Review: Grace in the Shadows, by Christine Dillon

Grace in the Shadows, by Christine Dillon | Christian fiction, Australia, Bible storytelling, cancer, family
Grace in the Shadows, by Christine Dillon (2018)

Author Christine Dillon’s fiction tackles some of the hard issues that Christians face in the real world. In Grace in Strange Disguise, the challenge was “what happens when the prayer of faith doesn’t heal?” In Grace in the Shadows, it’s “how—and why—would God love me, after what I’ve done?”

Book one’s Esther believed her faith wasn’t good enough, and book two’s Rachel believes she isn’t good enough. They both must overcome negative father influences and false ideas of who God really is.

Readers of book one will be glad to see Esther and her family again. Grace in the Shadows is Rachel’s story, but Esther has plenty of point-of-view time as well.

Rachel is resisting God’s call, while Esther, who’s been growing in faith, comes face-to-face with the realization that she needs to re-learn some of the lessons He’s already walked her through. Isn’t that typical of most Christians in our spiritual lives?

What keeps the Grace books from feeling preachy is that the conversations about God and faith are natural to the characters and their struggles. It’s kind of like eavesdropping on real people who are working these things through in their lives. Here are some of the lines that resonated with me:

“God loves to take the worst things and bring good out of them.” [Naomi, Kindle location 202]

Esther always wanted to rush in and explain, but Joy kept saying, “Use questions, not explanations.” [Kindle location 856]

“Your mistakes can’t derail God’s plans. You and I aren’t big enough to do that.” [Naomi, Kindle location 1801]

I didn’t engage as fully in this story as in the previous one, but I attribute that to the different subject and to having already encountered the Bible storytelling theme in book one. There is perhaps a storyteller voice to the narrative, instead of the deeper point of view that’s common these days, and this can make it easier to maintain a bit of reader distance. Yet the novel is well-executed, and the characters’ experiences are worthy of our time and can encourage us in our own daily lives.

And the ending is beautiful.

Christine Dillon is a missionary whose tag-line is “multiplying disciples one story at a time,” and the author of the Grace fiction series. She has also written non-fiction books about the Bible storytelling approach. For more about the author, visit storytellerchristine.com.

[Review copy provided by the author.]

New Releases in Christian Fiction (August 2018)

August 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:

Out of Their Element by Angela Breidenbach, Robin Lee Hatcher, Vickie McDonough, and Deborah Raney — They are totally out of their element! Four mismatched couples find unexpected romance. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Redemption Road by Christa MacDonald — As Alex awaits retribution, he means to keep Annie safe at any cost, but she knows it’s redemption he needs and she’ll pay any price for him to find it. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Scarlet Tears by Laura Hervey — Caught in a romantic triangle with her brother’s best friend and a charming pastor, former call girl Carly Lawrence struggles to start a new life. (Contemporary Romance from Alabaster Box Press)


Historical Romance:

Rebecca’s Legacy by Betty Thomason Owens — After a threat against her family, a spoiled heiress is sent to the country to work on her aunt’s produce farm and finds love. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)

The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse — Faith Jackson is a wealthy widow, friend of George Washington, and staunch supporter of the Patriot cause. Matthew Weber is friends with both Ben Franklin and his son William, who increasingly differ in their political views; and Matthew finds himself privy to information on both sides of the conflict. When a message needs to get to a spy among the Loyalists, Faith bravely steps up and in turn meets Matthew Weber. Suddenly she believes she could love again. But someone else has his eye on the Faith she portrays in elite social circles. What will Matthew and Faith have to sacrifice for the sake of their fledgling country? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


Cozy Mystery:

Deadly Harvest by Marissa Shrock — Georgia’s biggest challenge in the farming town of Wildcat Springs, Indiana, is figuring out how to win Evan Beckworth’s heart. Until the day she discovers the body of a former student in the woods. When she starts to suspect this wasn’t an accident, memories stir of her father’s murder nine years earlier. A murder never solved. As Georgia works with the sheriff’s department’s newest detective, Cal Perkins, she finds her heart slipping into his hands. But her head is pummeled with conflicting evidence and anonymous threats of severe consequences if she digs any deeper. In the end, Georgia faces a paralyzing choice. Ignore the dark secrets inside the family and friends who surround her or be willing to risk her own life to uncover the truth. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)

Unknown Enemy by Janet Sketchley — A young woman with a traumatic past must discover the truth about who’s playing mind games with the Green Dory Inn’s owner. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)


Romantic Suspense:

Hiding in Plain Sight by Mary Ellis — When a Charleston PI rents a room above an Italian restaurant owned by a handsome chef, she lands in the middle of a family feud with robbery, arson and murder for the daily specials. (Romantic Suspense from Severn House Publishers LTD)

Wildfire by Gayla K. Hiss — A female wildfire scientist and a firefighter team up to solve the mystery behind the outbreak of wildfires in the Rockies and find themselves at the center of a firestorm. (Romantic Suspense from Mountain Brook Ink)

Amish Country Ambush by Dana R. Lynn — A police officer and a dispatcher travel deep into Amish country to rescue her nephew and to escape a killer. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Imperfect Promises by Elizabeth Noyes — When a homegrown terrorist threatens the woman he loves, former Special Forces soldier Jonas Cameron calls on old friends to help him eliminate the danger. (Romantic Suspense from Write Integrity Press)

Cold Fear by Susan Sleeman — When a sniper’s ex-girlfriend, a musician, is framed for murder during her summer tour, he jumps to defend her from an imminent arrest and a killer’s deadly rage. But the evidence against her stacks higher as three bodies are found with her name tattooed on their wrist. (Romantic Suspense from Edge of Your Seat Books, Inc.)

Cold Case Cover-Up by Virginia Vaughan — The first thrilling Covert Operatives tale An infant is believed to have been murdered thirty years ago—but investigative journalist Dana Lang is convinced she’s that baby. Now someone’s willing to kill to stop her investigation. And only secretive deputy Quinn Dawson, whose grandfather may have faked Dana’s death to protect her, can keep her safe. But a killer’s dead set on burying the past—and them—for good. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Thriller/Suspense:

Pretense by John Di Frances — A dark cloud hangs over Europe after the brutal murders of two heads of state just days apart. A diabolical plot appears to stretch westward to the United States, implicating the CIA. But do the facts reflect reality or is there a sinister force working behind the scenes to destabilize Europe and NATO? The team of investigators led by Interpol’s Marek Frakas, ‘The Wolf,’ moves quickly to track the perpetrators and uncover the identity of the unseen mastermind behind the conspiracy. This cadre includes the lovely Adrianna, a young forensic weapons expert who can hold her own on the male-dominated international team of investigators. Together they seek to understand reality versus the shattered mirror-like reflections meant to obfuscate the truth and shroud the mastermind’s identity and ultimate purpose. (Political Thriller from Reliance Books Publishing, LLC)

Thirst of Steel by Ronie Kendig — Dismantled centuries ago, the sword of Goliath is still rumored to thirst for its enemies’ blood. Cole “Tox” Russell wants only to put the dangers of his past behind him and begin his new life with Haven Cortes. First, though, he’s called to complete a final mission: retrieve the sword and destroy the deadly Arrow & Flame Order. The AFO, however, is determined to reunite the sword. With the Wraith team slowly being torn apart, things worsen when Mercy Maddox, a new operative, emerges with the stunning news that the artifact is tied to a string of unsolved serial murders. Tox and the others are forced to set aside fear and anger to target the true enemy. No matter the cost, Wraith must destroy the AFO . . . or join them in the flames. (Military Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

New Mystery Now Available

Unknown Enemy, A Green Dory Inn Mystery, Book 1And it’s official…

Unknown Enemy is now available in print and from multiple ebook vendors.

If you’re in the market for a short, summer mystery, pop over to my book page and check it out. Or go directly to your favourite online retailer… 🙂

 

One other thing: If you know anyone who reads on Kobo who’d enjoy my novel, Secrets and Lies, it’s part of a promotion that lets readers take 3 books for $9. This is Canada-US only (sorry, international friends–Kobo’s choice, not mine!)


In Canada: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/p/3for9ca
In the US: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/p/3for9us

Review: Asrian Skies, by Anne Wheeler

Asrian Skies, by Anne WheelerAsrian Skies, by Anne Wheeler (2017)

Avery Rendon needed special permission to leave her home planet, Asria, to join the interplanetary Commonwealth forces as a pilot. Asria’s government has many restrictions, especially for a member of the royal family. Add to that her doubts about her culture’s faith, and she’s happier elsewhere.

Naturally she finds herself back on Asria, embroiled in all she wanted to escape—and then things get worse. When Asria is invaded, she must do her part to fight the oppressors without pushing them far enough to kill her.

Interacting with those she trusts—and those she doesn’t—not only shapes her as a leader but it makes her take a second look at faith.

Asrian Skies is well-crafted, with unexpected twists and reversals. It’s a bit heavier in places than I’m used to (the planet is under occupation by a brutal enemy after all) but it’s not graphic.

Anne Wheeler writes character-driven Christian science fiction. The sequel to Asrian Skies, Unbroken Fire, is now out. For more about the author and her books, visit anne-wheeler.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

The Stages of Adventuring (Guest Post)

The Stages of Adventuring

by Steph Beth Nickel

Have you been on any adventures lately? Are you on an adventure now? How do you feel about adventuring?

My hubby and I are adventuring in the Maritimes. We’re having a wonderful time as we explore all four provinces on our whirlwind tour.

Has it been nothing but unicorns and rainbows? Definitely not.

Tend, with caption: "This would be our first campsite on PEI. Yep, that’s the Atlantic outside our front door."

This would be our first campsite on PEI. Yep, that’s the Atlantic outside our front door.
[Photo Credit: Steph Beth Nickel]

So what are the stages of adventuring?

Decide to Adventure

It’s true that not all “adventures” are those of our choosing, but that’s not typically true of vacations.

Dave and I first decided to travel east after our 2017 vacation in Alberta.

Because we’re tenting 10 of the 17 days, Dave thought it would be cheaper and take less planning.

Such was not the case.

Even when we choose to go on an adventure, we must mentally make provision for the unexpected.

Prepare to Adventure

I booked our accommodations, prepared the shopping lists, and purchased the food and other supplies.

Dave undertook the time-intensive project of booking campsites and plotting our route.

All the while, we were seeking to get extra work done at our day jobs.

By late Sunday afternoon, I was done in. We were scheduled to leave on Thursday at 1:00, and I was uncertain whether the trip was worth all the effort.

There may come a point as we prepare to adventure that we’re ready to call it quits.

Begin the Adventure

By 2:00 on Thursday, we were on the road, only an hour later than we’d hoped.

My hubby, who is doing the driving, did not consider the next eight hours much of an adventure. There was lots of construction and it took that long to get to Gananoque.

But what a delightful B & B.

The hosts were friendly. The suite immense. And the made-to-order breakfast was included.

When we’re finally ready to set off on an adventure, we need to take a deep breath and go for it.

Look for God-Sightings on the Adventure

The luxury of the B & B in Gananoque was evidence of God’s grace. (I had no idea it was so lovely when I booked it.)

When we returned to our campsite after exploring Charlottetown for the day, we discovered the owner of the campgrounds had graciously covered our tent with tarps to keep it dry. Talk about going above and beyond!

And one more thing: the stars!

No one really wants to get up in the night to use the facilities, but I was actually glad I did. I looked up and the stars were incredible.

So, whatever adventure we’re on, may we remember to look up.

Whether we’re on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation or an “adventure” we’d never choose for ourselves, may we keep our eyes open for the Lord and His handiwork.

Tweetables

Keep your eyes open for the Lord and His handiwork. (Click to tweet)

No matter what the adventure, keep looking up. (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.

Review: Firewall, by DiAnn Mills

Firewall, by DiAnn Mills | Christian suspenseFirewall, by DiAnn Mills (Tyndale, 2014)

An explosive start, and the pace accelerates from there.

Taryn expected to be on her honeymoon. Instead she’s wanted by the FBI, and the man she married may not be who she thinks he is.

Meanwhile, someone wants to hijack the software project she headed—if they succeed, they can cause mass destruction on a global scale.

FBI Special Agent Grayson Hall must convince her to trust him—if he can keep up with her. And if he can keep them both alive.

I liked Taryn and Grayson, and Grayson’s Uncle Joe. I enjoyed the fast pace, and the way the story wasn’t too dark despite the danger. It did get a little heavy at the end, but not extremely so.

Taryn has a lot to deal with: physical injury, her supposed husband’s deception, danger and death on all sides. The crisis draws her to risk trusting not only Grayson but God.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author of Christian romantic suspense. Firewall is Book 1 in her FBI: Houston series. For more about the author and her books, visit diannmills.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Pre-order Sale: Unknown Enemy

For those who prefer ebooks, Unknown Enemy is now available for pre-order–and you can save $2. [Available for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and iBooks. Sorry, not on Google Play.] Click here for buy links, or visit your favourite online retailer: books2read.com/unknownenemy.

Print copies and ebooks will release on August 2, 2018. This is a shorter mystery, novella-length at 137 pages, but I hope you’ll enjoy the chance to meet my imaginary friends at and near the Green Dory Inn.

The next installment of the series is now in the hands of my editor, and I hope not to keep readers waiting too long.

Review: When the Smoke Clears, by Lynette Eason

When the Smoke Clears, by Lynette EasonWhen the Smoke Clears, by Lynette Eason (Revell, 2012)

Alexia, Serena, and Jillian were inseperable until high school graduation—when Jillian fled, terrified by something she couldn’t tell even her closest friends. Alexia left too, desperate to get away from an abusive home life. Serena and Alexia kept in touch over the years, but neither of them know how to find Jillian.

Now, ten years after graduation, Alexia nearly dies fighting a fire—because her equipment was sabotaged. While she’s off work, she decides to go home to visit Serena… and face her estranged mother, since the woman is in hospital.

Can her mother really have changed, like Serena says? And what’s with Serena, Alexia’s mother, and even Hunter Graham (last seen making eyes at her at graduation, now a handsome-and-single cop in town) telling Alexia that God loves her? That He thinks she’s worth something?

More urgently, who keeps trying to attack her? And why?

When the Smoke Clears is a thriller first, with romantic and spiritual sub-plots. It’s also book 1 in the Deadly Reunions series, and while this book’s main plot resolves satisfactorily, the man who’s after Jillian is only getting more desperate. And Alexia’s and Serena’s lives may still be in danger.

Definitely a series I want to keep reading.

Lynette Eason is a multi-published author and a trusted name in Christian suspense. For more about the author and her books, visit lynetteeason.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

New Releases in Christian Fiction (July 2018)

July 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:

A Widow’s Hope by Vannetta Chapman — After tragedy claimed her husband’s life and her son’s ability to walk, Hannah King doesn’t want a new man. She has her family, a home and mounting debts. Scarred Amish bachelor Jacob Schrock offers Hannah the job she desperately needs. But while Hannah helps Jacob resolve his accounting issues, can she and her little boy also heal his wounded heart? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Firestorm by Laura V. Hilton — Bridget Behr can’t shake the guilt that it was her fault her family moved—and is too afraid to trust anyone, especially the flirtatious, overly-friendly Amish man who lives next door. Just as Bridget is finally settling into friendship, a new life, and maybe even love, a devastating forest fire ravages the county, destroying both land and the Behrs’ dreams. Now Bridget and her family must decide: will they leave behind the ashes and start anew in another Amish community? Or will they dare to fight for the future they’d hoped for in Mackinac County? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)


General Contemporary:

Ride to the Altar by Linda W. Yezak — Cattle are dying on the Circle Bar, putting the Texas ranch in financial jeopardy. Newly engaged Patricia Talbert and Talon Carlson must root out the cause before they can concentrate on wedding plans—which involves Patricia’s traveling to New York to patch things up with her domineering mother. While she is away, Talon discovers that the attacks on the ranch are connected to the murder of his first fiancée over eight years ago. Before they can move forward together, each have to resolve the past. Will they be able to start their new life with a clean slate? (General Contemporary from Canopy Books of Texas)


General Historical:

My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas by Kathleen Y’Barbo — Dodging bullets takes a simple missing person case to a new level as Jonah Cahill, a Pinkerton agent, and Madeline Latour, an investigative reporter, form a tentative truce in Galveston, Texas, 1880. Are they on to a much bigger story when their best witness is suddenly kidnapped? (General Historical from Barbour Publishing)


Historical Mystery:

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright — Two women, separated by a hundred years, must uncover the secrets within the borders of their own town before it’s too late and they lose their future–or their very souls. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])


Historical Romance:

This Freedom Journey by Misty M. Beller — Adrien Lockman left France to finally live life on his own terms, but when he discovers a half-starved and half-frozen woman in the treacherous Canadian mountains, the truth soon becomes clear—the only way they’ll survive is together. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Widow’s Plight by Mary Davis — After moving to a new town and joining a quilting circle, a single mother steps out of the shadows of abuse and into the sunshine. But will a secret clouding her past cost her the man she loves? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart — Orphaned during an early 19th century cholera epidemic and helped by a slave to find a new home, Adria Starr must now stand up for his freedom—and maybe find her own in the process. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano — A young heiress is suddenly the poorest wealthy woman in all of England when her father dies without telling anyone where he put his money. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])


Mystery:

Shifting Sands by Elizabeth Ludwig — A mysterious key hidden in the depths of an ancient lighthouse unlocks family secrets hidden for generations. (Cozy Mystery from Guideposts Publications)

Guarded Prognosis by Richard L. Mabry — At first Dr. Caden Taggart feared for his freedom, then for his ability to cope, and eventually he feared for his life. (Medical Mystery, Independently Published)


Romantic Suspense:

Darkwater Secrets by Robin Caroll — When Adelaide Fountaine, the general manager of a hotel in New Orleans, finds the body of a guest who was stabbed with a kitchen knife, her childhood friend Detective Beau Savoie is shocked to discover a connection between his friend–the woman he’s quietly loved for years—and the murdered guest. But Beau can’t press Adelaide too hard . . . because he’s keeping secrets of his own. Can Adelaide and Beau afford to hide from the truth with a killer on the loose? (Romantic Suspense from Gilead Publishing)

Camp Hope by Sara L. Foust — Facing dehydration, starvation, and a convoluted kidnapper, will Amy succeed in recovering her precious foster daughter or get lost in a vast wilderness forever? (Romantic Suspense from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey — Seven years ago, operative Luke Gallagher vanished to join an elite team of terrorist hunters. Private investigator Kate Maxwell never stopped loving or looking for Luke after he disappeared. But she also never imagined he left her or his life by choice. Now he’s back, asking her help to stop America’s newest terrorist threat—an attack that would shake the country to its core. Together they must navigate secrets, lies, and betrayal, all while on the brink of a biological disaster. Will they and their love survive, or will Luke and Kate become the terrorist’s next mark? (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])


Young Adult:

Launch by Jason C. Joyner — Teens with special abilities are invited to an exclusive conference where tech billionaire Simon Mazor is looking for those who can help him influence the world. (Young Adult from Little Lamb Books)

Cover Reveal: Unknown Enemy

Cover reveal for Unknown Enemy, Green Dory Inn Mystery book 1, releasing summer 2018 #Christiansuspense

Landon Smith vowed never to return to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Despite her faith, the memories might undo her.

But a shadowy figure has been skulking around the Green Dory Inn—seen only by her friend Anna.

Loyalty demands she stand by this woman who’s been a second mother to her. No matter the cost.

With the police unable to find solid clues, and the incidents escalating, Landon must help Anna discover the truth about the prowler and stop him. Before he turns violent.

…coming summer 2018… this one’s novella-length, about 150 pages, so it’s a quick read.