Tag Archives: Susie Finkbeiner

Top 10 Tuesday — Summer TBR

15 Jun

It is definitely summer here in the sunny South. High temps are in the 90s, and I am melting on my morning walks! But that’s what I signed up for! We endure in the air conditioning and under the umbrella next to the pool. And a good book to take you away is always welcome.

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday list includes some of the books I am reading this summer. My TBR list is short, but I will be reading more than is on my current list — I am keeping my options flexible this summer. For more fun summer reading, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books on My Summer TBR

The August surprise selection for By The Book is Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan. We are excited to read this dual timeline novel set in one of our favorite cities.

When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she’s shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can’t resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.

Everly’s research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaskitogether, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who was never found, along with her child. These aristocratic women were part of Savannah’s society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving.

A small group of my friends formed IWBC (Interesting Women Book Club — for the books were are reading and of course us 😉 . The Only Woman in The Room by Marie Benedict fits that bill. I am going to lobby hard to read it, but if I get outvoted, I am still going to read this intriguing book.

Her beauty almost certainly saved her from the rising Nazi party and led to marriage with an Austrian arms dealer. Underestimated in everything else, she overheard the Third Reich’s plans while at her husband’s side and understood more than anyone would guess. She devised a plan to flee in disguise from their castle, and the whirlwind escape landed her in Hollywood. She became Hedy Lamarr, screen star.

But she kept a secret more shocking than her heritage or her marriage: she was a scientist. And she had an idea that might help the country fight the Nazis and revolutionize modern communication . . . if anyone would listen to her.

A powerful book based on the incredible true story of the glamour icon and scientist, The Only Woman in the Room is a masterpiece that celebrates the many women in science that history has overlooked.

My daughter is reading C. S. LewisSpace Trilogy. She gave book 1, Out of The Silent Planet to my husband, and I downloaded it from Audible (it was included in my subscription). I am hoping our 4th of July celebration will include the 1st Family Book Club. Wish me luck! I had a hard enough time getting my kids to read certain books when they were kids. Now that they are adults . . . .

Out of the Silent Planet is the first novel of the Cosmic Trilogy, considered to be C.S. Lewis’ chief contribution to the science fiction genre. The trilogy concerns Dr. Ransom, a linguist, who, like Christ, was offered a ransom for mankind. The first two novels are planetary romances with elements of medieval mythology. Each planet is seen as having a tutelary spirit; those of the other planets are both good and accessible, while that of Earth is fallen, twisted, and not known directly by most humans. The story is powerfully imagined, and the effects of lesser gravity on Martian planet and animal life is vividly rendered.

Two review books are up for July — The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner and The Chase by Lisa Harris. I can’t wait to dig into both of those books.

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.

US Marshal Madison James may not be sure who shot her three months ago, but she does know one thing — it’s time to get back out into the field. When her partner, Jonas Quinn, receives a message that a federal warrant just came in on a man connected to a string of bank robberies, Madison jumps at the chance to get back to work. What she and Jonas find is a bank robbery in progress that’s gone wrong — and things are about to get worse.

For these bank robbers, it’s never been just about the money. It’s about taking risks and adrenaline rushes, and getting caught is not part of the game. When the suspects escape, Madison and Jonas must hunt them down and bring them to justice before someone else — someone close to them — gets hurt . . . or worse.

From Seattle to the San Juan Islands, bestselling author Lisa Harris takes you on a nonstop chase where feelings are complicated and failure isn’t an option.

What are you reading this summer?

Top 10 Tuesday — Favorite Audiobooks

1 Jun

Over the weekend a friend asked for audiobook recommendations. As a big fan, I had a few recommendations — I had to stop myself! 😉 Since this week’s Top 10 Tuesday is a Freebie, I thought I would share some of my favorite audiobooks. The stories are great and the readers are excellent, capturing just the right pacing and accents needed to make the experience enjoyable. Whether you have a road trip planned or need something to help while away the hours next to the pool or beach, or if you need something to help get thought an exercise routine or boring chores, all on my list will fit the bill.

Do you like listening to audiobooks?

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

Ten of My Favorite Audiobooks

A Bridge Across The Ocean by Susan Meissner

The Last Year of The War by Susan Meissner

Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton

The Number of Love by Roseanna White

Perennials by Julie Cantrell

State of Lies by Siri Mitchell

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

The Summer House by Lauren K. Denton

An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz

When I Close My Eyes by Elizabeth Musser

Top 10 Tuesday — Incomplete Sentences/Complete Thoughts

18 May

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge is to list books with titles that are complete sentences. Looking at my shelves I didn’t find any, but I did find books with titles that convey a complete thought. With all our social media shorthand, I thought they would fit into today’s topic pretty well. The genres of these books vary, so there is something for everyone. I hope you find a title to love!

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

Top Titles with A Complete Thought

Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Miracle in A Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas

More Than We Remember by Christina Suzann Nelson

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green

Until I Found You by Victoria Bylin

Wait for Me by Susan May Warren

When I Close My Eyes by Elizabeth Musser

Top 10 Tuesday — Nature Covers

11 May

This week Top 10 Tuesday posts are featuring book covers that depict nature. As I was looking for books to include, I was surprised that I could find as many as I did. Most covers feature people. I chose books that depict a setting or key element of the story (some have people, others not). They span genres too.

Do you like book covers that feature nature?

For more Top Ten Tuesday fun, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Book Covers Featuring Nature

Blackberry Beach by Irene Hannon

Collision of Lies by Tom Threadgill

The Earl’s Lady Geologist by Alissa Baxter

The Escape by Lisa Harris

For The Love of Joy by Janet Ferguson

Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton

The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner

Present Danger by Elizabeth Goddard

Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz

Under a Turquoise Sky by Lisa Carter

Top 10 Tuesday — Ruin A Book With One Letter (Or Two)

23 Mar

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge is Funny Titles. I posted on that not too long ago, and frankly I don’t read many funny books, so the titles aren’t either. So I decided to share the ever popular Ruined Titles. Basically, you change one or two letters of one of the words in a book’s title so that a great read becomes, well, ruined. 😉 My apologies to the authors.

For more funny titles, make sure to visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Ruined Book Titles

All Manner of Strings by Susie Finkbeiner

small town sewing

Collision of Pies by Tom Threadgill

pastry train derailment

Daughters of Northern Snores by Joanne Bischof

sleeping in Scandinavia

Echoes Among The Scones by Jaime Jo Wright

past mystery in a pastry shop

Facing The Lawn by Cynthia Ruchti

grief and lawn care

The Mouse at The End of The Moor by Michelle Griep

Victorian city and country mice

On A Coastal Sneeze by Suzanne Woods Fisher

love and hay fever in Maine

The Traitor’s Prawn by Lisa Harris

Chinese spies and seafood

Under a Turquoise Sty by Lisa Carter

desert pig farming

Book Review: Stories That Bind Us

29 Dec

I had Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner on my TBR shelf for too long. I finally made some time to read it and am so very glad. It made my 2020 best of the best list. Now I am glad I read it, but was sorry to leave the characters that inhabited its pages. This book is very highly recommended!

 

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.

Susie Finkbeiner is a story junkie. Always has been and always will be. It seems it’s a congenital condition, one she’s quite fond of.

After decades of reading everything she could get her hands on (except for See the Eel, a book assigned to her while in first grade, a book she declared was unfit for her book-snob eyes), Susie realized that she wanted to write stories of her own. She began with epics about horses and kittens (but never, ever eels).

It takes years to grow a writer and after decades of work, Susie realized (with much gnashing of teeth and tears) that she was a novelist. In order to learn how to write novels, she read eclectically and adventurously (she may never swim with sharks, but the lady will jump into nearly any story). After reading the work of Lisa Samson, Patti Hill, and Bonnie Grove she realized that there was room for a writer like her in Christian fiction.

Her first novels Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother’s Chamomile (2014) have contemporary settings. While she loved those stories and especially the characters, Susie felt the pull toward historical fiction.

When she read Into the Free by Julie Cantrell she knew she wanted to write historical stories with a side of spunk, grit, and vulnerability. Susie is also greatly inspired by the work of Jocelyn Green, Rachel McMillan, and Tracy Groot.

A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl (2015), Finkbeiner’s bestselling historical set in 1930s Oklahoma, has been compared to the work of John Steinbeck and Harper Lee (which flatters Susie’s socks off). Pearl’s story continues with A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression (2017) and A Song of Home: A Novel of the Swing Era (2018).

What does she have planned after that? More stories, of course. She’s a junkie. She couldn’t quit if she wanted to.

 

My Impressions:

I have to first say that I haven’t read a book by Susie Finkbeiner that I have not absolutely loved. Her characters are strong and the setting and time come to life with her deft storytelling. Every time I pick up one of her novels, I think that it cannot possibly be as good as the ones I have read before. And every time, the new book becomes my favorite. This is the case with Stories That Bind Us. Oh my goodness, I was caught up in Betty Sweet’s life and stories from the get-go. Probably the best book I have read this year, I highly recommend you read it right now!

Characterization is one of Finkbeiner’s strengths, and in Stories That Bind Us each character is lovingly crafted. There is not one that I didn’t fall in love with — even the difficult ones. If I have to pick a favorite it is, of course, Betty, whose first person voice gives life to her family. Betty tells her tale as it happens, along with reminiscences that flesh out their backstories and illuminate where each character is coming from. While small town LaFontaine in the 1960s is an idyllic place to live, the backdrop of the turbulent decade is a great parallel for the changes going on in Betty’s life. Another favorite character is Hugo, Betty’s nephew who blooms under Betty’s care. I loved that Betty poured herself into Hugo, but never tried to usurp her sister’s place in his life. Betty tells Hugo stories to help him make sense of his life. These stories bind the characters together as well as binding the wounds that each carries. While Betty’s narrative is often gentle and calm, the themes the book explores are jarring to the senses. Race, prejudice, and mental illness are treated realistically and with a touch of grace.

Stories That Bind Us is a thoughtful and thought-provoking novel. The author stated that it was a very personal story for her, and it sure shows. I readily admit to missing LaFontaine, Betty, Hugo, Stan, Marvel, and Nick and Dick, among others. It made me laugh and it made me cry. And it made me glad that I got to read this treasure. After reading Stories That Bind Us, you will want to talk about it, so just go ahead and get someone to go along for the ride. I promise you will love every minute.

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

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

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Best of 2020

29 Dec

Who knew that 2020 would be such a difficult year? It started out all bright and shiny with the birth of my first grandchild, then a landslide of a lump and a biopsy in February pointed to breast cancer. My surgery and the good news of no chemo or radiation was followed by 15 days to crush the curve. We all know where that went. While life became a bit more normal in June here in Georgia, this year has been filled with anxiety and grief. I am certainly ready for a brand new year!

While I am glad 2020 will soon be in the rearview mirror, I did read A LOT OF GREAT BOOKS this year. I couldn’t whittle the list down to 10, but I did confine it to an even dozen. And that was hard! As always my favorites span a variety of genres — historical, suspense, romance.  I hope you find a book you will love.

For more best of the best lists, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Top Books of 2020

 

Collision of Lies by Tom Threadgill

The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck

The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright

 

The Last Year of The War by Susan Meissner

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan

Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton

The Mulberry Leaf Whispers by Linda Thompson

 

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

State of Lies by Siri Mitchell

Stay with Me by Becky Wade

The Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

Top 10 Tuesday — All I Want for Christmas Is . . . Books!

22 Dec

While the title of my post may be close to my wishlist reality, it will not come true on Christmas morning. Why? My family and friends are under the delusion that a) I already have all the books or b) I have too many books. Both are falsehoods that I cannot seem to debunk with my nearest and dearest. LOL! So I resort to being my own Santa Claus — which makes sure I get exactly what I want! 😉 In years past, I have had bookstore gift cards slipped into my stocking, for which I am grateful. But mostly, I am on my own.

Since I am both the gift giver and receiver, I can stagger book presents throughout the year, so this week’s list includes books that are already released and those I have to wait for. I hope you find one that interests you.

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

 

 

Top 10 Books I Will Be Giving Myself

 

Blackberry Beach by Irene Hannon

The Curator’s Daughter by Melanie Dobson

Facing The Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti

 

The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner

Obsession by Patricia Bradley

On The Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy

 

Trial And Error by Robert Whitlow

Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin

 

 

 

2020 Christy Award Nominees!

8 Oct

Well, my TBR list just got bigger! So excited for the 2020 Christy Award nominees. I have read some of these books (and they are great), and now have many more to get on with. A big congratulations to all the talented authors!

Contemporary Romance

Just One Kiss by Courtney Walsh

Now And Then And Always by Melissa Tagg

Sweet on You by Becky Wade

First Novel

A Long Time Comin’ by Robin W. Pearson

The Means That Make Us Strangers by Christine Kindberg

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

General Fiction

All Manner of Things By Susie Finkbeiner

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels

Historical

The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

Historical Romance

The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Echoes Among The Stones by Jaime Jo Wright

The Girl Behind The Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker

Smokescreen by Terri Blackstock

Short Form

A Christmas Haven by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

A Flood of Love by Tracie Peterson

Intrigue A La Mode by Regina Jennings

Visionary

Cry of The Raven by Morgan L. Busse

Hidden Current by Sharon Hinck

The Story Raider by Lindsay A. Franklin

Young Adult

The Means That Make Us Strangers by Christine Kindberg

The Piper’s Pursuit by Melanie Dickerson

The Winter King by Christine Cohen

Top 10 Tuesday — Illustrated Covers

15 Sep

Illustrated covers are a bit of an exception in Christian Fiction. Mostly you get women in beautiful dresses (historical romance), women in bonnets (Amish), lovely women with sometimes hunky men (contemporary romance), or landscapes (general or literary). I find illustrated covers refreshing. For this week’s Top 10 Tuesday Cover Freebie, I have chosen some books that I have already read and some that are in the TBR pile. Let me know how you like them.

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

Top Illustrated Covers

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett

A Gift to Cherish by Victoria Bylin

 

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel

Perennials by Julie Cantrell

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

 

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin

Where The Fire Falls by Karen Barnett