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December 2016 Christian Fiction Releases

December 4, 2016

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

bella-natale Bella Natale! by Marianne Evans — An aspiring American artist and the widowed, Italian owner of a premier art gallery meet and fall in love in Florence when he champions her work, but there are her American family’s expectations and his five-year-old son to consider. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

with-this-kissWith this Kiss by Marianne Evans — A kiss stolen in a midnight snow. A jealous colleague at Jonathan’s firm is bent on revenge…revenge that puts Isabella’s store into legal peril. Will love be enough to see them through? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

mistletoe-daddyMistletoe Daddy by Deb Kastner — Bubbly Vivian Grainger bids on gruff Nick McKenna at Serendipity Texas’s annual Bachelors and Baskets for one reason–to help her build her hair salon; but once Nick finds out she’s pregnant, he does his best to build a path to Vivian’s heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

a-hero-for-heatherA Hero for Heather by Marion Ueckermann — When a “homeless” man she’s been helping rescues social worker Heather Blume from a vicious attack, she’s so grateful she violates one of the most important rules in her profession–she takes him home to tend his wounds. But the mysterious Paxton Rathbone is no homeless man…he’s a gentleman. When feelings grow, and Paxton’s past beckons, both he and Heather discover there’s a fine line between gratitude and love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

a-husband-for-hollyA Husband for Holly by Marion Ueckermann — Holly Blume loves decorating people’s homes, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to play house. Believing a house is not a home without a woman’s touch, Reverend Christopher Stewart is in the market for a wife. What woman would consider him marriage material, though, with an aging widowed father to look after, especially one who suffers from Alzheimer’s? Despite their differences, Holly resolves to finish her job of redesigning the Stewart home, while Christopher determines to re-form Holly’s heart. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

rocky-mountain-cowboyRocky Mountain Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe — Twelve years after she married another man, Rebecca Anshaw Simpson is back at Joe Gallagher’s ranch as his physical therapist. But healing his body is nothing compared to guarding his heart from the woman he never forgot. Becca won’t let regret and a surly rancher get in the way of her job and the chance to start over with her little girl. But Becca never expected she’d fall all over again for her first love. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cozy Mystery:

christmas-cookie-mysteryChristmas Cookie Mystery by Naomi Miller — With Christmas right around the corner, Katie Chupp and The Sweet Shop get involved in a mystery when a certain dear family finds an unexpected package at their door. (Cozy Mystery from S&G Publishing)

Historical:

michelMichel: The Fourth Wise Man by Katheryn Maddox Haddad — This descendant of Daniel, also a wise man, sacrifices everything – his wife, his father, his home – to do what he is convinced God needs him to do, then finds out he was wrong (Historical from Northern Lights Publishing House)

five-nights-with-pharaohFive Nights with Pharaoh by Kristen Reed — Shortly after entering Egypt with her husband, Sarai is taken into Pharaoh’s harem as his newest, most favored concubine. The breathtaking, ageless beauty is forced to cling to her faith in God as she prays for the strength to accept her new position and endures a series of mysterious plagues that can only be indicative of a wrathful deity’s divine judgment. Discover a remarkable reimagining of Sarai’s plight in Egypt, where she humbly set aside her own honor to protect the man through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. (Historical – Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

seven-brides-for-seven-texansSeven Brides for Seven Texans Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Susan Page Davis, Keli Gwyn, Vickie McDonough, Gabrielle Meyer, Lorna Leslie Seilstad, Erica Vetsch — Meet the seven Hart brothers of the 7-Heart ranch in central Texas. Each man is content in his independent life, without the responsibilities of a wife and children–until their father decides 1874 will be the year his grown sons finally marry, or they will be cut from his will. How will each man who values his freedom respond to the ultimatum? Can love develop on a timeline, or will it be sacrificed for the sake of an inheritance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

a-pony-express-romanceA Pony Express Romance by Misty M. Beller — Pony Express rider Josiah English and the station master’s sister, Mara Reid, fall in love, but when the Express shuts down and Mara’s family home is in peril, the danger looming over Mara’s life may not be half as destructive as that threatening her heart. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Military Suspense:

conspiracy-of-silenceConspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig — A former Green Beret is confronted by past mistakes as he and his team battle a centuries-old plague and the terrorists bent on rewriting history. (Military Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Romantic Suspense:

hazardous-holidayHazardous Holiday by Liz Johnson — Just in time for the holidays, navy SEAL Zach McCloud returns home from deployment–and discovers someone wants his family dead. When he married his cousin’s struggling widow, he vowed to help her and her seriously ill son, and now he’ll risk everything to protect them. Even if their arrangement is only temporary. Kristi’s certain an unhappy client from the law firm where she works is determined to hunt her down. But when a sniper bullet wildly misses its target, they begin to question whether it’s really her someone wants dead. Working together, can they figure out why they’ve been attacked…and keep little Cody from the nefarious forces dead set on making this Christmas their last? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

christmas-conspiracyChristmas Conspiracy by Susan Sleeman — When Commander Jake Marsh loses control of a hostage situation and Tessa Long is injured, guilt eats at him. He blurs the line between the professional and personal, and visits Tessa at the hospital. But when a man tries to kill her in her hospital room, Jake disregards all of the rules and regulations that have allowed him to control his world and vows to keep her safe no matter what. Trouble is, the situation brings back memories from his childhood of the loss of his entire family, and for the first time in twenty years, he fears he’s no longer in charge of his life, and knows when he’s out of control bad things happen. Very bad things. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

by jill at 2:46 pm in

When hope isn’t simple

November 30, 2016

img_7636Advent. How did the Christmas season arrive so quickly? And yet last Sunday many lit Advent’s first candle, and the sentiment of hope sparked life to tired hearts. At least that was the intent.

Hope is such a fragile thing.

Truth is, we all struggle to hang onto hope sometimes, don’t we? When we stand at the beside of a loved one, we hope for a few more moments, one last word before the veil of a different world comes between us. We hear bad news from a friend, and we hope her fears prove untrue. We breathe in and breathe out, and we face a world that has gone crazy, and I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find it hard to hope in the future.

img_7032But of course, that always depends on where I place my focus.

When I look into the pain of a widow’s eyes or share the heartache of a mom whose child is hurting or find myself suffering in ways I never imagined, it can feel overwhelming. How to help? What to say? How do I drag myself out of my own sense of despair?

Sometimes life feels like we’ve slipped into a mud pit. And sometimes we lower ourselves into the trap all on our own, except the rope breaks on the way down and we’re left with no way out.

Life is like a pit sometimes, and in a pit hope hangs by a thread. We think if our circumstances would change and someone would pull us out, we would be happy again. If only this…if only that…then our future would be bright. Hopeful.

img_3481Hope can seem so simple.

And yet, sometimes it’s the hardest thing. And we need to do the hard work of hanging onto the rope that got dropped in on us, not because we can find a way to toss it over the opening and pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, so to speak, but because when we hang onto the thread and cry out for help, we acknowledge that we can’t save ourselves. We can’t even restore our own hope without help.

Hope isn’t as simple as it seems.

img_7035The Psalmist said, “A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.” That might sound like a strange verse to us today, but back then, David faced a lot of pits, a lot of cave dwelling, a lot of war. And he learned early on that he couldn’t win a battle without God’s help.

In a similar way, we can’t win our own inner battles or change a world where there are too many wars without outside help. We need Someone better, bigger, and stronger than a horse. And I’m not talking about war machines.

We need Someone who can give us hope again. We need Someone who can change the human heart. Because if we are truly honest with ourselves, we know, we have to realize, that the things, the people, the circumstances that strip us of hope deep down wouldn’t be able to do so if not for the attitudes of our own hearts. We need Hope that heals our hurts. Hope that binds up the broken. Hope that came to be because of us.

Hope that died to change our hearts.

That kind of hope is so simple and so complex that we will never fully understand it. Because there are three things that remain, when all is said and done in this life – faith, hope, and love. While the greatest may be love – faith and hope are connected to love.

Love is a person who freely gives us faith. And faith in Him gives us hope for our future and secures the line that pulls us out of the pit. Even if the circumstances don’t change. Even when the news isn’t good. Even when we’re hurting in the deepest place.

We hope with purpose because Jesus came. That’s what that Advent candle really represents.

I don’t know about you, but I need hope to be the Word I cling to, the Person I cling to this coming year. Because the future needs hope.

#liveloveprayhope

~Selah

by jill at 5:22 pm in

November 2016 Christian Fiction Releases

November 23, 2016

Due to a very hectic month, I’m really a lot later on this than I intended. But in a few days the December releases will be out, so the more Christmas reading the better, yes?

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Biblical:

Slender Reeds: Jochebed’s Hope by Texie Susan Gregory — In a deadly race to save her son, a young slave woman dares defy the most powerful man in the world. (Biblical from Barbour Publishing)

Contemporary Romance:

Crazy Woman Christmas by Renee Blare — A quiet cowboy whisks Bianca to his ranch to ride out the Christmas blizzard where she discovers life is cold but also beautiful in the “Cowboy” state. (Contemporary Romance from Inspired [Prism Book Group])

Other Than a Halo by Valerie Comer — Even though she’s a new woman in Christ, single mom Bren Haddock was no angel as a teen. Now managing the Hiller Farm for a CSA, life is good until a friend offers to enter her daughter into the Little Miss Snowflake Pageant. Old insecurities flare when she meets the intriguing head of marketing the pageant. Rob Santoro isn’t so sure about handling the pageant portfolio until he meets Bren. Soon he’s fallen for her and her two kids. When a Thanksgiving adventure goes awry, he’s left wondering how to love a woman who refuses to be loved. What will it take for Bren to retire her tarnished halo and move into the future God has for her? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Do You Know What I Know? by Becky Melby — What if a phone call from the obstetrician’s office went to the wrong person? Elizabeth Schmidt can’t figure out why her husband doesn’t seem excited about the news she’s sure he heard. Is he unhappy? Or is James cheating on her? Pastor Jay Davidson is in shock. Bethany Schmidt, the woman he’s in love with, is pregnant. Should he walk away, or is God asking him to play the part of Joseph in real life and not just in the church Christmas program? Bethany can’t figure out why Jay is acting so weird. Has he figured out one of the two secrets she’s keeping until after Christmas? Can a ponytailed itinerant carpenter with a pet chicken help unravel the confusion? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart by Candice Sue Patterson — Weddings are the last thing beekeeper Huck Anderson wants to be associated with, considering his past. So when he inherits a building occupied by a bridal boutique, he aims to evict the failing business and open a sporting goods store. That is until his tenant ends up being Arianne Winters, a woman he’s indebted to from a mistake made years ago. When a life-threatening injury derails Huck entirely, Arianne offers to aid in his lengthy recovery if he’ll allow her to remain in his building. But nursing her adversary proves challenging when her adolescent crush resurfaces. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay — After a whirlwind romance and marriage, Emily Price returns home to Italy with her new husband and learns that life at its richest is only found when she accepts its chaotic beauty. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Contemporary Women’s Fiction:

Forgiveness by Marianne Evans — Country music bad boy, Chase Bradington is on the comeback trail. Fresh from rehab for alcohol addiction and transformed by the power of Christ, Chase is battling to rediscover the music he loves and a career he nearly ruined. Then he meets up-and-comer, Pyper Brock and instantly sparks ignite. Despite her rampant attraction to the handsome and talented icon, Pyper knows of Chase’s reputation and soundly dismisses his romantic overtures. No way will Pyper repeat the mistake of trusting a man whose done battle with the bottle. Can a sin-damaged past be released in favor of forgiveness? (Women’s Fiction from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Historical:

Beneath a Golden Veil by Melanie Dobson — As elegant as the Sacramento residence she operates, Isabelle Labrie keeps her past concealed, like the treasure she hides under the Golden Hotel. Then, unexpected guests—fugitive slaves seeking safe passage to the North—force her to confront her past and reconsider her path. (Historical from Waterfall Press)

Forest Child by Heather Day Gilbert — Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable, conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life. (Historical from Elk Lake Publishing Inc.)

The Lost Generation by Erica Marie Hogan — On August 5th 1914, the world changed forever. For John and Beth Young, it meant the happiness they finally achieved was snatched out from under them. For Emma Cote, it meant that her husband Jared would do his duty, despite her feelings. For Christy Simmons it meant an uncertain future with the boy she loved. The lives of six people, spread across the British Empire to America were changed forever. (Historical from Elk Lake Publishing Inc.)

Historical Romance:

The Blue Ribbon Brides Collection by Jennifer AlLee, Angela Breidenbach, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Amber Stockton, Niki Turner, Gina Welborn, and Becca Whitham — Meet nine men and women whose competitive goals take them to state and county fairs between 1889 and 1930. From baking pie to polishing pigs, from sculpting butter to stitching quilts, everyone has something to prove to themselves and their communities. But in going for the blue ribbon, will nine women miss the greatest prize of all—the devoted heart of a godly man? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Left at the Altar by Margaret Brownley — In the wild and untamed West, time is set by the local jeweler…but Two-Time Texas has two: two feuding jewelers and two wildly conflicting time zones. Meg Lockwood’s marriage was supposed to unite the families and finally bring peace until she’s left at the altar by her no-good fiancé. Hired to defend the groom against a breach of promise lawsuit, Grant Garrison quickly realizes that the only thing worse than small-town trouble is falling for the jilted bride. But there’s something about Meg’s sweet smile and determined grit that draws him in…even as the whole crazy town seems set on keeping them apart. (Historical Romance from Sourcebooks)

Mail Order Mommy by Christine Johnson — Nursing a broken heart, Amanda Porter had answered a frontier mail-order bride ad placed by Garrett Decker’s children—only to find the groom-to-be didn’t want a wife. But his adorable children are determined she’ll be their mother by Christmas… His wife’s betrayal and tragic death demolished Garrett’s life. Now he can’t even look at another woman, let alone marry Amanda, who resembles his first love. But with his daughter convinced Amanda is the perfect mother, will Garrett realize she’s also his perfect match? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Hope’s Design by Dawn Kinzer — An independent city girl aspiring to be a fashion designer falls for a stubborn artist from the country who wants to keep his talent a secret. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Brides of Wyoming by S. Dionne Moore — Roam the Wyoming range alongside three couples who meet under danger from bands of outlaws. Renee escapes a gang of outlaws and lands in the arms of a sheepherder. Olivia’s sleuthing upturns secrets key to solving the murder of a reluctant rancher’s father. Maira is trying to keep her ranch running alone when a drifting cowboy offers a hand. Can love develop where suspicion and greed roam the range? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Negotiated Marriage by Christina Rich — When the railroad pushes to buy her land, orphaned Cameron Sims will do anything to keep the only home she and her sisters have ever known. Even if she must marry a stranger. Duncan Murray doesn’t want a wife. He wants Sims Creek, a sanctuary that can help him forget a troubled childhood. But his reluctant, and captivating, bride-to-be is key to making his dreams a reality. And despite their business arrangement, Camy and Duncan might be signing on the dotted line for true love… (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Love in the Seams by Jodie Wolfe — A little girl on a quest for a new mama has the local seamstress in her sights. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:

His Perfect Love by Sharon K. Connell — On the run from a hit man, Patricia Campbell is unaware of the FBI’s search for her to learn what information she might hold, so she continues to hide out. Then she meets a persistent computer technician, a charming philanthropist, and a handsome, wealthy businessman who wants to marry her. But her fears resurface, and she wonders if she can trust any of them. Can she survive long enough to find peace…and perfect love? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Counter Point by Marji Laine — Her dad’s gone, her diner’s closing, and her car’s in the lake. Cat McPherson has nothing left to lose … except her life. And a madman, bent on revenge, is determined to take that, as well. Her former boyfriend, Ray Alexander, returns as a hero from his foreign mission, bringing back souvenirs in the form of death-threats. When several attempts are made on Cat’s life, she must find a way to trust Ray, the man who broke her heart. (Romantic Suspense from Write Integrity Press)

Speculative:

The Flaming Sword by Heather L.L. FitzGerald — When evil joins forces in the Tethered World, Sadie Larcen must risk all to protect the Flaming Sword and her family…even if it takes her life. (Speculative Young Adult from Mountain Brook Ink)

Happy reading~

by jill at 5:00 pm in

What ever happen to awe? 

October 31, 2016

One of my favorite songs by Sidewalk Prophets is called, “Everything in Awe”. It talks about how even the galaxies turn to look in the direction of their Creator. The beauty of the Lord awes all of creation.

As I listened to this song on the way home the other day, my gaze lifted heavenward.

IMG_9750The Psalms tell us that the heavens declare the glory of God. They point to the power of the One who sits enthroned there. He alone has power over the elements of which we humans have absolutely no control.

(Have you ever tried to stop the wind? Told the rain to end? Held up a hand to cause tsunami waves to halt? Controlled the hail or snow? Walked on water?)

I find it amazing and sad to think that we can look at the beauty of a flower or taste the sweetness of a favorite fruit or watch the birth of a child and not see a miracle of grace. Flowers, fruit, and the fruit of a womb begin with the tiniest of seeds, from something smaller than my baby thumbnail, yet God makes these amazing things grow.

How is it possible that we fail to see the awe?
When did our reverence for the sacred fall away?

IMG_7376Is anything considered sacred or awe-inspiring anymore? Because from where I sit, I see most of us looking across or down or inward but not up.

Right now the world seems focused on terror and the U.S. election and not necessarily in that order. There is so much fear. Fear of people. Fear of loss. Fear for safety. Fear of government. Fear of change. Fear of no change.

Fear strips us of the ability for awe.
Fear of people is the wrong kind of fear.
Fear of people puts our focus on men and women just like us instead of true reverential fear of one MUCH greater than we are.

Psalm 146:3-4 says, “Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them.”

IMG_2587Happens to all of us, doesn’t it? If someone is looking to me for rescue, may God have mercy on him or her! I am made of dust the same as anyone else. So is every leader in every branch of government in every nation. So is every spiritual leader or teacher. So is everyone who takes the mantle on their shoulders to boost our confidence and tell us that they can fix everything.

No. They. Can’t.

And we need to realize that if we’re looking horizontal for a savior of our world, our planet, our solar system, our climate, our social issues, we are looking in the wrong direction.

We’ve lost the awe.

Have you never stopped to think about what it really would mean if there is no one in charge of this universe except us? Pause on that a moment.


We can’t control the universe, the world, not even our next breath. We have no power over life or death. And yet we deny the One who does. Would we really rather live with the hIMG_8301opeless belief in chaos?

King David said, “I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness. The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone.” (Psalm 145:5-9a NLT)

And yet we don’t meditate on God and His majesty. We meditate on things we call positive thinking and focus on having the right energy to hopefully get us past the anxiety and depression and the many things that remind us at a heart level that we really do not have control.

And we never will.

IMG_5943But we can stand in awe of the One who does. We can declare His goodness to each one of us. We can turn around and go back, away from the path of horizontal seeking and look up to see the glory of God.

It’s everywhere if you have eyes to see it. God gave us so much wonder and beauty and we don’t have to take it for granted.

We don’t have to fear losing Him, no matter how bad the world seems sometimes.
No matter who wins the election.
No matter how deep the pit we have fallen into, God can lift us out.

When He does…that’s when we will finally start to look at Him in awe…just like the rest of His creation already does.

Selah~

by jill at 11:58 am in

Chasing the Wind

October 26, 2016

King Solomon once said that everything was vanity, a chasing after wind. As the wisest man living at that time, I think he had good reason to say this. After all, he spent his life pursuing everything his heart desired. He denied himself nothing. He made silver so plentiful in Jerusalem that it lost its value as a rare commodity. He sought the gold of Ophir, which appears to have been the most highly favored, precious type of this metal available anywhere.

mark-8-verse-and-picIn short, Solomon had it all.
And he called it vanity.
Worthless.
Chasing the wind.

When Jesus walked the earth, He spoke truth as to what the future would hold for those who followed Him. He told of His own impending death and resurrection. He talked about losing your life to save it and taking up your cross to follow Him.

Jesus denied Himself everything.
Solomon denied himself nothing.

And yet it was Solomon who realized that in the end all the wisdom in the world could not save him. Only God. Only trusting, serving, and obeying God mattered at life’s final call.

Jesus essentially taught us that men and women could chase the wind and gain the whole world, but to what end? What good does it do us to gain THINGS? All the power, money, prestige, property, reputation, and fame mean nothing when we face our last days. In eternity, none of this can save us.

So really…what DOES it profit us to gain the whole world if it means losing our very souls? Is not the soul of much greater value than material gain?

The ancients might have been buried with their gold and goods, but when we unearth their graves, those things are still there alongside their decayed bones or the dust from which they came.

What matters in the grand scheme of things is – what happens to the real us? The part of us that IS. The inner being of who we are? The person God made in His image. The personality that makes us unique.

The soul is the real “us”. Our bodies will decay but our souls live forever somewhere.

This is why Jesus asked this question. What profit is it to us if we chase the wind over every earthly thing and lose the one thing, ourselves, that matters most?

Gaining the whole world was what Solomon did and called it loss. Keeping our soul safe by following Jesus will mean much more to us in the future than anything else on earth.

~Selah
#liveloveprayhopebelieve #gaintheworldlosethesoul #jesusislove