Book Review: The Last Year of The War

13 Aug

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and As Bright as Heaven comes a novel about a German American teenager whose life changes forever when her immigrant family is sent to an internment camp during World War II.
 
In 1943, Elise Sontag is a typical American teenager from Iowa — aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.
 
The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.
 
But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her.
 
The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.

Susan Meissner is the USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction with more than half a million books in print in fifteen languages. Her novels include The Last Year of the War, a Library Reads and Real Simple top pick; As Bright as Heaven, which received a starred review from Library Journal; Secrets of a Charmed Life, a 2015 Goodreads Choice award finalist; and A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten women’s fiction titles for 2014. She is also RITA finalist and Christy Award and Carol Award winner. A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University and is also a writing workshop volunteer for Words Alive, a San Diego non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth foster a love for reading and writing.

Visit Susan at her website: http://susanmeissner.com and on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at http://www.facebook.com/susan.meissner.

 

My Impressions:

I had a copy of The Last Year of The War on my TBR shelf for well over a year before I opened its pages. Life and other reading obligations kept me from beginning, but once I did I could not put it down! This WWII-era novel opened up a world I knew little about — the internment of German and Japanese-Americans deemed enemy aliens. Susan Meissner chose well to tell their story through the innocent eyes of a very American teenager from Davenport, Iowa. Elise Sontag tells of her bewildering upheaval giving the novel a first person perspective informed by all she has learned in her life. This is a novel not to be missed. It is very highly recommended.

The history surrounding The Last Year of The War is fascinating. Viewed from the 21st century, the round-up of people who had lived in the US for decades, including their American-born children, seems unbelievable. But as I read, I could see parallels in today’s society that gave me pause. Those who found themselves in the dry, hot, and very brown south Texas camp would never have conceived of such a thing just months before. Elise’s family finds themselves in Crystal City awaiting the end of the war so they can resume their very ordinary lives. But they and the reader soon learn that nothing will ever be the same. Meissner’s detailed descriptions took me from the dusty streets of the camp to a bombed and beaten Germany. I felt just like Elise, unbelieving that Americans could have endured such things. Identity and belonging are recurring themes throughout the novel, and not just for Elise. WWII brought new perspectives for many.

The Last Year of The War is a complex novel with well-drawn characters that isn’t easily left behind after the last page is turned. This is a must-read for anyone who is interested in this little known aspect of WWII, but more so for those who want a book they can become a part of. For avid readers, you know what I mean. 😉 It is also a great book for discussion — your book club will thank you for the suggestion.

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

(I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Top 10 Tuesday — A Bouquet of Books

11 Aug

I have been reviewing books, all the books, for over 10 years, so I would have had to go way back in the archives for this week’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge — Books I Loved, But Never Reviewed. So I decided to go off topic. Last week bloggers shared books with colors in the title. That was a lot of fun, so I thought about some spin offs. I have a lot of material for more off topic and freebie weeks. 😉 This week I am sharing books with flowers in the title — a bouquet of books. Hope you find one to love!

For more TTT fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Top Books with Flowers in The Title

 

Daisies Are Forever by Liz Tolsma

In the final days of Nazi Germany, the strength of one woman’s heart will determine the fate of a family.

Prussia, 1945

The fall of the Third Reich is imminent. As the merciless Red Army advances from the East, the German people of Prussia await the worst.
Among them is twenty-year-old Gisela Cramer, an American living in Heiligenbeil with her cousin Ella and their ailing grandfather. When word arrives that the Russians will invade overnight, Ella urges Gisela to escape to Berlin—and take Ella’s two small daughters with her.

The journey is miserable and relentless. But when Gisela hears the British accent of a phony SS officer, she poses as his wife to keep him safe among the indignant German refugees. In the blink of an eye, Mitch Edwards and Gisela are Herr and Frau Joseph Cramer.

Through their tragic and difficult journey, the fabricated couple strives to protect Ella’s daughters, hoping against hope for a reunion. But even as Gisela and Mitch develop feelings beyond the make–believe, the reality of war terrorizes their makeshift family.

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer

This handsome firefighter makes a living coming to the rescue, but Gin doesn’t need a man to fight her battles.

After Raine’s dad walked out, Ginevieve Lightly never lived in one place too long, a rambling lifestyle that defined her daughter’s youth. When their car dies in Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin promises Raine they can stay until she finishes her senior year of high school. Gin will do anything to make sure her daughter has a bright future . . . a future that’s compromised when Raine reveals she’s pregnant.

Dan Moretti has only ever called Banister Falls home. After losing his best friend in a tragic accident, Dan devoted himself to responding to fires, rescuing the helpless, and guiding Cody Bennett, his best friend’s son, through life. With Cody being the epitome of the good kid, it was an easy job. Until he says four little words: “The baby is mine.”

Knowing gossip of Raine’s pregnancy will erupt sooner or later in the small town, Gin’s reflex is to grab the suitcase and escape to a new city, a new life. But with each passing day, Gin’s feet stay rooted in Banister Falls, and she falls a little more for this local firefighter who shows her not all men abandon women at the first sign of smoke.

As Gin and Dan do the best they can to guide the two teenagers through their early entry into adulthood, they discover together that romance can bloom in the rockiest of situations. And God can turn the pieces of a broken past into a beautiful new beginning.

Dogwood by Chris Fabry

n the small town of Dogwood, West Virginia, Karin has buried her shattered dreams by settling for a faithful husband whose emotional distance from her deep passions and conflicts leaves her isolated. Loaded with guilt, she tries to raise three small children and “do life” the best she can. Will returns to Dogwood intent on pursuing the only woman he has ever loved–only to find there is far more standing in his way than lost years in prison. The secrets of Will and Karin’s past begin to emerge through Danny Boyd, a young boy who wishes he hadn’t survived the tragedy that knit those two together as well as tore them apart. The trigger that will lay their pain bare and force them to face it rather than flee is the unlikely figure of Ruthie Bowles, a withered, wiry old woman who leads Karin so deep into her anger against God that it forces unexpected consequences.

Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate

Adventure is the last thing on Andrea Henderson’s mind when she moves to Moses Lake. After surviving the worst year of her life, she’s struggling to build a new life for herself and her son as a social worker. Perhaps in doing a job that makes a difference, she can find some sense of purpose and solace in her shattered faith.

For new Moses Lake game warden Mart McClendon, finding a sense of purpose in life isn’t an issue. He took the job to get out of southwest Texas and the constant reminders of a tragedy for which he can’t forgive himself.

Lilies in The Moonlight by Allison Pittman

He’d lost his zest for life. She was just lost. Will they find the healing and love they long for? 

After a roaring night on the town, fun-loving flapper Lilly Margolis, dazed and disoriented, twists her ankle and falls into the backyard of a wealthy family where the effects of the Great War—over for more than half a decade—are still endured. Inside the walls of the Burnside mansion, Cullen Burnside, a disillusioned and disfigured veteran, and his widowed mother, Betty Ruth, who daily slips a little further into dementia, lead a lonely existence … until Lilly. Whimsical, lighthearted, and beautiful, she rejuvenates their sad, disconnected lives and blossoms in the light of their attention.

But Lilly, like Cullen, is hiding from a painful past. And when Cullen insists on returning her to her faraway home, their budding attraction seems destined to die on the vine. The resulting road trip becomes a journey of self-discovery—but what will Cullen and Lilly find at journey’s end?

Magnolia Storms by Janet Ferguson

Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except . . . she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south — into the storm.

The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting — even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.

Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor

Step into the world of Victorian London, where the wealth and poverty exist side by side. This is the story of two long-lost sisters, whose lives take different paths, and the young woman who will be transformed by their experiences.

In 1912, twenty-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London, to become assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the home has cared for London’s flower girls—orphaned and crippled children living on the grimy streets and selling posies of violets and watercress to survive.

Soon after she arrives, Tilly discovers a diary written by an orphan named Florrie—a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after she and her sister, Rosie, were separated. Moved by Florrie’s pain and all she endured in her brief life, Tilly sets out to discover what happened to Rosie. But the search will not be easy. Full of twists and surprises, it leads the caring and determined young woman into unexpected places, including the depths of her own heart.

Remember The Lilies by Liz Tolsma

How will two very different people find love—and survive the impossible circumstances of war?

In 1941 Rand Sterling was a wealthy, womanizing club owner and an American of note among ex-pats and locals alike. Now two years later, Rand is just another civilian prisoner of war—one whose planned escape from the Santo Tomas Internment Camp could put him and others in grave danger.

Irene Reynolds grew up as a missionary kid in the Philippine jungle. Now she works for the paranoid Japanese authorities, delivering censored messages to the other American prisoners in Santo Tomas.

When Irene’s negligence leads to Rand’s failed escape attempt, Rand is sent to the torture chambers of Fort Santiago—and Irene suffers under the weight of her guilt. Yet when she crosses paths with Rand again after his unexpected return to the camp, something more than mere survival draws the unlikely pair together.

As life in Manila becomes more and more desperate, and another threatening letter finds its way from Irene’s hands to Rand’s, the reluctant couple struggles to find a way to stay alive . . . and to keep their growing feelings for each other from compromising the safety of everyone around them.

The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden

In the small town of Colden, Massachusetts, Libby Sawyer leads a quiet, predictable life. Yet beneath the surface, she is haunted by a secret.

Newly arrived on American shores, Michael Dobrescu is far from predictable, and his arrival in Colden is anything but quiet. Michael’s shocking claim to be the rightful owner of Libby’s father’s house immediately alienates him from the appalled citizens of Colden.

Despite her own outrage, Libby is unwittingly fascinated by this enigmatic man who seems equally intrigued by her. As the court’s decision about the house looms and the layers of mystery surrounding Michael’s past are unveiled, Libby’s loyalties are tested in ways she never imagined.

Snow in The Tulips by Liz Tolsma

A stranger’s life hangs in the balance. But to save him is to risk everything.

The war is drawing to a close, but the Nazis still occupy part of the Netherlands. After the losses she’s endured, war widow Cornelia is only a shadow of the woman she once was. She fights now to protect her younger brother, Johan, who lives in hiding.

When Johan brings Gerrit Laninga, a wounded Dutch Resistance member, to Cornelia’s doorstep, their  lives are forever altered. Although scared of the consequences of harboring a wanted man, Cornelia’s faith won’t let her turn him out.

As she nurses Gerrit back to health, she is drawn to his fierce passion and ideals, and notices a shift within herself. Gerrit’s intensity challenges her, making her want to live fully, despite the fear that constrains her. When the opportunity to join him in the Resistance presents itself, Cornelia must summon every ounce of courage imaginable.

She is as terrified of loving Gerrit as she is of losing him. But as the winter landscape thaws, so too does her heart. Will she get a second chance at true love? She fears their story will end before it even begins.

 

We Go On Blog Tour

11 Aug

We Go On Blog Tour
Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour & Giveaway for We Go On by Regina Walker, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

We Go On by Regina WalkerTitle: We Go On
Author: Regina Walker
Release Date: June 12, 2020
Genre: Inspirational Fiction

Content Warning: This book deals with loss by suicide and the grief a family endures.

Life has been comfortable for the Miller family. Liz and Josh have devoted their lives to raising their two sons. Their oldest son, Colby, reached adulthood and set out on his own. A few hard knocks sent him back to live with Mom and Dad until life got to be too much, that is. As Liz and Josh grapple with the hole in their hearts left by Colby’s early departure from this world, they find themselves at odds with one another and with their faith.

Will they remember that Jesus is enough in the middle of this dark storm? Will they see through their own pain and help each other and their teenage son, Tyler, learn to live despite the grief?

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & NobleBook Depository

 

EXCERPT

“Oh. So that’s how you got into horses,” Tammy mused.

“Well, it wasn’t just that simple. I wanted to sell her immediately. I kept pushing my husband to agree but he just wouldn’t. Every time he would get too tied up with work and ask me to come out here, I’d tell him we had to sell her. I almost went behind his back to sell her. I was frightened by her, and she was a reminder that there were things going on with Colby that I didn’t even know. I’m his mom so I should have known. But Josh wouldn’t budge. He kept asking me to come feed her. After a while, I started getting comfortable with her and started taking lessons from Christy. I still take a lesson every week, but now I ride in between the lessons on my own.”

“It’s like he left you a gift you didn’t know you needed.”

“I guess so. I’ve come to really appreciate Dusty. She soothes my soul. She’s a gift from God, if not from Colby.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Regina Walker

Regina Walker was born in the beautiful state of Colorado. She moved to Oklahoma in her late teen years, where she has resided ever since. She likes to curl up on the couch and binge-watch crime shows with her hard-working husband. When she’s not wrestling with a writing project, she can be found wrangling their children, riding their horses, or tending the garden. Along with finding horses on their small farm, chickens, dogs, and cats can be found at nearly every turn.

Regina crafts compelling characters facing some of life’s hardest challenges. Her heart’s desire is to always point toward Jesus through the way her characters face challenges, relationships, and adversity.

CONNECT WITH REGINA: Website Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive his/her choice of bookish socks or a bookish candle!

We Go On JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight August 10, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on August 17, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE
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Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

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*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

First Line Friday — Rahab’s Story

7 Aug

Happy Friday! I yet again searched my long-suffering TBR shelves for this week’s first line. Rahab’s Story by Ann Burton has been in my possession a very long time. Unfortunately, life and shiny new book distractions have kept me from reading it. If you have read this worthy novel about a woman in Jesus’ lineage, I would love to know why I need to move it to the top of the pile. 🙂

Here is the first line:

 

I first beheld The House of Palms on the same day that I was cast out from my home and family. 

 

 

The Bible is filled with women of faith, bravery, and cunning. Here is one woman’s tale — as it might have happened  . . . .
 
“And the city shall be accursed . . . and all that are therein . . . only Rahab the harlot shall live . . . .”—Joshua 6:17
 
Once, she was Rahab the Beautiful, eldest daughter of a weaver — and secret believer in her dead mother’s cherished Judaism. But when her hateful stepmother accused her of witchery, Rahab was banished to almost certain death in Jericho. Now the girl known as Rahab the Outcast has no choice but to mingle with the city’s untouchables — and join its ranks of prostitutes…
 
Even from the mire, Rahab keeps alive her faith in God. Then two Jewish spies for Joshua appear on her doorstep, begging her to hide them. Now, Rahab faces the biggest decision of her life: stay safe and slam the door in their faces — or help her fellow believers, and transform herself from harlot to heroine.

Ann Burton is the author of the popular Women of the Bible series of historical romances, including Rahab’s Story, Deborah’s Story, Jael’s Story, and Abigail’s Story.

 

For more fabulous first line fun, head over to Hoarding Books.

 

Book Review: The Woman in The Green Dress

6 Aug

A cursed opal, a gnarled family tree, and a sinister woman in a green dress emerge in the aftermath of World War I.

After a whirlwind romance, London teashop waitress Fleur Richards can’t wait for her new husband, Hugh, to return from the Great War. But when word of his death arrives on Armistice Day, Fleur learns he has left her a sizable family fortune. Refusing to accept the inheritance, she heads to his beloved home country of Australia in search of the relatives who deserve it more.

In spite of her reluctance, she soon finds herself the sole owner of a remote farm and a dilapidated curio shop full of long-forgotten artifacts, remarkable preserved creatures, and a mystery that began more than sixty-five years ago. With the help of Kip, a repatriated soldier dealing with the sobering aftereffects of war, Fleur finds herself unable to resist pulling on the threads of the past. What she finds is a shocking story surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress. . . a story that, nevertheless, offers hope and healing for the future.

Tea Cooper is an Australian author of historical and contemporary fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling.

Website: http://www.teacooperauthor.com
Blog: http://www.teacooperauthor.com/blog.html
Twitter: @TeaCooper1
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TeaCooper
Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/LtrSn

 

My Impressions:

I chose The Woman in The Green Dress as my book club’s surprise selection for a number of reasons. We read a lot of contemporary suspense because my group likes a puzzling mystery, but we rarely read historical fiction because of the first statement. 😉 So I decided to find a book that would combine history with mystery plus had something a bit different. Hence Tea Cooper’s Australian-set, dual timeline, history/mystery. I usually have a good idea going into our discussions how my group will like a book — we have been meeting for years and years. But I am unsure what their reaction will be to this complex and sometimes weird book. It has a great gothic vibe going on, the characters are well-drawn, the setting cannot be better, and the two plots are tangled in creative ways.

Australia is a place I would love to visit, but probably won’t because of the distance and expense. The Woman in The Green Dress brings the reader to a past Australia with its natural beauty, yet ugly social structure. I found a lot of parallels with the policies and prejudices of the US during the same time periods. Cooper’s detailed descriptions helped me envision the flora and fauna and the plight of the Darkinjung people. Main characters Della and Stefan from 1853 and Fleur from 1919 are complexly written, but I have to say that Bert, a supporting character that spans both story lines is perfect in his portrayal. The story revolves around the death of Fleur’s husband in WWI and a missing opal in 1853, but there really is so much more to the book. I found the mysteries interesting, but the characters were what kept me reading.

I listened to the audiobook of The Woman in The Green Dress. The narrator does a wonderful job of making the setting and characters come to life. The novel is published by Thomas Nelson, however, there is some language that traditional readers of Christian fiction may find offensive. I didn’t like it, but it didn’t make me stop reading either. Overall, I would recommend this novel, but perhaps not to every reader.

Recommended with some caveats. (Language)

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the paperback and audiobook from Amazon/Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Book Review: Pugtato Finds A Thing

5 Aug

Enchanting illustrations. Giggle-inducing text. Unique and loveable characters. Join Pugtato and his cute and quirky pack of pals in this heartwarming picture book that celebrates the power of friendship, compassion, and believing in your own unique gifts. 

When Pugtato’s simple, quiet life is disrupted after he digs up a strange object in his garden, he enlists his best “spuddies” to help (they are more clever than he is, after all). Tweetroot is certain it’s a new egg for her nest. Tomatoad is quite sure it’s a toy just for him. And Purrsnip simply won’t stop scratching it! Luckily, Pugtato has another very special spuddy to ask . . . .

Sophie Corrigan is a freelance illustrator and authour from Lancashire, UK. She graduated from University of Central Lancashire in 2013 with a first class degree in Illustration, and recieved a Distinction in her Masters degree in Children’s Book Illustration from the same university. In 2017, her children’s picture book I’m a Little Monkey was Highly Commended in the Macmillan Prize for Children’s Book Illustration, and she has since worked with publishers such as Bloomsbury, Chronicle Books and Wicked Cow.

Sophie has produced illustration work for Hallmark Cards, Papier, Moonpig, Ohh Deer, Jellycat and Boomf, and her work has been stocked by John Lewis, Paperchase, Urban Outfitters, Sainsbury’s, Clinton Cards, Hot Topic, Topshop, Tesco, The Range, Ryman Stationery, Calendar Club, SOMA Gallery, Yard Gallery, ASOS and the RSPCA shop.

When not illustrating and maintaining her online art shops, Sophie spends the spare time she has going to shows, watching nature programmes, eating vegtarian food, hanging out with her pet cockatiels, and occasionally crafting cute things from wool and clay.

 

My Impressions:

Pugtato Finds A Thing is a quirky and cute book — a delight for kids of all ages. The rhyming story follows Pugato, a charming character that is part pug dog and potato, as he searches for the answer to the mysterious thing he has dug from his garden. He asks all his friends, including Purrsnip, Colliflower, and Croccoli, to help him puzzle out what he has found. I thought the combination of vegetables and animals was very original, and I can’t help but imagine a child’s eager turning of the pages to discover what fantastical creature awaits them and probably coming up with combos of their own! The whimsical illustrations complete the fun. Each character’s individuality is emphasized, and in the end Pugtato discovers the key to who his newest friend is. I have a young niece who is going to love this book. Cannot wait to share it with her.

Recommended.

Audience: preschoolers to young elementary-aged children.

(Thanks to Zonderkids for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Colorful Book Titles

4 Aug

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge is to list books with colors in their titles. There are a lot more than I expected! I limited my list to books I have read or that reside on my TBR shelf (Kindle or actual), but the list is still really long 😉 .

Have you read any of these colorful titles?

 

For more Top 10 Tuesday fun, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Colorful Titles

 

Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Colins

 

The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear

Blue Moon Bay by Lisa Wingate

Why The Sky Is Blue by Susan Meissner

 

Under A Turquoise Sky by Lisa Carter

 

Always Green by Patti Hill

Downtown Green by Judy Christie

The Woman in The Green Dress by Tea Cooper

 

The Yellow Packard by Ace Collins

\

Coral Moon by Brandilyn Collins

 

The Crimson Cord by Jill Eileen Smith

Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay

The Red Ribbon by Pepper Basham

 

The Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma

 

Chasing The White Lion by James R. Hannibal

The White City by Grace Hitchcock

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner

The White Rose Resists by Amanda Barratt

 

The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock

 

The Black Madonna By Davis Bunn

The Black Midnight by Kathleen Y’Barbo

The Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

 

 

August Book Club Selection — The Woman in The Green Dress

3 Aug

This month’s book club selection is The Woman in The Green Dress by Australian author Tea Cooper. This novel full of mystery and history has a dual timeline — 1853 and 1919 — and is set almost entirely in Australia. I have already read the book (I listened to the excellent audiobook edition) and will be reviewing it soon. Although I usually can judge these things, I am really not sure how my group will like this book. All I will say right now, is that it has a lot of interesting elements.

Have you read it? We would love to know your thoughts.

 

 

A cursed opal, a gnarled family tree, and a sinister woman in a green dress emerge in the aftermath of World War I.

After a whirlwind romance, London teashop waitress Fleur Richards can’t wait for her new husband, Hugh, to return from the Great War. But when word of his death arrives on Armistice Day, Fleur learns he has left her a sizable family fortune. Refusing to accept the inheritance, she heads to his beloved home country of Australia in search of the relatives who deserve it more.

In spite of her reluctance, she soon finds herself the sole owner of a remote farm and a dilapidated curio shop full of long-forgotten artifacts, remarkable preserved creatures, and a mystery that began more than sixty-five years ago. With the help of Kip, a repatriated soldier dealing with the sobering aftereffects of war, Fleur finds herself unable to resist pulling on the threads of the past. What she finds is a shocking story surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress. . . a story that, nevertheless, offers hope and healing for the future.

This romantic mystery from award-winning Australian novelist Tea Cooper will keep readers guessing until the astonishing conclusion.

 

Tea Cooper is an Australian author of historical and contemporary fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling.

Website: http://www.teacooperauthor.com
Blog: http://www.teacooperauthor.com/blog.html
Twitter: @TeaCooper1
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TeaCooper
Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/LtrSn

 

First Line Friday — Chasing The White Lion

31 Jul

I headed back to my TBR shelves for this week’s First Line Friday. Chasing The White Lion by James R. Hannibal is the second book featuring CIA agent Thalia Inger and an ensemble cast a little like Oceans 11. I am looking forward to a wild ride!

Here’s the first line:

The cab driver cast a nervous glance at the alley’s unlit streetlamp and blacked-out windows.

 

Young CIA officer Talia Inger has reconciled with the man who assassinated her father, but that doesn’t mean she wants him hovering over her every move and unearthing the painful past she’s trying to put behind her. Still, she’ll need him–and the help of his star grifter, Valkyrie–if she hopes to infiltrate the Jungle, the first ever crowdsourced crime syndicate, to rescue a group of kidnapped refugee children.

But as Talia and her elite team of thieves con their way into the heart of the Jungle, inching ever closer to syndicate boss the White Lion, she’ll run right up against the ragged edge of her family’s dark past. In this game of cat and mouse, it’s win . . . or die. And in times like that, it’s always good to have someone watching your back.

Former tactical deception officer and stealth pilot James Hannibal takes you deep undercover into the criminal underworld where everyone has an angle and no one escapes unscathed.

Former stealth pilot James R. Hannibal is no stranger to secrets and adventure. He has been shot at, locked up with surface to air missiles, and chased down a winding German road by an armed terrorist. He is a two-time Silver Falchion award-winner for his Section 13 mysteries, a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series, and a Selah Award finalist for his Clandestine Service series. James is a rare multi-sense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells and hears flashes of light. If he tells you the chocolate cake you offered smells blue and sticky, take it as a compliment.

 

For more fabulous first lines, head over to Hoarding Books.

 

If You Liked Living Lies . . .

30 Jul

Everyone in my book club liked Living Lies by Natalie Walters. A romantic suspense set in a small southern town, it focuses on the tough issues of depression, suicide, and PTSD. It also connected cartel activity to the art world. I have a few book recommendations if you also liked Living Lies. Hope you find another book to love.

 

 

Suspense Set in A Small Town 

Trial by Fire (book 1 in the Baxter series) by Kathy Herman

When a bizarre houseboat explosion rocks the close-knit community of Baxter, firefighters, friends, and neighbors stand powerless as the McConnells’ blazing hull sinks to the bottom of Heron Lake. Grief turns to outrage as new evidence proves there was one survivor — and points to murder, something this sheltered community has never faced in its hundred-year history. In a race with the FBI, Jed sets out to track down the sole survivor, coping meanwhile with his own painful marital struggle. Baxter’s mystery and Jed’s dilemma are ones only God can solve in this suspenseful, surprising story of redemption amidst despair in small-town America.


 

A Heroine with Struggles

Fragments of Fear by Carrie Stuart Park

Evelyn Yvonne McTavish — Tavish to her friends — had her almost perfect world in Albuquerque, New Mexico, come to a crashing end with the suicide of her fiancé. As she struggles to put her life back together and make a living from her art, she’s given the news that her dog is about to be destroyed at the dog pound. Except she doesn’t own a dog. The shelter is adamant that the microchip embedded in the canine-with her name and address-makes it hers.

Tavish recognizes the dog as one owned by an archaeologist named Pat Caron because she did a commissioned drawing of the two of them months earlier. The simple solution is to return the dog to his owner, but she arrives only to discover Caron’s murdered body.

After meeting undercover FBI agent Sawyer Price the mystery deepens as more people start disappearing and Tavish becomes a target as well. Her only solution is to find the links between microchip technology, an Anasazi site in the desert, her fiancé’s death, a late-night radio show, and the dog. And the clock is ticking.

 

PTSD

Without Warning by Lynette Eason

Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident. Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.

Daniel might be concerned, but he’s not convinced that a bodyguard — and a female one at that — is necessary. A new attack and his niece’s urgings are enough to make him reconsider. He and Katie must figure out who’s behind the intimidation and threats — before a would-be killer strikes again.

 

Crime in The Art World

A Fool And His Monet by Sandra Orchard

Serena Jones has a passion for recovering lost and stolen art — one that’s surpassed only by her zeal to uncover the truth about the art thief who murdered her grandfather. She’s joined the FBI Art Crime Team with the secret hope that one of her cases will lead to his killer. Now, despite her mother’s pleas to do something safer –like get married — Serena’s learning how to go undercover to catch thieves and black market traders.

When a local museum discovers an irreplaceable Monet missing, Jones leaps into action. The clues point in different directions, and her boss orders her to cease investigating her most promising suspect. But determined to solve the case and perhaps discover another clue in her grandfather’s murder, she pushes ahead, regardless of the danger.