Welcome to the Christmas Book Fair where I will be featuring all the authors currently on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.
I am going to be choosing authors at random so that there is a variety of genres in each post to offer as many gift ideas as possible.
The first author with books for Teens and Young Adults is A.J.Alexander with the paranormal fantasy Sundance: 2nd book of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series
About the book
Sundance is a promising young Warrior Angel, the first in centuries to join the Divine Army. With the help of one of the most powerful Archangels, her skill and talent develop, allowing her to master some of the most difficult tasks that face her kind.Sundance, under the supervision of the ‘Council of Twelve’ seeks to prove that she deserves her unusual gifts in the eternal fight between good and evil. Follow her adventures as she discovers love, fights the good fight, and finds herself in the heat of battle trying to keep her wings from being singed.
One of the recent reviews for the book
Following ‘Soul Taker’, ‘Sundance’ is the second book in the Council of Twelve Series.
The book is less a simple sequel than a parallel story to the first part, which first surprised me, but then I was enthusiastic about that fact. I found it fascinating to read the story from a different point of view and to find the skillfully orchestrated connections to the first book.
One of the things I love about this book is to see Sundance grow up into a strong woman. Also interesting is her education. Even though the book shows many known characters and places, the book still allows the reader to re-explore the world, AJ Alexander created masterfully.
I look forward to read book number three in the series.
Also by A. J. Alexander
The next author is with a wonderful range of books that capture the complexity of family dramas is Judith Barrow with a review her latest book – The Memory.
About the book
Mother and daughter tied together by shame and secrecy, love and hate.
I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as though we’re watching one another, my mother and me; two women – trapped.
Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.
Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.
The new novel from the bestselling author of the Howarth family saga
One of the recent reviews for the book
“What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”—attrib. Mark Twain
I have nine brothers and sisters who must have grown up in nine other families because our memories just don’t match up. Each of us sees our past through the filter of personal experience, making us the unreliable narrators of our own memories. Yet somehow, it’s those memories that shaped the people we are today.
In Judith Barrow’s The Memory, it’s the memory of one moment in time that shapes Irene’s family and defines her life. In a brilliant structure, readers are swept along dual timelines as we try to understand or even identify that moment. First we’re introduced to an adult Irene. It’s 2002 and she’s taking care of her dying mother. In the midst of her exhaustion and resentment, Irene wonders if her mother is also experiencing that pivotal memory, “The one that makes hate battle with pity and reluctant love.”
But it’s also 1963, the moment eight-year-old Irene’s happy childhood changes forever when her baby sister Rose is born with Down’s Syndrome. Even as her parents’ marriage crumbles, Irene’s world is transformed. “That was the first time I understood you could fall in love with a stranger, even though that stranger is a baby who can’t yet talk. And that you could hate somebody even though you were supposed to love them.”
As the two timelines converge, the impact of little Rose’s life and death continues to shape every aspect of big sister Irene’s life. With her parents’ relationship becoming increasingly dysfunctional, Irene tries to wrap a cocoon of fierce love and devotion around her beloved little sister. She realizes her life isn’t like other girls, but with her grandmother’s support, she struggles on. One of her earliest friends, Sam, becomes her rock and then her husband.
But despite Irene’s love for Rose, her grandmother, and Sam, she can’t prevent tragedy from striking. Her parents’ marriage ends, effectively separating Irene from her weak but loved father, while sending her mother into a downward spiral of resentment. Her only ally at home, her grandmother, becomes ill. Irene’s dreams of a teaching career and motherhood are sacrificed to the needs of her family.
With the death of Rose, Irene and her mother are trapped an endless cycle of love and resentment shaped by one memory. But it’s a child’s memory of an event, and even Irene isn’t sure exactly what it means. Unable to leave the childhood home that’s her only connection to Rose, she turns to the ghost of her little sister for answers.
The Memory is quite possibly Judith Barrow’s masterpiece. The dual timeline structure is ideally suited to bring us to that critical moment in the past. What exactly did Irene see? She’s an unreliable narrator, a child trying to understand a single memory that redefines her life in one timeline, while in the other timeline she’s a woman who has lost everything she ever loved except for the memory of the sister who haunts her.
The writing is spare and elegant, with just enough detail to create a picture of Irene’s world. Told in the first person, we see Irene as she grows from a bewildered child determined to care for her ‘special’ little sister to a woman who sacrifices her own hopes and dreams to care for her family. Those who’ve been caretakers to parents suffering from alzheimer’s and dementia will also recognize the sheer exhaustion and thankless effort demanded.
But the other thing I enjoyed in what could have been a desperately dark tale was that Irene knew love along the way. She remembered her childhood days with loving parents, she cherished the love of her grandmother, and she accepted the bedrock certainty of her husband Sam’s love. Most of all, she had the memory of loving little Rose.
As the two timelines converge, all of those loves combine in a single moment of realization that finally explains and then redeems the memory haunting Irene’s life. As a reader, when a character becomes as completely real to me as Irene does, I often find myself wondering what happened next for her. But Irene’s story is so perfectly and elegantly resolved that I know without a shade of doubt what her future holds.
The Memory is not a comfortable or easy read. But if you’re looking for a beautifully written, character-driven story with a dark base but superb resolution, it just might be the perfect choice.
Also by Judith Barrow
The final author today with an intriguing novel about the consequences of just one moment of chance when life hangs in the balance..Anita Dawes and The Scarlet Ribbon.
About the Book
When a dirty blue car mows Maggie down outside her local supermarket, she becomes trapped in the nightmare world of a coma patient.
In this very different world, she manages to rescue an abused and neglected child. But when it looks as though she will finally wake up, she cannot bear the thought of leaving the child behind.
But is this other world real, or was she just dreaming? And if it is real, can she help this child?
One of the recent reviews for The Scarlet Ribbon
Scarlet Ribbons, also known as The Scarlet Ribbon, by Anita Dawes is a contemporary fiction novel that focuses on the afterlife and how one woman deals with the tragedy of a single moment in time, a moment she couldn’t prevent from occurring. I became familiar with the book after following the author’s blog and learning more about her collaboration with Jaye Marie on a variety of a projects.
In this tale, Maggie Haynes is hit by a car. Her husband witnesses the accident and is forced to watch his beloved wife put on life support when she falls into a coma. When Maggie goes under, her life seems to separate into reality and another world. In one path, she recovers and finds herself heading down a certain troubling existence… and in another, she’s somewhere beyond the Earth… not quite heaven or hell… not even clear of the specifics, but this new world can be quite scary. She’s able to ‘cross over’ to see some things happening back home, and it’s not always a good thing.
Can you imagine being able to watch your loved ones grieve? What if they decided to move on? Are you aware of how long you are in the coma? When Maggie discovers various connections with new people she meets in her confusing new life, she can’t help but think about how much is real and how much might be a dream. Is she trapped somewhere? Will she wake up paralyzed from the accident? Is she secretly already dead? What does her family think has happened? So many amazing questions to ponder while reading this book…
I enjoyed the writing style. At times, the author whisks you away into a dreamy state; even I was uncertain which world Maggie resided in during these moments. It’s a tough and scary topic, but Dawes pushes you to consider all the options and angles. What if you were meant to disappear for a while so that you could save someone else? A child who desperately needs your help deserves unselfish reactions, right? Maggie and her husband chose not to have kids but was this a reality check? When she visits previous periods in her family’s life, learning what it was like for them to grow up, it destabilizes her core… Maggie can’t be sure which life she wants to hold on to – new or old. And can she change her mind?
In the end, she dives deep into understanding her new world, with the help of some friends and possible a foe or two, and she comes out stronger. But it is the shocking surprise finale that left me wondering… how much of this could really happen in our future? Dawes pushes me to think about past lives, reincarnation, soul therapy, and so much more. I enjoyed the writing style and development on the worlds most of all. If you’ve got an open mind and a love of ethereal and other worldly existences, this is a good one to read. I’m left wondering what additional themes the author explores in her other books now! Must check one out in the near future.
Also by Anita Dawes