Carol Awards – 2021 winners – Part II

Dear Readers,

How do you choose which is a favorite book? How do you decide which ones are the best ones when there are so many good ones? It is a chore that many volunteers do for the rest of us. There are many that read books over and over to pick the best of the best. We get to cheer on those winners.

My TBR pile is never ever going to get smaller.

Read on my friends, read on,

Romantic Suspense

Lost Down Deep by Sara Davison; ACFW QIP (Qualified Independently Published); Editors: Ines Jimenez and Deb Elkink – She is the only one who can tell the police who attacked her in her home. If only she could remember …

Short Novel

The Christmas Bargain by Lisa Carter; Love Inspired (Harlequin); Editor: Melissa Endlich – All she needs is a date for the holidays…She needs a date for a wedding. But a fiancé wasn’t part of the plan…

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Dead End by Nancy Mehl; Bethany House (Baker) Publishing; Editors: Raela Schoenherr and Jean Bloom – When multiple corpses are found, their remains point to a serial killer with a familiar MO but who’s been in prison for over twenty years–Special Agent Kaely Quinn’s father. 

Novella

Far as the Curse is Found (from The Joy to the World Collection) by Amanda Barratt; Kregel Publications; Editors: Janyre Tromp and Dori De Vries Harrell – One winter night, a woman struggling to provide for her illegitimate child encounters a scarred veteran of the Napoleonic Wars on the streets of London. Can love conquer the darkness of two broken pasts?

Romance

Love and a Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray; Bethany House (Baker) Publishing; Editor: Raela Schoenherr – After hitting rock bottom, January decides she has nothing to lose in working at her aunt’s church–while hiding a lack of faith.



Carol Awards – 2021 winners – part I

Dear Readers,

This past weekend, the Carol Awards was held. It is an award that is given by the ACFW. I was able to attend their ceremony in 2019 and had so much fun. It is not only a time of celebrating the award, but they offer several days of classes, interaction and getting a chance to talk to fellow authors. It is an amazing time. If you are thinking of being a Christian Fiction author, let me recommend their event.

This year the winners of the Carol awards are as diverse as their categories. Each book is so deserving of the award, but so are those that did not win. There are so many good books in the CF world that it is impossible to award them all. Just go out and read as many as you can. Support the authors and enjoy.

Read on my Friends, read on,

The winners are….

Speculative

Stealing Embers by Julie Hall; ACFW QIP (Qualified Independently Published); Editors: Rebecca Heyman and Janelle Leonard – A hidden kingdom. A dark prince. The world won’t survive them both.

Young Adult

Mortal Sight by Sandra Fernandez Rhoads; Enclave Publishing; Editors: Steve Laube and Lisa Laube -Artificial Intelligence. An intriguing idea, isn’t it? To imagine a machine which can replicate a human’s ability to think stirs the mind in so many ways.

Debut Author

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green; Bethany House (Baker) Publishing; Editors: Dave Horton and Rochelle Gloege – In this epistolary novel from the WWII home front, Johanna Berglund is forced to return to her small Midwestern town to become a translator at a German prisoner-of-war camp.

Contemporary

The Promised Land by Elizabeth Musser; Bethany House (Baker) Publishing; Editor: L. B. Norton – Desperate to mend her marriage and herself, Abbie Jowett joins her son in walking the famed Camino pilgrimage.

Historical

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green; Bethany House (Baker) Publishing; Editors: Dave Horton and Rochelle Gloege – In this epistolary novel from the WWII home front, Johanna Berglund is forced to return to her small Midwestern town to become a translator at a German prisoner -of-war camp.

Historical Romance

Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette; Bethany House (Baker) Publishing; Editors: Raela Schoenherr and Jennifer Veilleux -On a hunt for his daughter’s killer, Liyam’s last hope is a bargain to rescue a strong-willed woman who refuses to leave her mission uncompleted. 

New Release Monday

Dear Readers,

Half way through September. Goodness I was hoping things would slow down, but it seems to have gotten busier than ever. This list is amazing, there is not one book on this weeks list that I haven’t read already or want to read soon. That TBR pile just gets bigger and bigger.

Read on my friends, read on

Dark Intercept – Andrews and Wilson -On the eve of his medical retirement, Navy SEAL Jedidiah Johnson receives a frantic call from his estranged childhood best friend David Yarnell. David’s daughter has been kidnapped off the streets of Nashville in broad daylight. The police have no suspects and no leads. The only clue: the body of a dead priest left behind at the scene. With the clock ticking, David is growing desperate, as is his wife, Rachel . . . Jed’s first love. Despite his painful history with David and Rachel, Jed agrees to help. But he’s spent his career as a door-kicking Navy SEAL, not an investigator. His presence immediately draws unwanted attention, creates friction with the local police, and triggers a mysterious attempt on his life. Just when he thinks things can’t get worse, it starts to happen again—the voices in his head, the nightmares, the visions. Dark memories and strange abilities, things he believed he’d left behind when he fled Nashville for the Navy at eighteen, begin to resurface. Jed realizes that to save the missing girl, he must take a leap of faith and embrace the gifts he’s denied for all these years. To foil this dark intercept, he’ll need more than just his years as a SEAL operator, because he has no choice now but to take up arms and join the battle in the unseen spiritual warfare raging all around him. And there is far more at stake than just a missing girl: the world is not the place he thought it was—and he is not alone.

The Healing of Natalie Curtis – Jane Kirkpatrick – Classically trained pianist and singer Natalie Curtis isolated herself for five years after a breakdown just before she was to debut with the New York Philharmonic. Guilt-ridden and songless, Natalie can’t seem to recapture the joy music once brought her. In 1902, her brother invites her to join him in the West to search for healing. What she finds are songs she’d never before encountered–the haunting melodies, rhythms, and stories of Native Americans. But their music is under attack. The US government’s Code of Offenses prohibits American’s indigenous people from singing, dancing, or speaking their own languages as the powers that be insist on assimilation. Natalie makes it her mission not only to document these songs before they disappear but to appeal to President Teddy Roosevelt himself, who is the only man with the power to repeal the unjust law. Will she succeed and step into a new song . . . and a new future?

The Lines Between Us – Amy Lynn Green – Since the attack on Pearl Harbor, Gordon Hooper and his buddy Jack Armitage have stuck to their values as conscientious objectors. Much to their families’ and country’s chagrin, they volunteer as smokejumpers rather than enlisting, parachuting into and extinguishing raging wildfires in Oregon. But the number of winter blazes they’re called to seems suspiciously high, and when an accident leaves Jack badly injured, Gordon realizes the facts don’t add up. A member of the Women’s Army Corps, Dorie Armitage has long been ashamed of her brother’s pacifism, but she’s shocked by news of his accident. Determined to find out why he was harmed, she arrives at the national forest under the guise of conducting an army report . . . and finds herself forced to work with Gordon. He believes it’s wrong to lie; she’s willing to do whatever it takes for justice to be done. As they search for clues, Gordon and Dorie must wrestle with their convictions about war and peace and decide what to do with the troubling secrets they discover.

Trace of Doubt – DiAnn Mills – Fifteen years ago, Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and was sent to prison. Now she’s out on parole and looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas. But starting over won’t be easy for an ex-con. FBI Special Agent Denton McClure was a rookie fresh out of Quantico when he was first assigned the Pearce case. He’s always believed Shelby embezzled five hundred thousand dollars from her brother-in-law’s account. So he’s going undercover to befriend Shelby, track down the missing money, and finally crack this case. But as Denton gets closer to Shelby, he begins to have a trace of doubt about her guilt. Someone has Shelby in their crosshairs. It’s up to Denton to stop them before they silence Shelby—and the truth—forever.

The Gold in These Hills – Joanne Bischof – Upon arriving in Kenworthy, California, mail-order bride Juniper Cohen is met by the pounding of the gold mine, an untamable landscape, and her greatest surprise of all: the kind and loving man who awaits her. But when the mine proves empty of profit, and when Juniper’s husband, John, vanishes, Juniper is left to fend for herself and her young daughter in the dwindling boomtown that is now her home. Juniper pens letters to her husband but fears she is waiting on a ghost. Perhaps worse, rumors abound claiming the man she loves could be an outlaw. Surviving in a ghost town requires trusting the kindness of a few remaining souls, including the one who can unlock the mystery of her husband’s disappearance—and Juniper’s survival depends not only upon these friends but also the strength of heart she must fight to maintain. Present day. Trying to escape the heartache of his failed marriage, Johnny Sutherland throws himself into raising his children and restoring a hundred-year-old abandoned farmhouse in what was once known as Kenworthy, California, in the San Jacinto Mountains. While exploring its secrets he uncovers Juniper’s letters and is moved by the handwritten accounts that bear his name—and as a love story from the past touches his own world, Johnny might discover yet that hope and resilience go hand in hand.

All That is Secret – Patricia Raybon – a book review

Dear Readers,

A friend of mine mentioned All That is Secret by Patricia Raybon. All she would say about the book, was that I needed to read it. She was correct. You need to read this book. It is a straight up mystery set in Denver Colorado in the roaring 20’s. It is also a bit different because of the experiences of Annalee Spain.

If you are a mystery reader, go put this one on your list as you will want to read it just so you can read book #2 when that releases. If you are a history buff/reader you are going to want to read it because the facts you will learn about Denver. For example, did you know Colorado had the largest KKK meetings west of the Mississippi, second in the country only to Indiana. Yup, both northern states. If you like a good story with intrigue, human interaction, and characters you will fall in love with, then this is definitely the book for you.

Available at bakerbookhouse.com

Annalee Spain gives up her promising career as a professor of Theology at a college in Chicago to travel to Denver to find out why her father was murdered. When an attempt on her life is made on the train traveling out to Denver, she realizes she may be in for more than she expected.

Her father was a simple cowboy, minding his own business and a little too much in love with drink. Annalee is unsure what would have made someone throw him from a train. What she finds when she finally arrives with a young ragamuffin in tow, is a hotbed for the KKK and a fight for the soul of the city, state, and maybe even the country.

I really enjoyed Raybon’s writing style. I have not much enjoyed any of her non-fiction so really knew nothing about her writing. She takes you on a wonderful journey of discovery for not only Annalee, but also yourself and you find yourself wondering how you would react to something like this going on in your own hometown.

I am already looking forward to Raybon’s next installation of the Annalee Spain mysteries. Personally, she will not be able to write them fast enough for me, but I am willing to wait, as good writing should not be hurried.

Read on my friends, read on,

P.S Pre-order you copy at https://bakerbookhouse.com/products/281248


New Release Monday

Dear Readers,

Happy Labor Day. I feel like it was only a few short weeks I was wishing you Happy Memorial Day. The unoffical start of fall, are you ready? I am not. I love to hold onto Summer a bit longer.

The titles this week contain ones that make me want to punk down in a chair and not get out until I am finished. Which ones would you like to do that with?

Read on my friends, read on,

Since You’ve Been Gone – Tari Faris – #3 Restoring Heritage – Leah Williams is back in the quaint town of Heritage, Michigan, and ready to try again to make her business a success. But blank slates are hard to come by, and a piece of her past is waiting for her there. Heir to the Heritage Fruits company, Jonathan Kensington is the guy who not only made Leah’s past difficult, he also seems determined to complicate her present as well. Jon is trying to prove to the Heritage Fruits board that he, not his manipulative uncle, should be running the business. The board insists Jon find a new owner for the building that will house Leah’s business. To avoid forcing a buyout of Leah’s part of the building, Jon strikes a compromise with Leah, and the two go into business together. With her vision and his know-how, it might work. And Leah might realize he’s loved her since high school. If only he didn’t keep on shooting himself in the foot by boxing her out of important decisions.

Secrets in the Mist – Morgan Busse – #1 Skyworld – In a world where humanity lives in the sky to escape a deadly mist below, Cass’s only goal is survival. That is, until she finds a job on the airship Daedalus as a diver. Now she explores ruined cities, looking for treasure and people’s lost heirlooms until a young man hires her to find the impossible: a way to eradicate the Mist. Theodore Winchester is a member of one of the Five Families that rule the skies. Following in his father’s footsteps, he searches for the source of the Mist and hopes to stop the purges used to control overpopulation. But what he finds are horrifying secrets and lethal ambition. If he continues his quest, it could mean his own death. The Mist is rising and soon the world will be enveloped in its deadly embrace, turning what’s left of humanity into the undead.

Heartless Heirs – Marcykate Connolly – #2 Twin Daggers series – TF – Aissa has never felt so trapped and alone even with her sister and friend by her side. Zandria—once her other half—has become cold and inflexible after her time in the Technocrats’ dungeon. Their friend Remy may still side with his father, a Magi leader who refuses to believe his spymaster has turned traitor. And Aissa herself is now an enemy of her Magi people after falling in love with—and binding her heart to—Aro, a Techno prince who puts all their lives at stake. Aissa is determined to uncover the secrets of the Alchemist Alliance that created her and Zandria’s unique magical powers … as well as learn whether the Alliance’s research holds the key to healing the rift between the Magi and Technocrats after centuries of war. But with her people preparing for battle, it will take more than lost spells and hidden secrets to accomplish her goal. Especially as the bond between her and Aro grows deeper and threatens everything Aissa has ever believed.

Secrets of the Old Depot Grocery – Amanda Cox – Present Day. After tragedy plunges her into grief and unresolved anger, Sarah Ashby returns to her childhood home determined to finally follow her long-denied dream of running Old Depot Grocery alongside her mother and grandmother. But when she arrives, her mother, Rosemary, announces to her that the store is closing. Sarah and her grandmother, Glory Ann, make a pact to save the store, but Rosemary has worked her entire life to make sure her daughter never follows in her footsteps. She has her reasons–but she’ll certainly never reveal the real one. 1965. Glory Ann confesses to her family that she’s pregnant with her deceased fiancé’s baby. Pressured into a marriage of convenience with a shopkeeper to preserve the family reputation, Glory Ann vows never to love again. But some promises are not as easily kept as she imagined.

author interview – DiAnn Mills

About the Author

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She creates action-packed, suspense-filled novels to thrill readers. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award contests. Firewall, the first book in her FBI: Houston series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian fiction books of 2014. Connect with DiAnn at diannmills.com.

1. Where did you come up with the idea for the plot of Trace of Doubt?

Great question! The plot came from a what-if moment. What if a teen loved her older pregnant sister so much that she’d confess to murdering her brother-in-law, a crime she didn’t commit?

2. Can you tell us about some of the research that went into writing about ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­the legal situations involved in Trace of Doubt, especially as it relates to what it’s like for ex-convicts (particularly women) to work toward rebuilding their lives?

The research focused on women’s prisons in Texas. Many have solid programs to help the inmates learn skills to make a transition into public life. But that doesn’t mean every guard has the best intentions. Gangs exist alongside solid Bible studies and counseling. The success of a woman’s rehabilitation depends on her commitment to better herself and learn from past mistakes.

3. Tell us about some of the core themes you discuss in this novel. How can your readers relate to these areas in their own lives?

Forgiveness: the hero and heroine struggled to forgive themselves for disappointing their families. For the heroine: manipulation under the guise of love caused her to nearly destroy her life.

4. What do you enjoy most in writing about the work of the FBI?

I enjoy creating authentic characters who mirror the FBI’s mission to keep people safe and prevent crime while showing their human strengths and challenges.

5. How does faith play a role in the story?

The heroine became a Christian at the lowest point of her life. Prison life resulted in deep depression but opened her heart to faith. Shelby lived her life from that moment on, no matter how difficult, with Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

6. What inspired the personality traits of your main characters, Shelby Pearce and Denton McClure?

Shelby: a strong woman who’d been manipulated and betrayed. Yet she found faith and faced the horror of her mistakes. Denton McClure: an FBI agent who stepped up to the role with bravery and determination but believed in the eyes of his family he was a failure.

7. What was your favorite scene to write in Trace of Doubt?

My favorite scene is Shelby’s confession to her friends what really happened to her brother-in-law.

8. What are you most excited for your readers to experience through reading this novel?

Love is a powerful emotion that can be used against us if we allow another person to lie, deceive, and betray us.

9. Can you tell us about some future projects you’re working on?

I’m currently editing a romantic suspense novel in which a young woman fears her highly respected and beloved grandfather may have committed murder.

About the Book

Bestselling and award-winning author DiAnn Mills delivers a heart-stopping story of dark secrets, desperate enemies, and dangerous lies.

Fifteen years ago, Shelby Pearce confessed to murdering her brother-in-law and was sent to prison. Now she’s out on parole and looking for a fresh start in the small town of Valleysburg, Texas. But starting over won’t be easy for an ex-con.

FBI Special Agent Denton McClure was a rookie fresh out of Quantico when he was first assigned the Pearce case. He’s always believed Shelby embezzled five hundred thousand dollars from her brother-in-law’s account. So he’s going undercover to befriend Shelby, track down the missing money, and finally crack this case.

But as Denton gets closer to Shelby, he begins to have a trace of doubt about her guilt. Someone has Shelby in their crosshairs. It’s up to Denton to stop them before they silence Shelby—and the truth—forever.

A Wish Book Christmas – Lynn Austin – a book review

Dear Readers,

For all of us that wanted more of Audrey and Eve’s story from If I were You, Lynn Austin has penned a nostalgic story. A Wish Book Christmas is full of memories for us readers who remember the old Sears catalog coming and pouring over the pages and picking gifts we wanted Santa Claus to bring.

available at bakerbookhouse.com

As Eve and Audrey face their first Christmas together, their boys get their hand on a Sears Christmas Wish Book. Filled with dreams of toys, Bobby and Harry seem to be missing out on the true meaning of Christmas. Eve and Audrey are struggling to help the boys remember that they will not get everything in the catalog.

As life moves forward for the two women, they must make decisions for the future. Even if those decisions go against what others may think.

Wish Book Christmas is a book that will not only leave you with those warm and comfy memories from an era past, but it will also remind you that Christmas is not about the getting but about the giving. It is a reminder also about that one special gift who is still giving 2000 years later.

Read on my friends, read on,

New Release Monday

Dear Readers,

Summer is wrapping up. The temps are still high and plenty of days and evening for outside reading, but fall is rapidly making it’s presence known. Kids are headed back to school. Pumpkin spice everything. There is even a bit of a chill in the air of some mornings.

Which means fall releases are arriving at the store. There are so many new titles that I am not sure I will get them all read. But I am willing to give it a good try.

Oh and just for fun, there is a Christmas novella in the store. A reminder colder weather is on the way.

Read on my friends, read on,

The Walnut Creek Wish – Wanda Brunstetter – #1 Creektown Discoveries – Welcome to Walnut Creek, Ohio, where Orley and Lois Troyer own an antique store they call “Memory Keepers.” Though knowledgeable in antiques and their repair, their real talent is in mentoring folks who are hurting and don’t even know it. Enter Jeff, a restaurateur, and Rhonda, a hotel manager, who recently moved to Amish country for the slow pace, but the change of scenery puts even more stress on their already strained marriage. Will an antique sled be the last straw, or will it lead to unexpected revelations and the fulfillment of dreams?

Crossed Lines – Jennifer Delamere – #2 Love Along the Wires – Emma Sutton knows she should be satisfied with her life. She has a position at London’s Central Telegraph Office, and behind her rented rooms is a small plot where she can indulge her passion for gardening. But ever since she was orphaned as a child, she has longed for a family of her own and the stability and consistency it provides. Her deepest wish appears realized when a handsome engineer is thrown into her orbit and sends her a thrilling love note. Mitchell Harris’s sharp wit and facility with a pen have enabled him to thrive despite serious obstacles. That the woman of his dreams works just two floors above his should make life perfect. But a childhood accident has left Mitchell convinced he’ll never draw a woman’s affection, especially from someone like Emma. When his best friend–who once saved his life–falls in love with Emma too and asks for help writing her love letters, Mitchell must choose between desire and loyalty.  

Carved in Stone – Elizabeth Camden – #1 The Blackstone Legacy – After years of tragedy, Gwen Kellerman now lives a quiet life as a botanist at an idyllic New York college. She largely ignores her status as heiress to the infamous Blackstone dynasty and hopes to keep her family’s heartbreak and scandal behind her. Patrick O’Neill survived a hardscrabble youth to become a lawyer for the downtrodden Irish immigrants in his community. He’s proud of his work, even though he struggles to afford his ramshackle law office. All that changes when he accepts a case that is sure to emphasize the Blackstones’ legacy of greed and corruption by resurrecting a thirty-year-old mystery. Little does Patrick suspect that the Blackstones will launch their most sympathetic family member to derail him. Gwen is tasked with getting Patrick to drop the case, but the old mystery takes a shocking twist neither of them saw coming. Now, as they navigate a burgeoning attraction and growing danger, Patrick and Gwen will be forced to decide if the risk to the life they’ve always held dear is worth the reward.

A Warrior’s Heart – Misty M. Beller – #1 Brides of Laurent – Brielle Durand is still haunted by the massacre that killed her mother a dozen years before. Vowing to never let it happen again, she’s risen to be the key defender for her people’s peace-loving French settlement living in hidden caves in the Canadian Rockies. When a foreigner wanders too near to their secret home, she has no choice but to disarm and capture him. But now, what to do with this man who insists he can be trusted? Hoping to escape past regrets, Evan MacManus ventured into the unknown, assigned to discover if the northern mountains contain an explosive mineral that might help America win the War of 1812. Despite being taken prisoner, Evan is determined to complete his mission. But when that assignment becomes at odds with his growing appreciation of the villagers and Brielle, does he follow through on his promise to his government or take a risk on where his heart is leading him? Either choice will cause harm to someone.

A Christmas in the Alps – Melody Carlson – After a time of heartache and loss, Simone Winthrop discovers a tantalizing letter from her French great-grandmother, which seems to suggest that she is heir to a family treasure. Ever practical, Simone assumes the claim is baseless, but her best friend encourages her to find out for sure. Despite her deep-rooted fear of flying, Simone boards a jet to travel to Paris at Christmastime to uncover the truth. During the long flight, Simone meets the charming Kyle Larsson, who’s on his way to France to become an apprentice clockmaker. Though they abruptly part ways, an unexpected rendezvous in the French Alps at Simone’s family’s clock factory may lead to the discovery of the family treasure . . . and so much more.