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A Sparkle of Silver delivers as expected. Author Liz Johnson gives us Book #1 in the Georgia Coast Romance series. You’ll be drawn into a dual timeline romance complete with mystery, laugh out loud fun, and characters that prove to be overcomers through clever reasoning and persistence. Added to all this is a fantastic setting for both plotlines. The Chateau Dawkins, a Gilded Age Mansion, boasts lavish interiors, rooms galore, manicured gardens, and secret passageways. You will follow the rich and famous through social engagements and clandestine rendezvous. At first, the present day characters seem very dissimilar. Ben Thornton is an adjunct history professor, on his own, with no memories of a stable family network. Then there’s Milly Sullivan, who is devoted to the grandparents who raised her on their Georgia farm. Her current goal in life is to provide for her aging Grandma Joy, who suffers from dementia. The Chateau and a treasure hunt bring them together. Ben and Milly push on, knowing the treasure’s discovery would reverse their dismal financial situations and solve a family mystery. At one key point in the story, Ben’s internal dialogue reveals one truth Christians ought to ask themselves. He asks, “Why hadn’t he spent every day since he’d met Milly asking God for direction and clarity and wisdom?” He regrets that he went headlong down the road on a unconventional endeavor without consulting God first. Instead, he did it his own way and hoped God would look favorably on his actions after the fact.
Liz Johnson’s prose is crisp and the dialogue has great momentum. Along the way you’ll meet a cast of endearing supporting characters, some helpful and others villainous.
I was supplied with a complimentary copy of this book from Baker House Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. Readers of Liz Johnson are likely to also enjoy books by Melissa Tagg and Denise Hunter.
This book was delightful. The author duo used the phrase “mischief magnets” to describe a group of women friends and immediately you’re endeared to these spirited ladies. This quartet of ladies are the supporting cast to a pair of male and female main characters who are multifaceted and mature. I liked the multi generational aspect of the plot, the emphasis on how important family ties are, and the words of wisdom about showing love and kindness.
The main character, Tara, makes some outlandish decisions in the beginning. You want to call out to her, “What are you thinking?” Of course the irrational behavior is explained when you consider her physical and emotional challenges. There are tragic events that set this state of mind in motion.
This is a contemporary fiction book complete with a family mystery and romance. The mystery is resolved in a surprise ending that is foreshadowed by just a few breadcrumbs of clues. Family roots are untangled and revealed for a positive and satisfying ending. The author duo, Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall, show great skill in presenting the characters’ full slate of emotions through triumph and tragedy.
If you are a fan of Cindy Woodsmall’s Amish Fiction, you will be pleased to venture into this book with a new setting. Most of the story takes place on Saint Simons Island, off the coast of Georgia. Woodsmall has some fun with Southern dialogue and customs. You’ll be moved emotionally. I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers
The characters struggle with contemporary issues so it’s relevant to readers. The journey protagonist Grace takes from “people pleaser” to proactive problem solver is inspiring. Her choices as the story unfolds reflect greater maturity and wisdom. Roman Velasco walks a labyrinth of unrest. He eventually lands at a satisfying destination where Biblical truths of God’s forgiveness and restoration are in clear view. Roman’s transformation is due in part to the wise and loving secondary characters that surround him throughout the story. This roster of supporting characters is one of my favorite parts of The Masterpiece.
Aunt Elizabeth, Shanice, Chet, Susan, and Brain were exceptionally vibrant characters with so much to offer the story. They didn’t respond to dilemmas with rote “I’ll pray for you!” responses. Instead they offered their time and activated their network of resources to take a hands-on approach to all snags and obstacles.
Francine Rivers weaves some unanticipated surprises into the plot. The pace of the narrative is full of momentum and readers will be anxious to see how all twists and turns resolve. The multifaceted story connects with readers on many levels. The story looks at adoption, foster care, single moms, and other mature themes. The Christian message is communicated in a heartfelt way with an emphasis on establishing a relationship with God and not simply following the practices of a religion.
When I was progressing through my Library Science courses on collection development, I remember the emphasis that was put on books with author notes. We were encouraged to look favorably on historical fiction books, biographies, and folktales, that included this back matter. When author notes are shared, the writer’s point of view is clarified. In addition, his or her credibility ranking trends upward.
Personally, I agree wholeheartedly with the inclusion of author notes. In fact, before the story ends, I always turn to this story for a first glance at these details. At the book’s conclusion, I re-read these notes with great interest. Sometimes my only regret is that there aren’t more primary sources referenced here. I would be happy to see a photo, diary entry, or even a map.
A few summers back, I enrolled in a course taught by personnel employed by the National Archives. The course title was “Teaching with Primary Sources”. Of all the courses, I have taken over the years, I can say this was one of my favorites. I am also very aware of how computers have made so many more primary sources available to us and all of it just a few clicks away.
In Flight of Arrows, Lori Benton’s author notes, delivered exactly what I was looking for at the story’s end. Her notes expanded my knowledge of the story’s setting and characters. I was ready to delve into more books about this time in our nation’s history.
I’m sure it’s not an easy decision to include back matter. Additional pages are costly and do readers really care? If it was up to me, I would never skimp on author notes. They are as important as great covers and quality bindings.
When an author makes the geographic setting of the story come alive, I’m hooked. Jane Kirkpatrick has a unique writing talent in this area. Her book titled This Road We Traveled transports us back in time to the days of our country’s westward expansion. This is a well researched story of pioneer life on the Oregon Trail . While it’s a work of fiction, the author has based the story on the true life of Tabitha Brown. At 66 years of age, she left Missouri for the Trail, and a future home in Oregon. Eventually in Oregon, she established an orphanage and a school. Tabitha Brown is remembered in the history scrolls as “The Mother of Oregon”. A spotlight on the plight of pioneer families highlighted social problems that are often overlooked when pioneer tales are told. This book opened my eyes to the troubles that arose when children were orphaned due to deaths on the trail, or their parents were off on missionary work, or rushing after gold. It’s a great multi-generational story with strong female characters. A very professional and excellent example of historical fiction at its best. Here is a link to learn more about Jane Kirkpatrick’s book.
Jane Kirkpatrick Website
This is our current Book Club selection. A majority of our members agreed that we favor historical fiction. This release from September 2017 caught my eye due to its unique setting. As I delve into the book , I find that I appreciate the research the author Ann Gabhart has put into crafting this book. The pace of each character’s appearance into the story seems so natural and easy going. The multi-layered story line is engaging.