Authors Showcase: The Riveting Novels of Antoinette van Heugten and John M. Wills
October 29, 2013
The Book: The Tulip Eaters
The Author: Antoinette van Heugten
The Story: In a riveting exploration of the power the past wields over the present, critically acclaimed author Antoinette van Heugten writes the story of a woman whose child’s life hangs in the balance, forcing her to confront the roots of her family’s troubled history in the dark days of World War II… It’s the stuff of nightmares: Nora de Jong returns home from work one ordinary day to find her mother has been murdered. Her infant daughter is missing. And the only clue is the body of an unknown man on the living-room floor, clutching a Luger in his cold, dead hand.
Saving her daughter means delving deeper into her family’s darkest history, and as Nora feverishly pieces together the truth from an old family diary, she’s drawn back to a city under Nazi occupation, where her mother’s alliances may have long ago sealed her own–and Rose’s—fate.
About the Author: A former international trial lawyer, van Heugten spent 15 years practicing all over the world, primarily in Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as in Houston, her hometown. She’s a graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, where she earned her undergraduate and law degrees.
The Tulip Eaters is van Heugten’s second novel. Her debut novel, Saving Max (MIRA Books, October 2010), was a USA Today bestseller, translated into six languages and received much critical acclaim. Inspired by her real-life experience as the mother of two autistic children, Saving Max follows a single mother whose teenage son has Asperger’s syndrome and becomes the primary suspect in a gruesome murder case.
When not thinking up new ways to kill off her characters, van Heugten enjoys long hikes with her dog, gardening and traveling. She is currently working on her next novel, Finding Marianne, the sequel to Saving Max. She lives in Fredericksburg, Texas, with her husband, a former prominent oil and gas trial lawyer.
For more information, please visit www.avhbooks.com.
The Book: The Year Without Christmas
The Author: John M. Wills
The Story: A small town family’s peace is shattered when a tragic accident sends them plunging into the darkest times they have ever known. The members struggle with their new reality, as the husband disappears and his grandson faces a life-threatening disease. A tale about loss and unwavering hope, The Year Without Christmas demonstrates the power of love, faith and a family’s will to survive.
About the Author: John M. Wills is a former Chicago police officer and retired FBI agent. He is now a journalist, freelance writer and award-winning author in a variety of genres, including novels, short stories and poetry. He has published more than 150 articles relating to officer training, street survival, fitness and ethics. John also writes book reviews for the New York Journal of Books and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. His book, Women Warriors, is available online and at the National Law Enforcement Memorial Gift Shop in Washington, D.C. John’s October 2013 release is The Year Without Christmas: A Novel. Visit John at: www.johnmwills.com.
Review by Arlene Ajello: John M. Wills delivers again. I couldn’t put this book down. PTSD is very very real in our society. It is especially real amongst our troops and our Police Officers. John crafts his book around the stigma of suffering from PTSD and how those that are afflicted by it don’t know how to reach out. Those afflicted don’t even know what it is. They just know they hurt inside. The nightmares, the drinking, the alienating themselves from family and friends, the flashbacks, the utter gut wrenching emotional war that is played out in your head day after day. The book highlights the many traps that can happen to a person with PTSD and you can hit bottom before you know it.
What stuck out in my head while reading this book is how there aren’t many resources for the families of Officers, service men and women about PTSD, BEFORE it happens. How there needs to be more education to those family members who live in this culture of policing and how it could affect the family in whole.
I could see the open fire barrel in the vacant lot. I could see the smoking grates on Lower Wacker Dr. I have walked by many while on patrol and always wondered how they got there. John brought a glimpse into how in a split second you can go from the American Dream to the American Nightmare, with a muzzle flash.
Father Callahan was a very interesting twist in the book. Have you ever had a Father Callahan moment? Where there isn’t a record of a person you met and helped you? I have. I thought it was a great way of showing us that God is always there, we just have to be quiet with ourselves and listen.
I would recommend this book to everyone. PTSD is real, and can strike in many professions and in anyone’s life. 5 stars!!!