Sunday, December 15, 2013

The 6 Books of 2013 I Recommend for Christmas Gifts!

1.       Dear Mr. Knightly by Katherine Reay

Dear Mr. Knightley is a contemporary epistolary novel with a delightful dash of Jane Austen.

Samantha Moore survived years of darkness in the foster care system by hiding behind her favorite characters in literature, even adopting their very words. Her fictional friends give her an identity, albeit a borrowed one. But most importantly, they protect her from revealing her true self and encountering more pain.

After college, Samantha receives an extraordinary opportunity. The anonymous “Mr. Knightley” offers her a full scholarship to earn her graduate degree at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. The sole condition is that Sam write to Mr. Knightley regularly to keep him apprised of her progress.

As Sam’s true identity begins to reveal itself through her letters, her heart begins to soften to those around her—a damaged teenager and fellow inhabitant of Grace House, her classmates at Medill, and, most powerfully, successful novelist Alex Powell. But just as Sam finally begins to trust, she learns that Alex has secrets of his own—secrets that, for better or for worse, make it impossible for Sam to hide behind either her characters or her letters.

Why This Book?

            I’m a huge Jane Austen fan and I am in love with the concept of DEAR MR. KNIGHTLY I think that this book would please the Jane Austen Romantic in your family or circle of friends! This would also be a good book for someone who likes blending classical literature with the present!


2.     The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turanksy
Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?
Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?

Why This Book?

            I heard it said that this book is like Downton Abbey meets The Sound of Music (The good one…with Julie Andrews…not the recent incarnation that got terrible feedback J ). Carrie Turanksy is an established author who has written independently as well as for Love Inspired Books. I believe THE GOVERNESS OF HIGHLAND HALL will put a smile on a young lady’s face in your life this Christmas!


3.      In Golden Splendour by Michael K. Reynolds

Irish immigrant Seamus Hanley is a lost soul, haunted by his past as a U.S. Army deserter and living alone in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains in 1849. But after witnessing a deadly stage coach crash, he finds purpose in the scattered wreckage -- a letter with a picture of a beautiful and captivating woman named Ashlyn living in San Francisco at the height of the Gold Rush. Moved by her written plea for help, he abandons all and sets out on an epic journey across the wild and picturesque American frontier. While being pursued by those who want to hang him, Seamus encounters fascinating characters including a young Pauite Indian who makes the ultimate sacrifice in helping Seamus to cross the snowy Yosemite Valley.

Battered but changed for the better, Seamus reaches San Francisco on Christmas Eve as the city burns in the tragic fire of 1849. But there is little time for rest, as an even greater, more harrowing adventure involving Ashlyn is about to begin.

Why This Book?

            In Golden Splendour is the sequel to FLIGHT OF THE EARLS and would be a great book for both men and women on your list this Christmas. The main character in the book Seamus Hanley has a very interesting story that is sure to please all sorts of book lovers. For the history buffs on your list, IN GOLDEN SPLENDOUR covers several major events in history including the California Gold Rush. For the romantics on your list there is a wonderful love story. Finally, for the lovers of fast-paced books there is action galore! (Bear in mind that you don’t want your loved one to read these books out of order because it will spoil major plot details. So, if they haven’t read FLIGHT OF THE EARLS first, you may want to consider that book or both of them together as a gift J )


4.     The Heiress of Winterwood by Sara E Ladd

Darbury, England, 1814

Amelia Barrett, heiress to an ancestral estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend’s infant baby. She'll risk everything to keep her word—even to the point of proposing to the child’s father, Graham, a sea captain she’s never met.

Tragedy strikes when the child vanishes with little more than a sketchy ransom note hinting to her whereabouts. Fear for the child’s safety drives Amelia and Graham to test the boundaries of their love for this infant.

Amelia’s detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she examines her soul and must face her one weakness: pride.

Graham’s strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline.

Both must learn to accept God’s sovereignty and relinquish control so they can grasp the future He has for planned for them.

Why This Book?

            I love historical fiction and when I read about THE HEIRESS OF WINTERWOOD I was immediately intrigued. I think that this book would be a great gift idea for those on your list who love Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs, and other programs. This would also be a great gift for lovers of history and historical fiction.




5.     Birds of the Nile by N.E. David

When Michael Blake takes early retirement from the British Embassy in Cairo, he books a long awaited birding trip. But halfway up the Nile he meets Lee Yong and things begin to change. Their tour guide Reda isn t all he seems either and when the Egyptian revolution kicks off, Blake finds himself embroiled in a tangled web of love and intrigue. Set against the background of the events of January 2011, Birds of the Nile is a powerful story of loss and self-discovery as three disparate characters, each with their own agenda, seek to come to terms with change. Part political thriller, part love story, Birds of the Nile is N.E.David s debut novel. Poignantly written, it reminds us of the complex nature of global cultural interaction and how, as individuals, we try to deal with it.

Why This Book?

            I think it is fun to follow an author’s career from the beginning where possible. While N.E. David has written several novellas, this is his debut novel. Part romance and part political thriller with a wonderful Egyptian setting, I think many will love this contemporary fiction! This might be a wonderful gift for both men and women on your list this year!

6.      Longbourn by Jo Baker

If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.

In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own.

Why This Book?

            I love books that reimagine old favorites. I was a huge fan of DARCY’S STORY when I read it and now author Jo Baker offers another perspective of the story of Pride and Prejudice. I love the idea of the story being told from the maid’s point of view. This book has gotten great reviews and has even been Editor’s Choice in Daedalus Books ( I believe this book would be great for Jane Austen fans, or even for people who just enjoy the Pride and Prejudice movies from over the years!

I hope these recommendations help you find a great gift for your loved one!
                                ---Lizzie <3 

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