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A Daring Escape is apparently the second book in The London Chronicles series, so I must find the first (A Secret Courage). A Daring Escape tells of a young American woman, Amity Mitchell, who has been tutoring in England. When her brother, who is in the British Home Office, appeals for her help in Prague, she agrees, only to find herself in the midst of German occupation. Amity does her best to arrange transport to England for as many Jewish children as possible, at great personal risk.

A well-told story of the plight of Jews in the way of Hitler’s advance. With the characters, we experience fear, betrayal, courage, forgiveness, freedom. The situations many of the Jews found themselves in during that time was appalling. Many had already been sent to death camps, but in Prague, evacuation of children was still possible. The author’s depiction of the desperate situation and the hope brought by those willing to risk their own freedom, offers hope to the reader also. It made me ask myself, what would I have done in Amity’s place? If I’d had a train ticket back to England, would I have taken it, or stayed on to help as I could, even as the possibilities of escape narrowed?

A good read, thought-provoking and accurately described.

See the first book in the series below, and feel free to check out the many other titles by Tricia Goyer

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November 2018 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Christmas in Jingle Junction by Tabitha Bouldin — In the small town of Jingle Junction, Holly Winters owns the local coffee shop, Jolly Java. It’s here that she meets Patrick Cooper and promptly throws coffee everywhere. Not only does Patrick not like coffee, he also despises Christmas! It’s up to Holly to show Patrick that Christmas is worth giving a second chance, just as Patrick himself deserves a second chance when he is accused of robbing a local convenience store. In a town full of Christmas spirit, lively debates over the best superhero and riding in a sleigh pulled by actual reindeer is just a normal day. Will Holly be able to prove to Patrick that Christmas is more than a holiday that has to be endured? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Picture Perfect Christmas by Candee Fick — Freelance photographers Liz Foster and Ryan Callahan are finally making plans for their future. And what better time to get married than during the festive holiday season that brought them together? If only Liz’s parents weren’t standing in the way of a picture-perfect wedding. Spurred on by the ghosts of Christmases past, Dan Foster has already written Liz out of his will, so even attending the wedding—let alone walking his daughter down the aisle—is out of the question. However, this is the season for miracles and Ryan will do anything to make his bride smile. What will it take to bring this family back together in time for the wedding? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter — When his secret crush joins a dating website, Jack takes a leap of faith and soon becomes Daisy’s online suitor. But when they begin growing closer in real life also, Jack finds himself with an unexpected dilemma. Is Daisy falling for the real Jack or for the online version of himself? And how is she going to respond when she finds out they’re one and the same? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

A Merry Miracle in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker — Baxter Reid returns to his hometown of Romance, eager to see his childhood crush. Unfortunately, Savannah hasn’t forgotten all the ways he used to tease her back then. He’s got his work cut out for him if he’s going to get a second chance. Savannah Miller avoids Baxter and the embarrassing childhood memories he evokes…until he apologizes and suggests a truce. Now what is she supposed to do? Only time will tell whether the spirit of Christmas in Romance is enough to transform a grudging relationship into true love. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

I Still Do by Melanie D. Snitker — What’s worse than running into your ex-husband? Becoming snowbound with him and an avalanche of memories you can’t escape. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Contemporary/Women’s Fiction:

A Southern Season by Eva Marie Everson, Claire Fullerton, Ane Mulligan, and Linda Yezak — Four seasons. Four stories. Each one set in the enchanting world of the South. These are the kinds of stories your grandmother told you from a front porch swing. (Women’s Fiction from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Historical:

Second Chances by Carol Ashby — A widowed father, still grieving the loss of his wife and child, and a devoted mother, who leaves behind everything she’s ever known to rescue her daughter from the ex-husband who would hurt her, are first drawn together by their love for her little girl, but God has much more for them than either could have imagined. (Historical, Cerrillo Press)

Historical Mystery:

Murder of Convenience by Linda Shenton Matchett — May 1942: Geneva Alexander flees Philadelphia and joins the USO to escape the engagement her parents have arranged for her, only to wind up as the number one suspect in her betrothed’s murder investigation. Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, she must find the real killer before she loses her sight…or is convicted for a crime she didn’t commit. (Historical Mystery, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection by Lena Nelson Dooley, Rebecca Jepson, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Candice Sue Patterson, Kathleen Rouser, Pegg Thomas, and Marilyn Turk — Along the Great Lakes, America’s inland seas, lighthouses played a vital role in the growth of our nation. They shepherded settlers traveling by water to places that had no roads. These beacons of light required constant tending even in remote and often dangerous places. Brave men and women battled the elements and loneliness to keep the lights shining. Their sacrifice kept goods and immigrants moving. Seven romances set between 1883 and 1911 at Great Lakes Lighthouses bring hope to the lonely lighthouse keepers and love to weary hearts. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Musket in My Hands by Sandra Merville Hart — Two sisters have no choice but to disguise themselves as men to muster into the Confederate army in the fall of 1864–just in time for things to go very badly for the Southerners at the Battle of Franklin. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Uncharted Journey by Keely Brooke Keith — Young widow Eva Vestal assumes loneliness is God’s permanent plan for her life. She keeps busy by raising her son and co-managing the Inn at Falls Creek with her elderly father, but her heart yearns for more. Solomon “Solo” Cotter has spent his life working with horses, but he secretly wants to write a book of the children’s stories his grandfather told him as a boy. He barters with Eva’s father for a 40-night stay at the inn, a needed respite from work to get his stories on paper. Once Eva discovers the barter, she believes Solo is taking advantage of her father’s failing memory. But when tragedy strikes and Solo works hard to save the inn, Eva sees his true nature. As her heart stirs with feelings for Solo, she wrestles with the guilt of loving someone new. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Snow Angel by Davalynn Spencer — Lena Carver works as her physician brother’s medical assistant, housekeeper, and cook. Maimed in a childhood accident at Christmas, she believes she is beyond love’s reach—until a dark-eyed cowboy arrives broken, bruised, and bent on changing her mind. Wil Bergman wakes in a stranger’s home with a busted leg and a bullet-creased scalp. Trail-weary, robbed, and penniless, he is at the mercy of a country doctor whose sister’s healing touch has power to stitch up his heart and open his eyes to the impossible. (Historical Romance from Wilson Creek Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Tell Her No Lies by Kelly Irvin — After Nina Fischer is accused of murdering her uncle and adopted father, she must unlock deadly family secrets in order to clear her name and learn to trust love again. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

North by Starlight by Diane and David Munson — Attorney Madison Stone hurries to help her client Jordan Star defeat a mysterious relative who claims a share in his inheritance, and during the Christmas season Maddie learns to leave past regrets behind her, embrace the warmhearted people of Starlight, and dig deep to find her true heart. (Romantic Suspense from Micah House Media)

Her Deadly Reunion by Beth Ann Ziarnik — What will it cost an estranged daughter when she meets her birth father at his home and discovers it’s a dangerous place to mix past and present? (Romantic Suspense from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Speculative:

Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse — When the new Lady of Ravenwood inherits her family’s secret gift of dreamwalking, she discovers a dark history. Women in her family have been wielding the gift to preserve her family’s legacy—through assassinations. She’s determined to find the true reason behind the gift, convinced there must be a more noble purpose. But she’s torn about upholding her family’s legacy–a legacy that supports her people. What will she do when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations–but who is also prophesied to bring about the downfall of her own house? One path holds glory and power and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and likely death. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen? (High Fantasy from Bethany House [Baker])

Thriller/Suspense:

Stratagem by Robin Caroll — Psychologist Grayson Thibodeaux creates mind-bending adventure games for businesses as team-building explorations. When his ex-wife’s company hires Grayson’s for their executive retreat, he doesn’t see how things can get worse. Until she dies during the course of the game he created…making him the prime suspect for murder. (Suspense from Barbour Publishing)

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“This book is about a girl who was raised by monkeys,” a friend said recently. She had the book in hand, and I was interested. Thinking The Jungle Book. She lent me her copy and I read it in a couple of days.

The Girl with No Name is the fascinating account of the life of Marina Chapman, kidnapped from her home in Colombia in the early 1950s at the age of almost-five, and growing up in two of the country’s most frightening jungles: the rainforest and the city.

This is, according to an afterward by the ghostwriter, Lynne Barrett-Lee, the first of two novels, as Marina’s life is filled with more fascinating detail than can be told easily in one volume. I haven’t been able to find the second installment, but there is apparently a documentary about Marina on the National Geographic channel, so I’ll take a look there.

According to the story, Marina was picked up and drugged by kidnappers, then dropped off in the jungle as they ran for their lives, and subsequently cared for by capuchin monkeys for about five years. Marina’s memories of her monkey family are detailed and sweet. I think the specific word picture that sticks with me most, clean-freak that I am, is how she remembers being groomed by the capuchins and all the bugs and insects they found in her hair and ears. I shudder. But, if her story is true, and I tend to believe it is, she displays an amazing ability to adapt and survive.

As difficult as Marina’s rainforest survival was, the memories are sweet compared to the abuse she suffered at the hands of well-meaning or outright evil people in the city.

This book is penned by a ghostwriter, since Marina’s language skills were somewhat compromised by the years she didn’t speak. I found the story flowed with lovely descriptive phrases and color that delighted me and suited the character. I read mostly fiction, so this was a departure from my normal reading patterns, but I enjoyed it. Thanks, Kathy W. for lending it to me.

To delve more deeply into Marina’s story, check out these sites:

It’s your choice to believe it or not, but either way, this story is a captivating.

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I met this book on a friend’s book review blog, and it sounded intriguing. I was not disappointed. What’s not to like about a main character with a blank past, vague memories of another world, romance, danger, world travel and even time travel?

One night, a young woman finds herself in a New York museum with no memory of who she is or how she got there. An employee gives her a job researching an ancient civilization, the Minoan culture, and that becomes her life. Kallie is content with her place in the basement office of the museum, until she is thrust into the limelight at a fundraiser. It is there that she meets Dimitri Andreas, a wealthy and handsome benefactor of the museum, whose favor she must seek. Her sales pitch is a disaster, but she meets Dimitri personally, and he seems more interested in her and her research than in her failed speech.

A series of unforeseen incidents bring them together, but they come from different levels of society, and Kallie harbors her secret of a missing past. When she is asked by Dimitri to join a team to Egypt to look for artifacts from the Minoan civilization, she realizes she has a strong affinity for the region. She also comes to see that Dimitri Andreas is also not the person he seems to be. When their desires would pull them together, their secrets keep them apart.

The sequence of events creates plot intensity, the characters are strong figures who seek their true identity with integrity and courage, and even the artifacts they seek are not what they expect. Throw in an antagonist who cares for nothing but the end game, and the intensity increases.

I particularly enjoyed Kallie’s journey of self-discovery, allowing her true character to emerge.

Interesting links:

Book Reviewer Janet Sketchley

Author Tracy Higley

Tracy Higley

 

 

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I met the If I Run series when we ordered the first two books for our church library. Knowing the quality of Terri Blackstock’s writing, we were confident the books would be well-written, but I had no idea how drawn I’d be to the characters and the story.

The first book is named after the series: If I Run. In a nutshell, Casey Cox is a young woman whose father supposedly committed suicide while on the local police force. This happened when Casey was twelve. But she has never believed her father would take his own life, or make sure it was she who found him. Ever since, Casey has been trying to find the truth about what happened to her father.

Now, Casey stumbles onto the horrific murder of a close friend, and realizes she will be accused of his murder if she sticks around. She’s convinced someone is setting her up to get her off the trail of the truth, and she has a pretty good idea who’s behind the scheme. But no one will believe her. Until she knows more, she cannot fight, so she flees.

While in disguise, trying to hide from those out to arrest her for murder, she comes across a case of kidnapping. She can’t let it go when she sees evidence near where she’s been living. Dylan Roberts, a former military man, now a private investigator, sets out to help the police find Casey, and in the process, he also starts to wonder whether everything is as it seems. Casey just doesn’t seem like a killer.

This book is an easy read, but so intense I could hardly put it down. This quality continues in the next installment, If I’m Found, where Casey finds herself involved in another side-case while still trying to stay out of the crosshairs of those who seek her. News is spreading so that more careful disguises are necessary to keep her from being recognized by the general public. Technology helps her to contact her family and Dylan, but where there is technology, there are those who can hack into it. Again, Casey’s capture seems imminent.

I had to wait until the library ordered the third and final book in the series to find out what happened to Casey. If I Live was even more exciting than the two preceding books. Casey continues to hide, with help from someone who believes her story, and while in hiding, she continues to work with this person to find enough information to catch the dirty cops in their own game. Her life is on the line. If they find her, they’ll kill her before she has a chance to stand trial. Lots of twists and tension in this book, and an ending both surprising and satisfying.

Besides the cat and mouse tension, someone else is looking for Casey. As she dodges capture, which seems more inevitable every day, she starts to think about God, and what faith in Christ could mean to her life…if she believes it. Her spiritual journey is woven beautifully into this fast-moving story, giving the reader more to think about, a more rounded story that offers hope no matter the physical outcome.

I recommend this series to anyone who loves suspense and well-crafted characters. A very influential story from a favourite author. To learn more about Terri Blackstock, click on her photo below and you will be sent to her website.

P.S. Here’s a cool thing I discovered on Terri’s website: if you look at the page, you’ll see that when the covers or this series are lined up, they form a picture.

Terri Blackstock

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JAN: Today I am sharing an interview with Alison Lohans. Besides being an accomplished author of more than 26 books, Alison is a lovely person I’ve had the privilege to meet a number of times. Alison, how long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

ALISON: I’ve been making up stories since early childhood. The first time, I recall, was at age 5, telling myself stories to entertain myself while lying in bed. I remember my first case of writer’s block at age 6 when I didn’t know how to spell “squirrel” for a story I was writing at school, and was too shy to ask the teacher.

My mother definitely was a strong encouraging person as she had hopes of writing for children herself, and found ways to open my way throughout, including a trip to the library when I was 10 to check out a copy of Writer’s Market, suggesting that I try submitting my short stories to children’s magazines. She also encouraged me to attend a community college creative writing class with her (I was 14 at the time, and had already published two short stories).

JAN: Wow, what an amazing mom to encourage you in such practical ways. What’s your preferred genre?

ALISON: For decades I’ve written for young people—a variety of works ranging from picture books, early reader chapter books, middle-grade novels, and books for younger and older teens. The age/genre within the spectrum of work for young people hinges upon the nature of the question that triggers a story—and since we are all complex beings, with multi-layered interests, thoughts and concerns, my work gravitates toward a specific age niche accordingly.

One genre I’ve always found a lot of fun to write is the chapter book for early readers, with its concrete, often humorous, stance—but the market is very limited these days. The picture book is the most challenging to write, as a complete story, with all its ingredients, needs to be fit into a package of under a thousand words, executed in tight, beautiful language. The YA novel provides an ideal avenue for digging into deep, complex issues. Since the 1980s I’ve also been interested in writing romance novels and, at last, have a novel in that genre approaching completion.

Picturing Alyssa by Alison Lohans

JAN: How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

ALISON: The “how” is kind of tricky to answer as I’ve slowed down considerably during the past few years, in part due to confusing changes in the marketplace. One publisher (of seven of my books) closed up shop; my agent was laid off because the agency was closed; and another publisher changed hands and orphaned all of their YA fantasy titles (that included two of my books, which had literally taken 30 years to develop, from riveting idea to published book). In many ways it’s like having to start all over again, with fewer open doors and very different submissions practices.

All of this said, I migrate between two laptops in different rooms (partly for postural reasons). These days I “get into it” most quickly during pre-arranged joint writing times—i.e., sitting down at the same table with other writer friends, our common objective being to work. I also enjoy writing retreats very much. While there’s a cost involved, I love the collegiality of being immersed in silent writing times, with others, away from home…and find these retreats enormously productive.

I’m a dyed-in-the-wool pantser. I “live” my books through my protagonists, both in the pre-writing stages and during the writing. I get stuck when I don’t know my characters well enough.

JAN: You’ve experienced a number of setbacks due mostly to marketplace changes, and I thank you for sharing them with us. It helps to know these things happen to others too. What do you like most / least about writing?

ALISON: Most: To “live” and puzzle out interesting life questions through my protagonist, and in the process, to hone my craft to create evocative, precise, efficient and beautiful language that invites the reader in with vivid, living images.

Least: It took a few decades to reach this point, but there’s that aspect of slamming oneself against the wall repeatedly, with works I utterly believe in that might receive one glowing rejection after another—OR—which fall in a black hole after they’re published. And the monetary aspect? It simply doesn’t do to think about that in terms of the massive amount of work and soul that go into a book—sometimes decades for various stages of the completion process. We need to have a really thick skin, and sometimes that gets incredibly disheartening.

JAN: Very true. What are your favorite / most effective social media?

ALISON: Facebook has always worked better for me than any other social medium. It’s great for getting word out about new releases, and sometimes has garnered a few sales in places where readers would have almost no access to my work. I use both my regular profile page, and my author page, to highlight my work. I have a website, but really am not sure how effective it is, other than for occasional queries from readers far away (primarily New Zealand) who are studying my New Zealand-published books for class assignments.   https://alisonlohans.wordpress.com/

JAN: How do you balance professional time with personal time?

ALISON: I used to write all the time, and gems from my personal time slipped into my creative time. These days my life is primarily personal time, with my writing always there on the side, to dip into. Having less intrinsic motivation than I once did, I find that social time with other writers always gives me a welcome “kick” back into my writing.

JAN: What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

ALISON: I’m reading Little Sister by Barbara Gowdy, which I happened upon thanks to a review in the paper. Its quirky premise and unpredictable humour quickly drew me in.

In terms of preferred reading mode, print always wins. I don’t read digital unless I have to.

JAN: What are some of your favorite things?

ALISON: My favourite non-writing activities include my love of music, which has always been a twin passion throughout my life. At the moment I play cello, cornet and recorder in quite a few local amateur groups, and also sing in choirs. These music activities plunge me into the midst of creating something beautiful with other great people who share the same love of music. That rewarding social realm nurtures me in ways that solitary writing cannot. On occasion, I’m able to work music into my fiction and I love the synergy when that happens.

Another favourite activity is international travel, which is an incredible privilege that’s opened up during the past 15+ years. I really love seeing other parts of the world, catching glimpses of how people live there, with their different mind-sets. More and more, travel has been nurturing my fiction. Some books and short stories couldn’t have even been conceived, if not for the travel. My nearly-completed novel, an experiment in the romance genre, is set on a tour of Egypt much like the one I took five years ago. And my first visit to Scotland yielded a riveting idea that still needs to find its right shape and approach.

JAN: Ooh, sounds intriguing. How is your faith reflected in your writing?

ALISON: Aspects of my faith sometimes work themselves into my YA novels, through characters’ inherent beliefs. Additionally, in my two orphaned YA novels being re-released this coming December as a single novel, Timefall, the spirituality of the primitive society a thousand years in our future reflects some of my deeply-held beliefs.

JAN: Do you have some advice for beginning writers?

ALISON: I used to have lots of handy advice for beginners, but with so many changes in the commercial marketplace, advice is harder to come by. However, five things still jump out:

(1) READ exhaustivelyin the genres that pique your interest! Read not only for enjoyment, but also to study how these writers have handled their craft.

(2) Give yourself permission to write that sloppy copy, rather than trying to get it right the first time around. By staying loose we are more open to additional nuances that might not have immediately occurred to us. Likewise, by expecting perfection the first time, we also cramp ourselves into a space where the story may not be able to breathe.

(3) REVISE! It’s through coming back again and again that we find the rhythms and images that work best together. Try reading your work aloud—the way words fall off the tongue can be a better editor than simply using our eyes.

(4) Write about things you truly feel passionate about. That energy will creep into your work and make it come alive in ways that can’t happen if you give yourself an assignment to write about something that you think would fit well in the marketplace.

(5) Keep the flame alive by finding  joy in what you’re doing—that sense of discovery that can happen not only when characters confront a dilemma, but also the self-discovery that can happen when you’re writing. It’s all about growth, and sometimes when working through characters’ challenges in this craft, we end up slightly changed as people, through having written a book.

JAN: Excellent thoughts, Alison. Thanks again for sharing with us today; you’ve informed and inspired me. I wish you joy as you travel, make and share music, and write.

For more information about Alison, check out her website, her Facebook page and the Amazon book list page. You can also connect with her on LinkedIn and Goodreads. Alison is also a member of CANSCAIP: The Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers.

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I’m Thankful

This is a fifth Tuesday, so it’s off the radar of my four-blog-a-month schedule. So today, I’m going to list some of the many things I’m thankful for, in no particular order:

My ViolasI’m thankful for Spring. Here on the Canadian prairies, it’s slow in coming. The snow seems to last forever, but then one day it starts to sink and melt, and there’s new life underneath.

 

 

 

 

I’m thankful for a warm house. Many people in this world have nothing, and I have a lovely place to call my own, a refuge.

hp photosmart 720I’m thankful for a loving husband. Not everyone is so blessed. This year will mark 40 wonderful years together. It’s not all been perfect, but it’s been pretty darn good.

 

 

I’m thankful we get along well with our kids and their spouses, and that the grandkids all love to come for a visit.

I’m thankful for health. We all have our issues, but learning to be thankful in spite of them is a gift. People prefer to hang out with positive people, even those who have health issues.

chocolate

 

I’m thankful for chocolate!

 

 

 

I’m thankful for books, especially fiction. my library photo

 

 

 

 

I’m thankful for speed. As I age, I have less energy and don’t move as easily or quickly as I used to. But I can sit behind the wheel of my truck and take off. (I try to stay within the speed limit.)

I’m thankful for laughter. If you follow my Facebook page, you’ll know that. I have an off-the-wall sense of humor, so we may not laugh at the same things, but that’s okay. Different folks.

I’m thankful each morning offers a fresh start.

I’m thankful for my country, Canada, which, although it’s not perfect, stacks up pretty good compared to many. So far we’re relatively free to live according to our conscience and wishes.

praying_on_bible_redMost of all, I’m thankful that I know where I’ve come from and where I’m going. Created by God for His good pleasure and gifted by Him to do His will, journeying toward a land where there will be no tears or sorrow or death or sadness. I’m thankful that Jesus has revealed himself to me and has promised me eternal life, starting now.

 

 

Blessings to you!

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