Tag Archives: books

Hidden Secrets Short-listed for Canadian Award

Hidden Secrets is one of three novels short-listed in the suspense category for The 2020 Word Awards (for work published in 2019).

Hidden Secrets short-listed for The 2020 Word Awards

Also short-listed are:

Scars, a novel by Kevin Dautremont, M.D.
Scars, by Kevin Dautremont, M.D.

Vigilant, by Sara Davison
Vigilant, by Sara Davison

I haven’t read either of these novels yet, but I’ve met both authors, and their work is highly respected. Hidden Secrets is in good company. The beauty of this is that when the winning book is announced, I can either celebrate for my “imaginary friends” if it’s my book or celebrate for one of my real-life writer friends (at least acquaintances!). Win-win!

The 2020 Word Awards winners will be announced June 13, 7pm Eastern Time (8pm Atlantic) online via livestream on Facebook and Zoom. It’ll be free for anyone to tune in. Link details TBA.

For the complete short-list, visit The Word Guild’s Media page and click on the short-list announcement link.

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Review: The Printed Letter Bookshop, by Katherine Reay

The Printed Letter Bookshop, by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2019)

Friendship, self-discovery, love, and a celebration of reading—and of independent bookstores.

Maddie Cullen had a knack for engaging with her customers and knowing the right book to suggest. When she died, she left envelopes for her two employees and her estranged niece. Each woman’s letter included a Bible passage and a list of books.

Madeline, her niece, inherited the store but doesn’t want to keep it. Claire and Janet, Maddie’s employees who supported her through her final days, wish the new owner would just let them carry on the business as usual. As the three women work together, each also reading the books Maddie’s letter “assigned,” they develop a strong friendship and each grow toward the potential Maddie had seen in them.

Each woman’s point of view is written in a different tense: first-person past, third-person past, and third-person present. I always find that sort of delivery jarring, and I confess I also had a hard time connecting with the characters. All three were a bit of a mess at first.

I’m glad I stuck with it, because it’s a heartwarming story. As it progressed I grew to care for each of them. And I wish I could visit the bookstore!

For more about Katherine Reay and her books, and for book club resources, visit katherinereay.com.

[Review copy from the public library.]

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99-cent Ebooks While We’re Self-isolating

I hope you’re doing okay in these uncertain days. The most important things we can do are to pray for one another (and for our leaders!) and to care for one another in whatever way we can.

One small thing I can do is to reduce the price of my ebooks — people who are spending more time at home need distractions from the never-ending news loops. Books are great for that, and books that remind us of God’s care are extra-valuable now. Many Christian authors I know have been able to reduce their prices, and we all seem to be saying “it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s something I can do.”

So for the rest of March and into April, each of my ebooks will be 99 cents worldwide.

For convenience, the buy links on my Books2Read page should lead to the appropriate country for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and Apple. Link: https://bit.ly/Books2ReadJanetSketchley

This applies for the three Redemption’s Edge novels (suspense/romantic suspense), the two Green Dory Inn Mysteries, and my daily devotional book. Feel fee to share this offer with your reading friends.

Picks from 2019

Goodreads tells me I’ve read 91 books in 2019. And that’s not counting Bible reading. Here are the books I’ve most enjoyed last year. Some were produced in 2019, some previously. Pop a note into the comments with your own favourites?

My top picks from 2019:

Book of the year: Whose Waves These Are, by Amanda Dykes

Christian living: The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life, by Charles Stanley

Contemporary novel: As the Light Fades, by Catherine West

Fantasy novel: Wayfarer, by K.M Weiland

Historical Novel: The End of the Magi, by Patrick W. Carr

Mystery/suspense novel: A Better Man, by Louise Penny

Science fiction novel: Thrawn: Treason, by Timothy Zahn

Just Around the Corner … 2020 (Guest Post)

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Just Around the Corner … 2020

By Steph Beth Nickel

Can you believe it? In a little over a month it will be 2020. Does that sound as futuristic to you as it does to me? (Maybe I’m just showing my age. <grin>)

I like to make plans for the new year at the end of November.

Here are six reasons to do so:

  • Making New Year’s resolutions has a built-in expectation of failure. Let’s face it, most resolutions get tossed aside before the end of January.
  • If we leave planning until the end of the year, we don’t feel as if we have as much time to fine tune our plans with January 1 looming before us.
  • We may feel pressured by all the yearend advertising. Join this gym. Buy this discounted bundle online. (Guilty.) Make this the year you do … (I’m sure you can fill in the blank with any number of things.)
  • If we “test run” our resolutions next month, we can do so with a minimal number of onlookers. (Hey, even the gyms are less crowded in December.)
  • And if we start in December, we can see what works and what may be best set aside. But don’t forget to give yourself grace since many of us are especially busy during the holiday season.
  • And if you’re just coming off the writing high of trying to pump out 50,000 words in November (NaNoWriMo), you may feel as if you can conquer the world. Why not start before the feeling fade? (I will be away for part of the weekend. A dear friend’s mother passed away this past week, and the service is on Saturday. However, I’m hoping to hit 50K before getting on the road. It would be the first time ever.)

Many of us choose a word for the coming year. And if we’re Christians, we may feel the Lord has laid something on our heart. That is the case for me this year. I believe 2020 is to be my personal year of contentment, which is not to be confused with complacency.

So, just how can our Word of the Year line up with our List of Goals? (Notice, I didn’t call them resolutions.)

Here are six of my goals, all of which should lead to greater contentment. (Hint: It’s best to frame goals as positive statements. Negative ones just make us feel as if we’ve failed up to this point.)

  • If you know me, you realize I am eclectically interested and eclectically involved. Call it the Oo, Shiny Syndrome, the Butterfly Syndrome (I have a tendency to flit from one thing to the next to the next), or just call it Oh, Squirrel! Regardless, my goal is to focus more on the task(s) at hand and only pursue something new if I’ve thought it through and maybe, just maybe, set something else aside. (That is almost painful to commit to. Who says we can’t spin two dozen plates at the same time?)
  • Narrowing my focus means it’s far more likely than I can do some of those things I’ve been planning for years, things like publishing a novel and a nonfiction book. There, I’ve said it. I won’t only be content if I birth these two book babies, I will be ecstatic.
  • Between a gym membership, online fitness site memberships, and the DVDs I have on hand, there is no reason I can’t be stronger and healthier by the end of 2020 than I am now. That plus the fact that I actually like to exercise. Yes, I am one of those weird people.
  • Hand in hand with getting more exercise is the importance of eating a nourishing diet. To all of you who do, kudos! Really! By the end of 2020, I want to be consistently eating more healthfully. I’m not committing to perfection, whatever that may mean, but the more I eat healthy foods, the more I want to do so. I already know that. It’s just a matter of putting the knowing into practice—and using all those fancy gadgets and cookbooks I’ve purchased, hoping they’ll motivate me to do better.
  • My To Be Read (TBR) pile is monumentally high. Plus, several of my favourite authors will be releasing new books that I will be tempted to buy over the next 12-13 months. Contentment doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t buy some of these books, but it does mean I will deliberately get to some of those books I have neglected far too long.
  • And speaking of books, I have numerous versions of the Scriptures—and access to the others online. While I will be using some of the Bible study tools I have on hand, I don’t need anything more than my Bible to grow in my faith over the coming year. The plan is to focus more on reading God’s Word than being distracted by all the shiny study resources that are sure to come to my attention.

So, what about you? Do you have a word for 2020? Have you set some goals for yourself? I’d love to hear about it.

May 2020 overflow with the very richest of blessings!

Tweetable: 6 Reasons to make your plans for the new year at the end of November. Via #StephBethNickel #2020 #newyearsresolutions #goals [Click to tweet]

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is eclectically interested and eclectically involved. She is an author, blogger, a regular contributor to the HopeStreamRadio online radio station, a freelance editor, and birth doula. Steph brings her interests together under the Nurture and Inspire umbrella. Ladies, you’re invited to join her Facebook group by the same name: Nurture and Inspire

Picks from 2018

Goodreads tells me I’ve read 99 books in 2018. And that’s not counting Bible reading. Here are the books (and new-to-me music) that I’ve most enjoyed this year. Some were produced in 2018, some previously. Pop a note into the comments with your own favourites?

My top picks from 2018:

Book of the year: Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson (epic fantasy)

Christian living: The Dream of You, by Jo Saxton

Contemporary novel: Dear Mr. Knightley, by Katherine Reay

Fantasy novel: The Wounded Shadow, by Patrick W. Carr

Favourites revisited: The full “Cobra” series, all 9 books, by Timothy Zahn

Mystery/suspense novel: Guilty Blood, by Rick Acker

Science Fiction novel: Skyward, by Brandon Sanderson. Also notable: For Us Humans, by Steve Rzasa, Cold Welcome, by Elizabeth Moon, and Thrawn: Alliances, by Timothy Zahn

Series of the year: I’m liking the new Smithwell Fairies cozy mystery series from Karin Kaufman

Surprisingly fun: The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes, by Wade Albert White

Thriller:  Stealthy Steps, by Vikki Kestell (techno-thriller)

New-to-me songs that blessed me most: “Living Hope,” by Phil Wickham, “Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong Worship, and “You Say” by Lauren Daigle… And “Even If,” by Mercy Me. Wow.

Picks from 2017

Goodreads tells me I’ve read 99 books in 2017. And that’s not counting Bible reading. Here are the books (and new-to-me music) that I’ve most enjoyed this year. Some were produced in 2017, some previously. Pop a note into the comments with your own favourites?

My top picks from 2017:

Christian living: Prayer Warrior and The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children, both by Stormie Omartian

Contemporary novels: Soul’s Gate, by James L. Rubart, and Grace in Strange Disguise, by Christine Dillon

Favourites revisited: Where Eagles Dare, by Alistair MacLean

Historical novel: The Incense Road collection, by Tracy Higley

Mystery novels: Glass Houses, by Louise Penny, and Guilt by Association, by Heather Day Gilbert

Science Fiction novel: Thrawn, by Timothy Zahn

Series of the year: The Juniper Grove Cozy Mystery Series, by Karin Kaufman, and The Maple Syrup Mysteries, by Emily James, and an honourable mention to the Molly Sutton Mysteries, by Nell Goddin.

Fantasy novel: Elantris and Edgedancer, both by Brandon Sanderson

Thriller: Fault Lines, by Thomas Locke

Writing how-to: Creating Character Arcs, by K.M. Weiland

New-to-me musical artists of the year: All Sons and Daughters

Guest Post: What’s on Your To Be Read Pile?

What’s On Your To Be Read Pile?

by Steph Beth Nickel

Do you like how-to books? Memoirs? Novels? Do you carve out regular time for reading or is it hit and miss? Do bookstores and libraries draw you in with an irresistible pull?

As you may know, I’m eclectically interested. The same holds true of what I like to read.

Currently, I am actively reading the following:

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

We are reading this for our small group study at church. I was thrilled to find four of Chan’s books on Kindle for the price of one. I look forward to reading the other three volumes as well. (I also like listening to Chan’s teaching on RightNow Media.)

Beyond the Hate by Michael Bull Roberts

What happens when God gets hold of a former gang member and white supremacist? Well, He just may pave the way for said individual to visit the death camps in Germany and the poverty stricken in Africa. Mind-boggling! Is there anything too difficult for the Lord?

Writing Success by various authors

I rarely pre-order a book, but this one I did. If you write for the CBA (and even if you don’t), you may recognize some of the contributing authors, among them, Karen Ball, James Scott Bell, Mary DeMuth, Tricia Goyer, and Susan May Warren. This book overflows with invaluable information for novice and experienced writers alike.

Fit for Faith by Kimberley Payne

This seven-week fitness program covers disciplines for both physical and spiritual health. Kimberley includes basic info, workouts, exercise descriptions, charts for the reader to fill out, and more. (I can’t call her “Payne.” She’s a personal friend. [grin]) It was my plan to work through it in January and February. I may have to extend this into March.

Humble, Hungry, Hustle by Brad Lomenick

I came across this teaching via COMPEL Training. This is the most unique leadership book I’ve ever read. I admit when I think of books in this category, I think “dry.” This is far from it. I’m really enjoying it. Even if you don’t usually read leadership books, you may want to check out H3.

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKuerst

Do I say yes too often. <averts eyes and hums> This book helps readers consider why they say yes when they shouldn’t. It equips them to say no in order to prepare for “the best yes.” The author is authentic and genuine and uses examples from her own life. I love that. I highly recommend this book as well.

Wild Women, Wild Voices by Judy Reeves

Although my worldview is far different than Reeves’s, I am reading this for an online book club and it challenges me to consider how to express my individuality on the page. And it’s never a bad thing to learn to respectfully express one’s differences of opinions. If we don’t allow emotion to rule the day, we can gain a lot from an insightful debate.

The Red Fish Project by Andrew Gillmore

Andrew is the son of longtime family friends. I was thrilled to offer him encouragement about publishing his first book. (Turns out he’s got it pretty much figured out. His book is quickly rising through the ranks on Amazon.) Andrew loves to live abroad and doesn’t feel at home in “the West.” This book is an honest look at life in different cultures—and I stress the word “honest.” If you are offended by certain topics and the occasional inclusion of “colourful language,” you may not want to read The Red Fish Project. But if you want to know what makes this and other travelers tick, I recommend it.

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Lee

Always up for a good challenge—and checklists to mark off (I’m funny that way)—I have joined Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 Reading Challenge. In order to nab some books to fit the various categories, I made a trip to our local library. There I found Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer’s book Between the Lines. It’s unique. It’s fabulous. It’s delightful. Can you tell I like this YA novel about fairy tale characters whose lives are completely different when the book is closed? There’s a second book in the series too. Woohoo!

The End Begins by Sara Davison

Do you fear the day when gathering with other Christians means you’re breaking the law? When you may be accused of crimes you didn’t commit? When you may be hauled off for interrogation? How would you feel holding a child and looking down the barrel of a gun? Would you beg for your freedom? Would you cower and comply? Or would you throw back your shoulders and challenge the one holding the gun? I haven’t gotten far into this novel, but I love the protagonist’s spunk and look forward to reading more.

Eyes Wide Open by Ted Dekker

Have you ever started watching a movie you didn’t really want to keep watching but you couldn’t help it? Yeah, that’s this book. It’s as if I’m trapped in the psych ward with the main characters. I feel desperate and claustrophobic just thinking about it. But that’s probably a good thing. Talk about being drawn into the story!

The Language of Sparrows by Rachel Phifer

From the beginning I knew this novel was going to be unique. It drew me in. This is one of those books that makes me think, “I wish I had more time to read.” How can a mother help when her daughter doesn’t fit in? When she fears her daughter has inherited her late husband’s mental health issues? When her daughter begins to spend time with a solitary older man?

This is the original list of books I want to read this year. I wonder how many I’ll get to … especially since I keep adding to the pile: 25 Books to Read in 2016

Scroll down to the comments form to tell us what’s on your list!

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.

Picks from 2015

Goodreads tells me I’ve read 90 books in 2015. And that’s not counting Bible reading. Here are the books (and music) that I’ve most enjoyed this year. Some were produced in 2015, some previously. Pop a note into the comments with your own favourites?

My top picks from 2015:

Christian living: Practicing His Presence, by Brother Lawrence and Frank C. Laubach

Dieselpunk novel: Storming, by K.M. Weiland.

Fantasy series: The Staff & the Sword, by Patrick W. Carr. My reviews: A Cast of Stones, The Hero’s Lot, A Draw of Kings.

Mystery novel: The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny

Speculative novel: Dreamlander, by K.M. Weiland.

Thriller/Science Fiction novel (and the book I most enjoyed reading this year): Cloak, by Timothy Zahn

New-to-me favourite authors this year: Patrick W. Carr and K.M. Weiland

Album of the year: Saints and Sinners, by Matt Maher.

Goodreads: Janet's Year in Books

If you’re bored, click the image and Goodreads will show you the book covers.

 

Guest Post: Connecting in a Dusty, Used Book Store, by Jennifer Slattery

Connecting in a Dusty, Used Book Store

by Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer SlatteryMy husband and I are newly empty nesters, and that’s been an adjustment. Actually, considering he, our daughter, and I are all introverts who largely stay to ourselves, I’ve been surprised at what an adjustment this new phase has been. There’s just something about having those you love around, right? Whether they say a word or not? Needless to say, our daughter’s recent absence has been felt.

Man, do I miss her! But I try not to push, not to guilt her into seeing me, because I truly want her to launch from our nest and embrace her new life at college. So, when I learned her schedule would be relatively light one Thursday a few weeks ago, I sent her a text.

Me: Want to meet for lunch?

She proceeded to tell me her schedule. We could meet before or after a couple of her classes, but she’d have to be back by 4.

Honestly, I would’ve been pleased with thirty minutes, or even a quick phone call, so I was more than thrilled with the chunk of time she offered. But I still wanted to give her an out, just in case.

So I shot her another text: Are you sure you have time? I don’t want to make you feel stressed.

(College can be crazy tough, and I certainly don’t want to be an additional stresser!)

My heart swelled at her response: Nah.

That’s young adult talk for, “I want to see you.”

At least that’s how I chose to interpret it.

The events that followed were absolutely precious. I parked outside her dorm, and, upon her suggestion, the two of us walked toward Lincoln’s historic Haymarket so she could show me a used bookstore, one of two she’d found.

Jennifer Slattery and her daughter, in the used book store

And had we ended there, the entire day would’ve been awesome. Because there’s just something about books, right? Especially about going to a bookstore with the child you remember reading to, all those years ago, and perusing shelves filled with books from printed during that period of time.

It was our special connection, and a memory I won’t soon forget. The rest of our day was great, filled with getting lost, laughing, talking, and, of course, eating, but that bookstore was the highlight, and not just because it was cute and quaint and homey, but because through it, I was reminded of a special connection my daughter and I shared, one we’ve shared since before she could talk, and that’s our love for stories.

If you’re reading this blog, I’m assuming there’s a good chance you’re a book lover. Do you have any memorable bookstore moments you can share, maybe of going to the bookstore with your parents or taking your child or grandchild to one and spending a lazy afternoon flipping through crisp pages? Share your memories with us in the comments below!

~~~

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook.

Intertwined, by Jennifer Slattery

Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance… or is it? Could this be where life begins again?

Intertwined, part of New Hope Publisher’s contemporary fiction line, is a great reminder of how God can turn our greatest tragedies and failures into beautiful acts of love and grace. Readers will fall in love with the realistic characters and enjoy the combination of depth, heart-felt emotion and humor that makes Jennifer’s novels so appealing. Readers will be inspired to find God in every moment and encounter in their own lives!

Buy it: