Summer Reading 2019

416705_3263221894117_1074320104_32720367_2122303055_oA.jpgI love this time of year when I get to share my favorite recent reads with you, my friends, and I get to hear about what you’re reading! I like to give you several options, spread across genres. So, get ready to add to your list of what you want to take to the beach, on the plane, or down to the pool. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Here are my favorite books from the past year (click on the book cover to go to its Amazon page):

{41E245C8-93B9-4941-9566-BE0E8031B5EB}Img100WWII Espionage 
The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff
One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.
Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.
My thoughts: The Lost Girls of Paris is one of those books that authors such as myself long to write. With just enough truth to hook you and more than enough heart to reel you in, it’s the best way to lose an afternoon.

{51AAB332-ACF1-447C-BD71-12135E37CD9B}Img100Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg
Lucille Howard is getting on in years, but she stays busy. Thanks to the inspiration of her dearly departed friend Arthur Truluv, she has begun to teach baking classes, sharing the secrets to her delicious classic Southern yellow cake, the perfect pinwheel cookies, and other sweet essentials. Her classes have become so popular that she’s hired Iris, a new resident of Mason, Missouri, as an assistant. Iris doesn’t know how to bake but she needs to keep her mind off a big decision she sorely regrets.
When a new family moves in next door and tragedy strikes, Lucille begins to look out for Lincoln, their son. Lincoln’s parents aren’t the only ones in town facing hard choices and uncertain futures. In these difficult times, the residents of Mason come together and find the true power of community—just when they need it the most.
My thoughts: When you wake up at 4am and feel compelled to reach for the book by your bedside, you know you’ve chosen a good story. Night of Miracles will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will make you know that all is right with the world no matter the outcome of your situation. All things happen for a reason. Beautifully written. Thank you.

{4CAA1BA3-55E0-4B1E-A49D-16C771E36B38}Img100Heart-Stopping Time Travel
The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain
When Carly Sears, a young woman widowed by the Vietnam war, receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970, and she is told that nothing can be done to help her child. But her brother-in-law, a physicist with a mysterious past, tells her that perhaps there is a way to save her baby. What he suggests is something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Carly has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage she never knew existed. Something that will mean an unimaginable leap of faith on Carly’s part.
And all for the love of her unborn child.

My thoughts: All writers read a book or two and think, “I wish I had thought of this story and written it.” While that might be true of this book for me, I don’t believe I could have done any better than Diane Chamberlain already did. She wove a beautiful tale of love lost and love gained, twice over, spanning decades and cultures. Be forewarned, you won’t want to put this down.

{5A516DA4-494C-41B7-A3F8-806F4C1FE748}Img100A Mystery You Won’t Be Able to Put Down
Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks
Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.
Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter….
My thoughts: Charlotte made mistakes. Harriet made mistakes. We all make mistakes. Sometimes our mistakes cause us to lose our friends. Sometimes they cause us to lose sight of who we are. Sometimes they lead to death. And sometimes, they allow us to see what we should have seen all along. Gripping to the end, Her One Mistake will make you question every word you read. Your only mistake would be to put the book down before finishing.

{1DFDC141-E7CB-4524-9671-DFC635B60BB6}Img100Charming, Witty, Unforgettable Historical Tale
The Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.
My thoughts: Sheer Perfection. Whoever thought that a book about a man under house arrest in a hotel for 40 years would be interesting? Interesting, provocative, emotionally charged, and worthy of praise, A Gentleman in Moscow more than delivers. It entertains, engrosses, and enraptures. The prose is literary intoxication while the story is literary genius.

51xTm5QG3UL._SY346_Crime Thriller at Its Best
The People vs. Alex Cross by James Patterson
Alex Cross is on the wrong side of the law. Charged with gunning down followers of his nemesis Gary Soneji in cold blood, he is being turned into the poster child for trigger-happy cops. Cross knows it was self-defense. But will a jury see it that way?
When his former partner Sampson shows up needing his help, Cross jumps at the chance, even if it may end up costing him what’s left of his career. When a string of young, blonde women go missing, the investigation leads Cross and Sampson to the most depraved, darkest corners of the internet, where murder is just another form of entertainment.
As the prosecution presents its case, and the nation watches, even those closest to Cross begin to doubt his innocence. If he can’t convince his own family that he didn’t pull the trigger with intent to kill, how can he hope to persuade a jury? But even with everything on the line, Cross will do whatever it takes to stop a dangerous criminal . . . even if he can’t save himself.
Struggling to prove his own innocence and uncover the truth lurking online, Cross must risk everything to save his most at-risk patient of all: himself.
My thoughts: I’ve been a long-time fan of Patterson, beginning with my first job as a librarian back in 1992, just as Along Came A Spider was hitting the bestseller list. Over the years, Patterson has written books for adults, children, and teens, ranging from police thrillers to romance to Christmas picture books. I’ve read most of them. However, lately I find myself disappointed in many of his offerings, and the reason is abundantly clear. I’m a writer, and I know what it would mean to be taken under the wings of a prolific, award-winning author, as Patterson has done with the co-authors of so many of his books. But when it comes down it, his best books, by far, are the ones he authors himself. There is a distinctive flow, an energy, a torrent of action, dialogue, and characterization in his writing that simply isn’t there when the book is co-authored. The People Vs Alex Cross is a reminder of the brilliance that is James Patterson when he writes without the aid of someone else stringing his story together.

51-sSDyfdkL._SY346_Best Beach Book
By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank
The Lowcountry of South Carolina is where By Invitation Only begins at a barbecue engagement party thrown by Diane English Stiftel, her brother Floyd, and her parents to celebrate her son’s engagement. On this gorgeous, magical night, the bride’s father, Alejandro Cambria, a wealthy power broker whose unbelievably successful career in private equity made him one of Chicago’s celebrated elite, discovers the limits and possibilities of cell phone range. While the mother of the bride, Susan Kennedy Cambria, who dabbles in the world of public relations and believes herself deserving of every square inch of her multimillion-dollar penthouse and imaginary carrara marble pedestal, learns about moonshine and dangerous liaisons.
Soon By Invitation Only zooms to Chicago, where the unraveling accelerates. Nearly a thousand miles away from her comfortable, familiar world, Diane is the antithesis of the bright lights and super-sophisticated guests attending her son Fred’s second engagement party. Why a second party? Maybe it had been assumed that the first one wouldn’t be up to snuff? Fred is marrying Shelby Cambria, also an only child. The Cambrias’ dearest wish is for their daughter to be happy. If Shelby wants to marry Frederick, aka Fred, they will not stand in her way—although Susan does hope her friends won’t think her daughter is marrying more than a few degrees beneath her socially. At the same time, Diane worries that her son will be lost to her forever.
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.
My thoughts:  Another winner by Dorothea Benton Frank. I laughed so hard at times, my husband told me I was keeping him awake. Other times, I needed a tissue or three. The end was just how it should be. Thank you, Dorothea Benton Frank.

front coverPirates, Hidden Treasure, Family Dynamics, and Unrequited Love – What More Could You Want in a Summer Read?
The Devil’s Fortune by Amy Schisler
As a child, all Courtney ever wanted was to own Riverview Terrace. As an adult, that was the farthest thing from her mind. Following a near-fatal accident and court-approved windfall, Courtney gains the funds to buy her ancestors’ colonial-era house, complete with rotting beams and a collapsing roof. The legends of pirate treasure, hidden passageways, and long-concealed family secrets intrigue Courtney, but when a vandal thwarts all progress, the house is suddenly much more than she believes she can handle. River Terrace may lead Courtney to her destiny, but will the journey be on a road paved with treasure or a dead-end street that leaves her with nothing but regret?
My thoughts: Okay, this is my latest book, but it’s my favorite of my books so far. Taken from the pages of my own family history, The Devil’s Fortune introduces readers to the infamous pirate Anne Bonny and weaves her story into those of the Tidewater Pirates who pillaged and plundered along the Chesapeake Bay, Patuxent River, and their tributaries. Anne reluctantly settles into life in the Colonies, making a home for herself on the shores of the Wicomico River. Hundreds of years later, Courtney, a caricature of my younger self, searches for many of the same things that Anne searched for, including an elusive pirate treasure. I hope you will feel as good reading this fictionalized excerpt from my family’s past as much as I enjoyed writing it!

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What I was writing about a year ago this week: “A Tremendous Thing”.

Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture MeWhispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is a finalist for the RWA Golden Quill Contest and the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction.

Amy’s latest book, The Devil’s Fortune, is now available! Order your copy today.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018).

Returning to the Island

Front CoverEighteen months ago, I introduced many readers to Chincoteague Island, a place long-known and loved by many in the Mid-Atlantic area. The response to the award-winning novel was overwhelming, and I fell in love with the characters as much as my readers did. In less than a month, on June 15, the sequel to Island of Miracles will be released. In this darker story, we learn that promises are like castles made of sand…

Kayla believed Zach was the man to repair her heart and her family. Zach believed Kayla was the woman to repair his soul. But Zach’s secrets are too big, his guilt too heavy, for him to keep his promises. He needs to get out now before he causes Kayla more heartache than the young widow has already endured.

There’s nothing like a crisis to bring two people together, and suddenly, the idyllic island off the Mid-Atlantic coast has those in spades. A serial killer has found his way into paradise, bringing Zach’s former life close to home, and Kayla is facing a health scare that is every woman’s worse nightmare. Will the tragedies they face pull them apart or bring them closer to fulfilling their promises to each other?

It’s a race for time that pits the island against an unthinkable evil and Kayla against her own body. I’ve had a few people ask why this had to happen? Why turn a beautiful haven into a house of horror? The reasons are both complex and simple. Unfortunately, we live in a world where even the safest places–schools, hospitals, movie theaters, our homes–are no longer safe. We also live in a world where we are confronted, sometimes on a daily basis, by sins of the past. For Zach and Kayla, each trying to overcome the horrors of their past, life on island is ideal. Surrounded by friends and family, nothing can take away their happiness. But every one of us knows that happiness can be destroyed by demons that attack from both the inside and outside at the most unexpected times.

Of course, Island of Promise isn’t a horror story, and it isn’t a harrowing roller coaster of suspense. At its heart, it’s a story of community and family and the ties that bind them together, a story of a mother’s unfailing love for her children, a story of redemption, and a story of love conquering all. 

I hope this book serves as a reminder that the one thing we can always expect is the unexpected. Bad things happen, but good things can come of them if we choose to have faith in the promise of the future. As a visitor to the island says in chapter fifteen, “A glass is an empty vessel until you fill it with water, or coffee, or whiskey, or whatever else you want to put into it. And then it’s full, full of something life-giving. And that’s how I felt. Empty until I found something to fill me up….Find the thing that fills you up. And cherish it with all your heart.”

I welcome you all back to Chincoteague Island for the second installment in the Chincoteague Island Trilogy. I hope you’ll come on over and stay for a while. The ice cream is cold, the oysters are hot, and the community is holding its arms open for you.

The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available to pre-order.

What I was writing about this time last year:  Mothers, Daughters, and Memories

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines,  and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores. 

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017)

Summer in December

My book, Summer’s Squall, is being featured on several blogs this week. Here’s what the bloggers are sharing with their readers.

Picture1

Do you like winter? There are a lot of people who don’t. Just remember, summer is coming. Yes, it’s about seven months away, but we can still celebrate it. And today, Amy Schliser is on the blog telling us all about her new book, Summer’s Squall.

About the Book

9780692946176Summer’s Squall, begins in Baltimore where Baltimore City Police Detective, Abe (Lank) Lankton, assumes he’ll be helping his cousin solve a minor problem when she calls and asks him to fly west. When he learns that he’s been called out there to aid in capturing an elusive stalker, his first instinct is go straight back to Maryland. However, when he meets the alluring victim, Summer Cooper, all bets are off. With his future, and his own life, in jeopardy, Lank must choose between going back to the life he knows in America’s Charm City or staying out west to help Summer. But Lank’s not sure that Summer is all that she claims to be or that the stalker even exists. One thing he knows for sure, Summer is guilty… of stealing his heart. Summer’s Squall is published by Chesapeake Sunrise Publishing and will be available in local book stores. It may be ordered through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and most other online sellers.

About the Author

Picture2Award-winning author, Amy MacWilliams Schisler, grew up in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. She graduated from Salisbury University with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science and from the University of Maryland with a Masters of Library and Information Science. Amy began writing as a child and spent fifteen years working as a librarian, a job she dearly loved, before becoming a full-time author. Her debut book was the beloved children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, an autobiographical book about spending the day with her grandfather that is used throughout the state of Maryland as part of its Maryland history unit. Amy’s first novel, A Place to Call Home, was published in 2014 by Sarah Book Publishing. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, received 2016 and 2017 Illumination Book Awards, which recognize the best Christian themed books published both in the traditional book form as well as the ebook industry. Whispering Vines received a 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. She followed up her success with the acclaimed, Island of Miracles in 2017. Amy’s weekly blog currently has over 1000 subscribers, and topics vary from current events to her home life with her husband, Ken, and their three daughters, Rebecca, Katie, and Morgan as well as their two dogs, Rosie and Misty.

Schisler delights in speaking to groups, and more information may be found at her website: http://www.amyschislerauthor.com.

You may follow Amy online at the following places:

http://amyschislerauthor.com

https://amyschisler.wordpress.com

http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor

https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/amy-schisler

Twitter @AmySchislerAuth

Giveaway

Picture3Amy is generously giving one lucky person two signed paperbacks. One copy is for you and the other for your friend. You can enter here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9912248026/

Tour Schedule

December 4

Bookish Orchestrations – Intro Post

December 5

Lisa Swinton – Queen of Random – Book Spotlight

Letters from Annie Douglass Lima – Book Spotlight

Rachel Rossano’s Words – Book Spotlight

December 6

Rebekah Lyn Books – Book Spotlight

Amy Schisler, Author – Book Spotlight

December 7

Among the Reads – Book Spotlight

December 8

Adventures in Publishing – Book Spotlight

December 9

Bookish Orchestrations – Giveaway winner

Excerpt

Lank stood at the back door and watched the lightning. The mountains were invisible, shrouded in black from the ground to the heavens. Each bolt of lightning illuminated the sky with an iridescent glow that gave clear understanding of the term, electric blue.

“This is spectacular,” Lank said.

“It is pretty incredible,” Summer agreed. It was the first time they had been seen each other in forty-eight hours, and Lank couldn’t help but see the irony of them being together during a lightning storm. Every time he thought about her lately, he felt like he’d been hit by a bolt out of the blue.

Another strike hit a distant mountain with offshoots of light emanating from the bolt like the long, spindly branches of a tall, pine tree.

“The lightning is seriously intense,” Lank said, feeling like a kid mesmerized by his first storm.

“And dangerous. One strike to a dry, dead tree can start a fire that would spread for miles and lay waste to everything in its path.”

Lank marveled once again with his new appreciation for nature. “I guess that’s something I’ve never given a thought to. Forest fires are pretty non-existent on the east coast.”

“And pretty common out here. We had one about seven or eight years ago that spread all the way up to the base of the San Juan’s. You could see the haze and smell the smoke even with the doors and windows closed.”

Lank was speechless. He’d never seen such a beautiful storm, and it was hard to reconcile that with the destruction that he knew a forest fire could create. He turned to Summer.

“Why do you stay up here? So far from civilization? With bears and mountain lions and lightning that could burn down your house? Why, with everything you’ve gone through over the past couple months, do you stay in this house, on this mountain, alone?”

Summer looked at Lank and then turned back to the light show. She fiddled with the cross dangling below her throat as she watched the light flash across the sky. When she finally spoke, her voice was low, and her gaze was fixed on the black horizon with its intermittent blue light.

“Once, when I was younger, my parents took us to Disney World. It was a dream come true for me. Even Johnny, who acted like it was a stupid trip for his baby sister, had the time of his life. We went to all the parks, rode all the rides, watched the shows, and had our pictures taken with every Disney character imaginable.”

Lank watched her as she spoke. Her red hair hung loose around her shoulders, and the occasional flash of light made her eyes even greener than usual. She was the most beautiful sight he had seen since he’d arrived in Colorado. He watched her lips curve into a smile as she remembered her family trip.

“One night, we went to see Fantasmic, the light and water show. Have you seen it?” She turned and looked at Lank who shook his head, too awestruck by her to speak.

“It was this amazing show of lights and lasers and water spouts. But as I watched it, all I could think about was that it was made up. It was a technological wonder of grand proportions, but it was a show.” She turned back to Mother Nature’s show outside the window. “This,” she said as she gestured to the sky, “this is the real deal. This is a light show of epic proportions that Walt Disney could only dream of portraying with his fancy lights and music.”

Summer turned to Lank and smiled. “I wake up every morning with a heavenly masterpiece painted across the sky outside my window. I drive to work amid the majesty of the most beautiful mountains in the world. I see God’s version of a magical light show every time we have a storm. If I’m lucky, Black and I can spot a bobcat or a mother bear and cubs up on one of our rides. I walked through Cinderella’s castle, rode the Matterhorn, watched Fantasmic, and met creatures of all kinds in their costumes and wigs, but I never once saw anything that compares to what I have on top of this mountain.”

Without thinking, Lank reached up and tucked the stray lock of hair behind her ear. He felt Summer catch her breath at his touch. His hand lingered near her face before he gently touched her cheek and let his finger trail down her face.

“I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as what’s standing in front of me at this moment,” Lank said quietly as he lightly caressed her cheek with the back of his fingers.

“Lank, I,” Summer began to speak, but Lank put his finger on her lips.

“Shh,” he whispered. “You don’t have to say anything. I think you know how I feel, but I don’t think you know how you feel. Not yet.” He felt her shiver and saw the relief in her eyes. It was all he could do not to take her into his arms.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m here on business. God help me, I might not sleep a wink waiting for you to decide what you want, but once you can see clearly and choose me for who I am and not what I can do to save you; once you’re no longer the damsel in distress but the strong woman I believe you to be, then I’ll be here.”

Lank leaned down and placed a soft, gentle kiss on her lips before backing away and heading upstairs to the room next door to hers. He had made up his mind, right or wrong. Summer was the only woman who had ever made him feel this way – focused yet confused, secure yet unsteady, manly yet like a child in need. He was too far gone to turn back now.

What I was writing about one year ago this week:

How Do You Measure A Year?

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy followed up her success with, Island of Miracles, which has outsold all of her other books worldwide and ranked as high 600 on Amazon. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available. Amy’s novel, Summer’s Squall, is now on sale.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017)

 

 

 

Yearning to Be Free

everything-everythingLast night, the girls and I watched a very good and interesting movie. It was your typical teenage girl’s romance in many ways, but there was an unexpected twist (unless, like my girls, you read the book by Nicola Yoon) that has me thinking about parenting in today’s world. The movie, Everything, Everything, centers around Maddy, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease, or SCID. Maddy cannot leave her house – ever. Any visitors, and there are practically none, must enter through a decontamination chamber and be sanitized, before being allowed into the house, and must keep their distance from Maddy. For seventeen years, Maddy contentedly lives life through books and movies, but all that changes when Olly moves in next door.

SPOILER ALERT

The story revolves around Maddy’s ever-increasing desire to experience life outside of her house. She longs to sit in the same room and have a real conversation with Olly, a compassionate seventeen-year-old boy whose father is abusive and can’t hold down a job, forcing the family to move every few months. Once Olly manages to convince Maddy’s nurse to let him in, being together is not enough for the two teens. The young couple wants to date, to experience the world together; and Maddy begins to ponder the age-old questions, what would you do for love, and would you risk your life to be happy? Once she decides that the answers are “everything” and “yes,” the story takes a turn that those unfamiliar with the book would never see coming. 

WARNING – MAJOR PLOT TWIST REVEALED

What would you do for love? Would you risk someone else’s life to ensure your own happiness? As a mother, watching the revelation that Maddy’s mother had been lying for her child’s entire life, those questions had more meaning.  A doctor, with a clear understanding of what her daughter would have to endure, Maddy’s mother lied to Maddy, and everyone else, from the time Maddy was a baby. After losing her husband and Maddy’s brother in a car accident, Dr. Whittier decided that the only way to never lose Maddy was to keep her locked inside their home forever. It’s truly the kind of stuff that fairy tales are made of. The mother locks the daughter in the castle until the young prince or knight or other charming male comes along and rescues the fair maiden. And as in most fairy tales, the viewer (or reader) is cheering for Maddy and Olly to break out and be free even though the truth about Maddy’s condition isn’t known until the end of the movie.

But what if we aren’t talking about a fairy tale? What if a parent spent a child’s entire life keeping the child locked inside as a way to protect her? Impossible? Not really. I look around today and see many parents doing just that. Sure, their kids are allowed to go outside and play and be with other kids or go to school, but where is mom? Often times, mom is right there beside them. At school, at the pool, at camp, and everywhere else. I see moms unable to let their children fall, make mistakes, get hurt, or fail. A child cries, and mom is right there to pick up the pieces, but what does that do to the child? Does she become a strong, independent person who can contribute to society, or a person who has no idea how to live in the real world, solve her own problems, and find her own place where she can truly be the person God intended?

A recent study revealed that “95% of college counseling centers across the nation reported that they are concerned with the growing amount of psychological issues that they are seeing students enter college with, due to helicopter parenting.” According to the article, young adults today have a higher rate of suicide, a higher dependence on prescription drugs as well as recreational drugs, and a harder time taking control of their adult lives. Take a look at this graphic and tell me if you think there may be a correlation between the amount of young people unable to get a job and the rise in helicopter parenting.

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Am I a perfect mom? No way. Every day I make mistakes.  Every day I am learning. Every day I am trying to find where I fit into the ever-changing lives of my daughters. Every day I want to be better than I am. Every day I wonder what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong. And I try to fix what I’m doing wrong, not what they’re doing wrong. And that’s where I feel we have to draw the line. Because in truth, our children are yearning to be free, to be their own persons, to be successful, to have their own lives, and even make their own mistakes. By hovering over them at all times, not allowing them to make their own decisions and their own mistakes, and insisting that they always be within our sights, we are holding them back – plain and simple.

Interestingly, a sign that you’re a helicopter parent is the amount of time you talk to your adult child. Millennials talk to their parents 8.8 times per week, with 86% of first-year college females communicating frequently with their mothers. This is where I have to disagree with the professionals. I talk to my mother every single day. And I have some form of conversation with my grown daughter every day. Sure, I give her advice, but I try to do so only when she asks. And only after I ask her how she thinks she should handle it. I’m not always good at that, but I do try. I hope that, rather than solving problems for my children, I have and do instill in them the ability to solve problems for themselves. It’s not always easy seeing the distinction, but it’s imperative. Have I overstepped? Sure, I have. But I hope that my mistakes have been lessons for my girls as well as for me. 

Cover-001.jpgThis fall, I will be releasing my next children’s book, The Greatest Gift. Ironically, it’s about a king and queen who lock their daughter in a tower in order to protect her from the world. While it is a young man who eventually takes her from the castle, it is the princess who ultimately decides when, how, and with whom she will leave. Like Maddy, she is able to break free from the prison imposed upon her by her parents. Will other young adults today be able to do the same?

What I was writing about one year ago this week: Seeking the Silver Lining.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017)

 

Eight Books You’ve Never Heard of for Summer 2017

I like to read. A lot. That is to say that I like to read very much, and I read a lot. I have so many lists of books that I practically have books of lists. Every morning, I log into an inbox full of book suggestions from listservs, publishers, booksellers, and friends. I tuck all of them away in folders in my email. Once a week, I go through the list and order as many as I can from the library. What I can’t order, I buy. I’m sometimes criticized for using a Kindle reader instead of holding actual paper books between my fingers, but honestly, how else am I going to take a dozen books on vacation with me? I once packed a whole extra suitcase of books. Have you seen the prices for extra suitcases these days?

Anyway, as I said, I like to read. No, I love to read. And I love receiving suggestions as to what to read. So as payback for the many suggestions I receive, I thought I’d put together a short list for you to get your summer reading underway. All of these are new, or new to me, authors with books I’ve read lately* and recommend for your reading pleasure, depending upon your reading mood.

For a sentimental read – Sunflowers in a Hurricane by Anne M. Faye

A mystery that will keep you guessing – Inherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn

A paranormal romance, light on the paranormal, but heavy on the romance – The Dreamer by Alexa Jacobs

For some light-hearted, romantic fun with a delightful story – Two Doctors & and a Baby by Branda Harlen

A romantic suspense that surprised me – Luxury Model Wife by Adele Downs

For the history buff – Church of Spies by Mark Riebling

For adventure, culture, history, overcoming hardship, romance, and expanding your intellect, this one has it all – The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Okay, a shameless plug for a beach read I hope you’ll love – Island of Miracles by Amy Schisler

*disclaimer – some of these were books I judged for the Romance Writers of America romance fiction contest, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were!

What I was writing about one year ago this week: The Smell of Sunshine.

Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing:  18 New Historical Fiction Novels to Read With Your Book Club by Chanel Cleeton on BookBub; 7 Challenges Successful People Overcome by Dr. Travis Bradberry, author Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me  and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017)

 

Longing for Laura’s Little House

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The Ingalls homesite outside of DeSmet, SD

Yesterday, February 7, most people went about their day as usual. Some discussed politics, others avoided it.  Many went to school and work and attended sporting events, meetings, or other things in between. While some families ate their evening meal together, others raced to a game, meeting, or  get-together.  Most of us went to bed in a warm, cozy bed with heat flowing throughout out two-story houses.  Most people probably didn’t note the date or the significance of the year.  But perhaps a few, like myself, actually noticed the social media “trending items,” and found themselves taken back to a place and time in American history that had a profound impact on our lives and brings to mind a nostalgic warm and comforting feeling, one that recalls someone few of us ever met but is as familiar to many as a dear old friend.

Few book or television series have captured the hearts of America like the one that took place in the woods of Wisconsin, then the prairies of Kansas, and later, the plains of Minnesota and Dakota.  As a child, my mother and I spent hours reading together, and I never missed my Monday night date with the young girl I loved as dearly as my closest friends and family.  Yesterday was her 150th birthday, and I have to wonder how she could possibly have aged when, in my mind, she will always be a young, energetic half-pint with braids.  

Much has been learned about Laura Ingalls Wilder since her death.  We know that her family did not live in isolation and were not wholly self-sufficient.  They were often surrounded by other pioneers and townsfolk.  We know that Laura’s family had a grave mistrust of the government and that Laura was an introvert, often hiding away from the public due to her extreme shyness and fear of being around people.  Quite the opposite of her mother, it was Laura’s daughter, Rose, who convinced her mother to write the stories of her life at a time when the family was starving and on the verge of losing what little they had.  I like to think that it was Laura’s pioneering spirit that inspired her to become an author at the age of 65 rather than falling into despair and giving up after a long, hard life fraught with illness, poverty, and, no doubt, despair.  How ironic that it was all of the those attributes of her childhood that endeared her and her family to so many generations of people.  

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My girls and others learning about school in the late 1800s in Laura’s one room schoolhouse

Times have changed, the West was won, women moved beyond the classroom to the boardroom, and families today are often too busy to eat a meal together.  Never mind spending a winter trapped inside their home, with little to eat and a small fire to keep them warm, as a blizzard rages outside of their home on the wide-open prairie with few people around other than each other.  Mothers are no longer tied to their stoves, laundry, and sewing 24 hours a day with no relief.  Fathers no longer have to hunt to put food on the table.  Most children don’t walk to school and then return home to work the farm and read the Bible by candlelight at night.  These are the things that our great-grandparents, grandparents, and parents worked so hard to move away from, but I have to wonder…

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Morgan, Rebecca, and Katie doing laundry like Ma at the Ingalls homesite

Had Laura and her sisters not suffered so many illnesses that left childbearing hard to impossible;  had she and Almonzo been able to have a big family; had Rose married and had children…. would their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren appreciate how much we have gained but how much we have lost as the generations have rolled by?   Would they embrace the rat race that so many of us run each day, or would they yearn for the harder yet simpler lives that Laura, Mary, and Carrie had with Pa and Ma and baby, Grace?  Would they have a greater appreciation for how far our nation has come and sadness for how far we’ve slipped behind?

This has been a very mild winter here in the Mid-Atlantic, and I yearn for just one winter like the one that Laura’s family braved during The Long Winter.  I long for just a few days trapped in the house with my girls, perhaps without electricity, without contact with the outside world, without the demands of our normal, every day lives.  How I miss the days of my own childhood when nothing mattered more than the number of lightning bugs we could catch as we ran through the woods and the farm fields surrounding my grandparent’s house.  How I cherish the memories of snuggling with my mother while we read together and later, with my own girls as I read to them.  Perhaps, if Laura were here to celebrate her birthday now, she would marvel at the lives we live today.  Or perhaps, she would long to return to the days when her family had little more than love in their Little House on the Prairie.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her book, Whispering Vines,  is a 2017 Illumination Award winner; and her most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017)

To All of the Muses in My Life

IMG_1118I was blindsided last night by the outpouring of love and support that I received from so many people.  I held a launch party for my newest release, Whispering Vines, available today in print and ebook.  The large reception room at Scossa’s Restaurant and Lounge was standing room only with friends, family, fellow writers, and even strangers who all came to purchase my new book.  By the end of the event, I was completely sold out of that book and had sold numerous copies of my earlier books.  It was an evening I will never forget.

I often hear it said that the life of a writer is lonely and depressing.  Many writers spend their days in isolation, writing at home, locked away from the world.  Many of the world’s greatest authors lived painful lives of solitude, often turning to drugs or alcohol, with many committing suicide.  I’ve never been able to reconcile that type of existence with my own life.  I’ve been asked many times how I find time to write, and I’ve had several people tell me that I have to slow down, stop volunteering, and curb my social life and family trips.  It seems that now that I am an author, I am expected to close myself off from the world and spend twenty-four hours a day with my fingertips glued to the keys of my laptop.  Last night was a reaffirmation that becoming a hermit is the last thing I should do.

I thrive on relationships.  The more time I can spend with my family, the better. The times I’m able to sneak away with friends are blessings. Everyday interactions with other school parents and volunteers are essential to my well-being.  Leading a week-long volunteer camp is crucial for my happiness and feeling of self-worth.  And it’s from these many people and moments that I find my inspiration.  Most of my characters are based on people I know.  All of the settings are based on places I have visited.  And the storylines are always inspired by experiences I’ve had or stories I’ve heard from others.  Where would I be, where would my writing be, if I didn’t have such a strong connection to other people?

So I would like to thank everyone who has supported my writing, all of those who have bought my books, those who were at the party last night, and every person who has touched my life in some way.  You are all my inspiration, my muses.  They are your faces that I see when I am describing characters, your homes and your families.  They are our conversations that I recreate, and it is your friendship and love that resonates in the stories that I tell.  The success of my writing can be contributed to every one of you, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books:  Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016)

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