Saturday, February 16, 2013

Celebrating Books and Friends

Today I want to celebrate the good news of one of my critique partners, and two of my Inkwell Inspirations blog-sisters. These are all ladies I consider dear friends. 

My critique partner, Narelle Atkins, has just signed a six-book contract with Heartsong. I'm so excited for her, and know each book will be great. 

Congratulations, Narelle! 

Lisa Karon Richardson's book, The Magistrate's Folly, is available now from Heartsong. It's a historical novel set in one of my favorite places: Colonial Williamsburg. Check out the Inkwell Inspirations's posts celebrating this book.

I loved everything about this book: the characters, the setting, the plot, but mostly I loved Lisa's voice and I look forward to many more of her books.

An Interview with Lisa
Experience the Setting of The Magistrate's Folly

CJ Chase's newest Love Inspired Historical novel, The Reluctant Earl, is the sequel to Redeeming the Rogue. While I haven't had the chance to read The Reluctant Earl, it is most definitely on my TBR list. Especially since I loved Redeeming the Rogue.

An Interview with CJ
History Behind The Reluctant Earl
Review of The Reluctant Earl

Some of my other Inkwell Inspirations blog-sisters will have books coming soon:
Gina Marie Welborn
Jennifer AlLee
Lisa Karon Richardson (she has an upcoming historical novel co-written with Jen AlLee)
Barbara Early
DeAnna Julie Dodson

Susan Diane Johnson - yes, I know that's me!
I sold another novel to Pelican Book Group's White Rose line!

Suzie's Short and Sweet Top Ten Books 2012

Many of the books on my list have been reviewed here, either by me or one of the other Inkies. So instead of recapping reviews, I’m simply giving the skinny on my top favorites reads of the year.

There are only a few rules for inclusion on my list, but they’re important rules if a book is to live long and prosper on my keeper shelf.
  • If a book is contemporary, I have to fall so deeply in love with the characters that I’m totally pulled into their lives. I tend to get bored easily, so this is vital to hold my attention. I have to be invested in the characters in order to keep reading.
  • If a book is historical, it must be so vivid that it sweeps me into the timeframe. I have to fall in love with the setting as well as the characters.
  • If the book is not women’s fiction or a romance, it needs to bring me to tears, split my sides with laughter, or keep me on the edge of my seat.
Each book on this list is a book I loved. They all had wonderful characterization, heart-tugging emotion, and an engaging style. I hope you'll find at least one book here that you'd like to read. This list likely would have ended up being longer, but my reading time was limited this past year and my 2012 TBR is still quite large.

Now that we have that out of the way, here is my list in order of category (for those who only read Christian fiction, please note that those marked with an asterisk* are not Christian fiction):

Historical Novels

Love in Three-Quarter Time by Dina Sleiman
Set in Virginia in 1817, a young woman with a heart for dancing sets out to use her talent to save her mother and sisters from poverty. A job teaching dance to two young women brings her face-to-face with her former beau. Getting to know each other again opens their eyes to new discoveries.

At Every Turn by Anne Mateer
It’s 1916 and Alyce Benson is the only woman in town with a car. With her sense of adventure and heart of gold, she ends up driving on a race track to try and win money she for children in Africa.
Glamorous Illusions by Lisa Bergren
After Cora Kensington’s parents die, she learns she’s really the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man. When he sends her on a trip to Europe with her newfound siblings, they shun her and Cora finds herself turning to their handsome tour guide.

Contemporary Novels

The Mother Road by Jennifer AlLee
Infertility, a cheating husband, and a parent with Alzheimer’s, send Natalie on a road trip she really doesn’t want to take – especially with her pregnant sister. Their journey down Route 66 is of sibling rivalry, deep emotions and the perfect balance of love and humor.

Navy Rules* by Geri Krotow
It was really a joy to discover this romance novel set on Whidbey Island. A wounded Navy pilot and a widowed mother of two have much more in common than her therapy dog. When Max learns he’s the father of Winnie’s youngest daughter, he has to put aside his feelings of betrayal so he and Winnie can find their way back together.

Angels at the Table* by Debbie Macomber
This Christmas novel features mischievous angels, Shirley, Goodness and Mercy as they train a new angel while trying to keep out of trouble. The last thing they want to do is stir up trouble in the budding romance between a struggling restaurant owner and a food critic.

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade
In need of a break from her job as a social worker, Kate decides to spend the summer helping her grandmother restore an old house. With the help of her grandmother and some quirky senior citizens, Kate tries to get to know a man who’s hiding from life and love.

Suspense Novels

Double-Blind by Brandilyn Collins
After Lisa agrees to enter a clinical trial for depression, she wakes up from surgery feeling great until she starts having visions of a murder – visions she sees through the murder’s eyes.

A Heartbeat Away by Harry Kraus
When she has an emergency heart transplant, Dr. Tori Taylor gets more than just a new heart. She starts having dreams and memories that send her on the trail of a murderer.

Submerged by Dani Pettrey
Bailey returns to her hometown to bury her aunt with plans to leave as soon as possible. She left town in shame, never intending to return. Now, she’s swept into a mystery along with her former boyfriend. Underwater secrets, murder, and Russian artifacts propel this novel set in Alaska.

Suzie Johnson’s debut novel, No Substitute, a contemporary inspirational novel, is out now from White Rose Press of The Pelican Book Group. She is a regular contributor to the Inkwell Inspirations blog, a member of ACFW, RWA, and is the cancer registrar at her local hospital. Suzie and her husband are the parents of a wonderful grown son who makes them proud every day – even though he lives way too far away. Suzie and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest with their naughty little cat on an island that is definitely not tropical. You can visit her at the following places: