Tag Archives: Nicole Deese

Top 10 Tuesday — Thankful Freebie

22 Nov

Happy Thanksgiving week! That is how I am framing it, because my family began the festivities last Saturday with an extended family lunch. This week I will have all my kiddos and their families (including my beautiful one and only grandchild) at our home in the beautiful north Georgia mountains. We certainly do have a lot to be thankful for. In the past I have posted about books featuring families, books that helped make me the reader I am today, and all kinds of bookish goodies I am thankful for. Today’s TTT features one book from each month so far this year that I am thankful I had the opportunity to read. Spanning a variety of genres, the books featured well-developed characters, just the right setting for my mood 😉 , action, and well-told, engaging stories. I hope you find a book to love!

For more thankful bloggers, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books I Am Thankful For

January — A Light on The Hill by Connilyn Cossette

I used this novel as a part of my Faith And Fiction Bible study of sanctuary cities. What a wonderful resource to draw from.

February — Bride of A Distant Isle by Sandra Byrd

An “oldie” but a goodie, I loved going back to Victorian England in this novel.

March — In Search of A Prince by Toni Shiloh

Toni’s unique setting and fairytale nod to Princess Diaries was a delight.

April — All That It Takes by Nicole Deese

Women’s fiction/romance that touched my heart.

May — The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

English translation of Escobar’s moving novel set in WWII-era France.

June — Fatal Code by Natalie Walters

An unputdownable romantic suspense is just what I needed to kickstart my summer reading.

July — Sea Glass Cottage by Irene Hannon

What is a summer without a visit to Hope Harbor?!

August — Bookshop by The Sea by Denise Hunter

Another winner of a summer read. A small beach town and a bookshop, what’s not to love?

September — Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duffy

An exotic location, an independent and exasperating heroine, timely message.

October — The Lady’s Mine by Francine Rivers

A feel good read that sparked a lot of great conversation with my book club.

November — Where The Blue Sky Begins by Katie Powner

The best book I have read all year!

Top 10 Tuesday — Books With All The Feels

15 Nov

Happy Tuesday! Today I am sharing books that have ALL the feels. You know, the kind of book that grabs your heart and won’t let go. The kind of book it is sometimes awkward to read out in public. 😉 There was a particularly heart-rending Christmas book I listened to on my morning walks. If any of my neighbors happened to look out their windows as I walked by, they witnessed me laughing hysterically and crying uncontrollably all in one circuit of the neighborhood. Embarrassing! If you want a book that will create emotional havoc in your life (kidding, not kidding), take a look at my list. (It’s cool how the covers and titles compliment each other in a completely random fashion.)

For more bloggers with emotional reactions to their reading choices, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books With ALL The Feels

Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

The London House by Katherine Reay

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

The Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

Where The Blue Sky Begins by Katie Powner

Spotlight On The 2022 Christy Awards!

3 Nov

The Christy Award Finalists 2022 JustRead Blog Blitz

Welcome to the Blog Blitz for The Christy Award Finalists organized by ECPA and hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours! We extend our sincere and enthusiastic congratulations to The Christy Award 2022 Finalists!

The Christy Award Finalists 2022

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

All That Really Matters Bookshop by the Sea Husband Auditions

All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group)
Bookshop by the Sea by Denise Hunter (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong (Kregel Publications)

FIRST NOVEL

All That Is Secret Recorder Sugar Birds

All That Is Secret by Patricia Raybon (Tyndale House Publishers)
Recorder by Cathy McCrumb (Enclave Publishing, a division of Oasis Family Media)
Sugar Birds by Cheryl Grey Bostrom (She Writes Press)

GENERAL FICTION

The Letter Keeper The Secret Keepers Old Depot Grocery Under the Magnolias

The Letter Keeper by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox (Revell/ Baker Publishing Group)
Under the Magnolias by T. I. Lowe (Tyndale House Publishers)

HISTORICAL

Between The Wild Branches Drawn By The Current The Widows Of Champagne Yours Is The Night

Between the Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group)
Drawn by The Current by Jocelyn Green (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group)
The Widows of Champagne by Renee Ryan (Love Inspired)
Yours is the Night by Amanda Dykes (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group)

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

As Dawn Breaks Hope Between The Pages Shadows Of Swanford Abbey Until Leaves Fall in Paris

As Dawn Breaks by Kate Breslin (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group)
Hope Between the Pages by Pepper Basham (Barbour Publishing)
Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group)
Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin (Revell/ Baker Publishing Group)

MYSTERY/SUSPENSE/THRILLER

Aftermath On The Cliffs Of Foxglove Manor The Barrister And Letter Marque

Aftermath by Terri Blackstock (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group)
On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group)

SHORT FORM

A Texas Christmas Carol False Pretense Mr Nicholas

A Texas Christmas Carol (in Under the Texas Mistletoe) by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House/ Baker Publishing Group)
Mr. Nicholas: A Magical Christmas Tale by Christopher de Vinck (Paraclete Press)
False Pretense by Heather Day Gilbert (WoodHaven Press)

SPECULATIVE

A Time To Seek Dark Intercept Recorder Windward Shore

A Time to Seek by Tracy Higley (Stonewater Books LLC)
Dark Intercept by Brian Andrews & Jeffrey Wilson (Tyndale House Publishers)
Recorder by Cathy McCrumb (Enclave Publishing, a division of Oasis Family Media)
Windward Shore by Sharon Hinck (Enclave Publishing, a division of Oasis Family Media)

YOUNG ADULT

A Gentle Tyranny Realms of Light Shadow

A Gentle Tyranny by Jess Corban (Wander, an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers)
Realms of Light by Sandra Fernandez Rhoads (Enclave Publishing, a division of Oasis Family Media)
Shadow by Kara Swanson (Enclave Publishing, a division of Oasis Family Media)


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive print copies of The Christy Award finalist titles from one category of their choice!

The Christy Award 2021 Finalists JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight November 3, 2022 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on November 10, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


REGISTER FOR THE CHRISTY AWARD 2022 EVENTS

Art of Writing on November 17, 12:30-5 pm at Lipscomb University in Nashville $99
A conference for writers, storytellers, and publishing curators.

The Christy Award Gala on November 17, 7-9 pm at Lipscomb University in Nashville $89
Celebrate this year’s finalists and winners with authors, editors, publishers, and readers!

Bundle the Art of Writing Conference & The Christy Award Gala $139

REGISTER

The Christy Award® is a program of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) and is the foremost award honoring and promoting excellence in Christian fiction since 1999. For more information about ECPA, visit ECPA.org. For more information about the Christy Awards and Art of Writing conferences, visit ChristyAwards.com or email TheChristyAward@ecpa.org


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

2022 Christy Award Finalists

11 Oct

Image Credit: The Christy Awards

Congratulations to all the fabulous authors who are 2022 Christy Award Finalists. I’ve read several of these books, including 4 that were my book club’s choices. All look so good! You are welcome for the additions to your TBR pile! 😉

Romance

All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese

Bookshop by The Sea by Denise Hunter

Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong

First Novel

All That Is Secret by Patricia Raybon

Recorder by Cathy McCrumb

Sugar Birds by Cheryl Grey Bostrom

General Fiction

The Letter Keeper by Charles Martin

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

Under the Magnolias by T. I. Lowe

Historical

Between The Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette

Drawn by The Current by Jocelyn Green

The Widows of Champagne by Renee Ryan

Yours Is The Night by Amanda Dykes

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Aftermath by Terri Blackstock

The Barrister And The Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson

On The Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

Speculative

A Time to Seek by Tracy Higley

Dark Intercept by Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson

Recorder by Cathy McCrumb

Windward Shore by Sharon Hinck

Historical Romance

As Dawn Breaks by Kate Breslin

Hope Between The Pages by Pepper Basham

Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen

Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin

Short Form

A Texas Christmas Carol by Karen Witemeyer (in Under The Texas Mistletoe collection)

False Pretense by Heather Day Gilbert

Mr. Nicholas by Christopher de Vinck

Young Adult

A Gentle Tyranny by Jess Corban

Realms of Light by Sandra Fernandez Rhoads

Shadow by Kara Swanson

Top 10 Tuesday — Adoption Stories

19 Jul

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is a Freebie. I decided to feature novels with adoption stories at their heart. The books show the obstacles and emotions from a variety of perspectives — adoptive parents, birth parents, and the adoptees themselves. All are thoughtful and heartfelt depictions of a nuanced subject. I hope you find one to love!

For more TTT posts, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Adoption Stories

Another Way Home by Deborah Raney

Sometimes God’s ways are not at all what we expect . . . and exactly what we need.
Grant and Audrey are adding grandchildren to their family left and right, but middle daughter, Danae, and her husband, Dallas Brooks, have been trying for years with no baby in sight.

Though Danae is ready to consider adoption, Dallas will not even discuss it. Despairing of ever having a family of her own, Danae decides to pour her passion and energies into volunteer work with a newly opened women’s shelter in town. Looking for a good cause to fill her lonely days, she never expects to give her heart to the hurting women she meets there. She’s finally learning to live her life with gratitude, but then heart-wrenching events on Thanksgiving weekend threaten to pull the entire Whitman clan into turmoil—and leave them all forever changed.

Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

Lauren Bailey may be a romantic at heart, but after a decade of matchmaking schemes gone wrong, there’s only one match she’s committed to now–the one that will make her a mother. Lauren is a dedicated first-grade teacher in Idaho, and her love for children has led her to the path of international adoption. To satisfy her adoption agency’s requirements, she gladly agreed to remain single for the foreseeable future; however, just as her long wait comes to an end, Lauren is blindsided by a complication she never saw coming: Joshua Avery.

Joshua may be a substitute teacher by day, but Lauren finds his passion for creating educational technology as fascinating as his antics in the classroom. Though she does her best to downplay the undeniable connection between them, his relentless pursuit of her heart puts her commitment to stay unattached to the test and causes her once-firm conviction to waver.

With an impossible decision looming, Lauren might very well find herself choosing between the two deepest desires of her heart . . . even if saying yes to one means letting go of the other.

The Choice by Robert Whitlow

One young woman. Two very different roads. The choice will change everything.

Even as a pregnant, unwed teen in 1974, Sandy Lincoln wanted to do the right thing. But when an ageless woman approached her in a convenience store with a mysterious prophecy and a warning, doing the right thing became even more unclear. She made the best choice she could . . . and has lived with the consequences.

More than thirty years later, a pregnant teen has come into her life, and Sandy’s long-ago decision has come back to haunt her. The stakes rise quickly, leaving Sandy with split seconds to choose once more. But will her choice decision bring life . . . or death?

The Choice shows the struggles of unplanned pregnancy and the courageous act of adoption in a way that I haven’t read before . . .” —Abby Brannam-Johnson, former Planned Parenthood Director and author of Unplanned

“Whitlow captures the struggle of many women trapped in the battle over abortion in a truly sympathetic and affecting way.” —Booklist

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee an estate sale, she soon discovers that her grandmother left behind more than trinkets and photo frames–she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.

Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved.

In this dual-time story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth–both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others–takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.

The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner

In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When Mindy, one of those children, announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adopted family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival in their lives.

Though her father supports Mindy’s desire to meet her family of origin, he struggles privately with an unsettling fear that he’ll lose the daughter he’s poured his heart into. Mindy’s mother undergoes the emotional rollercoaster inherent in the adoption of a child from a war-torn country, discovering the joy hidden amid the difficulties. And Mindy’s sister helps her sort through relics that whisper of the effect the trauma of war has had on their family–but also speak of the beauty of overcoming.

Told through three strong voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code.

Out of The Water by Ann Marie Stewart

Irish immigrant Siobhan Kildea’s impetuous flight from a Boston lover in 1919 leads her to a new family in an unfamiliar Montana prison town. After a horrific tragedy impacts her children, her land, and her livelihood, Siobhan makes a heart wrenching decision – with consequences that ripple for decades to come.

Mysteriously linked to Siobhan is Genevieve Marchard, a battlefront nurse in France who returns stateside to find the absence of a certain soldier is her greatest loss; Anna Hanson, a music teacher who tucks herself away in a small Washington town, assuming her secrets are safe; and Erin Ellis, who thinks she and her husband won the lottery when they adopted their daughter, Claire. 

These interconnected stories, spanning three continents and five generations, begin to unravel in 1981 when Claire Ellis sets out to find her biological mother.

With puzzling suspense, unforgettable characters and uncanny insight, Out of the Water is an intoxicating novel of motherhood, secrets, and the profound ramifications our decisions have. Readers will be left wondering: ultimately, is it always better to know the truth?

Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy

A storm the size of Texas brews when Gloria Powell and Kai Chang meet in a Dallas hotel. They have come to discuss the future of Lily, the daughter Gloria adopted from China and the sister Kai hopes to reclaim. Kai is a doctor who had to give up her little sister during the Cultural Revolution and has since discovered that an inherited genetic defect may be waiting to fatally strike Lily. Gloria’s relationship with her daughter is tattered and strained, and the arrival of Kai, despite the woman’s apparent good intentions, makes Gloria fearful. Gloria longs to restore her relationship with Lily, but in the wake of this potentially devastating diagnosis, is Kai an answer to prayer. . .or will her arrival force Gloria to sacrifice more than she ever imagined?

The Still of The Night by Kristen Heitzmann

Though he is professionally successful, the one life Morgan Spencer can’t seem to set straight is his own. Behind his charming rebel facade is a need that drives him toward perfectionand emptiness. Morgan has been haunted for years by the tragic decision his first love made when they were still in high school, but everything changes for him when Jill Runyun reenters his life. And the news she shares will either set him free or bring him to his knees. With her trademark dramatic storytelling, bestselling author Kristen Heitzmann portrays an enthralling journey of two wounded souls who are a led to a place of healing and restoration.

To Know You by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel

Julia Whittaker’s rocky past yielded two daughters, both given up for adoption as infants. Now she must find them to try to save her son.

Julia and Matt Whittaker’s son has beaten the odds for thirteen years only to have the odds—and his liver—crash precipitously. The only hope for his survival is a “living liver” transplant, but the transplant list is long and Dillon’s time is short. His two older half-sisters, born eighteen months apart to two different fathers, offer his only hope for survival.

But can Julia ask a young woman—someone she surrendered to strangers long ago and has never spoken with—to make such a sacrifice to save a brother she’s never known? Can she muster the courage to journey back into a shame-filled season of her life, face her choices and their consequences, and find any hope of healing?

And what if she discovers in her own daughters’ lives that a history of foolish choices threatens to repeat itself? Julia knows she’s probably embarking on a fool’s errand—searching for the daughters she abandoned only now that she needs something from them. But love compels Julia to take this journey. Can grace and forgiveness compel her daughters to join her?

In To Know You, Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel explore how the past creates the present . . . and how even the most shattered lives can be redeemed.

Why The Sky is Blue by Susan Meissner

What options does a Christian woman have after she’s brutally assaulted by a stranger . . . and becomes pregnant? That’s the heartrending situation Claire Holland faces. Happily married and the mother of two when she is attacked, Claire begins an incredible journey on the painful pathway to trusting God “in all things”.

When Claire’s husband, Dan, confesses he can’t be a father to the expected child, Claire’s decision to put the baby up for adoption creates a sense of tremendous loss for Claire. Later, unexpected circumstances turn this seeming loss into victory.

This wonderful first novel isn’t a love story . . . but a life story, presenting the twin themes trusting God in tragic circumstances and reaping the rewards that eventually come with sacrificial loving.

Top 10 Tuesday — One Word Reviews

3 May

The week’s TTT was a tough one. I was determined to go by the prompt and let 1 word stand as a review for each of the titles featured. I really wanted to use some adjectives, but I settled for some hyphenated words. 🙂 One word really doesn’t do any of the books listed here justice; they are really, really good in many ways. I hope you find one that intrigues you.

For more brief reviews, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

One Word Reviews

HEART-FILLED

WELL-RESEARCHED

GOTHIC

FAIRYTALE

CREEPY

CREEPIER 😉

FAST-PACED

MASTERFUL

MOVING

PAGE-TURNER

Book Review — All That It Takes

11 Apr

I read Before I Called You Mine last year, and with that book Nicole Deese made my must-read list. So I jumped at the chance to read All That It Takes. It’s a contemporary romance. It’s women’s fiction at its finest. It’s a book with heart and soul. It’s a highly recommended read!

When the ever-cautious Val Locklier moves cross-country with her son for a secure job, everything she’d planned unravels within the first week. After Val reluctantly agrees to rent an apartment from her best friend’s brother, an unexpected chance at an elite filmmakers’ mentorship ignites fresh hope for a dream career. But as Val’s community begins to expand, so do her insecurities, especially those heightened by her growing attraction to a certain friendly landlord. 

Pastor Miles McKenzie returns home from a short-term mission trip to discover that not only does he have an intriguing new tenant living upstairs, he’s also been reassigned to a local ministry on life support. Disillusioned and restless, he distracts himself by throwing his energy into a host of new projects–not the least of which is pursuing Val–without stopping to consider the future. 

As Val struggles to stop hiding behind the camera and Miles wrestles with shattered expectations, they’ll find that authentic love and sacrifice must go hand in hand.

Nicole Deese is a Carol Award winner and a RITA and INSPY Award finalist. When she’s not working on her next contemporary Christian romance novel, she can usually be found reading one by a window overlooking the inspiring beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She lives in small-town Idaho with her happily-ever-after hubby, two rambunctious sons, and princess daughter with the heart of a warrior. Find her online at http://www.nicoledeese.com.

My Impressions:

After reading Before I Called You Mine, I knew that any novel written by Nicole Deese should be on my must-read list. All That It Takes just solidified this talented author’s place on that list. It is contemporary romance with heart and soul. Not just romance, this book also can be labeled great women’s fiction as it checks the boxes for deep themes and issues that will speak to women. I know it spoke to me. The story revolves around Val, her 10 year old son Tucker, and her landlord/best friend’s brother, Miles. The two have instant attraction, but they are both in places where romance should be secondary. I loved how Deese made their first priority getting right with God’s purposes in their lives. Miles is a confident guy who trusts his own plans. Val is a careful woman, who struggles with vulnerability and doubts. Together they are great, but only when they put God first. Secondary characters added a lot to this book — I fell in love with them too. The desire to be known is a strong theme and the many characters and situations in the book illustrated it well. I laughed a little. I cried a little (ok maybe a lot 😉 ). And I loved this book a lot.

I picked up All That It Takes not knowing that it is a sequel of sorts to All That Really Matters. I was not lost and didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I do know that All That Really Matters is now on my TBR list. A great book that kept me thinking and wishing I could talk about it with someone, All That It Takes would make a great book club selection. It is definitely highly recommended.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

First Line Friday — All That It Takes

25 Mar

Happy Friday! Today I am spotlighting All That It Takes by Nicole Deese. This will be my second book by Deese, and I am so excited to read it.

Here’s the first line:

As the door to our new life swung open and my ten-year-old son rushed across the threshold to explore the second-story apartment, the you-break-it, you-buy-it policy flashed across my mind like a hazard warning.

When the ever-cautious Val Locklier moves cross-country with her son for a secure job, everything she’d planned unravels within the first week. After Val reluctantly agrees to rent an apartment from her best friend’s brother, an unexpected chance at an elite filmmakers’ mentorship ignites fresh hope for a dream career. But as Val’s community begins to expand, so do her insecurities, especially those heightened by her growing attraction to a certain friendly landlord. 

Pastor Miles McKenzie returns home from a short-term mission trip to discover that not only does he have an intriguing new tenant living upstairs, he’s also been reassigned to a local ministry on life support. Disillusioned and restless, he distracts himself by throwing his energy into a host of new projects–not the least of which is pursuing Val–without stopping to consider the future. 

As Val struggles to stop hiding behind the camera and Miles wrestles with shattered expectations, they’ll find that authentic love and sacrifice must go hand in hand.

Top 10 Tuesday — New-To-Me Authors

25 Jan

I love discovering new authors — it greatly enhances my TBR. LOL! Seriously, I really like a fresh voice. This week’s TTT is all about the new authors we read in 2021. I hope you find a new one to love!

For more new-to-you-and-me authors, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top New-To-Me Authors

Ashley Clark — The Dress Shop on King Street

Harper Dupree has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie’s past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton–the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman–boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future.

Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston to find the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they’ve both dreamed of. But it’s not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams.

Amanda Cox — The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery

Present Day. After tragedy plunges her into grief and unresolved anger, Sarah Ashby returns to her childhood home determined to finally follow her long-denied dream of running Old Depot Grocery alongside her mother and grandmother. But when she arrives, her mother, Rosemary, announces to her that the store is closing. Sarah and her grandmother, Glory Ann, make a pact to save the store, but Rosemary has worked her entire life to make sure her daughter never follows in her footsteps. She has her reasons–but she’ll certainly never reveal the real one.

1965. Glory Ann confesses to her family that she’s pregnant with her deceased fiancé’s baby. Pressured into a marriage of convenience with a shopkeeper to preserve the family reputation, Glory Ann vows never to love again. But some promises are not as easily kept as she imagined.

This dual-timeline story from Amanda Cox deftly explores the complexity of a mother-daughter dynamic, the way the secrets we keep shape our lives and the lives of others, and the healing power of telling the truth.

Nicole Deese — Before I Called You Mine

Lauren Bailey may be a romantic at heart, but after a decade of matchmaking schemes gone wrong, there’s only one match she’s committed to now – the one that will make her a mother. Lauren is a dedicated first-grade teacher in Idaho, and her love for children has led her to the path of international adoption. To satisfy her adoption agency’s requirements, she gladly agreed to remain single for the foreseeable future; however, just as her long wait comes to an end, Lauren is blindsided by a complication she never saw coming: Joshua Avery.

Joshua may be a substitute teacher by day, but Lauren finds his passion for creating educational technology as fascinating as his antics in the classroom. Although she does her best to downplay the undeniable connection between them, his relentless pursuit of her heart puts her commitment to stay unattached to the test and causes her once-firm conviction to waver.

Melissa Koslin — Never Miss

Former CIA sniper Kadance Tolle possesses a special set of skills and a rare pedigree. She comes from a family of assassins, and by saving Lyndon Vaile’s life she risks being found by them. Despite the danger, Kadance feels compelled to help Lyndon discover who is after him–and his research that seems to prove that the Ebola virus was manmade and is about to be weaponized.

With shadowy figures pursuing them and a Mastermind watching their every move, Kadance and Lyndon must scramble to stop an impending bioattack at the State of the Union address. But their warnings fall on deaf ears, and it becomes increasingly clear that there’s no one they can trust–except perhaps each other.

Strap in for a breakneck story that will have you up all night, hurtling toward the last page as the clock ticks and time runs out.

Stephenia McGee — The Cedar Key

Could the key to Casey’s future be hidden in someone else’s past?

Casey Adams unexpectedly inherits an old Victorian house full of other people’s memories. Stuck in a quirky little Mississippi town, Casey’s hope for a fresh start died as soon she had to lay the grandmother she’d just met to rest.

But Grandma Ida carried secrets beyond the grave.

Before her death Ida carefully planned a trail of clues to help Casey unlock the Macintyre family secrets and finally explain why they abandoned her. But each of Ida’s letters will only come from Casey’s handsome—and often frustrating—new neighbor. As Casey pieces together the stories behind the objects filling her grandmother’s house, she embarks on a heart-stirring journey that rattles her foundations, ignites her faith, and leads her to a startling discovery that will reshape her future. But only if she can face the lies that have been slowly tearing her apart.

Ramona Richards — Burying Daisy Doe

No cold case is more important than the one that destroyed her own family

Every small town has one unsolved case that haunts its memory, festering for generations below the surface with the truth of humanity’s darkness. Star Cavanaugh is obsessed with the one that tore her family apart.

Over sixty years ago, Daisy Doe was murdered and discarded outside Pineville, Alabama, buried without a name or anyone to mourn her loss. When Star’s father tried to solve the case, he was also killed. Now a cold-case detective with resources of her own, Star is determined to get to the bottom of both crimes. But she’ll have to face an entire town locked in corruption, silence, and fear–and the same danger that took two other lives. The only people in the town she can trust are her grandmother and the charming Mike Luinetti, and both of them trust a God Star isn’t sure she believes in. Can Christians so focused on the good really help her track down this evil?

With an irresistible combination of sharp suspense, faith, humor, and authentic regional flavor, Burying Daisy Doe will draw fans of Terri Blackstock, Margaret Maron, Jaime Jo Wright, and J.T. Ellison.

Carmen Schober — After She Falls

She’s always had that fire in her. She just needs to find it again.

Strong-willed Adri Rivera nearly achieved her goal of being a professional mixed martial artist, but then she fell in love with a man who knocked all the fight out of her. When their abusive, tumultuous relationship finally comes to a head, Adri flees with their young daughter to her small hometown in the mountains of Pennsylvania. There, she must face the people she left behind and put her broken life back together again. 

A hardened Max Lyons can’t believe Adri is back in town after abruptly cutting him and everyone else off years ago. Despite the distance that grew between them, he feels compelled to help her regain her independence and offers her a job at his gym. But regaining each other’s trust is another matter, made even more complicated by the lingering spark between them. As Adri dares to pursue her dream again, she trains for a big tournament with Max’s help, but they’ll both have to confront their own doubts in order to rise victorious.

Rhona Weaver — Noble Calling

A Southern farm boy who loves God and family, college football and America, rookie FBI agent Win Tyler lives in pursuit of making the world a better place. But when he becomes embroiled in a major political corruption case on the East Coast that takes a bad turn, he is exiled by the Bureau to a do-nothing post in Yellowstone National Park. Dejected by the demotion, and with his heart heavy from the sting of a bad breakup, Win arrives in Yellowstone deeply conflicted as to his true calling in life.

Win quickly finds himself confronting pure evil when anti-government militiamen attempt to violently disrupt the park’s dedication of a Jewish monument. The militia leader, a self-styled prophet, exploits the day’s mayhem to advance an even more sinister agenda. The demands of Win’s job test his courage and faith as he is faced with hazardous river rescues, dangerous wildlife, and hostile terrain. Feeling desperate and alone, he strives to build partnerships with park rangers and with one of the most enigmatic and dangerous militiamen, who may or may not be an ally in the Bureau’s fight against domestic terrorism. But within this increasingly tangled web of deceit, violence, and revenge, everyone’s motives are questioned.

Set amid the stunning landscape of Yellowstone National Park, A Noble Calling is a story of suspense and intrigue about a young man seeking redemption and his true identity. It is the first book in the FBI Yellowstone Adventure series.

Top 10 Tuesday — Best Books Read in 2021

28 Dec

I read a lot less books in 2021 than I did in previous years. Some of that was by design, and some was because, well, life. But fewer books did not mean less enjoyment — I had a lot of great reading experiences! Limiting my list to 10 is too hard, so I have split the books into categories: historical, time-split, contemporary and suspense. There should be something for everyone!

For more Best of The Best in 2021, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Best Books Read in 2021

Contemporary

Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

Let It Be Me by Becky Wade

When I Close My Eyes by Elizabeth Musser

Historical

The Barrister And The Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson

Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton

The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner

A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy

Under The Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin

Suspense

Burying Daisy Doe by Ramona Richards

Everywhere to Hide by Siri Mitchell

Lights Out by Natalie Walters

Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill

Never Miss by Melissa Koslin

Port of Origin by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

Time-Slip

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark

The London House by Katherine Reay

Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox