Tag Archives: contemporary fiction

Book Review: My Sister’s Prayer

24 Feb

51fzrfbcl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Virginia, 1704

Celeste Talbot is usually such a sensible young woman—until she falls for an English soldier reassigned to the Colonies. Leaving her Huguenot family behind, she sets sail for America, only to realize that her younger sister Berta has been kidnapped and forced on board the very same ship. Whom can Celeste trust? The dashing soldier? Or the vigilant carpenter who remains by their side in the perilous New World?

Virginia, present day

Madeline “Maddee” Talbot has her hands full when she agrees to take in her younger sister, Nicole, following a serious car accident. The young women grew apart when Nicole fell into drug addiction, and Maddee prays this will be the start of a better life for her sister. But as they investigate a trauma from their childhood, Maddee must keep a diligent eye on Nicole—and the shadowy figure watching them from afar.

mindy-starns-clark-250-shadowMindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 30 books, both fiction and nonfiction, and has received numerous literary honors, including two Christy Awards and RT Book Review Magazine’s 2012 Career Achievement Award. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

61m0vp8plil-_ux250_Leslie Gould is the best-selling and award-winning author of twenty-three novels. She loves traveling, research, Shakespeare’s plays, and church history. She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon and are the parents of four children. http://www.lesliegould.com/

 

 

My Impressions:

My Sister’s Prayer by award-winning authors Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould continues the saga of the Talbot family. This time sisters are the focus of the novel with the dual storylines of Celeste and Berta and Maddee and Nicole. The setting is Virginia, but the times the sisters live in could not be more different. Celeste and Berta are new immigrants to the Virginia colony, and Maddee and Nicole’s story is contemporary. But despite the differences in culture and technology, there are many parallels that can be drawn — struggles of the heart are not so different across the centuries. My book club, By The Book, chose this as their February selection, and it got a unanimous thumbs up! We had a great discussion.

There were several things we liked about My Sister’s Prayer. Number one is the historical setting of Celeste and Berta’s story. Our group includes a 4th grade teacher who loves history. She read many excerpts to her class in their discussions on indentured servants. This topic, as well as the general deprivations and dangers of immigration in the early 1700s, generated a great conversation.

We liked the likable characters and disliked those who were either cads, bad guys, or generally annoying 🙂 . There were a number of minor characters that gave depth to the main characters’ stories. We also liked the romances that developed. The continuing mystery of the murder at the cabin when the cousins were children provided a connecting thread for the contemporary plots. The only criticism we had was that the ending seemed rushed — everything wrapped up in just a few pages.

We recommend My Sister’s Prayer and are looking forward to book 3 in the series, My Daughter’s Legacy, which is due out in July of this year.

Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Mini-Review: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

23 Jan

My church book club, Page Turners, is an eclectic group with eclectic reading tastes. The selections from this group have challenged and stretched my reading habits — a very good thing! In January we discussed The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by debut author Katarina Bivald. Very well-written, this novel explores the influence of books on people. What a great choice for a book club! I very much enjoyed the many, many references to novels I have read or should read. I loved how the townspeople of Broken Wheel become engaged in life again after Sara from Sweden introduces them to her friends, books. The image of poor George reading chic lit including the Bridget Jones series still brings a chuckle. And I loved Grace’s new found friend Idgie whom she references while making outrageous statements and actions.

In an interview I read, Bivald states that she had never visited the US before writing this book, a deliberate act in creating  small town America as she wanted to see it. That’s fine. Broken Wheel is a town to love and long to visit, even as it does not really represent the real America. Two characters in particular are stereotypical, and according to one of my group’s members who has a daughter living in England, are in line with European imaginations. These people of faith are written as ineffectual and irrelevant in a modern world. Caroline is the one who gets things done in Broken Wheel, and her religious expression is more works than faith based. I get that. We see that all the time in the church. However, her new found freedom comes after she reads a gay erotica novel given her by Sara. It is true that both the Pastor and Caroline are examples of irrelevant and unrealistic faith, but I blame their creator (Bivald) more than how real faith looks.

So these are my thoughts on the best-selling The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. Have your read it? What did you think?

61gqtf53mpl-_sx333_bo1204203200_Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy’s funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor ― there’s not much else to do in a dying small town that’s almost beyond repair.

You certainly wouldn’t open a bookstore. And definitely not with the tourist in charge. You’d need a vacant storefront (Main Street is full of them), books (Amy’s house is full of them), and . . . customers.

The bookstore might be a little quirky. Then again, so is Sara. But Broken Wheel’s own story might be more eccentric and surprising than she thought.

A heartwarming reminder of why we are booklovers, this is a sweet, smart story about how books find us, change us, and connect us.

Audience: adults. 

Please note: this book is not Christian fiction and has content that may be offensive.

(I bought this novel from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday: 2016 Releases I Didn’t Read (But Should)

10 Jan

My TBR pile has reached staggering heights since I started blogging. Is it possible to have too many books? I think the problem is really not enough time to read — stuff like laundry and work just keeps getting in the way! In an effort to read what is on my shelves in 2017, I am practicing saying no to shiny new books. We’ll see how long that lasts. 😉 In the meantime, here is a list of the books that were released in 2016 that I failed to read, but really, really plan to. Can we put a freeze on 2017 releases until I get caught up?

For other bloggers woefully behind on their reading, check out The Broke And The Bookish this week.

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2016 Books That I Need to Read

The Cottage by Michael Phillips

Delilah by Angela Hunt

Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering

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The End of Law by Therese Down

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hall by Julie Klassen

Lead Me Home by Amy Sorrells

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The Shattered Vigil by Patrick Carr

Sins of The Past by Dee Henderson/Dani Pettrey/Lynette Eason

You’re The One That I Want by Susan May Warren

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Have you read any of these 2016 releases?

Which one should I read first?

Book Review: A Primary Decision

3 Jan

51zyycwehgl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Sarah Worthington never expected to become the US attorney general–at least not this early in her career. Plunged into the vicious vetting process, with all sides digging for secrets in her family closet, she steels herself for the path forward. Nothing will deter her from making her mark on the world in the biggest way possible — even if that means prosecuting the current president of the United States. Yet powerful forces conspire behind the scenes to take the Worthington family down, and the president orders her to close the investigation. Will she comply? Or turn the tables to pursue her ultimate dream — the US presidency?

mtl-kevinleman-610x305Kevin Leman is a psychologist and New York Times Bestselling Author of more than 52 books. He deals with topics that range from raising children and birth order to business and marriage.

Leman received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Arizona, where he later earned his master’s and doctorate degrees.

Leman has appeared on many radio and television programs, including The View with Barbara Walters, Today, Oprah, CBS’s The Early Show, Live with Regis Philbin, 100 Huntley Street, CNN’s American Morning, and Life Today with James Robison. Leman has served as a contributing family psychologist to Good Morning America.

He is the founder and president of Couples of Promise, an organization designed and committed to helping couples remain happily married. He is a founding faculty member of iQuestions.com.

He and his wife, Sande, live in Tucson, Arizona. They have 5 children.

51lslqllnxl-_ux250_Jeff Nesbit was director of public affairs for two federal science agencies. He was once profiled in The Wall Street Journal as one of the seven people who ended the Tobacco Wars. He was a journalist, communications director for Vice President Quayle, and the director of a strategic communications business for nearly 15 years. Now an executive director of Climate Nexus, he writes a weekly science blog for U.S. News & World Report. He lives in New York.

 

My Impressions:

Not sure how I missed that A Primary Decision is the concluding book in a 3-part series by Kevin Leman and Jeff Nesbit. I will blame it on brain fog from the very busy Christmas season that my family had. While it wasn’t difficult to get into this novel, there did seem to be some missing pieces to the story lines and character development. I am sure those things were adequately covered in books 1 sand 2, A Perfect Ambition and A Powerful Secret. I’ll have to go back and read those!

A Primary Decision focuses on the youngest sibling in the Worthington family. Sarah is a highly dedicated prosecutor, and as the novel opens, she is being vetted for the Attorney General position. Her family is known for its philanthropy and business acumen, but there are lots of secrets too that may bring Sarah and her powerful family down.

Kevin Leman is well-known for his birth order and family dynamics books. Those are the foundation to A Primary Decision. Paired with Jeff Nesbit’s political expertise, this book is a great view into personal dynamics, as well as the political machinations at the highest government levels. There is a bit of tension and suspense surrounding the revelations of the family secrets, and the political power struggles seem all too real. If you are ready for some more political drama, I recommend A Primary Decision. Just be sure to read books 1 and 2 of the series first. You don’t want to miss any of the intrigue and drama.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

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

Tales From The TBR Pile — Fading Starlight

29 Dec

I received Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman earlier in the year. With its beautiful cover, I was immediately hooked. However, I have not found time to read it yet. Have you read this one? Tell me why this one should go directly to the top of the pile.

5114g4yga1l-_sx322_bo1204203200_A Tale of Unexpected Friendship and Old Hollywood Glamour

Lauren Summers is hiding. Her fashion house internship should have launched her career, but a red carpet accident has left her blackballed. The only job she finds is unpaid, but comes with free lodging–a run-down cottage in the shadow of a cliff-side mansion. Unsure of what comes next, she’s surprised to be contacted by a reporter researching a reclusive former Hollywood ingénue who lives in the nearby mansion.

Kendall Joiner wants Lauren’s help uncovering the old woman’s secrets. In return, she’ll prove the red carpet accident was a publicity stunt so Lauren can regain her former job. With all her dreams in front of her, Lauren’s tempted by the offer, but as she and the old woman get to know each other, Lauren realizes nothing is quite as it seems.

 

611vlhbfo9l-_ux250_Kathryn Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy. She is the acclaimed author of over a half-dozen novels, including Leaving Yesterday and A Promise to Remember, which were both finalists for the Carol Award in Women’s Fiction. Kathryn and her family make their home in Santa Barbara, California.

 

(Thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Best of 2016

27 Dec

2016 was a whirlwind of activity for my family. Several weddings, a couple of bucket list trips, and relocations led to a very busy year. Amid it all I did manage to read some great books — some new releases and some new to me. So, I am supposed to narrow my list to just 10. Hmm . . . can’t do it. 😉 So I have come up with two lists — Contemporary Fiction and Historical Fiction. No matter your preference of genre, there is something for you on these lists. To see what other bloggers consider their best of the best, please visit The Broke And The Bookish.

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Top Contemporary Fiction of 2016

 

Of Stillness and Storm by Michele Phoenix

Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Seeing Things by Patti Hill

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Since You’ve Been Gone by Christa Allan

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Song of Silence by Cynthia Ruchti

Sycamore Row by John Grisham

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Water From My Heart by Charles Martin

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow

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Top Historical Fiction of 2016

 

Anchor in The Storm by Sarah Sundin

AD 30 by Ted Dekker

A Day And A Life by Penelope Wilcock

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Forest Child by Heather Day Gilbert

The Inheritance by Michael Phillips

The Lady And The Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

Like A River From Its Course by Kelli Stuart

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The Memoir of Johnny Devine by Camille Eide

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

Within The Veil by Brandy Valance

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Best of The Best of 2106

There were two books that I gave Very Highly Recommended ratings to in 2016. Both were from author Mike Nappa. These are great books I would recommend to everyone!

unknown2Annabel Lee

Fourteen miles east of Peachtree, Alabama, a secret is hidden. That secret’s name is Annabel Lee Truckson, and even she doesn’t know why her mysterious uncle has stowed her deep underground in a military-style bunker. He’s left her with a few German words, a barely-controlled guard dog, and a single command: “Don’t open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me.”

Above ground, a former Army sniper called The Mute and an enigmatic “Dr. Smith” know about the girl. As the race begins to find her, the tension builds. Who wants to set her free? Why does the other want to keep her captive forever? Who will reach her first?

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill need to piece together the clues and stay alive long enough to retrieve the girl–before it’s too late.

41jklpz8chl-_sx322_bo1204203200_The Raven 

As part of his regular street performance, a deception specialist who goes by the name The Raven picks his audience’s pockets while they watch. It’s harmless fun — until he decides to keep the spare wallet a city councilman doesn’t seem to miss, hoping for a few extra bucks. When he finds not money but compromising photos of the councilman and his “personal assistants”, The Raven hatches a plan to blackmail the man. However, he quickly finds himself in over his head with the Ukrainian Mafia and mired in a life-threatening plot code-named, “Nevermore”.

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill must scramble to sort out the clues — and their complicated feelings for each other — to rescue The Raven and save hundreds of lives from a wildcard bent on revenge.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Looking Forward to 2017!

13 Dec

I can hardly believe 2016 will soon be ending. I have had a great year of reading! But now it is time to look forward to the hot new books to be released in early 2017. To find out what books other bloggers are looking forward to, visit The Broke And The Bookish.

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I only made it to March releases before finding my top 10 of early 2017! So many great books that will soon grace my shelves. Many are the next book in favorite series, so those are very much anticipated. I have a good mix of historical and contemporary, with plenty of suspense and a bit of romance. All are from favorite authors who never cease to satisfy. So without further ado, drumroll please . . .

Top 10 Anticipated Books of Early 2017

Home at Last by Deborah Raney

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley

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Maybe It’s You by Candace Calvert

Moving Target by Lynette Eason

The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Redeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith

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Still Life by Dani Pettrey

A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah Ladd

When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin

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What books are you looking forward to?