Tag Archives: Pamela Binnings Ewen

Reading Road Trip — Gulf Coast Ramblings

26 Jun

For a while my summer vacations were confined to the Gulf Coast. In college we went to a beach house in Orange Beach, Alabama. Then when I first married we moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida. Our children grew up going to Destin, Gulf Shores, and Perdido Key. We have expanded our vacation horizons in the past few years, but the Gulf Coast still offers fond memories. I thought it would be fun to feature some books set along the almost 1700 miles that the coast line spans. While some of the towns included are not technically on the coast (New Orleans, for example), they are a huge part of the flavor of the area. I have included a number of genres — cozy mystery, historical romance, women’s fiction, and contemporary romance — so you are bound to find one you will love. So even if your summer plans only include a visit to your backyard, here are some choices for a virtual Gulf Coast Ramble.

 

Galveston, Texas

A Bouquet of Love by Janice Thompson

Cassia Pappas has found herself in a nearly impossible situation. She wants to spend her time immersed in her new job at a Galveston Island floral shop, arranging blooms and brightening occasions with her lovely creations. But her huge Greek family — especially her father — has other ideas. They’ve all relocated to Galveston to open up a new family restaurant location on the Strand–directly across the street from the Rossis’ popular pizza place–and they want Cassia’s full participation.

To make matters worse, as Cassia is trying to develop a strong professional relationship with Galveston’s premier wedding coordinator, Bella Neeley, her own father is intent on stealing all of the Rossi family’s faithful customers. Not exactly the best way to get into Bella’s good graces!

Still, at least Alex, that hot delivery guy from the nursery, is always hanging around the flower shop . . .

New Orleans, Louisiana

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.

In this lawyer’s unraveling world, can grace survive Ama’s fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?

Vancleve, Mississippi

Fair Game by Elizabeth White

“Nothing worth having is easy to get . . .

Ana Cutrere’s homecoming to Vancleave, Mississippi, is anything but dull. Before she’s even reached town, the beautiful young widow has a run-in with a stray cow, loses her son in the woods, rescues an injured fawn, and comes face-to-face with Grant Gonzales, her high school crush. Grant recently returned to town himself amid hushed controversy. His only plan: leave the corporate world behind and open a hunting reserve. Seeing Jana again ignites old memories . . . and a painful past.Tensions boil over when he learns exactly why she returned. Jana plans to convince her grandfather to develop a wildlife rescue center — dead center on the prime hunting property he promised to sell to Grant! Jana is determined to make a new start for herself and her two children — and willing to fight for it. With deadlines drawing near for the sale of the property and no decision from her grandfather, can Jana trust God with her and Grant’s future, or will explosive emotions and diametrically opposing views tear them apart?

Mobile, Alabama

The Creole Princess by Beth White

All along the eastern seaboard, the American struggle for independence rages. In the British-held southern port of Mobile, Alabama, the conflict brewing is quieter — though no less deadly. The lovely Frenchwoman Lyse Lanier is best friends with the daughter of the British commander. Rafael Gonzalez is a charming young Spanish merchant with a secret mission and a shipment of gold to support General Washington. As their paths cross and their destinies become increasingly tangled, Lyse and Rafael must decide where their true loyalties lie — and somehow keep Lyse’s family from being executed as traitors to the British Crown.

With spectacular detail that brings the Colonial South alive, Beth White invites readers into a world of intrigue and espionage from a little-known side of the American Revolutionary War. Her richly textured settings and characters delight while fast pacing and closely held secrets will keep readers turning the pages.

The Magnolia Duchess by Beth White

Fiona Lanier is the only woman in the tiny Gulf Coast settlement of Navy Cove. While her shipbuilding family races to fill the demand for American ships brought by the War of 1812, Fiona tries to rescue her brother who was forced into service by the British Navy.

Lieutenant Charlie Kincaid has been undercover for six months, obtaining information vital to the planned British invasion of New Orleans. When a summer storm south of Mobile Bay wrecks his ship and scatters the crew, Charlie suffers a head injury, ultimately collapsing in the arms of a beautiful mermaid who seems eerily familiar. As Charlie’s memory returns in agonizing jags and crashes, he and Fiona discover that falling in love may be as inevitable as the tide. But when political loyalties begin to collide, they’ll each have to decide where their true heart lies.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

What The Cat Dragged In by Gilbert Morris

Introducing…

Jacques the Ripper: A tough–minded “Savannah” breed of feline–fierce, enormous, and with a mind of his own.

And…

Cleo: A multi–colored “Rag Doll” with long silky hair. Cleo is as affectionate as Jacques is tough and her favorite mode of transportation is draped over the shoulder of the nearest human.

In their debut mystery, Jacques and Cleo and their owner…or rather the human they own, Kate Forrest, and her son, Jeremy, move to a beautiful beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama, left to Kate by a distant relative.

The catch is that another distant relative, wanna–be novelist (and bonafide cat–hater) Jake Novak, has also inherited an interest in the house. Undeterred, Kate and Jeremy move in the downstairs quarters and Jake takes the separate apartment upstairs.

Then, when a murder occurs . . . everyone is stumped — but feline sleuths Jacques and Cleo come to the rescue and reveal the identity of the killer.

 

Destin, Florida (and nearby environs)

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?

If Kathleen could relive any moment, it would be the one in 1969. Not because of its sweet memories, but because it changed her life forever.

Watercolor Summer by Nan Corbitt Allen

Just thirteen, Kathleen felt isolated and alienated by her family. A victim of her parents’ lack of connection to each other and to her, she was dragged by her mother to another artist colony for the summer. There she met the annoying Malcolm, a sixteen-year-old, mentally-challenged boy living with his caregiver.

In Watercolor Summer, Nan Allen tells the story of the difficult summer when Kathleen learned how Malcolm and his colorful guardian were the examples of true and selfless love. She paints a story on the canvas of Kathleen’s life which was transformed by the Master Artist–a life once stained by pain and trial, that became a thing of beauty.

Cedar Key, Florida

Waiting for Sunrise by Eva Marie Everson

Life sometimes gets the best of us. For some it’s the daily pressures, for others it’s the shadows of the past. For Patsy Milstrap, it’s both. When she travels to beautiful Cedar Key on Florida’s Gulf Coast in search of healing, she never dreams her past will be waiting for her there.

With a large helping of Southern charm, Waiting for Sunrise is a touching story of family, young love, and the need for forgiveness. Author Eva Marie Everson expertly draws out the bittersweet moments of life, weaving them into a tale that envelops the soul.

 

Tarpon Springs, Florida

The Lady of Tarpon Springs by Judith Miller

Much to the dismay of her Greek family, Zanna Krykos makes a living as a lawyer in Tarpon Springs, Florida. When her friend Lucy needs legal advice about the business she inherited upon her father’s passing, she ends up asking Zanna to run the business instead so she can focus on her medical career.

Nico Kalos is a Greek diver who has worked on sponging boats in the Aegean Sea since the age of 14, giving him a vast knowledge of the trade. When he hears of an opportunity to lead a group of spongers to the United States, he seizes it. But his excitement is quickly quelled when he arrives only to discover that a young woman with no experience in the business will be in charge of the new crews.

But as Zanna and Nico face even more complications than they could have imagined, they must learn to work together or risk everything they’ve worked so hard for.

Top 10 Tuesday — To Re-Read Or Not To Re-Read

10 Apr

In February TTT explored books that can be re-read over and over. Because I hardly ever re-read anymore (too many books, too little time and all), I listed books that deserve a re-read. Well here we are with a challenge to name books that we loved but will not re-read — my list could go on for pages! So I have again limited myself to 10 stellar books that not only deserve a first read, but a re-read over and over again. If you haven’t read any on the list at all, be sure to check them out. They are great. And don’t forget to head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to find out more books that bloggers love.

 

Top 10 Books That Won’t Be Re-Read by Me, But Should Be Read by You!

 


Bad Ground
by Dale Cramer

Poignant and thought provoking, this is a down-to-earth, sometimes humorous novel filled with suspense, action, redemption, and even romance. Seventeen-year-old Jeremy Prine decides to honor his mother’s dying wish and seek out his estranged uncle who was badly burned in the accident that killed Jeremy’s father. He finds the man working as a hard-rock miner in the south, an extremely dangerous occupation. His uncle seems a bitter and lonely man, but Jeremy senses more beneath the surface. Against his uncle’s wishes, Jeremy takes a job as a miner and soon his young faith is tested by his rough and gritty co-workers, the threat of danger … and the possibility of love.

Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.

Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen

In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir meets Phillip Sharp, 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. In this lawyer’s unraveling world, can grace survive Ama’s fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?

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.

 

 

Invisible by Ginny Yttrup

Cafe owner Ellyn DeMoss seeks protection from pain behind extra pounds. So why is a handsome widower attracted to her? Abandoning her family, Sabina Jackson comes to Northern California to heal. But is she doing more hiding than healing? And Twila Boaz once wanted to disappear. Now she wants to conquer her eating disorder. Will she succeed?

 

 

 

 

Iscariot by Tosca Lee

Judas Iscariot…the name of Judas conjures up the ultimate betrayer. What could possibly bring him to such a vile decision to betray Jesus? Tosca Lee brilliantly captures Judas’ life; why he chose to follow Jesus when he was a respected scholar, what he witnesses day after day being near and speaking with Jesus. You will be captivated by every nuance of Judas’ story as he walked with Jesus and Judas’ history that led him to that point. Why did Jesus choose the path that he chose, from angering those in esteemed positions by not just allowing those who were “unclean” near him, but encouraging their presence? Judas struggled to understand Jesus’ motives and questioned them all along the way. The places where you question how and what Jesus did are brilliantly speculated by Tosca Lee in the amazing story of Iscariot.

The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser

Anne “Perri” Singleton’s world is defined by the security of family, the camaraderie of friends at an exclusive Atlanta girls’ school, and an enviable social life. She isn’t looking for new friends when Mary Dobbs Dillard arrives from Chicago. Besides, “Dobbs,” the passionate and fiercely individualistic daughter of an itinerant minister, is her opposite in every way.

But just as the Great Depression collides disastrously with Perri’s well-ordered life, friendship blossoms—a friendship that will be tested by jealousy, betrayal, and family secrets..

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.

 

 
Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes From the best-selling author of Crossing Oceans comes a heartrending yet uplifting story of friendship and redemption. On the cusp of adulthood, eighteen-year-old Penny Carson is swept off her feet by a handsome farmhand with a confident swagger. Though Trent Taylor seems like Prince Charming and offers an escape from her one-stop-sign town, Penny’s happily-ever-after lasts no longer than their breakneck courtship. Before the ink even dries on their marriage certificate, he hits her for the first time. It isn’t the last, yet the bruises that can’t be seen are the most painful of all.When Trent is injured in a welding accident and his paycheck stops, he has no choice but to finally allow Penny to take a job cleaning houses. Here she meets two women from very different worlds who will teach her to live and laugh again, and lend her their backbones just long enough for her to find her own.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow by Catherine West

She’s after the story that might get her the Pulitzer. He’s determined to keep his secrets to himself.

Vietnam 1967.

Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father’s memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent, and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother’s wishes.
Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he’s hiding something.

Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they’re forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

What Book Would You Recommend?

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 — Southern Settings

1 Nov

By book club loves a story set in an exotic locale, but we also love a book set in our own backyards — the Sunny South! I’ve compiled a list of books  (18 in fact!) with Southern settings that will be a hit with your book club; many were hits with mine and the others I don’t hesitate to recommend. I could have gone on and on — so many great books set in the South! You may also see I am kind of partial to books set in my home state of Georgia!

To find out what other books bloggers are recommending to book clubs, please visit The Broke And The Bookish Top 10 Tuesday.

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Top Books with Southern Settings

Cozy Mystery Series

Murder on A Girl’s Night Out by Anne George (Alabama)

Them Bones by Carolyn Haines (Mississippi)

Who Invited The Dead Man by Patricia Sprinkle (Georgia)

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Historical 

Lighthouse by Eugenia Price (Georgia)

A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love (Georgia)

The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot (Georgia)

The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser (Georgia)

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Romance

Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Beth Vogt (Florida)

Her One And Only by Becky Wade (Texas)

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck (Alabama)

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Romantic Suspense

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris (Georgia)

Midnight on The Mississippi by Mary Ellis (Louisiana/Mississippi)

Shadows of The Past by Patricia Bradley (Mississippi/Tennessee)

Vendetta by Lisa Harris (Tennessee)

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Women’s Fiction

Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen (Louisiana)

The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman (North Carolina)

Secrets over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones (Tennessee)

The Things Left Unspoken by Eva Marie Everson (Georgia)

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What’s your favorite setting?

 

Book Review: Chasing The Wind

29 Dec

464313_w185At 8:47 A.M. on Wednesday, October 12, 1977, new-to-town businessman Bingham Murdock flew his small plane into New Orleans, banking it in such a way that a ray of sunshine shot through the city at light speed.

Amalise Catoir saw the flash from her sixteenth floor law office window. Finally feeling alive after the death of her abusive husband, she imagined seeing the plane was a fate for her eyes only; a special connection between the unknown giver and she, the recipient of light.But someone else saw it, a six-year-old Cambodian refugee in foster care for whom a sudden burst of brightness reminds him of artillery fire.

Destined to cross paths with the man and the child, Amalise doesn’t yet know the deeper spiritual lesson she will learn: that we are responsible not only for the things we do, but also for the things that we don’t.

Pamela_Binnings Ewen_medPamela Binnings Ewen practiced law for twenty-five years before she followed in the authorial footsteps of relatives such as James Lee Burke (The Glass Rainbow) and Andre Dubus III (The House of Sand and Fog). Chasing the Wind is her fourth novel. Ewen lives in Louisiana.

My Impressions:

Chasing The Wind is the sequel to Dancing on Glass (see my review HERE). And while it is not necessary to have read the first book to enjoy the second, I recommend that you do. Pamela Binnings Ewen’s writing is so good, you do not want to miss the pleasure. Chasing The Wind again centers on Amalise Catoir, a female, second year attorney in the male dominated occupation of the 1970s. The book takes place in New Orleans and the flavor of the city shines through and is itself a character of sorts. Other intriguing characters are Bingham Murdoch, the investor that has Amalise’s law firm working on one of its biggest projects of the year and Luke, an orphan from southeast Asia. Mystery surrounds both of these characters and touches the story in big ways.

Mystery and magic are the highlights of Chasing The Wind. While not a suspense novel, Ewen’s writing creates a tension that had me in knots trying to work out the same problems Amalise faced —  ethics and confidentiality versus morals and justice. And while not an overtly religious novel, Chasing The Wind is definitely a book about faith and God’s sovereignty. Ewen also makes you care about her characters, and her writing is excellent. This book is so good it made my best of 2012 list!

I highly recommend Chasing The Wind. So get both books and schedule a great reading experience.

Highly Recommended.

(I received a copy of Chasing The Wind from NetGalley. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Dancing On Glass

5 Nov

In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir meets Phillip Sharp, 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. In this lawyer’s unraveling world, can grace survive Ama’s fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?

 

 

Pamela Ewen practiced law for 25 years, and recently retired as a partner from the law firm of Baker Botts in Houston, Texas. She is an experienced public speaker, including numerous radio and television interviews, and as a guest speaker for book clubs, reading groups, retreats, churches of all denominations, literary festivals, universities, and many other organizations.

She serves on the board of directors of the Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans, and is also co-founder of the Northshore Literary Society in the Greater New Orleans Metro area north of Lake Pontchartrain. Recently she was honored with the 2009 Literary Artist of the Year Award by the St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana Arts Council.

My Impressions:

Dancing On Glass is a powerful story of a young woman caught in a web of deceit and manipulation as spun by the handsome and charismatic artist, Phillip Sharp.  Amalise Catoir is a 2nd year law student determined to make it in the male dominated field of the 1970s.  She is smart and fiercely independent, yet has a definite soft spot for the defenseless and wounded.  Phillip is very insightful yet deeply troubled and soon sees Amalise’s vulnerability.  Praying upon her sensitivity and nurturing personality, Phillip makes his way into her life.  Soon he has distanced Amalise from her family, friends and faith and has set himself up as the center of her world.

Pamela Ewen’s novel describes the way a sociopath can get past the common sense defenses that one has and manipulate others to suit their own desires. Amalise’s life soon becomes a balancing act.  She has to keep Phillip happy while working and studying.  When those things take up too much of her time, she soon learns that she is caught without any way of escape.

Dancing On Glass is set in New Orleans during the mid-1970s.  The city comes alive in Ewen’s writing.  And the era of women breaking into male dominated fields helps to set the stage for the struggles Amalise faces.  This novel is a wonderful work of psychological suspense.   Like Amalise’s friends and family, I wanted to warn her of the dangers just around the corner.  I look forward to Ewen’s next book that takes up where this one left off.

Highly Recommended.

(I received a copy of Dancing On Glass from B&H Publishers in return for a review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Julie at My Only Vice is hosting the Christian Fiction Book Club this month.  Check out her blog for discussion on Dancing On Glass.

I could not find any discussion questions for this book, so here are some of my own thoughts:

1.  Amalise is dedicated to The Plan — her and her mother’s desire for her to become a lawyer.  How does this shape her decision to leave Phillip?

Amalise does not  swerve from her goal of finishing law school, passing the bar and securing a position with a New Orleans law firm.  In this she is focused, not allowing anything, even Phillip to deter her.  She compartmentalizes that part of her life apart from her marriage.  I think without her career, she never would have broken free of Phillip.  She was able to maintain an identity apart from Phillip that allowed her to finally see through his lies and deception.

2.  At one point in their marriage, Phillip becomes physical in his abuse.  Why does Amalise put up with it?

Too often women endure physical abuse because they believe the lie that their husband/boyfriend is not really that abusive person.  Something else has caused the abuse — alcohol/drugs, their own actions.  Amalise blamed Phillip’s drinking and his childhood wounds.  But we are all responsible for our own actions despite our circumstances.  The character of Jude is a good counterpoint to Phillip.  Jude is the product of an abusive childhood with an alcoholic father.  Yet Jude takes responsibility for the life he creates.

3.  Amalise asks God to bless her marriage, even though she knows she entered into it without prayer and God’s wisdom?  Can God bless our actions when they go against His will?

God can take our mistakes and make something beautiful from them.  But I am not sure we can be truly blessed outside of His will.  As Amalise found out, our own free will is what causes so much hurt  (even to the innocent) in the world.

Here is a glimpse of Pamela Binnings Ewen’s next book — 

Chasing The Wind — coming August 2012.  8:47 A.M. on Wednesday, October 12, 1977, new-to-town businessman Bingham Murdock flew his small plane into New Orleans, banking it in such a way that a ray of sunshine shot through the city at light speed.

Amalise Catoir saw the flash from her sixteenth floor law office window. Finally feeling alive after the death of her abusive husband, she imagined seeing the plane was a fate for her eyes only; a special connection between the unknown giver and she, the recipient of light.

But someone else saw it, a six-year-old Cambodian refugee in foster care for whom a sudden burst of brightness reminds him of artillery fire.

Destined to cross paths with the man and the child, Amalise doesn’t yet know the deeper spiritual lesson she will learn: that we are responsible not only for the things we do, but also for the things that we don’t.