GATHERING SHADOWS (Finding Sanctuary, Book 1) by Nancy Mehl ~ a review

Gathering Shadows

Romantic Suspense, Old Order Mennonite, Mystery

I received GATHERING SHADOWS in 2014 from the publisher (the other two novels in the series followed). That was the year my husband began getting sick and these stories along with a great many other WONDERFUL works I hoped to read went on a shelf that became my To Be Read (TBR) list. I’ve finally gotten to this novel and I’m so glad I did.

Sanctuary is picturesque and inviting, but it’s a sleepy little Mennonite town chock full of secrets. Nearly every resident is hiding something, it seems.

St. Louis TV news reporter Wynter Evans hopes to propel herself into the anchor’s seat at her station with a human interest story on unusual Missouri towns. However, her station manager has told her to stay away from Sanctuary.

Those plans change when she is handed a photo of an Old Order Mennonite family living in Sanctuary whose teenage son closely resembles what Wynter’s brother, who had been kidnapped as a child, could look like now. Wynter is also hiding something…her real name.

What I like so much about Nancy Mehl’s writing is that she makes difficult, painful, even horrific incidents come alive on the written page that do happen to actual living people. This is true of Wynter/Emily Evans when she deals with a painful past that has come crashing into her present life and confronts implied threats that are confusing and don’t add up to any real leads in the case. I felt her frustration, disappointment, fear, and anguish.

This is a page turner. When I finished it, I immediately picked up the next one in the series, DEADLY ECHOES.

Purchase GATHERING SHADOWS on Amazon

Magnolia Storms (A Coastal Hearts Novel) by Janet W. Ferguson ~ a review

Magnolia Storms

Romance, Christian Fiction

With Hurricane Dorian bearing down on the Bahamas as a Cat 5 this Labor Day weekend, I decided to finish reading this emotional novel of devastation, hope, and love.

The author skillfully achieves a sense of foreboding from the very beginning. Hero and Gulf Coast river bar pilot Josh Bergeron attempts to board a cargo ship in rough water and his foot slips off of the rung of the metal ladder. I am mostly a detective story reader and/or action-adventure. The most exciting parts of this novel for me were Josh’s scenes out on tumultuous seas.

Later in the story, we learn that heroine Maggie Marovich’s father, also a bar pilot and Josh’s mentor was swept away and lost during Hurricane Katrina. She left the Gulf Coast, never to return, but now her sister Cammie’s horrid accident and hospitalization forces Maggie back to their childhood home as another hurricane looms.

As a Christian reader, I appreciated the Bible verse that kept repeating: “Though he slay me, yet I will trust in Him.” Job 13:15

All of the characters were highly likeable and well developed in this emotional romance story. I’m not a romance reader and didn’t absolutely and totally fall into their lives. My favorite character was Aunt Ruth. I do recommend this novel to romance readers who enjoy a realistic, exciting clean read.

Purchase Magnolia Storms on Amazon

Annabelle’s Ruth (The Kinsman Redeemer Book 1) by Betty Thomason Owens ~ a review

Annabelle's Ruth

This beautifully crafted retelling of the biblical story of the Book of Ruth, brought forward to and set in the racially turbulent American south of the 1950s, stays true to the essence of the original.

The story gripped me from the beginning when Annabelle Cross and her two daughters-in-law lose their husbands off the coast of California when their fishing boat capsizes. Following the biblical narrative, one daughter-in-law leaves Annabelle to return to her parents, but native Hawaiian born Connie stays and they both travel to Annabel’s home in Tennessee. Most of the locals are happy to have Annabelle home again, but a few whisper that Connie is mixed-race mulatto.

Figuratively speaking, I wanted to bite my nails when one of Annabelle’s close relatives, a powerful local man who might have be involved in some shady deals, dearly wanted for her to be forced to leave Tennessee and to take that daughter-in-law with her.

Where the biblical Ruth picked wheat, Connie struggles with mourning for her dead husband and hides her pregnancy as she does the back-breaking labor of picking cotton. Alton, who owns the fields (her “Boaz”) takes note and has compassion for her. I loved the relationship of Connie and Alton growing from mutual respect to a deep love.

Purchas Annabelle’s Ruth on Amazon

Betty’s Amazon Author Page

Delilah (Ties that Bind, Book 4) by Fay Lamb ~ a review

Contemporary Christian Romance

Delilah

 

As the story opened, I thought, what fun! Court room antics. A judge and a defense lawyer without a clue they’re in love with each other…when their legal colleagues have known for some time.

A line tickled my funny bone where Delilah defined herself: “Hope has a lot more faith in my goodness than I do. If something good happens, and I’m involved, you can be sure you’re at the scene of an accident.” Yes, it was funny, and I’ve read another novel in this series and know Delilah can be self-serving. However, I suspected there was much more to this sassy female defense attorney than she’s admitting to…and author Fay Lamb shows us that “more” as the story unfolded.

Then the story seamlessly transitions from lighthearted romance to a runaway teenage girl and the plight of the homeless in downtown Orlando, Florida. When Libby, perhaps the sweetest, kindest character in the Ties That Bind series, gets set up and is arrested when coming to the assistance of a near homeless woman…Delilah goes into action. Who is this homeless woman and what is her story?

There are plot twists and turns, a bit of suspense, and no end of underhanded court maneuvers to keep the reader turning pages. The author was able to get me so entwined in the character’s lives, dreams, and struggles that I was compelled to keep turning pages. I highly recommend this novel.

All My Tears by Kathy McKinsey ~ an author interview

 

Five women search for God’s hope through sorrow and deep troubles.

All My Tears

Meet five women who struggle with life’s deep sorrows. Beth fights to recover from alcoholism and to mend her relationships with her family. Ann doesn’t believe God will forgive her. Kathleen wrestles with a years-old fear and with saving her marriage. Cassie needs to learn to deal with chronic depression. Martie finds herself the single parent of the eight-year-old niece she barely knows when the child’s parents die in a car wreck.

See how god gives them the gifts of hope, healing, and love.

Flower, rose bud

AUTHOR INTERVIEW:

Nike:  What is the key theme and/or message in the book?

Kathy:  God is our loving Father, and when we stumble and walk away, he waits and watches for us, so that he can see us as soon as we start to return and run to greet us and take us back.

Nike:  Why this genre is important to you, personally?

Kathy:  I write what I enjoy reading. I like books about women, reading how they deal with family and marriage issues; jobs, their work and job setting; and different kinds of relationships—dating, parents, siblings, neighbors, best friends.

Nike:  Does writing energize or exhaust you?

KathyMaking myself start to write exhausts me. When I finally settle into working on a story, I become excited, even after a long session of writing.

THREE FUN BULLET QUESTIONS:

What is your fav vacay spot?  Visiting my mother and daughters in Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?  A writer

Describe yourself in three words.  Goofy home body

BIOGRAPHY:Kathy McKinsey 2

Kathy McKinsey grew up on a pig farm in Missouri, and although she’s lived in cities for nearly 40 years, she still considers herself a farm girl. She’s been married to Murray for 31 years, and they have five adult children. She’s had two careers before writing—being a stay-at-home-Mom and working as a rehabilitation teacher of the blind.

Now she lives in Lakewood, Ohio with her husband and two of her children. Besides writing, she enjoys activities with her church, editing for other writers, braille transcribing, crocheting, knitting, and playing with the cat and dogs.

Contact Kathy at:  Kathy.mckinsey@gmail.com

Visit her at:  http://kathymckinseyauthor.blogspot.com/

 

What I’m Thankful For ~ as a Christian fiction writer

Thankful

Wishing all a blessed Thanksgiving holiday.

First of all, and it almost goes without saying, but must be said, I’m thankful to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

And I’m thankful for the support of my fellow Christian fiction author friends, mentors, and associates who walk this faith journey, as do I. You all inspire me and help to keep me going, especially on the days when I want to quit.

For those Grace Awards board members who helped me to begin a great adventure in Christian fiction awards. The Grace Awards will undergo changes this year, but we hope will be informative and will continue to expand the tent pegs of Christian fiction.

For The American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) for their writing classes and critique groups most of all. These have helped improve the quality of Christian fiction writing and continues to help maintain high standards. I want to do a shout out to Grace Bridges, who in my first ACFW crit group reigned in an exuberant and totally unskilled writer and taught me about head-hopping and how to write point-of-view correctly, and most of all that fiction writing is a craft that takes time and effort to learn. I mention Grace, not to exclude others, but because I remember myself back then… LOL

For the internet…for all the obvious reasons. For tech companies making laptops smaller so I can more easily cart mine around.

I’m grateful that after over ten years at this writing fiction stuff, I’m still around. Others who entered this racket when I did have quit. I’m grateful that I have a new detective novel that just released, COURTING DANGER.

Blurb:

CD Cover

COURTING DANGER: Taut and compelling detective story, with a national security twist. Dry humor. Sweet, romance. Uplifting.

Newly installed Pelican Beach, Florida detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko fears the prime suspect will get off in the murder of a teen with the help of the department’s forensics psychologist, a man she’s just started to trust.

This case has national security implications that gives former US Army Ranger, Dr. Dimitri Garmonin a chance to work with the FBI. The case could give him the chance to obtain the funds needed to expand his small Behavior Analysis Unit. He’s unmoved by the chic FBI agent sent to assist but is intrigued by Kat with whom he shares a Slavic heritage.

Kat and her partner detain two wrong suspects, giving the department negative press. The predator turns his anger on Kat, targeting her. Can Dimitri use his profiler skills to catch this killer before he hurts the woman he’s growing to love?

Moi, head shot

Bio:

Nike N. Chillemi writes contemporary detective and/or suspense novels with a touch of wry humor, and there’s often a national security twist to them. She likes her bad guys really bad, her good guys smarter and better, and a touch of the comedic. Her newest endeavor is COURTING DANGER.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chair, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She has been a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories; and an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series (out of print), set in the mid-1940s has finaled, won an award, and garnered critical acclaim. The first novel in the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes series HARMFUL INTENT won in the Grace Awards 2014 Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense category. She has written book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and John 3:16 Marketing Network.  https://nikechillemi.blog/

Purchase COURTING DANGER on Amazon

Nike on Facebook

Nike on Twitter

 

 

Three Strand Cord by Tracy Krauss ~ new release

Three Strand Cord

Tracy Krauss is a wonderful and exciting Christians author who isn’t afraid to treat her themes in a fresh way.

Fate brought them together, but can their friendship survive the tangled web of danger and deception that threatens their lives?

Tempest. Stella. Cherise. ~~ When Cherise convinces Tempest to pretend to be her so that she can sneak out of the country to be with her dashing Italian boyfriend, she is inadvertently implicated in an international drug ring. An unexpected complication forces Tempest to prolong the charade and she finds herself attracted to the very man who might be out to cause her harm. Meanwhile, Stella’s high ideals are met with suspicion and disdain at her father’s Texas ranch, until she uncovers a dangerous secret that could put everything she holds dear in jeopardy. At the same time, her own errant emotions take over as she falls in love with two brothers at the same time. Things heat up when Cherise is kidnapped and the three friends must turn to one another – and God – to get out of harm’s way. Three Strand Cord is a story of intrigue and romance told from three different points of view, all coming together to prove that when it comes to true friendship, ‘a three strand cord is not easily broken’.

A Few Questions For Tracy:

Tell us something topical, interesting, funny, or something we would not expect about the writing of this novel.

I had the idea and then wrote the first draft as a ‘Nanowrimo’ project. Once it was polished up it sat with my agent for about a year. Eventually we went our separate ways when it wasn’t selling. It went through many transformations during that time and I must say I really appreciated the honesty of my beta readers. One asked, “Who is this for, anyway?” and I had to stop and take a good look at it and make some changes. The thing about writing ‘edgy’ Christian books is, you still have to keep in mind that it is for a Christian audience and make sure that you don’t cross the line in some areas.

Is this novel part of a series?

Yes it is the first in a three part series. I have the second book written but the third isn’t much more than an outline. However, I want to get them all out there this year… not sure it’s going to happen! Now that I have ‘retired’ from my day job and will be writing full time (my dream!) I hope that I can make this a reality. Anyway, BLOOD TIES is Book 2 and TEMPEST TOSSED is Book 3.

When did you start writing for publication? What drives you to write? 

I’ve been writing for more than thirty years but my first book came out in 2009, so I’ve been a ‘published’ author for almost ten years. In that time I’ve written eight full length novels, had nine of my stage plays published, two devotional books, one illustrated children’s book, and have contributed to several anthologies, short story collections, and magazines. I like the way you worded the question, “What drives you?” because I do feel driven. I can’t NOT write, so even if I never published another thing, I’d still be clacking at the keys. I do believe, though, that writing for me is a calling – a ministry. My work tends to be what some would call ‘edgy’, but that is what I think God has called me to write, so I do, whether it is the most popular or not. My goal is to reach people with the gospel, and as we all know, humanity isn’t perfect, yet Jesus hung out with the prostitutes and tax collectors anyway.

How did you go about researching for this novel?

The book takes place in several different locations: Boston, Los Angeles, a Texas ranch, and Rome. I have been to both Boston and L.A. but still relied heavily on the internet for some of my research. I had to pick the brain of a writer colleague who lives in Texas and then I asked my own daughters, who have been to Rome, if I got that part right. I try to keep it fairly generic if I don’t actually know how something looks or works. Hopefully, the story itself carries readers through any details that aren’t exact.

Can you give us a sneak peek or preview into the next work in progress (WIP) you’re working on? When do you expect to release it?

BLOOD TIES is the next in the series after THREE STRAND CORD. It picks up where TSC leaves off, following one of the main women from the story who didn’t ‘win’ at love. It follows the same formula in that it is written from three Points of View only this time, two of them are male – also people we met in book one. I won’t say much more or I might have to insert a ‘spoiler alert’ about which woman’s love life doesn’t work out…

Were you good in English as a student? Did you enjoy reading and writing back then?

My senior English teacher encouraged me to go to this camp for writers one summer but I didn’t go. I think I felt intimidated – like I wasn’t good enough. It certainly planted the seed, though. I read tons of books. I was super into Edgar Rice Burroughs at one point (Tarzan) as well as Science fiction. I still love Sci-fi, dystopian, or any type of speculative fiction as well a Christian romance and suspense. One of my all time favourites is still Frank Peretti and I love Ted Dekker’s

 

Tracy Krauss

About the author:

Tracy Krauss is a multi-published novelist, playwright, and artist with several award winning and best selling novels, stage plays, devotionals and children’s books in print. Her work strikes a chord with those looking for thought provoking faith based fiction laced with romance, suspense and humor – no sugar added. She holds a B.Ed from the U of S and has lived in many remote and interesting places in Canada’s far north. She and her husband currently reside in beautiful BC where she continues to pursue all of her creative interests. http://tracykrauss.com  – fiction on the edge without crossing the line –

Links:

Website:  http://www.tracykrauss.com

Blog: www.tracykrauss.com/blog

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Tracy-Krauss 

Connect on Social Media:

Google+  https://plus.google.com/+TracyKrauss

LinkedIn  https://www.linkedin.com/in/tracy-krauss-b3897722

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