A Man’s Man

I tend to be an eclectic reader. I’ll read contemporaries, romance, historical, thriller, fantasy, etc. I’m willing to give anything a try, as a well-written novel will transcend genre. So, when I was considering my theme for this Heroes topic , I perused my bookshelves to see which authors I read regularly.

Here are a few names that stuck out: Charles Martin, Vince Flynn, J. Mark Bertrand, William Kent Krueger, Tim Downs, Steven James, Travis Thrasher, Michael Connelly … Well, I think you get the idea. For some reason, I gravitate toward the male voice.

Part of that could be because I grew up with four bruiser-type brothers and much preferred tackle football to cooking (or most any other typical female pursuit). I’m certain those years laid the foundation for my current reading interests.

While I do have several favorite female authors sprinkled among the guys, it’s books by the authors listed above I won’t miss, perhaps because they obviously know how to write a male protagonist. No gushy stuff from them. Oftentimes the heroes are pure testosterone (Check out Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp). Other times, heroes display a quiet, reflective, raw strength (Charles Martins’ protagonists).

Male authors don’t seem to have a problem in writing flawed characters. Check out William Kent Krueger’s Corcorn O’Connor, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, or J. Mark Bertrand’s Roland March (all cops, interestingly enough). Bosch and March are especially flawed, almost to the point of being unlikable, yet they have some charisma or personality trait that makes you root for them. And then there’s Tim Downs’ bug man Nick Polchak who has an affinity for all things bugs. <shiver> But Nick Polchak is one of the most unique and endearing heroes in today’s fiction.

These authors aren’t afraid of romance either.  You won’t find much in their books that’s touchy-feely. You won’t see a lot of batting eyelashes or flushing cheeks, or experience pitter-pattering hearts, and that’s just fine with me. Their romances seem more straight-forward–they get to the point rather than playing the flower-petal game of “She loves me. She loves me not…” Steven James Patrick Bowers is always struggling in the romance department. I’m hoping by the end of the Bowers’ series, he’ll have it figured out.

Perhaps my love for writing from a male perspective stems from my enjoyment of the male author’s voice. Perhaps that’s why my men are typically more fully developed than the female characters. And, according to my male beta-readers, my guys happen to be right-on (okay, so I had one dude saying burgundy three times in a scene–that’s gone now, all right?)

Yeah, sometimes their heroes are a mixture of Adonis, Hercules, and Einstein, and I’ll roll my eyes at that, but I’ll forgive them that little flaw. Wouldn’t you?

Are there any male authors you regularly enjoy reading?

Fall Fiction Favorites!

My to-be-read pile for fall is about twenty books deep–I’ll be kind and resist talking about all of them. But there are a handful written by my favorite authors that I’ve been impatiently waiting for and now they’re almost here!

Steven James has quickly become one of my favorite storytellers. He writes intense, complex thrillers that leave you on the edge of your seat from word one. This fall he has two new novels coming out!

In Opening MovesBowers Files Series prequel (Signet Select, September 20120 release), James takes the readers back in time with FBI Agent Patrick Bowers, back to the murder mystery that’s haunted him throughout the series. I look forward to gleaning more insight into what make Patrick Bowers tick.

Description: FBI agent Patrick Bowers’ first major murder investigation begins in Milwaukee, 1995. In a city still reeling from the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer, a woman’s body is found with the lungs removed. Local cops think a Dahmer copycat is on the loose. But Patrick Bowers, working as a homicide detective for the Milwaukee Police Department, sees from the timing and location of the crime that this is not a copycat at all, but a killer with an entirely different agenda.

Then Steven James introduces his readers to a brand new protagonist, Jevin Banks, in Placebo, Jevin Banks Series #1 (Revell, October 2012 release). I don’t doubt that this new series will be just as riveting as the Patrick Bowers series.

Description: While covertly investigating a controversial neurological research program, exposé filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms. After giving up his career as an escape artist and illusionist in the wake of his wife and sons’ tragic death, Jevin is seeking not only answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program, but also answers to why his family suffered as they did. Rooted in ground-breaking science and inspired by actual research, Placebo explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith. Readers will love this taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James.

Now if you’re not into highly-detailed thrillers, then I’d recommend Borders of the Heart (Tyndale House, September release) by Chris Fabry.  Fabry has won two Christy’s and was a finalist once. He’s an author who delves deeply into the heart of multi-faceted characters. He tells his stories with rich, musical prose that you want to savor like fine chocolate. I’ve no doubt Borders of the Heart will be equally as beautiful as the rest of Fabry’s novels.

Description: Desperate to escape haunting memories, J. D. Jessup travels from Nashville to Tucson and volunteers on an organic farm. The hardened landowner has one prevailing rule: If J. D. sees an “illegal,” call the border patrol. But when an early morning ride along the fence line leads him to a beautiful young woman named Maria, near death in the desert, his heart pulls him in another direction. Longing to atone for the choices that drove him to Tucson, J. D. hides her and unleashes a chain of deadly events he could never have imagined. Soon they are running from a killer and fighting for their lives. As secrets of their pasts emerge, J. D. realizes that saving Maria may be the only way to save himself.

I do have to throw in one debut author–I’m guessing we’ll want to have tissues handy for Kathy Harris‘s novel, The Road to Mercy (Abingdon, September 2012 release).

Josh Harrison, a contemporary Christian singer, and his wife Bethany face a difficult decision that also tests their faith. A rupture in Beth’s carotid artery leaves her on the brink of death even as she’s pregnant with their first child. While Dr. Ben Abrams urges her to terminate the pregnancy to save her own life, she and Josh step out on faith and decide to carry the baby to full term.

During the next few months, Josh struggles with his faith, Beth hides a secret that may destroy their marriage. She also discovers a decades-old connection to Dr. Abrams that could change his life forever.

 

And how can I not mention our very own Shannon Vannatter?! Her sixth book, Rodeo Ashes, releases this month for Heartsong Presents book club members, and it will be available to the public in September. Yeah Shannon! Of course since I’m her critique partner I already know it’s another heart-tugging romance that Shannon excels at. I can’t wait to hold the published copy in my hands!

Description: Lacie Gentry, a young widow and mom, is struggling with the aftermath of her husband’s tragic death. When she bumps into former classmate Quinn Remington, her future is undecided. She accepts a job teaching kids to ride at Quinn’s neighboring ranch, hoping to revitalize her life with an old pastime but soon sees in Quinn a chance to move forward with new love…if she’s ready.

It’s been years since Quinn has seen lovely Lacie Gentry—the girl he always admired in high school but never came close to dating. By the time they met, Lacie was engaged to rodeo star Mel Gentry then happily married. Now Lacie’s closer than ever. The attraction is still there, but so is a secret that might end any chance of romance.

Can they rise from the rodeo ashes?

There are sooo many more, but I’ll stop for for now … well, not without giving a handful of others a quick mention.

What books are you looking forward to reading this fall?

 

To Name A Few Titles …

For a reader, there is no better subject than books, so when this topic came up, I was ecstatic. But, being I’m limited to 600 words, I’ll just mention a few.

Now, how do I narrow it down?

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On My Bed Stand

Do I just talk about the books currently on my bed stand? Let’s see, I’m reading Ends of the Earth by Tim Downs. Downs writes fascinating suspense with a forensic entomologist as his lead. That means the hero deals with bugs on dead people. Ewww. As I said, fascinating. Oh, and I’ve already read The Familiar Stranger, the debut novel by Christina Berry. It’s a story of love, forgiveness, & new beginnings. The rest of the books you see pictured, I’ve yet to read, and that pile doesn’t include the thirteen books I have on the library waiting list. As you can see, I make very good use of our public library.

Perhaps I should talk about the books I grew up with. First, there was the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. I read all the Nancy Drew books, but Nancy was just too perfect. I preferred Trixie Belden, a teen tomboy and amateur detective. My daughter prefers them as well. (Her friends, too.) And, of course, I read Tolkien and Lewis. I don’t usually care for fantasy, but I loved The Lord of the Ring series (and the movies). But, do I really want to talk about that? Let me think …

My Favorites
My Favorites

Oh, I know! I can tell you all about my favorite authors: I love the literary prose of Charles Martin, W. Dale Cramer, Athol Dickson, Ann Tatlock, & Christa Parrish.  Amy Wallace’s romantic suspense is leaps above Dee Henderson (And I loved Henderson’s O’Malley series). As far as favorite titles, I’d recommend Scared, by Tom Davis, for everyone. It’s about AIDS in Swaziland. Once you read it, you’ll realize how blessed we are in America. A Season of Grace by Bette Nordberg is a poignant story about a family dealing with homosexuality and AIDS. A Voice in the Wind, by Francine Rivers, is one I’ve read several times, about a Christian Jew in Rome after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  All of those books are permanently on my bed stand.

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Minnesota Writes

Hmmm. What else? Oh, yes. Being from Minnesota, I love to support area writers. Vince Flynn writes riveting geo-political thrillers. They’re not Christian, but when I’m done reading, I feel hope for the world. Sharon Hinck is a writer who refuses to be pigeonholed. This award-winning author has written mom-lit, fantasy, & contemporary fiction, and she does them all well.

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Thrillers

One of my favorite genres is suspense. Steven James’ Patrick Bowers thrillers are probably the best in the Christian market. He combines spellbinding suspense with solid character development, and underscores it all with a subtle faith message. The only thing bad about his books is that I always have to wait a year for the next one to come out. I also love Mel Odom’s NCIS series, and Jason Elam & Steve Yohn’s Riley Covington thrillers. (Think professional football plus international intrigue.) Captain Jeff Struecker (Black Hawk Down fame) and Alton Gansky joined together to write an impressive special ops suspense novel. All of the above thrillers combine complex plots and deep characters to create stories you can’t put down, and they achieve this without the sex and cursing found in the general market. They’re books you can actually give your teen.

Oh, and not to forget, the upcoming debut novels by Lorna Seilstad, Shannon Vannatter, and …

What? 600 words already?  I didn’t even get to mention Jane Eyre. Maybe next time …

Confessions of a Book-a-holic

I cannot hide this painful truth any longer. My name is Lorna, and I’m a book-a-holic. And unlike some writers, I read both inside and outside my genre. So, not only do I read historicals, but I also read classics, science fiction, suspense, romance, women’s fiction, and non-fiction. Now, do you see how to-be-read book pile grows?

My nightstand looks like Barnes and Noble had the mother of all sales, and I took full advantage of it. However, the book pile has actually accumulated all summer—and most were bought at full price.

CarouselPainter I have one that belongs in everyone’s to-be-read pile. The Carousel Painter by Judith Miller is a terrific historical that will transport you to a new place and time. Judy’s research makes her writing so rich with detail that you could swear you smell the paint at the carousel factory. Not only will you love the main character, Carrington Brouwer, but you’ll also come away falling in love with carousels all over again.

Thepawn
Perhaps one of my most enjoyable reading experiences this summer was listening toThe Pawn by Steven James. A suspense novel, The Pawn had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. It had a wonderful tangling of two plots that made me think of our own Marlene’s writing. For an inspirational novel, it was gorier than I expected, but not any more than CSI. Steven James was awarded the Christy in suspense for the sequel, The Rook.

BeyondtheNightsmAnd I have to tell you about Marlo Schalesky’s Beyond the Night. Another  Christy (2009) winner, this romance is simply amazing. It’s a story of love conquering all, but with a twist I didn’t see coming. When the main character is injured in car accident, the reader is taken on journey through her memories—finding how love developed between her and the man now constantly at her side. If you haven’t picked this one up, you’re missing a great read!

AClaimofHerOwnAnother one I recently finished was Stephanie Whitson’s A Claim of Her Own. This historical romance had a great plot, and a nice twist. But what impressed me was the author’s ability to dig into deep emotions. I was amazed at how she was able to depict grief inside her characters. That’s a hard emotion to nail down, and if you’ve experienced it yourself, you know when the author isn’t portraying it realistically.

I also had the opporunity to listen to the original Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder on CD as my daughter and I drove to and from Minnesota. As I child, I remember being fascinated with Laura’s incredible adventure of moving to Kansas. Reading this classic again as an adult was eye-opening. I saw it more through the eyes of the parents—how much courage they needed and how much strength to settle in this virgin territory, only to be told to pick up and move on.  My daughter and I also visited the Little House on the Prairie museum in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, which made this re-reading experience especially rich. Maggie Brendan 1st bk cover

So, what am I reading right now? I have a romantic suspense, Against All Odds by Irene Hannon, in my van which is as good as the Dee Henderson books I’ve read and loved . In my living room, I’m reading A Vote of Confidence by Robin Lee Hatcher. And as for that bedroom pile, the debut book of fellow Revell author Maggie Brendan has reached the top of the pile, and I couldn’t be enjoying No Place for a Lady more.

So, do any of these tickle your reading bone? I sure hope so because each of these books is worth every penny and should take care of any reading fixes you might have.