The Space Between Words by Michèle Phoenix

My Review

Jessica and Vonda thought a trip to Paris to visit their best friend Patrick was a fantastic idea until . . . it wasn’t.

I received this book from NetGalley several months ago and had just started to read it when the Las Vegas attack occurred. For that reason, and the inherently disturbing imagery (mostly from the place of my imagination and PTSD), I did not finish reading it, nor did I review it. However, early last week I received a paperback copy from The Fiction Guild. I decided to give it a second chance.

I am at a loss to describe this book. The plot is primarily set overseas after the 2015 terrorist attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, recounting the main character’s life in the aftermath of this horrific event. Another setting is also in France. However, it deals with the persecution of the Huguenots centuries ago.  The plot strands run in a dual timeline, but the emphasis is on present times.

Parts of The Space Between Words defy description, and some emotions can only be experienced through the gut-wrenching reading of the events. Other aspects of the book challenge description in the believability of the character’s story. I didn’t have a problem with one detail of Jessica’s dealing with Patrick and her PTSD, though I can see how many would (I don’t want to give any spoilers). I did have a hard time accepting the ease with which Mona, the innkeeper, welcomed Jessica. As a mother, I found it a little unlikely that another mother would not feel a threat to her child by someone in the throes of a mental and emotional breakdown. Nor do I believe that, as a business person, Mona would have let Jessica stay there for free for such a long time.

Overall, the story is well written, the characters well developed and the narrative believable. I ran a gamut of emotions, from a heightened sense of fear to laughter and relief. Be prepared for a roller-coaster ride if you read it, as you learn more about Jessica and, also, the persecution of the Huguenots in the late 1600’s.

I received this book from NetGalley and Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

“There were seconds, when I woke, when the world felt unshrouded. Then memory returned.”

When Jessica regains consciousness in a French hospital on the day after the Paris attacks, all she can think of is fleeing the site of the horror she survived. But Patrick, the steadfast friend who hasn’t left her side, urges her to reconsider her decision. Worn down by his insistence, she reluctantly agrees to follow through with the trip they’d planned before the tragedy.

“The pages found you,” Patrick whispered.

“Now you need to figure out what they’re trying to say.”

During a stop at a country flea market, Jessica finds a faded document concealed in an antique. As new friends help her to translate the archaic French, they uncover the story of Adeline Baillard, a young woman who lived centuries before—her faith condemned, her life endangered, her community decimated by the Huguenot persecution.

“I write for our descendants, for those who will not understand the cost of our survival.”

Determined to learn the Baillard family’s fate, Jessica retraces their flight from France to England, spurred on by a need she doesn’t understand.

Could this stranger who lived three hundred years before hold the key to Jessica’s survival?

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Winner!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Last Day To Enter!!!!!!!!!!!

A Time to Stand

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The Promise of a Letter (An Amish Letters Novel) by Kathleen Fuller

My Review

I think Leanna Chupp is my favorite character. She’s not your typical Amish which made her uniqueness even more pronounced. In fact, she’s not your typical female, especially in an Amish community. Leanna is 24, unmarried and has no plans or desire to marry; she works on machines better than most men do, abhors cooking and housekeeping (and isn’t good at either), lives alone and is six feet tall. The combination can sometimes be intimidating to the men in her community. I, like almost everyone in her community, really liked and cared about her.

As I read, I was heartbroken over the coldness of Daniel and Roman Raber’s parents, but thankful their grossmammi (grandmother) stepped in to fill the role of a loving relative. Nonetheless, neither young man felt genuinely loved, and Roman was continually running away from home, his life and God. Additionally, Barbara and Daniel’s story is so poignant that several times I was brought to tears.

Kathleen Fuller’s novel, The Promise of a Letter is a very different type of Amish fiction from most Amish stories. She deals with many issues people face, not only in the Amish community but also in the lives of non-Amish, too. The story is replete with themes of restoration, forgiveness and God’s grace. Furthermore, several tough issues are addressed- gossip, anger, bitterness and misunderstandings among family members. There are several others, but I don’t want to give any spoilers. Miss Fuller does an excellent job of showing the development and growth of her characters. It’s a pleasure to be taken along for the ride.

The Promise of a Letter is the second book in the An Amish Letters Novel series. However, it works well as a standalone.

I received this book from the Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

A letter brings him back to his Amish family. It will take someone truly extraordinary to make him stay.

Roman is on the verge of leaving the Amish ways. Feeling confined by the strict rules, he longs to do something more with his life. But when things don’t go as planned, Roman’s prospects outside of the community dwindle. Upon learning that his beloved grandmother has died and left a letter urging him to reconcile with his brother in Birch Creek, Roman decides to return home. But he doesn’t plan to stay for long.

Leanna Chupp has always made her own way in her small community of Birch Creek. Though some may call her unconventional—strange, even—Leanna is happy. Her unique outlook on life has meant she’s never had many suitors pursuing courtship, which Leanna doesn’t mind. She is content being single.

But when Roman and Leanna find themselves working together again, everything changes. Though neither fit squarely within the strictures of the Amish faith, their differences could be the very thing to help them form a deeper connection to their community and to each other. The question remains: will this strengthening bond be enough to make Roman stay for good?

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Book Spotlight: A Semi-Sweet Summer by Jan Elder


About the Book:

Name of book: A Semi-Sweet Summer

Author: Jan Elder

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: August 18, 2017

Cassidy Cooper never wanted to set foot in Crystal Falls again. Ten years earlier, she’d given her heart to a boy who’d, in turn, humiliated her deeply. Now, back in town as the sole beneficiary of her sister’s estate, she’s determined to make her sister’s dream of an upscale chocolate truffle shop, come true.

Hunter Gray is very intrigued by his new neighbor. His escape artist cow, Marigold, engineers an introduction…but it’s not quite the first impression he was hoping for. Baffled by the nagging suspicion he’s seen this woman before, he plots to win Cassidy’s heart at every opportunity.

With the object of her unrequited love living within shouting distance, Cassidy prays for strength to forgive and forget. And Hunter? He just wants to get back to his own dream to grow his farm and get to know the pretty girl next door. If she’ll let him.

Click here to purchase your copy of Jan’s wonderful book

About the Author


Jan Elder is an inspirational romance writer with a passion for telling stories other women can relate to on a deep level. She strives to write the kind of book that will strengthen the reader’s faith, introducing the reader to a loving and forgiving Lord who walks beside us in our daily lives, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story.

Happily married for fourteen years to loving (and supportive) husband, Steve, the two live in central Maryland along with Jamie (a chubby black and white tuxedo cat), and Shu-Shu (a willowy tortoiseshell cat). On the weekends, Jan and Steve comb the nearby countryside in search of the perfect ice cream flavor.

Guest Post from Jan Elder

How did you come up with your premise? Is there a story behind your book? How did the story evolve?

When I first parked myself in front of my laptop, preparing to write A Semi-Sweet Summer, I was waxing nostalgic. Shortly before that, I joined a Facebook group, people from a church I had attended when I was a teenager. Memories flooded through me and a myriad of feelings, some quite strong, rose up to assault me. There were a great many pleasant remembrances, but what I recall the most about being in those “stuck in the middle” years was that there was a great deal of anxiety, the sensation of being so very different—certainly not part of the “in” crowd.

A large part of this book harkens back to my teenage years, my thoughts swinging to a boy I had the biggest crush on in high school. He was three and a half years older (I still remember his birthday) and he was definitely in the “elite” segment of our church youth group—the cool kids I so longed to be a part of. Sorry to say, I followed him around like a puppy, learned all of his favorite foods, chosen hobbies, etc. I try not to think I actually stalked him, but I was very aware of his presence, and searched for ways to be near him.

In A Semi-Sweet Summer, I tried to transfer some of that raging angst into fodder for Cassidy’s discomfort in finding her unrequited love living right next door. Cassidy never really fit in, hardly that enviable cheerleader, not a person that anyone would notice. Rather, she sees herself as sort of an ugly duckling. Now she’s back ten years later and it’s a tough situation. By this time, my characters have grown and changed from the people they were in high school. They are well on their way to the path God has set before them. And by the end, they are very different—kinder, gentler folks who have learned a bit more of what it means to truly love.

I like to think that God can use our experiences to help others through similar situations. Maybe this novel will provide some hope or closure for those who have been in the same boat, and spur them on to get past the pain. And hey, who doesn’t love a good story about baked goods, happy cows, and chocolate truffles?

As for me? The funny thing is, my husband has the same first name as my first love. He even has the same color hair, the same easy grin as that other guy. I guess one could say I am attracted to a certain type. But oh, my sweetheart is so much better. My guy is the man God had waiting for me. The other was only a pale imitation, just practice for the real thing.

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, October 12

ASC Book Reviews, October 12

Have A Wonderful Day, October 13

Avid Reader Book Reviews, October 14

Reflections From My Bookshelves, October 15

Red Headed Book Lady, October 16

Remembrancy, October 16

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, October 17

Ashley’s Bookshelf, October 18

A Greater Yes, October 19

Carpe Diem, October 19

autism mom, October 20

Redeemed Hope Dweller, October 21

Inklings and notions, October 22

Quiet Quilter, October 23

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 23

Karen Sue Hadley, October 24

Through the Open Window, October 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 25

Reading Is My SuperPower, October 25 (Interview)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jan is giving away a 12 piece box of Godiva Chocolates and a Kindle Fire HD Tablet with Alexa (Valued at over $100)!!!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

https://promosimple.com/ps/c1fd

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A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow AND Another Giveaway!!!!!

Information the giveaway for the book, A Time to Stand, is below the reviews.

My Review

A Time to Stand focuses on the turmoil in small town Campbellton, Georgia, after a white police officer shoots an unarmed black teenager. The plot could very easily have been ripped from the headlines of today’s newspaper.

The story centers around several characters. Adisa Johnson is a young, extremely successful African-American lawyer practicing in Atlanta. Luke Nelson, a young, white police officer, recently left the Atlanta PD for a quieter life with his family – only to become embroiled in the biggest fight of his life when he shoots unarmed Deshaun Hamlin, a point guard for the local high school. Deshaun, the victim, lies in a coma after the shooting. Also, there are several other characters that range in importance; my favorite is Adisa’s elderly Aunt Josie. Josie’s wisdom, love of God and spunkiness were a refreshing touch in such a politically charged context.

I appreciated how Whitlow showed the racial tension and prejudices on both sides in an even-handed manner, not showing prejudgment, bias or one-sidedness. As a reader you could feel the tension, frustration and anger felt by both sides and could understand the reasons.

I normally enjoy Whitlow’s books. His knowledge of law and human nature is fascinating. I don’t know if it was the POV (Point of View) or if it was in a more narrative style, but there seemed to be a lack of feelings, profundity and passion to the novel. Thus, it was hard for me to get into his latest book, A Time to Stand. Nevertheless, because the storyline happens to be very intriguing, I stuck with it. I’m glad I did because the basic premise was interesting and timely. However, early in the book, I guessed the eventual outcome (perhaps that’s another reason it wasn’t as good to me as some of his other books).

I received this book from NetGalley and Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

In a small Georgia town where racial tensions run high and lives are at stake, can one lawyer stand up for justice against the tide of prejudice on every side?

Adisa Johnson, a young African-American attorney, is living her dream of practicing law with a prestigious firm in downtown Atlanta. Then a split-second mistake changes the course of her career.

Left with no other options, Adisa returns to her hometown where a few days earlier a white police officer shot an unarmed black teen who is now lying comatose in the hospital.

Adisa is itching to jump into the fight as a special prosecutor, but feels pulled to do what she considers unthinkable—defend the officer.

As the court case unfolds, everyone in the small community must confront their own prejudices. Caught in the middle, Adisa also tries to chart her way along a path complicated by her budding relationship with a charismatic young preacher who leads the local movement demanding the police officer answer for his crime.

This highly relevant and gripping novel challenges us to ask what it means to forgive while seeking justice and to pursue reconciliation while loving others as ourselves.

***********GIVEAWAY***********

I have a copy of The Two of Us to giveaway!

Leave a comment to enter the drawing.

Drawing will be open October 11th to October 18th.

One name will be randomly drawn as winner.

Check back on Thursday, October 19th, to see if you won!

GOOD LUCK!

 This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, void where prohibited by law and you must be at least 18 to enter. The odds of winning depend on the number of comments received.

Blessings to everyone~

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The Gift of Christmas Past: A Southern Romance by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

My Review

Cindy Woodsmall and her daughter-in-law Erin, have written a poignant, sometimes heartbreaking story.

My heart ached for Hadley Granger. Cruelly evicted from her foster home when she was 17, not understanding, nor being given any information, she devises a plan to meet her boyfriend, Monroe Birch. He promises to help, but never shows up. In addition, to make matters worse, she’s arrested and forced to deal with a rough life, both behind and ahead of her.

Years later, she and her best friend from her foster home days, Elliot “Ellie,” are finally getting their lives together when they are tested to the limits of their beliefs.

I appreciated how Hadley’s past made her a more compassionate and caring individual, willing to stick her neck out for the underdog, sometimes to her own detriment.

Each character in the story is well-written, making it easy to cheer for the underdog and feel disdain for those who act before thinking, never weighing the consequences or searching out the truth.

Miss Woodsmall and Erin’s story of heartbreak and betrayal richly illustrates God’s love, redemption and healing for all His children.

I received this book from the authors, Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Arson wasn’t the only fire that ignited between them.
Promises shattered.
Lies spoken.
She was arrested.
He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.

Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire.

Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family.

Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all?

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A Poem

Pondering what I should be, or not,

Perplexing, twisting, fighting a lot.

Staring out and all around,

Sometimes staring from the ground.

My eyes happen to see,

A remnant from a giant tree.

The depth of love I can’t explain,

But my mind returns to it again and again.

On a cross between two truly guilty men

Your heart crying out for release but then,

Your work was finished, our lives to enjoy

With freedom from Satan’s ploy.

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Remember that everyone…

This is so very, very true, and we all need to remember.
Thank you to Sacred Touches for permission to reblog.

Sacred Touches

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**Photo taken by Natalie; text added by Natalie

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Throwback Thursday

Wonderful First Novel!

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade is a great book particularly since it is Wade’s first novel.

Kate Donovan began praying in the fourth grade for her future husband, but in her thirty-one years of life, he still hasn’t appeared.

Matt Jarreau’s Mom had been praying for him, too, more than ever since life had appeared to deal him an exceptionally cruel hand. She prayed God would help him heal and send him a new love.

Enter Gran, Kate’s Grandmother, who offers Kate the opportunity to help renovate her family home in Redbud, Pennsylvania. At almost the same time Kate decides she’s tired of it all, in particular, her social work job. Gran has also hired Matt to assist with items too large for her and Kate to handle.

Kate realizes Matt has retreated from life.  But, she is too stubborn to give up on her goal to reintroduce him to living.

Throw in some feisty, eccentric and in some cases love hungry seniors, friends of Gran, and you have a perfect recipe for matchmaking fun.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book as it was easy to relate to and get lost in the story.

This book was provided to me by Bethany House in exchange for an unbiased opinion.

(Originally posted August 9th, 2012)

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