Tag Archives: literary fiction

October Book Club Selections

1 Oct

This month my book clubs have very different books on tap. By The Book is reading the final book in Cindy Woodsmall‘s Amish of Summer Grove series, Gathering The Threads. We have been anxious to find out what Skylar and Ariana are going to do about their family situations and whether true love will find them. I have already read it, and I loved it! Page Turners is reading a new-to-us author, Amy Sorrells, and her first book, How Sweet The Sound. I am over half way through, as are others in the group. From the response so far, we will probably be reading more books by this talented author.

What about you? Have you read either of these books? We’d love to know what you thought.

After months away in the Englisch world, Ariana Brenneman is overjoyed to be in the Old Order Amish home where she was raised. Yet her excitement is mixed with an unexpected apprehension as she reconciles all she’s learned from her biological parents with the uncompromising teachings of her Plain community. Although her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, hopes to help her navigate her new role amongst her people, Ariana’s Daed doesn’t understand why his sweet daughter is suddenly questioning his authority. What will happen if she sows seeds of unrest and rebellion in the entire family? 
 
Meanwhile, Skylar Nash has finally found her place among the large Brenneman family, but Ariana’s arrival threatens to unravel Skylar’s new identity—and her sobriety. Both Ariana and Skylar must discover the true cords that bind a family and community together and grasp tight the One who holds their authentic identities close to His heart.

Wealth and etiquette can hide a lot of things in the South, as the esteemed Harlan family of sleepy Bay Spring, Alabama, knows. But behind the gentle facade of white pillared porches and acres of cultivated pecan orchards, family secrets smolder.

Young Anniston Harlan cares little for high society and the rigid rules and expectations of her grandmother, Princella. She finds solace working the orchards alongside her father and grandfather, and relief in the cool waters of Mobile Bay.

Anniston’s aunt, Comfort Harlan, has never quite lived up to the family name, or so her mother Princella’s ever-apparent scowl implies. When she gleefully accepts the proposal of her longtime boyfriend, Solly, a flood tide of tragedy ensues that strips Comfort of her innocence and unleashes generations of family secrets, changing the Harlan family forever.

While Comfort struggles to recover, Anniston discovers an unlikely new friend from the seedy part of town who helps her try to make sense of the chaos. Together, they and the whole town of Bay Spring discover how true love is a risk, but one worth taking.

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If You Liked Child of The River . . .

29 Sep

By The Book read Child of The River by Irma Joubert in September. An excellent book, the novel explored the real life results of Apartheid in South Africa. If you liked this novel and want to explore more like it, then check out the following books. All are well-written glimpses into life in South Africa.

Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton.

Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.

 

 

 

The Girl from The Train by Irma Joubert. 

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families — so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

No Greater Love by Kathi Macias

Forbidden romance, an unlikely martyr and an even more unlikely hero. Orphaned four years earlier when their parents, active in the African National Congress (ANC) movement against apartheid, were murdered, 16-year-old Chioma and her 15-year-old brother Masozi now live and work on an Afrikaner family’s farm.

When Chioma and Andrew, the farm owner’s son, find themselves attracted to one another, tragedy revisits their lives. Chioma escapes to join an ANC rebel band in her effort to survive and gain revenge for her family and culture. When cultures clash in life-or-death struggles, Chioma must choose between violence and revenge, or forgiveness and selfless love.

Loosely based on historical events and set near Pretoria, South Africa, in the violent upheaval prior to ANC leader Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and his ascendance to the presidency of South Africa, this story of forbidden romance produces an unlikely martyr who is replaced by one even more unlikely.

The Road to Home by Vanessa Del Fabbro

South African journalist Monica Brunetti had it all — promising career, loving family, marriage-minded boyfriend. Then a life-changing encounter landed her in a hospital bed next to gregarious Ella Nkhoma, whose wit and caring challenged Monica’s worldview. Their remarkable friendship would lead Monica far from the gated white suburbs, and toward a parting that left both women transformed–and Monica the mother of two sons.

Top Ten Tuesday — Characters with A Lot of Growing Up to Do AKA Coming-of-Age Books

26 Sep

This week the folks at The Broke And The Bookish have challenged bloggers to list Books That Feature Characters ____ (culturally diverse characters, characters with mental illness, those who play sports, etc.). Because I really want to spotlight coming-of-age novels, I have titled this week’s list Characters with A Lot of Growing Up to Do. I just finished a really great novel, Child of The River by Irma Joubert, and it reminded me of other excellent coming-of-age stories. While there are some great classics– A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Chosen, etc. — I wanted to share some that you may be unfamiliar with. Hope you enjoy my list, even if I did have to finagle the challenge just a bit. 😉

 

Top Coming of Age Novels

 

Child of The River by Irma Joubert

A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Child of the River is a timeless tale of heartbreak and triumph set in South Africa at the dawn of apartheid.

Persomi is young, white, and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her, escaping the brutality and squalor of her family home through the newspapers and books passed down to her from the main house and through her walks in the nearby mountains.

Persomi’s close relationship with her older brother Gerbrand and her fragile friendship with Boelie Fourie—heir to the Fourie farm and fortune — are her lifeline and her only connection to the outside world. When Gerbrand leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and Boelie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her — dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice and equality, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her — the tragedies of war and the devastating racial strife of her homeland — she finally discovers who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life — and every life — matters.

The Girl from The Train by Irma Joubert

Six-year-old Gretl Schmidt is on a train bound for Aushwitz. Jakób Kowalski is planting a bomb on the tracks.

As World War II draws to a close, Jakób fights with the Polish resistance against the crushing forces of Germany and Russia. They intend to destroy a German troop transport, but Gretl’s unscheduled train reaches the bomb first.

Gretl is the only survivor. Though spared from the concentration camp, the orphaned German Jew finds herself lost in a country hostile to her people. When Jakób discovers her, guilt and fatherly compassion prompt him to take her in. For three years, the young man and little girl form a bond over the secrets they must hide from his Catholic family.

But she can’t stay with him forever. Jakób sends Gretl to South Africa, where German war orphans are promised bright futures with adoptive Protestant families—so long as Gretl’s Jewish roots, Catholic education, and connections to communist Poland are never discovered.

Separated by continents, politics, religion, language, and years, Jakób and Gretl will likely never see each other again. But the events they have both survived and their belief that the human spirit can triumph over the ravages of war have formed a bond of love that no circumstances can overcome.

The One True Love of Alice Ann by Eva Marie Everson

Living in rural Georgia in 1941, sixteen-year-old Alice-Ann has her heart set on her brother’s friend Mack; despite their five-year age gap, Alice-Ann knows she can make Mack see her for the woman she’ll become. But when they receive news of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Mack decides to enlist, Alice-Ann realizes she must declare her love before he leaves.

Though promising to write, Mack leaves without confirmation that her love is returned. But Alice-Ann is determined to wear the wedding dress her maiden aunt never had a chance to wear ― having lost her fiancé in the Great War. As their correspondence continues over the next three years, Mack and Alice-Ann are drawn closer together. But then Mack’s letters cease altogether, leaving Alice-Ann to fear history repeating itself.

Dreading the war will leave her with a beautiful dress and no happily ever after, Alice-Ann fills her days with work and caring for her best friend’s war-torn brother, Carlton. As time passes and their friendship develops into something more, Alice-Ann wonders if she’ll ever be prepared to say good-bye to her one true love and embrace the future God has in store with a newfound love. Or will a sudden call from overseas change everything?

 The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

The summer of 1972 was the most pivotal of Matt Plumley’s childhood. While his beloved Pirates battle for back-to-back World Series titles, Matt’s family moves from Pittsburgh to Dogwood, West Virginia, where his father steps into the pulpit of a church under the thumb of town leader Basil Blackwood. A fish out of water, Matt is relieved to forge a fast bond with two unlikely friends: Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock, a mixed-race boy, and Jesse Woods, a tough-as-nails girl with a sister on her hip and no dad in sight.

As the trio traipses the hills and hollers, Matt begins to fall for Jesse, and their promises to each other draw him deeper into her terrifying reality. One night, the wrath of the Blackwoods and the secrets of Jesse’s family collide, and Matt joins Jesse in a rescue that saves one life and ends another . . . and severs the bond of their friendship.

Years later, Matt is pulled back to Dogwood and to memories of that momentous summer by news of Jesse’s upcoming wedding. He could never shake the feeling that there was more to the story of that fateful night, and he’s determined to learn the truth behind the only promise Jesse Woods ever broke.

The Runaway by Claire Wong

Shortly before her eighteenth birthday, Rhiannon Morgan runs away from the remote Welsh village of Llandymna. Camping out in Dyrys Woods, she starts to make a new life for herself. In the woods she finds space for her active imagination — weaving together the stories she loves and memories of her past, including the mother she lost thirteen years ago.

Back in the village, Rhiannon’s disappearance triggers a series of events that uncover the cracks in Llandymna’s quiet surface. Relationships become frayed as a young police officer is forced to investigate his neighbors, and the village’s elderly storyteller hints at a secret that the older generation has kept for decades. But as painful as the village’s past may be, it may hold the key for hope in the present . . . .

Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock

Stunning coming-of-age drama set during the Great Depression and Prohibition

When Eve Marryat’s father is laid off from the Ford Motor Company in 1931, he is forced to support his family by leaving St. Paul, Minnesota, and moving back to his Ohio roots. Eve’s uncle Cyrus has invited the family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge.

 Eve can’t wait to leave St. Paul, a notorious haven for gangsters. At seventeen, she considers her family to be “good people,” not lawbreakers like so many in her neighborhood. Thrilled to be moving to a “safe haven,” Eve soon forms an unlikely friendship with a strange young man named Link, blissfully unaware that her uncle’s lodge is anything but what it seems.

When the reality of her situation finally becomes clear, Eve is faced with a dilemma. Does she dare risk everything by exposing the man whose love and generosity is keeping her family from ruin? And when things turn dangerous, can she trust Link in spite of appearances?

Son of A Soldier by Aiken A. Brown

Son of a Soldier is the powerful story of how God used one unlikely, country girl to change the course of history. It seemed impossible to believe that an eighteen-year-old girl from the middle-of-nowhere, Tennessee would have any real significance in the history of our nation…that is until God chose her to make a Godly man out of a flawed, military hero’s stubborn son.

Hailey was a small town, farm girl who had never left her home state of Tennessee. She was a naïve tomboy who possessed an unassuming charm, the power of which she could not comprehend.

Grant was a rebellious Army brat who had seen the world. Glib, sarcastic and self-destructive, he was a loner lost in a world he had never felt he fit into.

They seemingly had little in common, but when two hearts collided, two worlds became one; while Hailey embarks on a beautiful journey of self-discovery in this unique coming-of-age story, Grant travels a winding, dirt road that helps him rediscover a lost innocence and discover a renewed purpose.

Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

A boy coming of age in a time of war . . .
the love that inspires him to survive.

For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows— his frail, troubled mother.

Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.

When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all.

 

What are some of your favorite coming-of-age novels?

 

 

 

Book Review: Child of The River

25 Sep

A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Child of the River is a timeless tale of heartbreak and triumph set in South Africa at the dawn of apartheid.

Persomi is young, white, and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her, escaping the brutality and squalor of her family home through the newspapers and books passed down to her from the main house and through her walks in the nearby mountains.

Persomi’s close relationship with her older brother Gerbrand and her fragile friendship with Boelie Fourie—heir to the Fourie farm and fortune — are her lifeline and her only connection to the outside world. When Gerbrand leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and Boelie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her — dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice and equality, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her — the tragedies of war and the devastating racial strife of her homeland — she finally discovers who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life — and every life — matters.

A graduate of the University of Pretoria, Irma Joubert was a high school teacher for 35 years before retiring in 2004 to focus on her writing. The following year, while working as a freelance journalist, she was the recipient of the Media24 award for Specialist Journalist of the Year and was a finalist in the Mondi journalism awards.

Joubert’s current literary focus is on historical novels. Her Tussen stasies trilogy, consisting of Ver wink die SuiderkruisTussen stasies en Tolbos, together with her Pontenilo trilogy: Anderkant PonteniloPérsomi, and Kronkelpad, have all been translated into Dutch, and have all featured among the Top 10 best sellers on publication.

Tussen stasies has been translated into German and in 2015 was published in English by US publisher Harper Collins under the title The Girl from the Train. She is currently writing the second book in her third trilogy. (from Wikipedia)

 

My Impressions:

Child of The River by Irma Joubert is one of the best novels I have ever read, and when I found that a second novel had been translated into English, I was excited to introduce this talented author to my book club. Child of The River again transports the reader to South Africa, this time spanning 30 years beginning in the pre-WWII years. Beautifully written, this novel is a hard book to read — abuse, prejudice, and nationalized separation of races — but has an underlying theme of hope in the face of injustice. My book club liked the book and appreciated the glimpse into a bygone time and foreign land.

Persomi is a the daughter of a bywoner or sharecropper in the bushveld of South Africa. She looks on the lives of real people with the dream of one day being part of their world. A strong girl becomes a determined woman who faces head-on the unjust treatment and unfair laws of her country.

The story is filled with compelling and complex characters, some we loved, others not so much. Women as portrayed in the novel are especially irritating, and there were a few we wished we could have shaken! The men are treated a bit more kindly with a few earning our admiration. Persomi is the main character, and we loved her sense of right and wrong, her desire to protect the underdog, and her gentle, yet firm manner in dealing with hard situations. There is also a love story that we loved, hated, and ultimately rejoiced in. The novel is published by Christian publisher, Thomas Nelson, and while it did not have an overt faith message, it was heavily influenced by the author’s Christian worldview.

My book club and I really liked Child of The River, and welcome further translations of Joubert’s novels.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

2017 Christy Award Finalists

21 Sep

Congratulations to all the finalists of the 2017 Christy Awards. The winners will be announced November 8, 2017.

 

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Her One And Only by Becky Wade

The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson

Rescue Me by Susan May Warren

FIRST NOVEL

Counted with The Stars by Connilyn Cossette

Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

Stars in The Grass by Ann Marie Stewart

GENERAL FICTION

Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

HISTORICAL

Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

The Mark of The King by Jocelyn Green

Miriam by Mesu Andrews

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden

The Lady And The Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

MURDER/SUSPENSE/THILLER

If I Run by Terri Blackstock

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

Without Warning by Joel C. Rosenberg

SHORT FORM

Looking Into You by Chris Fabry

Mirror Image by Laura Scott

Restoring Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

VISIONARY

The Alliance by Jolina Petersheim

King’s Folly by Jill Williamson

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James Rubart

YOUNG ADULT

If You’re Gone by Brittany Goodwin

The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

Unblemished by Sara Ella

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday — Favorites from The Early Years

12 Sep

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

Nine Favorites from The Early Years of By The Book

 

 

Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry

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

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

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

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

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

Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen

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

For Time And Eternity by Allison Pittman

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

 

The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan

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

The Rhythm of Secrets by Patti Lacy

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

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

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

A Thousand Sleepless Nights by Michael King

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

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

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

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

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

Words by Ginny Yttrup

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

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

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

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

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Summer Reading Lists

18 Jul

When my children were in High School they had summer reading assignments. I was all —  I wish we had that when I was in school! They were all — meh! LOL! The problem really wasn’t that they were expected to read; I had made forced urged them to do that every summer of their school years. It was more the books that were on the list.

Summer is about to close for kids here in middle Georgia. My home county’s schools start in just 3 short weeks. At this point, my children would just now be cracking open their assigned books. And I would be threatening urging them to get to it. Would it have been different if I could have created the list with books that are entertaining, suspenseful, full of action and passion?  I like to think so.

So here are the books I would put on a summer reading list for High School-aged kids. My list is a mix of Classics and Christian fiction. What do you think?

Top Books for Summer Reading

American History — The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

“My favorite historical novel . . . a superb re-creation of the Battle of Gettysburg, but its real importance is its insight into what the war was about, and what it meant.”—James M. McPherson
 
In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty were also the casualties of war. Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize – winning masterpiece is unique, sweeping, unforgettable — the dramatic story of the battleground for America’s destiny.

American Literature — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

The American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century.

From the moment she entered the world, Francie needed to be made of stern stuff, for the often harsh life of Williamsburg demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. Often scorned by neighbors for her family’s erratic and eccentric behavior-such as her father Johnny’s taste for alcohol and Aunt Sissy’s habit of marrying serially without the formality of divorce-no one, least of all Francie, could say that the Nolans’ life lacked drama. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the Nolans’ daily experiences are tenderly threaded with family connectedness and raw with honesty. Betty Smith has, in the pages of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, captured the joys of humble Williamsburg life-from “junk day” on Saturdays, when the children of Francie’s neighborhood traded their weekly take for pennies, to the special excitement of holidays, bringing cause for celebration and revelry. Betty Smith has artfully caught this sense of exciting life in a novel of childhood, replete with incredibly rich moments of universal experiences — a truly remarkable achievement for any writer.

British History — The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

“One of the best mysteries of all time” (The New York Times)—Josephine Tey recreates one of history’s most famous — and vicious —crimes in her classic bestselling novel, a must read for connoisseurs of fiction, now with a new introduction by Robert Barnard.

Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world’s most heinous villains—a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother’s children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the usurpers of England’s throne? Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard Plantagenet really was and who killed the Little Princes in the Tower.

The Daughter of Time is an ingeniously plotted, beautifully written, and suspenseful tale, a supreme achievement from one of mystery writing’s most gifted masters.

British Literature — The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The novel that T. S. Eliot called “the first, the longest, and the best of the modern English detective novels”

Guarded by three Brahmin priests, the Moonstone is a religious relic, the centerpiece in a sacred statue of the Hindu god of the moon. It is also a giant yellow diamond of enormous value, and its temptation is irresistible to the corrupt John Herncastle, a colonel in the British Army in India. After murdering the three guardian priests and bringing the diamond back to England with him, Herncastle bequeaths it to his niece, Rachel, knowing full well that danger will follow. True to its enigmatic nature, the Moonstone disappears from Rachel’s room on the night of her eighteenth birthday, igniting a mystery so intricate and thrilling it has set the standard for every crime novel of the past one hundred fifty years.

Widely recognized, alongside the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, as establishing many of the most enduring conventions of detective fiction, The Moonstone is Wilkie Collins’s masterwork and one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century.

Current Events — The Beloved Daughter by Alana Terry

In a small North Korean village, a young girl struggles to survive. Catastrophic floods have ravaged her countryside. But it is her father’s faith, not the famine of North Hamyong Province, that most threatens Chung-Cha’s well-being. Is Chung-Cha’s father right to be such a vocal believer? Or is he a fool to bring danger on the head of his only daughter? Chung-Cha is only a girl of twelve and is too young to answer such questions. Yet, she is not too young to face a life of imprisonment and forced labor. Her crime? Being the daughter of a political dissident.

The Beloved Daughter follows Chung-Cha into one of the most notorious prison camps the contemporary free world has known. Will Chung-Cha survive the horrors of Camp 22? And if she does survive, will her faith remain intact?

The Beloved Daughter is Alana Terry’s debut Christian novel and has won awards from Readers’ Favorite, Grace Awards, Women of Faith, The Book Club Network, and others.

Philosophy — The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce is a classic Christian allegorical tale about a bus ride from hell to heaven. An extraordinary meditation upon good and evil, grace and judgment, Lewis’s revolutionary idea in the The Great Divorce is that the gates of Hell are locked from the inside. Using his extraordinary descriptive powers, Lewis’ The Great Divorce will change the way we think about good and evil.

 

 

 

Physics — The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead

It is the ultimate quest for the ultimate treasure. Chasing a map tattooed on human skin. Across an omniverse of intersecting realities. To unravel the future of the future.

Kit Livingstone’s great-grandfather appears to him in a deserted alley during a tumultuous storm. He reveals an unbelievable story: that the ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legend or the weekend hobby of deluded cranks, but pathways to other worlds. To those who know how to use them, they grant the ability to travel the multi-layered universe of which we ordinarily inhabit only a tiny part.

One explorer knew more than most. Braving every danger, he toured both time and space on voyages of heroic discovery. Ever on his guard and fearful of becoming lost in the cosmos, he developed an intricate code—a roadmap of symbols—that he tattooed onto his own body. This Skin Map has since been lost in time. Now the race is on to recover all the pieces and discover its secrets.

But the Skin Map itself is not the ultimate goal. It is merely the beginning of a vast and marvelous quest for a prize beyond imagining.

The Bright Empires series—from acclaimed author Stephen R. Lawhead—is a unique blend of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery. The result is a page-turning, adventure like no other.

Psychology — Strangers on A Train by Patricia Highsmith

“For eliciting the menace that lurks in familiar surroundings, there’s no one like Patricia Highsmith.” ―Time

The world of Patricia Highsmith has always been filled with ordinary people, all of whom are capable of very ordinary crimes. This theme was present from the beginning, when her debut, Strangers on a Train, galvanized the reading public. Here we encounter Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno, passengers on the same train. But while Guy is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce, Bruno turns out to be a sadistic psychopath who manipulates Guy into swapping murders with him. “Some people are better off dead,” Bruno remarks, “like your wife and my father, for instance.” As Bruno carries out his twisted plan, Guy is trapped in Highsmith’s perilous world, where, under the right circumstances, anybody is capable of murder.

The inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1951 film, Strangers on a Train launched Highsmith on a prolific career of noir fiction, proving her a master at depicting the unsettling forces that tremble beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life.

World History — Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton

A work of searing beauty, Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of Stephen Kumalo, a Zulu pastor, and his son, Absalom. It is also the story of a land and a people riven by racial injustice, reflecting the troubled and changing South Africa of the 1940s. The book is written with such keen compassion and understanding that the listener shares fully in the gravity of the characters situations. Alan Paton said of his book: “It is a song of love for one’s far distant country….” Thus, it is a tale that is passionately African while also being timeless and universal. But ultimately, Cry, the Beloved Country is a work of love and hope, of courage and tragedy, born of the dignity of man.

All School Read — The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Set against the turbulent years of the Napoleonic  era, Alexandre Dumas’s thrilling adventure story  is one of the most widely read romantic novels of  all time. In it the dashing young hero, Edmond  Dantès, is betrayed by his enemies and thrown  into a secret dungeon in the Chateau d’If — doomed  to spend his life in a dank prison cell. The story  of his long, intolerable years in captivity, his  miraculous escape, and his carefully wrought  revenge creates a dramatic tale of mystery and intrigue  and paints a vision of France — a dazzling,  dueling, exuberant France — that has become immortal.  

 

 

What books would you include on a Summer Reading List?