Tag Archives: Linda Brooks Davis

Book Review: A Christmas to Remember

9 Dec

51u6nvtlel-_sx322_bo1204203200_Readers first met Ella in the multi-award winning The Calling of Ella McFarland. They cheered as feisty Ella battled to raise women from dark places, and they fell in love with Andrew alongside Ella. In the novella ‘A Christmas to Remember’ readers revisit Ella and Andrew three years into their marriage. Oklahoma has achieved statehood, and life in the cottage on the banks of Rock Creek has changed. What could have prepared the couple for the challenges thus far? Or those ahead? It’s Christmas, 1908, and Ella’s life is about to be transformed. Again.

 
61jathwzugl-_ux250_Born and reared in Raymondville, a small farming town in the southernmost tip of Texas, Linda Brooks Davis holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She devoted forty years to the education of students with special needs before settling down to her lifelong dream: writing. Set in 1905 pre-statehood Oklahoma, THE CALLING OF ELLA MCFARLAND, an inspirational historical with a strong romantic thread, debuted on December 1, 2015.

When not writing, Linda enjoys Bible study, reading, and researching genealogy. She and her husband dote on six grandchildren, three of whom arrived in 2005–in triplicate form. In her first published article, “The Choice”, which appeared in 2011 in LIVE, a publication of Gospel Publishing House, she chronicled her daughter’s agonizing at-risk triplet pregnancy and the heart-wrenching choice her medical team placed before her.

Linda likes to brag on her daughter and son, both veterinarians who like one another well enough to practice together. In Texas that’s called learnin’ to get along.

You may visit Linda at lindabrooksdavis.com. Porch light’s always on.

 

My Impressions:

Linda Brooks Davis’ debut novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland, got a recommended rating from me. Her follow-up Christmas-themed novella featuring Ella, Andrew and other old and new characters is a heart-warming story that focuses on the what love entails. I can easily see this historical tale set in the early 1900s as a Hallmark Movie! Filled with historic details, engaging characters and a timeless message, A Christmas to Remember gets a highly recommended rating!

The last time we saw Ella and Andrew was shortly after they married. Now a few years later, they have a family of 6 girls! With 5 adopted sisters and a child of her own, Ella is stretched to the limits of her endurance. Determined to do all things for her family, Ella neglects the most important thing — sharing herself. Ella is working to prove herself worthy, but she learns in the end that love can’t be measured, love can’t be weighed, nor can it be earned.

A Christmas to Remember is a very short book — just 126 pages — but packs a lot of punch! I really enjoyed returning to Oklahoma and reconnecting with Ella. If you have not read Davis’ first book, don’t despair, A Christmas to Remember can easily be read as a standalone. This one is perfect reading beside the fire!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinion expressed are mine alone.)

 

Top 10 Tuesday — New To Me Authors

6 Dec

2016 has been a great reading year! Lots of favorite authors with new books and plenty of new to me authors to insure many hours of reading pleasure in the future. This week the folks at The Broke And The Bookish are featuring 2016 New To You Authors. To discover a new to you author, click HERE.

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2016 New To Me Authors

 

 

biopicCalled “the suspense author everyone is talking about” by Family Fiction Edge magazine, Zachary Bartels is the author of critically acclaimed supernatural thrillers. An award-winning preacher and Bible teacher, Zachary has been serving as pastor of Judson Baptist Church in Lansing, Michigan, for ten years. He enjoys film, fine cigars, stimulating conversation, gourmet coffee, reading, writing, and cycling.

His debut novel, Playing Saint, has been called an “intrigue-filled thriller” (Library Journal) and “a page-turner from the very beginning . . . gripping and realistic” (RT Book Reviews). His newest book, The Last Con (HarperCollins Christian Fiction, 2015) has met early positive reviews. He lives in the capital city of a mitten-shaped Midwestern state with his wife Erin and their son.

 

71xnmguh8yl-_ux250_A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming published, he encouraged her to quit her job in 2010 in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do.

Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a mom to two precious little boys and also serves with her husband in a premarriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.

 

davis_lindabrooks_2016_01-31-copy-2Linda Brooks Davis is the 2014 Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel 1st place winner. Her debut historical novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland, was released on December 1, 2015. Now working on her second novel, Linda pens stories inspired by her ancestors’ lives of faith and grit, tales that testify to the hope and healing found in Jesus.

Linda was born and reared on a farm in small-town Raymondville in the southernmost tip of Texas. She attended Abilene Christian University where she earned a degree in speech pathology in 1968 and maintained a forty-year career in public schools while rearing a daughter and son who are now veterinarians in practice together. As the eldest student in her post-graduate class, she earned a Master’s degree from Houston Baptist University in 2002.

Now retired, Linda lives in Central Texas with her husband. When not writing, Linda dotes on her six beautiful grandchildren, serves in lay ministry at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, reads, and explores genealogy.

 

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4114506_origCamille Eide writes romantic, inspirational dramas about love, faith, and family. She lives in Oregon with her husband and is a mom, grammy, bass guitarist, and a fan of muscle cars, tender romance, oldies Rock, and Peanut M&Ms. I read her historical/romance novel, The Memoirs of Johnny Devine.

 

 

 

 

amy-matayo-1Author Amy Matayo is an excellent speaker, mathematician, seamstress, chef…and liar. She’s decent at writing books but not much else. Then again, the book thing makes her marginally cool and a whole lot intimidating.

Not really. Not even her kids are afraid of her.

She graduated with barely passing grades from John Brown University with a degree in Journalism. But she’s proud of that degree and all the ways she hasn’t put it to good use.

She laughs often, cries easily, feels deeply, and loves hard. She lives in Arkansas with her husband and four kids and is working on her next novel.

I read The Thirteenth Chance.

 

4129Rachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Rachel lives in bustling Toronto, where she works in educational publishing and pursues her passion for art, literature, music, and theater. Rachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Rachel lives in bustling Toronto, where she works in educational publishing and pursues her passion for art, literature, music, and theater. I read The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder

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611b1ezgmtl-_ux250_For 27 years, Deb Richardson-Moore was a reporter for The Greenville (SC) News, winning three national writing awards and routine recognition from the South Carolina Press Association. She was a wife, mother of three, and that suburban cliche, a minivan-driving soccer mom.

She then took over the religion beat at The News and enrolled in a nearby seminary to learn more about it. Her life was never the same. She left the newspaper and earned a master of divinity degree. Because jobs for clergywomen were scarce in her own Baptist denomination, she accepted a job as pastor of the non-denominational Triune Mercy Center, a crumbling, inner-city mission church to the homeless.

Deb is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Erskine Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Vince, have three grown children. The Cantaloupe Thief was her debut novel.

 

41tko0oljtl-_ux250_Mike Nappa is an entertainment journalist at FamilyFans.com, as well as a bestselling and award-winning author with more than one million books sold worldwide. When he was a kid, the stories of Edgar Allan Poe scared him silly. Today he owns everything Poe ever wrote. A former fiction acquisitions editor, Mike earned his MA in English literature and now writes full time. Annabel Lee was his debut novel.

 

press-kit-headshotSandra Orchard is a multi-award-winning author of mysteries and romantic suspense She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and writes full time . . . when not doting on her young grandchildren.

 

 

 

kelli-stuart-sqKelli Stuart is a writer and a storyteller at heart. A graduate of Baylor University with a degree in English Professional Writing, and a minor in the Russian language, Kelli has honed her skills in the written word through editing, ghostwriting, blogging, and traveling the world. Kelli has a gift for languages that puts her at ease in other cultures, allowing her to view this creative life from the vantage point of mothers worldwide.

Kelli is a noted blogger and the writer behind the wildly popular blog Minivans Are Hot.com. She has traveled extensively, constantly honing her craft at weaving words into tales as she experiences life and the world. Kelli has written for, and represented, such brands as The Huffington Post, 5 Minutes for Mom, Tonic.com, Disney, American Girl, The MOB Society, Extraordinary Mommy, God Size Dreams, Short Fiction Break, and (in)courage. Kelli has also served as editor-in-chief for the St. Louis Bloggers Guild and as a board member for the St. Louis Women in Media. I read Like A River from Its Course.

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(All author biographical information came directly from their websites.)

What new authors did you discover in 2016?

Top 10 Tuedsay — New Books in The TBR Pile

8 Nov

Books, books and more books! That’s what my life looks like! I am always on the lookout for my next great read, even when I have 10s 100s 1000s waiting in the wings! This week the folks at The Broke And The Bookish have challenged us to list our most recently added books to the old TBR list. I will limit my list to just 10, although I could probably go on and on. To find out what other bloggers are looking forward to reading, click HERE.

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I think I have a good mix of books to read in the upcoming weeks — history, mystery, romance, Christmas-themed and Indie-published novels. Eclectic, but that’s how I like it.

Top 10 Recently Added Books on The TBR List

 

Another Day, Another Dali by Sandra Orchard

A Christmas to Remember by Linda Brooks Davis

Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering

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The End of The Roadie by Elizabeth Flynn

Finding Riley by Dan Walsh

Lucifer’s Harvest by Mel Starr

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year by Ace Collins

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O Little Town of Bethany by Rene Guttering and Cheryl McKay

The Princes of Albion by Jon and Thomas Hopkins

Truth Be Told by J J Hemmestad

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What are some of the books you are reading next?

 

 

2016 Carol Award Winners!

28 Aug

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Carol Awards — excellence in Christian fiction.

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Contemporary:
The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert

Historical:
Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Historical Romance:
A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller:
The Aleppo Code by Terry Brennan

Novella:
A Bride for Bear from The Convenient Bride Collection by Erica Vetsch

Romance:
Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth K. Vogt

Romantic Suspense:
No Place to Hide by Lynette Eason

Short Novel:
Covert Justice by Lynn Huggins Blackburn

Speculative:
The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart

Young Adult:
Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman

Debut:
The Calling of Ella McFarland by Linda Brooks Davis

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Author, Author! — Linda Brooks Davis

4 Apr

Davis_LindaBrooks_2016_01-31 copy 2Please welcome Linda Brooks Davis to the blog today. Linda is the author of The Calling of Ella McFarland, winner of the 2014 Jerry B. Jenkins Operation First Novel. Here’s what she has to say about the writing life:

 

By The Book — Many authors say they have always been a writer — making up stories as a child. When did you first become a writer?

Linda Brooks Davis — Although I was a voracious reader as a child and made up imaginary lives for my dolls, I was not encouraged early on to tell or write stories. As essays became part of our 1950s and 1960s curriculum, I discovered how I feared red marks. Feeling vulnerable discouraged me. But in my first year of college as I wrote letters home to my mother, father, and little brother, I discovered the process of putting my experiences, thoughts, and emotions down on paper was hugely fulfilling. I loved imagining the enjoyment of my loved ones as they stepped into my college experience vicariously and I experienced their joy, which is what happens when I write today. 

BTB — Was there a special someone, such as a teacher, parent, or other person, who encouraged you to pursue writing?

Linda — The summer after my first year in college, a quirky English professor pulled me aside and asked if I’d ever considered creative writing as a career. Horrors, no! I couldn’t imagine putting myself “out there” for everyone to see. Over the years I continued to find fulfillment in letter writing for friends and family, but that English professor’s question rather haunted me. Could I actually write for publication? Surely not. As life happened — Army spouse, mother, teacher, etc. — my writing pen hid in a drawer but I never forgot about it. 

51TMntnn5pL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_BTB — Your novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland, contains a strong Christian message. Do you have a particular motivation to write books that contain faith threads?

Linda — My ancestors were salt-of-the-earth folks who overcame hardships and grief through their faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the World. I, myself, have done the same. So sharing such nuggets of truth in stories comes as naturally as breathing . . . or praying. I cannot keep such a treasure to myself. 

BTB — What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing schedule?

Linda — In previous years, I would have said morning is my best time of the day for writing, but sleep doesn’t always come as easily as it once did. So I have learned to structure my day around how the night before went. I tend to become so engrossed in writing that the rest of my life suffers, so I am learning to devote a specific number of hours to writing and the rest of the day to my own life and loves. 

BTBThe Calling of Ella McFarland is an historical romance. Why did you choose this genre? What challenges did you have in creating the “flavor” of the time and place?

Linda — I describe my novel as a romantic historical that inspires. It doesn’t meet the strict criteria for a romance, and yet its romantic thread is extremely strong. I chose the historical genre because I’ve always been enthralled with the lives my ancestors lived and wanted to write a story that would honor them. The love story flowed naturally from my grandparents’ love story. Besides, what’s life without love?

Creating the “flavor” of the time and place involved a great deal of research. I recalled some details from family stories, but it took hours and hours of research to create a historically accurate story world. Even the smallest details must not be overlooked. Extreme care must be given to fashion, home life, education, language, transportation, meals, the arts, medicine, farming, businesses, government, politics . . . . The list goes on and on, but it fascinates me.

BTB — Can you tell my readers what inspired this novel and its characters?

Tribble and Ella Banks, 1920

Tribble and Ella Banks, 1920

Linda — I remember sitting as a young child on my grandmother’s lap for her stories about life in Indian Territory prior to Oklahoma statehood and the hardships and grief of burying five daughters and two husbands in Oklahoma and Texas. And my mother’s stories about fatherlessness and the deprivations of the Great Depression in Texas. As I grew to adulthood, well cared-for and loved, I often asked myself how I might have fared in such times. As I’ve experienced heartbreak and grief in my 7 decades of life, I’ve often marveled at the way my ancestors overcame hardship and grief through grit and faith.  When my triplet grandchildren survived their highly at-risk journey to life outside the womb and were born at 28 weeks, and as they struggled for each breath, I vowed I would leave them a legacy of faith in writing. And what better legacy of faith than their own ancestors? When my daughter announced she would name her little girl Ella after my grandmother Ella, I began to imagine what my 3rd-grade-educated grandmother’s life might have looked like if the kaleidoscope of her world had shifted a single degree one direction or the other . . . . And the character Ella McFarland was born. 

BTBThe Calling of Ella McFarland is set in the Oklahoma Territory in 1905. What kinds of research did you do for this novel?

Linda — Actually, only the first scene of the novel is set in Oklahoma Territory. The rest of the novel is set in Indian Territory. The two territories merged and became the state of Oklahoma in 1907.  I began with my ancestors’ stories about their lives in Indian Territory. I traveled to Oklahoma where I visited the area in which they lived, got a feel for the landscape and climate, visited a girls’ school from “back in the day”, researched Oklahoma history in a community territory-map-02library, and devoted hours to online research at Oklahoma historical sites. I especially was drawn to first-hand accounts of settlers who lived in the Twin Territories.

BTB — Women’s education and suffrage are two topics covered in this novel. Did you learn anything surprising while doing your research?

Linda — I was surprised to learn how little attention was given to White children’s education in the Territories. Those who settled with approved permits, as well as those who crossed into the territories illegally, were not afforded an educational system and were able to provide only basic literacy in country schools they managed to fund themselves. Until compulsory education became the law of the land with the passage of the Oklahoma Constitution and statehood, their children learned to read and write and do a few “figures” but little else. The children of the Indian Territory Native Americans — the Five Civilized Tribes: the Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole — were better provided for via parochial schools for girls and boys where they learned academics as well as vocational trades. I was also surprised to learn that many women opposed woman suffrage. Suffragettes had an especially difficult time getting the vote because they had to win over the wives, sisters, daughters, and mothers of over 50% of the men. They were a brave and determined bunch. 

BTB — What do you want your readers to take away with them after finishing your novel?

Linda — Each of us possesses more strength than we realize, more need than we admit, and more potential than we ever dreamed. Women represent these truths in unique and varied ways. The generations who walked the way of the world before us have much to teach us. Their stories deserve to be remembered, and we who have followed them would do well to take note. Foremost in the cataloging of their jewels of wisdom is their faith in God. Such faith can strengthen, enliven, inform, direct, heal, and give hope and purpose to our lives. 

BTB — Readers always want to know what is next from an author. Can you share any projects you are working on? Will there be a sequel to The Calling of Ella McFarland?

Linda — I’m currently working on 2nd and 3rd novels as sequels. They will focus on two female characters lifted from Ella’s story, but Ella will be a key character in both stories. 

BTB — What would you like to share about your personal life?

Linda — I’m a Texas farm girl, reared in the southernmost tip of the state — the Rio Grande Valley, an area that in my parents’ early days was known as the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Their families heard the Valley’s call and settled there as farmers in the early decades of the 20th Century. I was born in the 1940s, graduated from high school in 1964 and from college in 1968, and spent 18 years as an Army spouse before settling back in Texas as a single mother of two wonderful children, a son and daughter who now are both veterinarians. I retired after 40 years as a teacher and administrator of special needs programs and my husband and I have enjoyed doting on six grandchildren as retirees for 8 years.

My eternal love is Jesus Christ. My life’s love is my husband Al. My life’s devotion has been my children. My joy lies in my grandchildren. My fulfillment comes through writing faith. I am blessed.

Thanks, Linda, for sharing your heart with my readers!

Linda Brooks Davis is the 2014 Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel 1st place winner. Her debut historical novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland, was released on December 1, 2015. Now working on her second novel, Linda pens stories inspired by her ancestors’ lives of faith and grit, tales that testify to the hope and healing found in Jesus.

Book Review: The Calling of Ella McFarland

22 Mar

51TMntnn5pL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Ella McFarland’s dream is a teaching position at Worthington School for Girls. But scandal clouds her family name and may limit her to a life of grueling farm labor in the Indian Territory. Her fate lies in the hands of the Worthington board, and there happens to be one strikingly handsome man with a vote. Will they overlook the illegitimate son recently borne by her sister, Viola?

1905 brings hope of Oklahoma statehood and the woman’s suffrage debate is raging, forcing Ella to make decisions about her faith, family, and aspirations. When she comes to the rescue of a young, abused sharecropper’s daughter, her calling begins to take shape in ways she never imagined. Education is Ella’s passion, but a new love is budding in her heart. Can she find God’s will amidst the tumultuous storm that surrounds her?

Linda Brooks Davis is the 2014 Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel 1st place winner. Her debut historical novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland, was released on December 1, 2015. Now working on her second novel, Linda pens stories inspired by her ancestors’ lives of faith and grit, tales that testify to the hope and healing found in Jesus.

Davis_LindaBrooks_2016_01-31 copy 2Linda was born and reared on a farm in small-town Raymondville in the southernmost tip of Texas. She attended Abilene Christian University where she earned a degree in speech pathology in 1968 and maintained a forty-year career in public schools while rearing a daughter and son who are now veterinarians in practice together. As the eldest student in her post-graduate class, she earned a Master’s degree from Houston Baptist University in 2002.

Now retired, Linda lives in Central Texas with her husband. When not writing, Linda dotes on her six beautiful grandchildren, serves in lay ministry at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, reads, and explores genealogy.

 

My Impressions:

Debut author Linda Brooks Davis draws upon family history in her historical romance novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland. Set in the Oklahoma Territory in the days prior to statehood, this novel has an authenticity that fans of history will love. Along with rich historical detail, the novel has well-developed characters, a suspenseful plot full of twists and turns and a romance to cheer for!  This one is perfect for those who like stories about how the west was won — in this case how women shaped America as we know it today. Recommended!

Ella McFarland is a newly graduated teacher looking for a job to expand her own horizons while assisting her struggling family. But the men of the day deem her unfit to teach the daughters of rich and powerful men. As she deals with disappointment and opposition, she senses God’s call on her life — a calling to educate and empower the vulnerable around her.

The Calling of Ella McFarland traces the fight for women’s suffrage and education of girls in the Oklahoma Territory. Although women were expected to work along side their husbands in the fields and to establish their own businesses to help their families financially, they still had little real rights in 1905. I found the historical setting of the novel very enlightening. Just 100 years ago, women faced a very different future than what we enjoy today. The characters that Davis created, both major and minor, are interesting and complex. Their motives and emotions run the gamut of the human experience. The two main characters, Ella and Andrew, compliment each other, and their slightly unconventional relationship is one of true partnership. And Ella’s faith, while tested at every turn, remains a strong thread throughout. This novel, while a historical romance, will also appeal to the suspense fan — lots of danger in these pages!

All in all, I enjoyed this first offering by Davis and look forward to more stories set in the wilds of Oklahoma.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)