Tag Archives: Lori Benton

Top 10 Tuesday — Best of 2020

29 Dec

Who knew that 2020 would be such a difficult year? It started out all bright and shiny with the birth of my first grandchild, then a landslide of a lump and a biopsy in February pointed to breast cancer. My surgery and the good news of no chemo or radiation was followed by 15 days to crush the curve. We all know where that went. While life became a bit more normal in June here in Georgia, this year has been filled with anxiety and grief. I am certainly ready for a brand new year!

While I am glad 2020 will soon be in the rearview mirror, I did read A LOT OF GREAT BOOKS this year. I couldn’t whittle the list down to 10, but I did confine it to an even dozen. And that was hard! As always my favorites span a variety of genres — historical, suspense, romance.  I hope you find a book you will love.

For more best of the best lists, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Top Books of 2020

 

Collision of Lies by Tom Threadgill

The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck

The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright

 

The Last Year of The War by Susan Meissner

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan

Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton

The Mulberry Leaf Whispers by Linda Thompson

 

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

State of Lies by Siri Mitchell

Stay with Me by Becky Wade

The Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

Audiobook Review: Mountain Laurel

14 Oct

With the review schedule I maintain, I usually reserve my audiobook listening for books that I can’t wait to read. It’s hard sometimes to listen only 1 hour per day, but in cases like Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton, I find lots of chores that allow me to stay plugged in. 😉 Benton’s latest historical novel set in the late 1700s is definitely a very highly recommended read!

North Carolina, 1793
Ian Cameron, a Boston cabinetmaker turned frontier trapper, has come to Mountain Laurel hoping to remake himself yet again― into his planter uncle’s heir. No matter how uneasily the role of slave owner rests upon his shoulders. Then he meets Seona ― beautiful, artistic, and enslaved to his kin.

Seona has a secret: she’s been drawing for years, ever since that day she picked up a broken slate to sketch a portrait. When Ian catches her at it, he offers her opportunity to let her talent flourish, still secretly, in his cabinetmaking shop. Taking a frightening leap of faith, Seona puts her trust in Ian. A trust that leads to a deeper, more complicated bond.

As fascination with Seona turns to love, Ian can no longer be the man others have wished him to be. Though his own heart might prove just as untrustworthy a guide, he cannot simply walk away from those his kin enslaves. With more lives than his and Seona’s in the balance, the path Ian chooses now will set the course for generations of Camerons to come.

A story of choice and consequence, of bondage and freedom, of faith and family.

Lori Benton was born and raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back to the 1600s. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God’s transforming grace. 

My Impressions:

Lori Benton is one of my all-time favorite authors, so I knew I had to read Mountain Laurel. I actually downloaded the audiobook on release day! Readers familiar with Benton’s earlier novel, The King’s Mercy, will recognize the setting of this book. Many years have passed and a new owner is in residence. I found Benton’s portrayal of a prosperous farm intriguing — generally books detailing the life of slaves and their masters take place during the Civil War or some few years before. But Mountain Laurel is set in the few short years following America’s independence. The new found freedom from tyranny is bittersweet as many are still in bondage. Freedom is an important theme that runs throughout the book. There are those who are free who live in bondage to their mistakes, sins, and regrets, while there are those who legally are owned by an earthly master, yet experience a true freedom. Benton uses a decidedly Christian viewpoint to convey that message. But don’t worry, faith is naturally expressed, never preachy.

The story revolves around two main characters — Ian Cameron a self-styled prodigal and Seona, a young woman unsure of her true identity and place. The two feel an attraction that will not be denied, despite societal norms and restrictions. Both sides — slave and slaveholder — warn of the relationship. Heartbreak, betrayal, and redemption await the two. Secondary characters are as well-developed as the two mains. I found Benton’s characters portrayed a wealth of human emotion, including cruelty, grace, and mercy.

Listening to the audiobook was like stepping back in time — the narration was excellent. Pair that with unforgettable story and characters and Mountain Laurel is very highly recommended.

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Autumn Covers

6 Oct

It’s not really feeling fall-is here in the Sunny South. Oh we did have a tease of cooler temperatures last week, but this week we are back in the mid-80s, and it looks like another tropical system is on its way. Ugh! But I can still snuggle in with autumn-y books even if I can only capture brisk breezes with an air conditioner and a ceiling fan! 😉

Along with other bloggers I am sharing some book covers that declare those autumn vibes. The colors just say fall for me. My list includes books that I am currently reading and those that are on my TBR shelf or wishlists. They span a number of genres, so there’s something for everyone.

For more great covers, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Autumn-Vibes Book Covers

Dreams Rekindled by Amanda Cabot

Leaving Oxford by Janet Ferguson

Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton

Obsession by Patricia Bradley

The Promised Land by Elizabeth Musser

Protecting Tanner Hollow by Lynette Eason

The Sowing Season by Katie Powner

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Green

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Top Ten Tuesday — Fall TBR

22 Sep

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday challenge is to list the 10 books on your Fall TBR. I have a mix of old(ish) and new, review and book club selections, and some just because. I have a lot of reading to catch up on and not a lot of time in my schedule — my son, DIL, and grand baby have been visiting for 3 weeks and we are building a vacation home and my daughter is getting married! Squee! But books are always a great way to relax and escape. I think my list will provide just the ticket.

For more Fall TBRs, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books on The Fall TBR

 

Airborne by Diann Mills

As Doves Fly in The Wind by Mary Lou Cheatham

Deadly Intentions by Lisa Harris

Egypt’s Sister by Angela Hunt

Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton

Point of Danger by Irene Hannon

The Red Ribbon by Pepper Basham

The Refrain Within by Liz Tolsma

Solid Ground by Danny and Wanda Pelfrey

Under a Turquoise Sky by Lisa Carter

 

What’s on your Fall TBR?

Top 10 Tuesday — Author Interviews

25 Aug

I have been blessed over the years in opportunities to meet fantastic authors. It’s always a thrill to interact with writers either face to face or via email and social media. In the ten plus years I have been blogging, I have interviewed a number of my favorites, and since I am not as creative as them I have a stock list of questions. For this week’s Top 10 Tuesday I decided to highlight the answers authors gave to my number one question — When did you know you were a writer? I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into their writing journeys. And to see the rest of the interviews, just click on the author’s name.

For more author info/interviews, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.  

 

When did you first become a writer?

 

Pepper Basham author of The Red Ribbon (October 2020)

I feel like I’ve always been a storyteller, but I didn’t start ‘writing’ down those stories until I was about 7 or 8. I actually still have a story I wrote and illustrated from when I was 9. Poorly illustrated . . . it was pretty clear writing was more my forte than drawing (especially from the sizes of the noses on my poor people I drew 😉 .

 

 

Lori Benton author of Mountain Laurel (September 2020)

I’ve always been a writer, making up stories as a child. Really! I was in the third grade and already a voracious reader when my best friend said out of the blue, “I wrote a story.” She showed it to me, and I was instantly intrigued. Could I write a story? It was an epiphany. I wrote a story. And never really stopped. But one day I decided to get more serious about it (I was about 21 by this time) and see if I could write a novel and maybe (if I could figure out how one did so) get it published. That novel, which I did finish, wasn’t published. Nor the one I wrote after that. It was quite a few years later (22 years in fact) before my debut novel Burning Sky reached store shelves. 

 

 

Kimberly Duffy author of A Mosaic of Wings

I wrote my first story at the age of eleven. It was about an inchworm. When I was twelve I wrote my first romance — about a girl who gets stuck in an elevator with her celebrity crush. And I really haven’t stopped writing since. Before I began writing, though, I loved stories and words and daydreams. 

 

 

Rachel Dylan of Backlash (October 2020)

I think I have always been a writer. As a child, I was a voracious reader. I gobbled up books left and right. I started writing stories and poems in elementary school. Everyone in high school assumed I was going to become an English professor. It didn’t turn out quite like that, but writing has always been a part of who I am.

 

 

Camille Eide author of Wings Like A Dove

Age 7. I wrote and illustrated my first novel. It was about Snoopy. I don’t remember it, but am fairly certain it wasn’t a bestseller.

 

 

Heather Day Gilbert of No Filter, Barks And Beans Cafe mystery series

From the time I was about four, I loved words and reading. I won a writing contest in fifth grade . . . but I didn’t realize I was a writer until I was about twelve. We came back from an ocean trip and I sat on the porch and wrote a poem . . . and Boom! It hit me — I was a writer. I promptly shared this epiphany with my mom and my grandma, and they were duly impressed. LOL. That’s not to say I launched into an immediate writing career trajectory. Goodness knows I entertained plenty of other majors in college, though I wound up with a degree in Humanities that focused on literature and writing.

 

 

Jocelyn Green author of Veiled in Smoke

My first book was writing captions in my Bugs Bunny coloring book to make it an actual story. I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t writing. My first published books were nonfiction, though, mostly devotionals, before I started writing historical fiction.

 

Tracy Groot of The Maggie Bright

I think it was when I sought to right what I considered was a wrong: In the early years of my marriage, my father-in-law told me that his family had rescued a Jewish boy during WWII. They risked their lives to shelter him for one year, and then they got him to England through the Dutch underground. I asked him, “Did he ever come back to thank you for what he did?” “No.” “Well — did anyone thank you?” “No.”

 

 

Richard Mabry, MD author of Critical Decision

I never considered becoming an author outside of medicine until the death of my first wife, Cynthia. Almost a year after her passing, I began to consider turning the journaling I’d done into a book, but had no idea how. Finally, at a writer’s conference, I got an inkling of 1) how to write a book, and 2) how hard it is to get one published. But I did and it was. The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse has been out for a decade and ministered to many thousands who have suffered a similar loss.

 

 

Rachel McMillan author of The London Restoration

I always loved reading and making up stories in my head. One year, my brother Jared gave me a diary for Christmas and I wrote all the time. That’s when I knew. Even if I never publish another book, I will always write stories. I enjoy it so much.

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Books to Movies

18 Aug

I have a big confession: I do not subscribe to Netflix! I think one of my kids has an account downloaded to my TV, but it is only watched when they come to visit. I know this is shocking, but I don’t even turn my TV on anymore. My husband watched Inspector Morris the past few months and has now moved on to Endeavor, but other than a few glimpses up from my book reading, I have not watched TV since April. I have to say I haven’t missed it either. The topic of which books should be made into movies/Netflix series always leaves me with mixed emotions. It would be great if wonderful books could reach more people, but frankly I would rather people enjoy the original source. 😉

For this week’s Top 10 Tuesday I am listing historical fiction that I think would make great movies. The books on my list have a number of strengths — great sense of time and place, interesting and perhaps little known topics, strong characters, intrigue, unputdownableness.

For more recommendations, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Historical Fiction That Should Be Made Into A Movie

 

The Far Side of The Sea by Kate Breslin (currently free for Kindle for Prime Members!)

The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton

Lady of A Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd

The Last Year of The War by Susan Meissner

The Mark of The King by Jocelyn Green

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson

Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

Top 10 Tuesday — Upcoming Anticipated Releases

30 Jun

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday is all about the 2020 books bloggers are looking forward to that have yet to be released. I have a lot on my shelves to read, but I still cannot wait to get my hands on more books! I kept my list to the proscribed 10, but in reality there are many more. Hope my list piques your interest.

 

What new books are you looking forward to?

 

 

Top 10 Anticipated Releases

 

Acceptable Risk by Lynette Eason (8/4/20))

Backlash by Rachel Dylan (10/6/20)

The Escape by Lisa Harris (11/3/20)

 

Everywhere to Hide by Siri Mitchell (10/6/20)

The Haunting of Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright (9/1/120)

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan (8/18/20)

Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton (9/1/20)

 

Point of Danger by Irene Hannon (10/6/20)

Relative Silence by Carrie Stuart Parks (7/14/20)

Two Reasons to Run by Colleen Coble (9/8/20)

 

2020 Inspy Award Nominees

13 May

Congratulations to the 2020 Inspy Award Nominees! What a great bunch of authors and books. So if you are wondering what to read next, here’s your list!

Recognizing the need for a new kind of book award, the INSPYs were created by bloggers to discover and highlight the very best in literature that grapples with expressions of the Christian faith. (Inspy.com)

 

Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe by Carla Laureano 

Sweet on You by Becky Wade

Just One Kiss by Courtney Walsh

 

Debut Fiction

Heart of a Royal by Hannah Currie 

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

Shadow Among Sheaves by Naomi Stephens 

 

General Fiction

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner 

How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim 

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay 

 

Historical Fiction

The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton

Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

 

Literature for Young Adults

Evermore by Jody Hedlund

Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan

 

Mystery/Thriller

The Wind Will Howl by Sibella Giorello

Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

 

Speculative Fiction

Flight of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

Brand of Light by Ronie Kendig

Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Good Book Titles Make Good Band Names

21 Apr

Happy Tuesday! Today That Artsy Reader Girl is challenging bloggers to come up with band names based on book titles. I’m musically challenged — I can’t sing and I never know who sings a song. But I do know books, and titles that intrigue me I believe would make awesome names of bands — country bands, heavy metal, 80s cover bands, etc. So here is my attempt. My list draws from books on my TBR shelves and includes 3 titles that are actual band names! Hope you find one to love!

 

 

Top Ten Band Names from Book Titles

Deep Dixie by Annie Jones

The End of Law by Therese Downs

A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton

Freedom’s Stand by Jeanette Windle

The Ishbane Conspiracy by Randy Alcorn

Outbreak by Davis Bunn

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Actual Band Names!

Journey by Angela Hunt

Petra by Tracy Higley

(The) Queen by Steven James

 

Reading Road Trip — Ohio

8 Apr

Today I am taking a Reading Road Trip to Ohio! With stay-at-home orders impacting most of America, a good book is a great resource for some virtual traveling. My list consists of a number of genres — Amish, dual timelines, mystery, historical — something for everyone.

Ohio’s motto is So Much to Discover. I hope you will discover a great new book!

 

Reading Road Trip — Ohio!

 

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail.

When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can to recover her son . . . especially when her second child is moments away from being born.

Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do — be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?

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?

Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson

Jobless, homeless, and broke, Camden Bristow decides to visit the grandmother she hasn’t seen in years. But when Camden arrives in Etherton, Ohio, she discovers that her grandmother has passed away, leaving her the 150-year-old mansion on Crescent Hill. The site of her happiest summers as a child, the run-down mansion is now her only refuge.

When Camden finds evidence that she may not be the mansion’s only occupant, memories of Grandma Rosalie’s bedtime stories about secret passageways and runaway slaves fuel her imagination. What really happened at Crescent Hill? Who can she turn to for answers in this town full of strangers? And what motivates the handsome local Alex Yates to offer his help? As she works to uncover the past and present mysteries harbored in her home, Camden uncovers deep family secrets within the mansion’s walls that could change her life — and the entire town — forever.

A Plain Death by Amanda Flower

Welcome to Appleseed Creek, the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country, where life is not as serene as it seems.

While her Cleveland friends relocated to Southern California and Italy, 24-year-old computer whiz Chloe Humphrey moves with some uncertainty to Appleseed Creek to direct technology services at a nearby college. Her first acquaintance is Becky, an ex-Amish teenager looking for a new home.

While driving Chloe’s car, Becky collides with a buggy, killing an Amish elder. But what looks like an accident is soon labeled murder when police discover the car’s cut brake line.

Now, Chloe must take on the role of amateur sleuth to discover who the real intended victim was before the murderer makes a second attempt. Becky’s handsome Amish-turned-Mennonite brother, Timothy, a local carpenter, comes in handy along the way. With God’s help, they’ll solve the mystery that’s rocking this small community.

 

Where will you read next?