[Official Blurb] Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature / weekly meme created by The Broke & the Bookish. The meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke & the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your Top 10 Lists! In January, 2018 this meme is now hosted byThat Artsy Reader Girl.
[ Topic of 8th October, 2019:
Character Traits I Love;
Personality Traits I Love to See In Book Characters:
Things That Make Me Love a Character ]
→ Which works brilliantly into a Top Ten Tuesday post
I originally wrote to coincide with the Topic of 2nd July, 2019:
We needed to discuss *characters!* with an OPEN THEME/CHOICE:
Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recommendation
(and their characters I loved discovering!)
Today’s entry was inspiring to me for the following reasons:
As avid readers, we meet so many dearly incredible characters throughout our bookish journeys – it would make sense, somewhere over the score of time – we are going to come across authors & characters who leave imprinted impressions on our bookish hearts which not just effect us through time and space but they leave such a distinction of presence on our readerly lives. Sometimes they never quite leave us – as there is a part of them inside us still – all these hours after they’ve left our thoughts, because for each character we’ve met in a story, their life and their experiences have bled into our own; their memories are now our memories as for each story we read, there is a potential there to live another life, through another person’s shoes irregardless of their gender; their essence affects us because we’ve breathed in their life.
It is hard to even speculate which characters in the *six years!* I’ve blogged have staid with me the longest and which stories I ache the most to re-read and re-visit alongside – those are goals and dreams I have for Winters long spent by fireside cosy nooks of space where knitting needles, hot tea and scones await me as cats linger in dreamscapes and snow gently falls outside frozen windows. Until then, when I’m granted the joy of a seasonal experience outside of volcanic Summers and blink-you-missed-it Winters, I happily appreciate the hours I have to spend with the characters as their stories ‘greet’ me on the pages their writers left me to find.
As a genre dancer – it is even harder to pin down the characters I regularly interact with as they could be a fantastical creature, a science fiction adventurer, a Magical Realism time bender or they’re living Contemporary or Historical lives – they could be young, old, or somewhere between; sorting out their lives or re-defining a second career or tackling adversity inasmuch as they are giving love a second chance. I love stories and for all the lovelies I regularly read there are still so many more horizons out there in the literary realms I desire to explore further, read harder and read particularly closer to the eras of time I love exploring most.
Whilst at the same time, if I can disappear into my favourite eras such as the Victorian, Regency & Edwardian periods of England – the Highlands of Scotland and criss-cross through a time portal which skips round the historical past from Ancient times to present-day on all the continents of curiosity and interest; wells, you can see where the well of possibilities deepens greatly!
Narrowing down this list of choices was a bit of a curiously serendipitous experience – I went with the inspiration at the moment and as this was originally composed in July, I dearly had to break the 11 references into 12 as – oh, my dear sweet bookish heavens – those Spinsters have left me hungering for more of their stories! I cannot wait to re-invest into their lives as I move into the second novel having consumed (er, devoured?) the first and fourth!
It goes without saying but I will remind you: brew your favourite cuppa & get comfy as this is a seriously long post about the stories and authors I hope might encourage a few new choices on your TBR Lists!
DUE NOTE: all the books featured on this Top Ten Tuesday post were complimentary books sent to me for review consideration and/or were sent in exchange for an honest review at some point or another over the past few years. I received them from publishers, publicists, authors and/or blog touring companies. I was not obligated to feature them on this Top Ten Tuesday post but wanted to feature them due to how incredibly attached I became to their narratives, characters and the immersive experience I felt as I read their stories.
Acquired Book By: I answered a call to become a member of Ms. Anderson’s Author Street Team which was posted on her blog in March 2014. She accepted me as part of her Street Team, whereby I am one of her early readers who has the opportunity to read her novels a bit ahead of their published release or just after their release date, whilst finding ways to talk about why I love reading her novels on my blog and Twitter feeds. I truly love championing her collective works as she’s writing wicked good INSPY fiction for today’s modern reader. I re-affirmed my commitment to her Street Team in July 2016, as I never truly left but my participation was on hold until this Summer. Most of my participation between 2014 and 2016 occurred on Twitter; you can still find my tweets threading through the twitterverse about the Coming Home series!
I received a complimentary copy of “Pieces of Granite” direct from the author herself, Brenda S. Anderson in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein
Why I personally love reading the Coming Home series:
When Ms. Anderson says she writes ‘gritty fiction’ she is referring to the fact she likes to dig deeper than the superficial layering of telling a story. She likes to go directly into a character’s soul and walk of faith, rooting out their emotional and psychological stability or instability if the case might be, in order to best show the growth and spiritual awakening they need to embark towards. For some it is a spiritual renewal and for others, it’s an awakening because they never gave themselves the proper credit towards understanding God in the first place. She breathes honesty and raw emotions into the context of her stories, and her vision for her characters is realistic humility in recognition of everyman’s faults, fragilities, and sensitivities. She organically digs deeper to tell a more compelling and openly captivating story which pulls you in from page one and does not leave your heart even after the last page is turnt; the story fully absorbed and known. She is most definitely an emerging voice in Inspirational Fiction to keep an eye out for new releases and a finger-tap on interlocking book series!
She maintains the spirituality of Christianity in a gentle way of allowing you to oversee the character going through the motions of returning to a God-centered life which is cross-referenced by light commentary of scriptures and affirmations of God’s grace. It is through the lessons of her character’s actions that the greatest arc of spirituality is found.
I realise Ms Anderson softens her approach to writing the tone within the Where the Heart Is series which follows publication after the Coming Home series – however, what personally tethered me to her writerly core of heart initially was how honest she was to write an emotionally raw and convicting story-line about wicked real characters who were struggling to find a bridge through adversities and life-changing moments erupting through their ordinary hours. They were in the midst of changing who they were internally as much as spiritually – re-awakening themselves to mercy and forgiveness.
Her cardinal approach to cut a slice of life affirmative fiction into our readerly hours is a lift of joy to me as a reader, as these are the kinds of stories I love to find within the realms of today’s Contemporary INSPY! I also love how she follows her heart, penning stories that are a firm step outside the box of where Inspirational Fiction has the tendency to become a bit too predictably stagnant and re-writes how all INSPY writers can find fuller freedom in painting a portraiture of our everyday world.
BOOK 1: Chain of Mercy | April 2014 | (see Review)
BOOK 2: Memory Box Secrets | April 2015 | (Synopsis)
BOOK 3: Hungry for Home | September 2015 | (Synopsis)
When you first set out to write the Coming Home series did you envision each individual book in the series or has the series knitted together organically one story at a time?
Anderson responds: When I first started writing, I had no clue that I would end up with a four book series. Each book grew organically from the previous. I first wrote Chain of Mercy and realized that I actually had two stories in one, so that’s how Memory Box Secrets was born. The story expanded from there. Pieces of Granite came about because I kept hearing from agents and editors that female readers didn’t want to read a book about male issues, so I decided to create a story from the female perspective.
In Chain of Mercy, the hero (Richard) talks about a fight he’d had with his younger sister (Debbie), a rift he created when Debbie told him about her daughter having Down syndrome. I took Debbie’s story and expanded it. I wrote Finding Home because I left a few loose threads dangling at the end of Memory Box Secrets (that’s all the spoiler I’ll give!) I needed to address those threads properly.
On my two year absence on reviewing the Coming Home series:
I initially intended to read and review the books as they were releasing as an active member of the author’s Street Team, however,  proved to be quite the difficult year for myself and my family. As previously reflected on my End of the Year Survey, 2015 – I even garnished a bit of a backlogue of reviews and titles I was seeking to read. I elected to focus on the stories I was able to read and remained hopeful the tides would turn to where I could reclaim the stories I was not yet able to greet against the page!
Thus, as 2016 started to unfold, I was hoping I could arrive inside a moment where I could lay heart and mind back inside this beautifully conceived Realistic INSPY series as my first reading of Chain of Mercy was such a powerful one, I was drawn immediately inside the vision Ms Anderson had for the series as a whole! I knew from that one reading, I would be forever grateful to be amongst the readers who not only sought out her collective works but could continue to find out what she drew together for these characters I had become so dearly attached too knowing more about!
It so happens, this Summer I felt was a renewing season for myself as a reader – where I could not only dig back inside the stories on my bookshelf I longed to soak inside but I could pull together stories on parallel themes that truly touch my spirit and heart as I am reading them. Be sure to watch for my upcoming reviews on behalf of stories of mumhood & alternative families: Claiming Noah by Amanda Ortlepp this July, followed closely by Ignoring Gravity by Sandra Danby, Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey and Inconceivable by Tegan Wren in early August. As together with Pieces of Granite I am reflecting on all aspects of being a Mum and how family enters our lives whilst grounding us on a path that is a true blessing to be given.
Notation on Cover Art: I personally love how Ms Anderson was able to get synchronicity and harmony with her cover art designs for the Coming Home series – she truly found designers who knew how to create a certain textural feel to the undercurrent thematic of the series but also, the level of hope within any story writ under the INSPY umbrella. I felt collectively they are an incredibly layered series creatively etched to mind through their covers and the choices wherein the story-lines are represented.
Pieces of Granite
A distressing diagnosis
A retreating husband
A prodigal brother
Debbie Verhoeven is not your typical woman.
• She sacrificed a counseling career to be a full-time mother
• She’d rather pound a nail than round steak
• Oprah? No way! Give her ESPN any day
• Nothing could be more stressful than scrap-booking
A distressing diagnosis,
A husband who is pulling away,
And two older brothers who refuse to get along
When the counselor is caught in the middle,
when she needs to be strong for those around her, who is left to be strong for her?
Brenda S. Anderson writes gritty and authentic, life-affirming fiction. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is currently President of the ACFW Minnesota chapter, MN-NICE. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, theater, roller coasters, and baseball (Go Twins!), and she loves watching movies with her family. She resides in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area with her husband of 28 years, their three children, and one sassy cat.
Her debut novel, Chain of Mercy Book #1 in the Coming Home series, came out in April of 2014. Pieces of Granite the prequel to Chain of Mercy was a semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis Awards released on November 18, 2014!
Each of us who joyfully blogs about books will find at times, even our best laid plans to host concurrent blog events can sometimes become a bit hard to juggle when our personal lives intercede on the time we had scheduled to devout to the events themselves. I found myself in this particular pickle last Sci Fi November, but this year, I felt I had shifted a few things around to where I had more hours to give and thereby could redeem myself from what I could not put together last year. Suffice to say, a few unexpected issues arose the least of which were a knock-out of my internet connection by a severe lightning storm and a broken toe of which looked far worse than the injury itself yet gave me enough wincing pain to forestall my blogging.
I was able to jump dive into the #RRSciFiMonth chat at the very tail-end of the conversation, whereupon I happily enjoyed speaking with Ms. Czerneda, Asti, Ana, and Rachel Noel (@Silelda & Purple Owl Reviews)! It was during this part of the convo, I expressed my desire to carry forward into December the posts I was unable to contribute during the last fortnight of SFN: 2014! I was happily surprised to find others were in agreement; November for whichever reason had become a bit of a quagmire for a lot of us, and I was not the only one wanting to extend the celebrations!
*I received a bit of a surprise whilst getting the link for Rachel Noel’s blog! (read: 2014 Thanks) I have always appreciated the randomness to my conversations with Rachel Noel on Twitter & I had always meant to expand our connection by visiting her blog. To see my name listed as a part of a note of gratitude of whom gave her the most joy and support in 2014 was simply an unexpected blessing to discover. Our lives touch each other in ways we do not always realise have an impact that gives us all a boost when we need it most. I can attest the same in return!Read More
Ever since I hosted Ms. Anderson on the book release of her debut novel Chain of Mercy, I have been itching to tell the world and the bookish blogosphere all about this lovely new author & her series of realistic INSPY fiction! I have come to use the shortened version of “Inspirational” via Twitter recently, as I started to notice writers, readers, & book bloggers alike are starting to grow towards creating a community for the those of us who appreciate faith-based fiction. I have been a support of the INSPY Awards since I learnt of them in 2013, and even applied to become a judge in 2014. I love the close-knitted bookish community overall, but I have found the Inspirational side of the bookish market to be sorting out their own niche in the twitterverse and I am appreciating the journey!
I love being a book cheerleader (if you hadn’t noticed, I created the tag #bookcheerleader during this year’s #ArmChairBEA!) for writers who not only tell a convincing story but writers who dig deep and pull out of the cosmos compelling characters, fully realised worlds in which their characters not only live but find growth through the passageways which deepen their character’s perspective, and the convicting narratives which not only leave me bemused in ruminative thoughts upon completing a novel but leave me altered. I love feeling as though the reconnection to my own living reality is a bit of a tug-of-war out of the fictional reality I had just lived inside for the length of time the novel was perched open in my hands.
When my path originally crossed with Ms. Anderson, she was a book blogger who was creating her own niche in the book blogosphere for showcasing heart-warming INSPY fiction (of late her debut novelist features have been inspiring in their own right) which is how our friendship began; now that I’m a bonefide member of her Street Team, I cannot quite express the gratitude I have knitted into my heart to help give new readers a chance to discover what I always knew I would find within her novels! She truly has carved out her own style within the world of INSPY fiction and I cannot wait to nominate her for the next INSPY Awards, as her works truly deserve to become recognised for helping to pave the road forward for Inspirational Fiction as this branch of literature continues to expand, grow, and cart new territory through the story-tellers who curate a truism within their writing which resonates within our spirit and heart.
It is with great pleasure I can not only highlight the Coming Home Series today, but I can give a window into the next book being released THIS November: Pieces of Granite, the prequel to Chain of Mercy!
Schedule of Book Releases:
PREQUEL: Pieces of Granite | November 2014
BOOK 1: Chain of Mercy | April 2014
BOOK 2: Memory Box Secrets | April 2015
BOOK 3: Finding Home (working title) | September 2015
Book Synopsis for the first two novels of the “Coming Home series”:
They forgave him for the accident that killed their son, but he will never forgive himself. Manhattan businessman Richard Brooks was at the top of the world, drunk with success, wealth, and women. Until one disastrous evening, when his world came crashing down. Richard flees to Minneapolis where he repairs ancient boilers instead of solving corporate problems, and he’s determined to live the solitary life he now deserves. But Executive Sheila Peterson has other plans for the handsome custodian. Richard appears to be the perfect match for the no-strings-attached romance she’s after, but she soon discovers that he’s hiding more than the designer suits in his closet.
A distressing diagnosis A retreating husband A prodigal brother
Debbie Verhoeven is not your typical woman
*She sacrificed her counseling career to be a full-time mom
*She’d rather pound a nail than round steak
*Oprah? No way! Give her ESPN any day
*Nothing could be more stressful than scrapbooking
Nothing except …
A distressing diagnosis
A husband who is pulling away
And two brothers who refuse to get along
When the counselor is caught in the middle, When she needs to be strong for those around her, Who is left to be strong for her?