Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, December 14, 2006

My Picks for 2006

by Julie Coulter Bellon

There has been some wonderful LDS fiction come out in 2006 and I thought in the spirit of Christmas giving, I would tell you my favorite new books from this past year that I would heartily recommend for any book lovers on your list.

Romantic Suspense

I LOVE romantic suspense and there were some really good ones that came out (in addition to my own, Time Will Tell, of course!)

My favorite was Double Cross by Betsy Brannon Green because it revisits characters that were introduced in her first book Hearts in Hiding, and one of my favorite characters, Mark Iverson, truly shines in this book. He is an FBI agent sent on a covert operation in Colombia, but when he gets there, he realizes that he hasn't been told the complete truth about the mission, and his family may be in danger from the one person they never thought would bother them again. The dynamic between Mark and his wife Kate is easy to relate to and very believable, and I enjoy their interactions. It is so interesting to me how Betsy Brannon Green really explores the gray areas in human nature in this book, and shows us how people are not necessarily completely good or completely evil. The plot is fast-paced and the setting in Colombia adds a little extra spice to the mystery. I thought I had predicted the ending, but as usual, Betsy put in a twist that was very unexpected. My imagination had run away with me as I thought of possible endings, but I understand why Green ended it the way she did, and it was a satisfying ending for me.

My Christmas wish list also includes Betsy's new one Christmas in Haggerty. I've heard it's wonderful and I can't wait to read it.


Dead on Arrival by Jeffrey Savage has more twists and turns and ups and downs than a roller coaster ride. He snatches you in from the very beginning with a mysterious visitor who claims that his wife is trying to kill him----only he's already dead. And thus begins the adventure. Shandra is suddenly thrust into a series of events that are like a whirlpool—sucking her deeper and deeper into this mystery of who this guy is or was. Is he alive or dead? Is she imagining things or is her life really in danger? The story gave me chills, and at the same time I was so fascinated by the mystery and final reveal that it was almost impossible to put down once I'd started.

The Counterfeit by Robison Wells---I really surprised myself in how much I loved Robison Wells' book, The Counterfeit. Since I've already dedicated a blog to this one, I won't say any more except that it has become a favorite of mine and I've recommended it to everyone I know. And I mean everyone!

Historical Fiction

The Emerald by Jennie Hansen is the second in Jennie Hansen's "The Bracelet" series and in my opinion it is one of the best books she has written. It is a continuation of where the Bracelet left off, in a way, but you don't have to read the first one to understand the second. Margarette is fleeing Denmark with her two children to escape the abusive father-in-law who rules over them with an iron hand. On the way to America, she finds a jeweled bracelet hidden in her infant daughter's diaper and the discovery becomes both a blessing and a trial. Margarette's struggles to join the Saints and make a life for herself and her family are filled with genuine conflict and life choices that seem so real you will laugh and cry along with the characters.

At the Journey's End by Annette Lyon is a wonderful addition to her historical fiction series that highlights the building of a particular temple. This one is the story of Abe, who is looked at as an outcast in his community because of the color of his skin and his religious status. He goes on a journey to find a home for his mother, and in the process finds himself. The author does an amazing job with the setting and history, effortlessly weaving obscure facts into the story and making the reader a part of it all. The romance and religion were understated, but followed the theme of the book well, and I enjoyed this one immensely.

Angel and the Enemy by Marnie Pehrson is a sweeping historical romance set amidst the end of the Civil War. Angelina Stone knows only too well that a moment in time can change your life forever. Her father, a Confederate soldier, lies rotting in a Union prison, and the Yankees have invaded her home. The author does an excellent job of balancing the Southern setting with the outcome of the Civil War. She stays true to the fact that this was an era where men fought for freedom, independence, and unity. Yet, when the dust settled and the war was over the real battle raged on within the hearts of individuals. Angel and the Enemy is a wonderful book that captures the strength of the human spirit in overcoming adversity in a sweeping tale of love, honor, and betrayal. This one is a little different in that there is no overt LDS mentions in it, but it stays true to LDS standards and is well worth reading.

So if you have any book lovers on your Christmas list, here are some books that they are sure to love and really should be in every LDS fiction library. I know these all have a special place on my shelf at home.


At 12/14/2006 9:26 PM, Anonymous Marnie Pehrson said...

Great list, Julie! I'm honored to see "Angel and the Enemy" listed among your favorites... especially since it means I get to rub virtual shoulders with the likes of you, Betsy Brannon Green, Jennie Hansen, Rob Wells, Annette Lyon and Jeff Savage! :) Thanks for making my day!


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