Eight Reasons Reading Should Be Considered a Winter Sport

No matter what the weather looks like where you are, here in Minnesota where Bethany House is located, we won’t be putting away our winter coats anytime soon. Maybe you live someplace warm (or, for our international readers, are having a summery start to the year). But if you’re getting a little tired of snow, here’s one way to make it more enjoyable: participate in the winter sport of reading.

Make Reading a Winter Sport

The picture that gave me the idea for this post. Fun, right?

What’s that you say? Reading is not actually a winter sport? Well, it should be. And here are a few reasons why.

One

There are a few people rugged and courageous enough to do regular outdoor things during the winter. The rest of us will be inside. Reading. And not getting frostbite or runny noses that could possibly turn into pneumonia. (Safety first!)

Two

“Reading isn’t active enough to be a sport,” you say. To which I say, come on, curling is an official sport of the Winter Olympics. It’s not like you really have to be breaking a sweat here.

Olympics

Three

Close your eyes and picture a scene that makes you think, “cozy.” Go ahead. Right now. There was someone reading a book in it, right? Maybe wrapped in a fuzzy blanket and drinking something warm by a fireplace. I feel like this is a universally recognized image of coziness and comfort, and what better time than winter to be cozy? Continue reading

A Wallflower Ball: Fun with Jen Turano!

Great news, readers! (Any sentence involving “free” and “books” gets my attention, anyway.)

Jen Turano’s new Apart From the Crowd series, following a group of wallflowers in their adventures in New York society, launches this month with a free ebook novella!

AtYourRequest_cover.indd

You can download it from your favorite ebook retailer (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD).

To celebrate, I asked Jen if she’d take us into the world of her characters during one of the Gilded Age social events where everyone wanted an invitation: a ball at the Astor House.

And here it is, one of the most ostentatious mansions New York has ever seen:

thumbnail_astor-mansion

Inside, the atmosphere would be charged with rumors and romance and possibly a bit of danger and intrigue. It might look something like this:

ballroom

Of course, dinner would be served. Here is a typical menu from the Gilded Age:

First Course
Julienne or Vermicelli Soup

Second Course
Broiled Salmon
Turbot in Lobster Sauce
Filet de Soles
Red Mullet
Trout
Lobster Rissoles

Entrees
Canards a la Rouennaise
Mutton Cutlets
Braised Beef
Spring Chicken
Roast Quarter of Lamb
Tongue
Roast Saddle of Mutton
Whitebait

Third Course
Quails
Roast Duck
Mayonnaise of Chicken
Green Peas
Charlotte Russe
Strawberries
Compote of Cherries
Neapolitan Cakes
Madiera Wine

Or you could take a walk outside, perhaps down to Central Park for some ice skating:

thumbnail_ice-skating-central-park

This might be what Wilhelmina looked like bundled up for a wintery afternoon outdoors:

thumbnail_mrs-august-belmont-1880

And here’s a typical gown like her friend Permilia might have worn to the ball:

thumbnail_mora-rosecoghlan

Speaking of gorgeous dresses, take a look at the one on the cover of Jen’s upcoming release, Behind the Scenes! (Doesn’t it remind you of the research photo above that Jen sent to our designers?)

BehindtheScenes_mck.indd

There’s an extended excerpt of the first book in the series within the ebook novella of At Your Request, so you can get started on it before anyone else.

To keep the fun going, we’re going to give away two copies of Behind the Scenes! To enter, comment on this post with the answer to one, or all, of these questions: If you were attending a Gilded Age ball, what color would your dress be? Which foods on the menu look most and least appetizing? Would you give ice skating a try?

Winners will be listed in next week’s blog post on January 19. (If you are an international reader, you can still enter, but I will substitute the book with an Amazon egift card because of the cost of shipping.)

January 2017 New Releases…and a Quiz

Welcome to a new year and the “book birthdays” of several great titles! For something a little different, I’ve made up a quiz to match you to one of our January new releases. From rugged and dangerous to relaxing and quaint, the settings of our January books are sure to break you out of your ordinary routine. Let us know what result you got! And, as usual click on the book covers below to start reading an excerpt.

quiz

Amish Weddings

by Leslie Gould

amish-weddings

Plot: Rose Lehman has always known who she wants to marry: the bishop’s son, Reuben Byler. But then Trevor, the handsome Army buddy of her future brother-in-law, visits Lancaster County, and Reuben starts to seem dull by comparison. When the thrill of adventure begins to fade, will Rose find happiness—or ruin her best chance at love?

The Mark of the King

by Jocelyn Green

MarkoftheKing_mck.indd

Plot: After being unjustly imprisoned for the death of her client, midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the French colony of Louisiana in 1720. She marries a fellow convict in order to sail, but when tragedy strikes—and a mystery unfolds—Julianne must find her own way in this dangerous new land while bearing the brand of a criminal.

An Uncommon Courtship

by Kristi Ann Hunter

an-uncommon-courtship

Plot: After a night trapped together in an old stone keep, Lady Adelaide Bell and Lord Trent Hawthorne have no choice but to marry. Dismayed, Adelaide finds herself bound to a man who ignores her, as Trent has no desire to connect with the one who dashed his plans to marry for love. Can they set aside their first impressions before any chance of love is lost?

In the Shadow of Denali

by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

in-the-shadow-of-denali

Plot: Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, a wilderness guide, work at a prestigious new hotel outside Mt. McKinley. John’s new apprentice, Allan Brennan, finds a friend in Cassidy, but the real reason he’s here—to learn the truth about his father’s death—is far more dangerous than he knows.

Prayer for Authors: January 2017

Happy New Year! Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, we’ll be continuing the Bethany House Fiction tradition of taking time to pray for authors who have new releases coming out this month. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and I’m thankful for all of the readers who show their support for our authors in the way that matters most: by praying for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

Prayer

Authors with Books Releasing in January:

Jocelyn Green
Leslie Gould
Kristi Ann Hunter
Tracie Peterson
Kimberley Woodhouse

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’–Revelation 21:4-5 (NIV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For a renewed sense of purpose and energy to accomplish writing and marketing tasks.
  • For readers who will pick up these books to be blessed by the messages they contain.
  • For patience when work is hard, ideas don’t seem to come, or a season of waiting seems like it will never end.

On this first day of the new year, I especially appreciate you taking a few moments to pray for our January authors, and I know they do as well. Many blessings on you in 2017!

Bethany House’s 2017 Reading Challenge

Welcome, readers, to our third annual reading challenge! Starting now, you have one year to read a book in all of the categories below. Bookmark the list, print it out, come back to it and check off each book as you finish them, whatever you want to do to keep track.

2017-reading-challenge-2

Now for the fun part: if you know of a book you’ve loved that fits into one of these categories, feel free to recommend it below. This can range from, “This is my favorite Newbery Medal-winning book” to “If you have blue eyes, check out this title!”

A few that come to mind for me: Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey has a crime scene at Gettysburg National Park. Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette is in first person. Most of Lynn Austin’s novels have biblical allusions in the title (like Refiner’s Fire or All Things New). Of course, you don’t have to recommend only Bethany House books. Even nonfiction is welcome. Share any five-star titles you’d love others to read.

Have fun! And we here at Bethany House wish you many great books in 2017!

Stranded in the Library: A Christmas Parody

If you haven’t ever wished to be snowed in at a library, you probably won’t relate to this carol parody. Then again, if you haven’t ever wished to be snowed in at a library, you probably aren’t reading a publisher’s blog.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas from Bethany House!

Stranded in a Library
(Sing to the tune of “Let it Snow”)

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the library’s delightful,
By the light of my cell phone’s glow,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

There are so many to get lost in,
Like the Brontës, Twain, and Austen,
Or Harriet Beecher Stowe,
Let it snow, let it snow, Edgar Poe!

When the plows come at last I’ll find,
That I’ll mourn for my reading cut short.
But just look what I’ll leave behind:
A classical tome blanket fort.

Maybe tragedy for a while,
‘Cause Euripides’s my style.
Or the long Russian tales of woe,
Let it snow, let it snow, Romeo!

As the storm goes on, I’ll get to it:
Harper Lee or C.S. Lewis,
Then Emerson and Thoreau,
Let it snow, let it snow, V. Hugo!

Oh, my TBR pile will grow,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

christmas-post-2

And just a little teaser…next Thursday on the blog we’ll have our annual reading challenge! Stop by to see what categories are on our checklist this year.

Did I leave out any of your favorite classic authors? (Particularly if their names rhyme with “snow.”)

Ask Bethany House a Question!

Here’s your chance readers, aspiring authors, and people generally interested in books in any way! I’m collecting questions for next year’s Ask BHP posts, where I answer your questions (or, in some cases, find someone more knowledgeable to answer them instead).

This is an open call for anything you’ve wanted to know: about prices, cover designs, marketing, what frustrates our editors, how to correct a spelling mistake on a cake in frosting (yes, that happened on a cake delivered to one of our company celebrations), or anything else you’ve been wondering.

I won’t get to them all, and we might have already addressed your question in a past post, but that’s okay! Ask away so I won’t resort to making bad book spine poetry every Thursday of 2017.

13700-bhp-quill

Click the quill to enter the survey.

And while I’m at it, thanks for being great, readers! It’s always fun to chat with you on the blog and see your responses on social media.

Christmas Book Title Fun

Every year at the Bethany House decorating party, I prank the nativity scene. This sounds significantly more sacrilegious than it actually is. When we set up the Holy Family surrounded by angels, I simply give the figures a miniature paper book I feel like they’d think was appropriate.

This year’s results are below.

nativity

It got me thinking—what book titles would fit well for all the cast of the first Christmas story? Could I outfit everyone with a Bethany House novel for them?

You can decide for yourselves by the end of the post. (Bonus—titles are linked if you want to read the book’s actual plot, which has nothing to do with Christmas in most cases. But they do make great gifts!)

There was really nothing I could pick for the angel Gabriel but The Messenger (Siri Mitchell). Too perfect.

Besides the nonfiction title in the picture above, I’d give Mary A Lady Unrivaled (Roseanna M. White) or Where Courage Calls (Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan) because agreeing to give birth to the Son of God took some serious bravery.

At first, I thought of A Most Inconvenient Marriage (Regina Jennings) for Joseph, but that seemed a little harsh, so I settled on A Bride at Last (Melissa Jagears) or Beyond All Dreams (Elizabeth Camden) since he got all of the angelic visions.

We had no sheep-related titles (though there are some on covers), but I felt The Shattered Vigil (Patrick W. Carr) described the shepherds well that night in Bethlehem.

For the wise men, I couldn’t decide between Chasing Hope (Kathryn Cushman) or A Shining Light (Judith Miller).

And speaking of that part of the story, how about King’s Folly (Jill Williamson) for Herod? Or we could just be blunt and go with Rules of Murder (Julianna Deering).

How about the little drummer boy? A Noble Masquerade (Kristi Ann Hunter), for sure…because he wasn’t actually in the Bible. Just in some manger scenes and that ridiculous song. I wish I could make this one into a Conspiracy of Silence (Ronie Kendig). But I digress.

Speaking of characters not in the nativity, once I started looking at my bookshelf, I just couldn’t stop, so here are a few bonus rounds.

For Ebeneezer Scrooge, Sins of the Past (Henderson, Pettrey, Eason) seems appropriate, or if we want to focus more on the happy ending, how about A Love Transformed (Tracie Peterson)?

Several came to mind for Santa Claus himself, but our icon has certainly made A Lasting Impression (Tamera Alexander). Runners-up were Undetected (Dee Henderson) for his stealthy present-distribution and Stranded (Dani Pettrey) for that most famous foggy Christmas Eve.

Which leads me to the inspiration for Rudolph’s titles: Shadow of the Storm (Connilyn Cossette) and No Other Will Do (Karen Witemeyer) basically sum up the story in two titles.

Finally, I’d give the Grinch Meant to be Mine (Becky Wade) for his thieving tendencies, and of course, A Talent for Trouble (Jen Turano).

Now, at first, I thought I had the perfect ones for Frosty the Snowman: Fatal Frost (Nancy Mehl) or Refining Fire (Tracie Peterson). Then I realized neither would do, since frost is decidedly not fatal to a snowman and fire is not particularly refining, either. The solution? Fire and Ice (Mary Connealy) captures the plot of his story well.

Your turn! I’m sure I missed some great opportunities here. Feel free to submit any additional titles you can think of for the characters above (or pick a Christmas character I didn’t mention).

Prayer for Authors: December 2016

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, we’ll be continuing the Bethany House Fiction tradition of taking time to pray for authors who have new releases coming out this month. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and I’m thankful for all of the readers who show their support for our authors in the way that matters most: by praying for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

Prayer

Authors with Books Releasing in November:

Regina Jennings
Ronie Kendig
Julie Klassen

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.–Micah 5:4-5, ESV

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For moments to reflect on the joys of the writing life and not just the deadlines and demands.
  • For organized minds when accomplishing tasks and making decisions during a busy holiday season.
  • For those who will receive these (and other) books at Christmas to be blessed by them in unexpected ways.

As always, I appreciate that all of you take a few moments out of your busy lives to pray for our authors. It means a lot!

The Perfect Gift for Book Lovers: December 2016 New Releases

As you glance at our December new releases, you may well find yourself asking: were red and green intentionally dominant colors on these lovely covers? (The answer is no, but hey, it works!)

Or you might just find yourself asking how you can get ahold of one as soon as possible because they look so good. (You’d be right on that one!)

294196_dec16-bhpfiction_fbcover

Here’s a quick overview and sneak peek at each title. Click on the cover if you’d like to read an excerpt.

For the Record by Regina Jennings

for-the-record

Main character: Betsy Huckabee, a curious and charming writer in small-town Missouri.

Plot: Betsy Huckabee dreams of being a big-city journalist, but first she has to get out of Pine Gap. To that end, she pens a romanticized serial for the ladies’ pages of a distant newspaper, using the handsome new deputy and his exploits for inspiration. She’d be horrified if he read her breathless descriptions of him, but no one from home will ever know. . .

Recommended as a gift for: Readers who love witty dialogue, fast-paced romances, or Western settings.

Other people say: “This is such a delightful read with an adorable romance and a fun and entertaining storyline. . . . The interactions and dialogue between the main characters are sheer perfection. The mystery and drama with the hero’s backstory and the masked marauders keep the momentum of the story going at a nice pace and allows for no dull moments. There is so much to love here in this little gem, it is easily one of Jennings’ best.”—RT Book Reviews

If this book were wrapped for Christmas, it might look like this:

I could see either of these cute, old-fashioned-but-still-fun holiday designs fitting For the Record.

I could see either of these cute, old-fashioned-but-still-fun holiday designs fitting For the Record.

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

innkeeper-of-ivy-hill

Main character: Jane Bell, a determined and gracious noblewoman-turned-innkeeper.

Plot: The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane, becomes the reluctant owner. With a large loan due, can Jane and her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, find a way to save the inn—and discover fresh hope for the future?

Recommended as a gift for: Anyone who appreciates BBC series, Jane Austen, or fascinating characters.

Other people say: “Klassen launches a heartwarming new series set in the Regency era that delivers everything fans of gentle historical-romance novels could ever want, including a beautifully realized English village setting, a memorable cast of characters, and charming hints of love for more than one of the residents of Ivy Hill.”—Booklist

If this book were wrapped for Christmas, it might look like this:

Something about this just said "classy British read" to me.

Something about this just said “classy British read” to me.

Conspiracy of Silence by Ronie Kendig

conspiracy-of-silence

Main character: Cole “Tox” Russell, a loyal and courageous paramilitary group leader.

Plot: When an archaeological dig unleashes a centuries-old virus, paramilitary operative Cole ‘Tox’ Russell is forced back into action. With the help of archaeologist Tzivia Khalon and FBI agent Kasey Cortes, Tox searches for answers—and becomes entangled in a web of deception. As the team races to stop a pandemic, a secret society counters their every move.

Recommended as a gift for: Men or women who enjoy pulse-pounding thrillers.

Other people say: “Kendig keeps the tensions high and the pace lightning fast, with military action scenes worthy of Vince Flynn. Especially noteworthy is watching the character development of elite modern warriors forced to confront and accept ancient history, faith, and supernatural power. Kendig fans will love this opening novel in her new series.”—Publishers Weekly

If this book were wrapped for Christmas, it might look like this:

Black because secret operations and danger...and is that mistletoe? Because Tox does have a heart of gold.

Black because secret operations and danger…and is that mistletoe? Because Tox has a heart of gold.

Are you hoping for any books this year for Christmas? Which ones? (I put To Kill a Mockingbird on my list, because I realized to my shock I didn’t actually own a copy.)