Monday, 13 November 2017

On the run up to Christmas: Val Poore talks about giving the gift of a book

It's amazing to think it's only about six weeks until Christmas now. Are any of you thinking of buying Christmas gifts for the readers in your family? Of course, you can give e-books as gifts if you're unlikely see your loved ones and that's a great way to treat them from a distance. Since the majority of books sold now are ebooks, it's clear that many people would regard having their e-readers stocked up a real joy.

Val Poore
However, giving real books is that bit more special. The feel, smell and weight of a brand new book are sensations that are hard to beat. I can remember being thrilled as a child when I received three Georgette Heyer paperback books for Christmas. I can still conjure up my delight to this day when I opened the wrapping paper and found them. The smooth untouched covers, the uncreased spines, the tightly packed pages that had never been opened before. I know I picked them up, ran my hands over them and unashamedly breathed in their wonderful newness. Okay, so you might be laughing now and thinking I was really going overboard, but it's true! I was more thrilled with those three books than I have ever been with a Christmas gift before or since.

As a Sunpenny author, then, which books would I recommend for my family this Christmas from the Sunpenny collection?

If I take my eldest brother first, he is a great boater and loves cruising around the UK; he's also very environmentally aware. I'd probably give him a sailing memoir to read, such as Tonia Parronchi's Whisper on the Mediterranean or Corinna Weyreter's Far Out: Sailing into a Disappearing World. They might not be about cruising, but they are about boats and he'd like that; he'd also appreciate Corinna's focus on the environmental damage being done to the oceans. As for his wife, she is a committed Christian, but also someone who enjoys traditional values, so I think she would probably enjoy William Wood's A Little Book of Pleasures or missionary Rowland Evan's My Sea is Wide.

And what about my other brother? Well, he's a lover of the Welsh hills and spends a great deal of time hiking in Wales. I might choose Julie McGowan's The Mountains Between for him. I think it is a good blend of history and fiction and I think he would love the beautiful descriptions of the Welsh scenery. I don't see his wife as a great reader, but I could be wrong, so I would suggest Julie's book of short stories Close to You. Then I have a niece living at home still, and I'd definitely go for something adventurous for her. It would have to be JS Holloway's Dance of Eagles.

 Lastly, what about my sister? She likes fun books with lots of humour and great, strong female characters. I would have to give her Stephanie Parker McKean's Bridge to Nowhere, and because she's very close to me, I'd give her another book too. She loves France and cooking, so I'd also give her Blackbirds Baked in a Pie by Eugene Barker. My brother-in-law is a little more difficult to buy for, but since he loves the history, tradition and customs of mediterranean places, he would probably enjoy Fish Soup by Michelle Heatley. It has the right mix of gritty characters and lyrical magic. Yes. I think that would do for them all!

Many thanks to Val for sharing her choice of books for her family. Of course her own books, Watery Ways and the Skipper's Child would also make precious gifts for those who enjoy boating books in both fictional and memoir form.

So, if like us you love to give books as gifts, take a look at our selection above or keep an eye on our Facebook page on the run up to the festive season. We'll be sharing all our books there in the coming weeks.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Happy festival season: celebrate by reading!

Isn't is amazing how the time just seems to fly? Here we are, already well into November. In fact, today is the 5th, the day in England when people have bonfires, burn a cloth figure supposed to represent Guy Fawkes who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament, and set off fireworks. From now until the end of the year, there will be other celebrations in other countries. There is Thanksgiving in the United States on 23rd November. Then in much of Europe, there is Sinterklaas in a month's time at the beginning of December. This is a children's festival and in many places, namely the Netherlands, Belgium and parts of Germany and France, Sinterklaas is more important than Christmas. The date of the festival is either December the 5th or 6th depending on where you are and it is celebrated enthusiastically by whole families. Following this, there is the Jewish Festival of Lights from the 13th to the 20th December, and then of course, we have Christmas itself. It's a very busy time of year, and one marked by joy, goodwill and togetherness for everyone concerned (we hope).

At Sunpenny, we'd like to celebrate right along with you all and offer suggestions for reading that you might find fitting on these occasions. So since Guy Fawkes is mainly a children's festival, we'd like to suggest some books for our younger readers that will give them insights on customs in other countries too.

Our first suggestion is The Lost Crown of Appollo by Suzanne Cordatos

Here is a summary of the story from the book's blurb:

Climb aboard for an adventure to the Greek islands of past and present! You'll meet creatures of land and sea-and if you think pirates are a thing of the past, you might want to keep an eye on your valuables. Meet Elias Tantalos, an almost-eleven year old bad luck magnet who escapes the most dreadful school year of his life by boarding a boat in the Aegean Sea where there are, happily, more rocks than people. When he discovers a two-thousand-year-old good luck charm-the gold leaf crown meant for the sun god Apollo-he is sure the worst is behind him. Antiquity thieves are rummaging around the ancient Greek ruins, however, and when they kidnap his sister, Elias knows he holds the perfect bait to lure the thieves away... but if he gives up Apollo's legendary Crown of Victory will sixth grade be even tougher than fifth? Can he find the inner strength to do the right thing?

Lost Crown is a delightful story that will appeal to youngsters because it has everything that keeps them turning the pages. But even more than that, it introduces children to the history and mythology of Greece as well as to what makes the Greek culture so historically important. It's an ideal gift to mark this time of year.

Our second suggestion is Sophie's Quest by Sonja Anderson

Here is the blurb about this charming story:

Sophie Topfeather loves to collect people-things with which to decorate her life and home. When she finds a golden necklace, she is intrigued by its shape and shows it to her grandfather, the Great Wise Horned Owl of the Park. His reaction only stirs her interest even more; he calls it a holy symbol, and then a ‘t’ for ‘trouble’! All of which sets our young owl off on a Quest to learn its true meaning. Little does she know that a day-dreaming, over-protected, adventure-seeking Pirate – er, mouse – named Timley has leapt into the brim of her hat as Sophie flies off on her Quest! And suddenly, their adventure takes its own turn as they find themselves on board a ship bound for the Holy Land. Thorns and thistles! Has the trouble started already? Can Timley convince Sophie she should not—I repeat, NOT—eat him?  

This book is also for young children and like Lost Crown of Appollo, it introduces children to a variety of cultures through Sophie's adventures in the Middle East. It's an ideal way of encouraging young readers to be curious about the world around them and the different history and cultures that make up the people that populate it.

So why not celebrate this occasion with books as well as bonfires and fireworks? Both of these suggestions are available as paperbacks and Kindle books, so whatever your choice, it's available for you and your families in the medium you prefer. And don't forget, all Sunpenny Kindle books are great value at $2.99

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Another back story: Redemption on Red River by Cheryl Caine

This week's blog is a revised version of a post we did in November 2014 to publicise Cheryl Cain's historical romance Redemption on Red River. It's an exciting book set in 19th century America and it has a rich setting with plenty for both history enthusiasts and those who enjoy a good love story. We talked to Cheryl to find out what prompted her to write her vivid period novel.

In brief, this is what ‘Redemption on Red River’ is about 
In 1837, at her graduation, Anna Collins has her whole life ahead – a teaching post, a handsome fiancĂ© and a future which twinkles with promise. A week later, her life lies in tatters. Nearly destroyed by grief and despair, Anna decides to prove to both her fiancĂ©’s family and her own, as well as to herself, that she can succeed as a teacher, and survive without a man in her life. When after a good search the only opening for her as a teacher is at Fort Towson in Indian Territory, she accepts it as an answer to her prayers.
Anna joins the Jewel Belle paddle steamer for her river journey. She promptly begins a host of adventures, including being rescued from a soldier’s drunken advances by the chivalrous Captain Nathaniel. Their friendship deepens, but when they separate at Shreve’s Town she finds herself doubting she will ever be truly loved. Throwing herself into her work, she battles with hostility from the townsfolk and a terrifying encounter with a native Indian, facing her demons again and again as she grows to understand herself and her new home. But it is not until a twist of fate brings both the men in her life back into the picture that Anna truly understands where her love lies, and that it cares not for time, but for the heart.
Over to Cheryl, who kindly answered the questions we posed to her: 

1) Can you describe ‘Redemption on the Red River’ in a short sentence?
It is the story of a young American woman who travels from Cincinnati, Ohio to Indian Territory in an endeavour to fulfil her dream of becoming a teacher and bettering the lives of children.
2) What inspired you to write the book?
An article in our local newspaper described an archaeological dig along Oklahoma’s southern border. The Red River, which is the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma, served in the 1830’s as a major transportation route for delivery of supplies to American forts in the southern area of Indian Territory. A large steamboat, the Heroine, sank in the river while travelling to deliver food and other needed supplies to Fort Towson. The article piqued my interest in steamboat travel and my imagination took off with a story combining the actual event with a fictional character observing the sinking of the Heroine. 
3) What did you discover while researching for the story?
I found so much information about Oklahoma history that I didn’t know. Even though during my junior high school education, I took required classes on Oklahoma history, I never knew Oklahoma had at one time a viable waterway route. Because of the things I discovered, I’ve become more interested in other historical events in my state’s history-such as Civil War battles fought here.
4How did you begin writing the novel?  
After deciding I wanted to write a book with the events of the Heroine, I jotted down a loose outline and began writing. I wrote most of ‘Redemption of the Red River’ while participating in NaNoWriMo-National November Writing Month. The program is free and voluntary and the goal is to write 50,000 words during November. In order to stay on track during the month, I wrote in a notebook during my lunch break at work and in the evening, I took up where I left off during the day, typing on a computer. For an online writing class, I wrote a paragraph as an assignment describing an annoying mosquito and when I began writing the book, I wanted to include the paragraph. 
Many thanks to Cheryl for this interesting back story. Who knows what chance incident will inspire a writer to start a novel? For Cheryl, it was the article first and then the motivation provided by NaNoWriMo. Since November is upon us, how many others will be taking part in this motivating competition?
And here is one of the reviews of Cheryl's exciting book:

MJ Heatley writes: When I started reading Redemption on Red River I wasn’t sure if I liked Anna, I wanted to shout at her that she was better than Martin. But she surprised me and I was taken on a journey with her and was proud of the way she fought and survived everything thrown at her. Cheryl R Cain’s writing is accomplished and the historical research really brings this novel to life. An excellent debut novel. 

For those interested in reading the book, the link to the Amazon Kindle edition is here

Monday, 23 October 2017

Autumn delights

After enjoying some wonderful warm weather here in the northern hemisphere this autumn, we are now finally having proper seasonal weather, complete with gales, rain and leaves heaping up everywhere. The great outdoors starts to look less attractive, so what better time than to choose some good books to read?

As we've mentioned before, we are rather proud of the fact that Sunpenny's authors stem from far and wide over the world, so whatever your tastes, we have books that will appeal to a range of readers. If you're fed up with the rain, Stephanie Parker McKean, Sandra Peut and KC Lemmer will transport you to the sun. If the heat is getting to you, Valerie Poore and Julie McGowan will embrace you in the beauty of winter scenery. What about romance? Then Debbie Roome and Janet Purcell will bring you charming stories set in New Zealand and New England.

We have sailing adventures from Tonia Parronchi and Corinna Weyreter, and historical dramas by JS Holloway and Cheryl Cain. And for children who love reading and adventure, we have a whole series of delightful books by Sonja Anderson, Suzanne Cordatos and Elizabeth Sellers.

The best news of all is that all the e-versions of our books are set at the exceptionally reasonable price of $2.99 on Kindle until the end of the year, so take advantage of these high quality books at this very affordable price!

Click on the authors' names to view their books and reviews, and enjoy some richly rewarding autumn reads!