A Maritime Disaster in 1915 Chicago

“If we’re honest with ourselves, I think we’d find that much of what we love has a lot to do with the memories we’ve attached to it.”—Jocelyn Green, Drawn by the Current. Jocelyn Green’s Drawn by the Current takes you on a harrowing journey aboard the ill-fated SS Eastland, which capsizes while tied to a dock in 1915 Chicago. Olive Pierce, an insurance agent, takes her best friend on an excursion on the ship to celebrate her birthday when the unthinkable occurs. With Claire missing amid the chaos, Olive’s escape is just the beginning. The wreckage is more than the twisted steel and the chilling waters of the lake—it’s the […]

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A Sweeping Equestrian Journey

“You have to know that bigots are unwittingly handing you an edge. By thinking you’re lesser than they are, they underestimate you. Lean on that. Learn to use it, and you’ll get the upper hand.” —Geraldine Brooks, Horse. I’ve been a fan of Pulitzer Prize-winner Geraldine Brooks since reading her first novel, Year of Wonders. She once proves once again why she’s a household name with her novel Horse. Based on a true story, this journey weaves through centuries, tying together the lives of people separated by generations but connected by the legacy of a record-breaking thoroughbred named Lexington. You’ll meet Jarret in the 1850s, bound by the chains of […]

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Epic Family Saga

“Within every misfortune there is a blessing and within every blessing, the seeds of misfortune, and so it goes, until the end of time.”—Melissa Fu, Peach Blossom Spring. Melissa Fu’s Peach Blossom Spring is a mosaic of survival and identity, stitching together a story across oceans and generations. Through the eyes of Meilin and her son Renshu, later known as Henry Dao, we experience the upheaval of war and the tension between embracing the future and honoring the past. Meilin charts a course through a China inflamed by war and political upheaval, her resilience leaping off the page. Fu paints Meilin with a masterful touch—she’s not just a character but […]

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Updated Devotional Falls Short

“Consider the moment you are in right now: Do you feel the spark of eternity, of life itself, lighting you from within? The spark never comes from our own efforts. Obedience keeps us in the light, but it doesn’t fill us with vibrant, vital, untiring life. This can only come from the Spirit. To keep in touch with the Spirit within, we must jealously guard our relationship to God.”—Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest. Oswald Chambers’s My Utmost for His Highest is a devotional that has stood the test of time, touching the lives of millions. In its newest incarnation, the 99-day condensation presents the essence of his 366-day […]

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Where the Last Rose Blooms

Ashley Clark’s third installment in the Heirloom Secrets series, a dual-narrative historical novel, intertwines the lives of two women bonded by loss and a hidden language of flowers. The suspenseful story flips between post-Katrina New Orleans and Civil War-era Charleston, focusing on Alice, a florist who stumbles upon an embroidered mystery, and Clara, a Confederate general’s daughter, turned abolitionist spy. The women, separated by centuries, share a common determination and depth of spirit as they face challenges including slavery, societal prejudices, and personal demons. The novel shines with its well-crafted female protagonists, both embodiments of resilience and faith. The historical fabric of the narrative, particularly Clara’s journey, is richly woven, […]

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The Marriage Portrait

In Maggie O’Farrell’s The Marriage Portrait, the historical backdrop of Renaissance Italy leaps off the page, bringing us the tale of Lucrezia de’ Medici, third daughter of Cosimo de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany—a figure shrouded in obscurity and tragedy. O’Farrell paints a vivid picture of young Lucrezia, who much prefers the strokes of her paintbrush and exploring the Palazzo over the harsh expectations of nobility. Lucrezia’s life takes a sharp turn at 12 when she’s promised to Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara—her deceased sister’s once-intended. Once she enters the duke’s world at age 15, Lucrezia faces the challenge of threading her way through the intricate politics of her new […]

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Amy’s Picks and Pans, Issue 27

  Hey fellow bookies! Spring has sprung, birds are looking for love, and flower bulbs are popping through the moldering ground. Just imagine, with a gentle breeze stirring the air, there’s nothing like kicking back with a good book. So, let’s grab a cup of something yummy and dive into this month’s hits and misses in the literary world. I’ve got my stack right here, and I’m ready to share my thoughts. Let’s find out which books might become your sun-soaked companions and which ones might just be better used as doorstops. As always, these are just my opinions, you may think differently. Ready? Let’s turn the page!   Remarkably […]

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The Secret Keeper of Jaipur

Alka Joshi returns with her signature blend of rich narrative and vivid imagery. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur picks up the threads of Lakshmi’s life a dozen years after we left her in The Henna Artist. Escaping from a scandal in Jaipur, Lakshmi finds sanctuary in the foothills of the Himalayas, creating a new life with her sharp-witted adoptive son, Malik, and her doctor husband. It’s now 1969 and Malik is studying the building trade as an intern at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace. Their latest project is a state-of-the-art cinema. More than a thousand people flock to Jaipur’s Royal Jewel Cinema on opening night. But as […]

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Paulsen’s Final Adventure

“That simple. You lived or you died. And in between the two, if you kept your mind open and aware and listened and smelled and watched… In between you learned.” ― Gary Paulsen, Northwind Northwind is quite a journey. The hero of our story is a 12-year-old orphan named Leif, whose life is upended when a deadly plague strikes his small fishing camp. It’s gritty and raw—Paulsen doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of it all. To save Leif and another young boy, a dying elder puts the two kids in a cedar canoe and tells Leif to paddle north to where the air is fresh. Unsure of his destination, Leif […]

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The Last Chance Library

“Libraries are like a net, there to catch those of us in danger of falling through the cracks.” ― Freya Sampson, The Last Chance Library. The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson casts a warm glow on the cozy little world of June Jones, a shy librarian in a quaint English village. The library is June’s safety net until it’s not. The threat of losing her beloved library to budget cuts forces June out from the stacks to stand up for her community’s beating heart. This book wraps you up in its comforting embrace like a well-worn cardigan. With a quirky cast of oddball patrons that feel lifted from a village party, […]

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