Craving a new read? You’ve come to the right place. We love books. And we love sharing our thoughts on them. Welcome to Bookbites, where we give the latest books a grade, brief review and include an excerpt—a “bookbite”—that grabbed our attention.
BRIDGE TO HAVEN
Grade A- Woeful tale of an abandoned child turned adult and her headstrong escape into desolation and darkness, it’s a long journey but the love and light of home beckons and eventually restores her. Well-written, page-turner as usual from Rivers. However the author never addresses the fact that the pastor could have kept the child if he had asked for help from the congregation. She was really abandoned more than once and it is heartbreaking and hard to get past, making the rest of the book seem like it was unnecessarily tragic…but apparently necessary to develop a romantic interest in the adopted brother. These two elements don’t fit Rivers’ usually seamless writing. Still a worthy read.
Appeals to: Fans of Francine Rivers, especially of Redeeming Love, and those who like fiction with an edge instead of fluff.
Bookbite: “Abra sat back on her heels, bowing her own head, hands clasped tightly. ‘Please, God, please, please, make my daddy take me home. Please I’ll be good. I promise. I won’t make anybody too tired or sick.’ She dashed tears away. ‘I wanna go home.’ Full of hope, she rose and looked out the window. Daddy had walked to the end of the block. She stared as he disappeared around the corner.”
Grade B Known for her romantic suspense, Henderson unfortunately does not add much of either to this book; they are almost undetected or at least very tepid. However if you are enchanted by submarines and want to learn more about them, you will love this book. The men in the book bend over backwards to be the good guy in the white sailor hat, to the point of giving up the girl to the other guy. Gina is a girl-genius, smarter than she deserves to be, who beats herself up for discovering things that might get somebody killed at the same time that they also save lives. Lots of anguish from all throughout but in the end predictable.
Appeals to: Dee Henderson fans, but lacks the charm of the O’Malley series and the suspense of some of her newer books.
Bookbite: “Nothing’s changed with us, Gina. We’re still in the days after Georgia. As difficult as this is to sort out, Bishop and I really are different sides of the same coin. You want to get married. One of us will likely be the guy. That’s still the reality. Okay?”
In Unspoken, from bestselling author Dee Henderson, a family legacy brings Charlotte back to Chicago, where a reporter is writing a book about the kidnapping. The cops who worked the case are cooperating with him. Her options are limited: Hope the reporter doesn’t find the full truth, or break her silence about what happened – but her silence is what has protected her family for years.
Charlotte Graham is at the center of the most famous kidnapping in Chicago history. The task force of FBI and local cops found her two abductors, killed them and rescued her, but it took four very long years. The fact that she was found less than three miles from her home, and had been there the entire time, haunts them. Now, she’s changed her identity, found a profession she loves, and rebuilt her life. But she’s never said a word – to the cops, to her doctors, to family – about those four years.
Charlotte wants to trust him. She needs to tell him what happened. Because a crime cops thought was solved has only opened another chapter…
Talk about suspense…
We asked Dee a few questions regarding her new book, Unspoken.
Is your new novel Unspoken related to Full Disclosure?
Unspoken is Charlotte Graham and Bryce Bishop’s love story. Bryce Bishop is a good friend of Paul Falcon, so I took advantage of that fact and brought back Ann and Paul Falcon during the investigation within Unspoken. I like being able to continue on with characters and see the next chapter in their lives.
Are you constantly creating new plot lines in your head?
I work on one book at a time, but I’m a slow writer. It’s not uncommon for me to spend three months searching for an idea, writing down scenes until I find a good story spine. Then I spend about five months writing the story, and another three months fixing the story with the help of good editors. I’ll start that process with maybe ten or twelve ideas from my idea box. I write down every idea I have, even if I have to get up in the middle of the night and reach for a notepad. Ideas are like nuggets of gold, some I can use immediately, while others haven’t found a story yet. The ideas are accumulated in a box behind my desk. I think of that box as my security blanket. If I am really stuck, something in that box might generate a place to start.
Who is your favorite author?
Francine Rivers has written some beautiful and timeless stories. I like reading Nora Roberts—I love her characters. I’m currently reading all the Robert Parker Spenser novels; the early ones in the series are worth tracking down.
What inspires you to create your art?
God designed me to be a storyteller. It’s what I enjoy doing with my time. The hours involved in figuring out a story are a process of discovery. All the work involved is trivial compared to the joy that is that moment in time when story threads come together and I can see a book and how its components fit together. It’s a very unique point and something I look forward to with every novel. I’ll often mention to my mother, “I’ve got the story done. Now I just need to sit and write it down.” The rest of the job is tinkering to find the right words for a scene, to cut out what doesn’t need to be on the page and put down what does need to be there. Compared to every other job I’ve done, writing is the most absorbing and fun. I’m inspired to create stories because I want to write the end, and then tell God—I wrote another story, would you like to read it? And hope God likes it as much as I do. The stories are gifts I can give back to God that I hope He enjoys. And I can create them with only paper and pen, so I’ve been making those gifts for God since I was a little girl.
It’s a summer of change for Jennifer O’Malley.
The busy physician has a pediatrics practice in Dallas, Texas, and meeting and falling in love with surgeon Tom Peterson is adding a rich layer to her life. She’s sorting out how to introduce Tom to her family–she’s the youngest of seven–and thinking about marriage.
She’s falling in love with Jesus too, and knows God is good. But that faith is about to be tested, and in a way she didn’t expect. The results will soon transform her entire family.
We asked Dee a few questions about her new book:
Dee, you have had a lot of fans voice interest in the continuation of the O’Malley Series. With the up-coming release of Jennifer, are you excited to get feedback from your readers to this new title?
The best part of my day is reader mail, and the most popular request I get is that readers want to know more about Jennifer O’Malley. So I am very excited that Bethany House is bringing out this novella. Jennifer and Tom are engaged in the first book of the O’Malley series, and this novella lets me go back and share their personal story in the year before book one of the series, The Negotiator. They had a wonderful romance, and a significant challenge to face together. I am eager to hear feedback from readers.
How did it feel to bring back the O’Malley family?
The O’Malley stories resonate because they are about Jesus, family, and falling in love – they’ve got a timeless quality to them which made returning to this series a wonderful opportunity. I’ve had the desire to go back and revisit this series for several years. After 18 books, Marcus O’Malley is still one of my favorite characters, and Lisa and Quinn one of my favorite couples. It was a personal pleasure to write this novella. It’s my hope Jennifer: An O’Malley Love Story allows another generation of readers to fall in love with this family.
Do you have a special connection to a particular character in Jennifer? If so, who and why?
Jennifer herself. Jennifer’s relationship with Jesus, her marriage to Tom, formed the core spine of the O’Malley series. Getting to now write her personal story was a wonderful joy. I admire her ability to cope with a crisis, and see it from the perspective of believing in God, to keep her faith, and her love for Tom. It’s a short and powerful story.
Have any of the characters in the O’Malley series mirrored anyone, related or non-related, that has been a part of your life, past or present?
I know a few guys like Jennifer’s choice in Tom, husbands who love their wives deeply and build a great life and marriage even through adversity. They stick when life is hard, and it’s a blessing to know them.
Would you ever like to see one of your novels made into a movie? If so which one, and who would you want to star in it?
My fans debate this question with great intensity so I will leave the choice of who should play which person to my readers. I would love to see one of my stories on the big screen, most writers would. The story most easily translated to film would be Full Disclosure, and I hope it does make it to the big screen one day soon.
Recently, we exchanged a few questions with author Dee Henderson via email.
FC: It’s been many years since your last book, we missed you. What have you been doing?
Dee: It’s always nice to be missed. It wasn’t a plan to have so much time between books; it’s simply how this particular story evolved. Full Disclosure originated in a mystery series I had developed over the course of a couple years. That series turned into the back-story for a larger single title. I don’t recommend arriving at a book that way, but I personally like the results of a richer plot line and more complex characters.
I’m wired by God to be a storyteller. Hours spent working on a story are not a job, but are in fact the reward for having gotten the rest of my life uncluttered enough that I can go do what I want. And most often that’s a pen and paper and being lost in a story I’m creating. So I hope to be creating stories for my readers to enjoy for decades to come, just hopefully with not as much time between finished stories in the future.
FC: For those of us who are excited to read Full Disclosure. Tell us about it.
Dee: In Full Disclosure I gave two very good cops a car wreck, a suspicious death, and a lead on a hired shooter. The case which began so simply will lead them to the kind of secret that will change how history is written once it is known. So at its most basic, Full Disclosure is a mystery and a romance.
I enjoy writing about cops. With this story I wanted to portray the job that a cop’s life really is—the cases keep coming to be solved, and if you’re going to have a private life, space for it is going to have to be carved into the flow of work.
I also like to write about falling in love. I decided to write a bit against type in this romance. From the beginning, Paul Falcon wants to get married and is looking for the right lady. Ann Silver is content being single and hasn’t been thinking about marriage. It created a unique romance that I loved.
And I enjoy writing about faith. What characters think about God, whether they believe or not, interests me. I’m not ready to say a manuscript is finished until I’ve figured out what I want the book to share about God. In Full Disclosure I explore how God is involved and interacting with us in our day-to-day life.
FC: How would you compare Full Disclosure to your other novels?
Dee: It’s a more complex book with a richer plot than my prior books, and the story continued beyond the romance and wedding to the first months of their lives together. I describe it as an O’Malley book plus more.
I write a lot about survivors—overcoming what’s happened, learning something about yourself and friends, deepening what you know about God. This adds a rich layer to the stories I want to explore. This book follows that basic theme, so I think it’s going to read as familiar to my fans even though it’s more layered than prior books.
FC: Who’s your favorite character in all your books and why?
Dee: I love Quinn and Lisa as a couple. Lisa has a depth to her back-story I didn’t realize was there until I wrote The Truth Seeker and it fit so well with the faith theme being the resurrection that I think it was God-inspired in small ways. There are scenes with Lisa and Quinn I remember better than any of the other stories I’ve written.
FC: Are any of your characters based on real people?
Dee: You can pretty much read a book of mine for the dog I either have or want to have. But the characters in my stories come from my imagination.
FC: Are you a character in any of your books or is there one character you relate to the most?
Dee: Ann Silver in Full Disclosure is probably the character I understand best. Her personality is closer to mine than most I’ve written. Part of that was simply the back-story Ann needed for the book required a certain type of personality in order to sound authentic.
FC: What are your favorite books to read?
Dee: It’s a family joke but true that I read everything. Recently, books on business, economics, marriage, painting, and politics. I love to understand how something works and what a job is like. I read a lot of fiction. I read to understand how another author got that emotional reaction from me or made me sit up and notice a well-developed plot.
Some titles I’ve reread this year: Certain Prey and Mortal Prey by John Sandford—absolutely fascinating lady shooter and ripping plot lines. The Good Guy by Dean Koontz—a great hero and you don’t realize why until the end of the book. I loved how the author played out the information about his hero. J. D. Robb—I love the Eve and Roarke story line that threads through the series. I like the depth of their unfolding relationship and how well it’s played out across multiple books.
FC: Are you a music lover?
Dee: I don’t hear well enough to hear music like others do, so while it is often on in the background, I’m not one who could tell you what the words are to a song.
FC: What’s your favorite thing to do to relax?
Dee: I walk when I’m given the chance to fill half an hour. I pick up a book and read when I want to wind down at the end of a day. If I have a few hours where I know I won’t be interrupted, I may paint. I enjoy television where a good plot line is rolling out, where dialogue is flowing at an interesting pace.
FC: What has God been teaching you lately?
Dee: He’s working on teaching me to live within my limits. I tend to stretch too far and not leave enough margin in my life, around my finances in particular, or my health. I find it easier to manage areas like my time. On that, I keep a limited list rather than a to-do list. I know I won’t get done what everyone would like from me, so I choose the items that personally matter to me or impact my family. Most stuff simply doesn’t get done. It’s easier to accept that than to live like you can do everything. The other areas of life are much tougher for me to discipline. Anyway, God’s been working on that one for a while. I’ll be glad when he’s helped me solve it.
FC: What’s on your bucket list?
Dee: I was asked one time, “What’s your favorite holiday?” And I replied, “I actually don’t like holidays—they’re too busy. I’d rather have a regular day that goes 24 hours without something going wrong during it. That would be a nice holiday.”
When I read your question about a bucket list, I had a similar reaction. I want more of the same. I want a week like last week, where I wrote some on a story, talked with friends, took a walk with God, read a few books, watched a movie, and slept. Oh, and my mother called and asked if I wanted something brought back from the Dairy Queen. It’s hard to beat that kind of nice week. Even the weather was nice. Sometimes earth feels like a slice of heaven. I don’t have major goals I want to accomplish or things I dream about doing. I’ve already got them. I simply want more of the same, and time to enjoy them.
Video trailer for Full Disclosure
Download an excerpt from Full Disclosure, by clicking here.