Merry Christmas friends—I hope you have a lovely holiday celebration and a very Happy New Year! In the spirit of the season I want to thank all the writers whose books I’ve had the pleasure to read in 2019. I’m truly amazed at the awesome talent out there and I can’t wait to read more of the works by the writers I know, and welcome the tales of new scribes in 2020. I hope to keep to my schedule of reading and reviewing at least one new book per week, so if you have suggestions, please let me know!
As this year draws to a close, I wanted to give a special shoutout to three writers I have come to know a bit through their books and stories this year (and social media interactions, which I treasure 🙂 ), whose novels made a special impact on me as a reader. I enjoyed the characters, settings, dialogue of these books so much–the plots and storylines were unique and engaging, drawing you into another world as you read each page. The details and descriptions were vivid in imagery, letting you see the scenes through the eyes of the characters. Each of these 3 books’ genres are a mix of literary and historical fiction, romance, and mystery—complex indeed, but these 3 authors knocked it out of the park, in my opinion!
So without further adieu, Ladies and Gentlemen, here are my Top 3 Book Picks of 2019, with a few words by their very talented authors on what inspired them for the story–enjoy!
Author D.B. Carter (@DBCarterAuthor), The Cherries
Veronica’s Review: Author D.B. Carter’s, The Cherries, is a heartwarming, bittersweet read that keeps you glued to the page–waiting to see what will happen next. As the characters and their situations unfold, we get to know their hopes and dreams, and the fears that sometimes paralyze them, spiritually and physically. The story’s finale will keep you on pins and needles to the very end. This is a life tale that enchanted this reader, highly recommended!
Author D.B. Carter, in his words: The Cherries was my first novel. Nineteen-year-old Susan and her mother escape abuse and poverty to seek a new life in the English countryside at the home of an old family friend. Safe and secure at last, they find new friends, none better than Luke, their eccentric neighbour who has an infectious love of books and art as well as a strong desire to help others. Both mother and daughter rediscover long-suppressed talents, and they begin journeys they never dreamt possible. Is there also love to be found among the rolling hillsides or England, or might a dark secret lurk that will push Susan away once again?
Coming to write The Cherries was a slow process, but once I put finger to keyboard, the words flowed quickly. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I’m an avid reader, mainly of classic novels. My parents were both artists and I grew up in a creative environment, so after working for many years in science and commerce, I had a burning ache to return to my roots. After a series of family bereavements, I found myself approaching fifty and evaluating my own life; almost without realising, I formed the plot for The Cherries in my mind and I simply had to begin writing. I wrote solidly for weeks and weeks on end and then… did nothing – like so many authors, I wondered if anyone would want to read it, and if they did, what would they think?
I hope the novel is a journey for the reader and for the characters, with a satisfying ending which you wouldn’t predict from the first page. The story has hope at its very centre and it examines important issues of our day in a fair and unjudgmental way. It emphasises that simple kindness to our neighbours can change their lives, and that love is about support and encouragement. The Cherries maintains respect of all faiths and none, and this is shown in the lives and loves of its characters. I’m an old romantic, and I love stories where two souls meet and find happiness, but I also wanted strong characters who learn to stand on their own two feet.
I enjoyed writing about Luke, who in many ways is the man I wish I could be, and Susan, but I have a sneaky favourite: Margaret, the retired nurse with a loyal and loving heart, as well as a mischievous wish to matchmake.
The book has a mixture of laughter and tears, and (just as in real life) the two often juxtapose. One of my favourite parts of the book is a humorous misunderstanding at a fancy-dress party, which indirectly leads to a traumatic event for someone else. Sadness and joy connected… but I hope joy always wins out.
Check out Author Carter’s books here: https://www.amazon.com/D-B-Carter/e/B07PN4XF14
Author M.L. Holton (@TRILLIUMnovel), Trillium
Veronica’s Review: The surroundings detailed in Trillium pull you in to witness the beauty and splendor of the land, grand homes, and the drama as it unfolds. I couldn’t put this book down–I was enchanted and mesmerized by the storylines of the families, the characters, and settings from beginning to end. The scope and depth of this story is fantastically told, taking you through generations of family love, hope and drama—slowly revealing the secrets that will bind these families together forever. A fantastic read, highly recommended!
Author M.L. Holton, in her words: Set on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, three very distinct families slowly intertwine over 250 years in pursuit of land, lust and loot.
What inspired me for the story?
It’s a multi-faceted response.
1) I was not resonating with local Canadian literature that complimented what I knew about growing up ‘rural’ in Southern Ontario. There seemed a gap to fill.
2) My first two novels were predominantly focused on urban lifestyles. I wanted to write something more rooted, in a genuine way, to the land.
3) I had written a detailed outline of this then unnamed-novel over a decade ago, but did not, at that time, have the sense of urgency to complete it as I did in 2018. ~ Why that urgency? ~ There are a lot of naïve ideas about basic biology floating around these days. As an historical work, TRILLIUM follows the evolution of several generations of families working the land. It is hoped that TRILLIUM will re-connect readers to certain fundamental and inalterable Laws of Nature, while, at the same time, crediting the impact of Nurture. Nature sets the inalterable parameters of growth, while Nurture often dictates the outcome.
Favorite moments: I love the passage after Greg Di Angelo and his Italian-born father, Domi, are insulted at the hardware store during the war. Greg breaks down in the truck on their way home. A tender exchange follows between father and son that ends with a heartfelt father-son talk at the lake shore. It makes me tear up in the re-reading every time.. … Another fav moment is when Faith’s horse, Geronimo, bolts through the vineyard. … Finally, Tom Hartford’s early bush years in the late 1750s: he and Maakadegaagwan, the native fur trader, had some fun …
My favorite characters: I liked all of the flawed characters for a variety of different reasons. Anna is simple, but solid. Eric is reckless, but, in the main, well-meaning. Paddy is an over-bearing oaf, but admirable too, in a fundamental way, for his astute business acumen. June is a bit prim & proper, yet better understood when she manifests an inherited mental illness. Greg’s youthful arrogance is soon squashed by the realism of war. … Etc. ~ A fun bunch!
Who am I? A keen observer of the Life and Times around me. I’m rather a quiet person, more a spectator than a participant. That said, in the name of art, living and Life, I’ll generally try anything once in order to better understand human parameters. As example, I would never kill anyone. It’s absolutely 100% morally reprehensible. But I know, with absolute certainty, that I could. I know this after training for a firearms acquisition certificate. Handling and firing a gun provides INSTANT agency. Being aware of that capacity within myself keeps me very alert to this very ancient desire for ultimate power in, and over, others. It’ remains a cornerstone for much of basic human motivation …
Check out Author Holton’s books here: https://www.amazon.com/Margaret-Lindsay-Holton/e/B0071LO2H8
Author Bibiana Krall ((@Bibiana1Krall), #AmQuerying#WIP, The Boathouse
Veronica’s Review: Okay, I know I’m a bit of a tease here–The Boathouse is a #WIP manuscript that is currently being queried by Author Krall–so it is not available, yet, for the general public to read. I wanted to give it a special shoutout because I truly believe this manuscript will be Bibiana’s breakout work from indie writer to traditionally published author. It’s a major departure from her current tales–taking you into a cozy mystery world that sweeps you back and forth in time from the 1920s back to modern day, unveiling the storyline and clues through the eyes of the characters. As the story unfolds, you are given a unique perspective of what drives the characters in their deeds–and the impact a decision will have…
Author Bibiana Krall, in her own words: Five or so years ago, I was on the hunt for a place to take my family on vacation and found a Downeast cottage in Maine to rent for a week. I’d never been before. I’m still addicted to blueberry tea, blueberry anything actually…
The cottage was once the caretaker’s lodge for a private estate tucked in the wilderness beside the Penobscot River. The first morning I took a walk alone and was shocked after the tide stranded me between a steep cliff and deep water. I had to wait it out on the platform of an abandoned boathouse. The steps snaking above it were awfully tempting, but I finally had enough beach to make it back around the cove.
I continued to visit the same spot, until I had the courage to traverse the steps and ‘met’ the incredible house for the first time. I felt like the mansion was waiting for me, as if I were chosen to write this story and being stranded the first day was by design. With all of the places I could’ve gone, I still wonder how I ended up there?
Time has passed and I’m still beguiled. “Dark secrets never die.”
THE BOATHOUSE is a multi-generational mystery about an influential family from Maine who were lumber barons in the nineteen-twenties.
The story opens with a tragic death and a mystery about who and why. Charlotte Westwood (the main character) becomes an unwilling heiress. She’s a young woman who has had every privilege, except for love in the maternal sense. This has made her skittish and soft, because her mother India is the polar opposite. She’s a selfish narcissist who expects the world to give her everything and relies on her family’s influence to have her way.
The duality of life for a young woman during the modern nineteen-nineties is compared to the Jazz-Age via the POV of Olivia Westwood the original heiress of a mansion (fictitiously) named Murdoch Glen. When you think you have the mystery figured out, something crazy happens and you’ll wonder who done it until the final pages.
If you enjoy unreliable characters, a glimpse into the luxe life, and generational stories, you will devour this one. When it’s finally picked up, I hope the movie rights arrive soon after, as The Boathouse has a cinematic quality that would translate well to film.
Thank you for this lovely opportunity Veronica and your constant appreciation. It’s an honor to call you friend and to be part of a thriving, writing and reading community on Twitter. Wishing you and everyone reading this a wonderful holiday and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Check out Author Krall’s books here: https://www.amazon.com/Bibiana-Krall/e/B00Y5UIMKG
Thank you to everyone who has dropped in to read my blog this year!
I hope you enjoyed this special Christmas edition post. Please look up authors Carter, Holton, and Krall on Twitter–they’re great Tweeps to follow!
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Crowns and Kisses,
P.S. We’ll see you in the new year, ready for new adventures! Gemma and Rikkhe approve 🙂 #HappyNewYear!
P.S.S. Special thanks to Author/Graphics Guru Bibiana Krall for the Feature pic today!