"Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours,
and let every New-Year find you a better Man."
~ Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American author, inventor, and diplomat,
Poor Richard's Almanac
The Tears of Dark Water by Corban AddisonThriller. Daniel, a wealthy American lawyer, decides to leave regular life behind for a year and sail around with world with his troubled teenage son. Though his relationship with his son improves, Daniel worries about the state of his marriage -- but more urgent concerns occur when Somali pirates take over their ship. Told from six viewpoints (that of Daniel, his estranged wife, an FBI hostage negotiator, the agent's lawyer sister, a Somali pirate, and the pirate's own kidnapped sister), this compelling, thought-provoking novel travels from the ocean to the courtroom and covers themes of forgiveness and cross-cultural understanding.
A.D. 33: A Novel by Ted DekkerHistorical Thriller. This stirring sequel to bestselling author Ted Dekker's A.D. 30 continues the story of Maviah, the shunned, illegitimate daughter of a desert seikh and a follower of the spiritual leader Yeshua (Jesus). Having risen in esteem among the Bedouins, she now rules over a group of 20,000. But enemies, including the half-brother who betrayed their father, lurk in the wings, waiting for their chance to destroy her, her young faith, and her spiritual leader. Fans of sweeping, fast-paced tales as well as those questioning how to be more like Jesus in their daily life will find much to appreciate in this powerful story.
The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura FrantzHistorical Romance. Though she's hungry and tired, 28-year-old Sophie Menzies does her best to keep her devastated Virginia home going after the Revolutionary War. Except for two elderly servants, she's alone -- her Patriot brother is missing, her midwife mother died, and her Tory father returned to Scotland years ago. Shunned and harassed due to her father's politics, her future is bleak until the return of her war-hero neighbor General Seamus Ogilvy. He proposes a marriage of convenience (he needs a mother for the charming five-year-old daughter he hasn't seen in years), but disagreements with relatives and secrets from the past threaten to dismantle the trio's bond in this suspenseful, evocative tale filled with plenty of historical color and surprising plot twists.
The Girl From the Train by Irma JoubertHistorical Fiction. Against the tumultuous backdrop of World War II and its long aftermath, this atmospheric, character-driven novel tells the story of Gretl, the six-year-old Jewish survivor of a train accident, and young Jakób, a member of the Polish Home Army, which accidentally blew up her Auschwitz-bound train. Taken in by Catholic Jakób until after the war, Gretl is eventually sent to South Africa to be adopted by a Protestant family there. Though circumstances and years separate them, the connection between Gretl and Jakób cannot be severed, and they meet up years later in Apartheid-era South Africa. Not to be mistaken for Paula Hawkins' similarly titled mainstream thriller The Girl on the Train, this moving look at love and redemption was first published in Afrikaans and was recently translated into English.
Focus on: 2015 Award Winners
Thief of Glory: A Novel by Sigmund BrouwerHistorical Fiction. It's a little-known fact that after the Japanese Empire invaded the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) during World War II, they rounded up Dutch men, women, and children and forced them to do hard labor or held them in horrible internment camps. Based on his father's experiences, author Sigmund Brouwer evocatively depicts what life was like then, focusing on tenacious Jeremiah Prin. Now an old man, Jeremiah puts pen to paper to explain that time to his daughter, starting when he was a ten-year-old boy in 1942. Gripping and emotionally powerful, this well-researched 2015 Christy-winning Book of the Year is perfect for readers who'd enjoy a well-told tale about World War II's Pacific Theater.
With Every Breath: A Novel by Elizabeth CamdenHistorical Romance. During their teenage school days in Washington, D.C., friendly Kate Norton and gloomy Trevor McDonough, both fiercely intelligent, always competed academically. Twelve years later, in 1891, Kate, the daughter of boardinghouse owners who couldn't afford to send her to college, is now a widow and works an unfulfilling job as a government statistician. Meanwhile, her former rival is a Harvard-trained doctor who's working to end tuberculosis. When Trevor recruits Kate to help him, the two unite to beat the horrible disease, and they also must address past secrets, a nefarious enemy, and the growing affection between them in this 2015 Christy finalist and Carol Award winner.
The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy GrootHistorical Fiction. During the U.S. Civil War, captured Union soldiers may well have wished they'd died on the battlefield after arriving at Georgia's infamous Andersonville Prison -- in the last 14 months of the war, 45,000 men entered the gates and over a quarter of them died due to the appalling conditions there. In her latest well-researched novel based on actual events, which won the 2015 Christy Award for Historical Novel, author Tracy Groot writes of three young Confederates (prison sentry Dance Pickett, doctor's daughter Violet Stiles, and Confederate corporal Emery Jones) who come face-to-face with the prison's atrocities and learn the cost of Christian compassion -- when withheld and when given.
The Story Keeper by Lisa WingateGeneral Fiction. Workaholic New York book editor Jen Gibbs has no close friends or outside interests. But that changes not long after she starts a new job and a manuscript mysteriously appears on her desk. She is entranced by the story about a mixed-race girl in turn-of-the-century Appalachia -- but the novel is unfinished. Undaunted, Jen searches for the story's unknown author, and her path leads her back home to North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains...where she'd hoped never to return. Using a story-within-a-story format, veteran author Lisa Wingate has written a beautiful, much-praised book: it won both a 2015 Carol Award and a 2015 Christy Award. Though this is the 2nd in the Carolina Heirlooms series, it can be read on its own.
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