AprilIntrigue and Romance (Not Necessarily in that Order)

Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano (April 4)

With a name like Permilia, you know the characters will be filled with quirks and foibles. Permilia might be a society wallflower, but she manages to work behind the scenes to create an acceptable life for herself that’s meaningful and stimulating. Asher thinks he has no room in his life for Permilia—a woman who doesn’t fit his ideal of a perfect life partner—despite the fact that he’s falling in love with her. When Permilia overhears a plot to kill Asher, sparks fly as she tries to save his life (despite the fact that he doesn’t think he needs saving).

Once again, Jen Turano leads the reader on a mad romp through New York society at the end of the 19th century. You won’t be able to put this one down.

Beyond Justice by Cara Putnam (April 4)

Hayden McCarthy, a young attorney trying to make partner, gets sucked into a case that drives her crazy. Her boss wants action NOW, but the partners won’t approve the money for Hayden to pursue the threads to bring a wrongful death case against the federal government. The suspense and intrigue increase when someone brutally attacks Hayden’s. Her client’s son ends up staying with Andrew Wesley—one of DC’s most eligible bachelors—and Hayden’s roommate’s cousin. Hayden and Andrew struggle to deal with their feelings for each other and the danger that seems to stalk them. You won’t be able to put this one down!

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The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller (April 4)

I struggled to get through this book—which is unusual for me with a book by Judith Miller. The author seemed to spend a lot of time setting the scene and I kept wondering when the story would start. The characters are likable, but the antagonist seems a little one-dimensional and the protagonists a little too credulous. From a historical perspective, I learned something I’d never known before—that church organizations sponsored Chapel Car Churches in rural West Virginia during the early 1900s.

Memoir

Where I Live Now by Sharon Butala (April 4)

I thought I’d branch out and read some Canadian literature, and I’m glad I did. Sharon Butala’s memoir weaves the story of her journey from living on her husband’s ranch and hay farm for over 30 years to moving to the city. Once again she has to find her niche in a world she left behind when she fell in love, left her academic life, remarried, and moved to the southern section of Alberta, Canada.

Along the way the reader learns of Butala’s struggles to become a writer, to fit into a sparsely populated farming community, and to educate herself about the things she observes while out exploring her husband’s ranch and hay farm. We also learn of the respect she and her husband have for the land and how they work to preserve it for future generations to explore and enjoy.

Batula does not write from a Christian world-view, but her memoir will resonate with anyone who experiences changes. Of course, I kept wanting to tell her, “I know where you can find acceptance and peace…”

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True Crime

Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn (April 11)

I distinctly remember the day I head of the Jonestown tragedy. I gathered in tight little clusters with my 7th grade classmates talking over the events that were slowly emerging in the news. Almost a thousand people dead, including children and babies. Kool-Aid and cyanide. A senator shot to death trying to escape. A crazy man named Jim Jones.

Ever since then, I’ve wondered how one man could orchestrate the death of so many people and why they would willingly kill themselves. As a teenager, I watched a TV documentary on Jones’ life that focused on his affairs and how good people got duped.

After reading Jeff Guinn’s new biography of Jim Jones, I understand so much more. Guinn interviews people who knew Jim Jones as a youngster, as well as people who knew him as a young man and idealistic reformer. He uses this information to put together a picture of a complex man whose life veered off the normal path degree by slow degree as more and more people joined his church—the Peoples Temple.

Guinn brings to light information that I never knew before—for example, Jim Jones helped Indianapolis integrate during the Civil Rights movement—without violence. Jones was a master tactician in a battle against segregation. His understanding of human psychology helped him manipulate thousands of people, and his charismatic personality kept them coming back for more.

Even though some of Jones’ followers knew that he blatantly lied and manipulated the truth, Guinn states, “Nothing was more important than the cause, facts included.”

This well-written, well-researched book brings to light the problem with demagogues—they can’t save us. When we fall under their spell, we risk everything—including our lives.

Don’t forget to check out the other #InspireMeMonday hostess over at Blessed (but Stressed)

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