Tag Archives: Bo Caldwell

Top Ten Tuesday — Favorites from The Early Years

12 Sep

I have been blogging for almost 8 years now. And while hopefully I have improved (I cringe at some of my early reviews), one thing remains the same. I have read and am continuing to read great Christian fiction. The folks at The Broke And The Bookish are challenging bloggers to come up with lists of favorites from the early years of our blogs. What a great theme! I still think about all the books on my list. They really made an impact. If you haven’t read them, I encourage you to take a closer look. They really are special.

Nine Favorites from The Early Years of By The Book

 

 

Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry

Billy Allman is a hillbilly genius. People in Dogwood, West Virginia, say he was born with a second helping of brains and a gift for playing the mandolin but was cut short on social skills. Though he’d gladly give you the shirt off his back, they were right. Billy longs to use his life as an ode to God, a lyrical, beautiful bluegrass song played with a finely tuned heart. So with spare parts from a lifetime of collecting, he builds a radio station in his own home. People in town laugh. But Billy carries a brutal secret that keeps him from significance and purpose. Things always seem to go wrong for him.

However small his life seems, from a different perspective Billy’s song reaches far beyond the hills and hollers he calls home. Malachi is an angel sent to observe Billy. Though it is not his dream assignment, Malachi follows the man and begins to see the bigger picture of how each painful step Billy takes is a note added to a beautiful symphony that will forever change the lives of those who hear it.

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

Will Kiehn is seemingly destined for life as a humble farmer in the Midwest when, having felt a call from God, he travels to the vast North China Plain in the early twentieth-century. There he is surprised by love and weds a strong and determined fellow missionary, Katherine. They soon find themselves witnesses to the crumbling of a more than two-thousand-year-old dynasty that plunges the country into decades of civil war. As the couple works to improve the lives of the people of Kuang P’ing Ch’eng― City of Tranquil Light, a place they come to love―and face incredible hardship, will their faith and relationship be enough to sustain them?

Told through Will and Katherine’s alternating viewpoints―and inspired by the lives of the author’s maternal grandparents ― City of Tranquil Light is a tender and elegiac portrait of a young marriage set against the backdrop of the shifting face of a beautiful but torn nation.

Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen

In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir sees Phillip Sharp as a charming, magnetic artist, unlike any man she has known. A young lawyer herself, raised in a small town and on the brink of a career with a large firm, she is strong and successful, yet sometimes too trusting and whimsical. Ama’s rash decision to marry Phillip proves to be a mistake as he becomes overly possessive, drawing his wife away from family, friends, and her faith. His insidious, dangerous behavior becomes her dark, inescapable secret.

For Time And Eternity by Allison Pittman

All Camilla Deardon knows of the Mormons camping nearby is the songs she hears floating on the breeze. Then she meets one of them―a young man named Nathan Fox. Never did she imagine he would be so handsome, so charming, especially after Mama and Papa’s warnings to stay away. Though she knows she should obey her parents, Camilla can’t refuse her heart. But even Nathan’s promises cannot prepare her for what she will face in Utah.

 

The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan

Mercy Land has made some unexpected choices for a young woman in the 1930s. The sheltered daughter of a traveling preacher, she chooses to leave her rural community to move to nearby Bay City on the warm, gulf-waters of southern Alabama. There she finds a job at the local paper and spends seven years making herself indispensible to old Doc Philips, the publisher and editor. Then she gets a frantic call at dawn—it’s the biggest news story of her life, and she can’t print a word of it.
           
Doc has come into possession of a curious book that maps the lives of everyone in Bay City—decisions they’ve made in the past, and how those choices affect the future. Mercy and Doc are consumed by the mystery locked between the pages — Doc because he hopes to right a very old wrong, and Mercy because she wants to fulfill the book’s strange purpose. But when a mystery from Mercy’s past arrives by train, she begins to understand that she will have to make choices that will deeply affect everyone she loves — forever.

The Rhythm of Secrets by Patti Lacy

Sheila Franklin has lived three separate lives. Now a conservative pastor’s wife in Chicago, she is skilled at hiding secrets–a talent birthed during childhood romps through the music-filled streets of New Orleans. But when the son she bore at the age of eighteen comes back looking for answers and desperate for help, her greatest secret–and greatest regret — is revealed.

Eager to right past wrongs, Sheila’s heart floods with memories of lyrical jazz music and a worn-out Bible. But when her husband learns of her shady history, Sheila is suddenly faced with an impossible decision: embrace the dream–and son–she abandoned against her will or give in to the demands of her safe but stifled life. As she struggles to reclaim both her son and her identity, Sheila soon realizes that God’s grace spans both seas and secrets and that He is all she really needs.

With dynamic writing that makes the reader feel the heartache of a teenage mother, struggle with the disillusionment of an abandoned boy, and revel in the idea of grace despite flaws, rising star Patti Lacy takes her fans on a journey they won’t want to end — and won’t soon forget.

A Thousand Sleepless Nights by Michael King

In the 1970s, escaping a home where he knew nothing but violence and hate, Jim Harding found work, and love, on the largest horse ranch in Virginia. The object of his affections, Nena St. Claire, is the daughter of the owner, a man who ruled his ranch with an iron fist and would do whatever it took to keep Nena and Jim apart.
 
Against the wishes of her family, Nena marries Jim, and after her father dies, she sacrifices everything — including her family — to keep the ranch alive. Now their three grown children have lives of their own and want nothing to do with Nena. She was never the mother they needed.
 
When cancer strikes and Nena is given a devastating diagnosis, can Jim reconcile the family before it is too late?

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new―shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and  timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.”

Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history―and its new bride―begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

Words by Ginny Yttrup

“I collect words. I keep them in a box in my mind. I’d like to keep them in a real box, something pretty, maybe a shoe box covered with flowered wrapping paper. Whenever I wanted, I’d open the box and pick up the papers, reading and feeling the words all at once. Then I could hide the box. But the words are safer in my mind. There, he can’t take them.”

Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn’t speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in a remote cabin nestled in the towering redwoods-in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary.

Sierra Dawn is thirty-four, an artist, and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes and chooses to bury her pain by trying to control her circumstances. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter’s death, Sierra’s control begins to crumble as the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself.

Brought together by Divine design, Kaylee and Sierra will discover together the healing mercy of the Word — Jesus Christ.

 

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TOP 10 Tuesday — Around The World in Books!

19 Jul

This week the folks at The Broke And The Bookish are focusing on Books Set Outside The United States. To find out all the great books bloggers are recommending, click HERE.

toptentuesday

 

I’m not much of a traveler, but I have loved the places I visited in books! Because there are so many great books set outside of the US, I have included many more than 10, 25 in fact. Divided by geographic location, my list includes books set within the last 100 years so that you can easily see where you are visiting! Have fun exploring the world!

Around The World in Books

The Americas

CanadaThe Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan.

MexicoMore Than Conquerors by Kathi Macias 

NicaraguaWater from My Heart by Charles Martin

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Europe

EnglandThe Inheritance by Michael Phillips

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

Secrets of A Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

FranceDefy The Night by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn

Flame of Resistance by Tracy Groot

GreeceThe Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn

Netherlands Snow on The Tulips by Liz Tolsma

Ukraine Beyond The Rapids by Evelyn Puerto

Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

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Africa

AlgeriaTwo Destinies by Elizabeth Musser

South AfricaThe Girl from The Train by Irma Joubert

No Greater Love by Kathi Macias

SudanSide by Side by Jana Kelley

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The Middle East 

AfghanistanFarewell, Four Waters by Kate McCord

Saudia Arabia People of The Book by Kathi Macias

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Asia

ChinaCity of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

Red Ink by Kathi Macias 

Indonesia (Dutch East Indies)Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

North KoreaBeloved Daughter by Alana Terry

The PhilippinesRemember The Lilies by Liz Tolsma

VietnamYesterday’s Tomorrow by Catherine West

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Australia 

Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman

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Where do you want to travel?

 

Book Review: The City of Tranquil Light

14 Dec

Will Kiehn is seemingly destined for life as a humble farmer in the Midwest when, having felt a call from God, he travels to the vast North China Plain in the early twentieth-century. There he is surprised by love and weds a strong and determined fellow missionary, Katherine. They soon find themselves witnesses to the crumbling of a more than two-thousand-year-old dynasty that plunges the country into decades of civil war. As the couple works to improve the lives of the people of Kuang P’ing Ch’eng– City of Tranquil Light, a place they come to love–and face incredible hardship, will their faith and relationship be enough to sustain them?

Told through Will and Katherine’s alternating viewpoints–and inspired by the lives of the author’s maternal grandparents–City of Tranquil Light is a tender and elegiac portrait of a young marriage set against the backdrop of the shifting face of a beautiful but torn nation. A deeply spiritual book, it shows how those who work to teach others often have the most to learn, and is further evidence that Bo Caldwell writes “vividly and with great historical perspective” (San Jose Mercury News).

Excerpt

Bo Caldwell is the author of the national bestseller The Distant Land of My Father and the novel City of Tranquil Light. Her short fiction has been published inPloughsharesStoryEpoch, and other literary journals. A former Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University, she lives in Northern California with her husband, novelist Ron Hansen.

My Impressions:

The City of Tranquil Light is probably the best book I have read this year, and I have read some pretty good books!  It tells the story of a young Mennonite couple who meet and marry while pursuing the call of God to be missionaries to China in the early 20th century.  Sounds kind of tame doesn’t it?  But what Bo Caldwell has produced is anything but.  Told in the quiet reminiscences of Will and the diary entries of Katherine, the reader discovers a couple who love God fiercely and therefore those to whom they are ministering.

Will and Katherine go to China to share the gospel and provide nursing care to a poor people who are hostile to outsiders and suspicious of anything foreign. They struggle along with the people they are sent to care for — through disease, famine, drought, and floods.  They face hostility from neighbors and danger from bandits.  They face incredible loss that would have been unthinkable in the United States, but never waver in their pursuit of God’s will for their lives.  Yet Will and Katherine are  extraordinary in their ordinariness.  They epitomize the power God can wield when working through His weak, but submissive children. Even when doubt and anger take root, they determine to trust the God who has proven Himself time and again.  This novel really does show what a life lived for Christ looks like.

The writing is simply beautiful.  I don’t think I have ever teared up in the first pages of a novel before.  But the language is so lyrical, that it did indeed move me to tears.  The secondary characters are just as well-crafted as Will and Katherine. They come alive in the pages of this novel.  So my advice to you is go out and get this book!  You will not regret it.

Very Highly Recommended. (The highest you can get from me and never before given to a book.)

 

(I received The City of Tranquil Light from the publisher.  All opinions expressed are mine alone.)