Top Ten Tuesday {My Autumn Book Pile}

While these days I might be a little bit of a lazy writer, I have, as a counterbalance, been doing a lot of reading! Probably not as fast or ferociously as I should like (schoolwork, you know), but the little I have indulged in has been a great source of delight and enrichment to me. Lately I have been ecstatic over the amount of good books I've discovered (mostly from authors long gone by). But with a good dose of Tolkien, Sayers, and Jane Austen under my belt these past weeks (please tell me I am the only one suffering from Emma's meddling insufferably-ity!), I have been feeling a need to refresh myself on books out and about these days that are wholesome and interesting; and relevant to the genres I write in too. Despite my usual book-snobbery and sad cynicism of modern literature at large, I have met with some wonderful exceptions. And thankfully, with so many fresh 'spring' releases, I have indeed found some books to catch my interest from modern authors.

After all, 
one should not toss the babe' with the wash-water... 

The other day I stumbled across a blog that does book-reviews, The Broke and the Bookish, and they had this 'Top Ten Tuesday' list meme that they host weekly, with links for people to join a post with 'literary lists'. It sounded like a deal of fun, and as this week's topic is the books in our pile for the season (Autumn for me), I felt like I could give it a whirl. 
So without any further ado, I present to you the books I have on my pile for this Autumn:  books newly released, classics by authors of the past, and those in between. Hopefully, in between assignments and chores, and long-car-drives, I will be able to read at least a few of these titles :).

Shadow Hand by Anne Elisabeth Stengl: 
She will take your own two hands
to save your ancient, sorrowing lands.

By her father's wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. Unable to bear the future she sees as her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.

But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal fey parasite . . . .

A world that is hauntingly familiar.

Having read and enjoyed the other published novels in The Tales of Goldstone Wood, I am definitely looking forward to reading Stengl's latest release in her series, especially as this book carries off with secondary characters (Daylily and Foxbrush) from Moonblood which was one the books I especially loved in the series. Besides, don't you think the cover is absolutely gorgeous? 
The Shield Ring by Rosemary Sutcliff: 
The story takes place in England shortly after the Norman Conquest. High up among the mountains of the Lake District is a secret valley where the Northmen (Vikings) have their last stronghold - or shield ring. The Normans want to crush this last group of Northmen and bring the whole country under their control. To this end they build a castle in Carlisle and send an army north.

Life goes on in the valley: lambing, shearing, spinning, harvesting, and singing and storytelling in the great hall in the evenings - as narrated by two young people. Frytha is a Saxon girl, who fled to the valley after the Normans burnt her home, and Bjorn, the Bear-Cub, is the foster son of the old harper.

As the people of the shield ring go about their lives, they stay ready for a Norman attack. Bjorn's foster father teaches him to play the Sweet-singer, a special harp that the old harper owns, and despite Bjorn's enthusiasm, a secret fear burns inside the boy: if the Normans capture Bjorn, he may succumb to torture and reveal the path to the hidden valley.
When the Northmen need to scout the extent of the Norman army, Bjorn volunteers: he speaks enough Norman to get by and a harper can go anywhere. The young man sets out for the Norman camp, not knowing that Frytha, an ally, follows him. He does know that if the Normans discover his espionage, though, he will be tortured, and his secret fear from childhood may become a reality

This book has been sitting patiently on my shelf for more than a year, waiting eagerly to be read. I started reading it a while back, but somehow got caught with other books, and avoided this beautifully rich story - from the start, I felt it required the sort of emotional commitment that The Children of Hurin by Tolkien required and wasn't quite ready for that. Now that I've read more of Sutcliff, especially the much-loved book 'The Shining Company', I really, really want to go back and dig into this story and be swept away by Sutcliff's rich prose!
All God's Children by Anna Schmidt:
Beth Bridgewater, a German American, finds herself in a nightmare as World War II erupts—a war in which she takes no side, for she is a Quaker pacifist. Just as she gains opportunity to escape Germany, Beth decides to stay to help the helpless. Meanwhile, Josef Buch, a passionately patriot German, is becoming involved in his own secret ways of resisting the Nazis. . . . Despite their differences, Beth and Josef join together in nonviolent resistance—and in love. Does their love stand a chance. . .if they even survive at all?

The Peacemakers Series:
Book 1: All God's Children - Available
Book 2: Simple Faith - Available March 2014

All God's Children and its sequel, 'Simple Faith', are one of those 'newly released' books that I am very eager to read; in blind faith to be honest, since I only discovered Anna Schmidt's novels online this week. I was browsing Amazon's free Christian historical fiction books available on kindle, with a bit of an eye cocked for any WW2 era novels that looked wholesome and interesting, when I came across her Peacemaker series, which piqued me by their premises immediately. In reading the reviews of this first novel, I gathered that the story is centered around the events of the White Rose non-violent resistance, involving Sophie and Hans Scholl and the students at Munich University - events I've always been interested in for a long time but know little about. And with reading praise for how historically precise and accurate Schmidt is with her series, as well being engaging and inspiring, I thought I ought to give this author and her books a go!
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis: 
Mere Christianity is C.S. Lewis's forceful and accessible doctrine of Christian belief. First heard as informal radio broadcasts and then published as three separate books - The Case for ChristianityChristian Behavior, and Beyond Personality - Mere Christianity brings together what Lewis saw as the fundamental truths of the religion. Rejecting the boundaries that divide Christianity's many denominations, C.S. Lewis finds a common ground on which all those who have Christian faith can stand together, proving that "at the centre of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks the same voice."

I have been meaning to read more of C.S. Lewis' non-fiction works for a while now, and being Mere Christianity is probably Lewis' most famous book outside of the Narnia books, as well as being a fundamental book on 'mere' Christianity, in the sense - the core truths, of our faith, I think this would be a good start :).
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte:
Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. 

She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed. 

With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte's innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.

 Jane Eyre is of course a classic, one I have been eager to read for a long time now.  I had been delaying my reading of it for many years, since I knew it to contain more mature themes, and romantic elements that I would better appreciate/grasp the older I got. At last, I think I might be ready to read it now - I watched a few different movie/tv adaptions of the story already, and was greatly inspired by Jane's character and the themes presented by Bronte; it will be wonderful to gain a new appreciation of the story through the book itself.
Wars of the Realm #1: Cloak of the Light by Chuck Black:
Tragedy and heartache seem to be waiting for Drew Carter at every turn. Sydney Carlyle, a mysterious and elusive girl offers encouragement through her faith, but Drew is too logical and scientific to believe that her prayer of healing was anything but coincidental in the restoration of his eyesight. As his sight returns, he discovers that the accident has heightened his neuron activity, giving him skills and sight beyond the normal man. When he begins to see fierce invaders that no one else can see, he questions his own sanity, and so do others. But is he insane or do the invaders truly exist? The only one who can help him, his genius friend Benjamin Berg, has disappeared. In Drew's quest to find Ben, he discovers that the invaders themselves are at war, for his efforts to thwart the devastating actions caused by the dark invaders are aided by invaders with a different nature. Time grows short as the dark invaders close in on Drew. With skills that no other man possesses, and help from Benjamin and Sydney, Drew initiates a plan to expose the invaders to the world.

I have long been a fan of Chuck Black's Knights of Arrethtrae fantasy/allegory series, so while Cloak of the Light doesn't exactly fit into the genre I normally read, I am quite excited for this book in his new series and am willing to give it a go. It definitely has a very intriguing premise, and from the few reviews I have read, I get the notion that this book is quite amazing.  
Cry of Hope by Emily Chapman:
When a voyage to the New World is thrust upon young, unwilling Hope Ellison, her carefully built ideals begin to slip from her grasp. Clinging to the tattered shards of her once contented life, she embarks on the perilous journey with her family, caring not for the reason they are taking such risks in the first place and fearing the fate for her future. Yet, even her fears are unprepared for the trials ahead, and soon she comes face to face with choices that will define her view of life entirely.

Being that Emily happens to be a wonderful on-line friend of mine, I would anyway be eager to read anything she wrote. As it is, Cry of Hope, her newly released debut historical novel has highly piqued my interest on its own merits as well - it sounds like such an inspiring, history-filled story and I am very eager to read it. :)
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis:
Only the Bible has been more influential as a source of Christian devotional reading than The Imitation of Christ. This meditation on the spiritual life has inspired readers from Thomas More and St. Ignatius Loyola to Thomas Merton and Pope John Paul I. Written by the Augustinian monk Thomas à Kempis between 1420 and 1427, it contains clear instructions for renouncing wordly vanities and locating eternal truths.  No book has more explicitly and movingly described the Christian ideal: "My son, to the degree that you can leave yourself behind, to that degree will you be able to enter into Me."

For autumn, my other choice of non-fiction was hard to narrow-down, but I've decided to stick with The Imitation of Christ. This book is one of my dad's commendations, so I know it will be good! It is also a devotional classic, and one that I know I will hopefully benefit from.
Fly Away Home by Rachel Heffington:
Self Preservation has never looked more tempting. 

1952 New York City: 
Callie Harper is a woman set to make it big in the world of journalism. Liberated from all but her buried and troubled past, Callie craves glamour and the satisfaction she knows it will bring. When one of America's most celebrated journalists, Wade Barnett, calls on Callie to help him with a revolutionary project, Callie finds herself co-pilot to a Christian man whose life and ideas of true greatness run noisily counter to hers on every point. 

The new friendship sparks, the project soars, and a faint suspicion that she is falling for this uncommon man grows in Callie's heart. When the secrets of Callie's past are exhumed and hung over her head as a threat, she is forced to scrutinize Wade Barnett and betray his dirtiest secrets or see her own spilled. 

Here there is space for only one love, one answer: betray Wade Barnett to save her reputation, or sacrifice everything for the sake of the man she loved and the God she fled. The consequences of either decision will define the rest of her life

Reading Fly Away Home will almost be like a re-read since last year I had the wonderful opportunity to beta-read Rachel Heffington's novel before she released it this February. But since it was off a computer screen and I was reading it with my critical specticles, I am all in favour of reading the published story. It is a very fascinating story, I'll give you that!
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett:
What secrets lie behind the doors at Misselthwaite Manor? Recently arrived at her uncle's estate, orphaned Mary Lennox is spoiled, sickly, and certain she won't enjoy living there. Then she discovers the arched doorway into an overgrown garden, shut up since the death of her aunt ten years earlier. Mary soon begins transforming it into a thing of beauty--unaware that she is changing too.But Misselthwaite hides another secret, as mary discovers one night. High in a dark room, away from the rest of the house, lies her young cousin, Colin, who believes he is an incurable invalid, destined to die young. His tantrums are so frightful, no one can reason with him. If only, Mary hopes, she can get Colin to love the secret garden as much as she does, its magic will work wonders on him.

Strictly speaking, I doubt I will be able to read The Secret Garden during this season; but it is such a sweet, classic story, and I am already so very familiar with it, I think I just might be able to read it in the near-future. Also, the story is set on the moors, just like Jane Eyre so I think I will be 'in the mood' for it.
Another Homecoming by Janette Oke & Davis Bunn:
In the wake of her husband's presumed death, a young war bride makes a desperate choice to give her baby a better life. However, her choice will have unforeseen ramifications for more lives than she ever expected. 
The baby girl, named Kyle by her adoptive parents, grows up with no knowledge of her humble beginnings. When a heartbreaking loss pits Kyle against her high society mother, secrets from Kyle's past come to light. Suddenly, she finds herself searching for the family she never knew and a faith she's only beginning to understand. With all that has come before, will Kyle ever be able to find home?

There now, we come to the last book in the list. Another WW2 novel, this time set in America, I have been eager to read Another Homecoming for a long time now. It deals with presumed war-deaths, war brides, and hidden secrets - all the sort of thing I am interested in these days with my own writing! And the fact that it is coauthored by Janette Oke & Davis Bunn together (they wrote The Acts of Faith series together which was really good!) makes it all the more appealing to me. 

Quite a few books! I know I won't be able to read them all in the allotted 'season', but at least they are all put here together to help me keep things organized and on-track. ^_^

Which titles are you eager to read during this season?


  1. Wow! That's an interesting 'to read' list, Joy! I'd like to read some of these myself someday, especially Another Homecoming, Mere Christianity, and All of God's Children. I'd like to try Sutcliff someday, too.

  2. Mere Christianity is also on my list, which seems to be growing with every day. I'm going to need a long and uncomplicated year to compleat everything. But, it's funny A little princess has been something of a to read for ages, but we hadn't a copy and somehow every time I reached a library it slipped my mind. But oh boy I'm reading it now and it's a delight, I feel that it's even more because I'm not like 10 anymore, I find it delightful to be able to appreciate something so simple and for " little " girls, when the story is so packed with lessons even us older ones can use. Also her writing style is charming. Have you read a little princess ? the secret garden is too on my to next read.
    I know my brother has a series by Chuck , he's an exceptional writer. I'm looking forward to reading ted dekkers new series water walker. Have you read any of his work ?
    Also Tolstoy, Fitzgerald, and Hardy are some on a list that I'm following this year, I usually make my own, but this one is supposed to be a read imidately and become a better writer. We'll see.
    Blessings ~ Rachel Hope

  3. I loved The Secret Garden. It's SUCH a good story....I always pitied Mary though, especially when everyone teased her for being moody. Maybe she was just a serious person?! It always bothered me. I do like Rosemary Sutcliff too. She's aaamazing. :)

  4. Thanks, Sarah, I am glad you enjoyed going through my list! I am looking forward to reading Another Homecoming and Mere Christianity as well. I already read 'All God's Children' as you know, and I think you will really enjoy it. While I did find that sometimes the historical elements of The White Rose, and the characters involvement in that group could have blended into the story more and been given more detail than the author gave it, and also sometimes I felt there needed to be more emotional pull/stakes for such a serious and emotional story, but other than that, the story was really exciting and interesting, and I loved it. :D it had some funny moments too =)

    Oawwha, yep! You will read Sutcliff. I shall see to it, personally. *nods fiercely*. It is my mission!

  5. Reading lists! Rachel, mine currently stands at around 700+ books to read. It is crazy, isn't it? But I am glad we can't run out of good books =).

    Ohh, I want to read 'A Little Princess' as well - no, I haven't actually, but I watched a Shirely Temple black-and-white adaption to the story, and it brought me to tears. It was so beautiful! Ah, though I do know that adaption is not exactly like the book. I know what you mean - many of the children's classics that I have read, I have read recently, and in some ways I think I enjoy it all the more because of it! I have never heard of Ted Dekkers before - is he a fantasy author? I very much want to read Tolstoy one of these days! Have you read any of his works, like War and Peace?

    God bless, and thank you for commenting, Rachel! :)

  6. Cait, thanks for stopping by :). I am very much looking forward to reading the original book - from an audio drama I once heard, and from watching the movies, I also pitied Mary - I think it isn't exactly her fault that she was a bit spoilt, what with the way her parents treated her back in India and then suddenly dying and leaving her to go all the way back to England. I love Dickens though. He's my favourite!!

    Ah, Rosemary Sutcliff. I am glad you like her too, because, she is seriously one of my favourite authors!

    God bless :)


Post a Comment

"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body..." ~Proverbs 16:24

It is a great delight to hear from viewers of this blog! Comments always make blogging a lot more fun, rewarding, engaging as well as being a blessing. So please type away! I try, busy schedule not hindering, to respond to each comment. And while you're at it, it will be lovely if you could sign the Guestbook page. Just please remember to keep your comments gracious and God-honouring at all times. Thank you!