Tag Archives: Susan Meissner

Top 10 Tuesday — Book Club Reads

7 Mar

While the folks at The Broke And The Bookish are taking a well-deserved rest, bloggers are sharing Freebie Top 10 Lists. This week I am sharing the books my two book clubs (By The Book and Page Turners) are reading this year. What is your book club reading?

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Top 10 Book Club Selections for 2017

(alphabetically)

Gathering The Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

If I Run by Terri Blackstock

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley

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The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser

Luther And Katharina by Jody Hedlund

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

Still Life by Dani Pettrey

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Why The Sky Is Blue by Susan Meissner

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton

A Yankee in Atlanta by Jocelyn Green

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What is your book club reading this year?

Top 10 Tuesday — Christian Worldview

7 Feb

The folks at The Broke And The Bookish always have challenging prompts for their Top 10 Tuesday posts. This week they are challenging bloggers to explore what they would like to see more of in books. For what other bloggers are discussing, click HERE.

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So, what do I want more of in books? My book clubs have challenged and stretched my reading habits, and for this I am thankful. I think everyone should venture out of their comfort zones to read different genres or to discover new authors. Because of this I have read some books I never would have chosen on my own. And while I really enjoyed the books I am about to discuss, they seemed to lack something. As I pondered just what was missing, I came up with one common thing — lack of a Christian worldview.

Christian Worldview (also called Biblical worldview) refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which a Christian individual, group or culture interprets the world and interacts with it. — from Wikipedia.

Now, I am not judging the authors, but I don’t think I am going out on a limb saying that they did not begin writing saying WWJD! The books are well-written and award-winning — truly exceptional books, but left me feeling unsatisfied. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need a book to be blatant or preachy, but I do appreciate when there is a subtly woven message of hope or redemption or forgiveness.

So today, I am presenting 4 books that I liked a lot, but would have loved if they had been based on Biblical concepts, and 4 books that I think are great examples of Christian Worldview. As always, these are my own opinions and not a judgment of the authors personally.

4 Books I Liked, But Would Have Loved If They Had Included A Christian Worldview

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Home Front by Kristin Hannah

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

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3 Books I Loved That Include A Christian Worldview

Secrets of A Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Unwritten by Charles Martin

Water from My Heart by Charles Martin

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What do you want more of in books?

 

Top Ten Tuesday — All I Want for Christmas Is . . . More Books!

20 Dec

Can anyone really have too many books? While that may be an ongoing argument discussion at my house, I choose to take the pro-book stance. So with that in mind my Christmas wishlist always includes books. This week’s Top 10 Tuesday features the books bloggers want to find under their tree. To see what good little bloggers are wishing for, click HERE.

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I belong to two book clubs so that assures I will make at least 24 book purchases each year. But who am I kidding? 24? That’s chicken feed! But to adhere to the spirit of TTT and for brevity’s sake, I am only listing 10 books that I want Santa to bring. What books do you want under your tree?

Top 10 Christmas Wishlist

Gathering The Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley

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The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

My Sister’s Prayer by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Still Life by Dani Pettrey

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What Happened on Beale Street by Mary Ellis

Why The Sky is Blue by Susan Meissner

Yankee in Atlanta by Jocelyn Green

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What books do you want under your tree?

 

 

TOP 10 Tuesday — Around The World in Books!

19 Jul

This week the folks at The Broke And The Bookish are focusing on Books Set Outside The United States. To find out all the great books bloggers are recommending, click HERE.

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I’m not much of a traveler, but I have loved the places I visited in books! Because there are so many great books set outside of the US, I have included many more than 10, 25 in fact. Divided by geographic location, my list includes books set within the last 100 years so that you can easily see where you are visiting! Have fun exploring the world!

Around The World in Books

The Americas

CanadaThe Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan.

MexicoMore Than Conquerors by Kathi Macias 

NicaraguaWater from My Heart by Charles Martin

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Europe

EnglandThe Inheritance by Michael Phillips

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

Secrets of A Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

FranceDefy The Night by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn

Flame of Resistance by Tracy Groot

GreeceThe Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn

Netherlands Snow on The Tulips by Liz Tolsma

Ukraine Beyond The Rapids by Evelyn Puerto

Like A River from Its Course by Kelli Stuart

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Africa

AlgeriaTwo Destinies by Elizabeth Musser

South AfricaThe Girl from The Train by Irma Joubert

No Greater Love by Kathi Macias

SudanSide by Side by Jana Kelley

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The Middle East 

AfghanistanFarewell, Four Waters by Kate McCord

Saudia Arabia People of The Book by Kathi Macias

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Asia

ChinaCity of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

Red Ink by Kathi Macias 

Indonesia (Dutch East Indies)Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

North KoreaBeloved Daughter by Alana Terry

The PhilippinesRemember The Lilies by Liz Tolsma

VietnamYesterday’s Tomorrow by Catherine West

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Australia 

Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman

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Where do you want to travel?

 

Tales from The TBR Pile — White Picket Fences

10 Sep

My TBR pile is tottering towards the ceiling. And that doesn’t count all the books on my Kindle! I have books from waaay back! One of those is Susan Meissner‘s White Picket Fences. I love Meissner’s writing, and my book clubs have read several of her novels, most lately Secrets of A Charmed Life. But I haven’t read this one yet. Have you? Why should I move this one up to the top of the pile?

 

UnknownWhen her black sheep brother disappears, Amanda Janvier eagerly takes in her sixteen year-old niece Tally. The girl is practically an orphan: motherless, and living with a father who raises Tally wherever he lands– in a Buick, a pizza joint, a horse farm–and regularly takes off on wild schemes. Amanda envisions that she, her husband Neil, and their two teenagers can offer the girl stability and a shot at a “normal” life, even though their own storybook lives are about to crumble.

Seventeen-year-old Chase Janvier hasn’t seen his cousin in years, and other than a vague curiosity about her strange life, he doesn’t expect her arrival will affect him much–or interfere with his growing, disturbing interest in a long-ago house fire that plagues his dreams unbeknownst to anyone else.

Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won’t make them go away.

Will Tally’s presence blow apart their carefully-constructed world, knocking down the illusion of the white picket fence and reveal a hidden past that could destroy them all–or can she help them find the truth without losing each other?

Book Review: Secrets of A Charmed Life

17 Jul

UnknownShe stood at a crossroads, half-aware that her choice would send her down a path from which there could be no turning back. But instead of two choices, she saw only one—because it was all she really wanted to see  . . .

Current day, Oxford, England. Young American scholar Kendra Van Zant, eager to pursue her vision of a perfect life, interviews Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets about the war that she has kept for decades…beginning with who she really is. What Kendra receives from Isabel is both a gift and a burden–one that will test her convictions and her heart.

1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, hundreds of thousands of children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed . . . .

SusanMeissner2-300x199Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction titles for 2014, and The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008. A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University. Susan is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When she’s not working on a novel, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. Visit Susan at her website: http://susanlmeissner.com on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at http://www.facebook.com/susan.meissner

 

My Impressions:

I have long enjoyed Susan Meissner’s novels, but have not read one of her books in a while. My church book club, Page Turners, chose her latest book, Secrets of A Charmed Life, for our July discussion. Informal conversations indicate this is another winner for our group. Have you read this book? What did you think?

While there are two contemporary/historical plot lines in Secrets of A Charmed Life, it is the historical story of Emmy/Isabel and her sister Julia that takes center stage. With the backdrop of the London Blitz, Meissner manages to tell a tale full of emotion — grief, fear, and unworthiness. But the characters grow throughout their journeys and learn that forgiveness for themselves and others covers the choices they have made.

There is not an overt faith message that one can point to in Secrets of A Charmed Life. God is mentioned, but for much of the novel the characters don’t really see Him as anything as distant — a sentiment held by many in today’s world. Rather, this novel points to the impact our choices have and the hand of the Sustainer that takes our mistakes and turns them into good. At one point both Emmy and her sister Julia realize that although their actions do have a role to play in what will happen, events are shaped by choices of all the people involved, including enemy leaders and pilots.

Strong characters, both major and minor, make this story, but the setting is well-constructed also. England during WWII, both besieged London and the bucolic English countryside, comes to life. The reader experiences a nation that joins together to protect both its children and its way of life. If you like WWII novels, you will love Secrets of A Charmed Life.

I expect a lot of great discussion with this novel, making it a good bet for any book club. Secrets of A Charmed Life is a highly recommended read!

Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

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

July Book Club Selections

1 Jul

This month my two book clubs are reading historical novels set during WWII — Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer (2015 Christy Award winner for Book of The Year and Historical Romance) and Secrets of A Charmed Life by Susan Meissner. Have you read either of these novels? We would love to hear your thoughts.

UnknownA 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.

 

UnknownShe stood at a crossroads, half-aware that her choice would send her down a path from which there could be no turning back. But instead of two choices, she saw only one—because it was all she really wanted to see…

Current day, Oxford, England. Young American scholar Kendra Van Zant, eager to pursue her vision of a perfect life, interviews Isabel McFarland just when the elderly woman is ready to give up secrets about the war that she has kept for decades…beginning with who she really is. What Kendra receives from Isabel is both a gift and a burden–one that will test her convictions and her heart.

1940s, England. As Hitler wages an unprecedented war against London’s civilian population, hundreds of thousands of children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside. But even as fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her much younger sister Julia find refuge in a charming Cotswold cottage, Emmy’s burning ambition to return to the city and apprentice with a fashion designer pits her against Julia’s profound need for her sister’s presence. Acting at cross purposes just as the Luftwaffe rains down its terrible destruction, the sisters are cruelly separated, and their lives are transformed . . .