Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

What a beguiling and captivating novel, Stories That Bind Us is! Susie Finkbeiner captures the era of the ’60s in vivid, powerful and striking detail.

Betty Sweet and her sister, Clara, grew up in tough circumstances. Betty was able to overcome most of her younger life with the help of her husband, Norman, and her penchant for inventing stories.  Her faith in God lifted her above the adversity in her life. Sadly, Clara was not so lucky.

Stories That Bind Us takes us through tumultuous times for our country and for Betty and Clara. Even though there seems to be a lot of turbulence and upheaval in their lives, Betty is able to ground herself and Clara’s son, Hugo, with her stories. Betty’s tales are relevant to the situations she and Hugo often encounter.

Reading the novel instilled a positive, encouraging and heartening feeling about life. Despite depressing and heartbreaking times, both in their lives and in the United States, Finkbeiner shines the light on the good and wonderful aspects of life, family and love.

I enjoyed the flashbacks to the “oldies” music of the ’60s, which reminded me of my childhood. Accounts of historical events also teased my mind, as I vaguely remembered news stories and happenings in areas I lived in or near, which resonate with current events now.

A novel that will stay with you for a long time after reading it, Stories That Bind Us, is a must-read for anyone interested in faith-inspired historical fiction.

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

#StoriesThatBindUs #NetGalley

Publisher’s Summary

Betty Sweet never expected to be a widow at 40. With so much life still in front of her, she tries to figure out what’s next. She couldn’t have imagined what God had in mind. When her estranged sister is committed to a sanitarium, Betty finds herself taking on the care of a 5-year-old nephew she never knew she had.

In 1960s LaFontaine, Michigan, they make an odd pair. Betty with her pink button nose and bouffant hair. Hugo with his light brown skin and large brown eyes. But more powerful than what makes them different is what they share: the heartache of an empty space in their lives. Slowly, they will learn to trust one another as they discover common ground and healing through the magic of storytelling.

Award-winning author Susie Finkbeiner offers fans a novel that invites us to rediscover the power of story to open the doors of our hearts.

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?

The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch

I always look forward to Erica Vetsch’s novels. I, unfortunately, have not had time to read novels like I have wanted to. I’m so glad I took the time to read The Lost Lieutenant!

Vetsch has done a great job in her research, not only into the Regency period but also the feelings and emotions of the people who lived them.

Diana Seaton has a cruel father. He obviously never wanted a daughter, and never lost an opportunity in digs, slights and other ways of letting Diana know his feelings. I could really empathize with Diana. Even though my father wasn’t quite as cruel as Diana’s, my father was sometimes cruel. He, too, wanted a boy and was extremely disappointed when his first child, me, was a girl (hence my name!).

Evan Eldridge was a war hero, much to his dismay. The Prince Regent promoted him to the ranks of nobility, leaving Evan upset and disgruntled. I could also understand Evan’s feelings. I would rather be a regular everyday person than one in a position of “privilege”.

Vetsch pulls you into the roller coaster named The Lost Lieutenant and does not let go until the end of the story. She paints vivid word pictures, putting you right in the scene. Her characters run the gamut from kind, charismatic and loving to cruel, hedonistic and evil, which creates a thoroughly captivating novel.

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

Publisher’s Summary

He’s doing what he can to save the Prince Regent’s life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well?

Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero–he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn’t think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.

Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn’t have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there’s something he can’t quite remember. It’s important, dangerous–and if he doesn’t recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone’s very life.

Readers who enjoy Julie Klassen, Carolyn Miller, and Kristi Ann Hunter will love diving into this brand-new Regency series filled with suspense, aristocratic struggles, and a firm foundation of faith.

Diamond Knot Dreams Series by Mary Manners


Mary Manners books/novellas have never disappointed!

Her Diamond Knot Dreams series consists of four stories, plus a prequel. The prequel, a fun and lively story, focuses on the older generation, whereas her other four stories focus on the younger generation.

Veiled Gems, Book 1

Lila Brooks picked Clover Cove as the perfect place to start her one-stop wedding shop. Morgan Holt, a builder, agrees to assist Lila in renovating a charming, neglected, Victorian home for the business. However, things go awry from the beginning and they don’t seem to get better as time goes on.

I enjoyed this story for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was the renovation aspect. The details of the renovation brought back pleasant memories of when I worked in new and renovation construction.

Mary Manners always pulls you into her stories and doesn’t let go. Her characters are relatable, her cities ever so charming and she doesn’t paint life as always being a bed of roses. In fact, she has quite a few thorns that have to be avoided or picked out after getting too close!

Veiled Gems is just the right size story for a quick escape, one I’m sure you will enjoy!

Jeweled Dreams, Book 2

Jeweled Dreams opens with such a cute, most erudite child that you immediately fall in love with her! Mackenzie “Kenzie” Ballentine not only stole her uncle’s heart when he became her guardian, but she will steal yours, too! Reading about her will leave you amazed at her language skills and ability to perceive situations, while at the same time being delighted by her five-year-old charisma.

I am also loving this series. I have a special place in my heart for renovations and new business ventures, both of which are highlighted. Plus, who can help falling in love with a small town where life is so idyllic?

Jeweled Dreams is a novella, so it is quick to read and sure to delight!

Precious Fire, Book 3

Mary Manners has written another cute romance novella centered around the Diamond Knot Dreams Bridal Boutique.

Precious Fire introduces us to Claire McLaughlin, friend of Lila and Avery from the first and second story in the series, along with Ryan Kendrick. Claire has come to Clover Cove at their request to be the baker for the boutique.

I really liked Ryan’s little brother, Caleb. He overcame some huge adversities but still maintained a positive outlook. I hope in future books we can revisit Caleb and get a glimpse at how he is doing as he grows up.

I loved being able to learn more about Clover Cove and enjoyed the way everyone worked together to make their hometown a pleasant and fun place to live.

MY THOUGHTS (And A Glimpse of the Prequel!)

Mary Manners has the unique ability to put you in the middle of the plot. This quality endears you to her characters and helps you become vested in their lives. It is so much fun to learn of each new couple, while at the same time catching up with the other Clover Clove residents. You feel as if the area is your home away from home and the people are your friends! I love the way she sets up her stories with such delightful personalities. I can easily see myself as friends with any or all of the people she so eloquently pens.

(I haven’t finished Crystal Wishes. However, I know it will be as wonderful as Mary’s other books!)

A Tender Season, Book 0

A Tender Season is Mary Manners’ prequel to the Diamond Knot Dreams series of novellas (In case you wondered about the Book 0 in the title!).  The story, by necessity, is short, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good book, or have a good plot!

I enjoyed this short, tender story of love the second time around, where the two main characters of the novella weren’t sure if they would ever face love again.

One of my favorite types of stories is a series that follows characters from previous books, and Mary Manners has done this with her Diamond Knot Dreams series. Each person is inter-related in some way, either through friendship or birth. The only problem is when the series ends, and I have lost all my new friends!

Memorable Monday

Welcome today to Memorable Monday! The purpose of Memorable Monday is to showcase an influential book read in the past and share how or why it still resonates with you. This intriguing Monday post is hosted by the sweet and lovely Becca at The Becca Files.

I am featuring Set Your Fields On Fire!

From the Author

“Set Your Fields on Fire” started in October 2008 when I read a story in The Wall Street Journal about church consultants who get hired to evaluate congregations like people evaluate grocery stores and retail chains. I immediately thought of this as a comedy. I mean, I had the idea that very day. It was situation and character immediately. But it took a few months for me to figure out that the comedy would come because this guy would be a real stickler. My first idea was to have it be just about one person in a situation. But then I realized he needed a team. How would I organize it? That came when I was flipping through the TV and saw “Oceans 11.” Then I had a structure for the story – old character, young female, millennial guy, undercover person, voice of reason, adversary, etc. Doing this also gave it a little suspense, because it becomes like a heist film, or a heist film about Sunday School, you might say.

About the Author

William Thornton is an award-winning writer, journalist and reporter with the Alabama Media Group, his work appears in AL.com, The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, and the Press-Register. He is also a Sunday School teacher. He lives in Alabama with his wife and daughter.

Set Your Fields on Fire by William Thornton, is unlike any book I have ever read, and the thoughts and emotions evoked are unlike any I have felt.

The premise of Thornton’s book is how a group of mystery worshippers (who knew these even existed, and they do!) is hired to help churches in areas where they are lacking or unknowing. However, there is so very much more to this story.

Set Your Fields will leave you pondering the book, your church and most especially, your own life long after you have read the last page.

I can’t say enough about the impact of this book! Read it, and see-you just might be surprised at the impact it has on you, too!

To read my complete review, please click here: http://Set Your Fields on fire

To read the first chapter, please click here: http://brilliantdisguises.blogspot.com/2015/12/read-first-chapter-of-set-your-fields.html

Alex Alterman is a “mystery worshipper” – hired by churches to experience their worship services as a member of the congregation and evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Grass growing in the parking lot? Unkempt bathrooms? Bad sound systems? These may turn away people as much as the singing and the sermon. To whom much is given, much is required.

But when Alex and his dedicated band of nitpicking zealots are hired to evaluate a Florida church and its prominent pastor, they are presented with a set of mysteries: Who hired them? And who hired their main competition? And why are they being shadowed by a couple of atheists running a dirt-dealing blog?

Oil spills, dwarf spies, choir room surveillance, church league basketball cheats and parking lot security all combine in a splendid caper that stretches from Wall Street to the beachfront. As Alterman’s group finds itself in the eye of the storm, the work takes on a new dimension as they untangle the reasons they believe in their work, and why they believe at all.

#SetYourFieldsonFire  #WilliamThornton

First Line Fridays-Delilah (Ties that Bind Book 4) by Fay Lamb-Hosted by Hoarding Books

I have been so excited since I found out Fay Lamb was writing Delilah’s story as part of her Ties that Bind Series.

I have a blog tour on Wednesday that will feature Delilah and I can’t wait to share it with you!

So without further ado, here are the first two lines (yes, you get a bonus!!!).

First Line

Delilah leaned back in her chair behind the defense table in the courtroom that used to be hers. She crossed her legs, the toe of her bright red stiletto pushing up and back as she worked to portray a reserved, composed air, her thoughts anything but serene.

Publisher’s Summary

Calling a truce with the man you love? What’s the fun in that?

Newly elected judge, John M. Turner, tries his best to call an end to his war with former Circuit Judge Delilah James, the woman he bested in the election by only a narrow margin. Delilah refuses to accept his flag of surrender. Worse yet, a vengeful assistant state attorney, the other candidate whose entry in the race actually handed the win to John, is seeking to have them both removed from the Florida Bar, and the game Delilah has forced upon him has given their enemy ammunition for his disbarment.

Delilah likes the give and take she shares with John. What fun is there in surrender? She wants to make amends but makes a mess of every attempt. Added to her foibles, life has become complicated: John’s teenage sister hates her, and Libby Carter has been arrested for battery on a police officer and has embroiled Delilah in the plight of the homeless. Her past has returned to haunt her, and if that’s not enough, she’s deep into the one experience in life she never thought would happen to her. She’s fallen in love.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

NOW, it’s YOUR Turn!!!

Grab the book you are currently reading, open to chapter one, and post the first sentence (or the second sentence) in the comments below.  Then head over to Hoarding Books to see all of the First Line Friday pages this week. Just click on the FLF box below.

Ellie’s Redemption by Molly Jebber on Tour with Celebrate Lit

About the Book

Title: Ellie’s Redemption

Author: Molly Jebber

Genre: Christian fiction, Amish

Release date: January 29, 2019

1912, Charm, Ohio

Ellie Graber is determined to restore her bad reputation in Charm, Ohio. She regrets leaving Amish life and the danger and heartache she caused her family and friends. Ellie loves working with Liza, and her best friend and cousin, Hannah, at Liza’s Amish Charm Bakery, attends church, and obeys Amish law, but the gossip about her past life won’t stop. Joel Wenger’s deep blue eyes tell her he cares for her, but she suspects his parents have warned him to stay away from her. Joel wants to trust Ellie’s changed but his sister, Maryann, who left Amish life broke their hearts. Will Joel ignore his parents and friends, face their anger and ridicule, and give her a chance?

Click here to purchase your copy!

Ellie’s Redemption by Molly Jebber deals with several matters within the Amish community in Charm, Ohio, in 1921. One she gives emphasis to is gossip. There are several verses in the Bible warning against gossiping (or talebearing). A few of those include:

Leviticus 19:16a King James Version (KJV) Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people…

Proverbs 11:13 (KJV) A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

Proverbs 20:19 (KJV) He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.

Ellie Graber struggles against feelings of inadequacies and self-worth. Ellie must stand strong when gossiping causes the mother of her friend, Joel Wenger, to not give them a chance. She portrays an attitude of forgiveness and kindness, even though others are not so kind to her.

The story is sweet and simple with many obstacles that need to be overcome. The main characters are easy to relate to, and they all grow in faith, forgiveness and understanding as a result of the problems they each face.

I love when the author includes a recipe, and there is one for oatmeal cookies in the book!

Ellie’s Redemption is Book 2 of The Amish Charm Bakery Series. Because I was sometimes confused, I feel I would have enjoyed the book more if I had read the first story.

I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

 

About the Author

Molly Jebber writes Amish Historical Romance. Her latest release, ELLIE’S REDEMPTION, is the second book in her Amish Charm Bakery Series. Molly’s books have been featured in Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today’s HEA, and Romantic Times. Her books have received widespread media attention throughout the US. Her books are sold in print and Ebook throughout the US and United Kingdom. She’s a touring speaker for Women’s Christian Connection, other women’s organizations, and she offers presentations on writing and the Amish. She says the most rewarding part about writing stories is meeting wonderful readers who become friends through social media and at her speaking events. Please visit her website: http://www.mollyjebber.com for a full list of her books (and options stores to buy them), speaking events and recipes.

She loves God, her family, and friends. She says yes to swimming, the beach, golf, and time with her family and friends, and no to coconut, onions, and skydiving!

Guest Post from Molly

Hi Friends!

Ellie likes newcomer Joel, and he’s the first Amish man to show interest since her return to Charm. She’s afraid when he learns of her rebellious past and the danger she brought to her family before turning her life around, he’ll end their courtship. Joel is frustrated his sister left Amish life before his family moved to Charm. He chooses not to tell Ellie about her, until he has no choice. What does the future hold for Ellie and Joel when their secrets are revealed?

Along with the story of Ellie’s Redemption are recipes!

Here’s one just for you!

Ellie’s Surprise Cookies

1 cup shortening 2 cups rolled oats (quick cook)

1 cup white sugar 1 teaspoon soda

1 ¼ cup brown sugar ½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon cinnamon 1 ½ cups chocolate chips

2 eggs 2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt

Sift dry ingredients. Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Stir in dry ingredients. Add oatmeal, vanilla and chocolate chips. Dough will be crumbly. Spoon a teaspoon of dough at a time on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, January 29

Carpe Diem, January 29

Lighthouse Academy, January 30

Random Thoughts From a Bookworm, January 30

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 31

Splashes of Joy, January 31

Janices book reviews, January 31

A Baker’s Perspective, February 1

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 1

Bigreadersite, February 2

Mary Hake, February 2

Maureen’s Musings, February 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 3

EmpowerMoms, February 3

Inklings and Notions, February 4

Captive Dreams Window, February 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 5

Robin is Bookish, February 5

Texas Book-aholic, February 6

My Devotional Thoughts, February 6

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, February 7

SusanLovesBooks, February 7

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 8

For the Love of Books, February 8

Henry Happens, February 9

Blossoms and Blessings, February 9

Bibliophile Reviews, February 10

Connie’s History Classroom, February 10

Vicky Sluiter, February 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 11

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Molly is giving away a grand prize that includes an Amish doll, a handmade lap quilt (can be used as wall hanging), an Apple Pie recipe tea towel, a Blessings journal, a handmade quilted potholder, a $10 Amazon Card, Ellie’s Redemption Print Book, a mug, a 2019 Planner, pad and pen set, and a bookmark!!

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/da8b/ellie-s-redemption-celebration-tour-giveaway

The Family Blessing Series by Stephanie Dees on Tour with JustRead Publicity Tours

My Reviews

I recently read Stephanie Dees’ 4 books in the Family Blessings Series, and I must say, I was impressed not only by Dees’ writing but also how she handled the characters life situations.

The books are geared more toward those over 16, and also those not new to the Christian faith.

Dees adeptly illustrates that becoming a Christian doesn’t get you a “golden ticket to a life free from sin. Mistakes will be and are made, consequences occur and lessons are learned.

I haven’t read Harlequin Inspirational books in years. However, this series intrigued me. I am glad I decided to read it. The author does a great job with interweaving a Biblical message while at the same time handling some very complex and realistic stories. We have all made mistakes in our lives, and Dees illustrates how God can take some of those mistakes and as a portion of Isaiah 61:3 says “… to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; …”

The Dad Next Door, book one in the series, introduces us to Red Hill Springs, Alabama. I enjoyed reading about a small town, full of the good and the bad that one encounters there.

The story takes three lost, broken people, Joe Sheehan and his daughter, plus Claire Conley, and shows how with help from God, friends and family things can become better and home can become home.

I ached for both Joe and Claire. Joe wants so desperately to bond with his daughter, Amelia. However, in typical hurt, bewildered and angry pre-teen fashion she pushes him away. Claire came to Red Hill Springs with such high hopes wanting to help foster children. But her inheritance is nothing like the picture she saw. Both must work hard to overcome many obstacles and the town’s preconceived ideas.

Book two in the series, A Baby for the Doctor, focuses on the siblings of the two main characters in The Dad Next Door, Jordan Conley and Ash Sheehan.

The story intertwines Jordan’s life with Claire’s when Jordan begins equine therapy for Claire’s children. Ash becomes a vital member of the team when he becomes the pediatrician for Claire’s foster children.

Equine therapy is defined as a form of therapy based on experience and observation that involves interactions between patients and horses to promote human physical and mental health.

Not far into the story, I realized Jordan was “just what the doctor ordered” (pun intended). Ash’s persona was that of someone who just stepped out of GQ magazine, hardly a candidate for a doctor to children on a farm full of horses, goats and kittens. In contrast, Jordan was not afraid to get in the mud and get dirty, mucking out stalls and playing with animals and children alike.

In Their Secret Baby Bond, we meet Wynn, Joe and Ash’s sister, when she returns home broken and lost after losing the man she loves when she tells him she is pregnant.

Wynn fell, and fell hard, for her dreams. She dreamed of being a politician’s wife and her job working for a Congressman that loved her fit the bill. That is, until she realized he didn’t love her but was only using her and wanted nothing more to do with her, and wanted her to get rid of their baby.

It wasn’t hard to feel great empathy for Wynn. How difficult it must have been for her to return home and admit not only had she been so wrong in what she thought, but she was also pregnant.

The Marriage Bargain tells the story of Juliet “Jules” Sheehan, who becomes an instant mother when her best friend, Glory, is killed in a car accident.

Cam Quinn, the girl’s uncle, returns to town with every intention of adopting his nieces, but he didn’t count on Jules being there, nor her determination to fulfill his sister’s dying wishes.

I can’t imagine what Jules and Cam went through after losing Glory. I lost my baby brother several years ago, and I’m still not fully recovered from the suddenness and sadness of losing him.

Before Glory’s death, Cam had created a new life for himself as a writer of adventure stories, traveling to distant countries for research when he was unable to continue living in Red Hill Springs. Jules was an entrepreneur with a thriving business. When there seemed no way to keep the children except for them to marry, they accepted the challenge and married.

I received this series from JustRead Tours. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Information

The Dad Next Door

A Place to Call Home

Lawman Joe Sheehan is desperate to bond with the daughter he’s just discovered he has. But as a virtual stranger to twelve-year-old Amelia, the task seems impossible. Until Claire Conley moves to town. A social worker renovating a mansion into a foster home, Claire is the first person to get through to Amelia. Falling for the single dad was not on Claire’s to-do list. But with Joe and Amelia around, the house finally starts to feel like home. Claire’s ready to fight to convince Joe that together they’ve done more than fix a house…they’ve built a family.

A Baby for the Doctor

A Family to Call Her Own

After becoming a foster parent to a young boy, equine therapist Jordan Conley’s life gets turned upside down. Little Levi is in need of an exceptional pediatrician, which means seeking help from Dr. Ash Sheehan — a man that, despite her heart-pounding crush, isn’t her type. Her life is horses and hay, and she can’t imagine the suit-clad doctor in a pair of cowboy boots. As a confirmed bachelor, Ash has never been nervous around women, but there’s something about Jordan that flusters him, and working closely together doesn’t help. The last thing he’s looking for is long-term romance. But the more involved he gets, the more he wishes they could stay together…always.

Their Secret Baby Bond

He wanted roots. She chose career. Can a baby bring them back together?

Wynn Sheehan planned to change the world — not return to Alabama alone and pregnant. Her life is in shambles, but at least she can help take care of Latham Grant’s ailing grandpa. Latham isn’t ready to trust the woman who eagerly left him and their small town behind. But can they ignore the spark rekindled by unexpected Family Blessings?

The Marriage Bargain

Falling for her convenient groom…

Jules Sheehan will do anything to keep custody of the two orphaned girls in her care- including a marriage of convenience with their uncle. Cam Quinn crosses the globe as a travel writer, but he’s ready to settle down. Now tough, tender Jules is offering the home he’s secretly longed for. Can this marriage in name only become a family of the heart?

Ours for a Season by Kim Vogel Sawyer

My Review

Kim Vogel Sawyer’s newest novel, Ours for a Season, is an atypical Mennonite story.

Marty and Anthony Hirschler, unable to have children, are floundering in their marriage. Neither knows how to cross the ever-widening chasm that is growing.

Marty’s best friend since childhood contacts her wanting to hire Anthony, who is a general contractor, to rebuild a “ghost” town, thus offering them a change of scenery and pace.

I felt a myriad of emotions during the reading of Ours for a Season. My heart ached for the Hirschler’s and their inability to have children, along with growing antipathy toward each other. The story also deals with some weighty issues, from teenage runaways to sex trafficking, infertility and cancer.

I took a little time to warm up to Marty. I felt she was a little harsh with her husband. I also felt Anthony wasn’t as sympathetic and understanding as he could have been. However, as the story progressed, I came to care for both of them, along with the other characters who are introduced.

The story flows well, from one situation to the next without your feeling as if you’re on a roller coaster ride.  There is a lot of insight and spiritual profundity in the story, which will leave you thinking about it for a long while after reading it.

I received this book from WaterBrook Publisher’s, NetGalley and the author. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

An Old Order Mennonite couple’s vows and beliefs are challenged in this stirring contemporary novel for fans of Cindy Woodsmall or Shelley Shepherd Gray.

Anthony and Marty Hirschler are part of an Old Order Mennonite community in Pine Hill, Indiana. The couple has grown apart since a doctor confirmed they would never have children. Marty longs to escape the tight-knit area where large families are valued, and the opportunity to do so arises when her childhood friend, Brooke Spalding, resurfaces with the wild idea of rebuilding a ghost town into a resort community. Brooke hires Anthony to help with the construction, drawing the Hirschlers away from Indiana and into her plan, and then finds herself diagnosed with cancer. Moral complications with Brooke’s vision for a casino as part of the resort and the discovery of a runaway teenager hiding on the property open up a world neither the Hirschlers nor Brooke had considered before. Will they be able to overcome their challenges and differences to help the ones among them hurting the most?

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?