A House Through the Ages

In North Woods, author Daniel Mason crafts a spellbinding historical novel that explores the intricate connections between humans, their environment, and the passage of time. A Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Historical Fiction (2023), it stands out for its unique structure and rich storytelling. Twelve interlinked stories, each corresponding to a season and month of the year, make up the book. Set around a house in the woods of New England, these tales span centuries, beginning with a young couple escaping their repressive village in colonial Massachusetts. Their humble cabin becomes the backdrop for an extraordinary succession of inhabitants from precolonial days to the present day. Among these inhabitants […]

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A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder

In 1741, during the War of Jenkins’ Ear, HMS Wager, a British man-of-war, was part of a squadron sent to capture a treasure-laden Spanish galleon. Separated from the fleet while rounding Cape Horn, the Wager wrecked and left its crew stranded on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia. Facing starvation and harsh conditions, the crew splintered into rival factions. In a daring escape, 80 men sailed nearly 3,000 miles to Brazil. Six months later, another group of three survivors landed in Chile, in even worse condition. These men accused the Brazilian survivors of mutiny. The ensuing court martial revealed a harrowing tale of warring factions, murder, and cannibalism […]

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A Fever in the Heartland

A Fever in the Heartland is set against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties when the Ku Klux Klan spread beyond the old Confederacy to the Heartland and the West. Their ranks included ministers, politicians, judges, policemen, bankers, and businessmen, all united in their belief in White supremacy. Aligned with the eugenics movement, the Klan even helped pass the nation’s first forced sterilization law. Timothy Egan’s meticulous research is clear, with dialogue and internal monologues drawn directly from court testimony, oral histories, autobiographies, letters, diaries, and newspaper quotes. The book reveals the frightening power and reach of the KKK during this era. The book’s characters are vivid, though they sometimes […]

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Exploring Time and Redemption in Venice

All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes is a novel that intertwines history, mystery, and faith in a richly detailed narrative set against the backdrop of Venice. The story spans two centuries and follows Sebastien Trovato and Daniel Goodman, whose lives intertwine through the enigmatic Book of Waters. 1807: Sebastien Trovato is found floating in a basket along the canals of Venice. Raised by a guild of artisans, he grows up skilled in various trades but haunted by questions about his origins. His quest for answers intensifies when a mysterious woman washes ashore on his lagoon island. 1904: Daniel Goodman, a reformed thief from California, seeks redemption and a fresh […]

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A Weekly Devotional to Nourish the Mind, Body, and Spirit

Soulfull is a gentle nudge to reorient our intentions and seek more from our one precious life. This collection of spiritual reflections, recipes, activities, and prayers acts as an encyclopedia of hope and spiritual direction. Are we truly living the life we want to live? Sometimes, but not nearly enough. Our souls crave authentic experiences, but seeking them is a challenge in our over-committed world, where we often focus more on “making it through” than “making it sacred.” We need regular soul wake-up calls and holy daily rhythms to live a life that feels good from the inside out, shines with meaning, and radiates joy. In this refreshingly original invitation […]

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A Thrilling Tale of Espionage, Friendship, and Unfinished Business

Former spy Maggie Bird, at 60, has settled in the seaside village of Purity, Maine, hoping to leave her dangerous past behind. She lives a quiet life on her chicken farm, enjoying cocktails with her close-knit group of friends—all retired CIA operatives. But when a body is dumped in her driveway, and someone takes shots at her, Maggie soon realizes her past isn’t done with her yet. Enlisting the help of her “Martini Club,” Maggie dives back into the world of espionage to uncover who’s trying to kill her and why. Complicating matters is Purity’s acting police chief, Jo Thibodeau, who is more used to handling rowdy tourists than homicides […]

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A Soul-Stirring Journey of Faith and Freedom in Ancient Jerusalem

“She felt a presence within her, one so strong she could barely breathe, one so gentle she felt laughter bubble up. She never wanted to move, never wanted to lose the intensity of this moment, even as she thought that it would surely consume her totally if it remained over her much longer. The peace filled her so completely that there was surely no room left for anything else.”—Rosanna M. White, A Stray Drop of Blood A Stray Drop of Blood by Roseanna M. White is a touching and soul-stirring tale that captivated me from start to finish. Abigail, born free but sold into slavery after her parents’ death, serves […]

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A Convoluted, Offensive Adventure

I had high hopes for this book, especially with its intriguing premise of Templar Knights, ancient artifacts, and secret societies. Unfortunately, it fell short in too many ways. The story follows attorney Cameron Thorne and British researcher Amanda as they race around New England, trying to uncover 600-year-old mysteries. It sounded like a thrilling adventure, but the execution left much to be desired. The plot was convoluted and hard to follow, making it a struggle to stay engaged. One of the major issues was the book’s strong anti-Christian tone. It felt heavy-handed and detracted from the story rather than adding any meaningful depth. The author’s handling of religious themes was […]

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Amy’s Picks and Pans, Issue 30

This month, I embarked on a literary journey across 3,643 pages, traveling through Uganda, Kenya, Italy, Scotland, England, Norway, Berkeley, Washington DC, and even ancient Pompeii. I delved into historical fiction, a psychological thriller, detective fiction, and a couple of mysteries. While I had more 3-star reads than usual, I also discovered two amazing books. Remember, your mileage may vary—none of these were total clunkers! Dive in and see where these stories take you. Happy reading! A History of Burning by Janika Oza The story begins at the turn of the twentieth century, when 13-year-old Pirbhai, the eldest son of a poor family, is conscripted British to work on the […]

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A Harrowing Tale of Survival and Sisterhood in Ancient Pompeii

In The Wolf Den, author Elodie Harper brings to life the brutal and unforgiving world of Pompeii’s notorious brothel. Amara, once the cherished daughter of a Greek doctor, is sold into slavery by her mother, and is now a prostitute. Despite her circumstances, Amara finds solace in the bonds she forms with the other women in the brothel. Together, they navigate the dangerous streets of Pompeii, dreaming of freedom and a better future. The narrative is engaging, and Amara’s strength and resourcefulness make her a character worth rooting for. However, the book’s explicit depiction of sex and violence makes it a tough read for those who prefer gentler stories. The […]

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