Hot Reads for Adults

THE FORGIVEN by Marta Perry

This is the first book in a new Amish series by Marta Perry.  The story begins with three women, cousins, sorting through their grandmother’s attic to prepare her for a move.  One cousin, Rebecca,  happens upon a diary written by Anna, one of her ancestors.  Rebecca becomes entranced with this diary as she works through tragedy and struggle in her own life.  Anna waits for word from her beloved who has gone off to serve in the war while Rebecca morns the death of her husband and faces challenges of keeping his dream alive.  The story goes back and forth between Rebecca’s life and the life of Anna seamlessly.  Both women need to draw on their own strength, faith and courage to get through this time in their life.   Will love prevail?  I am looking forward to the next book of this series.

 

Reviewed by Brenda Rodammer

SAVING GRACE by Jane Green

grace

Grace and Ted are a literary power-couple. Ted is a bestseller and Grace is a style icon and perfect wife-hosting parties and serving on the boards of charitable institutions. Life is perfect- at least from the outside looking in. Ted’s assistant has recently resigned and left Grace with more work than she can handle with her heavy volunteer schedule. Along comes Beth out of nowhere- the perfect person at the perfect time to help. She seems to be just what Grace needed…but something about her just isn’t setting well. Soon, Grace’s life begins to unravel and she needs to get to the bottom of what Beth’s true reason for being there is.

Reviewed by Kim White

A SUDDEN LIGHT by Garth Stein

A Sudden Light tells the story of a lumber baron’s family and the mansion they built in the late 1800’s. The house is almost a character with its many rooms, secret passages, and a ballroom on the third floor. The author, Garth Stein, even has a website with a drawing of the house and grounds. There is information on the themes of the book – including a real ghost story the author experienced while on a book tour. (See the site at: www.asuddenlight.com ) Trevor Riddell is fourteen the summer his parents decide on a trial separation. His father, Jones, has lost his job and house in rural Connecticut. He and Trevor travel to the Seattle area to return to the Riddell family mansion. Jones has not been there since his mother’s death when he was a teenager. Trevor has never met his Grandpa Samuel and Aunt Serena. He has never been told the family history. He discovers much through dreams, old diaries and journals, and even newspaper articles on microfilm at the library. Reviewed by Fiona Swift

THE FORGOTTEN SEAMSTRESS by Liz Trenow

The Forgotten Seamstress stitches past and present into a delightful tale about love in its various forms. When orphans Maria and Nora are selected to become seamstresses at Buckingham Palace, the best friends’ lives drastically change for the better. The royal household’s sewing room on the eve of King George V and Queen Mary’s coronation offers a purpose and importance previously only dreamed about, especially for Maria. However, an encounter with the captivating Prince of Wales leads Maria’s path to change yet again. Generations later, Caroline Meadow’s intrigued by a verse embroidered the back of a quilt passed down to her from her grandmother. As her own life becomes increasingly complicated, Caroline surrenders to the lure of discovering the quilt’s secret past and what happened to Maria. Told alternating between Maria and Caroline, Trenow reminds readers that there are many ways to preserve and pass on history.

Reviewed by Jennie Tuttle

AMERICAN CRUCIFIXION: THE MURDER OF JOSEPH SMITH AND THE FATE OF THE MORMON CHURCH by Alex Beam

As influential as the founder of the Mormon faith was, journalist Alex Beam makes the case that Joseph Smith’s most significant role in history was that of a martyr. No one was ever convicted of his murder – which happened at the hands of a mob in broad daylight – but the repercussions of it were felt well into the 20th Century, if not right up to the present.

Beam places Smith’s life squarely in the context of the Second Great Awakening, a time of intense religious fervor throughout the country. The charismatic leader published the Book of Mormon in 1830 and made many converts to his new church in the following years, but the Mormons were driven out of Ohio and Missouri because of their unconventional beliefs. Eventually, they settled the town of Nauvoo, Illinois – which, for a time, had a Mormon population that rivaled the size of the new city of Chicago. Famous names like Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas figure into the narrative as Beam explores the rising influence of Smith’s followers on Illinois politics.

The death of the Mormon prophet in the spring of 1844 led many of Smith’s followers to set out for a . . . → Read More: AMERICAN CRUCIFIXION: THE MURDER OF JOSEPH SMITH AND THE FATE OF THE MORMON CHURCH by Alex Beam

LIAR TEMPTRESS SOLDIER SPY: FOUR WOMEN UNDERCOVER IN THE CIVIL WAR by Karen Abbott

Through an examination of the lives of four women spies who actively but secretly participated in fighting the Civil War, Abbott brings an entirely new dimension of understanding to this momentous era. Whether they relied on pillow talk to obtain the strategic secrets of the enemy, masqueraded as male and actually fought, or used whatever means at their disposal to pass along encrypted intelligence, these women made a huge impact on the war efforts of both the Union and the Confederacy. At a time when women had no official political voice, and when the traditional female role was largely relegated to taking care of household affairs and having children, these women chose to take charge of their own lives and to fight for their beliefs by means far outside the societal norm. Abbott brings each page alive in this rigorously researched and beautifully written book. Reviewed by Kate Tesdell

EUPHORIA by Lily King

Hale

Loosely based on the life of Margaret Mead, Euphoria tells the story of Nell Stone, her husband Fen, and Andrew Bankson, anthropologists studying the native peoples along the Sepik River in New Guinea in the 1930’s who encounter each other at key points in their careers. Nell and Fen are recovering from a brutal encounter with the fierce Mumbanyo tribe, and Andrew, our narrator, is recovering from a period of depression that led to a failed suicide attempt. Meeting the dynamic couple breathes new life into Andrew, and when he introduces them to the peaceful, matriarchal Tam tribe he sets them all on a course of discovery, passion, exploration, obsession, and yes, brief moments of euphoria.

Beautifully written, powerful and earthy, with characters that stick with you long after you’ve finished reading, Euphoria is the best kind of historical novel: one that transports you in space and time, and makes you want to learn more about the real people who lived there.

Reviewed by Beth Hale

LISETTE’S LIST: A NOVEL by Susan Vreeland

For lovers of art, historical fiction, and France, Vreeland’s passionately written novel will satisfy on many levels. Covering a time frame from pre-World War II through the Nazi occupation of France and ultimately the collapse of the Axis, the story focuses on a young Parisian, Lissette Roux, her life in Paris and predominately in the rustic village of Roussillon in Provence.

Lisette and husband Andre are an endearing couple who must leave Paris for southern France to care for Andre’s ailing grandfather, Pascal. The heroine, who is passionate about art, fears that in the quiet French countryside she will never have the life of her dreams, to work in a Paris gallery. Little does Lisette know that in the pastoral Roussillon she will encounter magnificent works of art by Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne and Pablo Picasso owned by Pascal; and she will come to know the renowned Marc Chargal and wife Bella when they are hidden near her village by the French Resistance.

Lisette’s journey into womanhood is one of exquisite love, heartbreaking loss, danger, and risk-taking. Readers will find it one worth following.

Reviewed by Neica Dey

BURNT TOAST MAKES YOU SING GOOD by Kathleen Flinn

Kathleen Flinn’s earliest memories revolve around a life of rural poverty near Davison, Michigan.  Little Kathleen didn’t realize how cash-poor her family was, (possibly because her mother told her they were shopping in the ritziest store in Flint, when in reality they were buying used clothes at a thrift store) but also because the Flinns ate delicious food they made from scratch from their own harvest.  They couldn’t afford to buy processed products at the grocery store.   Flinn’s book mixes rollicking stories about her various relatives’ misadventures canning, deer hunting, and fishing with recipes for the comfort food she grew up loving.  This is a funny and heartfelt book about food and growing up in mid-20th Century Michigan that many readers can probably relate to.

 

Reviewed by Lynn Heitkamp

THE TILTED WORLD by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly

It is the spring of 1927 and it has been raining in Hobnob, Mississippi since November. The levees along the river are reaching their breaking point when two federal agents enter town looking for the local bootlegger. Ted Ingersoll and his partner have been charged with tracking down two missing Prohibition agents, but they also have brought an orphaned baby they found on their way. Ingersoll, an orphan himself, can’t bear to leave the child with the indifferent local authorities, so, after making some inquiries, he gives the baby to Dixie Clay Holliver, a young mother who has lost her only son. Little does he know at the time that Dixie Clay’s rascal of a husband is the bootlegger he’s been searching for – or that Dixie Clay is actually the genius distiller behind their high-end whiskey.

The husband-and-wife team of Franklin and Fennelly has written a story that is a Western at heart. Ingersoll is the good-hearted cowboy charged with a duty that puts him at odds with the woman he loves, and Dixie Clay is the feisty heroine who has to relearn that there is more to life than mere survival. Their story, set during one of the . . . → Read More: THE TILTED WORLD by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly