Shadows of the Past
Soncoast Publishing, 2020
“Shadows of the Past” is a Depression-era story set in a hunting preserve in Clayton, Arkansas. In a sense, the town itself is the main character — and the developing of its flourishing economy is the main event.
The story is told through the activities of a large cast of characters — one of whom is Emily Martin, the proprietor of the hunting preserve and a widow with two young children. She has recently become engaged to Richard Barton, who helped her maintain the preserve after her husband’s untimely death.
Leading citizens of Clayton play a role, including George Graves, the wealthiest man in town and a key to the redemptive theme.
In addition, Judge Harper and Sheriff Cloud have developed a “work release” program for local prisoners to earn money for their return to society by working on projects to expand the preserve. There’s also a church that doesn’t make a distinction between hunters at the preserve, residents of the town or occupants of the local jail.
When a reporter from Chicago arrives to write a feature article on the preserve, the attention leads to new opportunity, and expansions begin to take place as the townsfolk build other businesses to support the preserve.
The story follows one business idea after another in a detailed account, covering 332 pages and 91 chapters, of a town that begins to flourish as lives and relationships are restored. (Minnie Lamberth)
Angels at Work: God’s Providence
John G. (Jack) Green
Westbow Press, 2020
Jack Green’s life story has many extraordinary details, beginning with his childhood in Birmingham during the Great Depression. As an 8-year-old boy, Green helped support his family by selling magazines at the courthouse.
When he was 10, he lost that job to an older teen because of child labor laws. Thanks to the assistance of a creative grocer, however, Green began selling bags of fudge to those same customers.
While at the courthouse, he became fascinated with court reporting, and at age 13, signed up for typing and shorthand to pursue a career as a court stenographer.
When Pearl Harbor was bombed, he was just 16 — too young to enlist. But his stenography skills opened up an opportunity to record notes for a secret effort in Tennessee that would become known as The Manhattan Project.
Sometime later, while serving in the Army Air Corps, he witnessed tests of the atomic bomb that came from that project.
After World War II, Green felt God’s call to vocational ministry — much to his young wife’s surprise. As he wrote, “If God’s call was real and undeniably sacred, it was not something to treat as an arguing point but as a goal. If the call was genuine, God would see it done.”
These are among the tidbits Green shares in his autobiography, “Angels at Work: God’s Providence.”
He describes encounters with individuals — angels in human form — that God put in his path to lead him through many years of Christian ministry.
Also key to this ministerial history is his late wife Mary Edna, who was his soulmate for 72 years and who served alongside Green as he served as pastor of churches in Alabama, North Carolina and Florida, and in South Korea. (Minnie Lamberth)
The Key to Everything
Valerie Fraser Luesse
Peyton Cabot is 15, and life is hard. His father, suffering from traumas of World War II, has died following a tragic accident. His girlfriend’s parents have sent her to south Florida because they think she and Peyton are getting too serious. Life seems to be dealing Peyton one blow after another.
As a 15-year-old, Peyton’s father had ridden his bicycle from St. Augustine, Florida, all the way to Key West to reunite with the love of his life, Peyton’s mother. So Peyton decides to make the same journey on his bicycle in hopes of finding himself and his future.
As he retraces his father’s journey, he encounters people his father met and sees places his father visited.
His journey ends with a long-awaited reunion, but along the way, Peyton’s adventure reveals to him the key to everything that was and will be important to him.
This latest novel from award-winning writer Valerie Fraser Luesse, senior travel editor at Southern Living magazine, follows “Missing Isaac” and “Almost Home.”
Luesse lives in Birmingham and is pianist at First Baptist Church, Harpersville.
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