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)

 

Favorite Novels – What’s on Your List?

DSC04542As I sit here this morning looking out over our backyard, a heavy mist shrouds the landscape.  The snow and grass seem to be in a struggle over which parts of the yard belong to whom.  Across our property lies a patchwork of white, brown, and green bordered by trees that actually seem to be looking down upon the earth wondering when it will be time to awaken from their long, cold slumber. And as if the East Coast hasn’t already had more than its share of winter, more snow is heading our way.  The good news for those of us in the Mid-Atlantic is that at least we’ve been able to thaw a little in between each storm.  Not so for Boston, Buffalo, and many other cities and towns north of here!

I’ve already accepted the fact that there will be four people in the kitchen tomorrow baking Katie’s sweet sixteen cake rather than just one, and I might just have many more hands available to decorate for her party on Friday. However, I so long for an entire week of writing without interruption!  I understand that many people are just itching to get into their gardens and out in their boats.  I would just love to have a five-day stretch where I can sit in quiet and complete a chapter or so per day in my next novel.  Alas, that doesn’t seem to be in the forecast for me this week, but perhaps a good read is in your future.  So I’ve decided to share with you my list of my all time favorite books.  Like all good librarians, I will categorize the list.  I hope there is something here that you will enjoy reading.  I believe that you will find a few hidden gems amongst some of the more well-known titles.  So pick a book, sit by the fire, and remember that spring is just 15 days away!

Amy’s All Time Favorite Books:

Historical Fiction

The Lady of Arlington by Harnett T. Kane – a novel based on the life of Mary Custis Lee, the wife of Robert E. Lee

The entire Little House series – have you read them as an adult?  You should!

Romance

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green – a book I have loved since I was in middle school.

Fantasy

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling – really, did you truly expect me to not have a Harry Potter book on the list?

Memoir

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma – A father and daughter vow to read together for 1,000 nights, and magic happens.

General Literature

So many to list!

Beaches by Iris R. Dart – A tear-jerking story about lifelong best friends and the ups and downs of their relationship

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield – a timeless tale (truly – you have no idea when in time this takes place) of secrets and lies that come out when a young writer is summoned to write the memoirs of a dying woman.

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham – perhaps an odd choice, but I love a good book about football, and this one is a lot of fun!

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks – The “choice” will leave you buried in a pile of tissues!

Classics

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier – A nameless heroine falls in love with Max deWinter, a man haunted by his past.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – Jane falls in with Mr. Rochester, also a man haunted by his past.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – love and romance in the Victorian Age

Mystery/Suspense

This is the hardest list to narrow down for me.  I am a sucker for a good suspense story!

The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

The Lifeguard by James Patterson

Where are the Children by Mary Higgins Clark

Please add your favorites to the list!

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

https://amyschislerauthor.com/amyschislerauthor.com/Books.html You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com

Sex in Literature

Sarah Publishing
Over the last couple of weeks, I have heard and been a part of many conversations about sex in literature.  These conversations have taken place at conferences, in public, and within chats among friends.  I find it interesting to hear how others view this topic, what they find appropriate or inappropriate, or whether or not they enjoy reading this type of work or are simply made uncomfortable by it.  I still stick to the belief I have held for all of my adult life, and as this is my blog, I’m going to share that with you now.

While many would argue that sex has been a part of literature for as long as there has been the written word, I would disagree to an extent.  Has it been “present” in literature since the beginning? Sure it has.  But has it been the graphic and explicit portrayal we are seeing so often today?  I would argue it has not.  While The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss (1972) was the first work of fiction to portray physical intimacy, romance fiction has “flowered” quite a bit itself.  Ever since Woodiwiss introduced the world to the sexual exploits of Heather and Brandon, romances have tried to capture the fervor caused by this first of its kind publication.  It wasn’t until the recent release of Fifty Shades of Grey that such a book has so completely captivated readers (and now movie goers alike).

But I have to ask this question: outside of a class on Romance Genre Literature (yes, those classes do exist), where else is sexually explicit work considered literature?  Did Jane Eyre have wild, explicitly detailed sex with Mr. Rochester?  Elizabeth with Mr. Darcy?  Rebecca with Maxim?  Even Hermione with Ron, for Pete’s sake?  And how much more satisfied were you as a reader when you finished reading those works of literature?  I firmly believe that there is something to be said for the imagination!  I know, most children and young adults these days don’t even know what it is to “imagine” something.  The world is already painted for them, and most will never pick up the brush needed to add in their own details.  So what do writers do today?  They hold the readers’ hands.  They paint every facet of the picture with their own take on what the hero or heroine would do and how they would do it (every minuscule detail).  They lead the reader through the author’s own personal fantasy without allowing the reader to decide on her own what is happening.  The reader is no longer a reader, she is a voyeur, a virtual peeping Tom.

On the red carpet this past Sunday, Melanie Griffith said she never wants to see daughter, Dakota, as Anastasia, toy and later wife of Christian Grey (I will not call her his “love interest”).  I don’t blame her.  Would all of the women who read the book feel differently about it if they had to picture their own daughter being graphically defiled by Mr. Grey?  My bet is, they most certainly would. Do we really want to create a whole genre that we wouldn’t want our own daughters to read?  I can firmly say, I would not.

Is there romance in my books?  Yes, there is.  However, I will continue to rely more on my ability to tell a story than on the need to use sex as a plot device.  If I ever get to the point where my characters find time to have a wild and explicit romp in the hay while hiding from a mad man and trying to stop a killer from taking other innocent lives by running from one clue or murder scene to another without the chance to shower or even brush their teeth (I’m already gasping for breath), will someone please put me out of my misery?  I once had a publisher tell me that my writing and plot were wonderful, but they weren’t interested unless I added in some steamy sex.  No, thank you.  The storyline just doesn’t work that way, and neither do I.  Oh did I mention that I was later signed by a publisher and that the same book that was once turned down is now selling very well nationwide?  I guess some people are still okay with using their imaginations.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

https://amyschislerauthor.com/amyschislerauthor.com/Books.html You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com