them something of value without asking for the sale at every turn, those individuals may rise to the level of “super fan.”

Continue to develop and hone writing skills.

No matter how experienced a writer, there are always more skills development books to read and courses to take.

Authors seeking to go the traditional publishing route are familiar with writing and rewriting, query letters and proposals, pitching to agents and editors, and on and on.

Much of what it takes to become a traditionally published author has little to do with writing the books themselves.

Those seeking to self-publish have to write and rewrite, decide what to do on their own and what to outsource, oversee all aspects of their writing business even if they are working with a team.

While some people hate the word, authorpreneur hints at the fact that self-publishing writers are doing more than writing. They are small business owners and must see themselves this way and take responsibility for their business.

And when all is said and done, a writer must …

Continue to create content.

And while writers must juggle their schedules to include all of these pursuits and more, they must also continue to create content—or the rest of the process will be meaningless.

This is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. So, the answer to the question is no, writers can’t just write. But, at the end of the day—GDPR or no GDPR—writers can’t not write.

Tweetables:

Writers are expected to do so much more than write. (Click to tweet this)

At the end of the day writers can’t not write. (Click to tweet this)

~~~

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Review: Guilty Blood, by Rick Acker

Guilty Blood, by Rick AckerGuilty Blood, by Rick Acker (Waterfall Press, 2017)

The worst thing in Jessica Ames’s life was losing her husband in a construction accident. Until her son Brandon is arrested for a murder he insists he didn’t commit.

Afraid the public defender assigned to Brandon’s case won’t have the time or skill to prove his innocence, Jessica turns to Nate Daniels, a successful corporate lawyer who’s also a family friend. The feelings that develop between the two can only complicate matters.

Nate, Jessica, and the other lawyer, Sofia, scramble to find witnesses who can point to who really killed the victim, who had ties to an international group of human traffickers, while Brandon tries to survive life in jail.

Guilty Blood is an engaging, well-written legal thriller. It’s a clean read, including a few Christian characters whose faith comes out naturally in the story. Brandon’s doubts about God, and his anger at the injustice in his life, also comes out naturally.

One of the things I appreciated about the novel is that although it deals with horrific subjects like human trafficking and gang warfare, the content is neither sugar-coated nor traumatic. The author does a great job of presenting the realities while providing a “safe” read.

My favourite character is Kevin Fang, a 30-something computer genius on the Autism Spectrum, whose hacking is instrumental in finding many of the keys to the crime. Actually, I picked up this book after “meeting” Kevin in a novella by Rick Acker included in the Kill Zone box set.

The novel talks a lot about DNA and computer hacking, but never in a way that’s skim-worthy or that requires a PhD to understand. The possibilities are interesting—and disturbing.

As well as writing legal thrillers, Rick Acker is a Supervising Deputy Attorney General. For more about the author and his work, visit rickacker.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: The Wounded Shadow, by Patrick W. Carr

The Wounded Shadow, by Patrick W. CarrThe Wounded Shadow, by Patrick W. Carr (Bethany House, 2018)

This is one of those books I didn’t want to end. It felt so good to be back with these characters, even in their overwhelming struggle, and I found myself rationing the reading time to make it last.

Willet Dura, the hero, has been my favourite all along, and I became very fond of Mark early on in this book.

The Wounded Shadow is the third and final book in the Darkwater series, and it’s not one to pick up if you haven’t started at the beginning. The scope is vast, and enough has happened that a reader starting here would feel lost.

In this, book three, the hints and threads set out in previous instalments come together in satisfying and surprising ways. Even nearing the end, I couldn’t see how this conflict could find a satisfactory conclusion, but it did.

I confess I didn’t fully understand part of the ending, but that’s me, not the writer. I need to re-read it and to talk to others who’ve also finished the story. For now, my limited understanding doesn’t diminish my sense that this is a rich, immersive series that I look forward to re-reading in the future.

I highly recommend the series, and suggest readers begin with the free ebook-only novella (you can read it on your phone if need be) By Divine Right. The rest of the series is available in print and ebook versions, and it’s too good to miss even a bit. Great characters, epic story, lots to love… even some humour.

This is Christian fiction with an allegory feel, and definitely without pat answers or anything trite or simplistic. As with everything else in the series world, the faith is complex and nuanced.

As well as the Darkwater Saga, Patrick W. Carr has also written The Staff & The Sword series (also highly recommended). For more about the author and his books, visit patrickwcarr.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

New Releases in Christian Fiction (May 2018)

May 2018 New Releases from members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW):

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


Children’s:

Feebs to the Rescue by Kathy J. Perry — Feebs the kitten is new to the farm. She’s a long way from the farmhouse and doesn’t know her way home in the dark. Her new friend, Ollie the dog, needs help. Can she find the courage to lead a night rescue? (Children’s from Chickadee Words, LLC)

Nibbler and Captain Make Peace by Kathy J. Perry — Nibbler the beaver works hard to keep his lodge and dam perfectly patched. A river otter knocks a hole in his great work. Now he’s so angry, he could almost spit nails. Can he learn how to handle his anger? (Children’s from Chickadee Words, LLC)

Rascal’s Trip by Kathy J. Perry — Rascal the raccoon is sorry he ignored the warning signs He’s surprised by a whirlwind and he’s taken for the ride of his life. Now it’s up to the Bandana Buddies to help him learn the importance of thinking ahead. Can he stay out of trouble long enough to get back home? (Children’s from Chickadee Words, LLC)


Contemporary Romance:

Solo Tu: Only You by Narelle Atkins — Can two high-school teachers, a girl from Tuscany and a boy from Australia, risk everything for love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Theory of Happily Ever After by Kristin Billerbeck — According to Dr. Maggie Maguire, happiness is serious–serious science, that is. But science can’t always account for life’s anomalies, like why her fiancé dumped her for a silk-scarf acrobat and how the breakup sent Maggie spiraling into an extended ice cream-fueled chick flick binge. Concerned that she might never pull herself out of this nosedive, Maggie’s friends book her as a speaker on a “New Year, New You” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Maggie wonders if she’s qualified to teach others about happiness when she can’t muster up any for herself. But when a handsome stranger on board insists that smart women can’t ever be happy, Maggie sets out to prove him wrong. Along the way she may discover that happiness has far less to do with the head than with the heart. (Contemporary Romance, Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Hometown Reunion by Lisa Carter — Widowed former Green Beret Jaxon Pruitt comes home to face his toughest battle: reconnecting with his toddler son. He also makes an unwitting enemy of childhood friend Darcy Parks when he takes over the kayak shop Darcy hoped to buy! For little Brody’s sake, she’ll stay until summer’s end. But could a growing connection turn their temporary truce into an unexpected forever? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Room on the Porch Swing by Amy Clipston — When her best friend Savilla dies, Laura steps in to help Allen raise his infant daughter. She soon finds herself coping with the jealousy of her boyfriend Rudy, and her own growing attraction to Allen. Have Laura and Allen been brought together to console and support one another…or is there an even deeper purpose they must fulfill? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Cowboys of Summer by Mary Connealy, Tina Radcliffe, Lorna Seilstad, Sherri Shackelford, Cheryl St. John, and Missy Tippens — Six of Christian fiction’s most beloved authors join forces to bring you a collection of humorous, romantic and heartfelt novellas set against the sultry heat of summer. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Bella Notte by Heather Gray — As a photographer who works primarily with fashion, Piero Carter is used to having his pick of beautiful women who want to be seen by his side. Felicity von Wolff is a makeup artist whose job takes her around the world. That’s all the adventure she craves. She has little use for Piero the Playboy. But when Felicity peeks over the wall she’s built to protect herself, she discovers there’s more to the people around her than she ever realized. What will it take for Piero and Felicity to stop hiding from life and open their eyes to the rich beauty God has in store for them? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Honeysuckle Dreams by Denise Hunter — Regardless of what any blood test says, Brady Collins will go to any lengths to keep his son. Even pretend his friend Hope is his fiancée. Local radio celebrity Hope Daniels has finally been offered her dream job. But if the truth comes out about her arrangement with Brady, she may miss the chance of a lifetime and stand in the way of a dear friend’s dreams. As Brady and Hope make sacrifices to help each other in their times of need, they risk uncovering a truth neither of them expects to find. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Finding Love on Bainbridge Island Washington by Annette M. Irby — A “broken” therapist with PTSD finds a fresh start at her family’s beach cabin, but when her parents hire her ex-boyfriend to finalize repairs on the place, they’re forced back into close proximity. He’s falling for her again. But can anything heal the past? (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

And Cowboy Makes Three by Deb Kastner — Coming home with a baby and no wedding ring was just what everyone in Cowboy Country expected from bad girl Angelica Carmichael. But she’ll brave their scorn to fulfill Granny Frances’s dying wishes, even if it means ranching with Rowdy Masterson…her jilted ex-groom. Rowdy’s still bitter but this new, softer Angelica—paired with a precious baby—might be too lovable to resist! (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Falling for You by Becky Wade — A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin — then suffered the consequences when their relationship fell apart. Now that a decades-old mystery has brought them together again, they’ll have to confront their past and the feelings they still harbor for one another. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


General Contemporary/Women’s Fiction:

Long Way Home by Brenda S. Anderson — Stuck on a six-day road trip with the man who once bullied her, can Lauren Bauman learn that love keeps no record of wrongs? (General Contemporary, Independently Published {ACFW QIP Author})

The Hidden Side by Heidi Chiavaroli — The Hidden Side is about a family that is torn apart by the unspeakable actions of one of its members and how a woman from the past helps them to heal. (General Contemporary from Tyndale House)

Things I Never Told You by Beth K. Vogt — It’s been ten years since Payton Thatcher’s twin sister died in an accident, leaving the entire family to cope in whatever ways they could. No longer half of a pair, Payton reinvents herself as a partner in a successful party-planning business and is doing just fine—until her middle sister Jillian’s engagement pulls the family back together to plan the festivities. As old wounds are reopened and the family faces the possibility of another tragedy, the Thatchers must decide if they will pull together or be driven further apart. (Contemporary Women’s Fiction from Tyndale House)

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West — Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love.
But soon, Savannah is given a challenge that she can’t run away from. Forgiving the unforgiveable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all. (General Contemporary from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


General Historical:


Faithful by Carol Ashby — When a foolish choice lands one man in a fight for his life, unlikely friendships are born, love blossoms, and broken relationships are restored as his best friend’s faith and courage guide the quest to rescue him. (General Historical from Cerrillo Press)


Historical Romance:

All for Love by Mary Connealy, Kristi Ann Hunter, and Jen Turano — Three of Christian historical fiction’s beloved authors come together in this romantic and humorous collection of novellas featuring prequels to their latest series. Mary Connealy’s “The Boden Birthright” journeys to the Old West, where ranch hand Chance Boden’s determination to be his own boss is challenged by his employer’s pretty daughter. Kristi Ann Hunter’s “A Lady of Esteem” follows a Regency-era young lady whose chance at love and reputation in society are threatened by a nasty rumor. Jen Turano’s “At Your Request” tells of a young woman who is humbled at her newly lowered status in society when she is reunited with the very man whose proposal she rejected. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The Perfect Bride by Debbie Lynne Costello — Avice Touchet has always dreamed of marrying for love and that love would be her best friend, Philip Greslet. She’s waited five years for him to see her as the woman she’s become but when a visiting lord arrives with secrets that could put her father in prison, Avice must consider a sacrificial marriage. Philip Greslet has worked his whole life for one thing—to be a castellan—and now it is finally in his grasp. But when Avice rebuffs his new lord’s attentions, Philip must convince his best friend to marry the lord against his heart’s inclination to have her as his own. (Historical Romance from Forget Me Not Romances)

Backcountry Brides Collection by Angela Couch, Debra E. Marvin, Shannon McNear, Gabrielle Meyer, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Jennifer Hudson Taylor, and Pegg Thomas — Travel into Colonial America where eight women seek love, but they each know a future husband requires the necessary skills to survive in the backcountry. Living in areas exposed to nature’s ferocity, prone to Indian attack, and cut off from regular supplies, can hearts overcome the dangers to find lasting love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Rebecca’s Song by Dawn Kinzer — A small-town teacher who lost hope of having her own family, and a big-city railroad detective driven to capture his sister’s killer, must do what’s best for three young orphans who need them both. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Love’s Silver Lining by Julie Lessman — A soft-hearted suffragist incurs the wrath of a bull-headed bachelor when she reforms his favorite girl at the Ponderosa Saloon. (Historical Romance (Western), Independently Published)

Redeeming Light by Annette O’Hare — While Sarah weathers the deadly storm inside the lighthouse, her prayers are for Frederick, caught in the midst of the tempest. (Historical Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe — Elmer Smith didn’t need a man when she competed in the Cherokee Strip Land Run and she sure as shootin’ doesn’t need one to keep her land either. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)


Romantic Suspense:

No Safe Place by H. L. Wegley — A young man returning from the far country trying to regain his honor, and a young woman with a heart broken by her parents’ rejection because of her newfound faith, each have what the other needs, but will the assassin who put them on his hit list allow them enough time to discover what they have in each other? (Romantic Suspense from Trinity Press International)


Speculative:

No Less Days by Amanda G. Stevens — As far as David Galloway knows, he can’t die. He wonders where he fits in the world, in God’s plan for the past and the future. He believes himself to be the only person on earth who hasn’t aged in over a century. He’s wrong about that. (Speculative from Barbour Publishing)


Young Adult:

Porch Swing Girl by Taylor Bennett — Left at her grandma’s house in Hawaii after a family tragedy, sixteen-year-old Olive Galloway is desperate to fly home to Boston and stop her father before he does anything drastic. (Young Adult from Mountain Brook Ink)

Review: Dark Star, by Creston Mapes

Dark Star, by Creston Mapes (Multnomah, 2005) Dark Star, by Creston Mapes

Rock idol Everett Lester has dragged himself and his band from sordid beginnings to the peak of fame—and into as many excesses and vices as he can find. Through it all, two women hold increasing influence in his life: Endora Crystal, his personal psychic, and Karen Bayliss, a young stranger whose letters say she’s praying for him.

The novel is written in two intertwining threads: Everett’s past leading up to his present, and his present, told in the form of an autobiography written from prison while he’s on trial for murder.

It’s a dark tale of redemption, with elements of spiritual warfare and the occult. Some readers may be uncomfortable with scenes of Endora’s tarot cards in use. She does have power, which Christian readers would recognize as not the power of the occult but the power of the devil working through her.

I found the book a good read, although some aspects of the ending didn’t work for me. What I enjoyed was watching Everett discover the Light and then learn how to live it out as his world fell apart.

I love what Karen says to Everett at one point:

What do you think, that God’s looking at you going ‘Oh my! This Lester is a bad one… I better stay away from him, or he’ll rub off on Me?’ You think you scare Him? You think He doesn’t know your problems or can’t overcome your sin? He’s God, for heaven’s sake. [page 172]

Good message for any of us.No one's too far gone for redemption. If you liked Dark Star, try Heaven's Prey.

Dark Star was Creston Mapes’ first novel, followed by book 2 in the Rock Star Chronicles series, Full Tilt, and a number of Christian suspense novels. For more about the author, visit crestonmapes.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Pushing Through … and When to Say “Enough” (Guest Post)

Know when to push through, and when to say "enough"

[image via Pixabay]

Pushing Through … and When to Say Enough

by Steph Beth Nickel

Many of us have a difficult time saying no when asked to do something—even if we really don’t have enough time or energy to take on one more thing, no matter how small.

And, as Christians, a whirlwind of thoughts may rush to mind:

  • What if this is an opportunity God has placed before me?
  • What if I miss something He has for me?
  • If I have the ability to do what is being asked of me and there’s a need, isn’t that enough indication that I’m supposed to do it?

And what about those other questions, those questions we may not actually verbalize?

  • What will so and so think of me if I say no?
  • Who will do it if I don’t?
  • I’m supposed to go “the second mile.” Right?

I’ve recently experienced the necessity to do both: to say enough and to push through. And I believe both decisions were the right ones to make at the time.

Last weekend, for a few reasons, I didn’t get away on my annual writers’ retreat. However, I did deem it a “staycation.” I didn’t clean the church or attend the Sunday service. I didn’t cook for my family and only cleaned the kitchen because I wanted to, not because I expected or required it of myself. I did some writing and reading I wouldn’t have done otherwise and headed out of the house with my laptop to do so out of my day-to-day environment.

I also vegged more than I possibly should have, but all in all, it was a very good weekend. I got some physical rest and some mental rest, which may have been even more important.

This week, however, was different. My hubby generously shared his cold. I spent the day Tuesday down and out, sleeping and binge-watching Netflix. I didn’t have the ambition to do anything else. While I’m still fighting this virus, which has decided to settle in my chest, I was able to put in a full day Wednesday and Thursday and am facing another full day today.

This weekend promises to be a busy one. And although hunkering down for some extra rest sounds like a great idea, I am so very thankful that the Lord is giving me the wherewithal to focus on one task at a time and push through. Because this is not my natural tendency, there is no doubt that He deserves all the glory.

So, how can we tell when it’s right to decline a request and when we should step up?

Here are a few questions we may want to ask ourselves:

  • Have I prayed about it?
  • Will it jeopardize my current responsibilities?
  • Will it be a “one and done” project or will it lead to a long-term commitment?
  • How long will it actually take?
  • Do I know someone else who would enjoy taking on this task?
  • What is my real motivation to say yes?

These are only a few of the questions we could ask ourselves. What are some others that come to mind? (Please scroll down to add your suggestions.)

Tweetables

Know when to say enough and when to push through. (click to tweet)

Will taking on this project jeopardize your current responsibilities? (click to tweet)

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6 ways to tell when to say enough and when to push through. (click to tweet)

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Review: By Darkness Hid, by Jill Williamson

By Darkness Hid, by Jill WilliamsonBy Darkness Hid, by Jill Williamson (Enclave Publishing, 2009)

In a world where orphans are physically branded as “strays” and subject to suspicion and abuse, Achan Cham has reached his teen years and somehow maintained a compassionate heart and a dry wit. Coming of age brings an unexpected opportunity to leave his kitchen drudgery and train as a knight’s squire—which thrusts him into conflict with the prince soon to be crowned king.

Then he starts hearing voices in his head, and discovers the legends of “bloodvoicing” are true. Those with the gift (he’d call it a curse) can communicate mentally across great distance.

Vrell Sparrow is a young noblewoman hiding out as a boy stray so she won’t be forced to marry the prince. She, too, has the gift, and there are those who want her secrets—and her service.

Many citizens follow pagan idols, but Vrell serves the one true God, known in this world as Arman. Achan only knows of the local goddess, and she doesn’t seem to have paid him any attention throughout his harsh life.

The author’s website describes By Darkness Hid as an “epic medieval fantasy tale.” The characters are engaging, the settings are rich and interesting, and there’s trouble rising in this land which is already half in the shadow of Darkness.

The teen protagonists may make this a young adult novel, but I fully enjoyed it as an adult, and look forward to finishing the series.

By Darkness Hid is book 1 in the Blood of Kings series. It Christy Award for Visionary (2010), ACFW Carol Award Nominee for Speculative (2010). Jill Williamson has also written The Kinsman Chronicles and other speculative tales. For more about the author and her work, visit jillwilliamson.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]