Tuesday 25 February 2014

Top 10 Recent (Fiction) Reads

By Rel Mollet

What a privilege it is to share some thoughts with you at Australasian Christian Writers ~ thanks for the invitation and welcome following my interview with the lovely Dotti Adamek.

As you would know, I love to read stories. Reading is comfort, encouragement, challenge, inspiration, peace, and escape all rolled into one appealing package for me. As a reviewer and blogger, my great passion is sharing with other readers (or writers!) the books that have evoked those feelings in me in the hope that others will also be blessed by spending a few hours in a literary haven!

Today I'd like to share with you my top 10 reads over the past few months. I suggest you read my answer to Dotti's question as to how I define a quality book before checking out this list! Bear in mind, some of these are yet to be released but I suggest you add them to your wishlists.  I'd love your thoughts on any of these books or others that you have continued to ponder after you have closed the last page.

Beowulf by Ronie Kendig

Beowulf—a hulky, brindle-coated bullmastiff—is the only “boy” for Timbrel Hogan. And she has a history to remind her why. But when Timbrel, a handler at A Breed Apart, embarks on a mission to detect WMDs in Afghanistan, she reunites with Tony “Candyman” VanAllen and her no-other-man philosophy is challenged.

While tension mounts between Timbrel and Tony, the team comes under fire after Beowulf gets a “hit.” When tragedy threatens Tony’s career and Timbrel’s courage, they must maneuver through an intricate plot and a mission like no other. . . .

Healer of Carthage by Lynne Gentry

A twenty-first-century doctor. A third-century plague. A love out of time.

First-year resident Dr. Lisbeth Hastings is too busy to take her father’s bizarre summons seriously. But when a tragic mistake puts her career in jeopardy, answering her father’s call seems her only hope of redeeming the devastating failure that her life has become.

While exploring the haunting cave at her father’s archaeological dig, Lisbeth falls through a hidden hole, awakening to find herself the object of a slave auction and the ruins of Roman Carthage inexplicably restored to a thriving metropolis. Is it possible that she’s traveled back in time, and, if so, how can she find her way back home?

Cyprian Thascius believes God called him to rescue the mysterious woman from the slave trader’s cell. What he doesn’t understand is why saving the church of his newfound faith requires him to love a woman whose peculiar ways could get him killed. But who is he to question God?

As their different worlds collide, it sparks an intense attraction that unites Lisbeth and Cyprian in a battle against a deadly epidemic. Even as they confront persecution, uncover buried secrets, and ignite the beginnings of a medical revolution, Roman wrath threatens to separate them forever. Can they find their way to each other through all these obstacles? Or are the eighteen hundred years between them too far of a leap?

Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

Regina Beswick was born to be a princess.

But she’s content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother’s hand-painted book of fairytales.

Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation’s future---and his own.

Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever.

Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide if she’s destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together---with a little divine intervention---Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love.

The Kindling by Tamara Leigh


Helene of Tippet is not her father or her brother’s keeper. Yet when she is enlisted to use her healing skills to aid a fallen knight, the secret she holds close threatens to visit her family’s sins upon her. Now she is in danger of loving where she should not—a man of the nobility, and one who has cause to despise her if ever he learns of the blood that courses through her veins. Dare she reveal herself? Dare she trust a warrior so bitter and intent on revenge? Dare she love?

Sir Abel Wulfrith, a man bred to battle, has the scar to prove one should never trust a woman. But when he is wounded by his family’s enemy, he finds himself at the mercy of one who could prove his undoing. Now he faces a battle against which no strategy can prevail, no blade can defend, no heart can escape unscathed. Can he forgive Helene the sins of the father—more, the sins of the brother? Can he reclaim his faith? Can he love?

Dear Mr Knightley by Katherine Reay

Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.

But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away....

September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her?

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?

Remnants: Season of Wonder by Lisa T. Bergren

Our coming was foretold by the elders--- Those who would change the future, just as the planet teetered on the edge of darkness.

Born on the prophesied day with birthmarks in the form of a crescent moon, they knew us immediately. Swaddled and screaming, we were spirited away by those who hid us, trained us, and kept us safe until our time came.

They poured their lives into us. Some died to save us.

And now we, the Remnants, protected by Knights of the Last Order, have gathered.

Called until we breathe our last … to save the world.

Somebody Like You by Beth Vogt

Can a young widow find love again with her husband’s reflection?

Haley’s three-year marriage to Sam, an army medic, ends tragically when he’s killed in Afghanistan. Her attempts to create a new life for herself are ambushed when she arrives home one evening—and finds her husband waiting for her. Did the military make an unimaginable mistake when they told her Sam was killed?

Too late to make things right with his estranged twin brother, Stephen discovers Sam never told Haley about him. As Haley and Stephen navigate their fragile relation­ship, they are inexorably drawn to each other.

How can they honor the memory of a man whose death brought them together—and whose ghost could drive them apart?

Burning Sky by Lori Benton

Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life with the People. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path. Feeling obliged to nurse his injuries, the two quickly find much has changed during her twelve-year absence—her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.

When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal botanist who does not fit into in her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure.

Willa is a woman caught between two worlds. As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman called Burning Sky must find a new courage--the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again?

Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter

Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.

Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.

The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt." Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.

And in case you think I've sworn of male writers, I can't wait to dive into Patrick W. Carr's A Draw of Kings, Jim Rubart's Spirit Bridge, and Randy Singer's The Advocate!

Your thoughts....

Rel Mollet founded her book-reviewing blog in 2006, which is dedicated to showcasing Christian Fiction and its writers by way of reviews, author interviews, character spotlights, and more. Rel is a contributing writer for and, and an Advisory Board member of the INSPY Awards.  A book club co-ordinator for over a decade, Rel resides in Melbourne with her family.


  1. Good list! I've read four, and have another two on my wish list. You're the third person to recommend Burning Sky, so that moves on up the list ...

    I read and enjoyed Tamara Leigh's chick-lit novels, but haven't read any of her newer historical fiction. What, in your view, makes them good?

    1. Tammy was born to write medieval fiction in my view, Iola! She started with medieval romance in the ABA before moving to the CBA and writing contemporary novels. I loved her contemporaries, too, but her feel for the medieval culture and language is fabulous - and her characterisation, brilliant. The Kindling is part of her new Age of Faith novels but she has also just begun rewriting and self publishing her ABA novels as "clean" novels.

      I adored Burning Sky - hard to believe it's Lori's debut novel.

  2. Great first post, Rel. I'm passing around the Tim Tams in honour of your visit. :)

    Thanks for your recommendations. Looking forward to digging into some of those books. I'm reading Lori Benton's Burning Sky at the moment. I've only just started, but I'm loving some of the language already. :)

    1. Ooo, I'll have one of those ;-)

      Lori's prose is exceptional - so glad you are enjoying it, my friend xo

  3. An intriguing list, Rel, with such an interesting mix of plots. The mind boggles! I have seen 'Dear Mr Knightley' advertised and realised its connection to Jane Austen's writings but didn't realise until now that it seems to me to contain almost exactly the same storyline as Jean Webster's classic and hugely popular 'Daddy Long Legs', written in 1912! So I'm sure she'll be on a winner with this book!

    1. Mmm...the reply below was meant to be in reply to you, Jo-Anne, not a stand alone comment! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Katherine is another writer whose debut novel is surprising in that the writing is so very good. I know Iola has some thoughts on this one but I really loved what Katherine was aiming for in the story. I've selected it for my book club later in the year :)

    1. lol!

      There were parts of the plot of Daddy Long Legs that seemed a bit contrived to me, although I could accept them in a book written in 1912. Dear Mr Knightley used those exact same plot devices, and I don't think they translated well to 2013.

      However, in my opinion, Reay is still a writer to watch. The writing was excellent, and I'm looking forward to see what she can do with her own plot, rather than a borrowed one.

  5. So honored to have The Kindling included in your list, Rel! And love the selection of other reads. Here grows my TBR pile :)

    1. Gotta love a growing TBR pile, Tammy! xo

  6. SQUEE!! So tickled and honored BEOWULF made your list, Rel. THANK YOU!!

    This is a FANTASTIC list! I have several of these titles--just haven't got to read them yet. GRRR.

    1. I was tempted to add Raptor 6 but that can wait for another list, Ronie ;-D xo

  7. Hi Rel, Thanks for sharing your list :) A number of favourite authors are on the list and unfortunately I haven't had the chance to read any of these books. They all sound like great reads to add to my growing tbr pile.

    1. How I know that feeling, Narelle - maybe you just need to take a long holiday in order to read lots of great books!!

    2. Rel, that sounds like a fabulous idea :)

  8. Rel, Thanks so much for including DEAR MR. KNIGHTLEY. And you gave some new titles - always looking for a great read! Thanks!

    1. I take adding to people's TBR piles very seriously, Katherine! Hope you get the chance to enjoy some of these ones soon :)

  9. I've read only a couple of those too. Thanks for list, Rel. Those sound like beauties.

  10. Thanks Paula - hope you get the chance to read some more of these someday :)

  11. So thrilled to be included on this list, Rel ... and now I have more novels to add to my TBR pile.

    1. Loved your story, Beth. It hit the spot!


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