Posted in Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense

Mary Nealy’s Ten Plagues

Mary Nealy is also the famed author Mary Connealy. I have read all of her books. This one is nothing like them. Ten Plagues is about a serial killer who is killing people based off of the ten plagues in the Bible. Keren is a cop with the gift of spiritual discernment. It allows her to sense when the killer is near. Paul is a former cop, now minister, whose parishoners are the ones’ disappearing. Together they join forces to stop this killer. I really enjoyed this novel. Not only did I enjoy the mystery, I enjoyed that God was interwoven throughout the whole novel. I loved how there was such an emphasis on spiritual gifts. There is such power in the name of Jesus and we become extraordinary people when we realize this. This book was a great read, a fun romance, and a reminder that Jesus is Lord.

Posted in Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense

Irene Hannon’s Deadly Pursuit

Irene Hannon came on the scene shortly after Dee Henderson took a sabbatical (although she has a new coming out this year!). She’s a good author who knows her way around detectives, forensics, ballistics, etc. Deadly Pursuit is the second book in the Guardians of Justice series. In this novel, Allison, a social worker and sister of a detective and U.S. Marshal starts receiving creepy gifts and heavy-breathing phone calls. That can only spell trouble. Toss in her brother’s new ex-Navy Seal partner and you’ve got a fun book. This isn’t a book that revolves around who the bad guy is. You’re told in the beginning, but now you have to watch everyone else figure it out. I’ve read a review or two that said this book was more romance than mystery. I’m the kind of person who says want some more mystery to go with that romance? Thus, I liked it. It was probably more romance focused than any of her others (of course book 3 is coming out soon).

Spiritually, the ex-Navy Seal has to learn to reconcile God with his current circumstances and Allison has to learn to trust God as things go from bad to worst. It’s a great book and a good mystery.

Posted in Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense

Raquel Byrnes’ Purple Knot

So this is a mystery in the classic sense, and reminds me of a better version of Nancy Drew. Reyna Cruz’s best friend Summer is married to a man who is physically abusive. When Summer shows up dead, Reyna who is an investigator, decides to find out what really happened. Summer’s brother also wants to find out what happened. It just so happens that he is also Reyna’s ex-fiance. I really enjoyed this book because not only did I like the characters, the whole book I was like is it him? her? that guy? It was romantic and Reyna’s assistant adds humor to a serious situation.

Spiritually, Reyna has to learn to accept that Jesus is her Lord and while some salvation stories in books are cheesy, I thought this one was well done and made complete sense. Highly recommended!

Posted in Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense

Steven James

Steven James is a phenomanal mystery suspense writer. If I had to liken him to someone I would say he’s like the earlier James Patterson books. The first book is The Pawn. The Pawn introduces you to Patrick Bowers who is an FBI detective who uses geographic locations to solve his murders. I appreciate that Ms. James decided to make his detective distinct and unique. Patrick is also raising his step-daughter alone which adds a familial layer (and humor) to an oftentimes serious book. That said, things can get a little bloody. I do have a tendency to fast-forward through the murders and killings. This is not your typical romantic suspense as romance is not the focus. But if you read all four of the Patrick Bowers books, you will be rewarded.

Spiritually, his mystery novels, though, are a little different in the sense that there is no overt Christian message. Once again it’s kind of woven through until the last novel (which may not be the last because I just ordered something from Amazon with Patrick Bowers!!). But the novels are clean (no cursing, nothing illicit). He also has a new series coming out with Bethany House this year so stay tuned!

Posted in Interview

Interview of Tessa Afshar

Author Bio:

Tessa Afshar was voted “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. She was born in Iran to a nominally Muslim family, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last thirteen years in full-time Christian work.

Hi Embassie. It’s a pleasure to hang out with you and your readers today.

   What inspired you to write Harvest of Rubies?

I had committed to writing three biblical novels that involved the symbol of walls. My first novel, Pearl in the Sand, dealt with Rahab, a woman who literally lived in a wall. Nehemiah, as the rebuilder of the walls of Jerusalem, was another obvious choice. But as I began to write Harvest of Rubies, my main character, Sarah, took over. She practically invited herself over for dinner and refused to leave! Her personality was so compelling that I had no choice but to tell her story, and tackle the walls that surrounded her world. In the follow-up novel, Harvest of Gold, I will tell the story of Sarah and her husband as they accompany Nehemiah to Jerusalem.

 Ms. Afshar, you were born in Iran and lived there for 14 years, has this experience influenced your writing?

Persian people love literature. Everyone from university professors to construction workers will quote five-hundred-year-old poetry during the course of a conversation. As you travel, you come across ancient structures, some as old as twenty-five hundred years old. The very atmosphere causes the love of history and story to sink into your bones. I think that’s why I am drawn to the historical genre. The Persians also love to laugh. Although I cover some serious topics, my characters often manage to see the lighter side of life. I love it when my readers tell me that I made them laugh and cry in the same novel.

     I imagine that Harvest of Rubies took a lot of research. How long does it take you to research a book?

 Each book is different. Harvest of Rubies required over a year of research. The ancient Persian culture is a complex and mysterious world. In recent years, scholars have made important breakthroughs in their study of the Persian Empire. I had to become familiar with these discoveries, while also studying Nehemiah in the Bible and through many commentaries.

  When you were thinking about the “wedding scene,” what helped you think of things to go badly for Sarah?

Often as I write, I ask myself this question: “What is the worst thing I can do to this character?” It’s a trick I learned from a favorite writer. As I wrote the wedding scene, I kept thinking of the most humiliating things a woman might experience on her wedding day and put Sarah through them. Isn’t that cruel? But it makes for good reading!

 Darius is quite the man, anything (anyone) influence his character?

He is a hottie, isn’t he? He isn’t patterned after anyone special. I wanted the right foil for Sarah—someone who would bring out her insecurities while at the same time strengthen her character and ultimately make her feel wanted.

    I was extremely excited to learn that there will be a book two, is there anything that you can share with us regarding it? Do you know when it will be coming out?

Currently, I am working on the sequel to Harvest of Rubies. There are more intrigues to solve, adventures to survive, and love to find for Sarah and Darius in Harvest of Gold. The rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem has a special significance for Sarah and Darius’s marriage. I am hoping to finish the book by the fall of 2012, which would mean that River North Publishing (the fiction arm of Moody) will release it next May. But that is not set in stone yet.

 Embassie, thank you so much for inviting me to spend time with you. It’s been an absolute pleasure. If you would like to visit me on my website, the address is or visit me on my Facebook author page where there is always some new discussion going on:


Please check out my review of Harvest of Rubies:

Posted in Contemporary

Claudia Mair Burney’s Zora and Nicky

This is a great romance! Zora and Nicky are two pastors’ kids who have kind of strayed from God in their own way. Zora is the daughter of a wealthy minister. Her every wish is granted-so long as its the same thing that her dad wants. Nicky’s family is not as wealthy, but he has his own history of challenges that plague him. They each decide it’s time to get right with God and meet at a Bible Study. But its not that easy since race has such a history on both sides. I really enjoyed this book because it wasn’t just attraction, they really got to know each other. This book will make you smile, it will make you pause and question society, and may even make you sad at some point. But in the end it is so worth it! I couldn’t put it down!