Tag Archives: Contemporary Christian Women’s Fiction

Scrumptious Independence by Melissa Wardwell on Tour with Celebrate Lit

About the Book

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

And so is Beth’s cooking! It’s a good thing, too. After a lifetime of her family’s smothering embrace, a whole new world opens to her with the passing of her beloved grandmother.

Armed with an inheritance she never expected and orders on how to use it, Beth sets off for Merriweather Island and fulfillment of a lifetime of dreams.

Or so she hopes.

What she didn’t hope for was what most women would—a man who fills her thoughts at the most wonderfully unwelcome times. She doesn’t have time or space for a relationship, but how do you tell love to just go away?

Of course, starting over in a new place is never easy, especially as an outsider in a small community. Add to that a mayor who has her dander up and a woman bound to make her life miserable, is it any wonder that Beth begins to doubt God’s and Gram’s plans?

With her heart betraying her resolve and challenges to her faith, Beth finds it takes bravery she didn’t know she had to discover just how scrumptious independence can be.

This “Merriweather book” is the second in a new series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Island Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to purchase your copy!

Melissa Wardwell created another delightful story with Scrumptious Independence, and even though it is book 2 in a series, it works well as a standalone.

Beth Andrews’ Gram surprised Beth and her family by willing her Merriweather home to Beth. Beth decides to leave Michigan and return to Merriweather Island. The remembrances of her sweet childhood with her Gram lure her back. She arrives with big plans, never expecting to run into her old friend, Scott, or jealous women or, even worse, the dangerous and mysterious things that happen to her.

Merriweather Island sounds like an idyllic and heavenly place to live. The way the islanders have ensured that the island won’t become a tourist trap is wonderful. The traveling food and book trucks sound delightful. And the weather. . .well, I would love it!!

I enjoyed the story very much. There was just the right amount of romance rounded out with treachery and intrigue. Gram was the perfect foil to Beth’s reserved personality. Scott was a sweetheart, and most of the residents of the Island were treasures. The cooking aspect was appealing, also, as food is a large part of social and familial interactions.

I can’t wait to read the other stories in the series!

I received Scrumptious Independence from Celebrate Lit. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

About the Author

Melissa Wardwell resides in Owosso, Michigan with her husband Jonathan, three children, a cat, and two pitbulls.

Besides writing, she enjoys reading, having coffee with friends, and spending quality time with her husband kayaking and fishing.

Melissa likes to joke about the voices in her head, but it is those voices that have inspired her to write several romance novels such as “I Know the Plans” (a story based in her hometown of Owosso) and “Finding Hope in Savannah”. When she is not penning works of fiction, she is busy reviewing books on her blog, Back Porch Reads.

To see more from Melissa Wardwell, visit www.melissawardwell.com

More from Melissa

“Lord, I don’t know how I can keep doing this.”

That was my prayer one evening in 2019 as I made my way to praise practice. I knew that writing was something God had called me to (because He never seems to call you to do something you enjoy) but the finances were just not there to publish another book. I felt lost in the uncertainty of the path moving forward and I needed a light. I had just shared all my concerns with my parents and left with my dad’s words ringing in my head. Are you writing to gain notoriety or are you writing for God?

The next morning, CelebrateLit had a post looking for submissions for a new and innovative series. Hope burst within me and I know I needed more information. I followed instructions and spoke with Sandy Barela and Chautona Havig. The more I was told, the more excited I became because I knew I needed to be part of this collection.

Ideas were hatched, characters began to talk, and a book proposal was sent. I continued to work on the development of characters and the mobile business knowing in my heart that God had given me this opportunity. I wouldn’t do things halfway. And when the confirmation email came, I was ready to share the beautiful story and characters that developed.

Beth is a food truck proprietor, so that means she spends most of her time cooking. In an effort to grow her recipes, I have been making videos of me cooking some of our family’s favorites as well as raiding my mom’s recipe box. The result is some amazing food to share.

Every book, pre-order card, and my YouTube channel has recipes on it. And so will this tour.

With it being summertime, our family doesn’t want those heavy meals so sometimes chips and sandwiches are all we need in the evenings. One favorite is my chicken salad.

Now, this recipe is easily substituted with other things like however, you like your chicken.

Melissa’s Chicken Salad

Feeds 4 (unless you have big eaters.)

2 cans of chicken (you can use cooked but this is quick and easy

1/2 cup of red grapes – halved

1/2 cup celery – diced

Make sure you rinse all of this well as you prep the salad

Dressing

1 1/2 cup of miracle whip (you can use mayo)

1/2 tsp mustard powder

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tsp of sugar

Mix everything together and serve on your favorite bread option or on a bed of lettuce. I like mine in a pita pocket or on lettuce. This time it was with a pita pocket with a side of lightly salted chips and a pickle.

Now, just a little side note, you can add what ever veggie or fruit you like. Apples and cucumbers would be a great addition as well. So, don’t feel like you have to do things exactly like I do. Make it your own.

Bon appétit

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 21

Soulfully Romantic, September 21

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, September 21

Sara Jane Jacobs, September 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 22

Texas Book-aholic, September 22

Inklings and notions, September 22

For Him and My Family, September 23

deb’s Book Review, September 23

Artistic Nobody, September 23 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

She Lives To Read, September 24

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, September 24

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 24

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 24

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 25

Quiet Workings, September 25

21st Century Keeper at Home, September 25

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions , September 26

Older & Smarter?, September 26

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 26

Blogging With Carol, September 27

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, September 27

Batya’s Bits, September 27

Emily Yager, September 28

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, September 28

Stories By Gina, September 28

Reviewingbooksplusmore, September 28

CarpeDiem, September 29

Christian Bookaholic, September 29

Cultivating Us, September 29

Aryn the Libraryan, September 30

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 30

Connect in Fiction, October 1

The Collaborative Press, October 1

Livin’ Lit, October 1

Simple Harvest Reads, October 2 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

The Meaderings of a Bookworm, October 2

Godly Book Reviews, October 2

Joanne Markey, October 3

Captive Dreams Window, October 3

Vicky Sluiter, October 3

Blossoms and Blessings, October 4

Splashes of Joy, October 4

Pause for Tales, October 4

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Melissa is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10105/scrumptious-independence-celebration-tour-giveaway

Being Known by Robin Jones Gunn


Robin Jones Gunn books are always encouraging to read. Gunn, time after time, pens realistic, true to life stories, and Being Known delivers the encouraging read I had expected.

Being Known focuses mainly on Jennalyn, a young mother of two children, and her difficulties in handling home, friends and life alone due to a virtually absent, workaholic husband. Many women can easily and readily identify with Jennalyn’s struggles and frustrations at her husband’s constant excuses, even if they are valid (at least in his mind), and his absences are at times necessary.

The story picks up with the Haven Makers aka DOEs (Daughters of Eve), a group of young married and single female friends who meet periodically to inspire, boost and nurture each other through the good and bad times of their lives. The group is founded on Biblical principles and draws heavily on Biblical truths to guide them.

I had a small problem with this book in the beginning.  I thought it faltered at first, with a spate of short, choppy sentences.  Don’t be deterred.  When the novel hits its stride, the story that emerges develops wonderfully and flows seamlessly.  No one should miss this heartening and inspiring book.

Being Known is the sequel to Becoming Us but works fine as a stand-alone.

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

#BeingKnown #NetGalley

Publisher’s Summary

From the bestselling author of Becoming Us comes a novel that asks: What does it mean to be truly known? In a marriage, in a friendship, or by a loving God?
 
After her mom passed away, Jennalyn was in the midst of moving, adjusting to life with a new baby, and helping her husband, Joel, work toward his dream job. At the time, she thought she’d processed her mother’s death, but only now that Jennalyn has two small children, a lovely new home, and a husband who is always working does she feel the full impact of what she has lost.

Even among her sweet circle of friends, the Haven Makers, grief silently overwhelms Jennalyn, until an unexpected encounter allows her to express herself in ways she hasn’t fully been able to with her husband. Even though Christy, Sierra, Emily, and Tess provide a soft place to land in times of tension, Jennalyn remains guarded, especially when Tess reveals she is tangled emotionally in a relationship that was thorny from the start.

Will the two women open up and remain honest with the others in their Haven Makers group? Or will their hesitation to truly be known, faults and all, keep them from holding on to the friendships that have been the sweetest gift during this season of life?

As the Tide Comes In by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

My Review

WOW!

There are so many things about this story that are amazing. There are also some very, very sad aspects, so be prepared to need a lot of tissues. Trust me, though the story has sad, nay tragic, moments, there is so much depth, insight and truth to it, that you are drawn in and aren’t let go, even upon finishing the book.

Cindy Woodsmall and her daughter-in-law Erin have written a novel very different from Cindy Woodsmall’s standard fare of Amish life. Set in contemporary, secular communities, As the Tide Comes In opens near Ashville, North Carolina, then the plot moves to Georgia’s St. Simon’s Island.

Tara Abbott has been a foster child and well knows foster care life is fraught with nerve-wracking instability and heart-breaking insecurity. With great misgiving, at age eighteen, she agrees to care for her two newly orphaned half-brothers, becoming their adored “T-Mom.”

Around Tara’s thirty-first birthday, her little family’s cabin is demolished by a tornado.  She is severely injured and hospitalized. After her release, and still reeling from trauma, she decides to visit St. Simon’s Island, where she and her brothers had once planned to meet.  On the island, the effects of her injury resurface. She becomes confused and peregrinates aimlessly.

In her confusion, Tara’s fear, angst and her sense of God having disappeared are palpable. The Woodsmalls had me walking in Tara’s very shoes as she wandered the island and her soul wandered through despair. I marveled at the strength, resourcefulness and resilience that inched her forward, literally and spiritually.

God sends friends for Tara to encounter on the island, such as the “Glynn Girls,” best friends and occasionally friendly enemies. The Woodsmalls flesh out these secondary characters as zany, unconventional women, whose antics and sometimes hilarious escapades warm our hearts and penetrate Tara’s.

I know I can’t do justice to this book, no matter how or what I write in this review. The depth of tragedy, the transformative spiritual journey and the emotional intensity found in As the Tide Comes In are rarely experienced by absorbing a novel. The story skillfully moved me from tears to laughter to thoughtful reverie. All of us, at some time in our life, will experience distraught, terrible times in our lives, and the book’s impactful message is best expressed in the words of one of its characters, who admonishes that “God is love, and anything we think He did outside of how love would behave, we’re mistaken….”

I received this book from WaterBrook Publishers and the authors. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

When an unthinkable loss sends Tara Abbott’s life spiraling out of control, she journeys from North Carolina to Georgia’s St. Simons Island. Although confused and scared, she hopes to find answers about her past – her life before the years of foster care and raising her two half-brothers as a young adult. Will she find steady ground on the island, surrounded by an eccentric-but-kindhearted group of older women called The Glynn Girls and a determined firefighter? Or will the truth splinter what’s left of her identity into pieces?

The First of a Small Peek at What’s Coming Soon!!!!

I am introducing a new element to my blog. There will be teasers of upcoming book reviews (those not on tour or already published) with memes, blurbs or other catchy ways to introduce the upcoming books and reviews!

The first of these is starting today!!

I was privileged to have received an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of Cindy Woodsmall and (her daughter-in-law) Erin Woodsmall’s newest collaboration, As the Tide Comes In. The book, published by Waterbrook, releases August 21st.

I love this meme, in fact, all the memes created for this book are so pretty.

Look for the review on August 20th!!

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel

My Review

WOW!!

The Heart Between Us left a profound impact on me. This story is an emotional roller coaster no one can prepare for, but I’m glad I experienced it.

Lindsay Harrel is a new author to me, and I look forward to reading more of her books. She does a wonderful job of drawing you into the story, creating realistic people and scenarios.

I knew the basic premise of the story; a young woman, Megan, who is 32 years old, struggles with heart disease until age 29 when she receives a heart transplant. What I didn’t know or expect was the heartfelt authenticity of the story. I found myself truly feeling for the characters as if I’d known them for years.

I empathized with Crystal, Megan’s sister, who felt she could never be enough because her parents’ focus was always on her twin sister’s physical problems. The problems Crystal and her husband faced within their marriage were true to life. Sometimes it’s easier to revert to autopilot and become a super controller than it is to confront and fix problems, but failing to solve existing issues spawns new ones.

Traveling around the world with Crystal and Megan brings us many delightful and breathtaking moments, along with insightful glimpses into our own humanity.

The story is one of growth and healing, of questioning God, of reconciliation and of anger, with a large dose of jealously. Ultimately, we experience redemption and healing.

Maybe the past didn’t have to be a bitter mark always marring the surface of her heart. Maybe life really could be an amazing adventure, one not of her own making, but the kind that comes from toil and heartache and love.

Especially love. (pg. 281)

“God can handle your questions, Meg. If you want to know, ask. A relationship is about trust, and trust is grown through communication.” (pg. 227)

Some parts of the story are predictable. However, the predictability does not detract from the entirety of the story. Be prepared to laugh, cry and perhaps grow just a little in the process, too.

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

Publisher’s Summary

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

The Song of Sadie Sparrow by Kitty Foth-Regner

My Review

The Song of Sadie Sparrow is one of those unique books that only rarely comes along. The story focuses on Sadie Sparrow after she must move to a nursing home, a needed step up in care from a retirement home unable to accommodate her wheelchair use.

Kitty Foth-Regner has written a book that is at once like watching a movie and also like living in the story. The characters are all so likable (even the not so likable ones!) and instantly endearing.

The Hickories, the nursing home facility, is a beautiful place to behold. I wanted to assist Sadie with her wheelchair and stroll through the gardens or take a tour of the building. If I am ever in need of a nursing facility, I hope to find one similar to Sadie Sparrow’s home.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I received this insightful, profound and thought-provoking book. I had read an excerpt which intrigued me with its multiple character storyline. As I read, I realized the focus was mainly on three women at very different stages in their respective lives, sharing their experiences, knowledge and insights with each other and those around them.

You will encounter the most credible and well thought out arguments for the infallibility of Scripture you are likely to find in a work of fiction.

Be prepared; the novel deals with emotionally draining material in its 395 pages, but please don’t let that scare you away from reading it.

The Song of Sadie Sparrow is a book that will keep you up reading it and will make you sad when it is over. I sincerely hope that Kitty Foth-Regner will write another book about the people of The Hickories.

I was also intrigued to learn (from reading her bio on the back cover) that Foth-Regner was once a feminist atheist, converted to Christianity through her own quest to disprove the Bible.

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book/eBook/Product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

#CWAreviewcrew

Publisher’s Summary

For many, a nursing home is the despised last stop before heading out into the Great Beyond. Not so for the heroines of The Song of Sadie Sparrow—three very different women whose lives intersect in a warm and endlessly engaging facility called The Hickories.

Sadie Sparrow, Meg Vogel and Elise Chapelle represent different generations. They have experienced different sorrows and entertain different hopes. They even adhere to different worldviews, from devoutly Christian to unapologetically atheist. Yet over the course of a single year, they forge unlikely bonds that impact each other’s lives in the here and now—and perhaps for all eternity.

A beautifully written story of friendship set against the backdrop of life’s twilight years, The Song of Sadie Sparrow explores contrasting views of purpose and pardon, life and afterlife—and faith’s role in shaping those views, now and forevermore.