Hope by Fay Lamb (Ties that Bind Series Book 3)

My Review

Hope, Hope, Hope! Oh, my. What can I say, my how the mighty have fallen!

Fay Lamb’s story of Hope Astor is gut-wrenching, to say the least. Hope is reaping what she sowed, and it definitely isn’t pretty. However, her friends love her and are there for her in every way possible, up to and including providing her a home and covering her medical expenses.

Hope has endured many things in her life, most caused by her own catastrophic mistakes, but she’s facing a situation now that she didn’t create. Her only prospect of things getting better rest in the Lord’s hands. Can she let go and trust in Him and the trials she is facing, or will she give up and give in to her angst and pain.

Fay Lamb’s story of bad girl Hope resonates with faith, expectation, and possibility. In her previous books, Hope was the one you loved to detest. In spite of this, as you read Hope’s story, you begin to ache for the little girl inside her that is hurting so much and start to cheer for her as she grows and matures in her faith.

I received Hope from the author. However, I was under no obligation to write a review.

(I heard a rumor there will be another book written highlighting Judge Delilah James! I can’t wait to read it, yet I dread it too, because I don’t want to leave these wonderful friends!!)

Publisher’s Summary

****The author is donating 100% of her royalties from this book to hurricane relief through Samaritan’s Purse.*****

Hope Astor is literally a starving artist, living off the good graces of her friends as she seeks help for the fatigue that has plagued her for over a month. Dr. Daniel Duvall is a noted oncological surgeon whose life hasn’t been the same since losing his sister in a car accident the year before.

When Hope receives her diagnosis, she understands that her carefree artist’s lifestyle has left her without any options to save her life, but her friends try to convince her otherwise. They persuade Hope to seek treatment from the best doctor she knows.

Trouble is, Hope is the reason Daniel’s sister is dead, and she doesn’t think saving her life is on his list of priorities.

 

Advertisements

Libby (Ties that Bind Series Book 2) by Fay Lamb

My Review

Can I just say, I LOVE Libby? Fay Lamb has done an extraordinary job of writing about an adorably sweet, somewhat reserved young lady.

Libby is your typical girl next door. She has a hard time believing she is attractive and works at proving she’s not. However, everyone she meets knows she’s a diamond in the rough and just needs a little help to push her into the lovely woman she is.

I appreciate Libby’s love for the Lord and her relationship with Him. She endures so many sad situations, and yet she’s there for all her friends when they need her, she also prays for them mightily when they think they don’t need her or her guidance in all things of faith.

I laughed and cried when reading Libby. There are some circumstances in her past that broke my heart, as well as hers, and left her questioning her worth. Nonetheless, Fay Lamb was able to take these events and create a unique, loving person in Libby. Reading her story helped me to realize no matter how tragic or hurtful things in our past are, we can overcome.

I received Libby from the author. However, I was under no obligation to write a review.

Publisher’s Summary

****The author is donating 100% of her royalties from this book to hurricane relief through Samaritan’s Purse.

Libby Overstreet can’t see herself as anything but shy and socially awkward. She’s nearing thirty, and she’s never even been on a date. Then she meets the man of her dreams, but Libby knows he would never be interested in a wallflower like her. All she wants to do is to buy that garden nursery on the outskirts of town and settle down with the life she has always dreamed about. Evan Carter has been watching the sweet woman in the coffee shop for weeks when his friend tells him that the object of his affection plans to buy a garden nursery and needs Evan’s expertise as an architect/contractor. When they meet, Libby is more enamored of Evan and even more convinced that he would never look at her as anything but a friend. However, that’s far from the truth. Evan would love to get to know the innocent beauty God has placed in this path. Trouble is, he fears that a lovely flower like Libby will wilt under the sins of his past, and he’ll do everything in his power to keep that from happening.

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay (A Guest Review)

Guest Review

A few days ago, I listened while my wife, Robbie, streamed a Katherine Reay book event. Katherine was interesting and intelligent.  Robbie said Katherine always writes about the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, and their cohort of nineteenth-century British authors.  Pulling my nose out of a Tom Clancy novel, she handed me Katherine’s The Bronte Plot.  I got busy.  It was, for me a quick four or five days read.  Robbie would have consumed it in three hours flat.

I enjoyed the book, an endearing story, but was left wondering, “What Bronte plot?”  As I read, I had been alert for a scheme, nefarious machination, or other “plot” involving the Bronte sisters.

Katherine’s protagonist, Lucy Alling, like Katherine, loves Bronte novels, and Jane Eyre is a favorite.  So I googled Jane Eyre and delighted in finding a new term – Bildungsroman.  It turns out that Jane Eyre is an exemplar of the Bildungsroman genre, a novel in which the plot’s action occurs in the soul of a protagonist, as she grows psychologically and morally.  Epiphany! Bronte novels have Bildungsroman plots.  The protagonists’ souls grow in moral strength.  Katherine Reay telegraphs foreshadowing for savvy readers (unlike me) that the action in this book occurs within the soul of Lucy Alling.

It spoils little to reveal that Lucy Alling is inveterately dishonest.  Sometimes she is so ruthlessly and sometimes with premeditation, but often she simply cannot help herself.  Yet she is a sympathetic protagonist we readers come to love and identify with – reminding us, perhaps, that each of us, too, is a sinner.

Lucy, twenty-eight, acquires an octogenarian companion, Helen Carmichael, who is determined to unearth and make right wrongs she thought she had buried forever when she was Lucy’s age.  Helen’s quest takes them from their homes in Chicago to London, to the Brontes’ home in Haworth on the English moors, then on to a necessary rendezvous of Lucy’s own.

The pages of The Bronte Plot are saturated with literary allusion to the nineteenth century British greats – Austen, Dickens, Gaskin, Wordsworth, and eminently, Emily, Charlotte, and Anne Bronte. Initiated readers will revel in recognizing them, as I did when the occasional mention of Dostoyevsky or C.S. Lewis struck a chord with me. As we revel in Katherine Reay’s literary pilgrimage, we marvel at the inner, moral journey Lucy travels.  We are reminded that dealing honestly with others always demands a little courage. To be honest with others whom we have not been requires us to muster unimaginable depths of courage.

You will absolutely love The Bronte Plot if you have read Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and other Bronte plots.  You will also love The Bronte Plot if you have not yet read any Bronte plots, but you will resolve to read some.  I had not, but I will.

Publisher’s Summary

When Lucy’s secret is unearthed, her world begins to crumble. But it may be the best thing that has ever happened to her.

Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious liberties to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy’s secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend, James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

In a sudden turn of events, James’s wealthy grandmother, Helen, hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy’s predicament better than anyone else.

As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen’s wisdom as Helen confronts ghosts from her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters’ beloved heroines who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of impossible circumstances.

Now Lucy must face her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that’s been waiting for her all along.

You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher

My Review

I love reading a book where you feel as if you are catching up with old friends. Robin Lee Hatcher does a magnificent job of capturing this feeling with her newest work of fiction, You’re Gonna Love Me. A tale about life in Thunder Creek, Idaho, it’s a sequel that acts well as a standalone. (However, I did read the first book, You’ll Think of Me, and I recommend it as well.)

I identify with Samantha Winter’s fears having suffered from PTSD and anxiety myself. Nonetheless, I felt she needed to loosen up just a little. Then again, who can blame her for her fears? Her grandmother, the reason for her trip to Thunder Creek, suffers multiple broken bones after falling off a horse. The circumstances in her life, such as witnessing her father’s death, transpire to keep her fearful. So, the last person Samantha expects to see in Thunder Creek, of all places, is her daredevil ex-boyfriend Nick Chastain.

The last time Nick saw Samantha was when they broke up, in Beaverton, Oregon. Among all the questions he has, the biggest one is why is she in Thunder Creek?

The novel, You’re Gonna Love Me, richly portrays life in small-town America, a place where neighbors help neighbors and everyone becomes your friend. The portrayal encompasses a peaceful lifestyle in a tranquil and idyllic setting.

Nick and Samantha discover wonderful examples of God’s faithfulness through lessons of trust, forgiveness and second chances, all while learning to rely on Him.

You’re Gonna Love Me is a pleasant read. The characters are easy to care about and well developed. All in all, a great story to curl up with on a warm autumn day.

I received this book from the author, Robin Lee Hatcher. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Who knew fate could twist a tragedy into a second chance at love?

Samantha Winters lives her life the way a good accountant should—measured, deliberate, and safe. After watching her father die in a tragic skiing accident, she decided never to allow risk into her life again. But she didn’t count on falling for Nick Chastain, who embodies everything she doesn’t want in her safely constructed world.

Against Samantha’s warnings, Nick plans a dangerous kayaking trip over spring break. Furious that he’s so careless with his life, she ends their fledgling relationship with harsh words.

Two years later, Samantha is desperately in need of a change. When she learns her grandmother has had an accident and is in need of a caretaker, Samantha quickly packs her bags and heads to Thunder Creek, Idaho. But nothing could prepare her for the surprise awaiting her in her grandmother’s hospital room . . . Nick.

With the charming backdrop of small-town friends, beloved cousins, and a whole church congregation rooting for them, can they set aside the disastrous ending of their first try at love? Has Nick changed enough to meet Samantha in the middle—and can she realize that a risk in love might be worth taking?

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?

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?

Thursday Throwback – To Gain A Mommy

to-gain-a-mommy

About the Book

They had a plan, but will it work?

Thirteen years ago, pediatrician Hope Michaels was the fool-hearted girl who came home from college to learn the man she loved was engaged to her twin. But now to move on with her life and accept a proposal of marriage, she must confront the one man who holds the key to the wounds of her past.

Fire Captain Carl McGuire can put out any flame, except for the one Hope sparks within him. As she stirs up his life and heart, Carl knows some things never change. Even a past he’d rather keep hidden.

When a new neighbor moves in across the street who would be a perfect fit for their family, Mary and Brody form a plan to bring their dad and Hope together. But how will it work if Hope keeps pushing him away?

My Review

Widower Carl McGuire is trying to carry on after the death of his wife, Faith. He and his children, Mary and Brody, are getting on with their lives, until Hope Michaels moves in across the street, throwing everyone’s life into an uproar.

Hope relocated her pediatric firm back to her hometown to be close to her Mom. Little did she know, she would be moving across the street from the only man she had ever loved, the one who betrayed her and broke her heart.

I really enjoyed To Gain a Mommy. The children were so true to life. Mary is twelve with a going on 20 attitude and Brody is eight, and loves dogs, and don’t even get me started on Hope’s dog, Goldie. She is such a sweetheart! I appreciated feeling as if I was getting to know each character, and in getting to know them, to also understand why they chose certain paths or behaved a particular way.

Even though this is a novella, the characters are well-rounded. As you read the story, you become invested in their pains, hopes and dreams.

Tanya Eavenson has written a short (only 93 pages), sweet story of heartbreak, betrayal and redemption. To Gain a Mommy is a quick read and a great book to curl up with on a lazy day.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Originally posted 2-27-2017. I am re-posting in conjunction with CelebrateLit’s tour, I am under no obligation to do so, nor was I asked to do so.)

The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin And a GIVEAWAY!

Information on a giveaway for the book,The Two of Us, is below the reviews.

My Review

Mia Robinson has decided, after two broken engagements, she is not going to get married. However, she didn’t count on Jake Tanner, the mentor for her little sister Lucy’s fiancé.

I can relate so well to both Mia and Lucy. I am usually a fairly reserved, cautious person and I’m the oldest sibling/sister. However, like Lucy, when it comes to my family (immediate and extended), I am super impulsive. I love surprises (but my immediate family doesn’t), and I like to plan and execute surprises for them, which usually ends up with them frustrated with me (sometimes it ends well, sometimes not!).

The characters of The Two of Us are very real and relatable. The story is gripping, absorbing and thought-provoking. I enjoyed the interwoven messages of faith and how each character faces similar circumstances differently.

Victoria Bylin’s contemporary novel addresses many of today’s issues, including the difficulties associated with caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, a police officer dealing with PTSD and an unmarried woman’s unplanned pregnancy.

Having read and enjoyed several of Victoria Bylin’s books, I think The Two of Us is my favorite. I found the interactions and intricacies of the story and characters to be engrossing and spell-binding. Also, you begin to feel as if the people are your friends, each one seemingly real enough to be someone you know or have known.

I received this book from NetGalley, Bethany House Publishers and the author. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Heartwarming and Touching New Contemporary Romance from Victoria Bylin

After two broken engagements, nurse practitioner Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she only trusts herself and God, and she’s focused on her eighteen-year-old sister, Lucy, and caring for patients. Just as she applies to work for an international aid organization, a phone call from Lucy, who’s pregnant and running off to marry her twenty-one-year-old boyfriend, throws a wrench into all of Mia’s plans.

Jake Tanner may have recovered from the physical injuries he sustained on the job as a police officer, but his heart has yet to heal from losing his former partner in the tragedy. He’s poured himself into starting a camp for the sons of fallen officers and mentoring Sam, the adult son of his deceased partner, who’s asked him to be his best man at his wedding.

Mia is expecting a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn’t expecting Jake. And Jake, who can’t help envying Sam and Lucy, doubts he’ll ever experience their happiness for himself. But maybe Jake’s courage and Mia’s caring spirit are just what they need to bring them a lifetime of healing and a forever kind of love. . . .

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

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

Leave a comment to enter the drawing.

Drawing will be open August 21st to August 27th.

One name will be randomly drawn as winner.

Check back on Monday, August 28th, 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~

This giveaway has ended.

Whispering Pines (The Langtry Sisters) by Scarlett Dunn

My Review

Rose Langtry’s trip home is anything but the expected. First, her brother is almost hung by her neighbor, Morgan LeMasters; then after securing her brother’s safety, Rose is injured in a horrific stage coach accident.

Morgan LeMasters can’t believe the injured beauty he rescues was once the little girl that feared him, nor that she so staunchly defends her cattle rustling thief of a brother.

I was instantly engrossed in Whispering Pines by Scarlett Dunn. The story doesn’t follow the usual formula of romance and love. Instead, it is compelling and eventful.  There are scenes of suspense, intrigue and revenge and also scenes of faith, forgiveness and love. Some scenes are horribly disturbing and grisly. However, they perfectly illustrate the depravity of one character. Also, a few segments are borderline risque.

I fell in love with “Granny,” Rose’s grandmother, who raised her. She is tough and resilient and loves those around her mightily. Most of the main characters’ love her too and call her Granny, even though they aren’t related to her.

Whispering Pines is the first book in The Langtry Sisters collection. In this novel, we briefly glimpse the other two sisters, Adelaide and Emma, creating anticipation for the next two installments.

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

Publisher’s Summary

In Scarlett Dunn’s heartfelt inspirational series, three sisters return home to beautiful, enigmatic Whispering Pines, Colorado, and discover the men who’ll claim their love . . .

As a young girl, Rose Langtry feared her gruff, handsome rancher neighbor. Coming back to Colorado after five years, she’s outraged to find Morgan LeMasters ready to hang her brother for rustling and theft. But when the resulting skirmish leaves her injured, Morgan’s tender care turns her unease to unexpected closeness . . . and admiration.

Stopping Frankie Langtry and his gang has long been Morgan’s priority, yet he can’t resist Rose’s pleas for mercy. As brave and spirited as she is soft-hearted, Rose needs support to keep her family farm from going under, and a marriage of convenience will provide it. Morgan hardly dares admit, even to himself, his longing for a deeper, truer union. But her brother’s grudge is bringing danger back to Whispering Pines, and it’ll take forgiveness, courage—and a bond built on faith—to create a family and a future together . . .