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?

My Top Ten Must Reads (Part 1)

You know those people in your life that recommend a book to you because they absolutely loved it, and you tell them politely that you’ll think about reading their pick, while secretly thinking, “there is no way on earth I’m going to read that book?”

Hopefully I’m not one of those people!

In the past, us Inkspers have written blogs on books we’re looking forward to reading in the coming months, but this time, I’m going to change it up. I want to tell you about my Top Ten Must Read books that I’ve encountered over the past 12 months. I actually keep a list of every book I read between July 1 and June 30 of each year, so these are books I’ve read since then that I highly recommend. Since I read a lot of cozy mystery series, I am only going to recommend the series that I began reading this year, instead of perhaps book 6 in an established series, to keep it simple. Also, I don’t often read brand new books, so some of these might be several years old already.

I selected a variety of genres, since I try to read widely, and I’m only listing the first five this week (in no particular order), so come back in two weeks to find out my next five! (Click on the titles for more info about each book.)

Top Ten (Five) Must Reads

Progeny

The Progeny by Tosca Lee. She’s the descendent of a serial killer. Now she’s the hunted.

I just finished this book last week, and this is one of the few books I can say truthfully that I couldn’t put down! I literally had to leave it at home one day because I knew if I took it to work to read over my lunch break, my lunch break would end up being three hours. A heart-racing thriller full of twists and turns, an intriguing mystery, and a cliff-hanger ending that left me eagerly anticipating the sequel next February.

To Whisper Her Name

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander. A love story of hope and healing between a Confederate widow and a southerner who fought for the North set at Tennessee’s Belle Meade Plantation. 

I read To Whisper Her Name on vacation last year, and though I was sitting in a log cabin in Oregon, every time I opened the pages I was transported to Belle Meade Plantation. Alexander perfectly captured the Reconstruction era, and her love story evolved so naturally over the course of the story that I’m in awe of her skill. I admit, I fell a little bit in love with her hero, Ridley Adam Cooper! I’ve loved all of her books I’ve read, but this one in particular stood out.

Technologists

The Technologists by Matthew Pearl. A series of mysterious attacks in Boston, 1868, send four brave students at the newly established Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a race against the clock to save their city, and their fledgling school. 

I picked this one up on a whim from Portland’s Powell’s City of Books (an amazing bookstore I highly recommend!) while on the same vacation I mentioned above. The twisty plot kept me turning the pages, and I really enjoyed learning about the early history of MIT, and people’s distrust of scientific principals that we take for granted today that Pearl’s fictional “terrorist” used to his advantage. Pearl likes to take real historical incidents and write his fictional stories around them.

State of Onion

State of the Onion by Julie Hazy. First in the White House Chef Mysteries, Ollie Paras is gunning for the Executive Chef position when she unwittingly stops a would-be assassin with her frying pan, but soon finds herself in the cross-hairs of a killer. 

I read a lot of cozy mystery series, and this one stood out to me for it’s exceptional writing, tight plot, great characters, interesting setting, and a mystery that kept me guessing. I just finished the second book, and will definitely keep reading this well-done series.

THere You'll Find Me

There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones. Finley Sinclair heads to Ireland to make peace with her brother’s death, and winds up meeting Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and Hollywood bad boy. As her grief begins to wear her down, she wonders when God is going to show up for her in this Emerald paradise. 

This one was a re-read this year. I love Jones’ writing style, her humor, and her great characters. The book was funny, and yet dealt with real problems of grief, forgiveness, and healing. One of only three books I read this year that I literally broke down in tears while reading because I was so moved. I loved how the story didn’t end with everything wrapped up in a neat bow, but on a hopeful note.

Come back next Tuesday, July 5 for the rest of my list!

 

***BONUS GIVEAWAY!***

I’ve told you my top ten reads of the year, so what are some of yours? I start 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. I’ll pull one winner on Friday, July 8.

Wordsowers Christian Writers Conference

A little over a week ago, I had the privilege of attending the Wordsowers Christian Writers Conference, held right here in Bellevue, Neb. In fact, the conference was held at my church, LifeSpring Church, a mere four minute drive from my house! (They kept asking who came the farthest to get to the conference, but no one thought to ask who came the shortest!)

Unlike some writers conferences, like the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference that attracts writers from all over the country, this was more of a weekend retreat. The Wordsowers are a fine local group of writers, and they put on a wonderful, cost-efficient conference that has grown a lot in the four years they’ve been putting it on.

Cheryl St John
Active, Vivid Writing with Cheryl St. John.

The conference consisted of an opening session on Friday night, followed by a night cap to meet fellow conference attendees, authors, and speakers. On Saturday, an opening session featured speaker Troy Griepentrog of Focus on the Family, and then workshops throughout the day that ranged from The Ten Commandments of Humor and Digging Deep Into Your Characters, to Song Painting and Using Sales Funnels to Fins New Readers. There really was something for every type of writer (well, maybe not technical manuals…)

One thing I was impressed with was the sheer amount of talent in this region! Writers from all over came (including a few from Illinois and Texas), to teach, to learn, to share their writing experiences. While this wasn’t the type of conference where fledging writers come to meet with agents and publishers in hopes of getting “the call,” it is a great place to meet others journeying along this path to publication. To meet people who “get” what it means when you talk in acronyms like POV and MC. Who understand when you talk about the struggle to translate the rapturous visions in your head to the black and white computer screen. Who don’t ask why you need to know a good way to kill someone with a musical instrument; they just ask if you’re thinking of using one from the brass or woodwind family (oh, wait, that’s just me!).

Brainstormers
My brainstorming group: Mikal Hermans, Sara Bernier, me, and Jennifer Slattery.

I love hanging out with other writers because they “get” me. Other than learning new ways to make my writing sing, Wordsowers was a lot of fun because I got to hang out with my kindred spirits, old and new. Whoever thinks writing is a solitary business obviously isn’t doing it right.

For anyone interested, Wordsowers 2017 is already in the works, with New York Times best-selling author (and a Lincoln, Neb. transplant!) Tosca Lee headlining as the keynote speaker. Mark your calendars and come join us!

Tosca Lee