There are several interesting themes running through this month’s new inspirational fiction releases. A number of August’s books take a look at mixing religions — and the challenges and the rewards that come with multi-faith communities. Then we hear from an author about the significance a certain scripture passage has for her new novel The Other Side of Goodness. Next, we take a look at several stories that bring people together with the running theme of the importance of writing. Plus, don’t miss our look at the series romances that are keeping the faith this month. And finally, we round out this wrap-up with a look at the inspirational genre-related news stories that are making headlines in the publishing industry!
STORIES OF MANY FAITHS
If you’ve been considering what it means to mix religions (and live in a community where people celebrate more than one faith) you aren’t the only one. This month three authors take on religious diversity in their fiction. The Amish Bride by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould was rated an RT Top Pick! This novel explores the challenges facing a couple where one person is Mennonite and the other is Amish. But will a spiritual quest help this heroine figure out which man is right for her? You’ll have to read the novel to find out.
Meanwhile in Suzanne Woods Fisher’s The Haven, heroine Sadie Lapp, a young Amish woman, has returned to her Amish hometown of Stony Ridge. But she hasn’t come alone. She’s brought with her an “outsider” named Will, who has been sent to protect an endangered species that lives in the area. But is Will’s presence going to make Sadie decide that she doesn’t want to follow tradition and marry the town’s Amish teacher, Gideon? Readers will be happy to see familiar faces in this Stoney Ridge Seasons series second, but you don’t have to read book one to enjoy this new release about faith and romance!
If love across religions doesn’t catch your attention, then we suspect that you’ll be intrigued by the concept behind The Next Target by Nikki Arana. This story focuses on the challenges of both missionary work and converting. When a woman who has just pledged her faith as a Christian (rather than following her family's Muslim traditions) is killed, her Christian teacher, Austia, knows that it’s religious persecution that is responsible for the death. But will this murder, and the rising tension in the area, convince Austia to give up her missionary work? RT reviewer Melanie loved this August release: “Powerfully written, this is a story about what it means to live a life worthy of God’s calling and about what love, faith and forgiveness can lead to.”
SCRIPTURE IN SCENES
If you like a bit more of “The Good Book” mixed into your good books, you’ll be pleased to learn that The Other Side of Goodness by Vanessa Davis Griggs begins each chapter with a bit of scripture. The story follows a young woman named Gabrielle who is left pregnant after an illicit tryst. But when the heroine goes to her child’s father to help her save their daughter’s life — this sinner will do whatever it takes to get both mother and child out of the picture. With so many different aspects to this story, we wondered which scripture passage best describes the story as a whole? Excited to dive deeper into this topic, we posed this question to the author:
Mark 4:22 declares, “For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.” In other words, “Whatever someone thinks they’ve hidden in their lives or believe they’ve managed to keep secret will likely show up at the least expected time and fully come to light.”
Fifty-year-old (a lifelong Democrat now a switched Tea-Party Republican) Alabama congressman Lawrence Rudolph Simmons is on course to learn this fact all too well. Then there’s Gabrielle Mercedes (from novels Goodness and Mercy and The Truth Is the Light) who has a few truths of her own she’ll have to make major decisions about. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And Gabrielle is prepared to bring not just the heat, but the light, if that’s what it takes to do what’s right for another.
With oldest daughter Paris Simmons-Holyfield (cut from the same cloth as her father and always determined to have her way), Lawrence definitely has his hands full. When these three cross paths, they’ll give meaning to Matthew 10:26, “…for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.” Somebody get the fire extinguisher; it’s about to get hot up in here!
- Vanessa Davis Griggs
THE POWER OF THE PEN
If you write after reading and your second favorite hobby is creating, well there are novels this month about that, too. In several August books, writing brings people together in unexpected ways. Authors Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller bring readers To Love and Cherish, the story about a romance that grows as the hero and heroine exchange a series of letters. Then in The Guest Book by Marybeth Whalen, it’s doodles in a guest book of a beach house that connect two souls who may just share a lifetime of love — if they can find each other. And finally, Courtney Walsh’s A Sweethaven Homecoming gives a group of friends a positive way to remember the past as they all scrapbook and hunt for meaning in the works that they’ve created. These tales of faith certainly had us thinking about turning to the written word, doodled picture or salvaged image to get our thoughts down on paper!
SPOTLIGHT ON SERIES ROMANCE
You don’t have to invest in a full-length book to get a great story of religion and romance. These August books’ gripping subject will keep you glued to their pages as the characters wrestle with grief and tragic loss. In A Home for Hannah by Patricia Davids, the death of Miriam’s brother inspires her to help Amish teens trying to find their place in the English world, which is how she ends up caring for a foundling child … but will the baby bring her a happily ever after with the handsome Sheriff Nick? Or if you are looking for a story set in the past, then get ready to read about a man who makes a promise to a dying Civil War soldier to protect the man’s young sisters and The Soldier’s Wife. This new historical romance finds hero Jack risking bounty hunters and heartbreak in Cheryl Reavis’ August tale that has an emphasis on faith during one of the country’s darkest hours. In the final story about characters overcoming death of a loved one, Lenora Worth adds suspense to the mix. In The Diamond Secret, heroine Ester has run her family’s store since her father’s death last year. But when treasure hunter Cullen comes to town hunting for a diamond that Esther’s father used to speak about, will this young man discover that Esther is the true prize — before it’s too late? Expect to find loss, love and life lessons in these three very different series romances!
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HEADLINE MAKING GENRE NEWS
If you’ve been hunting for good reads for your little ones, this news is likely to leave you with a smile on your face. B&H Publishing Group has just announced that this fall they will kick off a line of children’s books under the imprint B&H Kids. These stories will span the targeted reader age range from the Read-to-Me Toddlers Bible to the Michael Catt and Amy Parker novel Courageous Teens. (This second title happens to be one of two movie tie-in titles that Parker is working on, this novel is related to the 2011 movie Courageous. The other book, which Parker is working on with Brent McCorkle, is titled Firebird and will be part of the soon-to-be-released movie Unconditional.) The line is planning on releasing 20 titles per year after its fall launch — all of which are expected to have an online component.
Another piece of news that may have you saying “Amen” is that Family Christian Stores is now distributing an e-reader. The large retail chain is backing the "Edifi" e-reader, a digital device that has a price tag of $149.99, significantly less than the iPad or Kindle Fire. This touch-screen e-reader comes complete with the YouVersion Bible app and four free e-books. However, it also has the ability to playback music, videos and allows Internet and e-mail access. Publishers Weekly reports that Family Christian said in a statement, “We already offer a wide selection of digital products. It is logical to also offer a product that will help our customers get the best use out of those good books, Bibles, music and movies.”
For all the latest genre news be sure to check out RT’s Everything Inspirational Page all month long!