Friday Favorites: Summer Reads (for what’s left of the summer!)

With the recent Christy Awards ceremony ahttp://www.lizjohnsonbooks.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpnd the announcement of the ACFW Carol Award Finalists (two big deals in the Christian fiction world), I realized that I’d totally failed to share some of my favorite Christian fiction titles from the last year. I meant to get this post up months ago, but I figure it’s never too late to share some great summer reads! If you–like me–are going on vacation in the second half of the summer instead of the first half, may I suggest a couple books perfect for the beach, pool, or even just a late-night reading session.

First off, a super-fun read from my friend Betsy St. Amant–Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK. This sweet story follows preacher’s kid Addison Blakely as she tries to discover the truth about friendship, labels, and love in high school–all while living in full view of every member of church. In an unexpected twist of fate, she ends up overseeing the school’s talent show, and she can’t help but notice her widowed father’s budding relationship with her teacher. Add to that a love triangle including the town’s motorcycle-riding bad-boy and the would-be-perfect classmate, and Addison is in trouble. I zipped through this book as fast as Addison downs mochas and eats a box of gummy bears. As fun as it is, it also delves into the labels and expectations we place on others and reminds readers that walking with God is about being authentic, not perfect.

Second is Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer. I’m such a fangirl of hers. I can’t help myself. I was so eager to get my hands on this book that I called around to every bookstore in my area for weeks leading up to the release, hoping someone–anyone–would have it out early. When I finally did get it, I’m pleased to report that it didn’t disappoint. This lighthearted historical romance tells the tale of Meredith Hayes, who overhears a plot to burn down the Archer family farm. She owes a debt to Travis Archer, so sets out warn him of the fire. But when she winds up stuck on the farm without a chaperone, one of the four Archer brothers will have to marry her to save her reputation. They must draw straws to decide, but one of them loves her a lot more than a short-straw’s worth.

After devouring this book, I shared it with my mom and sister, a busy mom of three, who stayed up until 2am to finish it. We’re like two peas in a pod.

Have you read either of these? What books have you loved this year? What do you recommend for some fun summer reading?

A Promise to Protect – Teaser and Announcement

I have a new book coming out. Sure, it’s still several months away, but that’s no reason not to celebrate.

My next book with Love Inspired Suspense–A PROMISE TO PROTECT–releases November 27 this year.

What’s that you say? You’d like to know what it’s about? Oh, all right. If you insist, here’s a little blurb about it.

Navy SEAL Matt Waterstone knows about keeping people safe. When his best friend’s sister  is attacked, Matt promises no harm will come to Ashley Sawyer–not on his watch. But Matt’s not the only protective one. Ashley will do anything to safeguard the residents of the battered women’s shelter she runs. She’s sure she can handle the threats she gets in return. What she can’t handle is the way Matt scales the walls around her heart. Yet when she falls prey to a crime web more sinister than she’d realized, trusting Matt could be the only way to survive.

This is my first book about Navy SEALs, and I’m so excited to announce that it won’t be my last! I’ve just signed a contract for two more books in this SEAL series. They should release about 6 months apart. I’ll keep you updated on those soon. (Although I’m back on deadline, which means more writing and less blogging.)

I’ll be revealing the cover art for A Promise to Protect in the next couple months, so stick around. In the mean time, if you can’t wait to order it, here are links to some stores offering preorders.

amazon.com
barnesandnoble.com
cbd.com

What will you do this year?

Wow! Wow! I can’t believe my last blog post was in April. I was still reeling from seeing my favorite movie and reading my favorite book of the year (so far). (That would be The Artist and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, respectively.) I had just finished writing a book that will come out in December (more to come on that at a later date). And I had just learned that I was going to have to find a new place to live. A lot has happened since then. But let’s not dwell in the past. Nope, today, let’s look to the future.

But to do that, I have to tell you a little story about the past. (Yes, I so get the irony.)

This time last year, I was barreling down on my 30th birthday, desperately trying to check off items on my 30 by 30 list (as you may recall). Boy there were a lot of things to get done, and I missed my mark by about a dozen. And to be quite honest, while I’m glad I did the things I did on my list, I was quite relieved to see my 30th birthday gone and the slate wiped clean. I was so relieved that I let myself off the hook for setting any real goals for my 30th year.

*from freedigitalphotos.net

Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t exactly done nothing this past year. But I didn’t have a clear focus.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was celebrating a coworker’s birthday. Sitting around the conference room table, eating cake and the birthday girl sat down next to me. Without thinking about it, I asked, “So what will you do this year that you’ve never done before?”

The room got really quiet, and I held my breath. I hadn’t meant to get too personal, but it just seemed like a logical question. Moving forward means trying and experiencing new things, right? You can’t turn the clock back or get back your years, so how will you use them to move forward?

The birthday girl didn’t have an answer for me. But that’s okay, because I think the person I really needed to ask that question of was myself. What will I do this year–at 31–that I’ve never done before? What new experiences will I try? What will I open myself up to that I haven’t ever before?

I can’t fully answer that yet. I won’t be able to until next year, I guess. But I am undertaking something that I’ve always wanted to do but always found an excuse not to. I’m going to volunteer at the Nashville Public Library. Just a couple times a month, but enough time, I hope, to share my love of reading with a few someone elses. Books have always been an important part of my  life, and if I can share one favorite book, one inspiring author, one life-altering story, then maybe I’ll be able to change a life.

At the very least I’ll be doing something new. Moving forward. Investing in lives.

What will you do this year that you’ve never done before?