Spring reading list

Is there anything more delightful than getting a big box of books delivered to your doorstep?

Well, there are a few things, but since we’re all ardent readers and writers here, book deliveries rank pretty high on the list. I know fellow InskperKav lives for the days when the postman delivers multiple packages of books, and I can’t say I blame her. Say what you will about the convenience of e-readers, but there’s just something so satisfying about getting a physical book in the mail, versus an e-book delivered to your Kindle or Nook.

I am expecting a large delivery of books this week, thanks to the wonder of Amazon Prime and a gift card that had been burning a hole in my pocket. I was able to order eight books all for myself, all for the low, low price of $6 out of pocket (thank you, Christmas gift cards!). Since spring is just around the corner, I thought I’d share some of the books on my spring reading list, and books that I can hopefully recommend in just a few months. Enjoy!

A Note Yet UnsungA Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to wheedle her way into an audition with the maestro at the newly-formed Nashville Philharmonic. But women are “far too fragile and frail” for the rigors of an orchestra, and Rebekah’s hopes are swiftly dashed because the conductor–determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music–bows to public opinion. To make matters worse, Adelicia Acklen Cheatham, mistress of Belmont Mansion and Rebekah’s new employer, agrees with him.
 
Nationally acclaimed conductor Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville’s new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse–and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head–he must finish composing his symphony before the grand opening of the city’s new opera hall. But far more pressing, he must finish it for the one who first inspired his love of music–his father, who is dying. As Tate’s ailment worsens, he believes Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman’s trust when you’ve robbed her of her dream?

You can’t go wrong with anything by Tamera Alexander, whose stories are immersive, her research impeccable, and her writing sweeping. And since this story revolves around music and an orchestra? I can’t pass this one up! (Side note- isn’t that cover gorgeous? I’d pick this book up for the cover alone!)

DelugeDeluge by Lisa T. Bergren

It’s one thing to battle for life… WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN DEATH ITSELF COMES HUNTING? The Bettarinis and Forellis have found rich fulfillment, together in medieval Italia. But after fighting off countless enemies, they now must face the worst foe of all. As the Black Death closes in upon them, threatening everything and everyone they hold dear, Lia and Gabi–and the knights they love–must dig deep within to decide how they might remain safe…and if they need to risk it all in order to truly live as they’re called. DELUGE, the finale in the best-selling, award-winning River of Time Series: #1 WATERFALL #2 CASCADE #3 TORRENT #4 BOURNE & TRIBUTARY #5 DELUGE.

Yes, I know it’s weird to recommend Book Five in a series, but man, oh, man are these books addictive! The River of Time follows two sisters, Gabi and Lia, who fall back in time to the middle ages, fall in love with knights, and must decide whether to stay out of their own time. These YA books are fast-paced adventures, and I can’t wait to read what happens in the final book!

FirstbornFirstborn by Tosca Lee

Face-to-face with her past, Audra Ellison now knows the secret she gave up everything—including her memory—to protect. A secret made vulnerable by her rediscovery, and so powerful neither the Historian nor the traitor Prince Nikola will ever let her live to keep it.

With Luka in the Historian’s custody and the clock ticking down on his life, Audra only has one impossible chance: find and kill the Historian and end the centuries old war between the Progeny and Scions at last—all while running from the law and struggling to control her growing powers. Love, action, and stunning revelation reign in this thrilling conclusion to The Progeny.

The Progeny was another fast-paced thriller I couldn’t put down. Full of twists and turns and unforgettable characters, it tells the story of Audra, a girl with no memory of her past, who is being hunted by unknown forces as she scrambles to figure out why they want her dead. It ended on a cliffhanger, and Firstborn, out May 2, will conclude Audra’s story.

Caramel CrushCaramel Crush by Jenn McKinlay (A Cupcake Bakery Mystery)

Love is in the air at Fairy Tale Cupcakes as Angie prepares for her wedding, but co-owner, Mel, is preparing for a breakup. Her old friend, Diane Earnest, is dumping her fiancé after discovering he’s only marrying her for her money. She wants Mel to personally deliver a batch of caramel breakup cupcakes to the louse and give her a play-by-play of his reaction.
 
When Mel finally tracks the man down, the look on his face isn’t the reaction she was expecting: he’s dead. After the police arrive and see the incriminating cupcakes, Diane becomes their prime suspect. If she hopes to taste freedom again, Mel and Angie must make sure the real killer gets their just desserts…

Book 9 in the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries, these books are a lot of fun, with great characters, witty dialogue, intriguing mysteries, and cupcakes! This book comes out April 4.

So, what’s on your spring reading list?

First Book of the New Year

There is something magical about the New Year. Perhaps its the thought of 365 days of blank pages on which we can write the story of our lives. For most of us here, it’s the thought of 365 days where we can read.

The Inkspers want to take this opportunity to point out some of the books they are most looking forward to in the new year. Along with that, I’d like to know what you chose to read as your first book of the new year. If you haven’t chosen one, maybe you’ll find some inspiration here over the next two weeks.

Here are a few that have already caught my eye:

Tagg-StartThis cover just screams fun. It looks like a movie poster to me. Melissa Tagg’s From the Start releases in mid April according to Christianbook.com. You can pre-order it here.

Here’s the back cover blurb.

Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily-ever-after before a short-lived engagement left her brokenhearted. At least her disillusionment with romance hasn’t kept her from churning out made-for-TV screenplays and fluffy novels. That is, until a major career slump sends her running home to her father and the town of Maple Valley. Her plan to help her dad write his memoir while she figures out where to go next takes a surprising turn when she finds new inspiration in the most unexpected person.

After an injury permanently sidelines NFL player Colton Greene, he is temporarily hiding out in a friend’s small town to avoid the media and reminders of the betrayal that led to his career’s end. Maple Valley is conveniently also the perfect place to prove to his former girlfriend that he’s ready to settle down and lead a normal life. The only trouble is that he’s never really done normal before and has no idea where to start.

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Tammy-CullenHow can anyone resist a beautiful horse on the cover of a book? And guess what the heroe’s name in in Tamera Alexander’s To Win Her Favor? It’s Cullen McGrath. Isn’t that a great name?

Here’s a little more about Cullen and Maggie’s story.

An Irish-born son far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and start a farm, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he’d wagered, especially when Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn’t accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the annual Drayton Stakes at Nashville’s racetrack–the richest race run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance, and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder, Maggie’s father–aging, yet wily as ever–makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail–Maggie must marry a man she’s never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

Cullen and Maggie need each other in order to achieve their dreams. But their stubborn, wounded hearts–and the escalating violence from a “secret society” responsible for lynchings and midnight raids–may prove too much for even two determined souls.

You can pre-order To Win her Favor here.

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BloomsAnd I have to be honest about the book I’m most looking forward to in 2015. It’s the last book in the Gregory Sisters Series, As Love Blooms. It’s Tessa’s story. I’ve been reading the final page proofs the last few days and enjoying somethings about the story that even I had forgotten.

I think you’ll really enjoy Tessa’s “life is an adventure” attitude, and I can’t wait to share Tessa’s story with the world.

Here’s the back cover copy for the May release.

Tessa Gregory is nothing if not tenacious. Denied a position as a horticulturalist at prestigious Como Park in Saint Paul, she is not above a little benevolent deception in order to get the park superintendent to change his mind and hire her. She plans to infiltrate the world of wealthy and influential people in hopes of drumming up financial support for a world-class conservatory. But before she can put those plans into action, she meets Reese King, a handsome gardener at Como Park–and a major distraction. Still, Reese might be the key to achieving her dream. But is his goal to help her . . . or to capture her heart?

Against a lush backdrop of early twentieth century Saint Paul, Minnesota, Lorna Seilstad weaves a sweet and sassy story that is sure to please. Tessa’s young romance opens like a rose, stealing readers’ hearts and filling their senses with the intoxicating fragrance of dreams come true.

You can pre-order As Love Blooms here.

So what’s the first book of 2015 for you? Is your wish list already growing? Don’t worry. You have 360 days left in the year to read!

 

 

LISTS-R-US

What is on my Christmas List? I must say, it’s an eclectic mix of books and other necessities of life.

FICTION: As the director of a small public library with a great Christian Fiction section (hey, I know my people!), one of the books I want for my very own is Tamera Alexander’s To Whisper Her Name, set in our most local Southern city of Nashville, TN, at real-life Belle Meade Plantation. The plantation house, formerly the homestead of a successful horse farm, can be toured today, and figured in the Civil War. Her last book, A Lasting Impression, was set at Nashville’s Belmont Mansion, the centerpiece of Belmont University.

NON-FICTION: “It’s Christmastime and time for a carol, time to sing about a little KING . . . .” And for me, the cooking juices and decorating juices start flowing big time at Christmas. I don’t do ANYTHING Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving, but when that Friday rolls around, shopping is not on my radar . . . DECORATING is! And making FUDGE! So, what do I like to read this time of year? Stuff with PICTURES and RECIPES!

For pictures, I’ve put Better Homes and Gardens ‘Best of’ Christmas Ideas on my list. Besides Pinterest (and don’t even get me started there), these kinds of books are my go-to for ideas and just simple eye-candy pleasure for the holidays!

Recipes? Who better than Ree Drummond, everyone’s favorite “Pioneer Woman?” The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from my Frontier is at the top of my list. I’ve been hinting around for a year now for this particular cookbook – and when I found that, I found some of her other books, too! Love her show. She exemplifies fish-out-of-water lifestyles and putting it all on the line for a brand new life that she LOVES.

I don’t JUST want books this year. Last night my husband tried to get me to give him some ideas of what to get me. That’s what spurred the Amazon “wish list” and got the juices flowing.

Before that, all I could think of was the following:

  • Sewing machine for all those crafts I want to make that I never wanted to before Pinterest.
  • HDMI cable to connect the laptop to the television for those times I miss CASTLE.

Yes, you can blame Pinterest and Nathan Fillion.

Happy wish-list making, and happy shopping!

 

DRESSES . . .

Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.–Edith Head

Dresses.

Long dresses, short dresses, elaborate, simple, work-related, evening attire . . . I love dresses.

So when I see a cover with a beautiful dress – or even one that just catches my eye – I’m hooked.

That’s what got me started with Deeanne Gist’s and Julie Klassen’s books, and now Tamera Alexander’s!

Did I mention Laura Frantz? Oh, boy, does she ever have the DRESSES! I can’t wait until her next series comes out!

When I am drawn to a cover with a beautiful dress, I always wonder, will this dress actually be featured in the book? When I picked up Tamera Alexander’s book, “A Lasting Impression, a Belmont Mansion Novel,” I had to wonder if that magnificent dress on the cover could possibly belong to the poor waif in the beginning of the novel. I found it, late in the book. I won’t spoil anything by saying that it had to be the most romantic part of the book – which made the dress even more important to me!

As beautiful as all of Deeanne Gist’s covers are, my personal favorite is “Beguiled.” A contemporary, the cover looks like something that could be “Flapper” era, or the current era. A suspense thriller co-written with author Mark Bertrand, this novel brings the historic areas of Charleston to life in the current day. If you’ve visited that beautiful city, you’ll feel that you’re walking the streets right along with the heroine!

Our own Inksper author Lorna Seilstad has magnificent dresses on her heroines, as well! As a librarian, I can’t help but notice that when Lorna’s books are tagged and displayed as a staff “favorite,” it seems to fly off the shelf, and one of the comments invariably mentions the beautiful dresses on the cover!

I could go on, being the girly-girl that I am, but just take note, the next time you’re in your library or favorite bookstore, just how absolutely enchanting are the covers on the books. See if, sometimes, beauty alone just MAKES you reach out and check out that back cover!

It’s All Good

I read to write .  The two go hand in hand.  The more I read, the more I write, but more importantly, the more I read the more I learn.  I am not the studious type and I have never been able to crack open a ‘how-to’ writing book, no matter how highly recommended, and start reading from the preface onward.  I can, however, open a book of fiction and read it cover to cover and when I do I soak up the richness of language, the depth of characterization and the subtleties of plot.  I learn by osmosis and my writing is enriched from the experience.

 I’d like to share some of what I have learned from the example of a few amazing writers.  You might recognize more than one seekerville blogger on the list.  Since I started following their blog I’ve been trying to read at least one book from every author.  I have a ways to go yet, but I have to say, I haven’t been disappointed in anything I’ve read from that group of writers. 

 Cliffhangers Keep You Reading

killer Debby Giusti writes romantic suspense for Steeple Hill.  She excels at face-paced plots and true-to-life characters that leap out of the pages and into your heart.   She writes page-turning suspense where every chapter ends with that dreaded cliffhanger.  You finish one chapter and she’s hooked you into reading the next.  Here’s an example from Killer Headline:

 She huddled in his arms as he stared into the night.  The killer was out there, waiting for Clay to lower his guard, waiting for Violet to be vulnerable once again. 

Clay couldn’t make another mistake.

 Less Is More When in Comes to Romance

 I discovered a Dee Henderson gem a couple of weeks ago.  God’s Gift, published in 1998 is Henderson without thegod intrigue; just pure romance – the kind that she excels at.  This book is a study on how to create deep, committed love that grows out of friendship. Her characters are lovable in spite of their flaws.  They are vulnerable but courageous in their love.  A simple scene such as the one below, sets my heart racing – it’s the pacing of the words, what isn’t said as much as what is.  Every measured beat creates a memorable romantic interlude.  Imagine a whole book full!  Be still my heart

 He gently brushed her hair back from her face, “Thanks for lunch.”

She grinned.  “I loved lunch.”

“Come here,” he whispered, tugging her toward him.

Her hands came to rest against his chest.

He kissed her softly, gently.  “Go back to work.  Think about me occasionally.”

She reluctantly got to her feet. “If I think about you, I won’t get any work done.”

He quirked one eyebrow with his smile. “Your concentration is that distractable?”

“I think I will plead the fifth,” she replied, reluctantly slipping her hand from his. “See you later.”

“I’m sure you will.”

 Be True to Yourself

 nosyJust mention Mary Connealy’s name and you have to smile.  She’s an expert at weaving humour into her books but she’s also a maverick – a writer who follows her own quirky path that has led to a very distinctive author’s voice.  I mean who else would think of having her heroine jump into the arms of the hero on the very first page because she’s scared of a mouse?  But that’s what happens in Nosy in Nebraska:

 A mouse dashed out of the kitchen pantry twenty-feet away.

“Eeeek!”  Carrie shrieked.

The mouse skittered towards her.  Carrie ran the opposite direction and collided with the carpenter, who was dashing through the door clutching his hammer.

“What happened?”

The mouse skidded to a halt under the table and squeaked.

Carrie squeaked even louder and jumped toward the carpenter.  He caught her against his chest, hooking one arm under her legs and the other behind her back.

It was nice for the stranger to come to her rescue.  He was the kind of man who could do the whole “white knight” thing, with his lovely height and broad shoulders. The hammer he held – in the hand now under her knees – would make a fair lance, too.

 Reading books by Mary has taught me that being true to yourself is an important part of creating your voice.

 Torture Your Characters

 In A Forever Christmas Missy Tippens has created a page turning romance between two of the most stubborn 410_A_Forever_Christmas_final_characters I’ve read about in a long time.  Talk about ripping their dreams apart, stomping all over them and then dangling the tattered pieces before them!  From the first chapter I was invested in getting Sarah and Gregory together again.  I read avidly, hanging onto every word, holding my breath in every scene.  Missy developed the romantic tension early on and then pulled it taut as the story progressed. Missy taught me how to torture characters before finally granting them their heart’s desire. 🙂

 How come she had to keep popping up?  It was as if she was trying to torment him – drawing him to her with her silky hair, sparkling eyes and sweet nature.  She reminded him of the good parts of their past.  When in reality it was a past best forgotten.

 Words Can Create Pictures

the_frontiersmans_daughter Laura Frantz has taught me that painting pictures with words can create a masterpiece of sensory perceptions which transport a reader out of time.

 In the fading lavender twilight, at the edge of a clearing, stood half a dozen Shawnee warriors.  They looked to the small log cabin nestled in the bosom of the greening ridge, as earthy and unassuming as the ground it sat upon…The Indians regarded it with studied intent, taking in the sagging front porch, the willow baskets and butter churn to one side, the vacant rocking chair still astir from the hurry of a moment before.

 By contrast, Tamera Alexander uses measured words to convey brushstrokes on herremembered story canvas.

 The knot in Veronique’s throat cinched taut.  She tried to say something, but couldn’t.

 This sparse paragraph from Remembered creates an atmosphere in an entirely different way then the example from The Frontierman’s Daughter yet both are equally effective in setting tone and mood.

 

 It’s All Good

Petecover And then there’s Pete the Cat.  He’s worthy of a whole blog to himself.  Pete’s taught me about the brilliance that can come from a simple idea, and that repetition makes an unforgettable impact. And his attitude about life can certainly be applied to writing.  Check him out here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUubMSfIs-U&feature=related I bet you’ll be smiling the rest of the day…and singing his song…because it really is all good.