Christian

Take Something Different to the Beach

 

Every once in a while, we should stretch our reading horizons and try something completely different. Just for fun. You may think that straying out of your tried and true and thoroughly enjoyed genre is a bad idea, but here is a batch of books that may change your mind. Go ahead. Take a peek.  🙂

 

Adventure/Sci-Fi

 

 

James Rollins writes the exceptional Sigma Force adventure series, which incorporates archeology, historical events, science, a bit of technology, and always a dash of romance. Rollins’ research is so thorough and his writing so skilled that the readers often wonder which parts are true and which are a figment of his incredible imagination. He always includes sections in the books to answer the questions that might arise. Spanning 50,000 years, “The Bone Labyrinth” focuses on the discovery of a subterranean Catholic chapel holding the bones of a Neanderthal woman, as well as revealing a brutal attack on a primate research center. The Sigma Force teams are tasked with finding a connection between the two, taking them to three continents, while being tested as never before by unexpected enemies. The action never stops, with twists and turns until the very last page in this search for the explanations of human intelligence development. “The Bone Labyrinth” is the 11th full length book in the Sigma Force Series, with #14, “Crucible,” out this year.

 

Amish Fiction

 

Laura Bradford writes the wonderful, bestselling Amish Mysteries. “Just Plain Murder” is the sixth installment, with “A Killer Carol” due out in September. In “Just Plain Murder,” Claire Weatherly and Jakob Fisher grow closer and Jakob’s relationship with the family that shunned him shows signs of warming a bit. Jakob’s mentor and retired police chief, Russ Granger, has returned to town, but soon Claire must help Jakob solve the mystery of Russ’ death and so much more. Shocking secrets and lies are uncovered and long-standing relationships are questioned in this marvelous entry in the series. Read them all.
 

 

Christian Fiction

 

 

Terri Blackstock writes entertaining fiction that has wowed her fans for decades. The If I Run Series finishes with book #3, “If I Live.” Casey Cox is still running for her life after being wrongfully indicted for murder. She teams with the investigator on her case to help find the real killers, with consequences for each of them. Blackstock creates a sense of urgency that will keep you spellbound with surprises throughout.

 


 

Non-Fiction

 

 

Gretchen Rubin’s “Happiness Project” is an uplifting way to look at your life and change it for the better. If you’re not happy with the way things are going and want to make some adjustments, this book is for you. Ms. Rubin talks about her own life and how she came to believe that she could be happier. She took a year to experiment with advice given by experts and came up with some ideas of her own, including strategies for each month of the year. It’s a personal plan that can easily be applied to anyone willing to ‘be more present’ in their own life.
 

 

Thriller

 

Internationally bestselling author, Jamie Freveletti, writes the multi-award winning Emma Caldridge Series. Emma Caldridge is a brilliant biochemist who enjoys extreme distance running. She uses both skills while undertaking missions around the world that would reduce the ordinary person to a puddle of fear and mumbling. In “Blood Run,” Caldridge is tasked with delivering vaccines to villages in Africa, but the big pharma CEO accompanying her and providing the financial and logistical support for the operation, is holding out on her. They find themselves in the middle of a war zone between brutal African factions with no way out except through even more dangerous territory. If that weren’t enough, an extra challenge involves an international terrorist who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal, complete with a target on Emma’s back. This pulse-pounding story will keep you turning the pages and wondering how in the world Caldridge will make it out alive.

 

Happy reading!  🙂

 

 

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10 of the Best Books of the Past Year-2017 Update

 

BookStack

…and the prize goes to…

 

Readers all over the world choose their next book based on the award winners announced by various organizations during the recent year. Here is a list of ten popular awards for recent novels in the adult category to receive applause and/or rave reviews from colleagues in the genre or from readers who loved the books.

 

Have you read any books on the list? If so, let us know what you enjoyed about them in the comment section. 

 

Agatha Award given to mystery writers, in 2016 best contemporary novel:

“A Great Reckoning” by Louise Penny

 

Bram Stoker Award for 2016 best in horror or dark fantasy:

“The Fisherman” by John Langan

 

Christy Award for excellence in Christian fiction 2016:

“The Five Times I Met Myself” by James L. Rubart

 

Edgar Allen Poe Award awarded by Mystery Writers of America 2017:

“Before the Fall” by Noah Hawley

 

Hugo Awards awarded for the best Science Fiction or Fantasy 2017:

“The Obelisk Gate” by N.K. Jemisin

 

Macavity Award given to favorite 2016 mystery by Mystery Readers International:

“The Long and Faraway Gone” by Lou Berney

 

Man Booker Prize literary prize for best 2016 novel: 

“The Sellout” by Paul Beatty

 

National Book Award for fiction given to U.S. authors 2016:

“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead

 

Nebula Awards presented by Science Fiction Writers for 2016 work:

“All the Birds in the Sky” by Charlie Jane Anders

 

 

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“The Shack” by Wm. Paul Young, et al

 

(written in collaboration with Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings)

Book Cover - The Shack

“The Shack” becomes a journey of self-exploration as Mack, a less than stellar father, confronts his grief and guilt after immeasurable pain involving the murder of his young daughter. He flounders for some time after her unsolved death, going through the minimal motions of living, until one day he receives a letter (supposedly from God) which draws him to a shack in the woods near where his daughter may have met her end.

 

What happens in “The Shack” may challenge the reader’s beliefs on several levels. It has certainly been a controversial book, both embraced as a life-changing work and denounced as a slam against Christianity and the Bible in its non-traditional depiction of the Holy Trinity.

 

To non-believers interested in the basis for the phenomenon surrounding this bestselling novel:  while some would say that it is theology based, one cannot assign “The Shack” to any particular church or doctrine. It has overlapping spiritual themes, borrowing from (and occasionally attacking) many philosophies. “Where tragedy confronts eternity…” the tagline on the front cover, seemed overly dramatic, but for the most part, the book did not sink to unrealistic phrasing and platitudes. The overall message is love for all, forgiveness for all, no matter what.

 

An earlier version of “The Shack” was written by Young as a Christmas present, printed at an office supply store and handed out to his family and friends. Jacobsen and Cummings heard about the book, helped rewrite it and arranged to have 10,000 copies printed. First self-published in 2007 and sold out of Young’s garage in 2008, “The Shack” now has over 20 million copies in print, making it one of the biggest bestsellers in history. Young, Jacobsen and Cummings have since parted ways, with Young retaining rights to the book and Cummings and Jacobsen in control over what will happen with the movie, just released.

 

Readers may love the book for its themes of acceptance and spirituality in the face of awful circumstances, while others may hate it because it doesn’t follow a particular religious doctrine or that it disparages some age-old, deeply held beliefs.

 

Now that “The Shack” is back on the bestseller list, it is sure to enliven conversation about God. Who is He/She? What does it mean to believe in God? How is that demonstrated? Do the events in the book unfold in a way that is true to what has been taught in your place of worship? I doubt that readers who believe in a Higher Power could remain neutral about “The Shack.”

 

Please visit www.wmpaulyoung.com for information about the author.

 

 

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Authors of the Carolinas

 

Highway-SmokiesIMG_3611

How many of you have read about a region of the USA in a novel and wanted to travel there, in part to experience the food, in part to relax and enjoy the fabulous scenery that can only be seen in that one area of the planet? The Carolinas (both North and South) are home to fabulous shrimp & grits dishes, as well as mouth-watering other goodies. And you can’t visit either State without having a refreshing glass of world famous Sweet Tea.

 

The authors listed below either live in North or South Carolina, grew up here, or set their books in the region. We are treated to the cuisine of the Appalachia, the Low Country boils, the scenery of the mountains, and/or the wildlife/marshes of the coast. There is a mix of historical, paranormal, happily-ever-after, outrageous comedy, dark mysteries, and cozies – something for everyone who loves thumpin’ good fiction.

 

Click on the website links to find out more.  J

 

 

Suzanne Adair  “A Hostage to Heritage”  www.suzanneadair.net

 

JD Allen “Grasshopper” in “Murder Under the Oaks”  www.jdallenbooks.com

 

Maria Alonso-Sierra  “The Coin”  www.mariaelenawrites.com

 

Mike Axsom  “Making Memories Down South”  www.mikeaxsom.com

 

Jodie Bailey  “Breach of Trust”  www.jodiebailey.com

 

Kaye Wilkinson Barley  “Whimsey”  www.kayewilkinsonbarley.com

 

Cindy Blackburn   “Five Spot”   www.cueballmysteries.com

 

Heather Blanton  “A Promise in Defiance”  www.ladiesindefiance.com

 

Susan Boyer  “Low Country Book Club”  www.susanmboyerbooks.com

 

Felicia Bridges  “Czechmate”  www.adventuresthatinspireaction.com

 

Antoinette Brown  “One-Cat Woman” in “Carolina Crimes”

 

Ross Cavins  “Barry vs The Apocalypse”  www.rosscavins.com

 

Diane Chamberlain  “Pretending to Dance”  www.dianechamberlain.com 

 

C. Hope Clark  “Echoes of Edisto”   www.chopeclark.com

 

J.A. Coffey  "Double Dog Dare"  www.jacoffey.com

 

Cynthia Cooke  “Going All the Way”  www.cynthiacooke.com

 

E.B. Davis  “Ice Cream Allure” in “Carolina Crimes”  www.ebdavismysteries.com

 

Saword Broyles Eller    www.amazon.com/author/saywordbeller

 

Nora Gaskin (Esthimer)  “Time of Death” www.lystrabooks.com

 

Normandie Fischer  “From Fire into Fire”  www.normandiefischer.com

 

Beatrice Fishback  “Bethel Manor”  www.beasattitudes.net

 

Dorothea Benton Frank  “All Summer Long”  www.dotfrank.com

 

Marni K Graff  “Death Unscripted” www.auntiemwrites.com

 

Jordon Greene  "They'll Call It Treason"  www.jordongreene.com

 

Leigh Greenwood  “Forever and Always”  www.leigh-greenwood.com

 

Lynette Hampton  “Fiona’s Journey”  www.agnesalexander.com

 

Rick Helms  “Older than Goodbye”  www.richardhelms.net

 

Judy Hogan  “Haw”  www.judyhogan.home.mindspring.com

 

Tom Honea  “A Confluence of Rivers”  www.amazon.com/dp/B009LU1X8I

 

Ellen Hunter  "Much Ado About Murder"  www.ellenhunter.com

 

Polly Iyer  “Indiscretion”  www.pollyiyer.com

 

Regina Jeffers  "Angel Comes to the Devil's Keep"  www.rjeffers.com

 

Sabrina Jeffries  “Stormswept”  www.sabrinajeffries.com

 

Linda Johnson  “Trail of Destruction”  www.lindajohnson.us

 

Kieran Kramer  “Trouble When You Walked In”  www.kierankramer.com

 

Vicki Lane  “Under the Skin”  www.vickilanemysteries.com

 

Linda Lovely  “Lies”  www.lindalovely.com

 

Cynthia Luhrs  “First Knight”  www.cluhrs.com

 

Margaret Maron  “Long Upon the Land”  www.margaretmaron.com

 

Jamie Mason   “Monday’s Lie” www.jamie-mason.com

 

Karen McCullough  “Wired for Murder”  www.kmccullough.com

 

Heather McGovern  "A Moment of Bliss"  www.heathermcgovernnovels.com

 

Ruth Moose  “Wedding Bell Blues”  www.ruthmoose.com

 

Katy Munger  “Desolate Angel”  www.katymunger.com

 

Nancy Naigle  “Every Yesterday”  www.nancynaigle.com

 

Heather Newton  “Under the Mercy Trees”  www.heathernewton.net

 

Kathryn O’Sullivan  “Neighing with Fire”  www.kathrynosullivan.com

 

Gail Oust  “Cinnamon Toasted”   www.gailoust.com

 

Kate Parker  “Deadly Scandal”  www.kateparkerbooks.com

 

Britni Patterson  “A Thousand Deadly Kisses”  www.britnipatterson.com

 

Leigh Perry  “The Skeleton Haunts a House”  www.leighperryauthor.com

 

Ashantay Peters  “Reading Between the Lives”  www.ashantay.com

 

Patti Phillips  “Kerrian’s Notebook, Vol. 1”  www.pattiphillipsbooks.com

 

Karen Pullen  “Cold Feet”  www.karenpullen.com

 

Kathy Reichs  “Trace Evidence”  www.kathyreichs.com

 

Jennifer Riley  “Jerk Alert”  available at Amazon

 

Sarah Shaber  “Louise’s Chance”  www.amazon.com/Sarah-R.-Shaber/e/B001HMPB9U

 

Nancy Simpson  “B.O.Q.”  www.authornpsimpson.com

 

Regina Smeltzer  “Retribution” www.reginasmeltzer.net

 

Jennifer Hudson Taylor  "For Love or Liberty"  www.jenniferhudsontaylor.net

 

Ellis Vidler  “Prime Target”  www.ellisvidler.net

 

Kathryn R. Wall  “Jordan Point”  www.kathrynwall.com

 

Tamara Ward  “Concealed Suspicions”  www.authortamaraward.com

 

Lynn Chandler Willis  “Wink of an Eye”  www.lynnchandlerwillis.com

 

Bonnie Wisler  “Count a Hundred Stars”   available at Amazon

 

Caleb Wygal  "Blackbeard's Lost Treasure"  www.calebwygal.com

 

DSC_0982

 

See any new-to-you names on the list of Authors of the Carolinas? 

Happy reading!  🙂

 

 

 

 

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Three Summer Vacation Quickie Reviews

 

In a rush to pick out your summer vacation ‘beach-reads’? This may help with the ‘run-in-and-grab’ non-thought process. Categories are listed in no particular order of favoritism or warning…

 

Dragons:

Book Cover - Brisinger by Christopher Paolini

Brisinger” by Christopher Paolini.  

More complex than the previous two books in the trilogy. Eragon is more developed as a character, but this has resulted in less time spent on adventures/conversations with Saphira, his dragon. Still great fun for dragon/fantasy fans.  🙂

 

Rated PG-13 for war and violence.

 

 

Faith-based fiction:
Book Cover - Night Light by Terri Blackstock

Night Light” by Terri Blackstock.

A world-wide power outage has kicked the earth back into 19th century technology. No cell phones, no computers, no AC and people have to ride bikes and grow their own food. Fascinating look at how one Christian family chooses to deal with the challenges of a more primitive life, including digging a well to obtain potable water. The young children in the book have dialogue that is developmentally inaccurate, but the overall story made me wonder how I would cope – and what kinds of vegetables I would be able to grow so that I could barter with someone who raised chickens.

 

Rated PG-13 for a murder, a kidnapping and scenes of drug usage.

 

 

YA Fiction:
Book Cover - I am Number Four by Pitticus Lore

I am Number Four” by Pitticus Lore.

An alien teenager, who has been hiding out on Earth with his protector, must deal with saving the world from nasty beings from his home planet that aim to wipe out his species. Made into a movie, but the book is MUCH better. There are sequels, but “I am Number Four” is the best. Filled with teen bits like first love, outsiders that don’t quite fit in, but are smarter than the ‘cool kids,’ blowing up the high school, etc.  Written for teens that are into intense action stories.

 

Rated PG-13 for alien invasion, intensity, and violence. Adults should look this over to assess its appropriateness for their teen.

 

Do you have a favorite summer vacation book? Let us know in the comments below.  🙂

Check out three quite different Beach Reads from last summer's list here.

Whatever you decide to read, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Happily Ever After – 2016

 

Sunsetpismo

Summer is almost here, when there is lots of talk about weddings and romantic getaways.

 

June is the biggest month for weddings in the United States – or so all the bride magazines would have you believe. In fact, while June may be the most popular month to tie the knot, it’s only by a small margin. 10.8% of yearly weddings are performed then, followed closely by August, at 10.2%. But, that’s still over six thousand weddings a day, explaining why wedding venues must be booked months in advance.

 

For those of us not getting married or traveling to a romantic destination anytime soon, we can get lost in a ‘Happily Ever After’ book and be transported via heart and mind.

 

Below is a list of titles suggested by readers that enjoy more sweet romance in their stories than the murder mysteries usually reviewed or listed here at NBR. These books got raves from the readers that made the suggestions.  😀

 

No dead bodies to be found among the pages – or so I’ve been told – just romance in many forms. Think Hallmark Channel on Saturday and Sunday nights during June.

 

If you’ve read any of the titles from the authors in this genre, let us know in the comments below.

 

Click on the author names for the links to their websites.

 

Rachael Anderson:  “Not Always Happenstance”

 

Tamie Dearen:  “A Rose in Bloom”

 

Shannon Guymon:  “Free Fallin’ ”

 

Liwen Ho:  “Drawn to You”

 

Melanie Jacobson:  “Always Will”

 

Stacy Juba:  “Fooling Around with Cinderella”

 

Sophie Kinsella:  “Shopaholic Takes Manhattan”

 

Jane Lebak:  “Honest and For True”

 

Debbie Macomber:  “Love Letters”

 

Catherine Maiorisi:  “Matters of the Heart”

 

Jill Mansell:  “The Unpredictable Consequences of Love”

 

Jules Nelson:  “Shadows”

 

Jenny Proctor:  “Love at First Note”

 

Ann Roberts:  “Complete Package”

 

Curtis Sittenfeld:  “Eligible”

 

Heather Sutherlin:  “Loose Ends”

 

Debbie White:  “Finding Mrs. Right”

 

Susan Wiggs:  “Summer by the Sea”

 

Sherryl Woods:  Chesapeake Shores series

 

HeartsIMG_4243

Is there a swoon worthy title in the list?  Happily Ever After reading!   🙂

 

*Photos by Patti Phillips

 

 

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Choosing A Book by Its Cover

 

Book Cover - Rain FallBook Cover - A Clean Kill In Tokyo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I buy over 100 books a year from brick and mortar stores, and am given loads of free books at the conferences I attend, so I have piles of novels and a few weighty works of non-fiction sitting around the house. (This is the reason for the free drawings we hold for subscribers at NBR)

Soooo…what draws me to pick up a particular title at the bookstore if I’m not already familiar with the author? On any given day, I preselect the genre by wandering into category areas of the brick and mortar store, whether indie or big box store. Then, I am drawn to:

 

1) The color of the spine and cover

2) The artwork and text on the cover

3) The blurb on the back cover

 

Color

Notice that #1 is not about the author or the concept of the book. The initial interaction is not about the cover text. If you don’t pick the book up, you’ll never read that part anyway. Marketing people discovered years ago that the eye is drawn to bright splashes of color when choosing a product – any product – and that reds and yellows are seen first, then blues and greens. The rest of the artwork on the covers is set off by that color. Think of it as the backdrop for showcasing the information being delivered by the artwork and the text.

 

The art on the covers

Authors and publishers alike stay up nights, hoping and praying that the colors, the design, the font, the size of every tiny piece of graphic on the cover – all go together in a way that will entice you to pick up the book. Is there a person in the artwork? How about guns? Or beaches? Or cats? Is the setting implied somehow? Is the artwork dynamic, garish, or calming? Is the artwork representative of the actual content inside the book?

 

The Blurb

The publisher’s blurb on the back cover of today’s novels reveals something about the lead character and contains just enough about the plot to make us want to know more. If the book seems a little different, inspirational or more exciting than the norm, we feel compelled to plunk down money and take that book home. If the book is even better than the blurb promised? We tell our friends.

 

The following books exceeded the promise of the back cover. My thoughts are in bold type.

 

“John Rain kills people. For a living. His specialty: making it seem like death by natural causes. But he won’t take out just anyone. The job must be an exclusive. The target must be a principal player. And he’ll never murder a woman.” – Rain Fall by Barry Eisler.

This was the debut novel for the bestselling author. Excellent hit-man thriller that was made into a movie in 2011. Eisler drew from his own time as a lawyer in Tokyo for the exotic backdrop. The Rain series continues to be successful.

 

“Former army homicide investigator Paul Brenner has just gotten used to the early retirement forced on him after the disastrous end of his last case when his old commanding officer asks him to return for one final mission: investigate a murder that took place in wartime Vietnam thirty years before. Brenner reluctantly accepts out of curiosity and loyalty…and maybe a touch of boredom. He won’t be bored for long.”

Up Country by Nelson DeMille. The book delivers far more than a chilling murder investigation. It is based on DeMille’s own experiences in Vietnam and takes a look at war and its aftermath. Haunting. Reviewed here on NBR.

 

“First a dead stranger. Now a missing police chief. Did Cade run off to elope…or has he met with foul play?” – Southern Storm by Terri Blackstock Nobody in her right mind would think that Cade had eloped. The blurb seems purposely misleading. Thank goodness for Blackstock fans that the book was better than the blurb.

 

“Times are a-changin’ in Pickax, giving Jim Qwilleran some newsworthy notes for the Qwill Pen. A new senior center is in the works as well as a frisky production of ‘Cats.’ And a local mansion…” The Cat Who Had Sixty Whiskers” by Lilian Jackson Braun.

This was the 29th book in the gentle ‘Cat Who…’ series. Fans buy the books no matter what’s on the cover. Mom bought every one.  The series is reviewed here on NBR.

 

Now for the two covers for Rain Fall. The original cover is the red one. It popped into my view at a conference, piled next to stacks of books by other authors. The more recent cover is the blue one on the right (same book, different title) designed after Eisler regained the rights to his books and changed titles and covers. If you don’t already know who Barry Eisler is, which one would cause you to buy the book?

 

Do you choose a book based on the blurb? Is it the art on the cover itself that helps you decide? Let us know in the comments below.  J

 

*note: I buy lots of ebooks as well, but that’s for another post.

 

 

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