Tag Archives: literary fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — Best Book Friends

13 Aug

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone who regularly reads my TTT posts, but I decided to do things a little differently than the suggested prompt. This week, bloggers are asked to list characters that would make for best friends in real life. Sounds like a great topic, I just wouldn’t couldn’t come up with characters to list. 😉 So instead, I asked my real life book-loving friends for their favorite genres and topics and came up with recommendations for them. This exercise really was so much fun, but also challenging. All of the women are part of my book club and are avid readers, so I looked hard for books that I didn’t think they had read yet. I thought I knew what they liked, and for the most part I did. But there were a few pleasant surprises. You will find that we are an eclectic bunch, reading across genres. I hope you will also find a book to love.

For more BFF Fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Reading Recommendations for My Book-Loving Friends

Beth

Beth and I have a lot in common. We definitely clicked the first time we met. I finally persuaded her to join our book club, and I think she likes it. 😉 She inadvertently read ahead on our selection list, but loved the mistake! She is now a fan of Janice Cantore.  Here are a couple of books in the same vein.

Always Watching by Lynette Eason 

The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have more than just skill and prowess in common–they’re also all women. When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians in order to protect his son.

But when Wade’s bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap. Olivia’s skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade’s stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him. Olivia has the feeling that she’s next on the list. And to complicate things even further, she realizes that her heart may be in as much danger as her client.

Bestselling author and fan favorite Lynette Eason drops readers right into the action in this fast-paced new series with a unique twist. Readers will love these strong female characters who put it all on the line to save lives.

The Real Enemy by Kathy Herman 

Brill Jessup would rather work than deal with the bitterness she feels about her husband Kurt’s infidelity. They’ve made a fresh start with Brill taking a job as the new police chief in a small East Tennessee town. Kurt is genuinely contrite and making every effort to show his commitment to Brill. Meanwhile Emily, their nine-year-old, is being the perfect little girl, as if she can make everything okay again. So why can’t Brill get over this anger? Work presents the perfect distraction as rumors and superstition are running rampant in the wake of the disappearances of seven people in seven days. As fear rises in the community, Brill works desperately to solve the mystery . . . until it threatens her family and she is forced to confront the real enemy.

Carrie

Carrie may be 20 years younger than me, but we have a real connection that goes beyond our love of books. A super-teacher, Carrie is an enthusiastic advocate for reading in and out of the classroom. She likes suspense with twists, turns, and a touch of romance. She also enjoys historical romance set in the 1800s to the early 1900s. Hope she hasn’t read these yet!

The Stones Cry Out by Sibella Giorello

When nobody talks, the stones cry out

In the searing heat of a Virginia summer, two men plummet from a roof top to their deaths on the sidewalk below. One of them was a white police officer. The other, a black man with a murky past. Hundreds of people stood on the sidewalk below, yet nobody will say what happened.

The FBI wants a quick verdict — with or without the truth — and sends in rookie agent Raleigh Harmon.

Between the tight-lipped witnesses and the secrets hidden among the city’s most powerful families, Raleigh’s forced to use her forensic geology skills to uncover the truth.  But can she solve this case before the city’s simmering rage burns out of control?

With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden

In the shadow of the nation’s capital, Kate Livingston’s respectable life as a government worker is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough, the one man she’d hoped never to see again. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and business is the only reason he has sought her out now.

Despite her misgivings, Kate agrees to Trevor’s risky proposal to join him in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis. As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor’s past, his hidden depths fascinate her. However, a shadowy enemy lies in wait and Trevor’s closely guarded secrets are darker than she ever suspected.

As revelations from the past threaten to destroy their careers, their dreams, and even their lives, Trevor and Kate find themselves in a painfully impossible situation. With everything to lose, they must find the strength to trust that hope and love can prevail over all.

Dionne

Two elementary-aged kids and a preschooler keep busy mom Dionne hopping! She finds time to read between her kids’ activities and church responsibilities (she’s a talented accompaniest on the flute). Her favorite genres are historical fiction set during WWII and chick lit with a bit of romance thrown in. I think the following are perfect for her.

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

For fans of bestselling World War II fiction like Sarah’s Key and The Nightingale comes an illuminating tale of courage, sacrifice, and survival, about two couples whose lives are ravaged by Hitler’s mad war yet eventually redeemed through the fate of one little girl.

Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen — Polish, Jewish, or otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city’s library, awaits news of her husband, Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter’s life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war — if any of them survive — is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland’s darkest days and brightest heroes, The Medallion paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal — complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb — a friend from her years in and out of the hospital — reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

Jane

Jane has a real servant’s heart. She takes care of her grandkids, regularly checks-in on her mother and in-laws, and is a big behind the scenes help at our church. In her spare time, she loves thrillers, especially if they are unpredictable. She also favors books with a Mitford-esque feel. Both Redwood and Baumbich should fit the bill.

Proof by Jordyn Redwood

Dr. Lilly Reeves is a young, accomplished ER physician with her whole life ahead of her. But that life instantly changes when she becomes the fifth victim of a serial rapist. Believing it’s the only way to recover her reputation and secure peace for herself, Lilly sets out to find — and punish — her assailant. Sporting a mysterious tattoo and unusually colored eyes, the rapist should be easy to identify. He even leaves what police would consider solid evidence. But when Lilly believes she has found him, DNA testing clears him as a suspect. How can she prove he is guilty, if science says he is not?

Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet? by Charlene Ann Baumbich

For the legions of readers who enjoy books that celebrate life’s simple pleasures, eighty-seven-year-old Dorothy Jean Wetstra and her beloved farming town of Partonville, Illinois, will become instant favorites. In this hilarious, touching series, Charlene Ann Baumbich introduces readers to Dearest Dorothy, who tools around town in a 1976 Lincoln Continental nicknamed “The Tank,” plays bunco regularly with her pals, and grabs a stool at Harry’s counter often enough to stay on top of the latest-breaking news—which she is often creating. In the series debut, Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet?, Dorothy faces a decision that may change her town forever, and her gift for shaking things up comes in handy. In the second book, Dearest Dorothy, Slow Down, You’re Wearing Us Out!, the town’s irresistible cast of characters is back in full swing as they confront some of the many surprises life sends their way. So pull up a chair and get ready for fireworks, laughter, and we’ll-get-through-it-all-with-faith friendships.

Janice

Janice is a great-grandmother, but her reading tastes are definitely not your grannie’s fiction! She likes thrillers and doesn’t shy away from disturbing scenes or topics. I recommend 2 from Steven James for her. 

The Rook by Steven James (we read The Pawn for book club years ago)

An arsonist has struck a top-secret research facility at a key US naval base. But it’s not just a random terrorist attack. These people were after something specific. When Special Agent Patrick Bowers is called in to investigate, he is drawn into a deadly web of intrigue and deception. With his own criminology research being turned against him and one of the world’s most deadly devices missing, Bowers is caught up in a race against time to stop an international assassin before it’s too late.

Full of fast-paced action and mind-bending plot twists, The Rook is an adrenaline-laced page-turner that will keep readers up all night. Book 2 in the Bowers Files, this riveting look into the criminal mind is the perfect follow-up to James’s well-reviewed The Pawn.

Placebo by Steven James

One man must uncover the truth — even when others will stop at nothing to keep it buried. While covertly investigating a controversial neurological research program, exposé filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms. Jevin is seeking not only answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program but also answers to his own family tragedy.

Rooted in groundbreaking science and inspired by actual medical research, Placebo explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith. This taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James will keep you listening late into the night.

Laurie

I have known Laurie for over 20 years. She was one of the first members of my book club, and we have shared tears and laughs along the way. A dealer in antiques and vintage articles, it should come as no surprise that she likes mystery/suspense featuring old houses that hold secrets.

Chateau of Echoes by Siri Mitchell

Suddenly widowed in a foreign country, Frederique Famer did what any girl would do: She bought a castle. She just never imagined that its mysterious fifteenth-century owner would hold the keys to her second chance at life.

She opens a bed-and-breakfast, hires a capricious graduate student, and gets talked into hosting a handsome American for an extended stay. Little does she know, she’s unwittingly concocted a recipe for intrigue, romance, and possibly disaster.

A Sound Among The Trees by Susan Meissner

A house shrouded in time.
A line of women with a heritage of loss.

As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak —  and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.

Martha

Oh the places we’ve been and (hopefully) the places we’ll go! Martha, her husband Jeff, and my husband and I have been traveling buddies for the last 3 years. We have had so much fun, especially with Martha’s globe-trotting expertise along. She loves a good story with smart characters, regardless of genre. Here are two for her.

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner 

When Annie Jacobson’s brother Mike enlists as a medic in the Army in 1967, he hands her a piece of paper with the address of their long-estranged father. If anything should happen to him in Vietnam, Mike says, Annie must let their father know.

In Mike’s absence, their father returns to face tragedy at home, adding an extra measure of complication to an already tense time. As they work toward healing and pray fervently for Mike’s safety overseas, letter by letter the Jacobsons must find a way to pull together as a family, regardless of past hurts. In the tumult of this time, Annie and her family grapple with the tension of holding both hope and grief in the same hand, even as they learn to turn to the One who binds the wounds of the brokenhearted.

Author Susie Finkbeiner invites you into the Jacobson family’s home and hearts during a time in which the chaos of the outside world touched their small community in ways they never imagined.

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels 

When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos — seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse north of Detroit, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time–from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Michigan’s Underground Railroad during the Civil War–to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

Pat

Pat is retired from her days of being an elementary school principal, but she has not retired from education. Now she’s teaching teachers to be all they can be. Pat reads across genres, but her favorite is contemporary fiction that tackles real-life issues a la Jody Picoult and Kristin Hannah. Here are two for her. 

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

Folks are dying fast as the ash trees in the southern Indiana town ravaged by the heroin epidemic, where Jaycee Givens lives with nothing more than a thread of hope and a quirky neighbor, Sudie, who rescues injured wildlife. After a tragedy leaves her mother in prison, Jaycee is carrying grief and an unplanned pregnancy she conceals because she trusts no one, including the kind and handsome Gabe, who is new to town and to the local diner where she works.

Dividing her time between the diner and Sudie’s place, Jaycee nurses her broken heart among a collection of unlikely friends who are the closest thing to family that she has. Eventually, she realizes she can’t hide her pregnancy any longer ― not even from the baby’s abusive father, who is furious when he finds out. The choices she must make for the safety of her unborn child threaten to derail any chance she ever had for hope and redemption. Ultimately, Jaycee must decide whether the truest form of love means hanging on or letting go.

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

Sometimes we’re allowed to glimpse the beauty within the brokenness . . .

Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love.

But soon Savannah is given a challenge she can’t run away from: Forgiving the unforgivable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all.

Where Hope Begins is the story of grace in the midst of brokenness, pointing us to the miracles that await when we look beyond our own expectations.

Tina

Tina is another long-time friend — 20+ years. She is retired now, but she was once in the Air Force and part of an all-female flight crew! She and her husband, Vic, are also gun safety instructors. She is our go-to resource on accuracy in our suspense reading. Tina loves romantic suspense novels plus the dual-time novels by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould. Here are two recommendations for her. 

The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

When one Coast Guard officer is found dead and another goes missing, Coast Guard Investigative Service special agent Finn Walker faces his most dangerous crime yet. His only clues are what little evidence remains aboard the dead officer’s boat, and the direction the clues point to will test Finn and the Guard to their limits.

When investigative reporter — and Finn’s boss’s sister — Gabby Rowley arrives, her unrelenting questions complicate an already volatile situation. Now that she’s back, the tug on Finn’s heart is strong, but with the risks she’s taking for her next big story, he fears she might not live through it.

Thrown together by the heinous crime, Finn and Gabby can’t ignore the sparks or judgments flying between them. But will they be able to see past their preconceptions long enough to track down an elusive killer, or will they become his next mark?

Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson 

From the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which Publishers Weekly called “unforgettable” and a “must-read,” comes another gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way.

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan―even their very lives―in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

 

What books would you recommend for your book-loving friends?

 

 

 

 

Book Review — All Manner of Things

6 Jun

When Annie Jacobson’s brother Mike enlists as a medic in the Army in 1967, he hands her a piece of paper with the address of their long-estranged father. If anything should happen to him in Vietnam, Mike says, Annie must let their father know.

In Mike’s absence, their father returns to face tragedy at home, adding an extra measure of complication to an already tense time. As they work toward healing and pray fervently for Mike’s safety overseas, letter by letter the Jacobsons must find a way to pull together as a family, regardless of past hurts. In the tumult of this time, Annie and her family grapple with the tension of holding both hope and grief in the same hand, even as they learn to turn to the One who binds the wounds of the brokenhearted.

Author Susie Finkbeiner invites you into the Jacobson family’s home and hearts during a time in which the chaos of the outside world touched their small community in ways they never imagined.

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.

My Impressions:

There are times when words just cannot do justice to how incredible a book is. That time is now with Susie Finkbeiner’s novel, All Manner of Things. I’ve waited several days after turning the final page, hoping that my review could communicate all I felt and learned. I’m afraid it will be woefully incomplete and and ineffective. This was a book I fell into and did not want to emerge from for the mundane chores of my life. It was if the book world that Finkbeiner created was more real than that which was going on around me. However, this is definitely not escape fiction, but a journey into the heart and soul of the time and place of narrator Annie Jacobson’s life. Vividly descriptive with spot-on details of the Vietnam-era, All Manner of Things receives a Very Highly Recommended rating from me.

From the first few pages, I sensed that Annie Jacobson was special. Told from her point of view, as well as letters the family receives and writes, the novel is an intimate look at Annie and her family. The dynamics of her life fit the time and place of small town Michigan of the mid-1960s, yet are relevant for a modern audience. The story is simple — a family without a father is plunged into the real world when the oldest son, Mike, enlists in the Army. His path seems destined to end up on the other side of the world in war-torn Vietnam. Yet there is nothing simple about this book. Its many layered themes and insights will resonate with a wide variety of readers. Characters are complex, and often perplexing — pretty much how real people are. Many I loved, and some I want to shake. 😉 I was a child in 1967, but All Manner of Things brought back that time with its language, references to music, and the daily news accounts of how the war was going in Vietnam. The book is subtle in many ways and has various threads, but I especially loved Mike’s story and the increasing maturity, both emotional and spiritual, that is portrayed in his letters home. His peace within chaos is especially poignant. I think just about all the characters grow up in the year that the book encompasses, and I believe that their hard fought lessons will speak to the reader as well.

There really is much more I could say about All Manner of Things, but let me leave you with just one thought — READ. THIS. BOOK. But don’t forget the tissues. I blame Finkbeiner for some ugly crying I did towards the end. 😉

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

First Line Friday — All Manner of Things

31 May

Happy Friday! This week I am excited to share the first line of Susie Finkbeiner’s latest novel, All Manner of Things. It officially releases next Tuesday, but I will oblige with this sneak peek! 🙂 I am currently reading this book, and have to say that it is excellent. Just what I expected from this talented storyteller. You can pre-order a copy now, and have it on release day — just saying’ 😉 .

Please leave the first sentence of your current book, then head over to Hoarding Books for more fabulous first lines!

Now for the first line.

 

When Annie Jacobson’s brother Mike enlists as a medic in the Army in 1967, he hands her a piece of paper with the address of their long-estranged father. If anything should happen to him in Vietnam, Mike says, Annie must let their father know.

In Mike’s absence, their father returns to face tragedy at home, adding an extra measure of complication to an already tense time. As they work toward healing and pray fervently for Mike’s safety overseas, letter by letter the Jacobsons must find a way to pull together as a family, regardless of past hurts. In the tumult of this time, Annie and her family grapple with the tension of holding both hope and grief in the same hand, even as they learn to turn to the One who binds the wounds of the brokenhearted.

Author Susie Finkbeiner invites you into the Jacobson family’s home and hearts during a time in which the chaos of the outside world touched their small community in ways they never imagined.

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.

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — First 10 Reviews

23 Apr

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge, First 10 Reviews, kind of made me cringe. I started blogging almost 10 years ago, and those early reviews . . . . Well, I’m not sure I want them anywhere but buried deep in my archives. LOL! I wrestled with how to put this post together. Should I do the first 10 of 2019 instead? Nope! I’m going to share the reviews of my favorite books from my first year of blogging. Hopefully you’ll see I have grown! 😉 Looking back I see that I was offered outstanding books to review. Maybe you will discover an oldie but goodie to read!

To discover other bloggers first reviews, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 First Reviews

Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry  — Almost Heaven sings to the soul like none other I have read this year.

By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson — Whew! What a great adventure!

A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin — This book, set at the beginning of America’s entrance into the war, is a novel of hope in the bleakest times.

For Time And Eternity by Allison Pittman For Time And Eternity is a fast-paced read that you just can’t put down.

Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs  — Here Burns My Candle is a timeless, can’t-put-it-down novel you’ll love.

Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos — If you want a glimpse of who the real Jesus is, pick up Matt’s book. When you’re done, get quiet and get to know Him.

No Greater Love by Kathi Macias —  The story of God’s love transcends events, making this book a testament to God’s power in individuals’ lives.

The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead — I found Lawhead’s newest offering an exciting and thought-provoking read.

Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren — Warren delivers a message of God’s love and grace in a quiet way that speaks louder than the evil and violence of the world.

The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher — I found even in the tragic events and clashes and conflicts presented in this novel, an expression of peace — the peace you can only find in God.

Top 10 Tuesday — Rainy Day Reads

16 Apr

Ok, I am going literal today with my Top 10 Tuesday post, Rainy Day Reads. Not sure if it’s pure genius or laziness that inspired my choices. 😉 The books on my list either have a storm as part of the action or impetus for the story, or the title includes rain/storm. This may or may not be what the post should be about, but you can be assured that the books, which include a variety of genres,  are great reads — rain or shine!

 

To find out how others interpreted this week’s challenge, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Rain Is In The Forecast — Books with Storms As Part of the Story Line

 

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth Vogt

Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first engaging novel in a brand-new series about destination weddings, the power of love, and the possible mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple’s journey down the aisle to “I do.”

Paramedic Vanessa Hollister has put her adolescence behind her, including the unwanted label of being the new kid in town over and over again, thanks to her father’s military career. She’s overcome what her mother called “the biggest mistake of her life” and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Florida with her new fiancé. But will the reappearance of her first husband from her what-were-you-thinking teenage elopement disrupt her dream of an idyllic beach wedding?

As a professional storm chaser, Logan Hollister is used to taking risks. However, a reckless decision during the last tornado season has him questioning the future of his team, the Stormmeisters. Coming face to face with his ex-wife eight years after their divorce compels him to confront his greatest regret: losing Vanessa. Does their past give him the right to interfere with her future?

A fast-moving, powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together as they evacuate to a storm shelter along with other residents of the Florida Gulf Coast. Forced to spend time together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other.

Vanessa and Logan are faced with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?

Deadly Isle by Dani Pettrey

TennysonKent is trapped on the isolated island of her childhood by a storm surge, and she is shocked when the typically idyllic community turns into the hunting grounds of a murderer. Cut off from any help from the mainland, will she and first love Callen Frost be able to identify and stop a killer bent on revenge before they become the next victims?

(This book is a novella and part of the Cost of Betrayal collection)

 

 

Elevator by Angela Hunt 

In the path of a devastating hurricane, three very different women find themselves trapped in the elevator of a high-rise office building. All three conceal shattering secrets-unaware that their secrets center on the same man. The betrayed wife, eager to confront her faithless husband, with rage in her heart and a gun in her pocket… The determined mistress, finally ready to tell her lover she wants marriage and a family… The fugitive cleaning woman, tormented by the darkest secret of all…

 

 

 

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have long since buried their desire for children of their own. While Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget her dream of motherhood. But when her free-spirited sister, Jenna, drops off her two young daughters for “just two weeks,” Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

As the two weeks stretch deeper into the Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world—and revel in the laughter that now fills their home. Meanwhile, record temperatures promise to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

Attending an art retreat four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She finally has time and energy to focus on her photography, a lifelong ambition. But she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home as a single mom.

When Hurricane Ingrid aims a steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that will change her family’s future, even as Betsy and Ty try to protect their beloved farm and their hearts. Hurricane Season is the story of one family’s unconventional journey to healing — and the relationships that must be mended along the way.

No Small Storm by Anne Mateer

September 1815, Providence, Rhode Island

Thirty-year-old Remembrance “Mem” Wilkins loves her solitary life running the farm and orchard she inherited from her father and has no plans to give up her independence. Especially not for the likes of Mr. Graham Lott. But when Mem is unable to harvest the apples on her own, she accepts the help of the man she despises.

Fresh off a boat from Ireland with his four-year-old son in tow, Simon Brennan secures a building in which to ply his trade as a cobbler. Still healing from the grief of his wife’s death a year earlier, he determines to focus only on providing a good life for his son. But when he intervenes in an argument on behalf of the intriguing Miss Wilkins, sister-in-law of the tavern owner who befriends him, he suddenly finds himself crossways with his landlord, Mr. Lott, and relieved of his lease and most of his money.

With no means of support, Simon takes a job helping Mem with her harvest, relieving her of the need of Lott’s help. But their growing attraction to each other makes them both uneasy. Mem gladly escapes to town when her sister begins labor, and Simon, believing it best to distance himself from Mem, takes his son and leaves.

But neither anticipates the worst gale New England has ever seen — or that the storm will threaten all they hold dear.

 

Storms of Life — Titles with Rain/Storm

 

Anchor in The Storm by Sarah Sundin

One plucky female pharmacist + one high-society naval officer = romance—and danger.

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy–even if he is her brother’s best friend.

During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves–and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?

The Boy Who Loved Rain by Gerard Kelly

They say that what you don’t know can’t hurt you. They’re wrong.

Colom had the perfect childhood, the much-loved only child of a church pastor. Yet he wakes screaming from dreams in which his sister is drowning and he can’t save her.

Fiona turns to her husband, desperate to help their son. But David will not acknowledge that help is needed—and certainly not help from beyond the church.

Then they find the suicide pledge.

Fiona, in panic, takes Colom and flees… but when will she acknowledge that the unnamed demons Colom faces might be of her and David’s own creation?

Mercy’s Rain by Cindy K. Sproles

When your life is built around a father’s wrath, how can you trust in the love of Father God?

Mercy Roller knows her name is a lie: there has never been any mercy in her young life. Raised by a twisted and abusive father who called himself the Pastor, she was abandoned by the church community that should have stood together to protect her from his evil. Her mother, consumed by her own fear and hate, won’t stand her ground to save Mercy either.

The Pastor has robbed Mercy of innocence and love, a husband and her child. Not a single person seems capable of standing up to the Pastor’s unrestrained evil. So Mercy takes matters into her own hands.

Her heart was hardened to love long before she took on the role of judge, jury, and executioner of the Pastor. She just didn’t realize the retribution she thought would save her, might turn her into the very thing she hated most.

Sent away by her angry and grieving mother, Mercy’s path is unclear until she meets a young preacher headed to counsel a pregnant couple. Sure that her calling is to protect the family, Mercy is drawn into a different life on the other side of the mountain where she slowly discovers true righteousness has nothing evil about it–and that there might be room for her own stained and shattered soul to find shelter. . . and even love.

Mercy’s Rain is a remarkable historical novel set in 19th century Appalachia that traces the thorny path from bitterness to forgiveness and reveals the victory and strength that comes from simple faith.

Of Stillness And Storm by Michele Phoenix

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.

At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

Thunder And Rain by Charles Martin

Third generation Texas Ranger Tyler Steele is the last of a dying breed —  a modern day cowboy hero living in a world that doesn’t quite understand his powerful sense of right and wrong and instinct to defend those who can’t defend themselves. Despite his strong moral compass, Ty has trouble seeing his greatest weakness. His hard outer shell, the one essential to his work, made him incapable of forging the emotional connection his wife Andie so desperately needed.

Now retired, raising their son Brodie on his own, and at risk of losing his ranch, Ty does not know how to rebuild from the rubble of his life. The answer comes in the form of Samantha and her daughter Hope, on the run from a seemingly inescapable situation. They are in danger, desperate, and alone. Though they are strangers, Ty knows he can help —  protecting the innocent is what he does best. As his relationship with Sam and Hope unfolds, Ty realizes he must confront his true weaknesses if he wants to become the man he needs to be.

 

Reading Road Trip — Mississippi!

13 Mar

The next stop on my reading road trip is Mississippi! This state holds a special place in my heart. I attended 4 years of college and 2 years of graduate school there. I had my first real adult job there. I met my husband of 33 years there. My daughter-in-love hails from there. And I have many friends and family that live in this fine state. While Mississippi has been the site of heartache and heartbreak in the past, it has come a long way! It is a warm and welcoming place to come home to.

There are some great novels that feature Mississippi, past and present. My list includes several genres, settings, and time periods — hope you find one to enjoy!

A Rebel Heart by Beth White

Five years after the final shot was fired in the War Between the States, Selah Daughtry can barely manage to keep herself, her two younger sisters, and their spinster cousin fed and clothed. With their family’s Mississippi plantation swamped by debt and the Big House falling down around them, the only option seems to be giving up their ancestral land.

Pinkerton agent and former Union cavalryman Levi Riggins is investigating a series of robberies and sabotage linked to the impoverished Daughtry plantation. Posing as a hotel management agent for the railroad, he tells Selah he’ll help her save her home, but only if it is converted into a hotel. With Selah otherwise engaged with renovations, Levi moves onto the property to “supervise” while he actually attends to his real assignment right under her nose.

Selah isn’t sure she entirely trusts the handsome Yankee, but she’d do almost anything to save her home. What she never expected to encounter was his assault on her heart.

Into The Free by Julie Cantrell

Just a girl. The only one strong enough to break the cycle.

In Depression-era Mississippi, Millie Reynolds longs to escape the madness that marks her world. With an abusive father and a “nothing mama,” she struggles to find a place where she really belongs.

For answers, Millie turns to the Gypsies who caravan through town each spring. The travelers lead Millie to a key that unlocks generations of shocking family secrets. When tragedy strikes, the mysterious contents of the box give Millie the tools she needs to break her family’s longstanding cycle of madness and abuse.

Through it all, Millie experiences the thrill of first love while fighting to trust the God she believes has abandoned her. With the power of forgiveness, can Millie finally make her way into the free?

The Color of Justice by Ace Collins

1964

Justice, Mississippi, is a town divided. White and black. Rich and poor. Rule makers and rule breakers. Right or wrong, everyone assumes their place behind a fragile façade that is about to crumble. When attorney Coop Lindsay agrees to defend a black man accused of murdering a white teenager, the bribes and death threats don’t intimidate him. As he prepares for the case of a lifetime, the young lawyer knows it’s the verdict that poses the real threat—innocent or guilty, because of his stand Coop is no longer welcome in Justice. As he follows his conscience, he wonders just how far some people will go to make sure he doesn’t finish his job?

2014

To some, the result of the trial still feels like a fresh wound even fifty years later, when Coop’s grandson arrives in Justice seeking answers to the questions unresolved by the trial that changed his family’s legacy. When a new case is presented, again pitting white against black, this third generation Lindsay may have the opportunity he needs to right the wrongs of the past.

But hate destroys everything it touches, and the Lindsay family will not escape unscathed.

High Cotton by Debby Mayne

Some families are filled with so much love they can’t help but drive each other crazy.

Shay Henke has mixed feelings about going to her family’s next reunion. On the one hand, she’ll get to see everyone in her mama’s family – folks she loves unconditionally. On the other hand, she knows there’ll be more drama than you can shake a stick at.

The days leading up to the event bring one surprise after another. First Shay must deal with her sister-in-law’s deep, dark secret. Then she has to contend with the childish ways of her business-mogul twin cousins. And when her high school crush wants to be her date to the reunions . . . well, it may have been a dream come true for Shay’s teen self, but the woman she’s become doesn’t know what to make of this.

Shay’s contentment is challenged, and she’s determined to shake things up a bit. But will she find the excitement she’s looking for, or will Shay realize she prefers her quiet predictable life? One thing is certain: Life in the Bucklin family is never boring.

Shadows of The Past by Patricia Bradley

Psychology professor and criminal profiler Taylor Martin prides herself on being able to solve any crime, except the one she wants most desperately to solve – the disappearance of her father twenty years ago. When she finally has a lead on his whereabouts, Taylor returns home to Logan Point, Mississippi, to investigate. But as she is stalking the truth about the past, someone is stalking her.

Nick Sinclair pens mystery novels for a living, but the biggest mystery to him is how he can ever get over the death of his wife – a tragedy he believes he could have prevented. With his estranged brother the only family he has left, Nick sets out to find him. But when he crosses paths with Taylor, all he seems to find is trouble.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Please, Can I Have Some More?!

12 Mar

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge is to list standalone books that need a sequel. Yes!! I definitely want more from some of the books I read; books that ended much too soon. The authors don’t have to write full-length sequels to satisfy my longings, though. Just a very thorough prologue with pertinent details, like where the characters are (including kids and grandkids), say, 50 years later. 😉

Some of the books on my list fit the criteria, but I have tweaked it a bit to add books that were part of a series that I was sorry ended. To find out which books that other bloggers want more of, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.


Top Books I Want More Of

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

Chosen People by Robert Whitlow

Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof

How The Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim

Lead Me Home by Amy Sorrells

Miles from Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

Water from My Heart by Charles Martin