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May Book Club Selections

1 May

May is looking like an excellent reading month! Both my book clubs are active again, and we have chosen two great books. By The Book is reading If I Live by Terri Blackstock, the last in the series and a highly anticipated novel for my group’s members. Page Turners, after a few months hiatus, is reading The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Have you read either of these books? We would love to know your thoughts.

THE HUNT IS ALMOST OVER.

Casey Cox is still on the run after being indicted for murder. The hunt that began with her bloody footprints escalates, and she’s running out of places to hide. Her face is all over the news, and her disguises are no longer enough. It’s only a matter of time before someone recognizes her.

Dylan Roberts, the investigator who once hunted her, is now her only hope. Terrifying attempts on Dylan’s life could force Casey out of hiding. The clock is ticking on both their lives, but exposing the real killers is more complicated than they knew. Amassing the evidence to convict their enemies draws Dylan and Casey together, but their relationship has consequences. Will one life have to be sacrificed to protect the other?

With If I Live, Terri Blackstock takes us on one more heart-stopping chase in the sensational conclusion to the If I Run series.

 

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb . . . .

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society — born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island — boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

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April Book Club Selection

2 Apr

I am very excited about By The Book’s next selection, The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers. Rivers is a favorite author of ours, and we make sure to read all of her releases. I’ve already read it and loved, loved it. Can’t wait to discuss it with my group . . . and you! Have you read it yet? Make sure to let us know your thoughts.

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want―money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist―an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship ― and both their lives ― forever.

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers continues to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her numerous bestsellers include Redeeming Love, A Voice in the Wind, and Bridge to Haven, and her work has been translated into more than thirty different languages. She is a member of Romance Writers of America’s coveted Hall of Fame as well as a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Visit Francine online at http://www.francinerivers.com and connect with her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/FrancineRivers) and Twitter (@FrancineRivers).

Top 10 Tuesday — Spring TBR

20 Mar

It has been spring here in middle Georgia for a while now. The unusually cold winter has given way to a very early spring. Everything is blooming here and the inevitable pollen has tinged all things yellow. But it is beautiful and promises warmer weather to come.

With March comes a new Spring TBR! Check out what other bloggers are reading in the coming months at That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Books on The Spring TBR List

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

High Cotton by Debby Mayne

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

If I Live by Terri Blackstock

The Land Lord by Cheryl Colwell

Lone Witness by Rachel Dylan

A Loyal Heart by Jody Hedlund

Presumption And Partiality by Rebekah Jones

Together Forever by Jody Hedlund

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West 

What’s on your Spring TBR List?

 

First Line Friday — Beneath The Surface by Lynn H. Blackburn

9 Mar

Welcome to another First Line Friday! This week I am spotlighting a new novel in my favorite genre — suspense! Lynn H. Blackburn has just released the first book in the Dive Team Investigations series, Beneath The Surface. The reviews so far have been raves! I can’t wait to dive into this one myself (sorry 😉 ) in a few days.

To join the First Line Friday fun, leave a comment with the first sentence of the closest book and then head over to Hoarding Books to check out other bloggers’ first lines.

 

 

After a harrowing experience with an obsessed patient, oncology nurse practitioner Leigh Weston needed a change. She thought she’d left her troubles behind when she moved home to Carrington, North Carolina, and took a job in the emergency department of the local hospital. But when someone tampers with her brakes, she fears the past has chased her into the present. She reaches out to her high school friend turned homicide investigator, Ryan Parker, for help.

Ryan finds satisfaction in his career, but his favorite way to use his skills is as a volunteer underwater investigator with the Carrington County Sheriff’s Office dive team. When the body of a wealthy businessman is discovered in Lake Porter, the investigation uncovers a possible serial killer–one with a terrifying connection to Leigh Weston and deadly implications for them all.

Dive into the depths of fear with an exciting new voice in romantic suspense. Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn grabs readers by the throat and doesn’t let go until the final heart-pounding page.

To order, click HERE.

Lynn H. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. Her first book, Covert Justice, won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery/Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Her second book, Hidden Legacy, released June 2017. She begins a new series, Dive Team Investigations with Beneath The Surface in March of 2018.

First Line Friday — Undercut by Heather Day Gilbert

2 Mar

Every Friday bloggers are posting the first lines (or 2 or 3, hee hee) of the book closest to them — First Line Friday! I’ve had so much fun discovering new books and authors through this weekly meme. To join in, all you have to do is grab the nearest book, post its first sentence in the comments of this post, and then head on over to Hoarding Books to discover more great first lines. Now, we are very flexible in this, so if another line grabs your fancy, by all means share that one (or 2 or 3! 😉 ). The more the merrier with books!

 

This week, my first line comes from the very talented mystery author, Heather Day Gilbert and her novella Undercut, the second installment in the Hemlock Creek Suspense series.

 

Marine sniper Isaiah (“Zane”) Boone is home from Afghanistan with more than a few ghosts. Try as he might to settle back into civilian life in small-town West Virginia, he can’t escape the conviction he’s being followed. Both Zane’s ex-wife and his psychologist claim he’s paranoid, and he can’t prove he’s not. Hoping to outrun his misery, he sets his romantic sights on the irresistible Molly McClure. A successful wedding coordinator at the illustrious Greenbrier Resort, Molly has had plenty of wealthy men willing to open their wallets and hearts for her. But when Zane strides into the upscale Greenbrier lobby with his lumberjack boots and his troubled eyes, the attraction she’s felt since high school reawakens — and she’s willing to go way out of her comfort zone to pursue it. When Molly becomes an innocent target, Zane realizes too late that his malevolent stalkers are very real. As a net of vengeance tightens around them, Zane gears up for a fight to the death…and Molly has just one chance to prove she can be far more than a pretty face. Book 2 in the Hemlock Creek Suspense series by Grace award-winning, INSPY-longlist nominated author Heather Day Gilbert.

To purchase, click HERE. (It’s only $2.99 on Kindle!)

Heather Day Gilbert, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Heather writes Viking historicals and contemporary mystery/suspense. Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.”

Find Heather on Pinterest (heatherdgilbert), Instagram (@heatherdaygilbert), Twitter (@heatherdgilbert), and Facebook (heatherdaygilbert). You can find all her books at heatherdaygilbert.com.

March 2018 Book Club Selection —

1 Mar

Can you believe it is March already?!! Here in middle Georgia the flowering trees and shrubs are blooming and the grass is green. It looks like our unusually cold winter is over. But whether we will be sitting out on the porch or cuddled up next to the fire — you never know what March will bring — we will be reading! By The Book‘s March selection is The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright. I have heard great things about this debut novel. Have you read it? Then we welcome your thoughts. If not, please join us.

 

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives — including her own — are lost?

To purchase, click HERE.

Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher’s Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.

Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimejowright.com!

February’s Book Club Selections

1 Feb

I have already read (and reviewed) both of my book clubs’ selections this month. They are both wonderful! If you haven’r read them yet, I highly recommend you do! If you have read them, we would love to know your thoughts.

By The Book — Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse’s stunning debut, Missing Isaac.

It is 1965 when black field hand Isaac Reynolds goes missing from the tiny, unassuming town of Glory, Alabama. The townspeople’s reactions range from concern to indifference, but one boy will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his unlikely friend. White, wealthy, and fatherless, young Pete McLean has nothing to gain and everything to lose in his relentless search for Isaac. In the process, he will discover much more than he bargained for. Before it’s all over, Pete — and the people he loves most — will have to blur the hard lines of race, class, and religion. And what they discover about themselves may change some of them forever.

 

Page Turners — On This Foundation by Lynn Austin.

When news that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire, Nehemiah, Jewish cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in Persia, seeks God’s guidance. After fasting and prayer, he’s given leave to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the city wall, not anticipating all the dangers that await him on his arrival.

The leaders of the surrounding nations become his fierce enemies, plotting to assassinate him and halt the work. A drought, meanwhile, has left the country impoverished, many families resorting to selling their children as bondservants just to keep from starving.

Capturing the rebuilding of the wall through the eyes of a number of characters, On This Foundation is a powerful exploration of faith in the midst of oppression, and hope that, in spite of appearances, the gracious hand of God is upon those who believe.

 

Won’t you join us?

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Bookish Resolutions

16 Jan

Um . . . resolutions are not my friends. Lofty goals often become epic fails a few months later. I think the success of resolutions is seated in realistic expectations and aspirations. So really the only bookish resolution with any hope of succeeding is read more books! Seriously, there are a few things I need to do to get my obsession hobby under control. But before I get to that, you need to check out Barnes and Nobles’s 20 New Year’s Resolutions for Book Nerds. Very funny!

To find out what other bloggers are vowing to do, head over to The Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 5 Bookish Resolutions

Read more books . . . for pleasure. I know that sounds kind of ridiculous, but since I read a lot of review books, I often spend my reading time with books I have to read. Don’t get me wrong, I love the blogging/reviewing life, but my eyes can be bigger than my reading time. And reading on a deadline can seriously affect my enjoyment of a book. So, I vow to limit the number of books I take on review. (This was also a goal last year. I was somewhat successful as compared to previous years, but I still overextended.)

 

Expand my reading horizons. I am a pretty eclectic reader, but my all-time favorite genre is mystery/suspense. I read a lot of that in 2017. I want to include more books from other genres, especially speculative fiction.

Work on the TBR pile. Books to the sky is a reality at my house. As is a Kindle library that may be insurmountable. I hope to read more books that have languished on the shelves far too long.

More time reading, less time on social media. I love, love, love to talk books, and I have found great sites to do just that. But social media, especially FB, takes me on too many time-consuming bunny trails. I’m not going to say I am giving up social media, but I am going to try to control the amount of time spent there so that I can have more reading time, while allowing more time interacting with actual people. 😉

Read the Bible. Of all the time I spend reading, the Bible often gets short shrift. I want to read more of what is truly important — those things God has to say to me. I lead a Faith And Fiction Bible study at my church. It combines Bible study with fiction inspired by stories from the Bible. My group had a great time digging into the Bible while exploring the creative accounts by Christian authors. I’d like that to be more of an emphasis this year — mining truths from fiction and God’s word.

 

Do you have any bookish resolutions?

January Book Club Selection

1 Jan

This month By The Book is reading Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman. Putman is a new author for us, but this novel is in our favorite genre, so I think we will love it. Have you read it yet? We would love to know your thoughts.

 

The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . .  can they?

To the world it seems obvious: Kaylene Adams killed her daughter and then was shot by police. Attorney Emilie Wesley knows a different story: Kaylene would never hurt anyone and was looking for a way out of a controlling, abusive relationship. Her death shakes Emilie’s belief that she can make a difference for women in violent marriages. Self-doubt plagues her as she struggles to continue her work in the wake of the tragedy.

Reid Billings thought he knew his sister — right up until he learned how she died. He discovers a letter from Kaylene begging him to fight for custody of her daughters if anything should happen to her. No attorney in her right mind would support an uncle instead of the father in a custody case, but Kaylene’s letter claims Emilie Wesley will help him.

Thrown together in the race to save Kaylene’s surviving daughter, Emily and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. If they can hang on to hope together, can they save a young girl — and find a future for themselves in the process?

To purchase, click  HERE

(From the author’s Amazon page) Since the time she could read Nancy Drew, Cara Putman has wanted to write mysteries. In 2005 she attended a book signing at her local Christian bookstore. The rest, as they say, is history. There she met Colleen Coble. With prompting from her husband, she shared her dream with Colleen. Since those infamous words, she’s been writing award-winning books with the count currently at 25.

In addition to writing, she is a homeschooling mom of four, attorney, lecturer at a Big Ten university, active in women’s ministry, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband, and her kids. Cara graduated with honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!), George Mason Law School, and Purdue University’s MBA program. You can learn more about her books at http://www.caraputman.com. And if you’d like a copy of her legal suspense novella, Dying for Love, simply connect with her here (http://www.caraputman.com/contact/) , and she’ll send you the link.

 

First Line Friday — A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

29 Dec

This week’s First Line Friday’s theme is the New Year, so I decided to share the first book I will be reading in 2018, Susie Finkbeiner‘s newest release, A Song of Home. This book concludes Pearl Spence’s story and takes place in the mid 1930s. I have enjoyed all the of the books in this series, and just know that I will be glad and sad when I finish the last book.

Leave me a comment with the first line of the closest book to you, then head over to Hoarding Books to check out other bloggers’ first lines.

 

Pearl Spence has finally settled into a routine in Bliss, Michigan, far from her home in Red River, Oklahoma. Like all the other kids, she goes to school each day, plays in the woods, and does her chores. But there’s one big difference: Mama is still gone, and doesn’t seem to have a thought for the family she’s left behind.

Escaping from her worries is another part of Pearl’s new routine, whether that’s running to Aunt Carrie’s farm, listening to the radio with Ray, or losing herself in a book. In fact, a chair in the stacks, surrounded by books, might be her favorite place on earth–until she discovers swing dancing. The music transports Pearl to a whole other world.

When Mama unexpectedly returns, it isn’t the happy occasion Pearl had imagined. Mama is distant and Pearl can’t figure out how to please her. And the horrible way she treats Daddy is more than Pearl can bear. Seems life would be better if Mama would just stay away.

Finkbeiner’s portrayal of both tragedy and everyday life in times of great change is charged with a raw beauty that will haunt readers. Fans of the two prior Pearl Spence novels won’t be disappointed! 

(From Amazon) Susie Finkbeiner is a story junkie. Always has been and always will be. It seems it’s a congenital condition, one she’s quite fond of.

After decades of reading everything she could get her hands on (except for See the Eel, a book assigned to her while in first grade, a book she declared was unfit for her book-snob eyes), Susie realized that she wanted to write stories of her own. She began with epics about horses and kittens (but never, ever eels).

It takes years to grow a writer and after decades of work, Susie realized (with much gnashing of teeth and tears) that she was a novelist. In order to learn how to write novels, she read eclectically and adventurously (she may never swim with sharks, but the lady will jump into nearly any story). After reading the work of Lisa Samson, Patti Hill, and Bonnie Grove she realized that there was room for a writer like her in Christian fiction.

Her first novels Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother’s Chamomile (2014) have contemporary settings. While she loved those stories and especially the characters, Susie felt the pull toward historical fiction.

When she read Into the Free by Julie Cantrell she knew she wanted to write historical stories with a side of spunk, grit, and vulnerability. Susie is also greatly inspired by the work of Jocelyn Green, Rachel McMillan, and Tracy Groot.

A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl (2015), Finkbeiner’s bestselling historical set in 1930s Oklahoma, has been compared to the work of John Steinbeck and Harper Lee (which flatters Susie’s socks off). Pearl’s story continues with A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression (2017) and A Song of Home: A Novel of the Swing Era (2018).

What does she have planned after that? More stories, of course. She’s a junkie. She couldn’t quit if she wanted to.