Tag Archives: Contemporary Fiction

Murder Comes by Mail by A.H. Gabhart

murdercomesbymailMurder Comes by Mail by A.H. Gabhart was a great change of pace. I typically read historical (sometimes contemporary) romance, and this had that plus a murder mystery. It kept me on my toes, and I loved the plot.

The main character, Michael Keane, is a small-town deputy searching for a serial killer with the help of the local newspaper editor.

With the focus on the murders, the secondary character development suffered a bit, but I can easily get over that because the story was so enjoyable (is it weird to say you enjoyed a murder mystery?).

I’d recommend this book for anyone who loves small towns, mysteries, and great fiction. It’s a great summer read.

Excuse me while I go find the first book in the series . . .

4 stars—I liked it and will suggest it to those who might be interested.
(Learn more about my star system here.)

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

Summer TBR Pile

I love to read year-round, but summer is really my reading season. Call me lazy, or just un-athletic, but since I hate physical activity and can’t tolerate much heat, I enjoy the warmer weather by finding a shady spot and diving into a good book. Here are some of the books I’m hoping to read this spring/summer. If you’ve read any of them, I’d love to hear your thoughts (but no spoilers, please!).

Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade

Meant to Be Mine

Fluff. Lovely, lovely romantic Christian fluff. That’s how I’d describe this book. And no, that’s not a bad thing. It was wonderful.

Meant to Be Mine was my second Becky Wade book, and I enjoyed it as much—if not more—than My Stubborn Heart.

It didn’t take long to get through and it was a happy, make-you-mushy story. But that doesn’t mean the characters don’t drive you crazy with their quirks and issues. Celia and Ty were almost too realistic in their flaws and stubbornness. I kind of just really wanted to knock their heads together so they’d see what was so painfully obvious to anyone with a brain. I suppose that’s what made the ending so satisfying. I thought I knew how it would end, and I was close, but I was surprised at one little twist Wade threw in at the end.

I was a bit surprised at the amount of sexual tension present in such a squeaky clean book. I don’t mean it had inappropriate sexual content. I just mean that the author didn’t ignore the role of physical attraction in romantic relationships. Addressing that physical attraction seems to be a growing trend in Christian fiction—contemporary or historical. It certainly makes the characters more relatable (and probably more appealing to the general market), but sometimes I think it can get in the way of the rest of the story. That said, I think Wade did a good job finding a balance.

A few pages in, I was a little nervous about where the story was going to go considering it starts with a Vegas wedding and two people who have spent less than a week together. But it turned out to be a great story about forgiveness and God’s redemption of past mistakes.

If you’re looking for a light, fun read, pick up a Becky Wade book. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

Summer Reading List Reviewed

I like to take the summer off from doing book reviews so I can read whatever I want. Granted, many of the books I review are books I want to read anyway, but it’s nice to be able to read without a deadline looming over me or the constant questions in the back of my mind as I read (What do I like (or not) about this book? Why?) That said, I can’t resist posting about what I did read (I did a bunch of mini-reviews last summer, too).

This summer I read quite a few books, though not as many as I would’ve liked. I did stay on track to read 24 books in 2013. I got sidetracked by crocheting. Usually that’s a cool-weather hobby, but it carried over into summer this year. Instead of reading my Kindle the other night, I made a cover for it.

Kindle-Cover-1

 That’s only one example. I’ve just had an insatiable need to create pretty things.

Anyway, here’s what I read (mostly in the order I read them in):

Stretch Marks

Stretch Marks: A Novel by Kimberly Stuart
This one wasn’t exactly a summer read—I read it in May when we were on our way home from Ohio. It was a quick, enjoyable read about a twenty-something girl who finds herself navigating a rocky relationship with her mother in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy. Of course there was some romance thrown in—with someone other than her live-in boyfriend who doesn’t “believe in marriage.”

redeeming love

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
This book ruined all other Christian fiction for me. Seriously—if this book supposedly changed the direction of Christian publishing, why on earth is there so much crap out there? No offense to Christian fiction authors (especially the good ones), but why aren’t more Christian books this good? Even after I finished it, this gold-rush era retelling of Gomer and Hosea haunted me for a good part of the summer. It wasn’t just a good story—it showed me the depth of love and forgiveness God has for us despite our near-constant rebellion. This is a must read. Seriously—stop reading my blog and go read it. Now.

Stopping Words that Hurt

Stopping Words that Hurt by Dr. Michael Sedler
I broke my no-book-reviews-in-the-summer rule for this one. Not because of the writing (it’s not awful, but not fantastic, either), but because of the subject—how to stop what Sedler calls “evil reports” (what you’d probably call gossip). It was a problem I was struggling with, and I wanted to know what to do. This was a great resource. You can read the whole review here.

A Heart DeceivedA Heart Deceived by Michelle Griep
Miri Brayden, who depends on her brother for support while also hiding the fact that he’s losing his mind, takes in Ethan Goodwin, a man she doesn’t know is running from the law, and life takes some unexpected turns. This was one of the best books I’ve read in a few years.

The Subversive Copyeditor

The Subversive Copyeditor by Carol Fisher Saller
Rather than focus on only the nuts and bolts of copyediting, Saller, who edits the monthly Q & A  for Chicago University Press, focuses on the relationships by addressing the most common conflicts copyeditors encounter while editing. She also offers some great practical “best practices” when it comes to managing email, tracking projects, and making changes to a draft. That said, I was reading the Kindle edition of the book and was surprised by the mistakes and bad formatting—extra spaces, words run together, misplaced side bars, and typos. A little disappointing for a book about editing . . .

No Safe Harbor

No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig
I read this book thinking it would would be a great cure for my “book hangover” when I finished reading A Heart Deceived. The main character, Cara Hamilton, an Irish girl with no other family keeping her in Ireland, moves to New York in an effort to find her brother, whom she believed dead until he sent her a letter. But when she arrives, he’s nowhere to be found and she has to find a job and a place to live. Unbeknownst to her, she’s not the only one looking for her brother and the others searching for him plan to use her and do whatever it takes to find him. It was a good story, but I felt like there was something not quite right about the story. I still haven’t been able to put my finger on it.

The Total Money Makeover

The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
This book got me excited about attacking our student loans and car payment with “gazelle intensity,” as Dave Ramsey calls it. The Total Money Makeover is Dave Ramsey’s step-by-step plan for getting rid of debt and building wealth. My favorite part was the numerous testimonies from people who have followed his plan and experienced real life change—what an inspiration to follow through! I’m sure I’ll post more about the process as we continue to pay down our loans and plan for the future.

There were a few books on my list that I didn’t get to—The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Developmental Editing by Scott Norton, but I’ll get there eventually.

Traveler’s Rest by Ann Tatlock

Well, we got home from our trip yesterday afternoon, and let me tell you—it was glorious. I’ll tell you all about it later this week, but first, a book review  . . .

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When Jane Morrow’s fiance, Seth, comes back from Iraq paralyzed, she has a difficult decision to make. Should she end their engagement and move on with her life like he’s asking her to do, or should she stay by his side, honoring her commitment?

Off from her teaching job for the summer, Jane is house sitting for a friend and visiting Seth at the VA hospital every chance she gets. While there, she develops friendships with a retired doctor, a piano-playing lawyer, and a few orderlies. Those relationships change her life in more ways than she could have imagined.

In Traveler’s Rest, Ann Tatlock uses an engaging story, deep characters, and several ethical dilemmas to pull the reader in. The book covers everything—romance, war, prejudice, physical disabilities, alcohol, regret, forgiveness, suicide, revenge, doubts about God.

Traveler’s Rest is the best contemporary Christian fiction novel I’ve read in years. The characters are dynamic, the story is realistically messy, and I had no idea how things were going to turn out (that’s a rare element in this genre, and I loved it).

If you’re looking for a great story that goes beyond the fluff you so often see in the contemporary Christian fiction genre, read this book.

Ann Tatlock has two other books out, and I’m adding them to my to-read list.

*I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. My opinion of this book is my own and was not influenced by the publisher or the author.