Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018

In 2018, I discovered some incredibly talented, new-to-me authors. I’m excited to share some of them with you in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday.

Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher’s Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.

                                             

Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of the House of Bathory duology (THE PROGENY and FIRSTBORN), ISCARIOT, THE LEGEND OF SHEBA, DEMON: A MEMOIR, HAVAH: THE STORY OF EVE, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker (FORBIDDEN, MORTAL, SOVEREIGN). A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games and football with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband.

                                            

Passionate might best describe Liz Tolsma. She loves writing, research, and editing. Her passion shone through in her first novel which was a double award finalist. On any given day, you might find her pulling weeds in her perennial garden, walking her hyperactive dog, or curled up with a good book. Nothing means more to her than her family. She’s married her high-school sweetheart twenty-eight years ago. Get her talking about international adoption, and you might never get her to stop. She and her husband adopted three children, including a son who is a U.S. Marine, and two daughters.

                                              

Annie F. Downs is an author, blogger, and speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Flawed but funny, she uses her writing to highlight the everyday goodness of a real and present God. An author of three books- Let’s All Be Brave, Perfectly Unique, and Speak Love, Annie also loves traveling around the country speaking to young women, college students, and adults.

                                              

Mary Ann Shaffer who passed away in February 2008, worked as an editor, librarian, and in bookshops. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was her first novel.

In addition to co-authoring The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society with her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows is the author of the children’s series Ivy and Bean, as well as The Magic Half.

Annie lives in Northern California with her husband and two daughters.

                                                

What new-to-you authors did you read in 2018?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Most-Anticipated Reads of 2019 (January-June Edition)

I love books! Duh! I wouldn’t spend every possible free moment reading, have a review blog, or stalk authors if I didn’t. That being said, some releases get the heart racing a bit more than others. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, I’m sharing a few upcoming releases that can’t arrive soon enough for me.

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother–who is battling dementia–compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns–and with it, Heidi’s fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

Never Tell by Lisa Gardner

A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.

D.D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman–Evie Carter–from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many.

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim–a hostage–and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder.

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?

In the Shadow of Croft Towers by Abigail Wilson

When Sybil Delafield’s coach to Croft Towers was robbed by highwaymen, she should have realized that her new position as companion to old Mrs. Chalcroft would be no ordinary job. Upon Sybil’s arrival, Mrs. Chalcroft sneaks into her room in the dark of night, imploring her to relay messages to town that are to stay hidden from the rest of the family. Who exactly is she working for and what do the messages contain?

When fellow passengers of the robbed coach are later murdered, Sybil’s hunt for the truth takes on a new urgency. The only person she can rely on is Mr. Sinclair, Mrs. Chalcroft’s godson, but under all his charms he too leads a double life. Sybil must decide if he is the one honest voice she can trust, or if he is simply using her for his own advances.

With murderers, smugglers, and spies on the loose, nothing—and no one—in Regency England is what they claim. Can Sybil even trust what she knows about herself?

Whose Waves Those Are by Amanda Dykes

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose . . . and rocks. Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving. When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss’s humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the tiny, coastal Maine town, and he sets his calloused hands to work, but the building halts when tragedy strikes.

Decades later, Annie Bliss is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when she learns her Great-Uncle Robert, the man who became her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is now the one in need of help. What she didn’t anticipate was finding a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home. Long-ago memories of stone ruins on a nearby island trigger her curiosity, igniting a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.

She joins forces with the handsome and mysterious harbor postman, and all her hopes of mending the decades-old chasm in her family seem to point back to the ruins. But with Robert failing fast, her search for answers battles against time, a foe as relentless as the ever-crashing waves upon the sea.

Living Lies by Natalie Walters

In the little town of Walton, Georgia, everybody knows your name–but no one knows your secret. At least that’s what Lane Kent is counting on when she returns to her hometown with her five-year-old son. Dangerously depressed after the death of her husband, Lane is looking for hope. What she finds instead is a dead body.

Lane must work with Walton’s newest deputy, Charlie Lynch, to uncover the truth behind the murder. But when that truth hits too close to home, she’ll have to decide if saving the life of another is worth the cost of revealing her darkest secret.

 

What books are you most excited to read this first half of 2019?

Interview: DiAnn Mills

When you walk into a bookstore, you make a beeline for what section?

LOL To see if the store carries Christian fiction and what authors appeal to them. If they have one of my books, I ask if the store wants it signed. I also request to take a pic with one of the staff then post it with their tag on social media.

Favorite place to write:

I’m currently on the treadmill, so does that answer your question? I have a lovely office, and I will be there later this morning. Honestly, I can write anywhere: car (not driving), airports, hotels, etc.

Go-to writing snack or drink:

Coffee, water, and peanut butter pretzels. Also like green seedless grapes.

What does your writing nook look like?

Something you must do or have to write:

Prayer and focus

Favorite (doesn’t that word just make you cringe?) writer resource:

Can it be more than one? (ENR: Absolutely!) How to books by Donald Maass and Steven James

What book is currently on your nightstand?

Long Road to Mercy by David Baldacci

Hard copy, e-reader, audio book:

E-Reader!

What was the inspiration behind Burden of Proof?

While driving through the East Texas setting and admiring the beauty, an idea came to me. What if an FBI agent found herself here and out of her element. What if she wasn’t the same race and culture of the people living here? What if she was a hostage negotiator, and she became the hostage?

Favorite part of writing Burden of Proof:

Placing my characters in unpredictable situations and watching how they handled the stress and conflict. I also enjoyed developing the romance.

Hardest part of writing Burden of Proof:

LOL Probably keeping the real villain hidden from the reader. I value every part of the writing process, so the hardest part is also my favorite part.

If Burden of Proof was turned into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?

Image Credit: Pinterest

Image Credit: Pinterest

 

 

Maggie Q would play the role of Special Agent April Ramos.

 

Adan Canto would play the role of Jason Snyder.

 

 

What is next?

Fatal Strike – A September 2019 release

What else would you like readers to know?

I love readers! Let’s connect and get to know each other.

For Burden of Proof, I interviewed an FBI Special Agent (ENR: Oooh! This sounds like fun!) who is a Hostage Negotiator: HN. His collateral duty was SWAT. He repeatedly emphasized the need for active listening skills so the person in crisis believes the HN cares about him/her. The HN offers understanding. Normally the negotiation is not face-to-face, because the HN is part of a 6 – 8 person support team.

He said a degree in psychology is good, but not necessary. Special training takes place at Quantico. We talked for two hours, all valuable information that I used for my character. Incredibly interesting!

About the Story

Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder.
As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.

Connect with DiAnn through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Reads of 2018

Welcome to the first Top Ten Tuesday of 2019. Today’s theme has us looking at our favorite reads of 2018.

Historical Fiction

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. . . .

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Mystery and Suspense

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–including her own–are lost?

Women’s Fiction

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption. (My Review.)

Novella (x2 because I couldn’t choose)

Love in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan

Evelyn Watt fell in love with Austrian marketing director Rudy Moser the moment he stepped into their Boston firm. With his ice blue eyes and chocolate-melting accent, he is as refined as she imagines his home country to be. When Evelyn finds herself unexpectedly unemployed right before Christmas, she is left with an unknown future until Rudy steps in with a job appraising, assessing and cataloging heirlooms, lending her American vernacular to the translated descriptions to give each item international appeal. Evelyn will live in Vienna for the months leading up to a grand auction at a party held in conjunction with the Opera Ball—on Valentine’s Day.

Vienna is a magical blend of waltzing, antiques, and bottomless cups of Einspanner coffee at the Café Mozart. When a secret from Rudy’s family’s past blows in with the winter chill, Evelyn is forced to confront how well she knows the object of her affection. Her café tablemate, the gruff and enigmatic Klaus Bauner might be the only person who holds the key to Rudy’s past. But could that key also unlock her future? In the days leading up to the Opera Ball, Evelyn finds herself in the middle of the greatest romance of her life…as long as she doesn’t trip over her two left feet. (My Review.)

Rose in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan

Rose McNeil is rising the ranks at the Mozarteum in Salzburg as a violinist to watch. Her musical Nova Scotian heritage has loaned an unparalleled technique to her interpretation of some of the most beautiful compositions in the world. The opportunity of a first chair assignment to the Rainer Quartet under the baton of Oliver Thorne is a dream come true— until her visa expires and the threat of leaving Vienna looms. As much as she grieves the prospect of leaving Vienna and the quartet, it is Oliver—with his dry sense of humour and unexpected charm- she will miss most.

British ex-pat Oliver Thorne’s recent appointment as conductor to the Rainer Quartet make him the youngest in the role during its prestigious history. But it wasn’t the path he wanted. A tragic accident years ago forbade him from ever playing his beloved cello again. Now he spends his life teaching and guest conducting for premiere orchestras at the Musikverein. When he first hears Rose McNeil play, all the dreams he left by the wayside are reborn with her unexpected talent. When Rose learns she may have to leave Vienna, Oliver has to come up with a solution. Losing his first violinist is unfortunate, losing her is unimaginable.

So he comes up with a crazy idea: A marriage on paper only. She’ll take his name and his citizenship. They’ll split rent money and coin toss to decide who takes the bed or the the futon every night. They’ll keep their secret from the orchestra. She’ll play and he’ll conduct and, most importantly…she’ll stay.

Unbeknownst to each other, Rose is in love with Oliver and Oliver is in love with Rose. They might even find a happy ending, if only their pesky marriage doesn’t get in the way. (My Review.)

Romance

The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon

The daughter of missionaries, Hannah Pratt dreams of starting a school for the Bedouin clan with whom she spent her childhood. After completing her education in the United States, she returns to the desert to pursue that dream—only to learn her parents have been receiving threats from within the community they serve. As the danger escalates, Hannah must decide how far she’ll go to stay faithful to a calling that could cost her everything.

Karim Al-Amir feels the weight of responsibility as the leader of his people. When a mysterious illness ravages the clan’s flocks and threatens to destroy their centuries-old way of life, some of his people believe the American doctors and their daughter, his childhood friend, are to blame. Karim must do something to keep Hannah and her parents safe—even if the only solution to be found is within marriage vows.

In a society where the line is drawn between us and them, where Christianity is outlawed and foreigners suspect, will Karim and Hannah’s union heal wounds . . . or inflict a final, fatal blow? (My Review.)

Non-Fiction

100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs

You were always meant to be brave.

Whether you’re making a major decision, dealing with a difficult transition, or facing a fear, 100 Days to Brave will give you courage and confidence to move forward.

Annie F. Downs felt her challenges were too difficult, too scary, too much. Then she decided to stop allowing fear to hold her back. It wasn’t easy or simple. But it was good.

With honesty and relatable humor, this compilation of best-of writings and new pieces from Annie will give you the inspiration to embrace the path and the plan God has for you and experience personal growth.

Dare to spend the next 100 days discovering that you are braver than you know and stronger than you thought possible.  (My Review.)

What were your favorite reads in 2018?

Interview + Giveaway: Jan Drexler

When you walk into a bookstore, you make a beeline for what section?

Inspirational fiction! Next up is always history.

Favorite place to write:

Since our daughter got married a couple years ago, I’m blessed with my own office. Surrounded by my favorite books, tea mugs, and pictures, I’m in heaven.

Go-to writing snack or drink:

I make a pot of Earl Grey tea every morning in the winter. Once I get into my story, the pot is empty before I know it.

What does your writing nook look like?

I use my computer to write, but a lot of brainstorming takes place at my desk.

Something you must do or have to write:

Sleep. If I don’t get enough sleep at night, I have a hard time writing in the morning!

Favorite (doesn’t that word just make you cringe?) writer resource:

Seekerville, a blog for writers. When I was first starting out, the Seekerville ladies cheered me on, taught me many lessons about writing, and offered friendship and a helping hand. I am now a Seeker myself, and love being part of this community for aspiring and experienced authors, as well as readers!

What book is currently on your nightstand?

The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper

Hard copy, e-reader, audio book:

Hard copy, when I can. E-reader if I’m traveling.

What was the inspiration behind The Sound of Distant Thunder?

I like my books to take place during times of change and upheaval, and the Civil War is one of the greatest times of change in our nation’s history. At the same time, the Amish church was also going through a time of great change. I started researching that time period with an Amish story in mind, and the further I went into my research books, the more ideas I got.

Favorite part of writing The Sound of Distant Thunder:

The research. I love history and the Civil War era.

Hardest part of writing The Sound of Distant Thunder:

Getting the characters to behave. Jonas and Katie didn’t give me too much trouble, but Levi was very insistent on more time, more lines, and even his own point-of-view scenes. I thought he was going to be a minor character, but he had other ideas!

If The Sound of Distant Thunder was turned into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?

I’d love to see Bradley Cooper as Jonas. For Katie, I think Carrie Underwood.

What is next?

The sequel to The Sound of Distant Thunder is coming out next fall. The title will be The Roll of the Drums. Also coming next fall will be an Amish Christmas novella in a collection from Bethany House.

After that, I’ll be working on the third story in “The Amish of Weaver’s Creek” series.

What else would you like readers to know?

I have a newsletter that comes out about four times a year. Readers can go to my website to sign up for it!

Giveaway:

Click the image or Rafflecopter link to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**The winner is Kathy D.! Please claim your prize within 72 hours or another random winner will be selected.**

About the Story:

Katie Stuckey and Jonas Weaver are both romantics. Seventeen-year-old Katie is starry-eyed, in love with the idea of being in love, and does not want to wait to marry Jonas until she is eighteen, despite her parents’ insistence. So much can happen in a year. Twenty-year-old Jonas is taken in by the romance of soldiering, especially in defense of anti-slavery, even though he knows war is at odds with the teachings of the church. When his married brother’s name comes up in the draft list, he volunteers to take his brother’s place. But can the commitment Katie and Jonas have made to each other survive the separation?

From the talented pen of Jan Drexler comes this brand new Amish series set against the backdrop of the Civil War. She puts her characters to the test as they struggle to reconcile their convictions and desires while the national conflict threatens to undermine and engulf their community.

Connect with Jan through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Yankee Belle Cafe.