Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wish List: Christian Fiction August 2010--Early 2011

It's time for some book lust! Here are some Christian fiction books coming out in the next year and early 2011 that I'm really looking forward to:

Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews (Revell-2011)
Love Amid the AshesAbout the Book: Readers often think of Job sitting on the ash heap, his life in shambles. But how did he get there? What was Job's life like before tragedy struck? What did he think as his world came crashing down around him? And what was life like after God restored his wealth, health, and family?

Through painstaking research and a writer's creative mind, Mesu Andrews weaves an emotional and stirring account of this well-known story told through the eyes of the women who loved him. Drawing together the account of Job with those of Esau's tribe and Jacob's daughter Dinah, Love Amid the Ashes breathes life, romance, and passion into the classic biblical story of suffering and steadfast faith.

Why It Looks Good to Me: I think the idea of Biblical fiction about the life of Job is a great idea. I personally haven't read any, and we all feel a little like Job at time, so I think the story has potential to be really interesting and gripping.

Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer (Bethany House 2011)
Paradise  ValleyAbout the Book: An Amish settlement in Ohio has run afoul of a law requiring their children to attend public school. Caleb Bender and his neighbors are arrested for neglect, with the state ordering the children be placed in an institution. Among them are Caleb's teenage daughter, Rachel, and the boy she has her eye on, Jake Weaver. Romance blooms between the two when Rachel helps Jake escape the children's home.

Searching for a place to relocate his family where no such laws apply, Caleb learns there's inexpensive land for sale in Mexico, a place called Paradise Valley. Despite rumors of instability in the wake of the Mexican revolution, the Amish community decides this is their answer. And since it was Caleb's idea, he and his family will be the pioneers. They will send for the others once he's established a foothold and assessed the situation.

Caleb's daughters are thrown into turmoil. Rachel doesn't want to leave Jake. Her sister, Emma, who has been courting Levi Mullet, fears her dreams of marriage will be dashed. Miriam has never had a beau and is acutely aware there will be no prospects in Mexico.

Once there, they meet Domingo, a young man and guide who takes a liking to Miriam, something her father would never approve. While Paradise Valley is everything they'd hoped it would be, it isn't long before the bandits start giving them trouble, threatening to upset the fledgling Amish settlement, even putting their lives in danger. Thankfully no one has been harmed, so far anyway.

Why It Looks Good to Me: I absolutely LOVED Dale Cramer's Levi's Will and thought it was the best Amish fiction book I've read. He's a great writer and this premise of this one...the conflicts the Amish face in interactions with the rest of the world are a source of endless fascination and I suspect that Paradise Valley will continue to some of the issues raised in Levi's Will. I really CANNOT WAIT for this book!

Another Dawn by Kathryn Cushman (Bethany House 2011)
Another DawnAbout the Book: Grace Graham is back in Tennessee with her four-year-old son on a short unpaid leave from work, helping her father recover from surgery and spending time with her sister. Shoal Creek seems more backward than ever after her years in California, and it's hard to find organic food anywhere.

When the unthinkable happens and her son is diagnosed with measles, Grace's fears over modern medicine take a dangerous turn. Worse, the town has fallen into quarantine and its residents focus their anger and blame on Grace. She is alone and scared, until one brave woman chooses to reach out a hand of forgiveness and mercy.

But when the outbreak takes a life-threatening turn, will Grace be able to forgive herself?

Why It Looks Good to Me: I think Kathryn Cushman does a good job of creating situations I haven't thought of before in her fiction and creating characters that struggle to make the right choices daily. I also tend to like stories with people being quarantined or otherwise shut off from society and I think this is an interesting premise for a novel.

A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell (Bethany House 2011)
A Heart Most WorthyAbout the Book: The elegance of Madame Forza's gown shop is a far cry from the downtrodden North End of Boston. Yet each day Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana enter the world of the upper class, working on finery for the elite in society. The three beauties each long to break free of their obligations and embrace the American dream—and their chance for love. But the ways of the heart are difficult to discern at times. Julietta is drawn to the swarthy, mysterious Angelo. Annamaria has a star-crossed encounter with the grocer's son, a man from the entirely wrong family. And through no intent of her own, Luciana catches the eye of Billy Quinn, the son of Madame Forza's most important client.

Their destinies intertwined, each harboring a secret from their families and each other, will they be found worthy of the love they seek?

Why It Looks Good to Me: Siri Mitchell is one of my favorite authors. I like this unique setting for American historical fiction and I love stories that involve words like "destinies intertwined" This is another one I absolutely can't wait to read!

Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry (Tyndale, October 2010)
Almost HeavenAbout the Book: Billy Allman is a hillbilly genius. People in Dogwood, West Virginia, say he was born with a second helping of brains and a gift for playing the mandolin but was cut short on social skills. Though he’d gladly give you the shirt off his back, they were right. Billy longs to use his life as an ode to God, a lyrical, beautiful bluegrass song played with a finely tuned heart. So with spare parts from a lifetime of collecting, he builds a radio station in his own home. People in town laugh. But Billy carries a brutal secret that keeps him from significance and purpose. Things always seem to go wrong for him.

However small his life seems, from a different perspective Billy’s song reaches far beyond the hills and hollers he calls home. Malachi is an angel sent to observe Billy. Though it is not his dream assignment, Malachi follows the man and begins to see the bigger picture of how each painful step Billy takes is a note added to a beautiful symphony that will forever change the lives of those who hear it.

Why It Looks Good To Me: Oh the cover. This is complete cover love, I LOVE that cover! :) I also have a fondness for characters like Billy, and bluegrass music...and while I have yet to read a book by Chris Fabry, I've heard nothing but good things!

The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan (September 2010 Waterbrook Multnomah)
The Miracle of Mercy LandAbout the Book: Mercy Land has made some unexpected choices for a young woman in the 1930s. The sheltered daughter of a traveling preacher, she chooses to leave her rural community to move to nearby Bay City on the warm, gulf-waters of southern Alabama. There she finds a job at the local paper and spends seven years making herself indispensable to old Doc Philips, the publisher and editor. Then she gets a frantic call at dawn—it’s the biggest news story of her life, and she can’t print a word of it.

Doc has come into possession of a curious book that maps the lives of everyone in Bay City—decisions they’ve made in the past, and how those choices affect the future. Mercy and Doc are consumed by the mystery locked between the pages—Doc because he hopes to right a very old wrong, and Mercy because she wants to fulfill the book’s strange purpose. But when a mysterious stranger shows up, Mercy begins to understand she may have to choose between love and loneliness . . . or good and evil . . . for the rest of her life.

Why It Looks Good to Me: Oh come on, isn't it obvious? The ability to know the consequences of choices and have the power to change them? (reminds me of LOST) This one definitely looks fantastic! And what a cover!

Lady In Waiting by Susan Meissner (Waterbrook Multnomah September 2010)
Lady in WaitingAbout the Book: Content in her comfortable marriage of twenty-two years, Jane Lindsay never expected to watch her husband Brad pack his belongings and walk out the door of their Manhattan home. But when it happens, she feels powerless to stop him and the course of events that follow Brad’s departure. Jane finds an old ring in a box of relics from a British jumble sale and discovers a Latin inscription in the band along with just one other word: Jane. Feeling instant connection to the mysterious ring bearing her namesake, Jane begins a journey to learn more about the ring—and perhaps about herself.
In the sixteenth-century, Lucy Day becomes the dressmaker to Lady Jane Grey, an innocent young woman whose fate seems to be controlled by a dangerous political and religious climate, one threatening to deny her true love and pursuit of her own interests. As the stories of both Janes dovetail through the journey of one ring, it becomes clear that each woman has far more influence over their lives than they once imagined. It all comes down to the choices each makes despite the realities they face.

Why It Looks Good to Me: I loved Susan Meissner's Shape of Mercy and this book seems to be similar in style to that one. I also like that it appears to be about empowerment! Woo-hoo! :)

Valeria's Cross by Kathi Macias and Susan Wales (Abingdon Press, September 2010)
Valeria's CrossAbout the Book: In the 3rd century, pampered Roman princess Valeria falls in love with Mauritius, captain of the Theban Legion. She sends him off to battle, where he suffers under the schemes of a notorious pagan general with an ambition for power and a lust for Valeria.

In a scene based on true events, the evil Galerius kills Mauritius and his entire legion for their Christian faith. And in a shocking turn of events, the grieving Valeria is forced to become Galerius’ wife against her will. Never has a marriage been set up for such failure.

Valeria loathes her new husband, but he seems to undergo a change of heart, adopting a child for her and giving her power and authority, and even love. She struggles with the commitment she knows she must keep, and the love she knows she will never find again.

Why It Looks Good To Me: This book was actually recommended to me and once I read the description, I got really excited. I love the drama of it! It also seems like a really interesting story I don't know very much about, so I'm looking forward to it.

Amy Inspired by Bethany Pierce (Bethany House October 2010)
Amy InspiredAbout the Book: Amy Gallagher is an aspiring writer who, after countless rejections, has settled for a career as an English professor in small-town Ohio just to pay the bills. All her dreams suddenly start to unravel as rejections pile up--both from publishers and her boyfriend. But just as Amy fears her life is stuck in a holding pattern, she meets the mysterious, attractive, and unavailable Eli.

She struggles to walk the fine line between friendship and something more with Eli, even as staying true to her faith becomes unexpectedly complicated. When secrets, tragedy, and poor decisions cause rifts in Amy's relationships, she must come to terms with who she's become, her unrealized aspirations for her life, and the state of her faith. Can she dare to hope that she will find love and fulfillment despite it all?

Why It Looks Good To Me: Because frankly, I could use some inspiring! It also sounds like the kind of book I long for....a book that's deeply without faith without offering up all of the answers. And what a cover!

The Air We Breathe By Christa Parrish (October 2010)
The air We BreatheAbout the Book: Seventeen-year-old Molly Fisk does not go outside. She's ruled by anxiety and only feels safe in the tiny tourist-town museum she and her mother run and call home. Yearning to live free but unable to overcome deep wounds from her past, she stays hidden away. Then the chance arrival of a woman Molly knew six years ago changes everything.

Six years ago, newly single Claire Rodriguez was an empty shell. Only in the unique friendship she strikes up with a young girl--a silent girl who'll only talk to Claire--does she see the possibility of healing. But one day the girl and her mother vanish, their house abandoned. What happened that drove them away? And how can Claire now offer Molly the same chance at finding a life anew?

Why It Looks Good To Me: I loved Christa Parrish's first two novels and am eagerly awaiting her breakout novel. I think this has the potential to be it....she's got a great literary style and a depth of characterization that allows you to feel you know the characters. She takes risks and this story sounds really different.

A Suitor for Jenny by Margaret Brownley (Thomas Nelson September 2010)
A Suitor for JennyAbout the Book: When looking for a husband, it's best to go where the odds are in your favor.

And that would be Rocky Creek, Texas, 1880. But Jenny Higgins's plan to find husbands for her two sisters hits a snag when enthusiastic applicants fail to meet her stringent requirements.

Rejecting her sisters' choices for mates and riding herd on her growing feelings for Marshal Rhett Armstrong, she refuses to give up.

Jenny thinks choosing a husband is not a job for the heart. It'll take one strong and handsome marshal to convince her otherwise.

Why It Looks Good To Me: I really loved Brownley's first novel in the series, A Lady Like Sarah. It was just a purely enjoyable romance with imperfect characters. I have to admit I'm scared the cover of this one will drive some people away! It looks like the perfect fall afternoon read to me, and I hope everyone who loves smart Christian romance will give it a try!

The Inheritance of Beauty by Nicole Seitz (Thomas Nelson February 2011)
Inheritance of BeautyAbout the Book: George Jacobs and his childhood sweetheart were just kids living in small-town Levy, SC, when the train brought the evil to town. Now eighty years later, George and Maggie are married, living out their remaining days in Harmony House where time moves slowly--Maggie can no longer communicate her love and George can hardly remember their past. But when a large package arrives and an old stranger moves into Harmony House, their past won't remain at bay any longer. Like it or not, George must now remember things from long ago in order to set himself--and his sweet wife--free. But George isn't sure how many lives were affected by the stranger in Levy . . . or why life must come full-circle now when he's running out of time.

The Inheritance of Beauty is an entrancing story about beauty and age, about the blessings and curses of each, and how the true beauty of a person never fades.

Why It Looks Good To Me: To be completely honest, I'm a little confused by the synopsis, but I've enjoyed Nicole Seitz's work in the past and I really like the title, cover, and last sentence of that synopsis. Looks to be another good one!

And probably my most anticipated Christian fiction book for the remainder of the year...

Resurrection in May by Lisa Samson
Resurrection in MayAbout the Book: May Seymour graduated from college with the world at her feet and no idea what to do with it. A mission trip to Rwanda brought her a sense of purpose in loving others. So when the genocide began she chose to remain in the village, which was subsequently slaughtered. Only May survived.

May journeyed to heal on the farm of Claudius Borne, a sweet, innocent old man who understood plants and animals far better than people.

Years later, having not stepped a foot off Claudius' farm, May learns an old college flame, now a death-row inmate, is refusing to appeal his sentence. Can she convince him to grab hold of life once again? Their surprising friendship turns the tables, for the prisoner, Eli Campbell, has a deeper faith from which to draw than she. Eli slowly begins to pull May from her cloistered existence. With the help of Eli, their tiny town, and ultimately a renewal of faith, May comes to life once again.

Why It Looks Good To Me: I've liked all of Lisa Samson's books I've read, but The Passion of Mary Margaret was by far my favorite. Not only was it my favorite, but she set the bar incredibly high with it as it became one of my all time favorite books. (a book that actually helped me realize what I long for in novels) I was beyond ecstatic when she won the Christy Award for it. I feel that book deserves every bit of good will and I many more people will discover it. I love the premise of this book and have high hopes for it. I'm counting down the days! :)

(You may be wondering why Julie Lessman's A Hope Undaunted isn't on the list...I've already read it! Trust me, it's FABULOUS and you will love it if you're a fan!)

YOUR TURN any of these books look good to you? Are you also eagerly anticipating any of them? If you could read one right now, which would it be? What do you think I'm missing on this list?


(HT: Relz Reviewz for keeping all this information in an easy to find way!)

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