Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Excellent Legal Fiction Debut

While unpublished authors may decry this down-turned publishing economy that makes it difficult for them  break in, the reader is definitely benefiting. The debut fiction that has come out these past two years is often better than that of seasoned authors. Anyone familiar with this blog knows that I love supporting the debut author--the works that have come out these past couple of years have made it easy to support them. Todd M. Johnson's The Deposit Slip is no exception.

This legal thriller hooked me from the very first chapter and kept me captivated, escalating the conflict throughout. Johnson created intriguing characters that I cared about. His pacing was excellent and didn't become bogged down with tedious courtroom drama. This novel was as much about the characters as it was about the legal conflict presented. The Christian element isn't in-your-face, but faith is part of the undercurrent pulling the story along.

If Todd Johnson's follow-up novels maintain this quality, I can easily foresee him joining the ranks of Randy Singer, Robert Whitlow, and James Scott Bell as a top writer of Christian legal fiction.

Other Christian legal fiction writers of note: Don Brown (JAG fiction), Craig Parshall, Diane and David Munson, Rick Acker.
by Todd M. Johnson

$10,000,000 Is Missing.

Erin Larson is running out of options. In the wake of her father's death, she found a slim piece of paper--a deposit slip--with an unbelievable amount on it. Only the bank claims they have no record of the money, and trying to hire a lawyer has brought only intimidation and threats. Erin's last chance is Jared Neaton.

How Far Will One Lawyer Go to Find the Money?

When Jared wearied of the shady ethics of his big law firm and started his own, he never expected the wheels to fly off so quickly. One big loss has pushed him to the brink, and it's all he can do to scrape by. 

And How Far Will Someone Go to Stop Him?

He's not sure if Erin's case is worth the risk, but if the money is real, all his problems could vanish. When digging deeper unleashes something far more dangerous than just threats, both Jared and Erin must decide the cost they're willing to pay to discover the truth.

Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as adjunct professor of International Law and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong. This is his debut novel. He lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife, his son, Ian, and his daughter, Libby.
Website: www.authortoddjohnson.com

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Not Your Typical Romance

by Becky Wade

This novel completely surprised me. When a novel is described as contemporary romance, I expect a nice, casual read, but this was so much more. I loved the unique prologue and epilogue (for those of you who skip prologues, don't! It even convinced my husband to read this book--which he enjoyed, by the way). The characters were quirky, but not over the top, and the prose was musical. Against the backdrop of redeeming an old  house, the message of redemption was demonstrated, not preached. I loved how real the characters were in this book as well. They were imperfect, messy, broken people any of us could identify with.

Debut author Becky Wade seems to have an innate understanding of the head/heart condition by seamlessly weaving head/heart issues together. You're a front-page witness to two people falling in love with their heads and their hearts. The reader can't help but be emotionally tugged into the story.

This is one of my favorite books this year. I look forward to reading more from Becky Wade.
Story Description: Burned out, Kate Donovan jumps at the chance to restore her grandmother's house in Redbud, Pennsylvania. But when she arrives, she becomes involved in a project she didn't expect. Handsome former hockey star and contractor Matt Jarreau is clearly wounded, hiding from people and God. Can Kate help him face his past---whether he likes it or not? 

by Dineen Miller

I know they say (just who are *they* anyway?) that a novel about a married couple can't be labeled romance, but I heartily disagree, and Dineen Miller proves otherwise in her debut novel.

Lexie Baltimore is a sculptor whose husband is an atheist. Her greatest dream is for him to share her faith. Throw in a grieving widower pastor who is the epitome of what she wants in a husband and you have the makings of an intriguing story. But, the author takes this novel much deeper than that.

Spiritual warfare is at the center of the conflict between Lexie, her husband, and the pastor. The author handles it skillfully and creates a page-turning, emotional story.
Story Description: Lexie Baltimore is in the supernatural battle of her life. In obedience to God's calling, Lexie uses her art and dreams to help others. But will she have enough courage to help herself when she becomes torn between her atheist husband and a godly man? A widower and a father, Pastor Nate Winslow is drowning in darkness. Will he resist his treacherous assignment to win Lexie's heart or give in to the attraction between them? As events unfold, Lexie becomes entangled in a twisted plot. Will she overcome the evil assailing her or yield to the dark side?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fiction for Fathers

Wondering what to get your dad for this coming Father's Day? Look no further than your local bookstore. For that fiction lover, you can find some terrific novels and/or series. These are some of my favorites.

by Steven James
(Revell and Signet Select)

I was hooked with James' first book in this series, The Pawn. Since then, I've impatiently awaited his next annual release. James has proven himself to be a skilled storyteller, one who garners interest across genre, age, and faith. This series is recommended for anyone who enjoys thrillers.

Opening Moves, a prequel, comes out in September.

More Steven James on Spire Reviews here.

Major Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky's
Special Ops Series

I first learned of Major Jeff Struecker when I read The Road to Unafraid (another excellent book) that chronicled Struecker's road to faith, including his part in what is now known to as Black Hawk Down (book by Mark Bowden). Since then he has teamed up with veteran author Alton Gansky and together they've delivered a series of can't-put-down military ops novels. If you're interested in learning the perspective of a Christian in special ops, read this series.

The next book in the series, Hide and Seek, comes out in July.

Check out reviews of Struecker/Gansky books here.

by Cliff Graham

This series follows the Mighty Men of Israel (see 2 Samuel 23 and 1 Corinthians 11). It's a fascinating take on the men who stood closest to King David. The war descriptions can be gruesome, but they fit the subject matter. War isn't pretty. The first two of five books, Day of War and Covenant of War, are available for purchase. A movie based on Day of War is currently in production.

More Cliff Graham on Spire Reviews here.

by Graham Garrison
(Kregel Publications)

Touching stories surrounding a dying war hero who chooses an unlikely candidate to deliver his eulogy. These stories will give you a greater appreciation of Independence Day as well. Beautifully written and appreciated by men and women alike.

More Graham Garrison on Spire Reviews here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Novel Anticipation - June 2012

The month of June provides more exciting reading opportunities, including (2) debut novels. I love the variety too: a police procedural, a legal thriller, a medical mystery, and an historical romance. Any of these would be perfect lakeside reading.

Roland March Mystery, Series #3
Thomas Nelson Publishers
352 pages

The body was an undercover agent working to bring down Mexican drug cartels. The feds want the case closed rather than risk exposing other agents in the field, but March can't abide letting a murder go unsolved. And he doesn't have to dig long to figure out something isn't right. Someone is covering something up, and it seems that everyone has something to hide. Maybe even March, as the case soon intersects, unexpectedly, with the murder that led him to become a homicide cop, all those years ago.

debut novel by Todd M. Johnson
Bethany House Publishers
368 pages

Erin Larson is running out of options. In the wake of her father's death, she found a slim piece of paper--a deposit slip--with an unbelievable amount on it. Ten million dollars. Only the bank claims it has no record of the deposit and stonewalls her attempts to find out more. This lawsuit, her last chance, has brought only intimidation and threats. Now she needs to convince Jared to take a risk, to help her because the money is real. And both need to watch their backs as digging deeper unleashes something far more dangerous than just threats.

Bloodline Trilogy Series #1
debut novel by Jordyn Redwood
Kregel Publications
304 pages

Dr. Lilly Reeves is a young, accomplished ER physician with her whole life ahead of her. But that life instantly changes when she becomes the fifth victim of a serial rapist. Believing it's the only way to recover her reputation and secure peace for herself, Lilly sets out to find--and punish--her assailant. Sporting a mysterious tattoo and unusually colored eyes, the rapist should be easy to identify. He even leaves what police would consider solid evidence. But when Lilly believes she has found him, DNA testing clears him as a suspect. How can she prove he is guilty, if science says he is not?

Thomas Nelson
352 pages

Sophia Makinoff is certain that 1876 is the year that she'll become the wife of a certain US Congressman, and happily plans her debut into the Capitol city. But when he proposes to her roommate instead, Sophia is stunned. Hoping to flee her heartache and humiliation, she signs up with the Board of Foreign Missions on a whim.
     With dreams of a romantic posting to the Far East, Sophia is dismayed to find she's being sent to the Ponca Indian Agency in the bleak Dakota Territory. She can't even run away effectively and begins to wonder how on earth she'll be able to guide others as a missionary. But teaching the Ponca children provides her with a joy she has never known-and never expected-and ignites in her a passion for the people she's sent to serve.
     It's a passion shared by the Agency carpenter, Willoughby Dunn, a man whose integrity and selflessness are unmatched. The Poncas are barely surviving. When U.S. policy decrees that they be uprooted from their land and marched hundreds of miles away in the middle of winter, Sophia and Will wade into rushing waters to fight for their friends, their love, and their destiny.

Release dates taken from Christianbook.com

Monday, June 4, 2012

2012 Genesis Finalist!!!

Oh, I know this is old news already; it's so last Thursday! But I had a few more important things to do this past weekend than write a blog post. You see, besides going to see Snow White and the Huntsman (much better than I thought it would be!) with my family, I had to make revisions to my Genesis entry.

I received The Call  on Thursday, May 31at 12:02 (yes, I recorded the time), telling me my Contemporary Romance entry was a Finalist. The category that began with approximately 100 entries was now down to three. Needless to say I was ecstatically stunned. Still am, to be honest. (Read more about my Snoopy Dance <here>.)

I'm blessed and humbled to be included with such terrific authors. And I'm so very grateful to my brilliant critique partners (Lorna Seilstad, Shannon Vannatter, Jerri Ledford, and Stephanie Prichard) for providing their ever-honest critique of my work. Additional thanks goes to Steph Prichard for providing last-minute editing of my revised entry. My biggest thanks goes to my family for always supporting and believing in me. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: I am blessed!

As for my Women's Fiction entry, I received the scores on Saturday and was immensely pleased with them. I don't doubt that I was very close to being a Finalist in that category as well. More affirmation that I'm where God wants me to be.

Today I'm going to celebrate, then it's time to get back to work.


Contemporary Romance
Brenda Anderson
Amy Matayo
Cindy Wilson
Contemporary Fiction
Michelle Massaro
Anne Prado
Chris Storm
Historical Fiction
Nancy Kimball
Kathleen L. Maher
Terri Wangard
Historical Romance
Karen Barnett
Brandy Vallance
Becca Witham
Rich Bullock
Christen Civiletto Morris
Matthew Sheehy
Romantic Suspense
Arlene Coulter
Kelli Hughett
Pat Trainum
Speculative Fiction
Caleb Jennings Breakey
Carla Laureano
Amanda G. Stevens
Women’s Fiction
Susan Hill
Rachel Moore
Erin Taylor Young
Young Adult
Kathleen Freeman
Teresa Lockhart
Rondi Olson