The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MY TOP 10 FAVORITES FOR 2014

THE GARDEN OF LETTERS Author: Alyson Richman
Publisher:  Berkeley Trade
Genre:  Historical Fiction

My emotions were strongly engaged in this deeply touching story. The author certainly has a style of her own, writing in a lyrical way, bringing to life this dark period in our history. You’ll become entangled in sadness throughout, with the atrocities and horrors of the war. The brutality of the Nazis was unbelievable. 

There was much depth and complexity to the characters. The author certainly brought these people to life in this multi-layerd storyline, and captured life in Italy during WWII in vivid detail. The Garden of Letters is an amazing read!

A LIGHT IN THE WILDERNESS Author:  Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher:  Revell
Genre:  Historical Fiction

A Light in the Wilderness is an informative read, historical fiction based on a true story that will simply touch your heart. This is the story of three strong women whose lives are woven together with unexpected events that changed their lives forever.




Being a black woman on the Oregon Trail took a lot of strength and courage for Letitia, and she was constantly fighting for acceptance. But Letitia realizes that freedom is having the courage to do what must be done.



DAISIES ARE FOREVER Author:  Liz Tolsma
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Wow! Another powerful read by Liz Tolsma - I couldn’t put this one down. The characters are vibrantly drawn and brought to life in this achingly sad novel – a story of bravery and survival.

This is a totally different perspective of WWII and one that I’m not familiar. I’ve read much about the Holocaust and what the Nazis did to the Jewish people. But this is a story of German refugees, set on German soil, near the end of the war. It portrays how the German people also suffered under Hitler’s wicked leadership. It looked like the war was lost. How many more innocent civilians would Hitler sacrifice to his pride?

THE SILENT SISTER Author:  Diane Chamberlain
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Genre: Women's Fiction

This book is the perfect example of why I love to read. It has it all – a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion. Truly well done!

1990 – Alexandria, Virginia – An empty kayak, surrounded by ice, is found in the middle of the river. A seventeen-year-old girl, Lisa MacPherson, is missing and presumed dead. Lisa had been accused of murder and had taken the easy way out, apparently committing suicide. No body had been recovered, but the police were giving up the search, reasonably sure the body rested somewhere beneath the icy river.

The characters were all interesting and expertly drawn, even the minor ones. The author weaves a tale of dark secrets and betrayal throughout, with many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. Drama was included from beginning to end, and the storyline certainly captured my excitement. Diane Chamberlain is fast becoming a favorite of mine. This is one you don’t want to miss! A gripping tale, that is well written, and thoroughly a great read!

THE APPLE ORCHARD Author: Susan Wiggs

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Genre: Women's Fiction

There is so much to love about this book. The storyline with its WWII backdrop pulled me in, and the characters were richly drawn with their complex issues. The author uses many layers to build the story as the past mingles with the present. The storyline includes a mystery, romance, secrets, and redemption.  The Apple Orchard is a book that just makes you feel good – a real joy to read.


VIENNA NOCTURNE
Author: Susan Wiggs

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical Fiction

This was an extraordinary read! The tempo picked up early on and I couldn’t put it down. A portrait of a woman, a phenomenal musician, emerges in this beautifully written novel.

There is so much to love about this book. It is a rich treat for music lovers, especially those of opera. The plot, while mixing elements of reality with fiction, brings this musical history to life in the most intimate way. The author also brings the melodies of Mozart to life with her beautiful style of writing – it truly amazed me and I was compelled to read on. The storyline never loses momentum and you’re drawn in with its wide cast of eccentric characters. There are scenes in the book that I found deeply touching – a thoroughly great read!

THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN Author:  Kristy Cambron
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

An unforgettable period of history – the harsh realities of the Holocaust – this story will evoke many emotions. It is estimated that one and a half million people died within Auschwitz – Birkenau.

The story unfolds as Adele is sent to the unbearable living conditions in Auschwitz. Adele and others are herded in like animals to the cattle cars that were stagnated with stench, no food or water, and no heat to protect them from the elements.

The skillful storytelling draws you in from the beginning, and the author did an admirable job weaving together two different story-lines. The topic of the Holocaust, and the horrors that Hitler put on the Jewish people, brings with it a deep sadness. This is a story that will capture your heart, and one that never loses momentum. The Butterfly and the Violin, by an incredible author, delivers in every way.

 FOR SUCH A TIME Author:  Kate Breslin
Publisher:  Bethany House Publishers
Genre:  Historical Fiction:

 1944 - World War II was in full swing. Hadassah Benjamin, half Jew, had ceased to exist. She was now Stella Muller, an Austrian bookkeeper. Stella was told her beauty would save her, her blonde hair and blue eyes being rare to her people. She'd spent months in Dachau, living in quarters unfit for livestock, and her dignity was stripped bare. The Nazis used hunger as a weapon, making the weak fall victim to disease and death.

This is a powerful and intense book filled with anger, grief, and humiliation. An absolute must read that will evoke many emotions - a story about the Holocaust. Simply one of the best books I've read on this horrible period of history.

 SAVING AMELIE Author:  Cathy Gohlke
Publisher:  Tyndale House Publishers
Genre: Historical Fiction

1939 – Germany – It seemed that nothing was too far fetched for the demonic mind of Hitler. Germany had its focus on a pure Aryan race. They had designs to strengthen Germany’s bloodline through eugenics – to create a pure race, free of the weaknesses brought on by inferior breeding with non-Nordic races. The weaknesses must be eliminated. The research that took place was inhumane and Hitler’s sterilization program was criminally insane.

A story that takes place during the Holocaust; this is a highly intense and emotional story. I was pulled into the drama and became completely engaged with the characters. They are wonderfully portrayed as they struggled with the difficult realities of the Holocaust.

This book was totally absorbing as the author brings to life a very dark period in our history, writing with vivid descriptions. Don’t miss this one – just incredible!

THE PROMISE Author: Ann Weisgarber
Publisher:  Skyhorse Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction

1899 – The prologue begins with a somber scene. The air is filled with sadness at the funeral of Bernadette, Oscar’s wife. Oscar is left, widowed with a 4-year old boy, Andre, who is now a poor motherless child and grieving deeply for his mother.

Catherine Wainswright is an accomplished pianist who has become well known in the Dayton, Ohio area. Unfortunately she makes some bad decisions and her reputation becomes ruined. Performances are canceled, piano students drop out, and gossip shatters her life. Catherine is forced to leave Dayton. She travels 1,000 miles to Galveston, Texas, leaving unpaid bills and a disgraced family, to marry Oscar, a childhood friend. It was the only way she could save herself from her less than honorable past and get on with her life.

And the story unfolds as Catherine settles into a marriage, and life as an instant mother. And then the unexpected happens – a devastating storm develops – the worst natural disaster in the 20th century – a storm where over 6,000 people were killed. Entire families drowned and many were never found. This is a story filled with disappointments, regrets, tragedy, and loss with a thread of romance.

There is a crescendo of suspense during the storm that builds to a stunning conclusion. There was not an easy resolution, with the impossible situations that had developed. The Promise is truly a heartwarming and emotional story.