Category Archives: historical fiction

Wednesday Reads: Summer Has Entered the Building

Summer has entered the building. Okay, well maybe not all the way in the building for some of you, but at least he/she is in the parking lot. That means graduations (from Pre-K, K, 5th grade, 8th grade, 12th grade, college), family vacations, kids repeating “I’m bored”, and a myriad of other “things” that make summer so great and sometimes so exhausting.

So to fill those days with some purposeful even frivolous reading, here’s a few books to consider for the people in your life.

For the female graduate (middle or high school):

9781414375243_p0_v1_s260x420Popular: Boys, Booze, and Jesus by Tindell Baldwin – the title alone will grab most girls’ attention. Flip over to the back cover and they’ll be even more interested:

All I wanted was asking for at fifteen was to belong, to be love, and to be a part of something. Deep down, I wanted to be loved, not for a night but for a lifetime. I wanted to be found beautiful because of who I was, not what I looked like. I wanted so much, and my Christian life seemed to provide me with so little. 

Tindell’s vulnerability oozes through the pages. She speaks to young women as if she was the best friend they never had. One who tells the truth about high school, friendship, boys, and sex. It isn’t preachy; it’s honest and raw. She reveals the “ugly side of sin and the amazing redemptive power of a Savior who” loves us desperately. As a women who has worked almost exclusive with teens all of her life, I cannot recommend this book enough.

The-Selection-Series-768x1024 Selection Series by Keira Cass – This four-book (with a promise of a 5th) is a cross between The Bachelor and the book of Esther. In true dystopian fashion, Cass has given female readers less gore and more romance. The female lead is strong yet feminine, while the male lead is dashing and masculine. Their characters are not without flaws including stubbornness and secret scars. Aside from the four novels, there are several novellas which depict side stories told from different characters points of view. With just the series alone, the girl in your house could fill and entire summer with reading. (Click here to see a Wednesday Reads dedicated to the first book.)

For the Adult Female (this could be you)

me_before_you_final3Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – Fair warning: I’m two-thirds of the way through with this book and I’m pretty sure it’s gonna end sadly. However, I am intrigued by the two main characters: a 20-something female who lives a uneventful, normal life and a 20-something year old male quadriplegic, who lived a fascinating, adventurous life before his injury.  Both characters are multi-layered and the heart of the plot is controversial and thought-provoking. While it sounds like a heavy read, I have found it to be more of just great story telling. Read it and let me know what you think.

 

7244809_GGo Set a Watchman: A Novel by Harper Lee – This is the “assumed to have been lost” novel that Harper Lee tried to sell to publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird was published. Since TKAM is one of my all-time favorite books, I will be purchasing my copy in advance. In fact, I will be getting a physical book just as a keepsake.  Here’s a brief summary provided by the publisher:

Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.

Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

For the Men in Your Life (sons, husbands, etc)

Unbroken-MovieUnbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand – if the man in your life have seen the movie, they will still enjoy the book. In fact, the movie didn’t even do justice to Louis Zamporini’s story.  The historical facts surrounding WWII that Hillenbrand presents alongside Louis story are utterly fascinating and will increase your appreciation of not only veterans but what our military sacrifice even today. So worth every page that is written. (Can’t get the men in your life to read, try the book on DVD. It’s wonderful too! Side note: Rory’ Gilmore’s TV grandfather reads the audio version.)

41NHKOqQHqL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Dangerous Faith: True Stories of Answering The Call to Adventure by James Lund and Peb Jackson – (Great for male graduates) The publisher’s summary says it all:

Meet the called: mountain climbers, deep-sea divers, fighter pilots, and jungle missionaries who follow God into the adventure of a lifetime. Dangerous Faith tells their dramatic true stories, revealing incredible truths only risk can inspire.

Each of these trailblazers rejects security to reach for a perilous place few Christ-followers dare. Their stories will thrill and amaze you. What they discover just might revolutionize your life–because He’s calling you, too, into a life of risk.

Adventure. Passion. Freedom. Truth. Are you prepared for a Dangerous Faith?

For the Kiddos in your Life (elementary age – to read themselves or to be read aloud by you)

A_wrinkle_in_time_digest_2007A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l’engle – What a classic that should be shared generation after generation. A touch of magic, blended with deep truth, and loads of plot twisting suspense. Possibly the best book to ever start off with “It was a dark and stormy night.” Read it with the kids and share in its amazingness all over again.

 

 

 

 

wonder_rj-palacio_coverWonder by R.J. Palacio – a powerful tale of a young boy with a disfigured face. Full of life-lessons that will offer hours of family discussions. Here’s a summary provided by the publisher:

August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face.

 

Hope this gives you a little nudge to get the family reading this summer.  I know I will be “encouraging” it around my house.

And to get you started, I’m having a book giveaway for a book I’m planning to read this summer. Just leave a comment below letting me know your summer reading plans, I will pick a random winner Friday morning.

51buYyRFFtL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The winner will receive a copy of Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer. Check out the book information by clicking here.

Don’t forget to leave a comment!

 

Edition: Mystery and Magic = Marvelous

Wednesday Reads Wide

 

21897317Ada Bates escaped her torturous life at 14-years-old. Leaving her mother’s care in the middle of the night, she sets sail on a journey both ambitious and tragic. Rising from the lowliness of a servant at the famous Biltmore Estate in North Carolina to the stardom of the first female illusionist, selling out grand theaters around the nation. She maintains a life by creating magic for audiences while keeping up the illusion that she isn’t haunted by an evil past – one that could rear its head at any moment. Along the way she finds Clyde Garber, her manager and eventual love of her life.

The Amazing Arden, Ada Bates’s stage name, is known for her feat of sawing a man in half and then restoring him whole. However, the illusion goes awry when her husband turns up dead from the same wounds as her mesmerizing illusion. Trying to escape, she heads out in the dead of night and is accidentally captured by a local police officer. Now as she is hand-cuffed to a chair, she must recount her story — one that spans over 10 years — to prove her innocence. That tale is one wild ride to the truth – or is it a lie?

Since I’m a voracious reader, I don’t very often come across a book that I adore – and adore The Magician’s Lie I do! As soon as I turned the last page, I couldn’t wait to share this spellbinding story with my friends.

As a historical novel the book dives into a time when society was dominated by males, and yet the story centers around a female illusionist who captivates audiences, both men and women, with her talent. Her occupation alone keeps the reader riveted to Arden’s ever-deepening character. The story is told in a series of flashbacks that return to present day every few chapters. It’s interesting to note that much of the plot’s tension take place in the chapters where she recounts her story to a local law officer who is fighting his own internal struggles. A police station’s phone rings in the dead of night and both sit through the piercing rings while the reader wonders who is on the other end.

The plot was equal parts mysterious, creepy, romantic, and action-packed. The combination provides a riveting page-turning experience. This was one of those books where when I wasn’t reading it, I was wishing that I was. I couldn’t wait to get to the end, and then I was bummed when it was over. The point of view switches from Ada’s story to a movie camera’s view of the events occurring in the police station. Just when you think Ada is guilty, she shares a story that makes you believe in her innocence.  All along though, she tells her side of things with a detached air that causes the reader to question its truth – maybe she was capable of killing her husband.

Readers will cheer for Ada from the moment she first loses the chance to escape her poverty stricken life and the clutches of Ray (winner of creepy character award). She is a survivor, and we love that she is a self-made women who works hard and dedicates herself to her craft. She is talented, beautiful, yet slightly dysfunctional. We want her to love and be loved and when her happiness begins to crash around her, we must flip the page to see if she can hold on to it.

The Magician’s Lie is Greer Macallister‘s debut novel. I guarantee readers will anxiously await the next book published by Macallister as the first one provides a unique thrill ride with characters to both love and hate. That’s a story to adore!