Posts Tagged ‘Inspirational’

Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2014: Melissa O’s Picks

December 26, 2014

I read a wide variety of books of all different genres. Ask me for a suggestion and I most likely have read something that would appeal to you. Here are five books I stumbled upon this year. Some have been out there a long time, others are more recent arrivals, but they are all worth checking out and passing along for more to enjoy!

The Devil's BonesThe Devil’s Bones by Jefferson Bass
Bill Brockton is a forensic anthropologist who founded the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee. There he and his team study of the science of decomposition. He also finds himself drawn into the danger and drama of the murders they are trying to solve. It starts out simply enough, a woman’s charred body in a burned out car. How did she die? Then he receives a package of strange cremated remains. Suddenly he is fighting for his life and trying to solve a crime so hideous you won’t want to believe it. Another reason to love this book is that the author, Jefferson Bass, is actually a pseudonym for Bill Bass, the real-life famous forensic anthropologist and founder of the Body Farm, and cowriter Jon Jefferson. How cool is that!

Pioneer WomanPioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels – a love story by Ree Drummond
I had never read her blog, watched her cooking show, or picked up one of her cookbooks when I stumbled on this autobiography by Ree Drummond. As someone who spent some time feeling lost and unsure about the future, I could relate to her feelings as she struggled with where her next steps should take her. She never thought that future would mean staying in rural Oklahoma. And she certainly didn’t think it would involve a cowboy! I became lost in the words, flowery and syrupy as they sometimes are, as she “accidently” found herself on a cattle ranch and having adventures she never could have pictured in her future. A great read about taking a chance on love and setting out on the path less traveled.

Dangerous PassageDangerous Passage by Lisa Harris
This is a new inspirational series introducing widowed police detective Avery North and medical examiner Jackson Bryant. Harris nicely intertwines a love story into a thrilling murder mystery. Young Asian women are being murdered and the only link between them seems to be a small tattoo of a magnolia blossom. The investigation seems to simply uncover more mysteries and cover ups. Can they solve the case before more women go missing, and will Avery be ready to open her heart to love again?

 

Stand Up That MountainStand Up That Mountain by Jay Erskine Leutze
If you love the outdoors, this book is for you. If you love gut wrenching legal battles, this book is for you. If you love to root for the little guy, well you get the picture. Jay has escaped his life as an attorney and retreated to the North Carolina Mountains. Living quietly as a naturalist and fisherman, he loves the Appalachian Trail. He learns from a family of “mountain people” that a mining company plans to dynamite Belview Mountain, which sits right beside the Trail. They have evidence of their less than ethical behavior and the fight is on. As an avid mountain hiker and lover of nature, this book captured me, especially since it is in our own backyard! It is hard to believe that we almost lost one of the great treasures of our state. Jay Erskine Leutze recounts his story of the ground breaking legal fight to save this tiny Appalachian community in a book that is as engaging as any fiction tale.

SubmergedSubmerged by Dani Pettrey
The old saying “you can never go home again” seemed to hold true for Bailey Craig. Yet home is exactly where she found herself, for better or worse. She left Yancey, Alaska in disgrace, now can she find forgiveness? Bailey returned to bury her beloved aunt her died in a plane crash. Was it an accident or was it murder? Cole McKenna has put his past with Bailey behind him, until she shows up in town again. Soon she is fighting for her own life. Can Cole accept that Bailey has changed and help her solve the murder before she becomes another victim? Dani Pettrey is a new author and anyone who loves Dee Henderson’s novels should check her out. This new inspirational suspense series is fantastic and I can’t wait to continue the journey with her characters.

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Best New Books of 2014: Sharon S’s Picks

December 12, 2014

It is said that “Truth is stranger than fiction,” and to me it is just as interesting. I read fiction and nonfiction for the same reasons: to be entertained, instructed, and inspired. Here are my favorite new books for this year:

Pastor Needs a BooPastor Needs a Boo by Michele Andrea Bowen
A former FBI agent as well as a dedicated pastor, Denzelle Flowers of New Jerusalem Church in Durham got burned on the romance scene when his wife left him for a richer man. When the perfect Proverbs 31 woman shows up in his life he’s not ready to admit it, even though everyone else sees that she’s the one for him. Meanwhile, Pastor Denzelle decides to run for bishop, and has to pack both his gun and his Bible as major corruption sweeps through their denomination.

What Makes Olga Run?What Makes Olga Run? by Bruce Grierson
What makes a 93-year-old woman participate in track events worldwide, and set records that compare (in her age category) with those of the best athletes in the world? Well, she loves doing it, and her ability to do it stretches our stereotypes about aging. She is not alone—there are other “super seniors” like her around the world. Bruce Grierson leads us through a fascinating investigation of what keeps them going strong. See my full review.

William Shakespeare's Star WarsWilliam Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher
Hang on to your lightsabers! Doescher cleverly conflates famous lines from Shakespeare with famous scenes from Star Wars, making for a blend of comedy and drama worthy of the Bard himself. What I like best is getting to see into the minds of the characters through the asides and soliloquys. The series is continued in The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return. My family and I have been reading it aloud to each other (my husband plays the role of Chewbacca, and my 12-year-old son plays R2D2). See my full review.

Life is a WheelLife is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America by Bruce Weber
The death of his parents and other major changes shook Weber up and gave him a lot to think about concerning life, love, and death. It didn’t help matters that he had spent the last three years of his middle-aged life writing obituaries for The New York Times. He decided to do something to prove to himself that he was still alive and kicking — bike across America! I love books like this, where someone decides to do something semi-crazy, and I can go along for the ride without the expense or the sore leg muscles! Based on the daily blogs he sent back to the newspaper, this book is a very entertaining and interesting read.

The Owl Who Liked Sitting on CaesarThe Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar by Martin Windrow
One reason I like to read is to experience vicariously things I may never experience myself, or at least not in the same way. I love owls, and Martin Windrow gives me a window into what they are really like, close-up and personal. Mumbles is a charming little tawny owl who is nevertheless no pushover! I loved reading about her daily life, and her and Martin’s close relationship of many years. See my full review.

Best New Books of 2014: Melissa O’s Picks

December 10, 2014

This is my favorite blog post of the year; a chance to review my favorite new books of 2014. It is hard to narrow it to only five, but here are my selections. I love both fiction and nonfiction, especially those with lots of thrills and edge of your seat action! You never know what I might stumble across to share with you!

Destroyer AngelDestroyer Angel by Nevada Barr
Anna Pigeon is a park ranger. We think hats, nature lovers, and a big smile right? Not this park ranger. She is fierce and not someone you want to make mad. Anna and her friend Heath, a paraplegic, and Heath’s teenage daughter set out on a canoe trip with Leah and her teenage daughter. Leah designs outdoor equipment and she has a new design to make the outdoors more accessible to the disabled. This is supposed to be a trial run and a nice little vacation. Some bad guys decide to abduct Anna’s friends. Not a good idea. If you have read other Anna Pigeon books you don’t want to miss this one. If you haven’t, hold on and prepare for a wild ride.

HackerHacker by Ted Dekker
Nyah Parks is a hacker and she is in big trouble. Some bad people want her dead. Not a bad start to the newest Ted Dekker novel. He is known for his suspenseful, sometimes scary inspirational fiction. This tale starts off with a bang and hurtles forward from there. Computer technology, political cover-ups, murder, and a child’s desperate love for her mother cause Nyah to take steps that stretch our level of belief. We have heard that our brains are like a biological computer. Hacking computers is one thing, but how far would you go to save the people you love?

Denali's HowlDenali’s Howl by Andy Hall
Andy Hall more than remembers the events that occurred in Alaska in 1967; he was there. He was a child, the son of the park superintendent at Alaska’s Mount McKinley, also known as Denali. Twelve young men set out to climb the mountain, only 5 returned. This is an amazing story of survival, man vs. nature, and mountaineering. We learn not only what happened on the mountain, but also the struggle of those who tried to save them. Hall is now a journalist and he spent years tracking down the true story of this tragedy. Through survivor accounts, radio transmissions, and buried documents he has produced a gut-wrenching, white-knuckled read you cannot put down.

UndetectedUndetected by Dee Henderson
I fell in love with Dee Henderson’s books long ago and her newest series does not disappoint. Naval warfare, romance, and family are intricately entwined as we are pulled into the life of Gina Gray, an ocean researcher. Gina is a genius and her discoveries shatter what we thought we knew of ocean science. Now she finds herself fleeing a broken relationship and seeking solace with her brother, a submariner. There she meets Mark Bishop, a friend of her brother and a nuclear submarine commander. He also happens to be a widower and newly open to the idea of love again. Now she is wrestling with whether she should continue to develop her new ideas, and will her knowledge save those she loves or destroy them?

Artemis AwakeningArtemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold
Welcome to the pleasure planet Artemis. At least it used to be. This former playground for the wealthy has been lost for centuries. Long after the war that shattered the galaxies, archaeologist Griffin Dane sets out to rediscover its mysteries. And he does, but not quite in the way he had planned. Now he is trapped on a primitive planet with no way to escape. All living things on this planet were bioengineered to better serve their wealthy guests. Rescued by a huntress, Adara, and her psych-linked puma, Sand Shadow, Griffin must solve the mystery of Artemis if he has any hope of surviving. This is a wonderful new book by the author who brought us the Firekeeper series. She is a master of writing stories involving humans bonded with animals. Technology, lost civilizations, and a pretty despicable bad guy all make for some amazing science fiction.

Grown Folks Business by Victoria Christopher Murray

October 17, 2014

Grown Folks BusinessSheridan meets Quentin while serving as an intern at her doctor’s office; it’s love at first sight. Sheridan marries Quentin right out of college despite her parents’ objection. They have two beautiful children, Tori, nine years old and Chris, sixteen, and live a perfect life as a family.

But Sheridan and Quentin’s seventeen years of marital bliss collapse all of a sudden when Quentin gives a shocking announcement that he is in love with someone else, and that someone else is a man, a close family friend named Jett.

Quentin moves in with Jett. Sheridan now deals with how to inform their kids about their father’s new lifestyle, but Chris finds out anyway, and that begins a new drama in Sheridan’s household. Chris changes his name to Christopher fearing that Chris could be a girl’s name. He makes several changes in his life just to prove he is nothing like his father. Tori and a few family members accept Quentin’s new life while others find it unforgivable.

Sheridan receives emotional and spiritual support from her close friend, her parents, and her church pastor. At her pastor’s office, she accidentally runs into a UPS driver, Brock, when she is not ready for love but Brock will not let her rest until she finally falls for him.

Sheridan and Quentin come together in order to help their son, Chris, out of his own life crisis that leads to a rebirth in the life of Deja, his girlfriend.

I enjoyed this book because it’s an easy read, it’s full of love and support, disagree to agree, and friendship.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

October 14, 2014

The AlchemistThis book is about a shepherd boy who takes risks and endures hardship to pursue his dream. At first, it reads like a simple fable written for a child, and the pace of the story developed ever so slowly. I had to read it for a book discussion so I stuck to it. Oh, how it has paid off! What a beautiful and purposeful book, just when I needed it: be patient and focus!

The Alchemist offers inspiration in such a way as if it has awakened the deep sleep of a hibernating bear that has finally felt hunger for food (spiritual food) and wanted to roar (come alive) again. It connects one back to an earlier life of an innocent age. Of a questing soul of a brave and pure spirit. Coelho knows I am not the only one who feels this way, even he is from Brazil, half the world away.

The Alchemist is a brilliantly crafted book with vivid descriptions of culture, people, and scenery to fill the imagination of any reader. It has been translated into 80 languages. We may be distracted with earthly desires or duties; it is never too late to feel young and ambitious again.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann Ross

May 15, 2014

bookcover.phpThe Author Ann Ross starts a new series of Miss Julia. This book is the first in series. Miss Julia is a strong willed, independent, church going proper Lady. Miss Julia had just become a widow, and she was trying to settle down with her new life with substantial estate left from her late husband. Everything is peaceful until Hazel Marie Puckett arrives at her doorstep with her 9 year old son Little Lloyd. Guess what? Little Lloyd is her husband’s son. Miss Julia receives a shock of her life! After 44 years of marriage to pillar of the church and community Wesley Lloyd Springer, she discovers that he was having an affair with Hazel Marie Puckett. She had assumed he was working late at the family bank, but instead he was engaged in more carnal pursuits. The worst thing was that the whole town knew about this affair.

So after Little Lloyd comes in her life a series of surprising events take place. It involves a hypocritical minister, a violent beating, a crooked televangelist. Miss Julia also goes thru a high speed car chase. But when Little Lloyd was kidnapped, Miss Julia had to take matters to herself and find out what exactly was going on. She finds out a surprising revelation in her late husband’s will. Miss Julia not only speaks her mind but also comes to a deeper understanding of the meaning of love, friendship, and trust while living with Little Lloyd. If you would like to know what happens next than do check out this book. If you like reading some light, fun and entertaining story then you should read all of Miss Julia’s books.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

Best ‘New to Us’ Books in 2012: Melissa O.’s Picks

December 27, 2012

I am what you would call an eclectic reader. I love mystery, science fiction, thrillers, inspirational, and I am an avid nonfiction reader. I also love young adult and even juvenile fiction. So you see my difficulty in describing my reading interests. The good news is this makes it easy for me to make reading suggestions! Here are five of my favorite older books I read or re-read this year. (Yes, I am a re-reader!)  — Melissa O.

Skull Duggery by Aaron Elkins
Gideon Oliver is a forensic anthropologist (think old bones instead of recent murders). When Gideon joins his wife on a trip to Mexico he finds himself reluctantly pulled into yet another murder mystery. And it turns out someone will kill to keep it unsolved! Elkins manages to bring just the right amount of humor into his books, and you get the added bonus of traveling the world with the bone detective as he gets roped into, or manages to trip into, another unsolved crime.

A Spell For Chameleon by Piers Anthony
I discovered this book in high school and it remains my favorite humorous fantasy series. We meet Bink, the only citizen of Xanth with no magic, a tragedy for which he will be exiled. So he sets out to find his magic and just might win the girl of his dreams in the process. This is the first of the Xanth novels and I reread it this year to remind myself why I love these books so much. If you are a fan of puns you will die laughing!

Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead
This is the first in the Pendragon Cycle and sets the stage for the next four books. Lawhead expands on the usual Arthurian legends by weaving the mythic city of Atlantis into the tale. Lawhead also skillfully weaves a more prominent Christian message into the novels, but in a way that will not put-off non-Christians. In addition to Taliesin we meet Charis, a bull dancer, and watch their lives come together in one of the greatest love stories I have read recently.

The Sacrifice by Robert Whitlow
When you read Whitlow’s inspirational legal thrillers you can tell he is writing from experience. A practicing attorney for decades, his books are gripping and believable. We also get the added bonus that Whitlow is a local author and sets many of his books, including this one, in North Carolina. Scott Ellis is an attorney who finds himself advising a mock trial team at a high school. Add in a school shooting and you won’t be able to put this book down.

The Loch by Steve Alten
Alten takes the legend of the Loch Ness Monster and twists it on its head while including the right amount of science to keep my inner biologist happy. Zach Wallace returns to Scotland when his estranged father is accused of murder. Unfortunately, Angus’s sole defense is that “something” in the Loch killed his business partner. Zach must solve the mystery even as more bodies continue to pile up. Much sleep was sacrificed as I was sucked into this story!

Jimmy by Robert Whitlow

August 27, 2012

Robert Whitlow’s novels all have legal themes of one type or another and so does Jimmy. The main character, Jimmy,  is a boy with mental disabilities who lives in a small town in Georgia. This is a slower-paced story than Whitlow’s other works. It focuses on character development and relationships more than the legal thriller aspect, but it still packs quite a dramatic punch.

Jimmy is well-known and loved in his small town. His parents are very supportive and help him learn to do the things that most of us take for granted. He learns to ride a bike, help out at his father’s law office, and successfully testify in court in a major drug case in which he is a witness. Jimmy’s most dramatic accomplishment comes with the help of his grandpa, a retired telephone lineman. He wants Jimmy to learn to climb a 40-foot telephone pole in his backyard. Nobody else thinks this is even a remotely good idea. Jimmy and his grandfather eventually prevail and Jimmy begins the lengthy process of learning to climb like a real lineman.

Jimmy is a little more spiritually aware than most of us and sees “Watchers” who help him when he needs special assistance. His mother is convinced the “Watchers” are angels, but not everyone agrees with this idea. Jimmy’s life is not all peaches and cream. There are some people who are mean to him and one person in particular who will ultimately put Jimmy in a position of terrifying danger.

Jimmy is the kind of character that will warm the heart of the coldest person. I found myself becoming so involved in his story that I never wanted it to end. Alas, it did end and not without a lot of controversy among Whitlow’s faithful readers. The author has provided an alternate ending on his website which I would encourage you to read. I’ve loved all of Mr. Whitlow’s books, but I believe this is my favorite.

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