Books That Stood Out In 2018

Books That Stood Out

If you are looking for a book that is just a bit different from your usual fare, this is the list for you. Today I’m featuring those books which I have read this year that have stood out to me as unique and the reasons I think they are different.

Written in the Stars & Written in the Dust (Books 1 & 2 of the Backroads Series)

by Christina Coryell

 

So I’m starting this list by breaking the rules because these two books really read as one book split into two.  The reason they make the list is two-fold:

Firstly, the style of writing and flow of the story felt completely unique and fresh to me. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why, but there is just something different about how this story is told that makes it stand out.

Second, there is a raw realism to the backroads, country lifestyle the author portrays in this story and a depth to her characters that makes you feel like you could bump into them at the grocery store … or inside a gas station.

Amazon

A Chance at Forever (Teaville Moral Society #3)

by Melissa Jagears

A Chance at Forever

This book features a heroine born with a congenital anomaly that led to bullying which shaped her childhood and her view of the world as an adult. Furthermore, the hero is her childhood tormentor with a painful story of his own. This incredible story of forgiveness, redemption and Christ’s miraculous ability to use everything for good, is an excellent conclusion to the series (although it can be read as a stand-alone) and is well worth a reader’s time. The characters were relatable and complex. The plot was unique, compelling, and held surprises I didn’t see coming. The conclusion was satisfying and grin-inducing. In short, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more by Melissa Jagears

Amazon

The Reluctant Groom (Brides of Seattle Book 1)

by Kimberly Rose Johnson

The Reluctant Groom

This book took me by surprise in a very good way. I didn’t realize I had certain expectations of the plot until I started reading and had my expectations thrown out the window. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to find a refreshing take on the usual marriage of convenience story, but Kimberly Rose Johnson has done it. The characters in this story and their motivations and choices felt so refreshingly unique and real. It was like they could be my neighbor or my friend.

There was one particular part which I absolutely loved. Without giving too much detail away, I will say that big plans were made, but they didn’t turn out as expected and what made that so fantastic is that they didn’t go melodramatically wrong. Things just sort of played out in a very true-to-life, relationships-are-messy sort of way.

I am delighted by the unique perspective this author has demonstrated in this story and look forward to reading more novels by her.

Amazon

Catching Christmas

by Terri Blackstock

Catching Christmas

This book stands out because of its unique characters, unique premise, and the unique twists the author throws in at every point in the story. There is an element to it that, had I known of it in advance, would have prevented me from reading this book. That would have been a shame because my reasons for avoiding that element would have been based on completely incorrect assumptions. And it is that very element itself which makes it stand out from the crowd of books I have read this year. If you’re not already a follower, make sure to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss out on my full review of this book, coming December 17th!

Amazon

Sons of Blackbird Mountain

by Joanne Bischof

Sons of Blackbird Mountain

This book stands out not only for its beautiful writing, but for a very easy to state reason: it features a hero who is deaf and an alcoholic. Joanne has shown serious writerly skill in managing to not only bring this character to life on the page but also in making him someone the reader roots for. She makes us see beyond his addiction and doesn’t let his different communication abilities define who he is, but instead takes us deeper into the many layers of what makes him, him. For my full review of Sons of Blackbird Mountain, click HERE.

Amazon

The Ruby Knot (The Dirty Boat Guys of Coronado Book 1)

by Jane Josephs

The Ruby Knot

If you are a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club Member, you know that I positively gushed about this book in my summer newsletter. Last week, I finally revealed my review to the rest of the world. (You can read it here. To become a KRC Member, click here.)

What qualifies The Ruby Knot for this list of stand-out books is the premise of the book. The story begins with a heroine who, after getting pregnant as a result of a one-night stand, is trying to get her life in line with God’s Word, but as you can imagine, the consequences of her previous choices do anything but simplify her life and the choices she now faces (especially between the two men pursuing her heart) are anything but straightforward. This story shows us how God’s love shines through life’s raw messiness.

Amazon

Let’s chat!

What books have you read this year that stood out as different to you?

TWEETABLES:

Looking for something different to read? Check out this list of Books That Stood Out In 2018!

Discover why these books stood out in 2018.

 

 

8 Fantastic Authors I Met At The 2018 ACFW Conference & What I Didn’t Know About Them

8 Fantastic Authors ACFW 2018

This was my first year attending the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference and I can’t tell you how excited I was in the weeks leading up to the event. Over the last few years I have been blessed to connect with a number of authors online, but for many of them, this would be my first chance to meet them in person.  I know that as readers, many of you can share in my excitement over meeting these wonderful women who have crafted some of our favorite stories. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments with you. (Presented in alphabetical order because I couldn’t possibly rank by favorite.)

Tamera Alexander

alexander145rt - Version 2

I actually met Tamera in the one place they tell you not to bother the faculty: the bathroom. LOL To be fair, it’s not like I stalked her in there. I just happened to come out of the stall just as she was finishing washing her hands. While I was washing my hands, I said, “Well, this is an awkward place to meet, but I have to tell you that I think your books are awesome.” Or something very similar to that. She very graciously thanked me for my compliments and that was it. Not much of a conversation since we were both hurrying to the next class, but a little while later I was able to sit in on a class where she was part of the panel discussing “Writing in Community.” It was great to hear her thoughts on the subject along with those of the others on the panel (many of whom I was also silently fan-girling over: Deborah Rainey, Jody Hedlund, Lynette Eason, Lynn Blackburn, Karen Witemeyer).

What I didn’t know about Tamera was that Deborah Rainey is her critique partner. The banter between those two kept the panel discussion fun.

Books by Tamera: A Note Yet Unsung (2018 Carol Award winner & 2017 Christy Award Winner & part of the Belmont Mansion series),  The Inheritance (2010 RITA Award winner), From a Distance (One of my personal favorites & 2009 Christy Award Winner & part of the Timber Ridge Reflections series). Find more of her books here!

Pepper Basham

After reviewing a few of Pepper’s books for the blog, I’ve had the opportunity to begin a friendship with this wonderful woman via email. Getting to finally meet her in person was such a pleasure. She immediately recognized me when we spotted each other in the huge crowd and gave me a hug. She is just as friendly and genuine in person as you could hope for.

What I didn’t know about Pepper was how comfortable she could appear on stage in front of nearly 600 people as part of the conference worship team. Her beautiful voice blended well with worship leader Rachel Hauck’s(!). (Rachel isn’t on my list because I just didn’t get a chance to connect with her – so many people, so little time – but yes, I was totally fangirling over her, too.)

Books by Pepper: The Penned in Time series (the books that made me fall in love with her writing), the Mitchell’s Crossroads series (how can you not love a great reimagining of Pygmalion?), and Jane by the Book (featuring a hero like no other). Find more books by Pepper here!

Mary Connealy

MaryConnealy by Ginger Murray Photography

Mary Connealy is a Carol Award winner and a Rita and Christy and IRCC Award Finalist. I have been a fan of her writing for so long, I can’t remember when I started reading her books. I only know if there’s a book of hers that I haven’t read (and I’m not sure there is), it’s only because I haven’t been able to get my hands on it yet.

It was the first day of the conference when I was speaking to Carrie Schmidt (another online friend I was thrilled to meet in person) when Mary’s name came up and I mentioned what a huge fan I was and that I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of meeting her. Carrie, dear heart that she is, immediately got up and went to pull Mary from the crowd and bring her over to introduce us. I’m not sure I managed a very fascinating conversation considering my brain just kept repeating, “No way. No way. I can’t believe I’m actually meeting her!” LOL But I do recall that she asked what genre I wrote in and I managed to get some intelligible words out . . . I think.

What I didn’t know about Mary was her willingness to help other authors. Later that night there was an event at which nervous authors were invited to come practice their pitches before facing agents and editors in appointments on the days to follow. Carrie Schmidt was one of the hosts so I stopped by to see how it was going and Mary was there, along with other experienced authors who’d volunteered to listen to pitches.

Books by Mary: The Cimarron Legacy series (don’t miss the novella prequel!), the Wild at Heart series, & The Kincaid Brides series, and Garrison’s Law is her fun new contemporary series that I’m loving.  Find more of her books here!

Emily Conrad

Emily Conrad

You know what’s really fun? Having a casual conversation with another author and suddenly realizing you just downloaded their debut novel the night before! That’s what happened when I met Emily Conrad at the conference. If you haven’t heard of her debut novel, Justice, I definitely recommend you take a minute to check it out.

What I didn’t know about Emily was … well I already covered that, didn’t I? 😉 I had no idea the author whose book I’d just purchased would be standing in front of me the very next day.

Find Emily’s debut novel here.

Sarah Sundin

Okay, technically this was my second time meeting Sarah, but she is just too wonderful a person not to mention here. I first met her at the 2018 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in the spring. This time we happened to catch the same shuttle from the airport to the resort and were able to reconnect as we rode. It was lovely to get to know her better over the next few days through several conversations and her moderation of the Historical Fiction panel at the conference. (The panel also included: Karen Witemeyer, Carrie Turansky, & Melanie Dobson)

What I didn’t know about Sarah was that she is a serious outliner when it comes to plotting. Some writers start with a basic idea, then just sit down and start writing. Others outline nearly everything that happens in their novels before writing a single word. Sarah falls into the latter category and it can take her about three months to complete an outline, but then her actual writing goes pretty fast.

Books by Sarah: The Sunrise at Normandy series, the Waves of Freedom series, the Wings of the Nightingale series. Find more books by Sarah here!

Carrie Turansky

Carrie Turansky

I just happened to cross paths with Carrie Turansky after checking in at registration for the conference. She was very sweet when I stopped her to tell her how much I loved her writing. We had a couple more opportunities to talk during the conference and I found her to be a very kind person.

What I didn’t know about Carrie was that she is not only a fabulous author but a mentor as well. She was a finalist for this year’s Mentor of the Year Award.

Books by Carrie: Shine Like the Dawn (My favorite!), Waiting for His Return, and Across the Blue. Find more of her books here!

Erica Vestch

Erica Vestch

I met Erica at the Pitch Practice session where she was helping listen to authors practicing their pitch. While I was there, Erica very kindly took the time to look over some of my writing and provide me with invaluable feedback. The fun part is that I knew her name was familiar but couldn’t bring to mind her titles (my brain was mush by then – almost 10pm). So when I returned to my hotel room, I searched her name and discovered that I had actually read many of her books. Better yet, I immediately downloaded her latest novella, A Perfect Christmas, which has only recently released as part of The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection and, despite the anchors weighing my lids, I had a very difficult time putting that book down!

What I didn’t know about Erica was what a kind and helpful spirit she has.

Books by Erica: A Perfect Christmas in The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection (Highly recommended!), Prescription for Love in The First Love Forever Romance Collection, My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas: Priscilla’s Reveille Find more books by Erica, here!

Karen Witemeyer

I first spotted Karen seated at a table beside mine, but she was engaged in conversation the entire time and I didn’t get to say hello until later that day when I mentioned to Kristi Ann Hunter (another great author!) how much I loved Karen’s books. Kristi kindly introduced me to Karen the next time we were in the same hallway together. After telling Karen how much I enjoy her writing, the first thing I asked her was if she had an assistant that helped her maintain the seemingly impossible schedule she keeps with her incredibly active Facebook Group (The Posse) and her writing deadlines and her fulltime job and everything else she does. The answer? Her assistant’s name is Karen Witemeyer. 😉 Her words. 😀

What I didn’t know about Karen (besides her not having an assistant) is that her humor is just as witty in person and she is genuinely kind. She really cares about her readers. I also didn’t know that she has a lovely singing voice. Karen and Kristi were both members of the choir that sang for us at the ACFW Gala.

Books by Karen: More than Meets the Eye (Laugh-out-loud-funny!), Heart on the Line (picked as one of my Top 5 Heroes of 2017), and A Tailor-Made Bride (the first book I read by Karen). Find more of Karen’s books, here!

Why only 8?

Well, because it’s 2018 and I had to cut it off somewhere. Honestly, though, I could fill 30 blog posts talking about all the wonderful people I met at the conference. I told my mom that it was like an actress who’s still waiting tables walking into a room filled with all the A-list celebrities you can think of and discovering their all happy to meet you and willing to help you, AND they all love Jesus!!!

Let’s Chat!

Have you had the pleasure of meeting one of your favorite authors?

Which Christian Fiction author would you most like to meet?

TWEETABLES

Ever wondered if Karen Witemeyer has an assistant? #ACFW2018

This author has a kind and helpful spirit AND her Christmas novella just released! #ACFW2018

Do you know which of your favorite Christian Romance authors was a finalist for Mentor of the Year? #ACFW2018

Can you guess which Christian Romance author has research down to a science and thoroughly outlines her novels? #ACFW2018

When your talking to someone and suddenly realize their book is on your kindle! #ACFW2018

Meeting this author caused total fan-girl brain melt. #ACFW2018

Not only does she write incredible Christian Romance, she can sing, too! #ACFW2018

Do you know who @TameraAlexander’s critique partner is? #ACFW2018

5 of My Favorite Book Bloggers – Part 2

5 Of My Favorite Book Bloggers

Back in April I shared with you 5 of my favorite book bloggers and promised you more to come. Well, today is the day. Here are 5 more of my favorite book bloggers. Happy clicking!

#1

Christian Shelf-Esteem

Christian Shelf Esteem is written by Amanda Geaney and her kind heart shows through in everything she shares.

#2

The Engrafted Word

The Engrafted Word is written by Savannah Kaiser whom I “met” when we both finaled in the 2017 First Impressions contest. Over on her blog she shares book reviews and author interviews. What I think makes her blog unique is that her interviews include both published and not-yet-published authors, like me.

#3

A Baker's Perspective

A Baker’s Perspective written by Jessica Baker. She shares a variety of different posts on her blog, including a fun series titled, “A Day in the Life.”

#4

Cafinated Reads

Cafeinated Reads is written by Molly who also has a fun Facebook Group.

#5

C Jane Read

C Jane Read is written by two best friends known as JaneReads and C.

As with my first post, I have more fun book bloggers to share with you, but I still think five is a good number. Too many and you won’t get to really explore these wonderful sites. So I plan to share even more of my favorite bloggers in future posts.

If you haven’t already signed up to follow my blog, make sure you click HERE and sign up now!

Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? It’s free to join (of course) and KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today!

Let’s chat!

Which book bloggers do you follow?

TWEETABLE:

Check out these 5 Awesome Book Bloggers! #ChristFic #BookBloggers https://bit.ly/2wzNkXS

Why We Buy the Books We Do

Why We Buy The Books We Do

There are millions (billions?) of books out there waiting for us to buy and read them. So why do we buy the books that we do? What makes us choose a particular book and bring it home with us or load it onto our ereader?

Well, let’s start with the two most obvious reasons:

  1. There are those books whose authors who we know and love. Whatever they write, we’re going to buy. It’s just that simple.
  2. Then there are the sequels to that first book in a series. Maybe we knew what we were getting into or maybe we didn’t realize that great premise was just the start of a longer story. Either way, we’re hooked now and must buy the next book to see where this story goes.

Beyond this, however, things get a bit more complicated. We all have a limited book budget (of both time & money) and with so much of our budget already allocated to the two categories above, what helps a book gain a portion of our remaining budget? I have my suspicions, but I thought I’d do a little anecdotal research and take a look back at five of my most recent impulse purchases to consider what persuaded me to make them. To keep things simple, I’m restricting this to my fiction choices (since the reasons for purchasing nonfiction are so different) and only those books which I have not read before (so an audio version of a book I’ve read previously doesn’t count).

Justice

Justice by Emily Conrad – I read the first line and premise on Iola Goulton’s blog as part of our First Line Friday fun. The premise reminded me of the biblical story of Mary and Joseph (minus the immaculate conception, of course). It intrigued me and was on sale, so I immediately purchased it.

The Determined GroomThe Determined Groom by Cami Checketts – This novel was recommended to me in a newsletter written by an author I enjoy and who writes in the same genre (Lucy McConnell). I don’t currently have many unread titles like this on my kindle, plus it was on sale for $0.99. So I clicked through to buy it.

The Hope of Azure Springs

The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham – I was searching the internet for authors in my genre who’d worked with a particular publisher when I came across a blog post Rachel had written about the design of her cover. As soon as I read the premise, I knew I wanted to read her novel. (I’m a sucker for orphans and nineteenth-century America.)

Be Still My Heart

Be Still, My Heart – This is a novella collection I purchased in a few months ago. To be honest, I don’t completely remember how I found this book, but I *think* I saw a link on Twitter. What I do remember is that it was a set of 7 Christian romance novellas being offered for FREE with all new-to-me authors. A no-brainer, really. I love discovering new authors and a novella doesn’t take up too much of my reading time budget.

The Story Peddler

The Story Peddler by Lindsay A. Franklin – Okay, yes, if you watched my Facebook Live video from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference this year, you know that I have met Linsday. However, I had added her book to my TBR long before that because I’d seen its gorgeous cover all over the book blogosphere and was further drawn in by its premise. The idea of stories as tangible things was fascinating to me. Throw in a romance and I was sold.

So there you have them, five different books and five different reasons behind my purchases.

What about you? Which books have you purchased lately that weren’t part of a series you’d already started or by an author you already know and love? What motivated you to purchase them? Have you read them? How did it work out? 

Let’s chat books in the comments below!

TWEETABLE:

5 Books, 5 Reasons – Why we buy the books we do. 

 

 

 

Top 5 Heroines of 2018

Top 5 Heroines

Last summer I shared my list of the Top 5 Heroes I had read in 2017. Today I’m sharing my Top 5 Heroines of 2018. All of these women have something in common – courage and caring for others. (Listed in no particular order.)

from this moment

From This Moment – Stella West dropped her entire life and knowingly placed herself in harm’s way to discover what happened to her deceased sister.

 

 

 

 

 

Sons of Blackbird Mountain

Sons of Blackbird Mountain – Aven Norgaard showed incredible courage in her willingness to continue to hope despite her extremely difficult life and incredible love in her treatment of everyone around her.

 

 

 

 

An Awakened HeartAn Awakened Heart – Christine Pendleton defies social expectations in order to help those who’ve been outcast and oppressed at great personal sacrifice.

 

 

 

 

 

A Song UnheardA Song Unheard – Willa Forsythe is socially outcast and living a life of poverty, yet she places everything on the line – including her very life – to help someone she’s never even met.

 

 

 

 

Three Words and a KissThree Words and a Kiss – A privileged upbringing isn’t enough for this bold young woman. Samantha Klein sees incredible needs and is compelled to act, again and again, regardless of personal cost.

 

 

 

 

Let’s chat!

What do you think? Have you read any of these books? Who are your favorite heroines of 2018?

 

TWEETABLES:

Check out these TOP 5 HEROINES of 2018! #ChristFic #HistoricalRomance @KathleenDenly https://bit.ly/2LyZ4DD

 

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5 of My Favorite Book Bloggers

5 Of My Favorite Book Bloggers

I am always curious who my author and reader friends are following online, so today I thought I’d share with you just 5 of my favorite book bloggers:

#1

RimSP button

Reading Is my Superpower (Because I want to rock the book blogger world like Carrie when I grow up.)

#2

Bookworm Mama (Because Rachel rates books with Jane Austen quotes.)

#3

Faithfully Bookish

Faithfully Bookish (Because Beth coined “swoof”.)

#4


Joy Of Reading

Joy of Reading (Because Trisha’s author interviews rock!)

#5

The Christian Fiction Girl (Because she is a fellow Celebrate Lit Blogger and I love the title of her blog.)

 

This is just the very tip of the book blogger iceberg, but I think five is a good number to start with. I plan to share more of my favorite bloggers in future posts, so if you haven’t already signed up to follow my blog, make sure you click HERE and sign up now!

Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today!

Let’s chat!

Which book bloggers do you follow?

TWEETABLE:

Check out these 5 Awesome Book Bloggers! 

10 Awesome Books on Audible

10 Awesome Books on Audible

One of the great things about reviewing books is getting to read fantastic works earlier than most readers. One of the downsides is that by the time the audiobook releases for some of my favorites, I’m often too busy reading the next new release to get a chance to enjoy the audio versions.

That said, I do love a good audiobook, so I thought I’d share with you 10 awesome books currently available on Audible.

Since I have read and reviewed each one of these, I’m providing links to my reviews to help you with deciding which you’re in the mood for.

Book #1:

Long Time Gone audiobook cover art

Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy

My Review5 Stars!

Book #2:

Heart on the Line audiobook cover art

Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

My Review: 4 Stars!

Book #3:

The Thornbearer audiobook cover art

The Thorn Bearer by Pepper D. Basham

My Review5 Stars!

Book #4:

The Thorn Keeper audiobook cover art

The Thorn Keeper by Pepper D. Basham

My Review: 4.5 Stars!

Book #5:

A Name Unknown audiobook cover art

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

My Review5 Stars!

Book #6:

Love Held Captive audiobook cover art

Love Held Captive by Shelley Shepard Gray

My Review5 Stars!

Book #7:

The Lady and the Lionheart audiobook cover art

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

My Review5 Stars!

Book #8:

Against the Tide audiobook cover art

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

My Review5 Stars!

Book #9:

Never Forget audiobook cover art

Never Forget by Jody Hedlund

My Review5 Stars!

Book #10:

This one is newly released on Audible and I have enjoyed experiencing this story in a whole new way. I also recently reviewed this book on Goodreads and although I have mentioned it her previously (in a First Line Friday post and an interview with the author last summer), I never officially shared my review here. So below you will find the full text of my mini-review.

The Girl Who Could See audiobook cover art

The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson

My Review5 Stars!

I picked up this fantastic novella at a writers conference in June of 2017. I started reading it that night thinking I would just read a page or two and go to sleep. WRONG! I couldn’t stop reading! This book had my attention from the start and didn’t let go until the last page. Almost a year later, I still think about it and with the recent release of its audible version, I am actually revisiting this story – an extreme rarity for me. Even if you don’t normally read this genre, I highly recommend giving it a try. I read a lot, but I have never read anything quite as unique and entertaining as this. There is a Christian message in there, but it is subtle (without being weak) and completely organic.

 

Let’s Chat!

Have you listened to any of these books? What did you think of the narration? Do you prefer printed, digital, or audiobooks?

 

TWEETABLE:

Check out these 10 Awesome Books on Audible! #BookReviews #Audiobooks #ChristFic @KathleenDenly