It’s no secret most of us read to escape our everyday lives. We long to travel to exotic locations, explore new lands, and learn about different cultures through the pages of our books. But sometimes it’s nice to camp out in our own backyard for a while and see what it has to offer.
Having lived and travelled extensively abroad, I’m glad to be back home in the good ol’ U.S. of A. I’ve discovered quaint towns, beautiful landscapes, and amazing people you can only find here. Now I’m on a mission to see what else this great nation has hidden away within its borders.
But I know traveling isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you can’t get out and drive the highways and byways of our wonderful country right now, maybe you can learn more about it through some of these American-themed books I’ve rounded up for you this month.
And if you have any American books or locales you think I need to check out, be sure to let me know!
Historical: The year 1900 ushers in a new century and the promise of social change, and women rise together toward equality. Yet rules and restrictions remain, especially for women like Alice Butterworth, whose husband has abruptly disappeared. Desperate to make a living for herself and the child she carries, Alice leaves the bitter cold of Chicago far behind, offering sewing lessons at a New Orleans orphanage.
Constance Halstead, a young widow reeling with shock under the threat of her late husband’s gambling debts, has thrown herself into charitable work. Meeting Alice at the orphanage, she offers lodging in exchange for Alice’s help creating a gown for the Leap Year ball of Les Mysterieuses, the first all‑female krewe of Mardi Gras. During Leap Years, women have the rare opportunity to take control in their interactions with men, and upend social convention. Piece by piece, the breathtaking gown takes shape, becoming a symbol of strength for both women, reflecting their progress toward greater independence.
But Constance carries a burden that makes it impossible to feel truly free. Her husband, Benton, whose death remains a dangerous mystery, was deep in debt to the Black Hand, the vicious gangsters who controlled New Orleans’ notorious Storyville district. Benton’s death has not satisfied them. And as the Mardi Gras festivities reach their fruition, a secret emerges that will cement the bond between Alice and Constance even as it threatens the lives they’re building . . .
Romance: Posh Brit Tristan has fallen for his American work colleague over Zoom. When she invites him to spend the Fourth of July with her and her family, he leaps at the chance to meet face to face. Maybe they can be more than just friends? Sherilyn is in big trouble. She’s in love with someone she’s never met, and he’s just accepted an invitation she was sure he’d turn down. Tristan might think he’s about to meet a cute girl and her cookie-cutter family, but she’s Sherrie-Lynne, not Sherilyn. And when he discovers her family are lawless rednecks, he’s going to run a country mile. Now, Sherilyn has to produce a fake family and put on a show bigger than her small town’s Fourth of July celebrations. Can she pull it off, or will she end up driving both Tristan and her family away forever?
Fantasy: The sun gives life. It is also capable of profound destruction. With little warning, a solar super flare erupts from the sun. A billion tons of superheated plasma hurtles through space toward Earth…
When all lights fail, who will save you? Thirteen-year-old Shiloh wakes with a dead body beside her, her brother missing, and no memory of what happened. As fiery northern lights blaze across the sky, she sets out into the night, determined to find him.
Haunted by the past, Undersheriff Jackson Cross vows to catch a vicious killer. But every clue he uncovers leads him further into a darkness he fears he cannot defeat. Eli Pope has just been released from prison. Wrongly convicted of murder, the former Ranger has but one goal: exact vengeance upon those who betrayed him. Meanwhile, Search-and-Rescue first responder Lena Easton begins a harrowing 1600-mile journey to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to find the children of the one person she couldn’t save. As multiple solar storms strike Earth, transformers explode, the power grid fails, and communication networks collapse. Half the world goes dark, thrusting the planet into utter chaos.
With society crumbling around them, the survivors must fight not only for their lives, but for everything they hold dear–hope amid devastation, justice in the face of depravity, and ultimately, the perseverance of the human spirit against all odds.
Mystery: Morally ambiguous P.I. Leonid McGill is back — and investigating crimes against society’s most downtrodden — in this installment of the beloved detective series from an Edgar Award-winning and bestselling crime novelist.
Leonid McGill’s spent a lifetime building up his reputation in the New York investigative scene. His seemingly infallible instinct and inside knowledge of the crime world make him the ideal man to help when Phillip Worry comes knocking.
Phillip “Catfish” Worry is a 92-year-old Mississippi bluesman who needs Leonid’s help with a simple task: deliver a letter revealing the black lineage of a wealthy heiress and her corrupt father. Unsurprisingly, the opportunity to do a simple favor while shocking the prevailing elite is too much for Leonid to resist. But when a famed and feared assassin puts a hit on Catfish, Leonid has no choice but to confront the ghost of his own felonious past. Working to protect his client and his own family, Leonid must reach the heiress on the eve of her wedding before her powerful father kills those who hold their family’s secret. Joined by a team of young and tough aspiring investigators, Leonid must gain the trust of wary socialites, outsmart vengeful thugs, and, above all, serve the truth — no matter the cost.
Contemporary Christian Fiction: Similar to the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, the book is an entertaining and thought-provoking story about how the devil is corrupting modern-day culture. Lucifer, the “Boss,” interviews a potential new apprentice. The story follows the apprentice as he tries to silence a fire-and-brimstone preacher, encourages abortion, tries to convince some college students that there is no devil, and encourages divorce. But much of his evil work is undone by God’s angel – Angelica – who has been sent to do good.
The Boss explains to his apprentice how he used ridicule, logic, “compassion,” and the courts to turn the United States from a Christian nation into a largely secular one. But he complains about how the Son has made his work much more difficult, because anyone who believes in the Son and asks for forgiveness is saved.
Lucifer’s explanation to his apprentice of how evil came to prominence in our culture, and how he can be defeated, is a story every Christian should hear and understand.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)
Nonfiction: Has God withdrawn his special blessing from the United States? Americans ponder that painful question in troubled times, as we did during the devastation of the Civil War and after the assassinations of the ’60s, and as we do in our present polarization. Yet somehow—on battlefields, across western wilderness, and in raucous convention halls—astounding events have reliably advanced America, restoring faith in the Republic’s providential protection.
In this provocative historical narrative, Michael Medved brings to life ten haunting tales that reveal this purposeful pattern, including:
• A near-fatal carriage accident forces Lincoln’s secretary of state into a canvas-and-steel neck brace that protects him from a would-be assassin’s knife thrusts, allowing him two years later to acquire Alaska for the United States.
• A sudden tidal wave of Russian Jewish immigration, beginning in 1881, coincides with America’s rise to world leadership, fulfilling a biblical promise that those blessing Abraham’s children will themselves be blessed.
• Campaigning for president, Theodore Roosevelt takes a bullet in the chest, but a folded speech in his jacket pocket slows its progress and saves his life.
• At the Battle of Midway, U.S. planes get lost over empty ocean and then miraculously reconnect for five minutes of dive-bombing that wrecks Japan’s fleet, convincing even enemy commanders that higher powers intervened against them.
• A behind-the-scenes “conspiracy of the pure of heart” by Democratic leaders forces a gravely ill FDR to replace his sitting vice president—an unstable Stalinist—with future White House great Harry Truman.
Memior: At 90 years old, and blind, Lorraine decided there was never a better time to get started as a writer. Juggling career, marriage, motherhood and staying a vibrant senior demands constant skill upgrading. Lorraine’s early childhood development expertise, for instance, was perfected during her 81 months of pregnancy.
As a first generation of Russian immigrant parents, Lorraine’s daily walk with God is a testament to her belief and love-filled life. She says, “Hope is not a plan, but it is a promise that’s given when faith and belief become action.” Throughout her life her faith has never wavered.
With nine children, never-ending sibling rivalry, competing for attention and affection, bickering, or wanting to be first in line, wears a mother out. You cry, laugh it off or figure out how to deal with it. God either had a plan or a sense of humor. She says having faith doesn’t eliminate challenges.
Lorraine’s book is a masterpiece and is an inspiration to us all – widowed at 44, with 4 minor children, single-parent dating, losing children, even going blind at 87, never changed God’s plan, or Lorraine’s faith, as each provocative chapter reveals.