New Author – New Year

So, by this time, you have finished your shopping, you have the Christmas dinner menu settled, and you’re sitting back to do some shopping for YOU.  Time to add to your own To Be Read pile in preparation for the rest of the long, cold winter.

If you love historical novels, and appreciate realistic, non-perfect heroines, I have a new author for you to check out. Her name is Julane Hiebert. You can read her bio, and blurbs for her books at Kimberly Vogel Sawyer’s Wings of Hope Publishing website:

Julane Hiebert

Meanwhile, Let’s visit with this super sweet lady:

Hi Julane. I’m honored to share your story here on Inkspirational Messages.

First, how would you describe your journey to publication in a few words? Were you an overnight success?

Thank you, Jenny. It’s so nice of you to consider me and I appreciate it so very much. To answer your question—NO, I certainly was not an overnight success—as least not in the way some would define success. My journey was long, lots of ups and downs, promises and disappointments. But every ‘bump’ came a new layer of learning and I’ve been blessed with author friends who encouraged me every step of the way.

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What is the overriding theme of your books?

I would say the overriding theme is grace. In fact, the very first novel I wrote (though never submitted) was called Threads of Grace. I don’t want my characters to be perfect. Instead, I want my readers to be able to identify with my characters in their imperfection, as a way to show that God will, and does, use our flaws to bring glory to Himself if we are willing to be used.

 

For those of us who have our own stories to tell, describe how you get one of your books ‘off the ground’. Do you outline and plot, or just dive in?

I’m very much a seat-of-the-pants writer. I do have an ‘idea’ for a story and even a title and the main characters, and usually I know how I want the story to end, although that sometimes changes. My characters pretty much tell me their stories as I write. I’ve found that if I end up writing myself into a corner, it’s usually because I’ve tried to take over the story and my characters are rebelling. And yes, I’m fully aware of how crazy that sounds, but I’m sure other writers will understand.lark-officiel-cover-12642509_10205891287626850_46582769142110495_n

 

We all have real lives along with our fiction. So give us a glimpse of yours. What will be your next task when you finish these questions today?

Hee! Hee! My next task will be to get dressed, as I’m still in my jammies! But on a more serious note—I still have some Christmas projects I need to work on, and I desperately need a grocery run. Oh, and the tops of everything in this house need a good dusting. I had November 1 and December 1 deadlines so have been pretty much glued to my computer, but will have a bit of a break now until after the first of the new year. We are retired, so I’m blessed with having time to write—and doubly blessed with a husband who encourages my writing and never complains about sandwiches or dust.official-wren-cover-13254168_1173316602687316_2753737037930584601_n

 

A favorite scripture, song or quote that seems to be following you around these days.

Proverbs 3: 5,6 has sustained me over and over and over again. I’m a ‘fixer’, and when I can’t ‘fix’ any given situation my heart hurts. Several years ago I really hit bottom, and the Lord swooped me up in His arms and gave me both the scripture and a song.  If you’d like to listen to the song—which his basically the scripture– you can find it on youtube.com.  It’s Trust, by SixPence None the Richer.

 

Thank you, Jenny, for giving me this opportunity. I look forward to seeing you at Called to Write conference in March!!

https://calledtowriteconference.wordpress.com/

 

 

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Reading time!

As any book lover knows, there is an almost physical ache that occurs when you go for a significant amount of time without reading.

That’s been me for the past several weeks.

Since I started working for the symphony four and a half years ago, my Decembers have been consumed with one thing: the orchestra’s annual Christmas show. There were six performances when I started; we’re up to 10 now, over two weekends. My job as PR Manager is to promote the daylights out of this Broadway-caliber show, from getting our conductor on as many radio stations as possible and taking our performers to TV sets, to attending dress rehearsals for behind-the-scenes photos and posting it all to Instagram and Twitter. It’s a job I love, but it definitely takes its tole.

Which is why the two-week vacation I have that started yesterday is that much more precious!

That’s right, for the next two weeks, I can just sit around in my jammies, watch Netflix, and read to my heart’s content. Oh, I’ll probably do some housecleaning, more Christmas decorating (I finally got the tree up a week ago, but my Nativity set is still in its box next to the fireplace), and probably some last-minute Christmas shopping, but reading is going to be my number one priority.

Last year, I was very excited to read Kate Morton’s The Lake House, which I had received in early December, but put off reading until my “Christmas break.” I don’t have a particular book that I’m just dying to read these next two weeks, but there are a few that I’m excited to tackle:

12-cluesThe 12 Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen

Sixth in the Royal Spyness Mystery series, the books follow Lady Georgianna Rannoch, 34th in line to the English throne in the 1930s. Georgie is penniless, and must use her wits (and the occasional assignment from the Queen!) to survive.

While her true love, Darcy O’Mara, is spending his feliz navidad tramping around South America and her mother is holed up in a tiny village called Tiddleton-under-Lovey with droll playwright Noel Coward, Georgie is quite literally stuck at Castle Rannoch thanks to a snowstorm.
 
It seems like a Christmas miracle when she manages to land a position as hostess to a posh holiday party in Tiddleton. The village should be like something out of A Christmas Carol, but as soon as she arrives things take a deadly turn when a neighborhood nuisance falls out of a tree.  On her second day, another so-called accident results in a death—and there’s yet another on her third, making Georgie wonder if there’s something wicked happening in this winter wonderland…  

 

change-of-heartChange of Heart by Courtney Walsh

I read Walsh’s novel Paper Hearts last year, and this is set in the same town. I’m looking forward to visiting Loves Park again!

A Colorado senator’s wife, Evelyn Brandt seems to have it all. But her carefully constructed life comes toppling down when the FBI crashes her society brunch with news that her husband has been arrested for embezzlement, and he’s far from repentant. It turns out this was only the start of his indiscretions―for which he has little regret.

As the weeks following the scandal turn into months, Evelyn withdraws, even shirking her duties with the philanthropic Valentine Volunteers. The inquisitive women of the group are determined not to let Evelyn’s divorce destroy her. They have big plans for her to use her long-forgotten artistic talent to reimagine the city’s iconic lamppost hearts. But doing so will force Evelyn to work closely with Trevor Whitney, her ex-husband’s former best friend. Though she and Trevor used to be close―and he’s been letting her hide in his guesthouse―his gruffness conveys his unease with the situation.

Amid the beauty of Trevor’s farm and the comfort of a paintbrush, Evelyn starts to reclaim the dreams she sacrificed to become the perfect politician’s wife. And as creativity inspires them both, Whit begins to see the girl he fell in love with before his friend―and his own mistakes―stole his chance. Possibilities for a new beginning emerge, but long-kept secrets threaten to ruin everything. After so much time, is a change of heart too much to hope for?

 

poldarkPoldark: A Novel of Cornwall by Winston Graham

This one is actually on my Christmas list, so I hope it’s under the tree on Sunday! My husband and I discovered BBC’s recent TV adaptation of Winston Graham’s 12-book Poldark series this summer, and we literally binge-watched the entire first season in a weekend. We loved it! (And let’s be honest– Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark is pretty easy to binge watch!). The characters are layered and the story exciting, so I’d love to read the source material for a deeper appreciation of it.

In the first novel in Winston Graham’s hit series, a weary Ross Poldark returns to England from war, looking forward to a joyful homecoming with his beloved Elizabeth. But instead he discovers his father has died, his home is overrun by livestock and drunken servants, and Elizabeth-believing Ross to be dead-is now engaged to his cousin. Ross has no choice but to start his life anew.

Thus begins the Poldark series, a heartwarming, gripping saga set in the windswept landscape of Cornwall. With an unforgettable cast of characters that spans loves, lives, and generations, this extraordinary masterwork from Winston Graham is a story you will never forget.

What about you? What books are you looking forward to reading?

 

Winter Reading LIst

If you’re looking for a few good Christian Sci Fi and Fantasy books to keep you warm this winter, here’s three to add to your list.

Sara Baysinger’s black tiger.          

Back cover blurb: Ember Carter is a sixteen-year-old farmer’s daughter who wants nothing more than to stay close to her family in the Community Garden when Career Day approaches. Unfortunately, all farming careers are given to boys, and besides, as of the past two years, all students have been drafted to the Line of Defenders to fight in a war no one seems to know about. When she meets Forest Turner, the mysterious stranger who seems to know a bit too much about city life and the way the government is run, she’s even less eager to leave the safe haven of the Garden.

On Career Day, the future couldn’t look brighter when Ember is the only student assigned the career of a Farmer. But all hopes come to end when Ember attacks a Defender to save her best friend. Suspected a rebel and sentenced to death, she’s transferred to Frankfort Prison where she will carry out her sentence.

But Frankfort is full of surprises and snotty Patricians. While in prison, Ember learns a dark secret about Forest that makes her question everything she thought she knew about him. And then there’s Rain,the carelessly handsome boy who enjoys instigating Ember just a bit too much. If THAT’S not enough, the world learns something about Ember even she doesn’t know. A secret that brings her character into question, enlightens her on her mother’s true identity, and ultimately, gives her the power to affect the rise or fall of Ky.

With the handsome Forest Turner tugging at her heart, and the rogue Rain whispering treasons into her ear, can Ember make the right decision that will redeem the corrupt government of Ky?

S.D. Grimm’s Scarlet Moon.s-d-grimm-scarlet-moon

Back cover blurb: Destiny can pick someone else.

Evil is slipping through the cracks of its prison, and all Soleden trembles in its wake. Yet some would harness that evil to their own ends, and first among them is Idla, the sorceress queen bent on destroying the world.

Only one can stand in their way: Jayden. Upon realizing her mark as the prophesied  Deliverer, Jayden conceals herself from her enemies and her Feravolk countrymen. But after the harm the Feravolk caused to her family, she’s loath to rescue the not-so-innocent.

Hiding her mark was never easy, but now that Jayden knows both Queen Idla and the Feravolk are after her, hiding her gift of the Blood Moon will be impossible.

            the-forgetting-sharon-cameronThe Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

Back cover blurb: What isn’t written, isn’t remembered. Even your crimes. Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person’s memories — of parents, children, love, life, and self — are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn’t written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence — before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

 

 

Let’s Talk Books

True confession: there are a ton of new release that I absolutely must read or expire on this very spot! Are you surprised? I bet you have some must-read books that you are eagerly awaiting. I keep track of my absolutely-must-have-cannot-live-without-reading books in a handy-dandy TBR notebook that is divided into months. There are pages and pages of titles and I check each one off once I’ve acquired the book from the library, publishers, authors or the bookstore. I don’t dare share everything that’s on my list for October and November but I thought it would be fun to share two of them with you. Here they are:

unblemishedUnblemished by Sara Ella (debut novel!) (YA Fantasy)

Published October 11th 2016 by Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins

Book Blurb:

Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.

Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?

Kav’s Blurb:

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of this book ever since I came across some of Sara Ella’s youtube videos last year. If you are looking for marketing ideas you simply must check this author’s youtube channel. She is invigorating, hysterical, excited and as besotted about books as I am. Here’s a fun peek at her ‘unboxing’ video. (the wonder on her face when she opens the box and sees copies of her very own book for the first time is priceless.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQdnK4aMaIc

finding-margoFinding Margo by Jen Turano

Expected publication: November 15th 2016 by Gilead Publishing

Book Blurb:

Off the charts and on the run.

International pop star Margo Hartman could use a night off. A grueling tour and overbearing entourage have sent her over the edge. It’s time for this diva to disappear. And who would think to look for the superstar in a small Dutch town in Ohio?

Sheriff’s deputy Brock Moore is undercover as well. He knows Margo isn’t who she appears to be, but her uncanny resemblance to a local Amish woman is raising all sorts of questions…the kind that make her a target for a killer.

Both are determined to find answers, but their mutual attraction stands in the way of either of them doing it alone. Is finding Margo the solution to Brock’s problems or just the beginning…?

Kav’s Blurb:

Of course I am familiar with Jen Turano’s historical novels so I’m really intrigued by this contemporary offering. Plus I’m over-the-moon-ecstatic over the new Christian publisher, Gilead Publishing and I want to support them as much as I can. Then there’s the Amish angle to the story that has my bookish heart all aflutter.

Can you believe I limited my selection to just two titles? I’m the picture of restraint! So how about you – what books are on your reading horizon?

Author Interview with Angela D. Meyer

Happy Tuesday, my friends! Today, I have the privilege of hosting my friend and fellow Nebraska author Angela D. Meyer. Angela’s second book, Where Hope Starts, just came out last week, and I wanted to share with you a little bit about her story, and why you should pick up this awesome book!

Thanks for being on the blog today! What inspired you to write Where Healing Starts? Are any of the characters inspired by real people you know? 

When I was a young adult, the early years of being out of the house and on my own, I had numerous conversations with my sisters about why we did life the way we did. We each had similar upbringing, yet each of us turned out so different. What from our childhood influenced certain behaviors and choices?

This morphed into the idea of the Hannigan family. How their upbringing influenced who they became as adults and how they worked past those dysfunctional influences to find God and His grace for redemption.

This is not in any way a retelling of my family, although when it comes to emotions, personalities, and experiences, there are bits and pieces of people I have known.

healing-starts-cover

Where Healing Starts is your second book, but it takes place in the same world as your first novel, Where Hope Starts. Is this a sequel of that book, or can it be read alone? 

Where Healing Starts can be read alone, however, in each story, I do mention things from the previous books and give you hints of things to come that will tie all three books together. There are a couple threads that have partial resolution and will be wrapped up in book 3.

Your books address some tough topics like infidelity, alcoholism, addiction, abuse, PTSD, and self-destruction. Why do you find it important to write about these issues? What is one thing you want readers to take away from Where Healing Starts

That God can and does redeem anything that we are willing to give to Him.

Do you have any plans to continue the stories of the Hannigan family of Applewood Hill? 

I am currently working on the third book in the series, Where Joy Starts, which continues with the story of the last two Hannigan siblings and God’s redemption in the middle of their family’s dysfunction.

Thanks for visiting us here at Inkspirational Messages, Angela! 

Where Healing Starts 

Joanna, full of bitterness over the past, can no longer ignore the growing storm inside her and is bent on self-destruction as she seeks to ease her pain. But the refuge she seeks is always out of her reach. 

Her brother Blake must choose between what has always been safe and what he has always wanted. One mistake after another leads him down a dangerous path. 

The one for all, all for one sibling bond can’t help them now. They are both determined to hang onto their anger, never forgetting. Never forgiving. They see no reason to trust God. 

After so many years of turmoil, will the Hannigan siblings find refuge in the God who loves them? Or will they get lost along the way? 

Read first chapter of Where Healing Starts HERE.

Watch the book trailer HERE.

Buy the book from Amazon HERE.

angelaAngela D. Meyer, author of The Applewood Hill Series, lives in NE with her husband of 25 years and their high school daughter. Their son serves our country in the Marines. Angela enjoys hanging out with her family, reading, connecting with friends and encouraging women to grow in their faith. One of her dream spots to vacation is next to the ocean and someday she wants to ride in a hot air balloon.

Click on these links to connect with Angela through her website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or her newsletter!

 

 

Fall Book Club Anyone?

Ah…sweet September. Ripe with new beginnings. Of course the big one is back to school, but around here community centres begin all kinds of new classes from sports to crafts and everything in between. Even church classes start up again. Makes me nostalgic for book clubs. I haven’t attended one in years but it got me to thinking about different groups I have belonged to. My favourite by far, had a very different kind of set up than your average question and answer scenario and it’s really easy to run so I thought I’d share it here.

The Easy-Peasy Book Club Formula.

young-woman-635249_960_720The great thing is that the responsibility for the book club night is divided up among participants. And there’s more to this book club than discussion questions so it’s full of surprises and lots of fun.

Here’s what it looks like.

Hostess:  She doesn’t have much to do except open the door when we knock and invite us in. Oh, and she also provides beverages for the gathering. And she starts the event with a prayer.

Spiritual Thought: She brings along a 2-5 minute message that relates to the book being discussed. That includes a signature scripture that could apply to the story or a character. We all chat about it, share what we feel about the message – kind of like an informal Alpha discussion. Or not. Depends on the crowd.

Song: She finds a song that fits the book or one of the characters or the romance. Swoon. You don’t have to be musical to do this, though I remember some wonderful solos – both voice and instrumental – that some ladies have shared. Mostly it’s bringing in a CD or even watching a music video. Or could be inviting the book clubbers to sing a favourite hymn.

Visual Art: No, she doesn’t have to paint or sketch – just find something that represents some aspect of the book. It could be an actual home décor item, needlework, quilting, photograph, pottery, even a child’s painting if it fits.

Discussion Question: She thinks up one question that’s sure to generate a discussion. The kind of question that takes the participants beyond the pages of the story.

Author Bio: She provides some interesting snippets about the author and a bibliography of works in print.

Refreshments: In charge of the food – as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.

And that’s it! It makes for a varied and fun evening.

So, do you participate in a book club regularly? Or have plans to start one up this fall?

A Library of Friends

When my husband and I moved into our house two years ago, we knew had a lot of books to box up. But after packing everything in our apartment up for weeks on end, we realized that we had at least 30 boxes full of books!

On moving day, our movers dutifully carried the couch, television, tables, chairs, and other furniture to the moving van, and then readied themselves for the mound of boxes. Wrinkling his nose when we told him that the large stack in the dining room contained our library, one of the movers asked us, “what do you do with so many books?”

“We read them, of course,” we replied.

He shook his head, then muttered something about having to carry all of those books down three flights of stairs.

Book artBut what else would you do with books than to read them? I’ll admit, my husband and I are somewhat book hoarders. If there’s a sale at a bookstore, you can bet we’re there. When we moved to the house, we also acquired four brand new, seven-foot tall bookshelves, to contain our growing library. We currently have 11 full bookshelves, two short shelves, and a cube unit. They aren’t all full, but there’s room to grow.

Guests often ask us if we’d read all of our books. I don’t know about my husband’s collection, but I’ve probably read about 60 percent of mine. But there’s always room for more!

Unless you’re a book lover, you don’t really understand the lure of library full of books. When I see my shelves full of books, it’s like walking into a room full of friends. Some of them are dear to my heart, because I’ve read them so often, such as my original copy of Anne of Green Gables, while others are casual acquaintances that I may glance at but probably only skim if I open their covers again. And as for the books I haven’t read, they are strangers that I can’t wait to get acquainted with!

One thing I DON’T have are books that I didn’t like. I have a rule: if I know I will not read a book again, I won’t keep it (Twilight, anyone?). I usually either donate them to the Goodwill, or trade them in at my local Half Price Books.

I may also be a harsh critic when it comes to books. I have a friend who will finish a book no matter what, but I refuse to continue reading a book I’m not enjoying. My motto is, “There are too many good books out there to waste on reading a bad one.” The comparison there is don’t waste time on people that bring you down.

So, what books do you consider good friends, or perhaps strangers you can’t wait to get acquainted with?

Books on My Fall TBR Pile

Now that the busy days of summer are winding down, I’m anxious for the cooler weather so I can finally put my garden to sleep for another year. With a little more time on my hands, I hope to curl up in my chair in the sunroom and catch up on my reading as autumn leaves drift by.

Since I adore World War II novels, I found a couple to put on my to-be-read pile. The first one on my list is The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. The publisher’s blurb reads:

Distant HoursNew York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

The second book on my TBR pile is The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. The publisher’s blurb reads:

The #1 internationally bestselling author of The Forgotten Garden mesmerizes readers with this haunting tale of long-buried secrets and the twists of fate that can alter lives forever.

It starts with a letter, lost for half a century and unexpectedly delivered to Edie’s mother on a Sunday afternoon. The letter leads Edie to Milderhurst Castle, where the eccentric Blythe spinsters live and where, she discovers, her mother was billeted during World War II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives caring for their younger sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiancé jilted her in 1941. Inside the decaying castle, Edie searches for her mother’s past but soon learns there are other secrets hidden in its walls. The truth of what happened in “the distant hours” has been waiting a long time for someone to find it. In this enthralling romantic thriller, Morton pays homage to the classics of gothic fiction, spinning a rich and intricate web of mystery, suspense, and lost love.

End of Summer Reading List

Can you believe we’re almost to the end of July? Where did the summer go? For many of us it’s time to start prepping for school. My two youngest are heading off in opposite directions–Fargo, North Dakota and Tampa, Florida–this August, so I’ll be focusing on little else. Still, there’s always time to tackle the reading list, right? Here are a few titles on my list:

MissingMissing (Nikki Boyd Files #2) by Lisa Harris – just started this one and don’t want to put it down. Lisa Harris is a master of romantic suspense!

Nikki Boyd Enters the Deadly World of Counterfeit Drugs to Find a Missing Woman

Nikki Boyd isn’t usually called in on homicides; her forte is missing persons. But when a case with two murdered and two missing pops up on a quiet suburban street, she’s ready to start the investigation and find missing homeowners Mac and Lucy Hudson. When the first clues lead her to the boat of her friend Tyler Grant–and another dead body–Nikki must untangle what ties Tyler to the Hudsons. The clues pull her into a deadly maze of counterfeit drugs and a killer who will stop at nothing to silence anyone who threatens his business–including Nikki.

The Five Times I Met Myself (296 x 455)The Five Times I Met Myself by James L. Rubart – not my typical read, but I’m really curious about this one.

What if you met your twenty-three-year-old self in a dream? What would you say?

Brock Matthews’ once promising life is unraveling. His coffee company. His marriage.

So when he discovers his vivid dreams—where he encounters his younger self—might let him change his past mistakes, he jumps at the chance. The results are astonishing, but also disturbing.

Because getting what Brock wants most in the world will force him to give up the one thing he doesn’t know how to let go . . . and his greatest fear is that it’s already too late.

The Promise of Jesse Woods (300 x 450)The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry – I love Chris Fabry’s works, so I know this one will be fabulous!

The summer of 1972 was the most pivotal of Matt Plumley’s childhood. While his beloved Pirates battle for back-to-back World Series titles, Matt’s family moves from Pittsburgh to Dogwood, West Virginia, where his father steps into the pulpit of a church under the thumb of town leader Basil Blackwood. A fish out of water, Matt is relieved to forge a fast bond with two unlikely friends: Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock, a mixed-race boy, and Jesse Woods, a tough-as-nails girl with a sister on her hip and no dad in sight.

As the trio traipses the hills and hollers, Matt begins to fall for Jesse, and their promises to each other draw him deeper into her terrifying reality. One night, the wrath of the Blackwoods and the secrets of Jesse’s family collide, and Matt joins Jesse in a rescue that saves one life and ends another . . . and severs the bond of their friendship.

Years later, Matt is pulled back to Dogwood and to memories of that momentous summer by news of Jesse’s upcoming wedding. He could never shake the feeling that there was more to the story of that fateful night, and he’s determined to learn the truth behind the only promise Jesse Woods ever broke.

Also on my end-of-summer reading list:

What’s on your end-of-summer reading list?

My Top Ten Must Reads (Part 2) + Giveaway!

Here is Part Two of my Top Ten Must Reads that I’ve read between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016. If you missed the first five books in Part 1, you can read them here. Don’t forget to come on back and find out the rest of my picks for the year! You can find out more about each book by clicking on the title.

 

 

Lake House

The Lake House by Kate Morton

Sixteen year-old Alice Edevane’s baby brother Theo disappears on the night of her parents’ glittering Midsummer Party at their lake house in 1933, changing the family forever. Seventy years later, a police constable stumbles across the ruins of the Edevane lake house, and seeks the answers to secrets buried long ago. 

Kate Morton is one of the most gifted writers and storytellers I’ve ever read, and her latest, The Lake House, is no exception. I actually got this book in early December, and waited (very impatiently!) to read it until the end of the month when I had a week’s vacation, because a Kate Morton book is meant to be savored. Her beautiful prose and surrounding sense of mystery create an all-encompassing world that make it a tragedy to leave when the book ends.

Paper Hearts

Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh

To save her bookstore from a new landlord, Abigail strings paper hearts with love notes from a mysterious couple that quickly catch the town’s attention. But when the hearts hint at tragedy, can Abigail find out what happened to the couple and save her store and her own heart in the process?

This book took me a while to get into, but I really enjoyed it once I did. The Valentine Volunteers, a group of old ladies in the town, were humorous and their attempts at matchmaking Abigail were fun. Abigail’s journey felt genuine, and the paper hearts are a unique idea I’d love to try with my husband someday (see the book trailer here!). *Note- Courtney Walsh has a “sequel” to this story, Change of Heart, also set in Love’s Park, Colo., and featuring the Valentine Volunteers, that came out last year.

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Plain governess Jane Eyre falls in love with her mysterious and brooding employer, Mr. Rochester, with tragic results. 

Yes, I know it’s a classic, but I finally read Jane Eyre for the first time this spring. It was literally one of those moments when I thought “how did I never read this until now?” The first few chapters of Jane’s cold childhood are hard to get through, but her romance with Mr. Rochester, and eventual finding of herself are masterfully done. Bronte’s Jane is a heroine for the ages. This one is a classic for a reason.

Buried in a Book

Buried in a Book by Lucy Arlington

First in the Novel Idea Mysteries, Lila Wilkins accepts an internship at a thriving literary agency, but when a penniless aspiring author drops dead in the agency’s waiting room-and Lila discovers a series of threatening letters-she’s determined to find out who wrote him off.

Who doesn’t like learning more about the ins and outs of a literary agency? I really enjoyed the cast of quirky characters in this book, and any cozy that keeps me guessing whodunnit until the very end means they wrote a very good mystery indeed. Also, I feel many cozy mysteries tend to hit their stride in later subsequent books, but this one hit it out of the park as an establishing story.

Blue Castle

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

At 29, living with an overbearing mother and aunt, quiet Valancy Stirling decides to throw caution to the winds and live life on her own terms. Soon she discovers a surprising new world, full of love and adventures beyond her secret dreams. 

This is a re-read (that I’ve already re-read several times!), but it’s one of my favorite Montgomery novels, second only to the Anne series. While Montgomery excelled at stories about children, Valancy is decidedly not a child, and her journey from a repressed “old maid” to a woman in love and taking her life into her own hands is wonderful. Montgomery’s trademark purple prose is more evident in this story than many others, as it contains numerous beautiful expositions on nature that make me itch to explore the Canadian maritimes.  Also, only Montgomery could make the reader fall in love with a hero named Barney Snaith!

***BONUS GIVEAWAY!***

I’ve told you my top ten reads of the year, so what are some of yours? I started my reading list over on July 1, so I’d love to hear what your favorite books are! Leave a comment on either Part 1 or Part 2 (or both!) to win a copy of any of the 10 books on my list (reader’s choice). I’ll pull one winner on Friday, July 8.