a Reading – Sharon Garlough Brown

Dear Readers,

Listen to Sharon read from her book. It is a powerful passage. Shades of Light is a must read for any and all.

Come hear Sharon talk about the work that went into this book at Baker Book House. Tickets available – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sharon-garlough-brown-shades-of-light-tickets-64258434708?utm_source=Unknown+List&utm_campaign=240de8d80c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_07_09_05_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_-240de8d80c-

Happy Reading,

Karen Barnett – book review

Dear Readers,

I love visiting the National park across our country.  I have been to several and hope someday to check them all off my list.  But in the meantime, I can read books like Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett, third in her A Vintage National Parks series.  She has taken us to 2 other parks already, Yosemite and Mount Rainer, and with the 3rd installment Barnett takes us to my favorite National Park, Yellowstone.

By adding wonderful historical facts, not only is the reader treated to a fun little vacation in the park, but Barnett reminds us how much work went into making sure the parks stayed open in-spite of opposition and the depression keeping people away from the parks. 

I have enjoyed learning more about the parks, how there were people who believed the parks should only belong only to the elite and how it was a battle to make sure any and all could visit. How there has always been champions of the parks and how the parks were used to help young men from big cities find work and even complete their education. 

Elise, our main protagonist, lives at Yellowstone with her parents.  She works for the hotels to earn money to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher.  As she draws closer to being able to afford school, her dreams come into question as the handsome new park Ranger starts showing her attention.  Is there a chance for love finally, but will she need to give up her dream to find true love? 

A sweet love story, with a thread of mystery and intrigue, set against the backdrop of the grandeur of Yellowstone.  What a perfect setting for a book.  Thank you, Karen for taking us on such lovely vacations to such an important part of the U.S.   

Happy Reading,

Shawn Smucker – Q & A

Dear Readers,

I fell in love with Shawn Smucker’s writing from the very first page. His first two book, though considered YA books, were a great delight to read. (Yes, I am waiting for book #3) His 3rd book, Light from Distant Stars released today and I had a chance to sit down and ask him a few questions.

Thank you Shawn for joining me today.

In 2017, you wrote your debut novel, The Day the Angels Fell, for young adults. Now you are transitioning to an adult fiction title with Light from Distant Stars. Why did you decide to switch your audience?

I don’t see it as a huge switch, actually. My YA books are enjoyed by adults as well as young people, and a story told well in many cases can be appreciated by a wide age range. But some of the themes in this book, such as how parents and children can grow apart, might only be fully appreciated by people who have lived long enough to see this happen.

Can you provide a brief description of Light from Distant Stars?

This is a novel primarily about a child’s relationship to his father, the mistakes they both made through the years, and how long it can take us to find each other again. The main character, Cohen, finds his father nearly dead in their family funeral home and spends the next week thinking back over the formative events of his childhood, trying to find out where he and his father lost each other and what happened to the faith of his childhood.

Your main character experienced some traumatic events in his life that affect both his past and his present. Can you expand on this?

Everything we have experienced finds its tangible result in the relationships we have now. I think Cohen is trying to find an explanation for how he’s become who he’s become, and where his relationships with his father and God have gone.

Although Light from Distant Stars covers some difficult elements, it is also a story that explores grace and hope. How is this portrayed in your story?  

It’s a dark story at times, but at the heart of it is a man trying to find his father. And in the end, he has realizations about himself and his dad that change the way he views the events of his life. I think we are all given this task—to try to bring hope to the things that have happened to us.

Repressed memories are an underlying theme in Light from Distant Stars. Did it require specific research to understand how memories impact one’s overall outlook on life?

I was mostly intrigued with how children create imaginary friends, and how this sometimes happens as a way of coping with life that doesn’t fit their ability to understand. This continues into adulthood in some ways, as I think all of us create imaginary or reproduced versions of our past that we can live with. Cohen is in this phase, trying to figure out how he is going to define his life with his father.

Do you have a favorite character?

I love Cohen as a boy. I love his hope and the way he views the world from a sheltered place. As an adult, he makes me a bit sad because of how he responded to what life handed him, but I understand him too.

Readers have compared your writing to James L. Rubart and Neil Gaiman. How do you feel your style is similar to these authors?

I’m very intrigued with stories that take place at the edge of the imagination, with one foot in reality and one foot in something that might be beyond reality or a reality we don’t understand very well. I think this is similar to Rubart and Gaiman. I’m very flattered by the comparison.

What are you working on next?

Another tale that has one foot in reality and one foot in another world.

How can readers connect with you?

Readers can find me at http://www.shawnsmucker.com.

New Releases – July 8-13

Dear Readers,

The middle of July. The middle of the summer months. The best time to be outside doing anything. Now my recommendation is reading, but I don’t want to influence you in any way. I will let these new titles do that instead.

Hadassah – Diana Wallis Taylor – One of the great heroines of the Old Testament, Hadassah was a beautiful, graceful young woman who put her faith in God and her guardian, her cousin Mordecai.
She dreams of marrying Shamir, a tall, handsome, studious young man who is the rabbi’s son. Her heart beats faster when she hears the sound of his deep voice as he reads the Torah. And she hopes that he will visit Mordecai soon to present a betrothal request.
Then, an upheaval in King Xerxes’s palace changes everything. Queen Vashti has been banished and an edict goes out for all qualified young virgins throughout the empire to be taken to the palace as he searches for a new queen.
Fear strikes in the hearts of many, including Mordecai, as he realizes Hadassah will be taken. To hide her identity as a Jew, he tells her to go by the name of Esther. Since he works as a record-keeper at the king’s gates, he can keep tabs on how she is doing.

Married to a Stranger – Laura V. Hilton – When her father falsely accuses a stranger of dishonoring her, Bethel Eicher finds herself promised in marriage to a man she’s never met. Not exactly a dream come true, but since she has spent several years caring for her handicapped mother, she’s already considered an old maid at twenty-five–and she longs to escape her lonely life as permanent caregiver.
When newly-called Amish preacher Gideon Kaiser learns he’s been accused of a dishonorable act, he’s horrified. But his wife died in childbirth and his baby needs a mother, so he figures marrying a woman he’s never met could be beneficial.
How can Bethel and Gideon possibly make their marriage work–especially when the truth behind the accusations is revealed?

Until the Mountains Fall – Connilyn Cossette – #3 Cities of Refuge – Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband’s brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protection of her father, Kedesh’s head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom. Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother’s death would mean wedding her. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with war looming over Israel, Rivkah’s father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request. As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from within and without Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?

Ever Faithful – Karen Barnett – #3 A Vintage National Park Novel – A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well. 
Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

Yours Truly, Thomas – Rachel Fordham – Dead ends are a reality for clerks at the dead letter office, and she dreams of something more–a bit of intrigue, perhaps a taste of romance. When she comes across a letter from a brokenhearted man to his one true love, it becomes her mission to place this lost letter into the hands of its intended recipient. But when Penny’s undertaking leads her to the intriguing man who touched her soul with his words, everything grows more complicated. She wants to find the rightful owner of the letter, and yet . . . she finds herself caring–perhaps too much–for the one who wrote it.