What I've been reading...

So many books! So little time! But I've managed to sneak in several reads in the past few months, whittling down my TBR Pile. Here are a few I happily recommend, in no particular order: The Familiar StrangerThe Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry

Craig Littleton has decided to end his marriage with his wife, Denise. But an accident lands him in the ICU with fuzzy memories. As Denise helps him remember who he is, she uncovers some dark secrets. Will this trauma create a fresh start? Or has his deceit destroyed the life they built together?

The Familiar Stranger was a Christy Award finalist and won the 2010 Carol Award in the Long Contemporary category. I met the author, Christina Berry, at the Books & Such Author Dinner on Saturday night at the ACFW Conference. After listening to her personal story, I had to read her debut novel. I snatched the last copy from the ACFW bookstore, and just now finished reading it. This book captured my attention like few other books have done. I thought about the characters when I wasn't reading and grabbed time with the book every chance I got. Wonderful story. Definitely deserving of the awards!

Within My HeartWithin My Heart by Tamera Alexander

Widow Rachel Boyd struggles to keep her ranch afloat and provide for her two young sons, though some days it feels as though her efforts are sabotaged at every turn. When her cattle come down with disease and her sons' lives are endangered, she must turn to Rand Brookston, Timber Ridge's physician and reluctant veterinarian. While Rachel appreciates his help, she squelches any feelings she might have for Rand--her own father was a doctor and his patients always took priority over his family. Rachel refuses to repeat the mistakes her mother made. But when she's courted by a wealthy client of the local resort, she faces a choice: self-sufficiency and security or the risk inherent in the deepest of loves.

Within My Heart is Book 3 in The Timber Ridge Reflections Series. I've been a fan of Tammy's work since the days we were critique partners before her work saw print. Few authors can make me cry, but Tammy has a way of wording things in such a way that truly touch my heart. Her stories always draw me in, and this book is no exception. I walked away with a new perspective when I reached the end.

The Shape of MercyThe Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

Lauren Durough is a West Coast English major at the proverbial age of discovery. Sheltered in her childhood years by family wealth, she is just beginning to grasp how people judge others by what they want to believe about them; particularly, how the poor mistakenly view the wealthy and vice-versa. When she opts out of her family's monthly financial support, she takes on a job as a literary assistant to Abigail Boyles, an eighty year-old reclusive, retired librarian. Abigail tasks Lauren with transcribing the diary of Abigail's ancestral cousin, Mercy Hayworth--a woman hanged for witchcraft in seventeenth century Salem, Massachusetts. The lives of Abigail and Lauren, two very different women, converge as they jointly piece together the life and death of Mercy Hayworth. Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived four hundred years earlier, who also struggled against undeserved cultural stigmatization, but lost. But the more she learns about Mercy, the more Lauren realizes this project is as much about Abigail as it is her ancestor. As secrets unfold, the extent to which the lives of these three women are connected comes to light, and both Lauren and Abigail find their lives and the very way they view the world irrevocably changed.

The Shape of Mercy had been talked about when it first came out, but I didn't get a chance to read it until a few weeks ago. I read it on Kindle and finished it before the ACFW Conference, where I was pleased to meet the author and buy her newest book Lady in Waiting, which I hope to get to soon. I understand now why The Shape of Mercy was so highly rated. It's a great story - another one that I won't soon forget!

I hope this gives you some new books to consider reading.