The Temporary Typist
Carlton “Coop” Cooper, (a widower recently retired from the railroad and facing a life of grinding boredom) agrees to become the typist at his church when Violet Crenshaw announces that she plans to move to Los Angeles soon. In doing so, he sets in motion a chain of events which completely discombobulates his life and that of the small northeastern Iowa town in which he lives. Set in the fictional town of Bathington, Iowa (1952), The Temporary Typist features a colorful cast of characters including the preacher, the limerick-spouting town drunk, and the formidable Mrs. Clarice Broughton, in charge of just about everything, including the upcoming centennial.
When a socialite from Chicago appears in Bathington with a team of three young adults in tow (including “Alice,” a Chinese martial arts expert), offering to set up a “Publications Ministry,” Coop gladly steps down from his typist duties. But not all is as it seems. They’re publishing more than church bulletins. Quickly Coop is in the middle of an imbroglio that threatens public humiliation. With its fast pace, riveting storylines and provocative discussions, the story comes to its exciting conclusion, not in Bathington, but in a Chicago cemetery. The Temporary Typist, set in another era, speaks to us in our own time.
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The Count of Chartres
The Reluctant Crusader is a story of courage, bravery and devotion to an ideal. Count Stefan of Chartres (and Blois) is one of the wealthiest men in France in the late 11th-century. When Pope Urban II organizes a “crusade” to the Holy Land, Stefan is reluctant to go. But—his resistance weakened by the hectoring of his wife, Adela, the daughter of William the Conqueror—he goes anyway. En route, he meets the Emperor Alexius and his daughter Anna. Meanwhile, Peter the Monk organizes a crusade of the people or peasants. They set out for the Holy Land in advance of the crusading nobles. Among them are Adelaide Bartholomew and her sister, Lettie, and daughter, Clare. They meet two relic sellers who are from Provence, like themselves. Their pilgrimage is a difficult one. The nobles and the peasants meet near Antioch, and from that point the stories intermingle. Stefan’s marriage is compromised by both the behavior of his wife and Philip, the king of France, and Stefan’s own troubled heart. Adelaide’s biggest concern is the welfare of her daughter. A spell-binding story built on actual historical primary sources, The Count of Chartres: The Reluctant Crusader is a page-turning saga that will hold in thrall both history and fiction lovers.
Winkies, Toilets and Holy Places
If you think this is a book about traveling with children, well, of course, you’re right. But that’s only part of what this book is about. More than simply a “travel” guide, this is a book about relationships. It’s the story of a new family brought together by a recent marriage and about being together 24/7 in this new arrangement for more than five months. It’s a family that’s been cobbled together for only twenty-four months and this adventure will be a test. It’s a journey that will take them from Colorado in August to Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. This little tribe is what family therapist and sociologist Barbara Carnal calls a “patch-work” family—four separate, unique individuals with different life experiences, not necessarily connected by blood bonds, but stitched together by love, conversation, respect, and a good sense of humor. This trip, then, was a journey deeper into relationships and intimacy—parent/child, wife/husband, stepparent/stepchildren, as well as our relationship with God. It’s also a journey into laughter, joy, anger, despair, frustration, gratitude and appreciation. So, see what you think. This book is written for people who enjoy travel and traveling with children. But it’s also for those who are curious about how human beings manage to stay connected and in harmony with each other. It’s really a love story.
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Learning to Fall
In life, as in skiing, falling is inevitable. We all do it. We all have those disagreements with our spouses, parents, employers and friends. We have bad days. We make decisions we wish we could recall. We say things we wish we could take back. We do things we shouldn’t do. But a fall—one of those moral and spiritual stumbles we all make from time to time—doesn’t constitute a failure unless we let it. Getting back up is part of every falling experience. Says one reviewer of this book: “In this thoughtful, helpful book, Merrill makes the ski slopes his metaphor and a charming collection of personal anecdotes his illustrations, as he shows just how uplifting falling can be.”
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