Our Most Anticipated Books of 2016

My Name is Lucy BartonMy Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Genre:  Contemporary
Publisher:  Random House
Publication Date:  January 16, 2016

What’s it about:
Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

Heather’s Thoughts:  I’m excited for this one because Strout has never let me down!

 

Always WatchingAlways Watching by Lynette Eason
Genre:  Romantic Suspense
Publisher:  Revell
Publication Date:  February 2, 2016

What’s it about:
When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians to protect his son. But when Wade’s bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap.

Olivia’s skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade’s stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him–including Olivia. But in her mind, even more dangerous than the threats to her life is the hold her handsome client has on her heart.

Beckie’s Thoughts:  This is the first book in a series all about female bodyguards.  And what could be cooler than that.  Olivia is one of the Elite Guardians Agency.  Wade is an on-air radio personality who has made some enemies.  Now it is Olivia who will be tested as the replacement to Wade’s injured bodyguard.  Mix in a little love, a lot of mystery and you’ve got the makings of a great book.

 

Flight of DreamsFlight of Dreams by Ariel Lawhon
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Publisher:  Doubleday
Publication Date:  February 23, 2016 

What’s it about:
With everyone onboard harboring dark secrets and at least one person determined to make sure the airship doesn’t make the return trip, Flight of Dreams gives an utterly suspenseful, heart-wrenching explanation for one of the most enduring mysteries of the twentieth century.

On the evening of May 3, 1937, Emilie Imhof boards the Hindenburg. As the only female crewmember, Emilie has access to the entire airship, from the lavish dining rooms and passenger suites to the gritty engine cars and control room. She hears everything, but with rumors circulating about bomb threats, Emilie’s focus is on maintaining a professional air…and keeping her own plans under wraps.
What Emilie can’t see is that everyone—from the dynamic vaudeville acrobat to the high-standing German officer—seems to be hiding something.

Giving free rein to countless theories of sabotage, charade, and mishap, Flight of Dreams takes us on the thrilling three-day transatlantic flight through the alternating perspectives of Emilie; Max, the ship’s navigator who is sweet on her; Gertrud, a bold female journalist who’s been blacklisted in her native Germany; Werner, a thirteen-year-old cabin boy with a bad habit of sneaking up on people; and a brash American who’s never without a drink in his hand. Everyone knows more than they initially let on, and as the novel moves inexorably toward its tragic climax, the question of which of the passengers will survive the trip infuses every scene with a deliciously unbearable tension.

With enthralling atmospheric details that immediately transport and spellbinding plotting that would make Agatha Christie proud, Flight of Dreams will keep you guessing till the last page.

Heather’s Thoughts:  A historical fiction novel about the Hindenburg disaster which Kirkus Reviews calls “suspenseful and fun.”

 

The Red Door InnThe Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Publisher:  Revell
Publication Date:  March 1, 2016

What’s it about:
Marie Carrington is running from a host of bad memories. Broke and desperate, she’s hoping to find safety and sanctuary on Prince Edward Island, where she reluctantly agrees to help decorate a renovated bed-and-breakfast before it opens for prime tourist season.

Seth Sloane didn’t move three thousand miles to work on his uncle’s B&B so he could babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her. He came to help restore the old Victorian–and to forget about the fiancée who broke his heart.
The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just three months will take everything they’ve got. Can these two wounded souls find hope, healing, and perhaps a bit of romance on this beautiful island?

Step into the Red Door Inn, a lovely home away from home tucked along the north shore of fabled Prince Edward Island. It’s a place where the wounded come to heal, the broken find forgiveness, and the lonely find a family. Won’t you stay for the season?

Rachel’s Thoughts:  I’ve never read any of Liz’s previous novels but this one caught my attention because it’s set on Prince Edward Island, the home of Anne of Green Gables. L. M. Montgomery’s novels captured my heart as a child and have remained a firm favourite, so I can’t imagine not enjoying a contemporary romance set in this location.

 

SisiSisi: Empress on Her Own by Allison Pataki
Genre:  Historical
Publisher: The Dial Press
Publication Date:  March 8, 2016

What’s it about:
Married to Emperor Franz Joseph, Elisabeth—fondly known as Sisi—captures the hearts of her people as their “fairy queen,” but beneath that dazzling persona lives a far more complex figure. In mid-nineteenth-century Vienna, the halls of the Hofburg Palace buzz not only with imperial waltzes and champagne but also with temptations, rivals, and cutthroat intrigue. Sisi grows restless, feeling stifled by strict protocols and a turbulent marriage. A free-spirited wanderer, she finds solace at her estate outside Budapest. There she rides her beloved horses and enjoys visits from the striking Hungarian statesman Count Andrássy, the man with whom she’s unwittingly fallen in love. But tragic news brings Sisi out of her fragile seclusion, forcing her to return to her capital and a world of gossip, envy, and sorrow where a dangerous fate lurks in the shadows.

Through love affairs and loss, dedication and defiance, Sisi struggles against the conflicting desires to fight to keep her family together or flee amid the collapse of her suffocating marriage and the gathering tumult of the First World War. In an age of crumbling monarchies, Sisi fights to assert her right to the throne beside her husband, to win the love of her people and the world, and to save an empire. But in the end, can she save herself?

Featuring larger-than-life historic figures such as Bavaria’s “Mad King Ludwig” and the tragic Crown Prince Rudolf, and set against many of Europe’s grandest sites—from Germany’s storied Neuschwanstein Castle to England’s lush shires—Sisi brings to life an extraordinary woman and the romantic, volatile era over which she presided. Allison Pataki renders her novel in captivating prose and rich period detail, delivering an enthralling work of historical fiction that is also a gripping page-turner.

Beckie’s Thoughts:  Hapsburg Empress Elizabeth “Sis” is one of the most powerful women in history, but little has been written about her.  She was the wife of Franz Joseph, mother to four and is often called the Princess Diana of her time.  Vienna during the times leading up to WW1 provides the backdrop to glittering balls, great world events and the telling story of a woman with indomitable spirit.

 

What We FindWhat We Find by Robyn Carr
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Publisher:  MIRA
Publication Date:  April 5, 2016 

What’s it about:
Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency, high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a malpractice lawsuit—and experiencing levels of anxiety she’s never faced before. It’s in this desperate moment that Maggie’s boyfriend decides he can’t handle her emotional baggage, and she’s left alone, exhausted and unsure of what her future holds. One thing is certain, though: she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan’s Crossing.

Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie’s estranged father, Sully. Though raised by her mother and stepfather after her parents divorced, Maggie has always adored Sully—despite his hands-off approach to fatherhood. When she shows up unannounced in Sullivan’s Crossing, he welcomes her with opens arms, and she relishes the opportunity to rebuild their relationship.

But when Sully has a sudden heart attack, Maggie’s world is rocked once again. Consumed with his care, she’s relieved to find that Cal Jones, a quiet and serious-looking camper, has been taking over many of Sully’s responsibilities as he recuperates. Still, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man’s eagerness to help—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation.

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.

Rachel’s Thoughts:  I’ve read pretty much all of Robyn Carr’s backlist in the last three years, so I’m always excited when she has a new release! She crafts wonderfully flawed characters who triumph over their adversities in order to find hope in new relationships. They always put a smile on my place and make me wish for just one more chapter with these wonderful characters who quickly capture my heart.

 

Like Never BeforeLike Never Before by Melissa Tagg
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Publisher:  Bethany House
Publication Date:  April 5, 2016

What’s it about:
Maple Valley became Amelia Bentley’s haven after her heart and her dreams of a family were shattered, but her new life as a newspaper editor is shaken when the paper is bought out by a chain that plans to incorporate it into a regional paper.

After his biggest campaign success yet, speechwriter Logan Walker is approached to work on a presidential campaign. But he already lost his wife three years ago, and saying yes to the job means he’ll see his young daughter even less. When Logan hears of a special election campaign in his hometown, helping out sounds like the perfect way to occupy himself while deciding what to do.

When Amelia hears Logan is back in town, she begs him to lend his previous experience in the newspaper world to help turn her paper’s numbers around in time. They may butt heads more than they expected, but a lead on a story that could help save the paper is just the start of the sparks that fly in the office and in their hearts.

Why we want to read it:  Megan says, “While I can’t say the blurb of this book has drawn me in completely, so far the books in this series: From the Start and Three Little Words—the free novella that got me hooked on the Walker family in the first place, has brought the right balance of humor, good dialogue, and happily-ever-afters to keep me glued to this series. And if I’m being honest, I may have judged this book by its cover—it has sweetness written all over it.”  Beth adds, “It’s no surprise to me that I am ridiculously excited about the second book in the Walker family series. I loved the first book and have yet to be disappointed by Melissa Tagg. I’m already in love with the cover of the book, and the story of a small-town newspaper editor Amelia Bentley sounds like just my cup of tea. Throw in a Walker, Logan to be precise, and things are bound to get interesting. I look forward to more of Melissa’s humorous and poignant moments, as well as realistic interactions between members of the Walker family.”

 

Anchor in the StormAnchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin
Genre:  Historical Romance
Publisher:  Revell
Publication Date:  May 3, 2016

What’s it about:
One Plucky Female Pharmacist + One High-Society Naval Officer = Romance–and Danger

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy–even if he is her brother’s best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves–and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?

Sarah Sundin brings World War II to life, offering readers an intense experience they won’t soon forget.

Sara’s Thoughts:  Since the first book – Through Waters Deep – was one of my favorites in 2015, I am very much looking forward to this next one in this series. The previous novel had some very relatable characters, and Ms. Sundin does an exceptional job of balancing the spiritual aspects of the story with real life. I will pretty much only read a WWII-era novel if Sarah Sundin is the one writing it!

 

The CrownThe Crown (The Selection Series) by Kiera Cass
Genre:  Dystopian
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Publication Date:  May 3, 2016

What’s it about:
In The Heir, a new era dawned in the world of The Selection. Twenty years have passed since America Singer and Prince Maxon fell in love, and their daughter is the first princess to hold a Selection of her own.

Eadlyn didn’t think she would find a real partner among the Selection’s thirty-five suitors, let alone true love. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and now Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more difficult—and more important—than she ever expected.

Megan’s Thoughts:  The first three books of this series followed America and now in the last book her daughter, Princess Eadlyn is in the middle of her own selection. (Think the tv show The Bachelorette combined with a dystopian theme and a royal family.) I’m ready to find out how it all ends, and most importantly, who Eadlyn will choose, because I’m torn between Kile and Erik.

 

Together at the TableTogether at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge
Genre:  Contemporary
Publisher:  WaterBrook Press
Publication Date:  May 3, 2016

What’s it about:
Great love, like great food, always involves risk.

Three months ago, Juliette D’Alisa’s world changed.

In a bittersweet series of events, her mother’s health took a turn for the worse. Juliette and her brother opened their restaurant together to rave reviews, but her romance with Memphis immunologist Neil McLaren ended in anger and tears.

As autumn sweeps into the Pacific Northwest, Juliette feels that she’s finally on the cusp of equilibrium. The restaurant continues to thrive, and her family is closer than ever. She and sous-chef Adrien are seeing each other, both in and out of the kitchen. Just when she thinks her world might stop spinning, a trip to the waterfront lands a familiar face into her path.

Rather than dwell on her personal life, Juliette throws herself into work and research. After reading her grandmother’s letters from war-torn Paris, she still wants to know the full story –  and she’ll travel across countries and oceans to find it.

But even Juliette can’t outrun the man who stole her heart. As she finally uncovers the truth about her family history, what will it mean for her own chances at lasting love?

Beth’s Thoughts:  I am so eager to read the conclusion of the Two Blue Doors trilogy. I can’t wait to see how things will end of for these characters. The D’Alisa is another family that stole my heart, and Juliette is such an endearing character and has a very fresh voice. I love the realism of the trilogy so far, and all the talk of food always has me hungry. I haven’t yet seen a summary of this concluding book, but I am really looking forward to it.

 

Sins of the PastSins of the Past by Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Lynette Eason
Genre:  Romantic Suspense
Publisher:  Bethany House
Publication Date:  May 3, 2016

What’s it about:
In Dee Henderson’s “Missing,” a Wyoming sheriff is called to Chicago when his elderly mother goes missing. Paired with a savvy Chicago cop, the two realize her disappearance is no accident, and a race against the clock begins.

Dani Pettrey returns to Alaska with “Shadowed,” introducing readers to the parents of her beloved McKenna clan. Adventure, romance, and danger collide when a young fisherman nets the body of an open-water swimming competitor who may actually be a possible Russian defector.

Lynette Eason’s “Blackout” delivers the story of a woman once implicated in a robbery gone wrong. The loot has never been found–but her memory of that night has always been unreliable. Can she remember enough to find her way to safety when the true culprit comes after her?

Carrie’s Thoughts:  Dee Henderson, Dani Pettrey, and Lynette Eason… do I even need to explain further why I’m so looking forward to this 2016 release?  These are three of my “auto-read” authors, so the fact that they are all together in one book has my romantic-suspense-loving heart all twitterpated with anticipation.  A fangirl squeal most definitely erupted from yours truly when I first heard about the book’s existence, and I am already counting down the days until its May due date.

 

The AllianceThe Alliance by Jolina Petersheim
Genre:  Amish/Mennonite
Publisher:  Tyndale
Publication Date:  June 1, 2016

What’s it about:
When Leora Ebersole sees the small plane crash in her Old Order Mennonite community, she has no idea it’s a portent of things to come. When the young pilot, Moses Hughes, regains consciousness, they realize his instruments were destroyed by the same power outage that killed the electricity at the community store, where Englischers are stranded with dead cell phones and cars that won’t start.

Moses offers a sobering theory, but no one can know how drastically life is about to change. With the only self-sustaining food supply in the region, the Pacifist community is forced to forge an alliance with the handful of stranded Englischers in an effort to protect not only the food but their very lives.

In the weeks that follow, Leora, Moses, and the community will be tested as never before, requiring them to make decisions they never thought possible. Whom will they help and whom will they turn away? When the community receives news of a new threat, everyone must decide how far they’re willing to go to protect their beliefs and way of life.

Beth’s Thoughts:  The fact that this is a new book by Jolina is enough to make me read it, but the summary sounds like a really unique concept, and I am looking forward to seeing what Jolina will do with it. Her writing strikes a cord with me in a way that not many books do. The idea of mysterious power outage and the clash of two different worlds colliding, that of Old Order Mennonites and Englischers, sounds too good to miss.

 

Under Scottish StarsUnder Scottish Stars by Carla Laureano
Genre:  Romance
Publisher:  David C. Cook
Publication Date:  June 1, 2016

What’s it about:
Recently widowed Serena MacDonald Stewart focuses solely on her children—to the exclusion of career, artistic pursuits, and her sanity. When her brothers ask her to use her long-ignored business skills to oversee the family guest house on the Isle of Skye, she thinks it might be a chance for a new start. But her hopes for a smooth transition are dashed when the current hotel manager, Malcolm Blake, turns out to be irritating, condescending … and incredibly attractive.

Carrie’s Thoughts:  My slightly-unhealthy crush on James MacDonald aside, I am very much looking forward to June when the final book in the MacDonald Family trilogy is due for release.  Carla knows how to craft a romance (I’m fanning myself just thinking about it) but she also draws you into the story until the characters firmly have your heart.  (Some more so than others… I’m looking at you, James MacDonald! Ok, maybe I was batting my eyes a little bit too.) Anyway… I have been wondering how Serena’s story would play out ever since I caught a glimpse of its potential during London Tides. Would June just hurry up and get here already, please???

 

Where Hope PrevailsWhere Hope Prevails by Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan
Genre:  Historical Romance
Publisher:  Bethany House
Publication Date:  August 2, 2016

What’s it about:
When Beth Thatcher returns to Coal Valley, she has much to be excited about. She anticipates Jarrick’s proposal of marriage and perhaps a spring wedding. The mine is expanding, and there are more schoolchildren than ever.

But the town’s rapid growth brings many challenges. A second teacher is assigned, and Beth finds herself going head-to-head with a very different philosophy of education–one that dismisses religion and rejects God. Fearful for the children who sit under the influence of Robert Harris Hughes, Beth struggles to know how to respond.

At the same time, Beth wonders if Jarrick is considering a position at her father’s company simply for her sake. Should she admit her feelings on the matter? Or keep silent and allow Jarrick to make up his own mind?

Sara’s Thoughts:  Janette Oke wrote the first Christian historical fiction novel that I ever read, and her writings are what made me fall in love with the genre. Where Hope Prevails is the third in a series that Janette Oke has written with her daughter, Laurel Oke Logan. I really enjoyed the first two in the series, and I can’t wait for Beth to return to Coal Valley and her adventures teaching there.

 

EchoesEchoes by Michael Koryta
Genre:  Suspense/Thriller
Publisher:  Little, Brown, & Co
Publication Date:  August 16, 2016

What’s it about:
I was asleep when my wife died,” Mark Novak tells us. His relentlessness as an investigator has been his professional calling card and curse, but he couldn’t bear to ever investigate what happened to his wife two years before—until now. When he returns to the country road outside Cassadega, Florida, where his wife was shot, he uncovers disturbing leads that show how her murder might be connected to Novak’s own troubled youth in Montana. Back in the mining towns of Montana he thought he’d left behind forever, he’ll face an adversary more frightening than he’s ever known, and a secret that has wended its way through his entire life: from the caverns beneath Indiana to the abandoned streets of a southern gothic town to the darkest corners of the Northwest. ECHOES is a mystery about evil and heroism, and what happens when the two are inextricably and tragically linked.

Melissa’s Thoughts:  I love Michael Koryta’s books.  Each one is meticulously written with an eye for perfection.  They have complex storylines with intriguing characters and are simply fun to read.  While the majority of his books are standalone, Echoes will continue Mark Novak’s journey and his search find the answers to his wife’s murder.  Given Michael’s talent for creating dynamic, living environments, I can’t want to visits “a southern gothic town”.  August 16 can not get here soon enough!

 

Accelerant (Abiassa’s Fire, Book 2) by Ronie Kendig
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher: Enclave Publishing
Publication Date: Fall 2016

Cover art currently unavailable

What it’s about: Haegan fights to become the young man he never thought he’d be – and the part that he doesn’t want to be! Nations will rise against nation, unlikely allies converge as their common enemy grows in power and number. And of course, there’s a smidgen of romance and a heaping dose of war

Melissa’s Thoughts: Embers was one of my favorites books in 2015 and I cannot wait until this next one comes out.  I absolutely fell in love with the characters in Embers. The action was fantastic and the plot complex. It was everything I expected from a Ronie Kendig book.  I am so looking forward to returning to the world of Primar and continuing with Haegan on his journey.

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