Tag Archives: Susan Meissner

Top 10 Tuesday — Time-ly Titles

7 Jun

Today’s TTT challenge is to list books with time in their titles. My first search yielded few books, so I included anything that spoke of time passing. I have lots of different genres — you should be able to find your favorite.

For more time-ly books, check out That Artsy Reader Girl

Top Time-ly Titles

As Dawn Breaks by Kate Breslin

Facing The Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti

Jane And The Year with No Summer by Stephanie Barron

The June Boys by Courtney C. Stevens

The Last Year of The War by Susan Meissner

Night Fall by Nancy Mehl

Present Danger by Elizabeth Goddard

A Season on The Wind by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Seconds to Live by Susan Sleeman

When The Day Comes by Gabrielle Meyer

If You Liked . . . Until Leaves Fall in Paris

31 May

My book club loved Until Leaves Fall in Paris (it is my all-time favorite of Sundin’s now). We especially liked the unique perspective of this WWII-era novel. The two main characters are Americans in France prior to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. It was interesting to see how Americans living in France dealt with the Nazi occupation. If you liked this historical novel as well, here are a couple of more books with unique perspectives.

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.

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by 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.

The Queen of Paris by Pamela Binnings Ewen

Legendary fashion designer Coco Chanel is revered for her sophisticated style — the iconic little black dress — and famed for her intoxicating perfume Chanel No. 5. Yet behind the public persona is a complicated woman of intrigue, shadowed by mysterious rumors. The Queen of Paris, the new novel from award-winning author Pamela Binnings Ewen, vividly imagines the hidden life of Chanel during the four years of Nazi occupation in Paris in the midst of WWII — as discovered in recently unearthed wartime files.

Coco Chanel could be cheerful, lighthearted, and generous; she also could be ruthless, manipulative, even cruel. Against the winds of war, with the Wehrmacht marching down the Champs-Élysées, Chanel finds herself residing alongside the Reich’s High Command in the Hotel Ritz. Surrounded by the enemy, Chanel wages a private war of her own to wrestle full control of her perfume company from the hands of her Jewish business partner, Pierre Wertheimer. With anti-Semitism on the rise, he has escaped to the United States with the confidential formula for Chanel No. 5. Distrustful of his intentions to set up production on the outskirts of New York City, Chanel fights to seize ownership. The House of Chanel shall not fall.

While Chanel struggles to keep her livelihood intact, Paris sinks under the iron fist of German rule. Chanel — a woman made of sparkling granite — will do anything to survive. She will even agree to collaborate with the Nazis in order to protect her darkest secrets. When she is covertly recruited by Germany to spy for the Reich, she becomes Agent F-7124, code name: Westminster. But why? And to what lengths will she go to keep her stormy past from haunting her future?

Top 10 Tuesday — Book Quote Freebie!

24 May

*****

I read all parts of a book. That’s right — the prologue, the afterword, even the copyright page 😉 . I also read epigraphs — any quotes that the author chooses to begin the story. Many authors choose scripture or a quote that gives some insight into what their book is all about. I like to keep them in mind as I delve into the stories. Today I am sharing those quotes from random books on my shelves. In the cases of the author using several quotes, I randomly chose just one. Lots of genres represented — enjoy!

For more bookish quotes, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Epigraphs — Quotes That Authors Chose to Begin Their Stories

***************

Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven, and he rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven. Man ate of the bread of angels.

Psalm 78:23-25

*****

I speak of peace, while covert enmity

Under the smile of safety wounds the world

William Shakespeare, King Henry IV, Part 2

*****

“I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind, but now I see.”

John Newton

*****

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

*****

Love is not consolation. It is light.

Simone Weil

*****

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.

Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

Psalm 82:3-4

*****

Loose yourself from the chains around your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.

Isaiah 52:2

*****

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

*****

There’s a bit of magic in everything

And then some loss to even things out.

Lou Reed

*****

It is necessity and not pleasure that compels us.

Dante, The Inferno

If You Liked . . . Then Sings My Soul

29 Apr

My book club read Then Sings My Soul by Amy K. Sorrells this month. A dual time novel, its historical Ukraine setting was perfect for all the goings on in the world today, and its theme of holding on to shame and guilt versus opening our hands to the good of God speaks to every reader. If you haven’t read this novel, I encourage you to pick it up. Not an easy read, but so, so good. If you have read it, here are a few more reading recommendations. The novels I have featured today include little known (at least to me 😉 ) historical events and details with strong themes for modern readers.

A Bridge Across The Ocean by Susan Meissner

Wartime intrigue spans the lives of three women—past and present—in this emotional novel from the acclaimed author of The Last Year of the War.
 
February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Résistance spy.
 
Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…
 
Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson

China, 1942. Desperate and fleeing a brutal enemy, U.S. airman Dave Delham loses all hope he’ll live to see home again. If he manages to survive this mission–somehow–he swears he’ll answer God’s call on his life.

Japan, 1948. In a world where honor means everything, what would you risk to salvage yours? The war has reduced Miyako Matsuura to a street-hardened prostitute, forced to sell herself out–body and soul–to survive. But when the pilot whose bomb stole her little brother’s life returns to Japan, she sees her one chance to salvage everything. That quest drives her like the point of a dagger.

Two competing vows. Two war-damaged people racing along a deadly collision course. Can their tragic histories be redeemed?

If you like pulse-pounding tales of redemption that brim with deeply drawn characters and taut suspense, you’ll love Linda Thompson’s powerful debut novel. Immerse yourself in this award-winning story of courage and redemption today!

A Silver Willow by The Shore by Kelli Stuart

How do you face the future if you don’t know your own past? 

When an unexpected pregnancy changes her dreams, seventeen-year-old Annie tries to keep it from her mother and her grandmother. But secrets have a way of coming out. 

In a household of strong women, the arrival of a new life sets off a spiral of truth that reveals a past full of whispers and lies—a past that existed in another world under the heavy hand of Soviet oppression. This history has dictated the circumstances of the present, but hope, redemption, and forgiveness will grow in the rocky places of these generational differences. 

A Silver Willow by the Shore is the story of the unshakeable love between mothers and daughters and of the impact that past decisions can have on present day circumstances. This novel weaves together the stories of generations of women, from the gulags of 1930’s Siberia, to the quiet oppression of 1980’s Soviet Moscow, to present day Tennessee. It is an unforgettable narrative of the treachery of secrets, and of the light that unites the heart of a family.

Top Ten Tuesday — Modes of Transportation

26 Apr

Happy Tuesday! Today’s TTT theme is books with ___ on the cover. I chose modes of transportation — you know trains, planes, automobiles, etc. Some of these books I have read; others are on my TBR shelf. I hope you find a book to pique your interest.

For more cover love, check out that Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Book Covers with Trains, Planes, Automobiles, Etc.

A Bridge Across The Ocean by Susan Meissner

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

Elvis Takes A Back Seat by Leanna Ellis

Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett

The Mother Road by Jennifer AlLee

No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

With You Always by Jody Hedlund

A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs

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.

If You Liked . . . Last Christmas in Paris

30 Dec

My book club really liked Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. The novel was set in WWI and told almost exclusively through letters between the characters. It was complex, yet unputdownable. If you liked it too, here are more recommendations.

An Epistolary-ish novel — The London House by Katherine Reay

Uncovering a dark family secret sends one woman through the history of Britain’s World War II spy network and glamorous 1930s Paris to save her family’s reputation.

Caroline Payne thinks it’s just another day of work until she receives a call from Mat Hammond, an old college friend and historian. But pleasantries are cut short. Mat has uncovered a scandalous secret kept buried for decades: In World War II, Caroline’s British great-aunt betrayed family and country to marry her German lover.

Determined to find answers and save her family’s reputation, Caroline flies to her family’s ancestral home in London. She and Mat discover diaries and letters that reveal her grandmother and great-aunt were known as the “Waite sisters.” Popular and witty, they came of age during the interwar years, a time of peace and luxury filled with dances, jazz clubs, and romance. The buoyant tone of the correspondence soon yields to sadder revelations as the sisters grow apart, and one leaves home for the glittering fashion scene of Paris, despite rumblings of a coming world war.

Each letter brings more questions. Was Caroline’s great-aunt actually a traitor and Nazi collaborator, or is there a more complex truth buried in the past? Together, Caroline and Mat uncover stories of spies and secrets, love and heartbreak, and the events of one fateful evening in 1941 that changed everything.

In this rich historical novel from award-winning author Katherine Reay, a young woman is tasked with writing the next chapter of her family’s story. But Caroline must choose whether to embrace a love of her own and proceed with caution if her family’s decades-old wounds are to heal without tearing them even further apart.

WWI-Era Novel — The Far Side of The Sea by Kate Breslin

In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life–a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield. 

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel’s half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

Set at Christmas, But Not Really A Christmas Book — Winter Solstice by Rosamund Pilcher

Elfrida Phipps, once of London’s stage, moved to the English village of Dibton in hopes of making a new life for herself. Gradually she settled into the comfortable familiarity of village life — shopkeepers knowing her tastes, neighbors calling her by name — still she finds herself lonely. 

Oscar Blundell gave up his life as a musician in order to marry Gloria. They have a beautiful daughter, Francesca, and it is only because of their little girl that Oscar views his sacrificed career as worthwhile. 

Carrie returns from Australia at the end of an ill-fated affair with a married man to find her mother and aunt sharing a home and squabbling endlessly. With Christmas approaching, Carrie agrees to look after her aunt’s awkward and quiet teenage daughter, Lucy, so that her mother might enjoy a romantic fling in America.

Sam Howard is trying to pull his life back together after his wife has left him for another. He is without home and without roots, all he has is his job. Business takes him to northern Scotland, where he falls in love with the lush, craggy landscape and set his sights on a house.

It is the strange rippling effects of a tragedy that will bring these five characters together in a large, neglected estate house near the Scottish fishing town of Creagan. 

It is in this house, on the shortest day of the year, that the lives of five people will come together and be forever changed. Rosamunde Pilcher’s long-awaited return to the page will warm the hearts of readers both old and new. Winter Solstice is a novel of love, loyalty and rebirth.

After The Great War — 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.

Top Ten Tuesday — “Fall” Freebie

28 Sep

It’s fall here in the Sunny South, but the only real evidence is the lower humidity — Hallelujah! — and cooler morning temps. I think some cooler daytime highs are in the near future, but until then the air conditioner continues to hum. This week’s TTT is a Freebie, and I decided to list books with a variation of “fall” in the title. Some actually have an autumn connection; others not so much. 😉 I included both adult and children’s books so all can join in on the fun. Hope you find a book that piques your interest.

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

Top 10 Fall Titles

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

Falling for You by Becky Wade

The Long Fall by Penelope Wilcock

Night Fall by Nancy Mehl

The Sound of Falling Leaves by Lisa Carter

When Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin

Where The Fire Falls by Karen Barnett

Fun Fall Day by Tara Knudson

Snuggle Time Fall Blessings by Glenys Nellist

Top 10 Tuesday — Firsts

24 Aug

Happy Tuesday! Again I am diverging from the Top 10 Tuesday prompt (I feel like I have done that topic a number of times) and going with great first books in mystery/suspense series. I’ve chosen a lot of great older books, so check out those backlists and get reading! 😉

For more Top 10 Tuesday fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top First Books of Great Mystery/Suspense Series

Back on Murder by J. Mark Bertrand

Det. Roland March is a homicide cop on his way out. But when he’s the only one at a crime scene to find evidence of a missing female victim, he’s given one last chance to prove himself. Before he can crack the case, he’s transferred to a new one that has grabbed the spotlightthe disappearance of a famous Houston evangelist’s teen daughter. With the help of a youth pastor with a guilty conscience who navigates the world of church and faith, March is determined to find the missing girls while proving he’s still one of Houston’s best detectives.

Brink of Death by Brandilyn Collins

The noises, faint, fleeting, whispered into her consciousness like wraiths passing in the night. Twelve-year-old Erin Willit opened her eyes to darkness lit only by the dim green nightlight near her closet door and the faint glow of a street lamp through her front window. She felt her forehead wrinkle, the fingers of one hand curl as she tried to discern what had awakened her. Something was not right . . . Annie Kingston moves to Grove Landing for safety and quiet—and comes face to face with evil. When neighbor Lisa Willet is killed by an intruder in her home, Sheriff’s detectives are left with little evidence. Lisa’s daughter, Erin, saw the killer, but she’s too traumatized to give a description. The detectives grow desperate. Because of her background in art, Annie is asked to question Erin and draw a composite. But Annie knows little about forensic art or the sensitive interview process. A nonbeliever, she finds herself begging God for help. What if her lack of experience leads Erin astray? The detectives could end up searching for a face that doesn’t exist. Leaving the real killer free to stalk the neighborhood . . .

Cuts Like A Knife by M. K. Gilroy

Chicago has new resident, a heartless killer with a long and bloody history. When a successful young woman is found dead in her fashionable town home, a red flag lights up FBI computers in Washington, D.C. The Feds know an elusive “organized killer” is at work again. The problem is they have only one tenuous lead to assist the Chicago Police Department in the manhunt … a most unlikely place the killer hunts for his victims. Detective Kristen Conner is light as a feather but punches hard as a heavyweight. A cop’s kid, her life is built on faith, family, and catching criminals. She coaches her niece’s soccer team, the Snowflakes, when she isn’t fighting with her CPD partner or glamorous TV news reporter sister—or going undercover to find the man who is terrorizing the women of her city. She’s a good cop but she’s never faced an adversary like this. From an opening chase that leads Kristen to a back alley where a punk with a knife awaits her, to the climactic and head-spinning ending where she goes one-on-one with the hauntingly familiar man who is killing innocent women in her city, Cuts Like a Knife, is loaded with action, suspense, and humor through the voice of its irrepressible lead character.

Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris

She’s dedicated her life to ending violence. But has she moved too deep into a treacherous world?

When two Jane Does are killed on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, detective and behavioral specialist Avery North discovers they share something in common — a magnolia tattoo on their shoulders. Suspecting a serial killer, Avery joins forces with medical examiner Jackson Bryant to solve the crimes and prevent another murder. As they venture deep into a sinister criminal world, Avery and Jackson are taken to the very edge of their abilities–and their hearts.

Dangerous Passage exposes a fully realized and frightening world where every layer peeled back reveals more challenges ahead. You’ll be hooked from the start.

Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow

In the murky waters of Savannah’s shoreline, a young law student is under fire as she tries her first case at a prominent and established law firm. A complex mix of betrayal and deception quickly weaves its way through the case and her life, as she uncovers dark and confusing secrets about the man she’s defending–and the senior partners of the firm. 

How deep will the conspiracy run? Will she have to abandon her true self to fulfill a higher calling? And how far will she have to go to discover the truth behind a tragic cold case?

Fear Has A Name by Creston Mapes

A Haunting Name From the Past . . .

Granger Meade was mentally scarred as a boy by his religious zealot parents. He was bullied at school for his quiet, oafish appearance, which naturally made him a loner and outcast.

But one girl treated him differently—Pamela Wagner. Pam talked to Granger, took an interest, listened, made him feel like a human being. She cared when no one else did, and Granger loved her for it; and still does 20 years later.

So Granger goes back to their Ohio town. Back to Pamela. But she is happily married to reporter Jack Crittendon, who’s embroiled in a time-sensitive story about a pastor who’s disappeared and left a suicide note; a case swirling with suspicion and talk of scandal.

Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson

Ann Silver is a cop’s cop. As the Midwest Homicide Investigator, she is called in to help local law enforcement on the worst of cases, looking for answers to murder. Hers is one of the region’s most trusted investigative positions. 

Paul Falcon is the FBI’s top murder cop in the Midwest. If the victim carried a federal badge or had a security clearance, odds are good Paul and his team see the case file or work the murder. 

Their lives intersect when Ann arrives to pass a case off her desk and onto his. A car wreck and a suspicious death offer a lead on a hired shooter he is tracking. Paul isn’t expecting to meet someone, the kind that goes on the personal side of the ledger, but Ann Silver has his attention. 

The better he gets to know her, the more Paul realizes her job barely scratches the surface of who she is. She knows spies and soldiers and U.S. Marshals, and has written books about them. She is friends with the former Vice President. People with good reason to be cautious about who they let into their lives deeply trust her. Paul wonders just what secrets Ann is keeping, until she shows him the John Doe Killer case file, and he starts to realize just who this lady he is falling in love with really is…

Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir

Eleven months ago, Ray Quinn was a tough, quick-witted Orlando homicide detective at the top of his game — until a barrage of bullets ended his career…and his partner’ s life.

Now medically retired with a painful handicap, Ray battles the haunting guilt for his partner’s death. Numbing the pain with alcohol and attitude, Ray takes a job as a night watchman at a swanky Orlando condo.

But when a pastor and an exotic dancer are found dead in one of the condos in an apparent murder-suicide, Ray can no longer linger in the shadows. The pastor’s sister is convinced her brother was framed and begs Ray to take on an impossible case–to challenge the evidence and clear her brother’s name. 

Ray reluctantly pulls the threads of this supposedly dead-end case only to unravel a murder investigation so deep that it threatens to turn the Orlando political landscape upside down and transform old friends into new enemies. As Ray chases down leads and interrogates suspects, someone is watching his every move, someone determined to keep him from ever finding out the truth — at any cost.

A Shred of Evidence by Kathy Herman

The first book in the Seaport Suspense series

Ellen Jones, first introduced in the Baxter series, is enjoying a leisurely lunch at a Seaport restaurant when she overhears a private conversation at the table next to her — and disturbing accusations involving the husband of a woman she has recently befriended. But as Ellen digs through old newspaper articles and stumbles onto information too frightening to keep to herself, will she become enmeshed in speculation and gossip — or will she take the lead and become a catalyst for truth and healing?

Sober Justice by Mark Hilley

Life in the low country of the Gulf Coast can get pretty steamy. But life just got a lot hotter for Mike Connolly, a divorced, alcoholic, 50 something attorney. Usually content when he just makes it through another day, Mike’s life takes a dangerous and unpredictable turn when a judge appoints him to defend an indigent man accused of murdering a prominent plaintiff’s attorney. Just when he thinks that things can’t get worse, Mike stumbles onto a conspiracy and finds himself in the midst of a complicated web of intrigue that will take a miracle to survive. Trouble is–Mike’s fresh out of miracles. Or is he?

Widows And Orphans by Susan Meissner

When her ultra-ministry-minded brother, Joshua, confesses to murder, lawyer Rachael Flynn begs him to let her represent him, certain that he is innocent. But Joshua refuses her offer of counsel. 

As Rachael works on the case, she begins to suspect that Josh knows who the real killer is, but she is unable to get him to cooperate with his defense.  Why won’t he talk to her? What is Josh hiding? 

The answer is revealed in a stunning conclusion that will have readers eager for the second book in this gripping new series.

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