Books, Books, Books

Book Update from Home……

A few book review updates:

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

From Amazon review: In this historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

I’m a real historical fiction junkie and this book has enough non-fiction truth that I really enjoyed it!  I don’t always love books that jump back and orth over the years, but this was an exception.  At one point the years blend into one intriguing story.  I HIGHLY recommend this one!


The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo and Bob DeMoss












From Amazon reviews:  Rebecca never felt safe as a child. In 1969, her father, Robert Nichols, moved to Sellerstown, North Carolina, to serve as a pastor. There he found a small community eager to welcome him―with one exception. Glaring at him from pew number seven was a man obsessed with controlling the church. Determined to get rid of anyone who stood in his way, he unleashed a plan of terror that was more devastating and violent than the Nichols family could have ever imagined. Refusing to be driven away by acts of intimidation, Rebecca’s father stood his ground until one night when an armed man walked into the family’s kitchen . . . And Rebecca’s life was shattered. If anyone had a reason to harbor hatred and seek personal revenge, it would be Rebecca. Yet The Devil in Pew Number Seven tells a different story. It is the amazing true saga of relentless persecution, one family’s faith and courage in the face of it, and a daughter whose parents taught her the power of forgiveness.

This true story may seem familiar if you watch Dr. Phil, but the depth of pain, forgiveness and redemption can only be partially understood through Rebecca’s own words.  The story is told through the remembrances of a small child, but the Epilogue contains the most relevant part of the story – what evil intended, God cleaned up and turned around for good! I HIGHLY recommend this book!


By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank

From Amazon Review: By Invitation Only is a tale of two families, one struggling to do well, one well to do, and one young couple—the privileged daughter of Chicago’s crème de la crème and the son of hard -working Southern peach farmers.

Dorothea Benton Frank offers a funny, sharp, and deeply empathetic novel of two very different worlds—of limousines and pickup trucks, caviars and pigs, skyscrapers and ocean spray—filled with a delightful cast of characters who all have something to hide and a lot to learn. A difference in legal opinions, a headlong dive from grace, and an abrupt twist will reveal the truth of who they are and demonstrate, when it truly counts, what kind of grit they have. Are they living the life they want, what regrets do they hold, and how would they remake their lives if they were given the invitation to do so?

This book, set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, is so descriptive it takes me back to that area I’m so fond of.  The two families were recognizable for almost any southerner and added a comfortable level for this reader.  I enjoyed the story but honestly could have done without some of the more adult situations and language used.  Still, a good novel!





I just finished a great book, The Masterpiece, by Francine Rivers for our book club. I think I’ve read every book written by Francine Rivers and she never disappoints!

I also read Dispatches from Pluto Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta,  by Richard Grant  and while these two books were totally different, each were thought-provoking and I highly recommend each  one.





Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate is a fiction book based on true events.  It is a very sad part of our history that could have ended so differently.  According to the end of the book, the author wrote: “For the hundreds who vanished and for the thousands who didn’t. May your stories not be forgotten. For those who help today’s orphans find forever homes. May you always know the value of your work and your love.” This book is based on a real life scandal involving the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, a Memphis-based adoption organization.  Even though the book chronicles a wretched tale of lost and stolen orphans, it is ultimately an uplifting story of  a child’s heart and her journey to reunite with those she lost.  This is a very good book!



A “Christmasy” book our book Club just finished is a historical fiction based right here in Middle Tennessee –  Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander.  Even though this is considered a novella, it is a full historical novel based on the Civil War era Franklin, Tennessee I’ve read all of this author’s books and highly recommend her as an Easy-to-read and interesting author.  We’ve even scheduled a field trip to tour Carnton House – yes, I’m a historical fiction fiend!










The book that actually led us to read Christmas at Carnton was this wonderful book by Robert Hicks, Widow of the South.  These books are both based on Carnton and this one on its mistress, Carrie McGavock.  If you like southern history, you’ll like this book!


I also recently read another historical book, but this one based on World War II – Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah.  Ms. Hannah is the author of one of my favorite books, The Nightingales,  and this book did not disappoint!  I sometimes wonder why I love historical books so much, but I credit Sam Martin, my history teacher at Madison High School and more importantly, my daddy!  The perseverance and humility that people in our past regularly exhibited reminds me how easily we live nowadays.  Great books!



A few of the best books I’ve read lately are almost anything by Charles Martin. So far, all of Mr. Martin’s novels feature a hero, up against almost insurmountable odds and the redemption that follows.  I’ve enjoyed reading this author so much because I learn something new about each locale and every book is brand new – each is totally different from the previous one with no real formula, just a strong message of redemption.    I’ve read quite a few of his lately and I’ll highlight them below:


Thunder and Rain –  This book was about a Texas Ranger who has a hard time fitting into this modern world.  He is a hero, Texas style, and even though he’s retired, he keeps getting into circumstances that use his cowboy skills.  It was a great read and a super price in the Kindle store at Amazon.


Water from My Heart – This one took the reader to Miami and then Central America.  Charlie Finn had a lucrative and illegal business but as he sets out to become legal and change his direction, he sees the consequences of his actions.  I really liked the setting of this one (not considering the whole illegal situation!) and saw redemption revealed.



The Mountain Between Us – This Martin novel was about another hero who survived against the odds and this book will become a movie this year.  This one took us to the Unitas Wilderness in the western United States.  As you read this survival story, the reader can almost feel the freezing cold and insurmountable odds of the harsh environment, but be ready for a twist!


Long Way Gone – I read this with my Book Club and we all agreed that the book, set between Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and Colorado, was a wonderful parallel to another story we’ve read of the prodigal son.   The book was very good, but the best part in my opinion was the last few pages when the author makes the parallel crystal clear.


I also like World War II novels,  and the most recent one was Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. This novel is based on a true story about a young Italian man’s courageous work with an underground railroad that helped Jews escape the terrible Nazi wrath. It’s now available at Amazon’s Kindle store for only $1.99!