Sunday, June 5, 2011

Free ebooks: The Swan House, Life's A Beach, bring on the blessings

   I'm a little late with the Friday freebie post. OK, I'm a LOT late, but the I've been to book fair twice and got to see the Cardinals sweep the Cubs, so I have a good excuse! I have three freebies to tell you about, and all look like good 'summer' reads. I picked them all by the covers, by the way, but the look like good ones.

  The first one is 'The Swan House' by Elizabeth Musser. This is classified as Christian historical fiction, set in 1960's Atlanta. The story centers around Mary Swan Middleton, the 16 year old daughter of a wealthy stockbroker. Her mother has died in a plane crash, and her maid advises Mary Swan to work through her grief as she helps out at a church 'soup kitchen'. This is a time of racial turmoil, and she makes friends who are of 'the other' race and must come to terms with the prejudices held by her old friends. The book rates 3.82 stars by Goodreads members. You can read their reviews here. Here is a synopsis from Amazon.

This beautiful story of a young girl coming of age in the midst of racial turmoil and personal tragedy in 1960s Atlanta convincingly describes how religious faith satisfies the girl's deepest longings. Sixteen-year-old Mary Swan Middleton is white, wealthy and privileged "We are, of course, another fine Atlanta family," she says sarcastically. As the novel opens, her artistic and depressed mother has just been killed in an air crash in Paris, leaving a slew of secrets behind. As Mary Swan unlocks the past, she wrestles with her grief over her mother's death and the direction of her own life. But "the Lawd don't neva' waste our pain," says her wise African-American maid, Ella Mae. When Mary Swan begins volunteering with the poor, she falls in love with a handsome black teen, Carl. As she works through her confusion about her feelings for him and her despair over her mother, she finds her true calling as a painter and reformulates her preconceived ideas about race and faith. This creative novel is highly descriptive but not overdone, brimming with touches of humor, factual Atlanta settings, historical incidents and well-developed characters. Some tightening of overlong passages would have accelerated the pace, and the novel would stand on its own more effectively without the introduction and the epilogue, which mostly function as advertisements for a sequel. But these are minor glitches in a book that stands out in recent Christian fiction for its excellent writing and overall quality.
   You can pick up the Nook version here or the Kindle version here.

   The next book is also classified as Christian fiction, but this time the setting is contemporary. 'bring on the blessings' by Beverly Jenkins tells the story of Bernadine Brown, the wife of a wealthy man. She catches him cheating with his secretary and walks of with half of those millions. She decides God has given her a purpose, and buys a failing Kansas town that was founded by a former slave. She wants to give troubled kids a second chance, but not everyone is on board with that. The book is rated 4 stars by Goodread readers. You can read the reviews here. Here is the synopsis from Amazon.

On Bernadine Brown's fifty-second birthday she received an unexpected gift—she caught her husband, Leo, cheating with his secretary. She was hurt—angry, too—but she didn't cry woe is me. Nope, she hired herself a top-notch lawyer and ended up with a cool $275 million. Having been raised in the church, she knew that when much is given much is expected, so she asked God to send her a purpose.
The purpose turned out to be a town: Henry Adams, Kansas, one of the last surviving townships founded by freed slaves after the Civil War. The failing town had put itself up for sale on the Internet, so Bernadine bought it.
Trent July is the mayor, and watching the town of his birth slide into debt and foreclosure is about the hardest thing he's ever done. When the buyer comes to town, he's impressed by her vision, strength, and the hope she wants to offer not only to the town and its few remaining residents, but to a handful of kids in desperate need of a second chance.
Not everyone in town wants to get on board though; they don't want change. But Bernadine and Trent, along with his first love, Lily Fontaine, are determined to preserve the town's legacy while ushering in a new era with ties to its unique past and its promising future.

   Pick up the Kindle version here, the Sony Reader version here, or the Kobo version here.

   The last book is 'Life's A Beach' by Claire Cook, the author of 'Must Love Dogs'. The main character in the story is Ginger Walsh, who is living in the apartment above her parents' garage. She has a going-on-50 sister, and an artist-boyfriend with commitment issues. She has a cat; he has a dog. She wants to be a sea glass artist but is currently a babysitter. This book only rates 3-stars at Goodreads, but I'm guessing that if you enjoyed 'Must Love Dogs' you will enjoy this one. (I listened to 'Must Love Dogs'  on my iPod while walking and never really got into it, but I'm not really a big fan of audiobooks.) You can read the Goodreads reviews here. Here is a synopsis from Barnes and Noble.

Life's a bit of a beach these days for Ginger Walsh, who's single at forty-one and living back home in the family FROG (Finished Room Over Garage). She's hoping for a more fulfilling life as a sea glass artist, but instead is babysitting her sister's kids and sharing overnights with Noah, her sexy artist boyfriend with commitment issues and a dog Ginger's cat isn't too crazy about. Geri, her BlackBerry-obsessed sister, is also nearly over the deep end about her pending fiftieth birthday (and might just drag Ginger with her). Toss in a dumpster-picking father, a Kama SutraT-shirt-wearing mother, a movie crew come to town with a very cute gaffer, an on-again-off-again glassblower boyfriend, plus a couple of Red Hat realtors, and hilarity ensues. The perfect summer read, Life's a Beach is a warm, witty, and wise look at what it takes to move forward at any stage in life.
  You can pick up the Nook version here, the Kobo version here, and the Sony Reader version here.

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