Books That Changed Me: Winter Edition @startrailsIV @BeemWeeks @MaeClair1 @W_Angels_Wings

deck night snow

Winter has officially arrived here in Nevada City, CA bringing with it the shortest day of the year. I’m one of those crazy people who love the cold weather and snow. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Bay Area and only saw it snow properly in Lake Tahoe for the first time as a teen. I was fascinated trying to watch each beautiful snowflake make its way to the frozen ground. I quickly learned if I tried to do that, I’d get motion sickness. So, I enjoyed the entire show without singling out just a part of the beauty. Now I get to see it snow every season. Some years more than others, but it’s always a welcome moment when the rain changes over to snow. Sitting 1000 feet above town we are more likely to see snow at our house, but it is a spectacular sight after the little mining town of Nevada City is draped in snow. When the whiteness does take over our landscape you might find me out building a snow-person, snowshoeing or attempting to cross country ski. Later around the crackling fire it’s nice to cuddle up and read a book with a cup of hot tea or cocoa !

Here is my winter selection for “Books That Changed Me” that would be perfect reading during those cold winter nights–or days.


The humor, story line, the intricate details, aliens, robots, area 51 and a plant blended together into this incredible story. Thyron the plant became a favorite of mine in the story and beyond the story he’s one of my favorite all-time characters. This was not only fun, but made me wonder more about what really goes on underground in Area 51. Science fiction hasn’t been what I’d pick to read first in the past, but this book changed my mind about the genre.

area 51 pic

The Terra Debacle: Prisoners at Area 51 (Star Trails Tetralogy)

By Marcha A Fox

I jumped right into the seventh book of the Star Trails Tetralogy series and hoped I wouldn’t be completely lost not having read the previous books—I wasn’t! What I found was an amazingly well-written science fiction story set in the 1970’s with my new favorite character: Thyron the highly intelligent plant. I was immediately drawn into the story with the spaceship ending up on earth while a plant was hiding from authorities. Soon, the ships passengers: a young human girl, a robot, and Thyron ended up “contained” in area 51. An astrobiologist Gabe, is called in to help with the plant-life. Gabe soon finds out his sensitivity, helps him communicate with Thyron. This was my favorite part of the book. It was insightful and humorous with the relationship between human and plant. There’s also a lot of depth and research that makes this a fascinating journey with aliens, humans, plants and robots. The ending fueled my imagination. I’ll be reading the rest of this series and hope to explore and learn more about Thyron and friends! I highly recommend this book!


I have always enjoyed historical fiction, blending two things I love: history and storytelling into one book. “Jazz Baby” really took me to roaring twenties in Mississippi down to the dialog.  The descriptions were so beautifully written the book would be worth reading for that alone, but the story…wow. If I could have reached into the pages of this book and intervened on Baby’s behalf, I would have. That is how engaging (and stressful for the mom-me) this story is.

jazz baby pic

Jazz Baby

By Beem Weeks

I get excited when I come across a novel that completely draws me in.  Mr. Weeks, wrote one of these books. It’s a historical fiction set in the roaring twenties in Mississippi and New Orleans. It is told from young teenager Emily Ann’s perspective. Born into a poor family, Emily Ann (or Baby as she was called) had a dream of becoming a jazz singer. She would do anything to achieve this and unfortunately, others preyed on her stubborn- innocence. It was painful to read what she endured, while her lack of emotion seemed to be what got her through it. Many times, I found my motherly side thinking, no please don’t do that, but this character was determined to do things her way. The story, through beautifully written words, shows the reader the darker side of prohibition, poverty, and poor parenting. I highly recommend this book.​


I went back and forth between this book and “Cusp Of The Night”. I love them both for different reasons, but ended up choosing this because it was the first book of Mae Clair’s that I read. I find this book to be not only entertaining but carefully researched on not only the paranormal, but the town’s history. To include a murder, mystery and romance had me hooked for the entire series. The town felt real and the monster, both human and otherwise, even more real. This blend of mystery/paranormal with romance thrown in is a favorite genre of mine to read so when I find a new author that has all of this– I’m very happy.

mae clair pic

A Thousand Yesteryears (Point Pleasant)

by Mae Clair

“A Thousand Yesteryears (Point Pleasant)” is an amazingly well-written paranormal thriller. After Eva Parrish leaves her hometown with her family, (after a tragic incident) she returns after her aunt dies. She finds herself not only dealing with the estate, but with someone who doesn’t want her there. The past still haunts Eva, and the rest of the town. Eva is thrust into a mystery that spans over two decades. She is helped by an unlikely friend, and a family from her childhood. Ms. Clair not only focuses the story on the Mothman legend of Point Pleasant, but give her readers, a mystery, romance, murder, and redemption.  I loved, not only the characters, but the depth, and surprise that went along with the main story. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series, and have preordered the third book. It only took one book to become a fan of this author. I highly recommend this book–if you love mystery with a paranormal twist.​


Bonus read:

I can’t say enough about how impressed and inspired I am about this new writer. Her story is amazing and creative. It will be sitting under the Christmas tree for my grand kids. After we read it together I can’t wait to share with them that she is around their age. But age and awards aside, it’s a great book to share with your kids and grand kids. I also read the next book in the series and posted the review in last week’s blog. Another hit.

daisy pic

Daisy, Bold & Beautiful 

by Ellie Collins

“Daisy, Bold & Beautiful” is a sweet story geared for 9 to 12-year-old readers.  Ms. Collins tells the story of a young girl D.J. who moves to a new town with her father, after her mother’s death. She has to start a new school and make new friends.  It’s well-written and I could sympathize with her getting onto the bus knowing no one and heading for a new sixth grade experience. D.J. quickly makes friends and learns about herself along the way. I loved the relationship between father and daughter as well as her new friends.   What makes this story so interesting is what happens when she goes to bed and her experiences in another realm. This book for middle grade readers drew me in, but the amazing part was it was written by a middle grade writer!  This is a children’s book I highly recommend and a new author I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!


I hope you enjoyed my four seasons of “Books That Changed Me”. These are all books that evoked deep emotions from me while reading. They gave me hope, made me wonder, had me on the edge of my seat, or took me to new amazing places and worlds. I always walked away from these books, just a little different for having read them. I have to send out my thanks to all the authors who provided this for me–and their readers. Know, I wasn’t able to list all the books that delivered that “change” for me. I hope to do something similar next year so I can thank them, too!

If you missed any editions of “Books That Changed Me” I have them all listed on my website under: Indie Books Read. These books that changed me are ones I’d proudly give as a gift any time of the year! Happy first day of winter!

Embrace your inner child with a good book this winter! Happy holidays and New Year to you and yours! Sending you all lots of warm holiday hugsD.L. Finn, the Trailblazer & Cats: Thunder, Rupert, Chester, Coco, Alice & Dogs: Sara & Hermie!

25 thoughts on “Books That Changed Me: Winter Edition @startrailsIV @BeemWeeks @MaeClair1 @W_Angels_Wings”

  1. You chose a great selection to write about in this post. Having read Jazz Baby, I know how the mom-in-you felt as I did the same. I’ve also read Ellie’s book. Ellie is going places in our world – she will be a famous author, as in J.K. Rowling famous, by the time she is age 20. Area 51 has always been something I have been interested in. I do believe in some of the theories many people have, and so now I find I must buy this book. Thank you D.L.

    1. Thank you Mary. I agree Ellie is going places for sure:)

      It’s a book I’m sure you will enjoy Mary- and Area 51 has always held my interest, too. Merry Christmas!

  2. Great choices, Denise. I’ve read and loved both Jazz Baby and A Thousand Yesteryears, and look forward to reading both Marcha’s and Eliie’s.

  3. Thank you for adding Daisy, Bold & Beautiful to this list, Denise. I told Ellie and I think it blew her mind a little bit. She “gets” good reviews, but I don’t think she had ever really considered the possibility of her stories leaving a lasting impression with readers. It was a wonderful confidence boost for her and the timing couldn’t have been better. Half way through 7th grade, she’s squarely in the middle of her middle school years. She is definitely not exempt from the awkward social encounters, insecurities and growing pains (physical and emotional) this life stage generally entails. I think she has shed more tears in the past few months than she did through her entire toddlerhood. Tween girl drama…it’s a mighty force to be reckoned with. The struggle is real! So, little moments of pride and pleasure, like the one we shared when I showed Ellie this post, are a welcome gift (for both of us). 🙂

    1. I remember those days I was very awkward–well I still am:) I’m glad this boosted her confidence we all need that but especially in those tween years. I agree all the growings pains and social interactions are a mighty force to be reckoned with in middle school. She gets that feeling we all remember and those going through it now. It’s a beautiful gift she has and I’m glad she is sharing it with us. Thank you! Hope your family have an amazing Christmas and a magical New Year filled with happiness and lots of joy. Sending lots of holiday hugs.

  4. Thank you so very much for adding Jazz Baby to your list, Denise. I am sincerely honored listed among these other incredible works. God bless and Merry Christmas.

    1. It’s a story that has stayed with me. Thank you! I hope you and yours have an blessed Christmas and a magical New Year.

  5. Denise, you painted such a lovely picture of your winters. You must feel so cozy. 🙂
    But I’m not a convert. The only thing I like about snow is the quiet it brings… that first morning the blanket of white softens all sound. However, it all returns too fast and brings a dangerous icy mess and all the noise too.
    I loved seeing all the pets. What a wonderful crew! Happy holiday hugs!

    1. Thank you Teagan. I do love the snow, but not driving in it:) The quiet is amazing and I tend to act like a child when I see the first flake.

      It is a great crew of pets. They keep me busy and entertained! Happy holiday hugs back to you.

  6. Oh! What an unexpected pleasure to find A Thousand Yesteryears among these wonderful reads! I’m humbled and honored. Thank you, Denise!

    For some reason I had it in my head that you lived in Nevada, not CA.Probably confused about Nevada City, LOL. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Lake Tahoe, both on the Nevada and CA side, though not in winter, and found it beautiful and inspiring.

    Love the photos of all of your pets. That is quite a menagerie you have going on there, LOL! They all look so precious.

    Wishing you and your family a wonderful and magical Christmas and Happy New Year!

    1. A lot of people confuse Nevada City as to being in Nevada over California. We are about an hour from Lake Tahoe North Shore or the California side. A bit longer to get to the Casinos. It is beautiful there any time of year. Nice to take a motorcycle ride there when we can.

      Yes, we do have a menagerie of animals. They seem to find us and keep us completely entertained!

      Thank you Mae. I wish the same for your family for Christmas and the New Year! Sending holiday hugs.

  7. I love your book choices, Denise! I have read all of these except Terra Debacle and it is on my Kindle. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!! I hope your Christmas was fabulous! Here’s to a prosperous New Year!

    1. Thank you Jan. I’m sure you will enjoy Terra Debacle:) Had a wonder Christmas. Hope you did too! It’s going to be a great year for all of us!

  8. Love Mae’s books, though I’ve yet to read this one. Where I grew up we regularly had three foot snowbanks do I’m not missing the white stuff this year, lol.
    Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year, Denise!

    1. I loved this series of Mae’s– and all her books I’ve read, too. I think because we don’t have three feet of snowbanks regularly here I enjoy it much more when we do get it. Thank you Jacquie! I hope the same for you and your family, too:)

  9. Wonderful choices, Denise. ♥ i love, love the photos of your 4-legged family all dressed for the holidays. How fun! Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 🙂

    1. Thank you Gwen:) The dogs don’t mind posing but the cats aren’t a fan of it. Happy Christmas and New Year! Happy to hear you are doing better.

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