Books That Changed Me–2019 Winter Edition! @MAAdlerWrites @pursoot @WordDreams @MaeClair1

beam of light

Happy almost winter solace! I know I’m a few days early, but with it being so close to Christmas I will be busy with family and preparations.  Know how hard it is to pick from all the books I read. This year I came in at 75 books read on the Goodreads Challenge. There are a few I read that didn’t get included in that number.  Each book has its own flavor that tugged at my heart, opened my eyes, or just entertained me. These types of books always leave that lasting impression and why I do this four times a year as the seasons change, I change reading these books. Here are my winter choices:


This set in the Bay Area where I grew up was exciting for me. I loved knowing the areas and learning more of the history. I think about my great uncles and grandparents talking about this time frame, too. But it wasn’t just where the story was located, it was the story itself that made this such a great read for me. I loved the author obvious love of animals, especially dogs that came through strong in the story. Mixed in the with the history and insights was mystery and plenty of action to keep a reader entertained. It’s just a great all-around read.

Shadowed by Death: An Oliver Wright WW II Mystery (Oliver Wright WW II Mystery Book 2)

By Mary Adler

This is the second novel in the Oliver Wright Series set during World War ll in the Bay Area. I loved the first book, but I think I was drawn even deeper into this story. It’s 1944 and Oliver is tasked to protect a Polish speaker, Sophia. I liked the interaction between these two characters even though Sophia didn’t want Oliver as a bodyguard. As in the first book, I loved the relationship between Oliver with his dog, Harley, who had served in the war, too.  Within that storyline is another narrative about a young girl trying to assist a friend’s dog Blue. I enjoyed seeing the world through Blue the dog’s perception and his devotion to the young girl helping him. This is not only a well-written story but well researched. I appreciated the attention to details and history that Ms. Adler infused into the story. What happened in Poland during the war is hard to accept and painfully real. It kept me awake late into the night thinking about human cruelty, apathy, and the brave heroes mixed in. “Shadowed by Death” can be read as a stand-alone or as a series.  I highly recommend this book especially if you love mystery, suspense, action, history, and of course dogs.


I have to warn you this is a hard read, but an important one to read. Starting with a young girl being abused and finally standing up for herself makes you want to cheer for her and want to see justice. The treatment is cruel and had me up thinking about it at night. Talking about her experience with homelessness will make you rethink how you look at people who have to live on the street. To know the author survived this and became a successful author and a wonderful human being is inspiring on so many levels.


Empty Chairs

by Stacey Danson

“Empty Chairs” is the story of the author’s life when she was a very young girl in Australia. I can’t say I’m shocked very easily, but this was shocking. The woman who gave birth to Stacey– Gwen, because she certainly didn’t deserve the title of mother, sold her YOUNG daughter’s body to provide for her. If Stacey didn’t comply she’d be beaten and locked in a closet. The woman was sick on so many levels, but I had to wonder about the people that paid for sex with a girl not old enough to be in school? What were they? Even when one of these clients insisted that Stacey get some education, that wasn’t enough to erase what he did to her. Then, finally when Stacey had enough she exploded. I felt no empathy toward Gwen getting beaten by her 11-year-old daughter. Here is where Stacey became Sassy-Girl and now is living on the streets. The one thing that made this slightly easier to read was this girl’s attitude and strength. I loved her wisdom and feistiness, yet I kept thinking how does this go on around us? I believe the real strength of this book is educating people it’s happening. This is well-written, and you can’t help but fall in love with Sassy-Girl/Stacey. There is a second book that finishes the story of young Stacey and I will be reading it. It is a very tough read, but one I highly recommend you try.


Like I said in the review, I have never read this genre before. So this was completely fascinating to me all the research and details this author provided. You can really understand the different lifestyles they had. Although, my usual genres are more fantasy based I also love historical fiction and now prehistorical fiction. The storyline is very strong and this is well written which makes this a fantastic read and a series I plan to continue. I now think about how it used to be way, way, way back when.

Survival of the Fittest (the Crossroads Trilogy Book 1) 
by Jacqui Murray

I’ve never read a novel set 850,000 years ago. The details and obvious research were amazing, as was the story. Xhosa is a strong female in times when males rule the tribes. I loved her character and how she looked at the world through her senses, instinct, and duty. It repulsed me when they ate their kill without cooking it, but I had to remember they didn’t have control of fire yet. Ms. Murray takes the reader deep into that period, where I could easily imagine how it might have been living then. I was rooting for Xhosa and her tribe as they tried to survive other tribe’s attacks and nature. I loved the relationships that developed as they met up with others fleeing the same situation. I’m completely hooked on this moment in history and storyline. I will definitely read the rest of this series and highly recommend it.


Here is a short story/novella for the holidays:

I love cats and Christmas so what could be better than both paired together. I’m rereading it again because I enjoyed it so much the first time. I always love how this author researches and comes up with legends to mix into her work. Really adds that extra depth and gives it some holiday magic.

Food for Poe

by Mae Clair

What starts off as a sweet Christmas novella abruptly changes course, and the reader is taken on a thrilling and unexpected ride. Quinn and her newly adopted black cat, Poe, find themselves in a huge snowstorm driving home Christmas Eve. After sliding off the road and passing out, Quinn wakes up in the house of handsome Breck and his unwell daughter, Sophie. The attraction between Quinn and Breck is immediate, but the story takes an unusual turn. Christmas magic and the dark side that comes with it are introduced. I loved the pureness of a new love–and the shadowy twist of the mysterious thrown in. This is a very different Christmas story that I highly recommend if you love paranormal added into the mix of a holiday love story.

Happy Holidays and Winter Solace! Embrace your inner child by reading a life-changing book! D. L. Finn

30 thoughts on “Books That Changed Me–2019 Winter Edition! @MAAdlerWrites @pursoot @WordDreams @MaeClair1”

  1. Denise, thank you so much for including Food for Poe with these other fabulous books. I’m truly honored to have my little novella among them. Mary Adler’s work sounds well researched and intriguing. I’m sure many parts were difficult to read.

    I took me a long time to work up the nerve to read Empty Chairs, but I am so glad I did. I read the sequel to it as well, and both books left me amazed at the woman the author became. Though we have never met, I treasure her friendship and am amazed by her strength and kindness of heart.

    I have Jacqui’s book on my Kindle and my TBR. I have so much reading to catch up, LOL.

    Wishing you an amazing Christmas and holiday break, and happy New Year!

    1. I had to include Food for Poe, Mae:) It was even better the second time around. I was like you, I put off reading Empty Chairs. When I finally did I was not only horrified but beyond inspired. I completely agree about Soooz, an amazing human being with a wonderful sense of humor!

      That reading list seems unending, but I’m looking forward to a new year of reading! Merry Christmas and the happiest of new years to you xo!

  2. Hi Denise,
    I didn’t read as much as I would have thought this year. Instead it was a year of exploration, travel, inner searching, and beginning the next chapter of my life. I finally published book 7 The Istanbul Conspiracy and approved the paperback today. In the research I also read a lot of things that disturb, enlighten, and darken our views of the past and the present. I’m intrigued by your review of Empty Chairs. Some things are hard to read, kind of like our lives… but it’s the strength or character that pushes us forward. By the way, thanks for being an amazing supportive friend! Happy Holidays!

    1. Hi Lynda:) I’ve loved following along on your journey this year! I have your books on my TBR list for the upcoming year. Let me know if I can help promote your new release, I’d love to help. You are so right about reading difficult subjects. They can really give us insight. I feel the same about you, Lynda. Happiest of holidays to you, too!

  3. Wonderful, wonderful list. I’ve read two…and now will read the other two. Thank you for doing this, Denise. Big Christmas hugs! ♥

    1. Thank you, Gwen:) There is so much indie talent to read and share, you included! Big Christmas hugs right back to you xo!

  4. Well done on your reading challenge this year, Denise. I must look and see how many I have read. I have two Goodreads accounts now so must add them together. These all sound terrific. I have Jacqui’s and Stacy’s books on my TBR and a different one of Mae’s. I must get one of Mary’s, I have read other reviews of her books and they sound lovely.

    1. Thanks Robbie:) I’m happy making my goal of books read, soneday I want to hit that 100 mark for a year. Although I’ve never read this many in a year a few years ago. I’m having a lot of fun reading so many different types of books. I love the research both Mary and Jacqui put into their books, Mae too. I think you will appreciate that since you do the same. Sooooz’s book Empty Chairs will tug hard at your heart. Happy Holidays:)

  5. I am honored to be included in this list, Denise. I had to laugh at “eating uncooked meat”. Back then, they were just getting ready to eat cooked meat. You can see it in the bigger gut on early species than Xhosa’s people. Pretty interesting.

    It took me a while to figure out how to get Goodreads to show all the books I read. Now, I’ve got it!

    1. I can’t image eating uncooked meat or even sushi. I’m a cook it until its almost burnt kind of gal…lol. That is interesting the gut size was bigger to digest it in the uncooked form. I found the reading challenge last year I think and I wish I had kept track sooner. Its a nice feature. Happy Holidays:)

    1. I know you will enjoy Jacqui’s book, Julie:) Yes, I’m positive my Kindle moans when I add to it lately…lol. Exactly what a perfect combo cats snd Christmas!

  6. Great choices, Denise. Empty Chairs totally changed the way I view the homeless. It is a book not meant for the squeamish. I admire Soooz SO much for having the courage to write it. Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks, Jan. I look at the homeless in a different view thanks to this book. It amazes me what an amazing person she is and how she was able to share her story with everyone.

    2. Thanks so much, Jan. How lucky I am to have made some wonderful friends on this journey. I value your support and friendship highly, my friend.

  7. How wonderful to find my memoir included in this marvelous list. I treasure the friendships I have made along this journey. Thank you for your empathy and understanding, Denise. I’m so proud to be counted as your friend.

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