Tag Archives: Melody Carlson

Top 10 Tuesday — Bookish Animals

27 Apr

This week our Top 10 Tuesday prompt is animals from books. I had a post like that back in November. Could I come up with another? Yes! I love when authors include animals. Some of these books I have read; others are in my TBR pile.

Do you have a favorite book that features an animal?

For more bookish animals, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Bookish Animals

Wild And Wonderful

A wild boar from More Than Meets The Eye by Karen Witemeyer

A python from Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

A parrot from Trial And Error by Robert Whitlow

Canine Companions

Called to Protect by Lynnette Eason

Cold Case Pursuit by Dana Mentink

No Filter by Heather Day Gilbert

Friendly Felines

The Cat That God Sent by Jim Kraus

The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson

Crime And Poetry by Amanda Flower

Top 10 Tuesday — Books with Ocean (References) in The Title

6 Apr

Happy Tuesday! Today’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge is listing books that I would throw in the ocean. Uh, even if I don’t like a book, I am not sure I could throw it into the ocean! So instead I am listing books with ocean (or ocean references) in their titles. They include historical fiction, contemporary romance, and suspense — something for everyone!

Have you ever wanted to throw a book in the ocean? (Or at least across the room? 😉 )

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

Top Books with Ocean References in The Title

A Bridge Across The Ocean by Susan Meissner

A Christmas by The Sea by Melody Carlson

Far Side of The Sea by Kate Breslin

The Inn at Ocean’s Edge by Colleen Coble

The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

The Turning Tide by Melody Carlson

A Vast And Gracious Tide by Lisa Carter

If You Liked . . . The Christmas Table

16 Dec

I normally do the If You Liked posts at the end of each month, but you really need these recommendations early. You don’t want to miss out on some great Christmas-y reading! The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere had laugh-out-loud moments and some tear-inducing scenes. The book features an heirloom table and some special family recipes and includes great messages of hope and the power of prayer. This novella is my favorite so far by VanLiere. I have selected the following books that have similar themes and elements. I hope you find one to love!

 

Another Favorite from Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Promise

Seven years ago Gloria endured a family tragedy that almost shook her faith entirely. Each Christmas she places a card in an envelope on her tree, restating a promise she made to her husband before he died. Now, having moved from her small town and all the painful memories it held, she is building a life by caring for people in need. Whether it’s a young mother who can’t pay her electric bill or a family who needs some extra food, Gloria always finds a way.

Miriam is a thorn in Gloria’s side. Miriam is a constantly critical, disapproving neighbor who looks with suspicion at all the good things Gloria does. When a twist of fate makes them roommates instead of neighbors, it’s the ultimate test of patience and faith.

Chaz has a good job as head of security at Wilson’s Department Store, but each night he returns home to an empty apartment. He longs for a wife and family of his own but realizes that the life choices he’s made have alienated him. He befriends a young boy whose mother has fallen on hard times, giving him a chance to have a life he thought impossible.

In The Christmas Promise, the lives of these characters collide and we learn that even as we move ahead, the past is never far behind. And when we are forgiven much, we love much. In this warmly humorous and deeply poignant story, we are reminded that the Christmas Promise is the promise of second chances.

 

Family Heirloom

The Christmas Heirloom (4-novella collection) by Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and Becky Wade.

In Kristi Ann Hunter’s Legacy of Love, Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer’s Gift of the Heart, widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas’s A Shot at Love, Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade’s Because of You, Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?

 

Funny and Poignant

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that’s exactly what she’s getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix — in the dead of winter, no less–the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Besides, a crazy trip with Joy would be more interesting than another Christmas home alone. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off to Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride — and a hidden problem that could derail the whole venture.

No one captures the heartwarming fun of the Christmas season quite like Melody Carlson. Fasten your seat belt, because it’s going to be an exciting ride!

 

Importance of Family

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

Rick Denton lives his life on his terms. He works hard, plays hard and answers to no one. So when his mother calls on Thanksgiving weekend begging him to come home after his stepfather has a stroke, Rick is reluctant. He’s never liked Art, despite the fact his own father abandoned them when Rick was twelve. Rick’s attitude sours even more when a couple of days helping at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and running off the homeless man who keeps hanging about,

Slowly but surely, the little bookstore and its quirky patrons — as well as the lovely young woman who works at his side each day — work their magic on him, revealing to Rick the truth about his family, his own life, and the true meaning of Christmas.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Christmas Books

8 Dec

Happy Tuesday! The countdown is on until Christmas. Have you gotten all your decorating and shopping done? I still need to do some things around the house, but my shopping list has grown shorter. But one thing I have made sure to do is get some Christmas reading in. Priorities! 😉 So far, I have read The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere (reading her novellas is a yearly tradition) and I should be finished with The Christmas Heirloom novella collection today (really great; review to come). Because Christmas books often fall into the romance genre (who doesn’t like a good romance?), I have decided to split my Top 10 Tuesday list into 7 genres for those who want a bit of mystery, or history, or a good laugh too. I think there’s something for everyone on my list. I hope you find a Christmas book to love — now get reading!  Be sure to visit That Artsy Reader Girl for more Christmas fun!

 

Top Christmas Books

 

An Amish Christmas

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Christmas Remedy by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall 

 

A Classic Christmas

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

 

An Historical Christmas

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins 

 

 

A Laugh-Out-Loud Christmas

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Promise by Donna VanLiere

 

A Mysterious Christmas

All Is Calm, All Is Bright by Colleen Coble

Silent Night, Holy Night by Colleen Coble

 

A Poignant Christmas

The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

 

 

A Romantic Christmas

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

The Wedding Dress Christmas by Rachel Hauck

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday Halloween Edition– Outbreaks and Epidemics!

27 Oct

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday is a Halloween Freebie. If it’s not too early for you, I have a list of books that feature outbreaks and epidemics — real life scary! And because they are all Christian or clean fiction, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are a couple of historical novels that feature the Spanish Flu, some mystery and suspense that explore potential viruses/bacteria and other biological agents that get loose, and a YA dystopian that explores the aftermath of an epidemic. A couple of the authors are even doctors. If the subject isn’t too frightening for you, I hope you find a great book.

 

For more Halloween goodness, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

 

Top 10 Books Featuring Outbreaks and Epidemics

 

An Air That Kills by Christine Poulson

The atmosphere in the lab is toxic.

It is only a matter of time before there is a flu pandemic with the potential to kill billions. Or so wealthy entrepreneur Lyle Lynstrum believes. That is why he is funding research into transgenics – the mechanism by which viruses can jump the species barrier – at a high security lab on a tidal island off the North Devon coast.

A suspiciously rapid turnover of staff has him worried. He sends in scientist Katie Flanagan as an undercover lab technician. Something is clearly very wrong, but before Katie can get to the bottom of what is going on, a colleague is struck down by a mysterious illness.
Has the safety of the facility been compromised, allowing a deadly virus to escape? Katie begins to suspect that the scientists are as deadly as the diseases – and that her cover has been blown.

Then the island is cut off by high seas and a terrifying game of cat-and-mouse begins . . .

Airborne by DiAnn Mills

Heather Lawrence’s long-awaited vacation to Salzburg wasn’t supposed to go like this. Mere hours into the transatlantic flight, the Houston FBI agent is awakened when passengers begin exhibiting horrific symptoms of an unknown infection. As the virus quickly spreads and dozens of passengers fall ill, Heather fears she’s witnessing an epidemic similar to ones her estranged husband studies for a living ― but this airborne contagion may have been deliberately released.

While Heather remains quarantined with other survivors, she works with her FBI colleagues to identify the person behind this attack. The prime suspect? Dr. Chad Lawrence, an expert in his field . . . and Heather’s husband. The Lawrences’ marriage has been on the rocks since Chad announced his career took precedence over his wife and future family and moved out.

As more victims fall prey days after the initial outbreak, time’s running out to hunt down the killer, one who may be closer to the victims than anyone ever expected.

As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters – Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa – a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

Captives by Jill Williamson

In a dystopian future, eighteen-year-old Levi returns from Denver City with his latest scavenged treasures and finds his village of Glenrock decimated, loved ones killed, and many – including his fiancée, Jem – taken captive. Now alone, Levi is determined to rescue what remains of his people, even if it means entering the Safe Lands, a walled city that seems anything but safe. Omar knows he betrayed his brother by sending him away, but helping the enforcers was necessary. Living off the land and clinging to an outdated religion holds his village back. The Safe Lands has protected people since the plague decimated the world generations ago … and its rulers have promised power and wealth beyond Omar’s dreams. Meanwhile, their brother Mason has been granted a position inside the Safe Lands, and may be able to use his captivity to save not only the people of his village, but also possibly find a cure for the virus that threatens everyone within the Safe Lands’ walls. Will Mason uncover the truth hidden behind the Safe Lands’ façade before it’s too late? 

The Gabon Virus by Paul McCusker and Walt Larimore

An ancient disease, a modern pandemic, and the one person who offers hope for a cure has been dead for 350 years

In 1666, a horrible disease took the lives of almost every person in Eyam (pronounced Eem), England. Helping the sick and the dying was the mysterious and ghostlike Blue Monk, whose strange appearance terrified even those who were comforted by him.

More than three centuries later the disease has returned, more virulent than before. Every day more people are infected; every hour more die.

The lives of millions rest in the hands of a bio-team — the Time Scene Investigators — that studies history to find cures for modern diseases. But the newest member of the team, Dr. Mark Carlson, has suffered a heartbreaking loss.

With every tick of the clock the world approaches a global pandemic. A race against time becomes a race across continents — to find a frightened boy who is carrying and spreading the disease wherever he goes, to thwart the machinations of corporate greed and fanatical sabotage, and to find the connection between a great tragedy of the past and a potential catastrophe of the present. Our present.

The Influenza Bomb by Paul McCusker and Walt Larimore

Masses of people are dying from a mysterious flu. While the TSI team searches for a cure, a notorious eco-terrorist group, Return to Earth, uses an influenza bomb to poison the water. It’s a race against time — with the outcome impacting the entire world.

By the time the team discovers that the terrorists are using the water supply to infect people, the sickness is spreading worldwide and no one has a cure. When Return to Earth makes off with a mysterious device called the influenza bomb with the intent to destroy all of mankind, Dr. Hutchinson must stop the contamination from being spread before it’s too late.

Lethal Remedy by Richard Mabry

An epidemic of a highly resistant bacteria, Staphylococcus luciferus, has ignited, and Dr. Sara Miles’ patient is on the threshold of death. Only an experimental antibiotic developed and administered by Sara’s ex-husband, Dr. Jack Ingersoll can save the girl’s life.

Dr. John Ramsey is seeking to put his life together after the death of his wife by joining the medical school faculty. But his decision could prove to be costly, even fatal.
Potentially lethal late effects from the experimental drug send Sara and her colleague, Dr. Rip Pearson, on a hunt for hidden critical data that will let them reverse the changes before it’s too late. What is the missing puzzle piece? And who is hiding it?

Outbreak by Davis Bunn

The waters off the West African coast are a menacing red, full of algae thick enough to stand on in places. In nearby villages, mysterious deaths start to occur — and the panic mounts. But before an alarm can be sounded, the sea currents shift, the algae vanishes, and the deaths stop. Everyone is relieved when things return to normal, and local government officials are happy to sweep the publicity nightmare under a rug.

An American biological researcher, Avery Madison, is dispatched by his employer to piece together exactly what happened, having long feared an ecological disaster just like this could occur. He’s had little evidence to go on before now, and what he finds in West Africa is rapidly disappearing. But Avery knows the danger hasn’t disappeared — it has just moved on.

Point of Origin by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

When virus-infected pirates hijack a humanitarian medical ship from an African port, they trigger the threat of a global pandemic.

How do you keep hope alive in a sea of darkness?

An African fisherman.

Foreign exploitation of Africa’s natural resources has destroyed the fishing business of Dabir Omar. Hijacking oil tankers brings cash to his family in their remote village, but it doesn’t buy the medical care needed to stop the deadly sickness attacking his people. When Dabir’s son becomes ill, the desperate pirate sets sail for the Liberty, an international humanitarian medical ship ported on the coast. 

An American surgeon.

Against his better judgment, Dr. Josiah Allen agrees to work a two-week surgical stint on the Liberty, moored in Douala, Cameroon. Shortly after he arrives with his precocious six-year-old daughter, Josiah is sent ashore to investigate a mysterious illness at the ship’s post-op clinic. While he’s gone, Ebola-infected pirates hijack the medical ship where Josiah left his daughter.

The woman compelled to save them all.

When pirate negotiations fail, Mackenzie Scott’s privately-owned extraction unit comes in for the rescue. But when the medical ship where Mac had taken a wounded comrade is hijacked by pirates, the former military pararescue jumper becomes the pirate’s key hostage. 

Both fathers go to war to save their children. If Mac can’t convince them to work together, the winner of this conflict will be a deadly virus intent on destroying the world.

The 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.

 

First Line Friday — The Christmas Swap

18 Sep

Happy Friday from Colorado! A lot of our travel plans were upended this year — I know you can relate! Ireland was cancelled, as was an impromptu trip to the beach. But this week I am enjoying the cooler temps and beautiful scenery of the mountains. We did miss the snow storm of last week though. 😉

What better book to feature this week than The Christmas Swap by Melody Carlson. Its Breckenridge setting is just 30 minutes down the road from my present location. We are so blessed to stay at a friend’s family’s home, kind of like main character Emma.

Here is the first line —

Emma Daley had always loved Christmas as a child, but . . . not so much as an adult.

 

All Emma Daley wants this holiday season is a white Christmas. But the young teacher and struggling musician sure can’t find that in sunny Arizona. Luckily, there’s someone living in a perfect mountain home in the Colorado Rockies looking to make a vacation trade this year.

Tyler Prescott is an in-demand songwriter and talented musician who put his own singing career on hold to write songs for celebrity acts to perform. When his mother convinces him to do a vacation trade for Christmas, he never imagined one of the houseguests would be so sweet–or so strikingly pretty. Naturally, he decides to stick around, and, to get better acquainted, he poses as the house’s caretaker. But when Emma’s friend Gillian discovers his true identity and sets her sights on him, things
get . . . messy.

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/

 

For more fabulous first line fun, head over to Hoarding Books.

 

Book Review: The Christmas Swap

17 Sep

All Emma Daley wants this holiday season is a white Christmas. But the young teacher and struggling musician sure can’t find that in sunny Arizona. Luckily, there’s someone living in a perfect mountain home in the Colorado Rockies looking to make a vacation trade this year.

Tyler Prescott is an in-demand songwriter and talented musician who put his own singing career on hold to write songs for celebrity acts to perform. When his mother convinces him to do a vacation trade for Christmas, he never imagined one of the houseguests would be so sweet–or so strikingly pretty. Naturally, he decides to stick around, and, to get better acquainted, he poses as the house’s caretaker. But when Emma’s friend Gillian discovers his true identity and sets her sights on him, things
get . . . messy.

 

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/

 

My Impressions:

After a long hot summer, I was definitely in the mood for a little snow, cheery fires, and romance — even if (or especially) they are found in the pages of a book! I look forward every year to a Christmas romance novella from Melody Carlson. The short form is perfect for busy holiday schedules, and she always delivers a fun book filled with heart. The Christmas Swap features Emma Daley, an Arizona girl looking to get away from the warm temps and find some snow. Little does she know that the lodge-style home her friends have chosen to swap with their own is full of Colorado-charm and a hunky caretaker. There are some obstacles in the way of the early romance of Emma and West, not least a very unlikable and conniving character who Emma calls friend. I liked the easy style, the very engaging main characters, the plot twists, and the fact that as the book ends the reader can come up with their own happily-ever-after for Emma and West.

If you are in need of a little Hallmark-style reading, I recommend The Christmas Swap. Get it to chase away the lingering summer haze or save it for snuggly reading in front of a fire. Either way, this book will satisfy.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Top Ten Tuesday — Forgotten TBR

9 Jun

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday prompt is books you have added to the TBR, but can’t remember why. I remember why I have purchased a book, I just don’t always remember it is on my shelf! 😉 Last week I got new carpeting in my office/library which caused me to move a whole lot of books off the shelves. This made me reorganize all the shelves that fill rooms all through my house. A big, but enjoyable, task. The double parked books kept many hidden from view. It was like Christmas finding gems I didn’t remember I had. I limited the list to the proscribed 10 — yes I had more than that!

Do you have any books on your shelves and don’t know why?

 

For more TBR confessions, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

10 Forgotten Gems on the TBR Shelves

 

Blood Sisters by Melody Carlson

After losing her family, Judith Blackwell seriously considers ending her life … until a mysterious letter captures her attention. Opening the envelope, she is shocked to discover the obituary of Jasmine, her childhood friend. Shaken out of her valley of darkness, Judith journeys to her hometown and uncovers more than she bargained for. When she confides the truth to a handsome detective, they form a plan that will save the community … or trap them in the heart of danger.

A riveting novel, Blood Sisters demonstrates how God brings His own from the edge of darkness into His incredible light.

The Cairo Brief by Fiona Veitch Smith

Intrepid reporter sleuth Poppy Denby is invited to attend the auction of the Death Mask of Nefertiti. The auction is to be held on the country estate of Sir James Maddox, a famous explorer and Egyptologist. Representatives of the world’s leading museums will be bidding on the mask which was found, in Egypt, under murderous circumstances. Poppy and her colleagues from The Daily Globe, who are trying to stay one step ahead of their rivals from The London Courier, dismiss rumours of an ancient curse. But when one of the auction party is murdered, and someone starts stalking Poppy, the race is on to find the killer before ‘the curse’ can strike again.

Death at Thorburn Hall by Julianna Deering

Drew Farthering arrives in idyllic Scotland for the 1935 British Open at Muirfield hoping for a relaxing holiday, but he soon finds a mystery on his hands. Lord Rainsby, his host at Thorburn Hall, fears his business partner may be embezzling and asks Drew to quietly investigate. Before Drew can uncover anything, Rainsby is killed in a suspicious riding accident.

Thorburn Hall is filled with guests, and as Drew continues to dig, he realizes that each might have had a motive to put Raisnby out of the way. Together with Madeline and Nick, he must sort through shady business dealings, international intrigue, and family tensions to find a killer who always seems to be one step ahead.

The First Gift by Ruth Logan Herne

Kindergarten teacher Kerry McHenry is nobody’s fool. She sees her own tough upbringing in the face of a poverty stricken child and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make things better.

At the same time, she finds herself torn between a commitment-phobic doctor and Phillipsburg’s widowed deputy sheriff, a complicated man who is still angry with God.

As the stakes grow higher and the characters’ lives intersect in unexpected ways, each will face a true test of faith—and come face to face with indisputable evidence of God’s love.

The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club by Wanda E. Brunstetter

As Amish widow Emma Yoder contemplates the task ahead, her thoughts center on one: What if she fails? Longing to remove a burden from her family by becoming self-sufficient, Emma has offered to hold quilting classes in her home. But when she sees the patchwork of faces assembled for the first lesson, her confidence dwindles as doubt takes hold.
 
There’s Star Stephens, a young woman yearning for stability; Pam and Stuart Johnston, a struggling couple at odds in their marriage; Paul Ramirez, a widower hoping to find solace in finishing a quilt; Jan Sweet, a rough and tough biker doing creative community service; and Ruby Lee Williams, a preacher’s wife looking for relaxation amid mounting parish problems.
 
While Emma grows to realize her ability to share her passion for quilting and her faith, the beginning quilters learn to transform scraps of fabric into beauty. And slowly, their fragmented lives begin to take new shape — some in unexpected ways — with the helping hands of each other and the healing hand of God.

An Irishwoman’s Tale by Patti Lacy

Far away from her Irish home, Mary Freeman begins to adapt to life in Midwest America, but family turmoil and her own haunting memories threaten to ruin her future. It takes a crisis in her daughter’s life — and the encouragement of Sally, a plucky Southern transplant — to propel Mary back to the rocky cliffs of her home in County Clare, Ireland.

 

 

Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker

When Cohen Marah steps over his father’s body in the basement embalming room of the family’s funeral home, he has no idea that he is stepping into a labyrinth of memory. As the last one to see his father, Cohen is the primary suspect.

Over the next week, Cohen’s childhood memories come back in living color. The dramatic events that led to his father being asked to leave his pastoral position. The game of baseball that somehow kept them together. And the two children in the forest who became his friends–and enlisted him in a dark and dangerous undertaking. As the lines blur between what was real and what was imaginary, Cohen is faced with the question he’s been avoiding: Did he kill his father?

In Light from Distant Stars, master story weaver Shawn Smucker relays a tale both eerie and enchanting, one that will have you questioning reality and reaching out for what is true, good, and genuine.

The Long Journey Home by Sharlene MacLaren

After divorcing her abusive husband, single mother Callie May is still nursing the scars of a
painful past. The last thing she needs in her life is another man, so she’s less than thrilled
when a handsome but brooding stranger moves into the apartment across the hall.
Dan Mattson may be attractive, but his circumstances certainly aren’t: a former church
pastor, he abandoned his flock in Michigan and fled to the Chicago suburbs after the death
of his beloved wife and baby daughter in a tragic automobile accident. Embittered by his
loss, Dan turns his back on God.

Callie mistrusts men, and the angry Dan often gives her good reason to. Both are weighed
down by the scars and disappointment in their pasts. When Callie’s ex–husband shows up to
wreak more havoc in her life, Dan finds himself coming to her defense—and facing his own
demons in the process. Will Dan and Callie be able to get past their baggage and give love
another chance? Can they come to see life’s apparent tragedies as part of God’s perfect plan?
Can the power of God change their hearts and mend their hurts?

Sidney Chambers And The Shadow of Death by James Runcie

It is 1953, the coronation year of Queen Elizabeth II . Sidney Chambers, vicar of Grantchester and honorary canon of Ely Cathedral, is a thirty-two-year-old bachelor. Tall, with dark brown hair, eyes the color of hazelnuts, and a reassuringly gentle manner, Sidney is an unconventional clerical detective. He can go where the police cannot.

Together with his roguish friend, inspector Geordie Keating, Sidney inquires into the suspect suicide of a Cambridge solicitor, a scandalous jewelry theft at a New Year’s Eve dinner party, the unexplained death of a jazz promoter’s daughter, and a shocking art forgery that puts a close friend in danger. Sidney discovers that being a detective, like being a clergyman, means that you are never off duty, but he nonetheless manages to find time for a keen interest in cricket, warm beer, and hot jazz-as well as a curious fondness for a German widow three years his junior.

With a whiff of Agatha Christie and a touch of G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, The Grantchester Mysteries introduces a wonderful new hero into the world of detective fiction.

The Unquiet Bones by Mel Starr

Hugh of Singleton, fourth son of a minor knight, has been educated as a clerk, usually a prelude to taking holy orders. However, feeling no certain calling despite a lively faith, he turns to the profession of surgeon, training in Paris and then hanging out his sign in Oxford. A local lord asks him to track the killer of a young woman whose bones have been found in the castle cess pit. She is identified as the impetuous missing daughter of a local blacksmith, and her young man, whom she had provoked very publicly, is in due course arrested and sentenced at the Oxford assizes. From there the tale unfolds, with graphic medical procedures, droll medieval wit, misdirection, ambition, romantic distractions and a consistent underlying Christian compassion.

 

Which of these books would you read next?

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Book Parties

5 May

Parties of more than 10 people won’t be happening for many of us in the near future. It is sad that the things that bring us together — celebrations large and small, somber or silly — are prohibited during these days of social distancing. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about bookish parties. I have gone in a different direction this week than was probably intended in order to bring you books that feature gatherings that violate safer options. It doesn’t hurt that several of these books are also set at Christmas — the ultimate gathering time. I am hopeful that soon we will all be able to crowd together to laugh, cry, dance, sing, and just party!

For more bookish party fun, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Parties Found in Books

 

Balls

A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter

The Thief of Lanwyn Manor by Sarah Ladd

 

Family Gatherings

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

High Cotton by Debby Mayne

Still Waters by Lindsey Brackett

 

Festivals

Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson

Hometown Girl by Courtney Walsh

 

Parades

More Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade by Virginia Smith

 

Weddings

Glory Road by Lauren Denton

The Wedding Dress Christmas by Rachel Hauck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Books I Loved, But Rarely Talk About

14 Apr

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is an interesting one — books loved, but not talked about. I am always talking books, but are there some that get neglected because it has been years since I read them, or they fit in a genre that my friends don’t read? I’m not sure the reason, but I am here to rectify the matter! 😉 Have you read any on my list? Did you love them too?

For more books deserving of a conversation, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Books I Loved

 

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 ¹nds 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.

The Baker’s Wife by Erin Healy

Before Audrey was the baker’s wife, she was the pastor’s wife.

Then a scandalous lie cost her husband a pastoral career. Now the two work side-by-side running a bakery, serving coffee, and baking fresh bread. But the hurt still pulls at Audrey.

Driving early one morning to the bakery, Audrey’s car strikes something — or someone — at a fog-shrouded intersection. She finds a motor scooter belonging to a local teacher. Blood is everywhere, but there’s no trace of a body.

Both the scooter and the blood belong to detective Jack Mansfield’s wife, and he’s certain that Audrey is behind Julie’s disappearance.

But the case dead-ends and the detective spirals into madness. When he takes her family and some patrons hostage at the bakery, Audrey is left with a soul-damaged ex-con and a cynical teen to solve the mystery. And she’ll never manage that unless she taps into something she would rather leave behind — her excruciating ability to feel other’s pain.

A Cast of Stones by Patrick Carr

The Fate of the Kingdom Awaits the Cast of Stones

In the backwater village of Callowford, roustabout Errol Stone is enlisted by a church messenger arriving with urgent missives for the hermit priest in the hills. Eager for coin, Errol agrees to what he thinks will be an easy task, but soon finds himself hunted by deadly assassins. Forced to flee with the priest and a small band of travelers, Errol soon learns he’s joined a quest that could change the fate of his kingdom.

Protected for millennia by the heirs of the first king, the kingdom’s dynasty nears its end and the selection of the new king begins–but in secret and shadow. As danger mounts, Errol must leave behind the stains and griefs of the past, learn to fight, and discover who is hunting him and his companions and how far they will go to stop the reading of the stones.

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 anywhere.

The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffee

For the three people tortured by their secret complicity in a young man’s untimely death, redemption is what they most long for . . . and the last thing they expect to receive.

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.

Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy

Riveting Race against the Clock to Save a Young Woman’s Life

A storm the size of Texas brews when Gloria Powell and Kai Chang meet in a Dallas hotel. They have come to discuss the future of Lily, the daughter Gloria adopted from China and the sister Kai hopes to reclaim. Kai is a doctor who had to give up her little sister during the Cultural Revolution and has since discovered that an inherited genetic defect may be waiting to fatally strike Lily. Gloria’s relationship with her daughter is tattered and strained, and the arrival of Kai, despite the woman’s apparent good intentions, makes Gloria fearful. Gloria longs to restore her relationship with Lily, but in the wake of this potentially devastating diagnosis, is Kai an answer to prayer. . .or will her arrival force Gloria to sacrifice more than she ever imagined?

The Reluctant Prophet by Nancy Rue

At age forty-two, Allison Chamberlain is still making a half-hearted attempt to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. Although she has been a pew-sitting member of a church for seven years, “prophet” has never been on the short list of possible careers.

Then one Sunday Allison senses a divine nudge to buy a Harley motorcycle and go wherever it takes her. Soon she is wondering if she is called to present the reality of Christ to one of society’s darkest corners — and challenge her own church to look beyond their fears.

River’s Song by Melody Carlson

Following her mother’s funeral, and on the verge of her own midlife crisis, widow Anna Larson returns to the home of her youth to sort out her parents’ belongings, as well as her own turbulent life. For the first time since childhood, Anna embraces her native heritage, despite the disdain of her vicious mother-in-law. By transforming her old family home on the banks of the Siuslaw River into The Inn at Shining Waters, Anna hopes to create a place of healing — a place where guests experience peace, grace, and new beginnings. Starting with her own family . . .

The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser

The Singleton family’s fortunes seem unaffected by the Great Depression, and Perri–along with the other girls at Atlanta’s elite Washington Seminary–lives a carefree life of tea dances with college boys, matinees at the cinema, and debut parties. But when tragedies strike, Perri is confronted with a world far different from the one she has always known.

At the insistence of her parents, Mary “Dobbs” Dillard, the daughter of an itinerant preacher, is sent from inner-city Chicago to live with her aunt and attend Washington Seminary, bringing confrontation and radical ideas. Her arrival intersects at the point of Perri’s ultimate crisis, and the tragedy forges an unlikely friendship.

The Sweetest Thing tells the story of two remarkable young women–opposites in every way–fighting for the same goal: surviving tumultuous change.

Uncharted by Angela Hunt

When a group of college friends reunites for a trip to the Marshall Islands, they find themselves stranded on an uncharted island unlike any they’ve seen in the vicinity. They list their priorities—find water, food, and a way off the island — but the place itself opens their eyes to realities beyond their comprehension. Six friends accept one invitation and take an unexpected journey that changes their lives forever.