GOT YOU COVERED!

CatMOckingbirdI am a librarian. Yes, I see book covers on a daily basis, and yes, a great book cover STILL has the power to draw my eye. I’m a sucker for a great cover – contemporary, historical, fantasy – you name it, I am drawn to that cover.

I did a little thinking, though, and found some of my favorite covers. They’re not new, up-and-coming titles, nor are they vintage covers – they’re just covers that will STILL draw me in and make me read them, even if I’ve already read them!

And yes, I think Book Covers have distinct personalities.

Almost AlwaysComeHome

I remember the first time I saw Cynthia Ruchti’s debut contemporary novel, They Almost Always Come Home. The cover entranced me. Cynthia, in a mentor meeting at ACFW, entranced me. Now, some of you know that I’m not usually drawn to reading material that won’t make me laugh, or at least swoon. But I was drawn. And I read it. And I was totally, fantastically, humbly, AMAZED at the story journey that that little boat took me on. Sometimes we need to let the cover draw us in!

BrideMostBegrudging

Occasionally, it’s the dress that gets me. I read my first Deanne Gist novel because the dresses were just SO PRETTY! What was great, however, was the girl inside that dress!

CourtingMorrowLittle

I would have read Laura Frantz if it had a plain brown wrapper, but you know what, her books do NOT have a plain brown wrapper – instead, her heroines are bedecked in glorious silks and an expression that is JUST LIKE you would expect when you get to know the heroine.

the-brides-of-bonneterre-series

And then there are the “fellas.” A few of my favorite authors, for certain series, have opted to put the HERO on the cover, as opposed to the HEROINE. I can certainly live with that . . . Kaye Dacus, in her “Brides of Bonneterre” series, just gave us PART of the hero . . . and that was enough. OutOfControlMary Coneally, in her “Kinkaid Brides” series, gave us three distinct personalities for her three distinct heroes. Interesting that both series titles have the word “brides,” and they feature the GROOMS! I love it.

FoolsRushIn

A few other series that caught my eye, and one that I’ve seriously already read twice, is Janice Thompson’s “Weddings By Bella” series (which now has a sub-series started!), and Susan May Happily Ever AfterWarren’s “Deep Haven” series. The colors, the art, the playful quality of both series’ covers make me want to hang them on the wall so I can look at them all the time!

So yeah. Talk about a topic that a librarian can sink her teeth into? It’s book covers.

I’m totally . . . flabbergasted

Spring Reads – The Final Four

*Book Giveaway – See below*

Oh,  my favorite topic again! Books! It’s so much fun reading all the other posts these past couple of weeks, seeing what everyone’s reading, adding titles to my overfull list. The problem for me is, deciding which book(s) to talk about.

It goes without saying that I’m very excited for my fellow bloggers who have new releases or coming releases (WHEN LOVE CALLS by Lorna Seilstad, WEDDING ON THE ROCKS by Rose Ross Zediker, and RODEO REGRETS by Shannon Taylor Vannatter), but we’ll hear more about them later.

So, I had to make a decision and whittle my To Be Read list (37 books on my wish list at Christianbook.com) down to a nice square number like 4. Just because. 🙂

Just finished reading:

WISHING ON WILLOWS by Katie Ganshert

Description:

Does a second chance at life and love always involve surrender?

A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa,  she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides.

So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.

As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own.

With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances.

The sophomore work from Katie Ganshert is even better than her brilliant debut last year, WILDFLOWERS FROM WINTER. (Read my review of Wishing on Willows here: ) If you’re looking for a romance that’s redemptive, unpredictable, and heart-tugging, pick up this one.

Reading Now:

WHEN THE MORNING GLORY BLOOMS by Cynthia Ruchti

Description:

Becky rocks a baby that rocked her world. Sixty years earlier, with her fiancé Drew in the middle of the Korean Conflict, Ivy throws herself into her work at a nursing home to keep her sanity and provide for the child Drew doesn’t know is coming. Ivy cares for Anna, an elderly patient who taxes Ivy’s listening ear until the day she suspects Anna’s tall tales are not the ramblings of dementia. They’re fragments of Anna’s disjointed memories of a remarkable life. Finding a faint thread of hope she can’t resist tugging, Ivy records Anna’s memoir, scribbling furiously after hours to keep up with the woman’s emotion-packed, grace-hemmed stories. Is Ivy’s answer buried in Anna’s past? Becky, Ivy, Anna–three women fight a tangled vine of deception in search of the blossoming simplicity of truth.

I just started this book, and can’t put it down! Once again Cynthia Ruchti has created a page-turning story woven together with beautiful prose.

Next On My List:

UNDENIABLY YOURS by Becky Wade

Description:

Winsome and Romantic–the Perfect Summer Read!

When Meg Cole’s father dies unexpectedly, she becomes the majority shareholder of his oil company and the single inheritor of his fortune. Though Meg is soft-spoken and tenderhearted–more interested in art than in oil–she’s forced to return home to Texas and to Whispering Creek Ranch to take up the reins of her father’s empire.

The last thing she has the patience or the sanity to deal with? Her father’s thoroughbred racehorse farm. She gives its manager, Bo Porter, six months to close the place down.

Bo’s determined to resent the woman who’s decided to rob him of his dream. But instead of anger, Meg evokes within him a profound desire to protect. The more time he spends with her, the more he longs to overcome every obstacle that separates them–her wealth, his unworthiness, her family’s outrage–and earn the right to love her.

But just when Meg begins to realize that Bo might be the one thing on the ranch worth keeping, their fragile bond is viciously broken by a force from Meg’s past. Can their love–and their belief that God can work through every circumstance–survive?

Becky Wade’s CBA debut last year, My Stubborn Heart, was a Favorite of mine in 2012. I have little doubt that Undeniably Yours will make my Favorites list for 2013.

ORDINARY GRACE by William Kent Krueger

Description:

“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family— which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother— he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.

William Kent Krueger is known for his Corcoran O’Connor series about a half Irish, half Ojibwe Sheriff in northern Minnesota. While those novels are not Christian, Krueger has always had an element of faith to them, so I’m very curious how he’ll deal with grace here.

***Contest Reminder***

Every time you  leave a comment on posts dated April 8, 2013 through April 19, 2013, you’ll be entered for a chance to win an autographed copy of When Love Calls plus a $10 Starbucks card! Contest ends Friday, April 19, 2013 at midnight. Winner will be posted on Saturday, April 20, 2013.

Also, be sure to hop over to Lorna’s Facebook Fan Page and *like* it. She’s having a Likefest. After she reaches 800 Likes, her publisher (Revell) will have a giveaway for a complete set of her Lake Manawa Series! Drawing will be held April 30.

I Did It!

I actually read some books this fall. Partly because I got tired of not having anything to report when the other Inkspers share what they’re reading. And partly because I had a lull between deadlines.

And I discovered how much I’ve missed reading. From now on, I’m making time for reading. As soon as I finish this content edit and meet my deadline for the book I’m writing that is.

So what did I read? Only one Christmas book made my list.

One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson

After her mother’s stroke, Natalie Pearce allows guilt to tear her family apart. As her favorite holiday approaches, they’ll need a special miracle. But it’s not quite the miracle Natalie expected. This was a wrenching story. I felt for each character in the story and cried through most of the book. I understood each character’s thoughts and reactions and had to see how it all ended for them. If you need a good cry, this book fits the bill.

Southern Fried Sushi by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

Jennifer’s heroine, Shiloh Jacobs is a hoot. I loved her thoughts. So self-centered, yet so real she makes you take a look at yourself. When her estranged mother dies, her world begins to topple. Her reactions are so true to life for her situation—uncaring one moment, grieving the next. Watching Shiloh change into a better person was a joy. My favorite part–her very southern friend’s accent made her name sound like shallow–which Shiloh was until she began to grow up. I laughed and cried.

They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti

Looking for tension and a page turning book—this is it. Cynthia tells a story I couldn’t put down. I had to keep reading and learn what happened next. When Libby’s husband doesn’t return from a canoeing trip, she’s torn between being sad, glad, and mad. Did he take the opportunity to leave her before she could leave him or did something happen to him? Again Libby’s thoughts and reactions are so true to her situation. I laughed and cried.

Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes

This book was pure pleasure to read. I knew from the subject matter that I’d cry. A young mother returns home to decide who should raise her daughter after her death. The choices—her distant father or her daughter’s father, who doesn’t know he’s a father. Gina’s writing is lyrical in beauty. A lovely story painted vividly with lovely word pictures. I laughed and cried.

I bought some more books too. So stay posted–I finally have something to report on what I’ve been reading. What have you been reading?

But What About the Happily Ever After

I have a confession—I’m not a book buyer. I can’t help it. My mom reads at least forty books a week, so I grew up as a library patron.

Lately I decided that if I expect people to buy my books, I need to be a book buyer. I made several purchases and haven’t had a chance to read any of them. But at least my to be read pile is physical now.

Contemporary romance is always my first choice. I read to relax, so I want to know there will be a happy ending. But I love all the complications that keep me reading. Romantic suspense is usually my second choice, but I have to be in the mood because it keys me up. Women’s fiction is usually my third choice. I love the depth, but I’m always worried about the happily ever after.

Most of my recent purchases were women’s fiction which I’ll be delving into as soon as I get the chance. It might be a while since I’m once again on deadline overload. God is good.

So here are my purchases:

Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes

Not many people can throw on a cape and save the world. Isabella, however, I could rescue. This was my final chance to be a hero, even if I was the only one would ever know it.

Jenny Lucas promised herself the day she left home, pregnant and alone, she’d never look back. But life has a way of upending even the best-laid plans. Now, nearly six years later, she returns to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. While she still can, she’s determined to have a say in who will raise her little girl when she’s gone—the father she hasn’t spoken to since she left or Isabella’s dad—who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter.

The remarkable story that unfolds will bring a family back together again to discover the kinds of love that save us when nothing else can.

In Search of Eden by Linda Nichols

A fractured heart… A hope renewed…

Today is your birthday… I want you to know that you are in my heart, as you always have been. I pray for you every day. I pray I did the right thing…

Thus wrote Miranda DeSpain on the anniversary of the day that changed her life forever, the day her heart was torn in pieces. Ever since that wrenching event, she’s been unable to settle down, embrace life. She finds herself starting one adventure after another, trying to forget. But she never can. As she approaches her twenty-seventh birthday, she determines once again to reinvent her circumstances, to start anew. But there’s one loose end to tie up first…

Joseph North, chief of police in Abingdon, Virginia, has always tried to do what is right, to perform his duty and protect those he loves. He is suspicious of the new woman in town and, checking further, discovers she is a person with seemingly no history. Then he finds a baby picture of his niece in her possession….

A story of law and grace, of forgiveness and redemption, of finding joy and rest in a broken world

They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti

She would leave her husband. . . if she could find him. 

When Libby’s husband, Greg, fails to return from a solo canoe trip to the Canadian wilderness, the authorities write off his disappearance as an unhappy husband’s escape from an oatmeal marriage and an unrewarding career. But was it? She can’t leave him if she can’t find him. With the help of her father-in-law and her best friend, Libby plunges into the wilderness to search for her husband and the remnants of her flagging faith.

He was supposed to be fishing. He was supposed to come home. And she was supposed to care.

I’ve mentioned the last book before as being on my to be read list, but at least now I actually own it. I’m making progress.

Have you read any of these?

 

Behind As Usual

It’s me. The least well-read Inkster. You’ve heard the familiar tale. I haven’t had time to read anything lately.  Between deadlines, booksignings, a potential new series, hubby, pastor’s wifing, and mothering, not necessarily in that order, my life is a constant race. This year, I plan to try to do better. But as usual, I’m behind so I’m reaching into last year to read the books I never got around to reading.

I’ve wanted to read They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti since it’s debut. The story of a woman They Almost Always Come Homewhose husband is missing and she’s mad at him for finding an out before she could intrigued me. I’ve heard Cynthia speak several times at the ACFW conferences and I got to meet her at the Barbour Publishing dinner last year in Indy. She exudes sweetness, gentleness, and kindness. It caught my interest to hear she wrote such a complicated book.

When Libby’s husband Greg fails to return from a two-week canoe trip to the Canadian wilderness, the authorities soon write off his disappearance as an unhappy husband’s escape from an empty marriage and unrewarding career. Their marriage might have survived if their daughter Lacey hadn’t died…and if Greg hadn’t been responsible. Libby enlists the aid of her wilderness savvy father-in-law and her faith-walking best friend to help her search for clues to her husband’s disappearance…if for no other reason than to free her to move on. What the trio discovers in the search upends Libby’s presumptions about her husband and rearranges her faith.

Several months ago, I read something on a blog. I can’t remember where or the exact words, but the gist of it: The One Imperfect Christmasreader was amazed that Myra Johnson, writer of a sweet book like Autumn Rains also wrote One Imperfect Christmas. I googled the second title and loved the cover. Another complicated book with complicated characters. I met Myra in Indy also and convinced her to be a guest on my other blog. We featured the book and I was sold. I’m in the process of receiving a copy in my hot little hands.

Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she’s allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves-most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she’s one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom.

Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit’s end. Nothing he’s done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa’s adolescent rebellion isn’t helping matters. As Daniel’s hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.

Hmm, I think I like to read about messy marriages. Not really, but I love to read about broken people who finally realize they can’t fix it, but God can. Just like life.

On Seekerville, I read the totally shocking opening of The Husband Tree by Mary Connealy. Expecting a grievingBlack Hills Blessing widow, it had me laughing. Out loud. But I’m a contemporary gal. When I heard Mary was delving into contemporaries, that caught my interest. Mary’s tagline, Romantic Comedies with Cowboys, tugs at me. What woman can resist a cowboy? Before it’s over with, I might just have to read The Husband Tree too, but I’ll start with The Black Hills Blessing trilogy. 

Enter the world of compelling, contemporary romance with award-winning author Mary Connealy’s spellbinding three-in-one collection. Ride the range with Buffy Lange, a woman bent on seeing majestic buffalo reclaim their territory, no matter how hostile local cattleman Wyatt Shaw becomes. Meet rancher Emily Johannson who would leave her derelict neighbor Jake Hanson alone if she didn’t feel duty bound to keep saving his hide. Take a stand with Jeanie Davidson, a single-again woman who’s finally gotten her life together, only to have her ex-husband Michael walk right back in, determined to make amends. Can love redeem these hearts and lives?

I met Kaye Dacus in Little Rock when she spoke for my local writers’ group. No particular book intrigued me, but Kaye did. Instead of going to the school of hard knocks, Kaye went to college. Her thesis became her first published Stand In Groombook Stand In Groom. Struggling at the time, I asked her for advice, which she freely gave, and it worked like a charm. I like this series because there are men on the cover. I’d rather look at a nice-looking man rather than a woman any time and I like the premise. She thinks he’s getting married. It’s bound to get complicated.

When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she’s found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her “dream” quickly turns into a nightmare. Will Anne risk her heart and career on this engaging Englishman? George came to Louisiana to plan his employer’s wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiancee when he’s so achingly attracted to the wedding planner? And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only? Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two find a happy ending?

My final selection is White Doves, the second in my series. This book was the hardest I’ve ever written. I’m a seat of the pants writer and I hate, hate, hate White Doves Coveroutlines. But I had to turn in a chapter by chapter synopsis of White Doves before I wrote the book in order to sign the contract. How was I supposed to know what would happen in chapter nine or any other chapter for that matter. I groaned, gnashed my teeth, and churned out the synopsis. My editor liked it and I signed the contract.

Then from out of nowhere, writers’ block clamped its unyielding jaw around me. Writers’ block which I’d believed to be a myth, until it got me. With great advice from Kaye Dacus, the block lifted. Yet every word was like pulling wisdom teeth. I wrote the beginning almost word for word as it is now, then decided that wasn’t good enough and stuck a whole different scene in front of it. 

Halfway through, a great detail revealed itself, which often happens in my books. This detail pulled the whole puzzle together, but it wasn’t in the synopsis. So, I tried to stick to the synopsis, but added this whole new conflict.

I turned the book in before my first deadline with days to spare. A week later, I got a gentle e-mail from my editor. The gist of it: I’d packed everything but the cast-iron kitchen sink into this book, when I should have forgot the synopsis and went with the new conflict. We had to do an extra content edit and pull several entire threads of the story, before we could even do a regular content edit. One of the threads to cut: my second beginning scene. 

So yes, I’m anxious to read White Doves and see how my wonderful, worth their weight in gold, genius editors pulled this book out of the toilet for me. After all that work, it’s kind of a blur. I’ve only had my author copies since October. Did I mention I’m behind? Thankfully book three wrote itself. 

It’s a good thing. At this rate, I’ll be behind all year. Have you read any of these books yet?