My writing PLN (professional Learning Network) pretty much revolves around authors who share their insights and advice through online blogs. When I have a question, I often go there first, before digging through my shelves of self-help writing books. Along the way, I’ve read many of their books. Here, I want to share those that I’ve particularly enjoyed and think you might too.
- Second Chance Romance — a heart-warming story of two people who find love when they least expected it
- Calmer Secrets–the sequel to Calmer Girls; the two sisters have become adults, but still have growing problems; one especially threatens to change everything
- Catling’s Bane — Book one in an exciting fantasy trilogy about a dystopian world where haves and have-nots must ultimately clash
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In Jill Weatherholt’s debut romantic fiction, Second Chance Romance (Harlequin Digital Sales 2017), Jackson and his daughter Rebecca are doing just fine even though his first wife left him for another man. Despite being the most eligible bachelor in his small rural town, Jackson doesn’t feel like he needs anything in his life but his daughter, his job, and a select group of close friends. That changes when he saves Melanie’s life after her car crashes. Something intangible about her makes Jackson feel like for the first time in a long time, he wants more. But Melanie’s personal history includes a husband and twin children killed in a fire and she can’t get beyond that. She has arrived at Jackson’s small town to convince her only remaining relative, Aunt Phoebe (who just happens to be Jackson’s partner in a local diner), to leave small town America and move back to D.C. where they can live together. To Melanie’s surprise, Phoebe doesn’t feel alone and refuses to leave. When Phoebe has a stroke, Jackson and Melanie work together to keep the diner going while Phoebe recuperates and Jackson finds himself falling for Melanie.
When Jackson falls for Melanie, everything gets a whole lot more complicated.
This is a fun, page-turner of a read, filled with smiles and memories. I ended up reading it over an afternoon (that should have been spent working, but oh well). You will not be disappointed with this cozy Christian mystery.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In Perry’s sequel to Calmer Girls, Calmer Secrets (Take The Plunge Publishing 2017) depicts the two Cross sisters as older, wiser, but still working through those problems that are part and parcel to growing up. In the case of Roni and Sam, that includes boyfriends, raising a son as a single mother, and uncovering secrets that have changed their entire life. Perry nicely captures the enthusiasm and energy that sizzles in college-age kids and perfectly reminds me of those early adult days when every decision was new with no precedents to help unravel them. Above all, Perry captures the hidden secrets that frame so many early relationships with questions about who’s hiding what and how serious is it.
This second in Perry’s series doesn’t require you read the first. While the story stars the same two sisters and their families, it easily stands on its own. Where needed, Perry does an excellent job of weaving the necessary backstory into the plot. Highly recommended to young adults as a good vehicle to exploring the cost of keeping secrets in any relationship.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In D. Wallace Peach’s Catling’s Bane, the first installment in the Rose Shield trilogy, the young Catlin lives in a world of poverty, repression, and inhumanity. When still a toddler, her mother sells her for whatever she can get, which is where Catling’s life looks up. Her new family is loving, caring, humane, with a family pig business that requires working children to run. They sell their piglets at a weekly market which coincides with hanging days in this world–when the overflow residents of the prison are hanged to make room for others. To make this acceptable to the population, the ruling class uses ‘influencers’ to throw a web of happiness and contentment over everyone in the crowd. People–even family members–gleefully watch their friends and neighbors killed. But Catling has the power to break that web, penetrate it, and allow others to see the horror lurking below the pleasant emotions. When stakeholders on both sides of this system find out she has this ability, her life changes forever.
What an excellent start to this trilogy. The characters are strong. The passion obvious. The plot addicting. Peach’s ability to weave words into glorious pictures of events and places is perfectly matched to the fantasy world she has created. The details of this environment are exquisite and believable:
“Riverfolk moored up at the docks with skiffs bearing buckets of silver eels and glass bottles dense with luminescence. Ferries plied their way up from Ava-Grea delivering merchants and travelers from distant tiers. Pulled by waterdragons, the vessels bucked the swift current. The creatures’ green-scaled heads reared through the surface, tapered snouts sprayed clouds of mist, and fins stroked the water like wings. The voyage complete, tall rivermasters with white hair flowing like waterfalls beckoned the creatures in. They slipped off tethering ropes, and the waterdragons dove.”
Highly recommended to anyone who loves fantasy adventure and big dreams.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.