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Monday Musings…Do Publishing Houses Matter?

I have recently discussed my love for Indie books, but established published houses are not to be missed either. That said, when you see a book published by a certain company does that make you want to read the book or put it back on the shelf? I know for me that is often the case. I have found that I trust some publishing houses more than others. In fact, I won’t name the publishing house, but I can read what the book is about, think it sounds good and then not buy it if I see who published it. Anyone else ever felt this way?

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Lisa Carter’s Vines of Entanglement

A tangled web of lies characterizes the life Laura Mabry has built for herself and her son after the tragic death of her husband. But Laura’s carefully constructed world slides off its axis when she stumbles upon the body of a young college student on the recreational trails of Raleigh’s Greenway. What’s worse, Detective Jon Locklear is Laura’s worst nightmare…and her dream come true. Jon has spent years trying to forget Laura. Past experience has taught him that he can’t trust her, but old habits—like old loves—die hard. When the killer turns his attention on Laura, Jon may be the only one who can save her. Truth and murder lurk just around the corner for Laura. Can she find the courage to face her deepest fears and unravel the lies of her past before she and her son become the Greenway Killer’s next victims.

Review

I enjoy Lisa Carter’s books for a variety of reasons and I am always excited to get my hands on a new one. Here’s why:

What I liked:

Diversity. I love, love, love that Ms. Carter always has an American Indian as one of her main characters and then she has Latinos and blacks as their friends. I kid you not, Christian fiction, is, unfortunately, very homogeneous. It is just so great to see other races represented and I just love learning more about the American Indian culture. And this book is no exception as we learn about the Lumbee tribe.

This book has one of the tropes that almost every author in my February interview said they hated. I don’t hate this trope-if done right (which for me means that things are not all revealed at the end but revealed sooner). And so, even though I internally rolled my eyes at the situation, I was still caught up in it.

Jon. He’s a great detective and a great man. I loved the scenes he was in and found him to be a trustworthy narrator as he trusted God throughout the book.

The mystery. The book is appropriately named Vines, because there are a couple of family secrets that impact this novel and I loved unraveling every single one.

Spiritually, there is a great theme of grace and mercy and how God’s mercies are new every morning.

What I didn’t like:

Laura. This girl was so selfish. Every decision she made was about her, protecting her, making her feel secure. She swore up and down she loved her son, but I wasn’t terribly convinced because she made little to no sacrifices on his behalf. I will say that she changes, and by the end of the novel becomes more likeable, but she was a bit of a mess.

Romantic Scale: 8

Overall, such a fun book to read. I literally had a hard time putting it down. Laura’s personality would keep the book from receiving “5 stars”, but otherwise another good one!

**I received this book from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

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Christian Books That Are Free (Or Very Cheap)!

Looking for a new author? Don’t want to pay much more than a dime? Some of these authors I have read and some of them I haven’t read, but that doesn’t mean you can’t!

Book 1 of the Christian romance series, Those Karlsson Boys, Waiting for Rachel introduces readers to the Karlsson family and their stories of family, faith & love.

Damian Karlsson, the oldest of Those Karlsson Boys, has decided it’s time to settle down and start a family. Rachel Perkins has captured his attention, but she won’t even give him a chance to romance her. It seems to Damian she feels something for him, but still she resists. Damian is determined to find out why.

Though she is attracted to Damian and even finds his pursuit of her flattering, Rachel is equally determined to keep her secrets close to her heart. Betrayed in the past by men she’s loved, she isn’t prepared to take that risk again. But when her secrets are forced out in the open, will Rachel discover that forgiveness and trust are worth the risk when it leads to love?

This inspirational story of faith and romance will warm and encourage your heart.

When Cora Kensington learns she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king, her life changes forever. Even as she explores Europe with her new family, she discovers that the most valuable journey is within. The first book in the Grand Tour series takes you from the farms of Montana through England and France on an adventure of forgiveness, spiritual awakening, and self-discovery.

Bianca Marshal is holding out for the perfect husband. Finding a man that meets the requirements of her “must-have” list in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains has proven impossible. Bianca’s mama insists that there’s no such thing as a perfect true love, and that Bianca’s ideal man is pure fiction. On the eve of
her twenty-fifth birthday, Bianca discovers a devastating statistic: her chance of marrying is now only eighteen percent. Unwilling to accept spinsterhood, Bianca enters an essay contest that propels her into a whirlwind search for her soulmate. Via the opulence of London and the mysteries of the Holy Land, Bianca’s true love will be revealed, but not without a heavy price.

In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher–whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John’s protests of her aid. She’s even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family.

Yet Elizabeth’s new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John’s boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher’s enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she’s more determined than ever to save the child–and man–she’s come to love.

An unexpected inheritance. An unknown future. An unending love.

Determined to tame her younger brother’s rebellious streak, McKenna Ashford accepts her cousin’s invitation to move west, and to begin again. But she quickly discovers that life in Copper Creek, Colorado, is far from what she expected. Shouldering burdens beyond her years, McKenna tries to be the parent Robert needs, instead of the older sister he resents. But an “untimely inheritance” challenges her resolve at every turn, while also offering a second chance to restore her sense of trust–and perhaps even her heart.

U.S. Marshal Wyatt Caradon is dedicated to bringing fugitives to justice, yet years of living on the trail have taken their toll. When his path intersects with that of McKenna, he comes face-to-face with a past he never wanted to relive–and the one woman who can help him find the future he’s been longing for.

As McKenna struggles to let go of her independence and Wyatt considers opening his heart again, they discover an inheritance beyond imagination. But it will come at a price.

Having read the Jody Hedlund, Tamera Alexander, Lisa T. Bergren, I recommend those, but I’ve heard good things about the others!

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Monday Musings…Locations

Location, though understated, is often key to a great novel. And I’m not exactly talking city-wise (though for me personally, bonus points to writers who write about Chicago!). I’m being a bit more general. For instance, do you prefer the city or the country? Farm or ranch? Beach or cabin in the woods? Each and every location will usually make you think of something, whether good or bad. Here are a few locations I enjoy reading about:

1. City: I live in a city. I know what it takes to live in a city (trains, long commutes, weather problems). I can usually relate to a character who lives in a city.

2. Beach: There aren’t too many books that take place where there is a beach (though I can think of a few). But I know the beach. I’ve been to the beach. I love the beach.

3. Farms: Mostly because historical novels have farms and I love me some history.

4. American South: but only if they address actual social problems.

5. Made up worlds: I love, love, love fantasy. I particularly love fantasy novels that have rules and regulations of their own. There’s nothing more strange to me than when an author creates a new world that feels like Earth.

6. College towns: because I went to college, I know what that’s about.

Locations I do not enjoy reading about:

1. Ranches: Sorry. Inevitably, horses come up. I like horses. Occasionally I will go horseback riding. But I don’t understand the love between a person and a horse. And while I don’t mind a cowboy film or two, as heroes, they generally don’t have much of an appeal to me… (there are, of course, exceptions to this rule).

2. Cabins in the woods: hunting? camping? Uh uh no ma’am. All I can think about are bugs.

3. American South: when they don’t address social problems.

4. Made up worlds: Sometimes fantasy novels can have too many rules and strange things and I’m just lost.

5. Small towns: Ok, to be perfectly honest, I do like small towns, but there are quite a few books that have me shaking my head thinking I don’t get you!

6. Amish. That is all.

And so, after compiling my list, the biggest reason why I enjoy certain locations is because I can relate to them. I know them. They are familiar to me. What about you? What locations do you enjoy? Or don’t enjoy?

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Feature Friday…What I’m Looking forward To

So it has been one of those weeks….I rarely talk about my day job here, but I’m an attorney and I was on trial this week which means long nights and little sleep and very very very little reading. And so today I decided to feature a book I’m looking forward to because the author is simply one of my favorites…ever.

Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he’d thought he’d lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

Seriously, Becky writes the best heroes. If you haven’t read her before, you are missing out!

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Vannetta Chapman’s Hidden

Home is where our story begins …

DANA JACOBS would rather forget the night of tragedy and violence that marred her childhood. She is now supervisor in charge of the Department of Homeland Security in Taos, New Mexico. Her team is prepared to handle any threat—biological, chemical, conventional, cyber, even nuclear. BENJAMIN MARSHALL is newly assigned to Dana’s office. Straight from a six year military deployment, he is not what Dana wants or needs.

Ben knows God has a reason for putting him in this place at this time—to help Dana. When a local school is threatened, they open a case which leads them on a chase through the Enchanted Circle and Carson National Forest, pursuing a man filled with a bitterness Dana can understand. But her anger is different. It’s justified, it remains hidden inside, and it hurts no one.

Can Dana face her own mortality? And when she does, can she truly understand what it means to forgive and to be forgiven?

Review

I randomly came across this book while flipping through my recommendations on Amazon and occasionally I like to read a good mystery so I decided to give it a try even though I could tell from the premise that this was one of those prickly women, good men combinations. That said, I really enjoyed it. Here’s why:

What I liked:

Ben. Ben makes this book. He’s ex-military but he’s so light hearted and he loves God and as soon as he sees Dana he’s just completely infatuated with her. It’s almost like that seen from the Disney movie Aladdin, when Aladdin sees Princess Jasmine for the first time. Sigh. He spends the whole book pursuing her and it is just too cute. And more than that, Dana (though she is still prickly) actually responds to his overtures.

Dana. She has walls, but I love that her walls are not so high that it’s not until the last chapter that they come down. Though she regularly claims to be annoyed with Ben, she also willingly spends time with him. And so, unlike most romance novels that have this premise, I had faith in them and their relationship. They still managed to get to know each other and actually fall in love.

The mystery. As someone who is not exactly a mystery lover (or too mysteryed out-here’s looking at you Nancy Drew), I have a tendency to read mysteries for character development as opposed to plot. But, I found myself super involved in this mystery. I wanted to know who done it and how and why.

Spiritually, there is this beautiful theme that God is with you. He is always with you. It’s a lesson that Ben knows and Dana has to learn.

What I didn’t like:

The only thing I didn’t like was when Dana would push Ben away. I was thinking come on girl, you know you want to marry this dude.

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, far, far more than I expected to. It may be a mystery, but it’s also a light read and I definitely recommend it!

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Monday Musings…The Rise of Indie Books

I have recently fallen for Indie books. Based off of my reading list from Goodreads, I read more Indie novels than regularly published novels. It is amazing, the difference a few years make. Honestly, a few years ago I would never touch an indie book (or write one for that matter) and now, they are mostly what I read. Why? This is why:

1. Indie books have no limitations. Having read novels in the Christian publishing world since I was a little girl, I detected a bit of a pattern. Every book was different, but every book fundamentally the same. And I know this because often times my relatives would ask me for a book that was Christian but different, and the only author I could really recommend to them was Francine Rivers (I mean, you just never know what’s going to happen in her books).

2. Spice. I have found indie books to be more romantic. When my cousins wanted a book to read, I knew what they were asking. They wanted the spice of a secular romance tendered with the foundation of Christ and while Christian novels may have the foundation, they often lack spice. So I love that when I read an Indie novel sometimes I don’t know what I’m getting, but I do know that so long as it’s Christian I can trust it will be alright.

3. Sink or swim. Indie books have to sink or swim based off the reviews of the masses. Regularly published novels often get, what I consider to be, false praise from other published authors that leave me thinking, really, you liked this book? Published novels will often have beautiful covers, loads of advertising and nothing substantial between the pages. That’s not to say that Indie books don’t sometimes get inflated reviews, but since they make their bread and butter on reviews, I trust those reviews more than any advertising a company can do.

4. Unique. I really kind of like NA novels. I really kind of can’t stand secular NA novels. Let’s be honest, there are like no regularly published Christian NA novels, but Indie has opened the door for some really awesome ones. I can’t tell you how many times I will read a secular NA/YA novel and discover the author claims to be a believer and I think to myself now if only the Christian publishing world would open up to these kinds of books (assuming the author would make the foundation Christ of course!).

5. Location. I love that not all Indie books take place in small town America. Indie books take place all over the world and even in made up worlds.

I just think that if you had to guess who read Christian romance novels based off of what the publishers are producing, you would think they were older, southern, women who live on lots of land in small towns where everyone knows everyone and everyone looks the same. So thank God for indie which has opened the door to new worlds. Do you like Indie books? Why or why not?