Women’s Fiction and the Emotional Journey

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I finished reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter last night. Has anyone else read it? Many people have as it was a New York Times Best Seller when it was released. The premise is horrid, a doctor, forced to deliver his own twins in the middle of a snowstorm, helps his wife deliver a baby boy and a daughter with Down Syndrome. He gives the daughter to the nurse and asks her to take the baby to a group home, but the nurse disappears to the city and raises her as her own. The doctor then tells his wife that their daughter was stillborn.

The number of secrets each character holds in their heart, always with the idea of protecting someone they love, causes them all to live in a thick stew of grief. The characters overlap in their various interactions, but are never honest with each other or the feelings they are trying to suppress.

Relationships in all forms are the root of women’s fiction. Marriage, parenting, friendship, co-working all provide ample opportunity for entertaining fiction. If you love reading woman’s fiction here are a few that I recommend. Within the pages of these books you’ll find friends, lovers, lies, truth and families:

promise-400x600The Promise of Another Life by Red Samuels:   With a vicious lie, young Christian Pentnam changes his destiny from trailer park trash to the son of a wealthy man. But behind the mansion walls is a life of secrets and lies—secrets that haunt him into his adulthood. His love for Rachel and his passion for painting are the two things that help him survive his father’s cruelty, but even those are torn away.

As an adult, the ghosts of Christian’s childhood are buried along with his heart. If he listens to the whispers from the past, he stands to silence a killer who has one last victim square in his scope. Will the secrets and lies of his youth be the destruction of Christian, the man, or will the memories he hid from eventually be his salvation?


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Anytime Soon by Tamika Christy:   Frenzied. Overburdened. Stressed. Overwhelmed. These are just a few ways to describe college senior Anaya Goode’s life. Add to this no career prospects following a looming graduation, and Anaya quickly finds herself drowning in the chaos of her own life. Her family and friends demand much of Anaya, and she’s struggling to balance herself in the mire. Facing an onslaught of grief, complex relationships, and a life that is full of deafening noise, Anaya must find herself, and maybe even true love and redemption, amid old traditions and new beginnings.

 


Family-Inheritance-Cover-405x600Family Inheritance by Terri Ann Leidich:   Called to the bedside of their dying mother, three sisters reluctantly return to their childhood home in northern Minnesota. What should be a reunion of love and warmth is tainted by the ghosts of their childhood; their parents’ farm is a place of painful memories. With their mother slipping into a coma, Helene leaves behind a shell of a marriage in Atlanta—her country club lifestyle not at all what it seems. Alice has finally fled an abusive husband but is afraid her failing courage will put her children in danger. Waking up beside yet another stranger, Suzanne can no longer deny how an alcohol addiction may destroy everything she’s worked for—an addiction that barely masks the terrible wounds on her soul.

They may have escaped the farm, but Helene, Alice, and Suzanne find they are still perpetuating a cycle of pain, abuse, alcoholism, anger, fear, and bitterness. Seeing themselves through each other’s eyes, the sisters are forced to confront their demons as their mother lies dying. Will they be able to tread through the wreckage of the past to create lives filled with hope, love, and triumph?


blueBlue by Kayce Stevens Hughlett:   One insecure perfectionist. One guilt-ridden artist. One child-woman who talks to peacocks. A trio of complex heroines on separate journeys toward a single intertwined truth.

Imagine living exclusively for others and waking up one day with a chance to start over. The terrifying new beginning reeks of abandonment and betrayal. The choice for Seattle resident Monica lingers between now and then . . . them and her.

Izabel’s idyllic existence on Orcas Island is turned upside down during the birth of a friend’s child. Suddenly, pain rips through her own body, and life as she knows it shifts, hinting at a forgotten past and propelling her toward an uncertain future.

On another island, young Daisy awakens surrounded by infinite shades of blue. Is she dreaming or has she stepped through the portal into a fantastical land where animals spout philosophy and a gruesome monster plots her destruction?

Blue—a subtle psychological mind-bender where each heroine is her own worst enemy. Eccentric. Loveable. Unforgettable.


Destination-D-Front-Cover-399x600Destination D by Lori Beard Daily:   A broken promise from their school days at Spelman College takes three successful friends in Atlanta to an unexpected destination of discord, duplicity, and denial. Their personal demons drastically alter their friendship and their life’s destiny.

The first friend leads a secret life of multiple personas that allows her to escape her own reality and ease into a life of deception long before her true identity is discovered.

At the pinnacle of her career, the second friend is self‐driven, sexually suppressed, and highly explosive . . . blowing up at anyone who crosses her path. Her domineering ambition drives her into a collision course with herself and steers her in an unexpected direction that becomes life‐altering.

The third friend is a single mother seeking refuge from a regretful past that has finally caught up with her present. Just when she thinks her future is solid, it begins to crumble as her fate is altered by a past romance that resurfaces . . . resulting in an unexpected resolution.


farthest houseFarthest House by Margaret Lukas:   When Willow is born and her mother dies moments later, only the narrator of this spellbinding debut novel knows the death isn’t from complications of childbirth. Amelie-Anais, buried on the Nebraska hilltop where the family home resides, tells the story of deceit, survival, and love from beyond the grave. Following Willow’s life and Willow’s incredible passion to paint despite loneliness, a physical handicap, and being raised by a father plagued with secrets, Amelie-Anais weaves together the lives of four enigmatic generations.

“Not since The Lovely Bones have we experienced such a moving tale of love, suspense, and family secrets narrated by a ghost. Lukas creates a complex, moving story with brilliant lyricism and hard won realism. She is a rare writer who makes you devour her words. Readers of Alice Hoffman and Anita Shreve will love this novel…and stay up all night to finish it!”Jonis Agee, author of The River Wife, The Weight of Dreams, and South of Resurrection


Ameera-Front-Cover-v.10-401x600Ameera Unveiled by Kathleen Varn:

At the age of forty-eight, happily remarried and retired from her legal assistant gerbil wheel, Kat decides to break out of her shell and try her hand at belly dancing. What begins as a hobby leads her to filling a coveted spot in Palmetto Oasis Middle Eastern Dance Troupe.  With less than eight weeks to prepare, Kat’s thrown into a world of performing she is terrified to face, all leading to a week of giving lessons and performing in Jamaica. Traveling with eight glittery strangers, she forges deep bonds under outrageous circumstances at what they’d soon all discover was a clothing-optional resort. Struggling with paralyzing stage fright and searching for the deeper root of her fears, Kat feverishly seeks a way to release Ameera, her inner dance queen. By the end of the week, the audience is mesmerized by the powerful presence and synchronicity of women joined at the hip by scarves and some glitter. Kat soon knows, with the help of eight sisters in dance, that she is finally part of a tribe, discovering an oasis to refresh her thirst to be part of a circle of women.


All books by BQB and WriteLife Publishing are available on Amazon and B&N or can be ordered from your favorite local bookstore.

Cookbooks for the Post-Thanksgiving Funk

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I’m in a Post-Thanksgiving funk. Our holiday was wonderful – complete with family, food, road trip, soccer, sunny weather and hot tub soaking. Once we returned home I unpacked, washed and folded eight loads of laundry, restocked the pantry at the grocery store and about the only thing I have left to do is wash the car. It’s a mess after the snowy Colorado passes we drove over.

I was feeling pretty organized, until I remembered that everyone would want to eat dinner again today. Dinner. Again.

We gorged ourselves for every meal over the long weekend and they still want to eat.

Which means I have to cook.

Ugh.

If you’re in the same situation, here are several go-to cookbooks that solve my problems. Quick, easy, healthy; those are my cookbook requirements and I think you’ll enjoy these savory solutions. These make great gifts as well!

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All books by BQB and WriteLife Publishing are available on Amazon, B&N or can be ordered from your favorite local bookstore.

Crafts and Historical Fiction

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This weekend I attended two very different events. The first was a gathering of Northern Colorado Woodcarvers. The second was a tech-toy open house at our local library.

At the first, wood carvers gathered to show their crafts, sell tools, talk techniques, wood qualities and sell their art. The attendees were mainly senior citizens. Many worked on projects right at their tables and were more than willing to tell us about their craft. There was even a soap station where kids could try their hand carving a cowboy boot or a fish out of a bar of Ivory. My kids have never smelled so clean!

The second event was filled with preschoolers using iPads to program robotic toys to dance, play music, shoot catapults and roll through obstacle courses. Without even knowing how to read, kids could figure out the pictograph-style instructions and build their inventions.

Both events were impressive in their own right, but the second did make me worry about the crafts we could lose in the future. Is there a need for woodcarving? Or crocheting? Or glass blowing? Can machines be programmed to create the same products? Is this what children of the future will do? Or will there still be weekend and after-dinner hours where crafters gather to knit or paint together?

And what of the conversations that take place between fathers and sons or mothers and daughters as crafts are passed on?

One of the reasons I love reading historical fiction is that it transports me to a time where life is different. Whether I’m reading about WWII, the Great Depression, or a wagon train on its way to Oregon, everything from food preparation to clothing to crafts is accomplished in a less technological way than what we do now.

Here are a few historical fiction novels that will truly take readers to a different time period:

watching-406x600In Watching the Water by Donna Gentry Morton, book 1 of the Heart Tide series, Julianna Sheffield is a rogue wave, one that doesn’t want to land on the shore it seems destined for.

It’s 1934 and the currents pushing her include an unscrupulous father determined to keep the family solvent during the Great Depression, a mother suffocated by the bubble of high society, and a greedy fiance’ named Leyton, who is proving why his name rhymes with Satan. Julianna longs to chart a different course. She wants to help the widows, farmers, and polio victims her family forced into the bread lines. She wants to exchange teacups for drinking milk from the jug. And she dreams of a man named Jace McAllister, another rogue wave who wants to love her but fights the seas bringing them together.

Jace also has a heart for those who are Depression-weary, but his method of helping includes retribution. His reasons are his own, but connected to Julianna’s family. For this seemingly doomed couple, moving forward brings on storms of rage, moral dilemmas, and difficult personal growth. Their love could be the kind that is impossible to live out. . .or the kind from which legends are born. The outcome of their journey depends on how carefully they navigate the waters.

“Seeking the Shore,” the second and final book in this series will release in Spring 2017.


BussA Buss From Lafayette by Dorothea Jensen: Fourteen-year-old Clara Hargraves lives on a farm in Hopkinton, a small New Hampshire town, during the 19th century. She has a couple of big problems. First of all, she has a stepmother, Priscilla, who used to be her spinster schoolteacher aunt. Clara, still grieving her mother, resents that her late mother’s older sister has not only married her father but is about to have a baby. To make matters worse, “Prissy Priscilla” keeps trying to make the rambunctious, clever, and witty Clara act like a proper young lady. Secondly, Clara has red hair, making her a target for teasing by a handsome older boy, Dickon Weeks, and by her pretty seventeen-year-old Dread Cousin Hetty. Clara, however, has a secret plan she hopes will change this.

During the last week of June, 1825, Clara’s town is abuzz because the famous General Lafayette is about to visit their state during his farewell tour of America. In those eventful seven days, Clara learns a lot about her family, Hetty, Dickon, and herself. In addition, she hears many stories from her family, neighbors, veterans, and from Lafayette himself. Through these tales, she comes to understand the huge and vital role the French aristocrat played in America’s Revolutionary War. She also comes to see that her problems might not be quite so terrible after all.


trainThe Children’s Train – Escape on the KinderTransport by Jana Zinser: The Jewish children of Germany are frightened, and their parents are too. Hitler’s men have just broken their store windows, stolen and destroyed their belongings, and arrested many Jewish fathers and brothers. When England arranges to take the children out of Germany by train, the Kindertransport is organized. The train filled with Jewish children escaping the Nazis chugs over the border into Holland, where they are ferried across the English Channel to England and to freedom.

But for Peter, the shy violin player, his sister Becca, and his friends Stephen and Hans, life in England holds challenges as well. Peter’s friend Eva, who did not get a seat on the Kindertransport, is left to the evil plans of Hitler. Peter, working his musician’s hands raw at a farm in Coventry, wonders if they should have stayed and fought back instead of escaping.

That night the Coventry farm is bombed. The Nazis have reached England. Peter has nothing left. He decides it’s time to stand and fight Hitler. Peter returns to Germany to join the Jewish underground resistance, search for the mother and sister he left behind in Berlin, and rescue his childhood friend Eva.


All books by BQB and WriteLife Publishing are available on Amazon, B&N or can be ordered from your local bookstore.