Thursday, January 7, 2016

Favorite Books, Favorite Genres, Favorite Authors!!

Wow, the ladies at Coffee Cups & Camisoles are well-read! I've enjoyed getting a sneak peek into their home libraries and reading lives.

I'm a bit different than Erica and Jaime, in so much that I eat, breath, and live in historical romances. Okay, maybe I don't live in historical romances, but man, that was my greatest dream growing up. I wanted so badly to have a time machine and go back to my favorite time periods to smell and taste and see all that was missing in the books I was reading. A close second was to live in a historic home (which I did!) and try to recapture the nostalgia of days gone by...but the reality is an old house is a lot of work! So we moved. :)

Before I began to write full-time, I could count the books I read outside historical romance on my right hand. Two. Sweetwater Gap, by Denise Hunter and The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.

Okay, that's not entirely true. As a child, I devoured The Babysitters Club books, by Ann M. Martin.

Ironically, I was a poor reader in third grade and my teacher told me I needed to find books that would interest me. I remember the very location in my elementary library where I found my first Babysitters Club book and I became a veracious reader.

But, I digress.

As an adult, I couldn't get enough of historical romance. When I was about thirteen, my aunt handed me Love's Long Journey, by Janette Oke.

It was my introduction into Christian historical romance. From there, I read all Janette's books and then moved on to Gilbert Morris and read all the House of Winslow and the Cheney Duvall, M.D. series.

From there, I found Tracie Peterson, Judith Miller, and Lauraine Snelling.

As I matured and the Christian publishing industry expanded, I discovered some of my favorite authors. Lynn Austin (her Refiner's Fire series is among my all-time favorite), Cathy Marie Hake, Siri Mitchell, Deeanne Gist, Mona Hodgson, Kathleen Y'Barbo, and on and on.

About eight years ago, I picked up a book called The Lady of Milkweed Manor, by a debut author named Julie Klassen. I could not put the book down. It was so different from all the others. It was a bit darker and dealt with harder issues. It was my first glimpse into a newer trend in Christian publishing, and I liked it. Julie was the very first author I ever contacted. I loved that she was from my home state of Minnesota. I wrote her an email and she graciously responded, but it would be several years before we met in person and became friends.

Julie is one of my "do-not-miss" authors. I read every book she publishes. Some of my other "do-not-miss" authors are Karen Witemeyer, Jody Hedlund, and Laura Frantz. They are at the top of my list of current favorites, and I don't see them coming off that list any time soon!

A recent discovery is Lori Benton. Oh, my, word! Her book, The Wood's Edge, was my all-time favorite book of 2015. The sequel, A Flight of Arrows, releases in April and I cannot wait! I've already told my family I'm taking a day vacation when that book falls into my hand. Her writing is stunning and I can't get enough.

The classic I return to time and again is Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. There is a reason this book continues to be on the bestseller list. It's amazing. It's almost always the first book I hand to people who have not yet read Christian historical romances. I have hooked many a friend and family into the historical romance genre with that story.

The books that shaped my adolescence and confirmed my desire to write about MN history were Little House on the Prairie books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the Betsy-Tacy books by Minnesota author Maud Hart Lovelace. I've read almost all of these books to my own girls and we've visited Laura's home on the banks of Plum Creek in Walnut Grove, MN and Maud's home in Mankato, MN. I love the feel of these books and the devotion Laura and Maud had for their homes. It encouraged me to write about my own hometown and to dig deep into the lives and events that shaped central Minnesota. What I found was a goldmine of ideas!

I have so many other favorites, but these are just a few that have shaped my love for historical romance. Since becoming a writer, and meeting all sorts of other writers, I have broadened my horizon and read within many genres, but historical romance will always have my heart and soul.

What about you? I'd love to know if you've read any of these books. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors?

**Speaking of my favorite books and authors! I have a winner of The Painter's Daughter, by Julie Klassen from my review two weeks ago! The winner is Diane Estrella! Congrats, Diane! I'll be contacting you soon.

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  1. My favorite books are usually old classics like Pilgrim's Inn by Elizabeth Goudge and Thrush Green series by Miss Read. I love old 40's/50's children's historical fiction like The Ark by Margot Benary Isbert was just BEAUTIFUL! :) I love middle grade/ YA fantasy (Brandon Mull, recently, in 5 Kingdoms was ok) and memoirs (Gladys Taber, recently) oh and memoirs about books ;)! :P the most...I do enjoy Christian romance, my favorite as of late was a little different, but I liked it, The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay. A few others I liked recently in Christian Romance are, The Pepper in the Gumbo by Mary Jane Hathaway (because it's full of bookish, You've Got Mail references ;) ) and Still Life by Christa Parrish.

    1. Wow, you've listed some great reads! A few I'm familiar with, and some that are new to me. Katherine Reay is a personal favorite. I'll have to check into the others you've listed. I love You've Got Mail, so any book referencing that one is a winner for me. :)

  2. Some new authors for me to add to my to read list. I have read The Help and enjoyed it.

    1. I'm so happy some of these are new to you, Kim. They've shaped me as a woman, a Christian, and an author. I love sharing them with others.

  3. Another thing we have in third grade teacher put me in remedial reading! Guess we both got over that little setback! :D

    1. That's too funny! It gives me hope. My own third grader is struggling with reading and I keep telling her someday she'll love it and maybe be an author herself. :)

  4. Nothing's better than friends...Baby-Sitters Club...

    Hehe. I've read everything by this really great new author named Gabrielle Meyer. ;)

    1. Ahh!! Now I have that song in my head. :) Love that we share the Babysitters Club in common, Lindsay. :)

      Thanks for the lovely words. You always get my stories when they're raw and unpolished, so I appreciate your compliment. :)

  5. I hated reading when I was younger. I laugh now because it is all I want to do!! I grew up on many of those same books. My mom got me started on Cheney Duvall, I loved those!!

    1. I can relate, Susan!! Except, now all I want to do is write!! :) So happy you're familiar with Cheney. She and Shiloh were two of my favorite characters.


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