Tag Archives: Catherine West

Reading American History — Post-WWII

27 Jul

Today’s post marks the last of my July series, Reading American History. It has been fun compiling a list of books featuring important events in the life of America. Today I focus on the post-WWII era. I refuse to feature any book with a main setting of 1980 and later — to this aged reader, that is just not historical fiction! LOL!

My list is a bit short, I haven’t read that many books with historical settings in the 1950s-1970s that feature a specific event in America’s history. The books featured include those dealing with civil rights, the censorship of ideas, and the Vietnam War. I hope you find them as interesting as I did.

Reading American History — Post-WWII

The All-American by Susie Finkbeiner

It is 1952, and nearly all the girls 16-year-old Bertha Harding knows dream of getting married, keeping house, and raising children in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Bertha dreams of baseball. She reads every story in the sports section, she plays ball with the neighborhood boys–she even writes letters to the pitcher for the Workington Sweet Peas, part of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

When Bertha’s father is accused of being part of the Communist Party by the House Un-American Activities Committee, life comes crashing down on them. Disgraced and shunned, the Hardings move to a small town to start over where the only one who knows them is shy Uncle Matthew. But dreams are hard to kill, and when Bertha gets a chance to try out for the Workington Sweet Peas, she packs her bags for an adventure she’ll never forget.

Join award-winning author Susie Finkbeiner for a summer of chasing down your dreams and discovering the place you truly belong.

The Memoir of Johnny Devine by Camille Eide

In 1953, desperation forces young war widow Eliza Saunderson to take a job writing the memoir of ex-Hollywood heartthrob Johnny Devine. Rumor has it Johnny can seduce anything in a skirt quicker than he can hail a cab. But now the notorious womanizer claims he’s been born again. Eliza soon finds herself falling for the humble, grace-filled man John has become—a man who shows no sign of returning her feelings. No sign, that is, until she discovers something John never meant for her to see.​

When Eliza’s articles on minority oppression land her on McCarthy’s Communist hit list, John and Eliza become entangled in an investigation that threatens both his book and her future. To clear her name, Eliza must solve a family mystery. Plus, she needs to convince John that real love—not the Hollywood illusion—can forgive a sordid past. Just when the hope of love becomes reality, a troubling discovery confirms Eliza’s worst fears. Like the happy façade many Americans cling to, had it all been empty lies? Is there a love she can truly believe in?

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse’s stunning debut, Missing Isaac.

It is 1965 when black field hand Isaac Reynolds goes missing from the tiny, unassuming town of Glory, Alabama. The townspeople’s reactions range from concern to indifference, but one boy will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his unlikely friend. White, wealthy, and fatherless, young Pete McLean has nothing to gain and everything to lose in his relentless search for Isaac. In the process, he will discover much more than he bargained for. Before it’s all over, Pete — and the people he loves most — will have to blur the hard lines of race, class, and religion. And what they discover about themselves may change some of them forever.

Snapshot by Lis Wiehl

Two little girls, frozen in black and white. One picture worth killing for.

The Civil Rights Movement is less than a distant memory to Lisa Waldren—it is someone else’s memory altogether, passed on to her through the pages of history. Her life as a federal prosecutor in Boston feels utterly remote from the marches in the South that changed her father’s generation—and the entire nation—forever.But the truth is, she was there.When a photograph surfaces showing a blond, four-year-old Lisa playing with an African-American girl at a civil rights march in Fort Worth, Lisa is faced with a jarring revelation: the girls may have been the only witnesses who observed the killer of civil rights leader Benjamin Gray . . . and therefore the only ones who can exonerate the death row inmate falsely accused of the murder.Soon, Lisa finds herself in the dangerous world her father had shielded her from as a child. After some searching, the Waldrens find the other little girl from the photo and, in the process, uncover conspiracy mere steps away from the likes of Bobby Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and J. Edgar Hoover.

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos — seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse north of Detroit, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

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

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

When Annie Jacobson’s brother Mike enlists as a medic in the Army in 1967, he hands her a piece of paper with the address of their long-estranged father. If anything should happen to him in Vietnam, Mike says, Annie must let their father know. In Mike’s absence, their father returns to face tragedy at home, adding an extra measure of complication to an already tense time. As they work toward healing and pray fervently for Mike’s safety overseas, letter by letter the Jacobsons must find a way to pull together as a family, regardless of past hurts. In the tumult of this time, Annie and her family grapple with the tension of holding both hope and grief in the same hand, even as they learn to turn to the One who binds the wounds of the brokenhearted.

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

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.

Memorial Day Reading

29 May

Decoration Day began a few years after the American Civil War as a way to honor those who gave their lives in the name of freedom. Following WWI, Decoration Day became Memorial Day. As away to remember those who sacrificed so much, I have compiled a list of fiction (most with a woman’s perspective). I hope the list piques your interest.

The Messenger by Siri Mitchell

Hannah Sunderland felt content in her embrace of the Quaker faith…until her twin brother ran off and joined the army and ended up captured and in jail. Suddenly Hannah’s world turns on end. She longs to bring her brother some measure of comfort in the squalid, frigid prison where he remains. But the Quakers believe they are not to take sides, not to take up arms. Can she sit by and do nothing while he suffers?

Jeremiah Jones has an enormous task before him. Responsibility for a spy ring is now his, and he desperately needs access to the men in prison, whom they are seeking to free. A possible solution is to garner a pass for Hannah. But while she is fine to the eye, she holds only disdain for him–and agreeing would mean disobeying those she loves and abandoning a bedrock of her faith.

With skill and sensitivity, Mitchell tells a story of two unlikely heroes seeking God’s voice, finding the courage to act, and discovering the powerful embrace of love.

The Liberty Bride by Marylu Tyndall

War Forces a Choice Between Love and Country

A trip home from England to Maryland in 1812 finds Emeline Baratt a captive on a British warship and forced to declare her allegiance between the British and Americans. Remaining somewhat politically neutral on a ship where her nursing skills are desperately needed is fairly easy — until she starts to have feelings for the first lieutenant who becomes her protector. However, when the captain sends her and Lieutenant Owen Masters on land to spy, she must choose between her love for him and her love for her country.

The Widow of Gettysburg by Jocelyn Green

When a horrific battle rips through Gettysburg, the farm of Union widow Liberty Holloway is disfigured into a Confederate field hospital, bringing her face to face with unspeakable suffering–and a Rebel scout who awakens her long dormant heart.

While Liberty’s future crumbles as her home is destroyed, the past comes rushing back to Bella, a former slave and Liberty’s hired help, when she finds herself surrounded by Southern soldiers, one of whom knows the secret that would place Liberty in danger if revealed.

In the wake of shattered homes and bodies, Liberty and Bella struggle to pick up the pieces the battle has left behind. Will Liberty be defined by the tragedy in her life, or will she find a way to triumph over it?

Widow of Gettysburg is inspired by first-person accounts from women who lived in Gettysburg during the battle and its aftermath.

Turning Tide by Melody Carlson

As the Great War rages on, Sunset Cove continues to feel its impact. Running the small town newspaper, Anna McDowell can’t escape the grim reports from the other side of the world, but home-front challenges abound as well. Dr. Daniel is serving the wounded on the front lines. And Katy, expecting her first child, with her husband in the trenches, tries to support the war effort with her Red Cross club. Even as the war winds down the costs are high—and Sunset Cove is not spared.

With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin

Lt. Mellie Blake is a nurse serving in the 802nd Medical Squadron, Air Evacuation, Transport. As part of a morale building program, she reluctantly enters into an anonymous correspondence with Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer in the 908th Engineer Aviation Battalion in North Africa. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other’s true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face to face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage to their past? And can they learn to trust God and embrace the gift of love he offers them?

Combining excellent research and attention to detail with a flair for romance, Sarah Sundin brings to life the perilous challenges of WWII aviation, nursing, and true love.

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.

Flowers from Afghanistan by Suzy Parish

Weighed down by guilt following the death of his two-year-old son, Mac McCann accepts a year-long position training police officers in Afghanistan. Leaving his wife Sophie to grieve alone, he hopes the life-or-death distractions of his self-imposed exile will build a wall between him and his pain. 

As camaraderie builds between Mac and the men on base—including a local barber and his precocious little boy—Mac’s heart becomes invested in stories beyond his own tragedy and he learns he is not the only one running from loss. But when the hour of attack arrives, will he be able to see past his guilt to believe there’s still something—and someone—worth living for? With touching details based on true events, Flowers from Afghanistan is a redemptive journey of healing, a chronicle of hope in crisis, and a testament to the faithfulness of God through it all. 

Top 10 Tuesday — If You Like …

28 Mar

Happy Tuesday! I regularly include an If You Liked . . . post on my blog with suggestions for further reading if you like my book club’s monthly selection. I love connecting readers to new-to-them authors. For today’s TTT prompt I decided to pull from those list to compile a If You Like X Author, Then Try … . While many of these authors will already be on your radar, I hope you find a new favorite!

For more fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Authors To Try If You Like . . .

If you like Lynette Eason, especially her Danger Never Sleeps series, then try Hallee Bridgeman.

Captain Rick Norton and his Army Special Forces are on a mission to subdue Chukuwereije, a warlord terrorizing the villages in the jungles of Katangela, Africa, when their mission is interrupted to extract the daughter of America’s vice president.

Dr. Cynthia Myers has used her medical mission in a remote village in Katangela to escape a shallow life of unearned wealth, a philandering fiancé, and a father now square in the public eye. At least here she knows her work and life have meaning. But all that is thrown into chaos when she fails to save the life of Chukuwereije’s mortally wounded son and becomes a target for the warlord’s revenge.

Rick is compelled to use deadly force to save Cynthia’s life. Enraged at the violence she witnessed and riddled with guilt that men died because of her, Cynthia tries to hang on to her anger–but an unexpected attraction is taking hold.

With two members of his team badly injured and rebels in hot pursuit, Rick will have to draw upon all his strength and cunning to get her out alive . . . because he’s beginning to think they just might overcome their differences and be able to make a life together.

If you like Elizabeth Goddard, then try Melissa Koslin.

Former CIA sniper Kadance Tolle possesses a special set of skills and a rare pedigree. She comes from a family of assassins, and by saving Lyndon Vaile’s life she risks being found by them. Despite the danger, Kadance feels compelled to help Lyndon discover who is after him–and his research that seems to prove that the Ebola virus was manmade and is about to be weaponized.

With shadowy figures pursuing them and a Mastermind watching their every move, Kadance and Lyndon must scramble to stop an impending bioattack at the State of the Union address. But their warnings fall on deaf ears, and it becomes increasingly clear that there’s no one they can trust — except perhaps each other.

Strap in for a breakneck story that will have you up all night, hurtling toward the last page as the clock ticks and time runs out.

If You like Patricia Bradley, especially her Natchez Trace Park Rangers series, then try Janice Cantore.

As a police officer in Table Rock, Oregon, Leah Radcliff puts her life on the line to help others every day. But at home, Leah’s battling her own personal nightmare: Brad, her abusive husband, a fellow officer, celebrated hero, and beloved son of a powerful prominent family. Brad’s violent outbursts and suspicious activities have left Leah physically and emotionally scarred, until one desperate action to put a stop to his abuse results in deadly consequences.

Though public opinion seems ready to convict Leah, Officer Clint Tanner is one of the few to believe she acted in self-defense. As he works with Leah’s attorney to produce the evidence they need, new truths about Brad’s dark side come to light—and reveal a deep-rooted problem in Table Rock. There are some who have breached their sworn duty to serve and protect . . . and they’ll do anything to keep their secret safe.

If you like Sarah Sundin‘s WWII fiction, then try Mario Escobar.

Saint-Malo, France: August 1938. Jocelyn and Antoine are childhood sweethearts, but just after they marry and are hoping for a child, Antoine is called up to fight against Germany. As the war rages, Jocelyn focuses on comforting and encouraging the local population by recommending books from her beloved library in Saint-Malo. She herself finds hope in her letters to a famous author.

After the French capitulation, the s occupy the town and turn it into a fortress to control the north of French Brittany. Residents try passive resistance, but the German commander ruthlessly purges part of the city’s libraries to destroy any potentially subversive writings. At great risk to herself, Jocelyn manages to hide some of the books while waiting to receive news from Antoine, who has been taken to a German prison camp.

What unfolds in her letters is Jocelyn’s description of her mission: to protect the people of Saint-Malo and the books they hold so dear. With prose both sweeping and romantic, Mario Escobar brings to life the occupied city and re-creates the history of those who sacrificed all to care for the people they loved.

If you like Nancy Mehl, especially her creepier novels 😉 , then try Tom Threadgill.

Catherine Mae Blackston is missing. She is not the first.

While investigating Blackston’s recent activities, FBI Agent Jeremy Winter stumbles upon a string of missing persons within state parks. Unable to convince his boss that Blackston’s disappearance is anything other than a lost hiker, Winter joins forces with a local police officer to continue the search. 

As the clues mount, a dark figure from Jeremy’s past emerges with an ultimatum — one that could force him out of the Bureau. Afraid that his girlfriend, fellow agent Maggie Keeley, will be dragged into a high-stakes political game, he delays his decision. But as the tally of missing persons increases, Winter closes in on the unlikeliest of suspects. 

The bodies are out there. 

He just has to find them before his past catches up with him.

If You like Amanda Cox, then try Susie Finkbeiner.

In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When Mindy, one of those children, announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adopted family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival in their lives.

Though her father supports Mindy’s desire to meet her family of origin, he struggles privately with an unsettling fear that he’ll lose the daughter he’s poured his heart into. Mindy’s mother undergoes the emotional rollercoaster inherent in the adoption of a child from a war-torn country, discovering the joy hidden amid the difficulties. And Mindy’s sister helps her sort through relics that whisper of the effect the trauma of war has had on their family–but also speak of the beauty of overcoming.

Told through three strong voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code.

If you like Courtney Walsh, then try Janet W. Ferguson.

Animals always made more sense than humans did to marine biologist Skye Youngblood. After her mother’s tragic death, she left Alabama and never looked back. These days, she pours her heart into protecting nature’s sea creatures. When she returns to Dauphin Island, Alabama, for a temporary manatee migration study, her dark past is much too close. She can’t let her guard down. But how can she keep her heart hidden when a kind man with a genuine smile makes her want a fresh start?

Charter fishing pays the bills for widower Pete Thompson and his little girl, but like his father, a pastor, Pete can’t help but fish for men. Only, after growing up under constant scrutiny as a preacher’s kid, Pete’s ways are a bit more unconventional. And the bulk of his life revolves around raising his precious daughter.

When he witnesses the car wreck of a new marine biologist on the island, it doesn’t take a genius to see that more than just her physical pain needs tending. Pete feels called to help Skye find true healing, but he’s navigating dangerous waters. And he’s not at all sure he’ll walk away unscathed.

If you like Lisa Harris, then try Susan Sleeman.

When cybercriminals hack into the US Marshals’ Witness Protection database and auction off witnesses’ personal details to the highest bidders, the RED Team led by FBI Agent Sean Nichols begins a high-stakes chase to find the hacker. But before he can even get started, the first witness is targeted and barely escapes with her life. Sean believes Phantom, an obsessed hacker who previously outwitted the top minds in the field, is behind the attack, and Sean needs this witness’s help, as she’s the person who has come closest to discovering Phantom’s identity. 

Trouble is, she’s a witness under the care of US Marshal Taylor Mills, and Sean is reluctant to work with the captivating marshal who knows his deepest secrets. But Phantom claims he knows where the witness is hiding and will kill her, so to stop the hacker, Sean and Taylor must work through their personal pain and learn to trust each other . . . . The seconds are ticking down before someone dies.

If you like Lynn H. Blackburn, then try Lisa Carter.

Secrets and danger hide deep in the canyons and arroyos of the Navajo Nation When federal agent Aaron Yazzie is assigned to protect the only witness to a drug cartel execution, he hides Kailyn Eudailey in the safest place he knows . . . the vast, untamed wilderness of the Navajo Reservation. Transporting Kailyn to New Mexico may not be as easy as Aaron would like. Kailyn is a high-maintenance Southern belle who is determined to assert her independence at every step. Though Aaron works to protect her from the dangers that could get them both killed, Kailyn is getting to him. Although, she doesn’t know the real him. As an undercover agent, Aaron has grown adept at playing many roles. But will he be able to embrace his true identity and God’s plan for his life in order to keep Kailyn alive?

If you like Erin Bartels, then try Catherine West.

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Tuesday — Books With All The Feels

15 Nov

Happy Tuesday! Today I am sharing books that have ALL the feels. You know, the kind of book that grabs your heart and won’t let go. The kind of book it is sometimes awkward to read out in public. 😉 There was a particularly heart-rending Christmas book I listened to on my morning walks. If any of my neighbors happened to look out their windows as I walked by, they witnessed me laughing hysterically and crying uncontrollably all in one circuit of the neighborhood. Embarrassing! If you want a book that will create emotional havoc in your life (kidding, not kidding), take a look at my list. (It’s cool how the covers and titles compliment each other in a completely random fashion.)

For more bloggers with emotional reactions to their reading choices, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books With ALL The Feels

Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

The London House by Katherine Reay

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

The Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

Where The Blue Sky Begins by Katie Powner

Top 10 Tuesday — All The Feels

15 Feb

Have you ever read a book that you absolutely loved, but had a difficult time putting all the feelings into words. Yeah, me too. This week I am featuring books that had everything — knock-out plotting, relatable characters, truths galore, made me think, kept me pondering. These are the ones I struggled reviewing. I’ve given you an even dozen — I hope you find a new favorite book!

For more TTT fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books With All The Feels

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

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

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

The Church Ladies by Lisa Samson

Competition for church members in Mount Oak has reached a furious peak. When tragedy strikes one of their hometown sons, the church women are drawn together through compassion. The Church Ladies is a contemporary tale illustrating how women can have a major impact on the church. Through friendships that reach beneath surface level — and trials more severe than simple — they unite with common purpose: to pray, share, and comfort. Slowly, the community of believers learns that the church grows when it is rooted in love. Characters you’ll laugh and cry with, in situations every woman will instantly relate to, light up this page-turner about a miracle that could happen.

The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffee

It has been twenty years since Philip McBride’s body was found along the riverbank in the dark woods known as Happy Hollow. His death was ruled a suicide. But three people have carried the truth ever since—Philip didn’t kill himself that day. He was murdered.

Each of the three have wilted in the shadow of their sins. Jake Barnett is Mattingly’s sheriff, where he spends his days polishing the fragile shell of the man he pretends to be. His wife, Kate, has convinced herself the good she does for the poor will someday wash the blood from her hands. And high in the mountains, Taylor Hathcock lives in seclusion and fear, fueled by madness and hatred.

Yet what cannot be laid to rest is bound to rise again. Philip McBride has haunted Jake’s dreams for weeks, warning that he is coming back for them all. When Taylor finds mysterious footprints leading from the Hollow, he believes his redemption has come. His actions will plunge the quiet town of Mattingly into darkness. These three will be drawn together for a final confrontation between life and death . . . between truth and lies.

Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson

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

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambithat connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

The Last Year of The War by Susan Meissner

In 1943, Elise Sontag is a typical American teenager from Iowa — aware of the war but distanced from its reach. Then her father, a legal U.S. resident for nearly two decades, is suddenly arrested on suspicion of being a Nazi sympathizer. The family is sent to an internment camp in Texas, where, behind the armed guards and barbed wire, Elise feels stripped of everything beloved and familiar, including her own identity.
 
The only thing that makes the camp bearable is meeting fellow internee Mariko Inoue, a Japanese-American teen from Los Angeles, whose friendship empowers Elise to believe the life she knew before the war will again be hers. Together in the desert wilderness, Elise and Mariko hold tight the dream of being young American women with a future beyond the fences.
 
But when the Sontag family is exchanged for American prisoners behind enemy lines in Germany, Elise will face head-on the person the war desires to make of her. In that devastating crucible she must discover if she has the will to rise above prejudice and hatred and re-claim her own destiny, or disappear into the image others have cast upon her.
 
The Last Year of the War tells a little-known story of World War II with great resonance for our own times and challenges the very notion of who we are when who we’ve always been is called into question.

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

England, 1940. Clare Childs knew life would change when she unexpectedly inherited the Maggie Bright―a noble fifty-two-foot yacht. In fact, she’s counting on it. But the boat harbors secrets. When a stranger arrives, searching for documents hidden onboard, Clare is pulled into a Scotland Yard investigation that could shed light on Hitler’s darkest schemes and prompt America to action.

Across the Channel, Hitler’s Blitzkrieg has the entire British army in retreat with little hope for rescue at the shallow beaches of Dunkirk. With time running out, Churchill recruits civilian watercraft to help. Hitler is attacking from land, air, and sea, and any boat that goes might not return. Yet Clare knows Maggie Bright must answer the call―piloted by an American who has refused to join the war effort until now and a detective with a very personal motive for exposing the truth.

The fate of the war hinges on this rescue. While two men join the desperate fight, a nation prays for a miracle.

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse’s stunning debut, Missing Isaac.

It is 1965 when black field hand Isaac Reynolds goes missing from the tiny, unassuming town of Glory, Alabama. The townspeople’s reactions range from concern to indifference, but one boy will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his unlikely friend. White, wealthy, and fatherless, young Pete McLean has nothing to gain and everything to lose in his relentless search for Isaac. In the process, he will discover much more than he bargained for. Before it’s all over, Pete — and the people he loves most — will have to blur the hard lines of race, class, and religion. And what they discover about themselves may change some of them forever.

No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray — the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser — faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

Present Day. After tragedy plunges her into grief and unresolved anger, Sarah Ashby returns to her childhood home determined to finally follow her long-denied dream of running Old Depot Grocery alongside her mother and grandmother. But when she arrives, her mother, Rosemary, announces to her that the store is closing. Sarah and her grandmother, Glory Ann, make a pact to save the store, but Rosemary has worked her entire life to make sure her daughter never follows in her footsteps. She has her reasons–but she’ll certainly never reveal the real one.

1965. Glory Ann confesses to her family that she’s pregnant with her deceased fiancé’s baby. Pressured into a marriage of convenience with a shopkeeper to preserve the family reputation, Glory Ann vows never to love again. But some promises are not as easily kept as she imagined.

This dual-timeline story from Amanda Cox deftly explores the complexity of a mother-daughter dynamic, the way the secrets we keep shape our lives and the lives of others, and the healing power of telling the truth.

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

Betty Sweet never expected to be a widow at 40. With so much life still in front of her, she tries to figure out what’s next. She couldn’t have imagined what God had in mind. When her estranged sister is committed to a sanitarium, Betty finds herself taking on the care of a 5-year-old nephew she never knew she had.

In 1960s LaFontaine, Michigan, they make an odd pair. Betty with her pink button nose and bouffant hair. Hugo with his light brown skin and large brown eyes. But more powerful than what makes them different is what they share: the heartache of an empty space in their lives. Slowly, they will learn to trust one another as they discover common ground and healing through the magic of storytelling.

Award-winning author Susie Finkbeiner offers fans a novel that invites us to rediscover the power of story to open the doors of our hearts.

The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser

Mary Swan Middleton has always taken for granted the advantages of her family’s wealth. But a tragedy that touches all of Atlanta sends her reeling in grief. When the family maid challenges her to reach out to the less fortunate as a way to ease her own pain, Mary Swan meets Carl — and everything changes. For although Carl is her opposite in nearly every way, he has something her privileged life could not give her. And when she seeks his help to uncover a mystery, she learns far more than she ever could have imagined.

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Tuesday — Island Reading

27 Jul

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday theme is books to read on a deserted island. Since it’s mid-summer and you may still need a getaway that doesn’t involve fending off island predators and/or those stranded with you 😉 , I am going another direction and listing books set on islands, real and fictional. There’s women’s fiction, history, romance, suspense, and mystery included, so there should be something for every reading taste. And don’t those covers give you the necessary island vibe!

For more island fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Island Reads

The Art of Rivers by Janet Ferguson

As The Tide Comes In by Cindy Woodsmall

As The Light Fades by Catherine West

Hidden Currents by Christy Barritt

Keturah by Lisa T. Bergren

On A Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Phoebe’s Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Still Waters by Lindsey Brackett

Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble

To Have And To Hold by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller

Top 10 Tuesday — Who, What, Where, When, How, And Why

13 Jul

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday’s challenge is book titles that ask a question. I cheated a bit and looked at other bloggers’ posts for inspiration. That’s how I came up with the who, what, where, when, how, and why theme. 2 books each with titles featuring those question prompts equals an even dozen! There are a variety of genres — hope you find one to love!

For more Top Ten Tuesday fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Who, What, Where, When, How, And Why Book Titles

The Boy Who Danced with Rabbits by J. R. Collins

Who Sang The First Song? by Ellie Holcomb

What Happened on Beale Street by Mary Ellis

What Momma Left Behind by Cindy K. Sproles

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

Where The Fire Falls by Karen Barnett

When Night Comes by Dan Walsh

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin

How The Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim

How Sweet The Sound by Amy K. Sorrells

Why The Sky Is Blue by Susan Meissner

The Whys Have It by Amy Matayo

Reading Road Trip — Beach Reads

27 May

A lot of plans have been disrupted this year. My bucket/birthday trip to Ireland is postponed, hopefully just until next year. For a lot of you, summer vacation is going to look so much different from previous years. So I decided to list some titles that make for great beach reads. Whether you will be sticking your toes in the sand or sitting in the backyard with a cool drink, the books on my list will take you away. I previously have visited the Atlantic Beaches and The Gulf Coast in my Reading Road Trip posts — you will find even more great books there.

Did you know there is actually a definition for beach read? Me either, until I googled it.

Beach read: a book you can take on holiday, which is good enough to keep you engaged, but not so serious it will spoil your holiday. (Macmillan Dictionary)

Really?! I think I have higher standards than that. I want a good story foremost, and you will get that from the books on my list. And whether you want action and suspense, romance, or all the feels, you will find a book to suit your mood. Most are actually set at the beach (or near enough) — win-win, while others capture the essence of summer. I hope you find one to enjoy.

 

Reading Road Trip — Beach Reads

 

The Art of Rivers by Janet Ferguson

Rivers Sullivan bears both visible and invisible scars — those on her shoulder from a bullet wound and those on her heart from the loss of her fiancé during the same brutal attack. Not even her background as an art therapist can help her regain her faith in humanity. Still, she scrapes together the courage to travel to St. Simons Island to see the beach cottage and art gallery she’s inherited from her fiancé. When she stumbles upon recovering addicts running her gallery, she’s forced to reckon with her own healing.

After the tragic drowning of his cousin, James Cooper Knight spends his days trying to make up for his past mistakes. He not only dedicates his life to addiction counseling, but guilt drives him to the water, searching for others who’ve been caught unaware of the quickly rising tides of St. Simons. When he rescues a peculiar blond woman and her sketch pad from a sandbar, then delivers this same woman to his deceased grandmother’s properties, he knows things are about to get even more complicated.

Tragic circumstances draw Cooper and Rivers closer, but they fight their growing feelings. Though Cooper’s been sober for years, Rivers can’t imagine trusting her heart to someone in recovery, and he knows a relationship with her will only rip his family further apart. Distrust and guilt are only the first roadblocks they must overcome if they take a chance on love.

As The Light Fades by Catherine West

After her carefully constructed life crumbles, Liz Carlisle finds herself back on Nantucket, picking up the pieces. With the family estate under renovations, the solitude she craves seems out of reach.

Matthew Stone intends to steer clear of his new tenant. She’s carrying a load of baggage, but as long as she pays the rent, he’ll let her be. He’s got enough to deal with caring for his wayward niece, Mia.

Liz doesn’t have time for teenagers and her track record with men is abysmal, but an unlikely friendship forms between the three.

When her former boyfriend is charged with assault, Liz is called to testify against him. But he knows the darkest secrets of her life — secrets she’d hoped to keep buried forever, and he’s ready to reveal them. Telling the truth is the right thing to do, but it may cost her everything she’s worked so hard for, and all she’s come to love.

The Bridge Between by Lindsey Brackett

Louisa Coultrie Halloway has returned home as caretaker for the family home on Edisto Island, but years before she left this world behind. Now she flounders to find her place. When Liam Whiting, a local professor studying tidal creek preservation, invites Lou to join his research team, she welcomes the opportunity for purpose.

David, her ex-husband, has followed Lou and their children to Edisto. As he finds his footing in this new life, their once strained relationship eases into a familiar rhythm — and he hopes for more.

But the past still has a hold on them all, especially in the presence of Grace Watson, whose son intends to marry Lou and David’s daughter. Somehow, Grace and Lou must let the past of a shared love settle between them.

In this idyllic setting, relationships deepen and shift. And once more, Lou finds herself caught between the life she’s chosen — and the love that might be meant to be.

Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

The only thing certain is change — even in a place as steady as Perry, Alabama, on a street as old as Glory Road.

Nearly a decade after her husband’s affair drove her back home to South Alabama, Jessie McBride has the stable life she wants — operating her garden shop, Twig, next door to her house on Glory Road, and keeping up with her teenage daughter and spunky mother. But the unexpected arrival of two men makes Jessie question whether she’s really happy with the status quo. When handsome, wealthy businessman Sumner Tate asks her to arrange flowers for his daughter’s lavish wedding, Jessie finds herself drawn to his continued attention. Then Ben Bradley, her lingering what-could-have-been from high school, moves back to the red dirt road, and she feels her heart pulled in directions she never expected.

Meanwhile, Jessie’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Evan, is approaching the start of high school and navigating a new world of emotions — particularly as they relate to the cute new guy who’s moved in just down the road. At the same time, Jessie’s mother, Gus, is suffering increasingly frequent memory lapses and faces a frightening, uncertain future. Once again, Jessie feels her protected and predictable life shifting.

In one summer, everything will change. But for these three strong Southern women, the roots they’ve planted on Glory Road will give life to the adventures waiting just around the curve.

The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

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

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

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

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck

When Beck Holiday lost her father in the North Tower on 9/11, she also lost her memories of him. Eighteen years later, she’s a tough New York City cop burdened with a damaging secret, suspended for misconduct, and struggling to get her life in order. Meanwhile a mysterious letter arrives informing her she’s inherited a house along Florida’s northern coast, and what she discovers there will change her life forever. Matters of the heart only become more complicated when she runs into handsome Bruno Endicott, a driven sports agent who fondly recalls the connection they shared as teenagers. But Beck doesn’t remember that either.

Decades earlier, widow Everleigh Applegate lives a steady, uneventful life with her widowed mother after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas, and destroyed her new, young married life. When she runs into old high school friend Don Callahan, she begins to yearn for change. Yet no matter how much she longs to love again, she is hindered by a secret she can never share.

Fifty years separate the women but through the power of love and miracle of faith, they each find healing in a beautiful Victorian known affectionately as The Memory House.  

On A Coastal Breeze by Suzanne Woods Fisher

For Madison Grayson, life is good. Newly licensed as a marriage and family therapist, she can’t wait to start her practice. Despite the unfortunate shortage of eligible bachelors on the island–they’re all too young, too old, or too weird–Maddie feels like she’s finally found her sweet spot. Not even one panic attack in the last year. Not on

And then Ricky O’Shea drops in. Literally. Floating down from the pure blue sky, the one man in the world she hoped never to see again–the one who’d been her archnemesis from kindergarten through her senior dance–parachutes into town, landing on Boon Dock, canopy draping behind him like a superhero. Ricky O’Shea. Now Pastor Rick, the new minister on Three Sisters Island.

Time to panic.

With wit and a bit of whimsy, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Three Sisters Island where family, forgiveness, and a second chance at love await.

One Little Lie by Colleen Coble

It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth in this gripping new romantic suspense.

Jane Hardy is appointed interim sheriff in Pelican Harbor, Alabama, after her father retires, but there’s no time for an adjustment period. When her father is arrested for theft and then implicated in a recent murder, Jane quickly realizes she’s facing someone out to destroy the only family she has.

After escaping with her father from a cult fifteen years ago, Jane has searched relentlessly for her mother—who refused to leave—ever since. Could someone from that horrible past have found them?

Reid Bechtol is well-known for his documentaries, and his latest project involves covering Jane’s career. Jane has little interest in the attention, but the committee who appointed her loves the idea of the publicity.

Jane finds herself depending on Reid’s calm manner as he follows her around filming, and they begin working together to clear her father. But Reid has his own secrets from the past, and the gulf between them may be impossible to cross—especially once her father’s lie catches up with him.

The Secrets of Paper And Ink by Lindsay Harrel

Brought together across time by a love of story, three women in England fight to defy expectations, dream new dreams, and welcome love into their lives.  

As a counselor, Sophia Barrett is trained to help people cope with their burdens. But when she meets a new patient whose troubles mirror her own, she realizes she hasn’t dealt with the pain of her recent past. After making a snap decision to get away for the summer, Sophia moves overseas to an apartment above a charming bookstore in Cornwall, England. She is hopeful she will find peace there surrounded by her favorite thing: great literature. 

Bookstore owner Ginny Rose is desperate to save her business without asking for help from a husband who’s decided to take a break from their marriage. Ginny never imagined she’d be solely responsible for keeping afloat her husband’s dream, but the unexpected friendship with her new renter has her feeling more optimistic. Between the two of them—and Ginny’s brother-in-law, William—the bookstore might stand a chance. 

Then Sophia finds a notebook in the bookstore that contains journal entries from Emily Fairfax, a governess who lived in Cornwall more than 150 years ago. Sophia learns that Emily harbored a secret passion for becoming an authoress—as well as a deep love for her childhood friend, Edward, whose station she dared not dream to touch. 

Eager to know more of Emily’s story, Sophia goes on a quest—dragging Ginny and William with her—to discover the heart of the woman behind the beautiful entries. Soon Ginny’s need to save the bookstore becomes more than a way to save her marriage, and Sophia finds new purpose of her own. Together they find that sometimes both heartache and hope can reach across the centuries.

Starfish Pier by Irene Hannon

A year ago, ex-Delta Force operator Steven Roark left the rigors of combat behind to run fishing charters in Hope Harbor, decompress, and talk some sense into his kid brother. Business is good–but making peace with his past is more challenging than he expected.

First-grade teacher Holly Miller leads a quiet, low-profile existence — until she’s recruited to advocate for a cause that’s dear to her heart. When she solicits Steven’s assistance, sparks fly — especially after they find themselves on opposite sides of an issue that disrupts their placid seaside community.

As these two seemingly incompatible souls search for common ground, might they discover a deeper connection–and find that love can banish darkness and light the way to a future filled with promise?

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Opening Lines

26 May

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge was kind of a snap for me since I also participate in First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books. I just went through the archives and selected some of the most attention getting opening lines. I hope you find one that grabs you!

For more opening line fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Top 10 Opening Lines

Congratulations 2019 Carol Award Winners!

29 Sep

The winners of the 2019 Carol Awards have been announced. Congratulations to all the talented authors!

 

Contemporary

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

 

Historical

The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts

 

Historical Romance

A Light on A Hill by Connilyn Cossette

 

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

 

Novella

MissTaken Identity from The MissAdventure Brides Collection by Kimberley Woodhouse

 

Romance

Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh

 

Romantic Suspense

Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon

 

Short Novel

The Rancher’s Surprise Daughter by Jill Lynn

 

Speculative

The Mark of The Raven by Morgan L. Busse

 

Young Adult

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

 

Debut

The Story Peddler by Lindsay Franklin