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?

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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 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 Amish Teacher’s Gift (Love and Promises Series Book 1) by Rachel J. Good and Giveaway!!

About the Book

Title: The Amish Teacher’s Gift, Book 1 of the Love & Promises Series

Author: Rachel J Good

Genre: Amish Romance

Release Date: April 24, 2018

Widower Josiah Yoder wants to be a good father. But it’s not easy with a deaf young son who doesn’t understand why his mamm isn’t coming home. At a loss, Josiah enrolls Nathan in a special-needs school and is relieved to see his son immediately comforted by his new teacher, a woman whose sweet charm and gentle smile just might be the balm they both need.

With seven siblings to care for, Ada Rupp wasn’t sure she wanted to take on teaching too. But the moment she holds Nathan in her arms, she realizes she’ll do all she can to help this lost little boy. Plus, it gives her a chance to spend more time with Josiah. Falling for a man in mourning may be against the rules, but his quiet strength is the support Ada never knew she needed. Yet with no time to court and a family secret holding her back, how can she allow herself to fall in love?

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Rachel J. Good grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for her Amish novels. Striving to be as authentic as possible, she spends time with her Amish friends, doing chores on their farm and attending family events. Rachel loves to travel and visit many different Amish communities.

Rachel is the author of several Amish series in print or forthcoming – Sisters & Friends series, Love & Promises series, and two books in the Hearts of Amish Country series – as well as the Amish Quilts Coloring Books and the contemporary novella, Angels Unaware, part of the Hope Chapel series. In addition, she has stories in the anthologies Springs of Love and Love’s Thankful Heart.

She’d love to have you visit her website, or connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and BookBub. Rachel also enjoys meeting readers and will be doing talks and book signings around the country this year. To find out more about Rachel and her books, you can sign up for her newsletter: http://bit.ly/1qwci4Q

Guest Post from Rachel J. Good

Heart-Tugging Research

Sometimes as an author, stories call to you and beg you to write them. This story first tugged at my heart after I spent time with an Amish friend’s special needs child. I thought about writing a book to show how the Amish treat each child as a gift from God. After meeting a hearing-impaired teen girl with Down’s syndrome and seeing how she was encouraged to live up to her potential, the idea grew stronger. This girl later became Martha in the book.

Then at an auction, I watched a young Down’s syndrome boy help the auctioneer by delivering the goods to the bidders. His straw hat tilted a little crookedly, but with a broad smile on his face, he carefully matched items with the correct bidder. He looked so proud of himself and proud to be able to do such an important job. I sat there at the auction and jotted notes for the novel.

Once I knew the topic of the novel, I began my research by visiting Amish schools for special needs, attending auctions to support them, and touring the Community Care Center, where Amish and Mennonite children and adults with special needs get amazing help. The young man in the wheelchair who showed us around was an awesome guide. We peeked into an exercise room, a therapy room, a craft room, several classrooms, a cafeteria, and my favorite—a multi-sensory environment. This room with dark walls lit only by a small row of twinkling Christmas lights had a ball pit (with the plastic balls like some fast food restaurants have in their play areas), a plush recliner, blankets, headphones, and a hammock. Autistic children at the center found this room a great calming atmosphere. I knew this room had to have a place in the book.

I visited a teacher who taught autistic children and learned a lot about programs, therapies, and teaching techniques. After learning the cutting edge techniques she used, I was surprised to realize that the Amish had adopted quite a few of them for their classrooms. I chose a hearing-impaired boy for the hero’s son because I had a nephew with hearing problems, so I could incorporate some of the struggles he had into the story.

I wanted this series to be about the healing power of love, so each book will deal with a different type of healing. When something touches my heart like this, I always pray it will touch the readers’ hearts too.

My Review

The Amish Teacher’s Gift is unusual in that there are few, if any, books about the Amish that focus on special needs children. An extraordinary amount of research obviously went into the subject based on the details represented from the children’s behavior to the types of equipment and methods family members and caregivers implemented to enhance their children’s lives.

Due to their mother’s death and other sad circumstances in her family, Ada Rupp, at 19, has full responsibility for her seven younger siblings, to include her brother who is deaf. In addition, she teaches a classroom of the special needs children in the community.

Josiah Yoder is still reeling from his wife’s death and can’t seem to get through to his son, who is also deaf and exhibits behavioral problems, too.

I admired Ada and her ability to manage seemingly overwhelming odds. I genuinely do not believe I could run a household with seven younger siblings, especially one without modern conveniences, and teach school all day, too. Not to mention the strict adherence to not working on Sundays and the amount of time spent in church, even if it is only every other Sunday.

My heart broke for Josiah. Not only did he lose his wife, but Nathan, his son, is inexplicably afraid of him, and everything Josiah does just seems to make the situation worse.

I noticed on Rachael J. Good’s website she had the tagline, “Heartfelt tales of faith, hope, and forgiveness.” She definitely covered those and more in The Amish Teacher’s Gift!

I received this book free through the Celebrate Lit Blog Tour and NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Blog Stops

Carpe Diem, May 8

Texas Book-aholic, May 8

The Avid Reader, May 9

Among the Reads, May 9

Reading Is My SuperPower, May 10

The Fizzy Pop Collection, May 10

Lighthouse Academy, May 10

Ansel book blog, May 11

Because I said so – and other adventures in parenting. , May 12

Bibliophile ReviewsMay 12

Splashes of JoyMay 12

books n baublesMay 13

A Baker’s PerspectiveMay 13

cherylbbookblogMay 14

Maureen’s MusingsMay 14

Captive Dreams WindowMay 14

Blossoms and BlessingsMay 15

Mary HakeMay 15

Janices book reviewsMay 15

D’S QUILTS & BOOKSMay 16

SusanLovesBooksMay 16

A Simply Enchanted LifeMay 17

proud to be an autism momMay 17

Jeanette’s ThoughtsMay 17

Debbie’s Dusty DeliberationsMay 18

Artistic NobodyMay 18 (Spotlight)

margaret kazmierczakMay 18 (Interview)

Quiet QuilterMay 19

Red Headed Book LadyMay 19

BigreadersiteMay 20

Christian Author, J.E.GraceMay 20

Simple Harvest ReadsMay 20 (Spotlight)

Pink Granny’s JourneyMay 21

Vicky SluiterMay 21

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a grand prize package of a tote, an autographed copy of The Amish Teacher’s Gift, and an autographed copy of Hearts Reunited!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/cee3/the-amish-teacher-s-gift-celebration-tour-giveaway

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.

The Innkeeper’s Daughter by Michelle Griep

About the Book

Title: The Innkeeper’s Daughter

Author: Michelle Griep

Genre: Historical Christian Fiction

Release Date: March 1, 2018

A London officer goes undercover to expose a plot against the Crown
Dover, England, 1808: Officer Alexander Moore goes undercover as a gambling gentleman to expose a high-stakes plot against the king—and he’s a master of disguise, for Johanna Langley believes him to be quite the rogue. . .until she can no longer fight against his unrelenting charm.

All Johanna wants is to keep the family inn afloat, but when the rent and the hearth payment are due at the same time, where will she find the extra funds? If she doesn’t come up with the money, there will be nowhere to go other than the workhouse—where she’ll be separated from her ailing mother and ten-year-old brother.

Alex desperately wants to help Johanna, especially when she confides in him, but his mission—finding and bringing to justice a traitor to the crown—must come first, or they could all end up dead.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

MichelleGriep

Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones while rambling around a castle. Michelle is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and MCWG (Minnesota Christian Writers Guild). Keep up with her adventures at her blog “Writer off the Leash” or visit www.michellegriep.com.

My Review

Michelle Griep’s book, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, is filled with mystery, intrigue, (swoon-worthy) romance plus a man that dresses very strangely and lets his puppet talk for him more than he does himself.

I started reading The Innkeeper’s Daughter  late one evening. I should have known from having read Griep’s novella, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, Book 1 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep (my review), that I wouldn’t be able to put the book down! I was right; I couldn’t!

The writing is incredibly descriptive. For example, you can feel every pothole the wagons go over, see the neglect of the inn due to lack of funds and smell the stench from the wharves. In addition, you feel the emotions of the characters’, be it love, loathing, fear or the gluttonous, insatiable need for control and to harm.

The story is well researched with interesting tidbits of history during the Regency Era, to include some historical notes at the end of the book. There are some scenes of violence, threats of violence and other insinuations of harm that may be intense for some readers.

I received this book (in print or e-book form) from Celebrate Lit, Barbour Publishing and NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Guest Post from Michelle Griep

Celebrating Oak Apple Day

Spring is just around the corner, or maybe it’s in full bloom in your neck of the woods. Regardless, by this time of year, everyone is ready to celebrate. . .and nothing new is under the sun. For centuries people have been eager to welcome budding greenery and warmth.

In my recent release, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, I incorporated a spring holiday that’s been around for over 500 years in England, one you may never heard of.

Oak Apple Day.

This ancient celebration dates back to the year 1651. At the time, Charles II escaped the Roundhead army by taking cover in an oak tree. Everyone loved ol’ Charlie and was glad he lived, so in his honor, a new national holiday was born—one that in some parts of England is still celebrated today.

Another name for this annual event is Royal Oak Day and the festivities occur every May 29th. Celebration traditions vary from parades to the ringing of bells, but one thing that is standard is that it’s a day to pin an oak leaf on your lapel. If you fail to wear one, you could end up getting pinched.

The hero in my latest release is kind enough to remind the heroine that she forgot to pin on her leaf, thus saving her from untoward pinches. Interested in hearing more about this gallant fellow and the forgetful miss? Here’s a blurb about The Innkeeper’s Daughter

Tension is high with the threat of a Napoleonic attack in Regency England, but risk from abroad means nothing when there’s danger at home.

Officer Alexander Moore goes undercover as a gambling gentleman to expose a high-stakes plot against the crown—and he’s a master of disguise, for Johanna Langley believes him to be quite the rogue . . . until she can no longer fight against his unrelenting charm.

All Johanna wants is to keep the family inn afloat, but when the rent and the hearth payment are due at the same time, where will she find the extra funds? If she doesn’t come up with the money, there will be nowhere to go other than the workhouse—where she’ll be separated from her ailing mother and ten-year-old brother.

Alex desperately wants to help Johanna, especially when she confides in him, but his mission—finding and bringing to justice a traitor to the crown—must come first, or they could all end up dead.

It’s a race against time for them both.

Blog Stops

Just the Write Escape, March 15

Fiction Aficionado, March 15

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 15

The Morning Chapter, March 15

Reflections From My Bookshelves, March 16

Reading Is My SuperPower, March 16

Mommynificent, March 16

Blogging With Carol, March 16

Among the Reads, March 17

Connie’s History Classroom, March 17

Mary Hake, March 17

Blossoms and Blessings, March 17

Karen Sue Hadley, March 18

The Power of Words, March 18

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, March 18

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, March 18

Kathleen Denly, March 19

Faithfully Bookish, March 19

Captive Dreams Window, March 19

Red Headed Book Lady, March 19

The Fizzy Pop Collection, March 20

Remembrancy, March 20

Inklings and notions, March 20

Book by Book, March 20

Moments Dipped in Ink, March 21

Black ‘n’ Gold Girl’s Book Spot, March 21

Singing Librarian Books, March 21

To Everything a Season, March 21

Bookworm Mama, March 22

Two Points of Interest, March 22

Vicky Sluiter, March 22

Carpe Diem, March 22

Pause for Tales, March 23

Have A Wonderful Day, March 23

A Baker’s Perspective, March 23

margaret kazmierczak, March 23 (Interview)

proud to be an autism mom, March 24

Bibliophile Reviews, March 24

A Greater Yes, March 24

Texas Book-aholic, March 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 25

Janices book reviews, March 25

A Reader’s Brain, March 26

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 26

Simple Harvest Reads, March 26 (Mindy Houng Guest Post)

Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes, March 27

My Writer’s Life, March 27

Pursuing Stacie, March 27

Bigreadersite, March 27

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 28

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, March 28

Pink Granny’s Journey, March 28

The PhD Mamma, March 28

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a signed copy of The Innkeeper’s Daughter and a $25 gift card from Barnes & Noble!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/cb72

Perennials by Julie Cantrell

My Review

I came to sympathize with Eva (nicknamed Lovey), the protagonist of Perennials. She feels betrayed by her older sister Bitsy. No matter which direction Lovey turns, Bitsy is doing everything in her power to hurt and destroy her. I could empathize with Lovey. I could imagine Lovey, at age 45, becoming tired of running. I could believe her seeing her father’s request to come for his and her mother’s 50th anniversary as a way to “come home again.”

I was looking forward to reading Perennials, by Julie Cantrell. I had not read any of her books but had heard many good things about her work as an inspiration fiction writer. I think of the inspirational fiction genre as a publishing arm of the Christian community. You can imagine my surprise when I found the protagonist follows the teachings of her Buddhist mentor. I was even more surprised at allusions to Mary, Christ’s mother, speaking to and guiding other characters in the book.

I love to learn from the novels I read. Julie Cantrell vividly weaves an abundance of flowers and trees into the story’s setting, along with information about the cities portrayed in the book. Perennials teaches us about the color and greenery God has planted in His world.

Perennials is an interesting story. It speaks to our heartfelt need for home and family, even under circumstances that are desperately difficult. The book resonated in my life; it inspires.

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

Publisher’s Summary

When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.

Eva Sutherland—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, Mississippi, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries it caused, changed everything. Her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage. Bitsy became the homecoming queen and the perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.

At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona. Free from Bitsy’s vicious lies, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself. But at forty-five, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that led her here.

When her father calls insisting she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at her wits’ end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, “Family First,” draw her back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.

Lovey is drawn in to a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning how to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.

Years ago, Lovey chose to leave her family and the South far behind. But now that she’s returned, she’s realizing things at home were not always what they seemed.

Blue Ridge Sunrise (A Blue Ridge Romance) by Denise Hunter

My Review

Denise Hunter’s newest book, Blue Ridge Sunrise, is a little edgier than most of her books, indeed more so than most books in the Christian genre. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the story.

Zoe Collins ran from Copper Creek as fast as she could. A tragic misunderstanding undermined her feelings of self-worth, and she took off, with the town’s bad boy-Kyle Jimmerson-to become a famous songstress. Things were seeming to go well, and their band, Brevity, was making a name for itself. However, as is often the case, life got in the way.

Cruz Huntley could not understand why Zoe fled, leaving him with a broken heart.  Now that she is back, he’s not sure where he stands.

There are some weighty issues dealt with in Blue Ridge Sunrise, for instance; two issues are premarital sex and domestic abuse. Portions of the book are a little difficult to read. Readers should be aware that Blue Ridge Sunrise does not have an explicit gospel message in which its characters’ broken lives are redeemed by faith in Jesus Christ.  Rather, the characters in this novel are strengthened by hardship and adversity. Seeing them emerge stronger, in the end, is inspiring and fits the book well into the genre of inspirational fiction. Due to some of the situations depicted in the story, I would suggest this book be read by those in their mid-teens or older. This novel could be used as a catalyst to open up a line of meaningful dialogue (and I sincerely hope it will!).

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

Publisher’s Summary

Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe–a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?
Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love, Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now–five years later.

 

Friday Flashback: Two Tickets to a Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul (My First Book Review!)

Being unfamiliar with the name Donita K. Paul, I did a quick internet check which showed she had published other books under the pen name Kathleen Paul, several of which I had read.

So when I received my book, Two Tickets to a Christmas Ball, a few days ago, with great excitement, I curled up in my chair and began to read.

The story starts with Cora Crowder, a young Christian lady from a dysfunctional, non-Christian family who feels Christmas is too commercialized but also feels the obligation to get family presents.

Cora finds a charming bookstore in an old part of town almost no one remembers or goes to anymore and upon recommendation from the owner, buys a book for her uncle.

Her first encounter with the owner and the son of Warner, Werner and Wizbotterdad’s bookstore, leaves her feeling slightly off-kilter as if something is a bit askew, but there is no real no explanation for the feeling.

The story introduces Simon Derrick, Cora’s fellow employee, at the bookstore, where she quickly recognizes him having worked with him for five years. He’s practically clueless as to who she is when she says hello and repeatedly throughout the book calls her by the wrong name.

As the story progresses from her chance meeting of her boss’ boss, the book she buys with a ticket to the Christmas Ball tucked inside, on through to the end of the story there is a fanciful mix of fantasy, magic and reality. All is tied up loosely with a beautiful bow at the Christmas Ball.

Danita K. Paul does a good job of mixing the worlds of magic and Christianity along with a tolerable explanation of things normally not considered acceptable in the Christian world, such as fairies, wizards and magic.

The character development seems to suffer from the story being so short-there are many things begging to be more fully developed and people you would love to get to know better.

Technically a novella, Two Tickets to a Christmas Ball provides a quick, light read on a pre-Christmas night.

This book was provided to me free in exchange for a blog review.

(Slight revisions made)

Today Is The Release Date For You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher!!

 

Nick’s love of thrills and danger and Samantha’s need for safety and security drove them apart two years ago. After her worst fears came true, can they build something new upon the ashes of the past?

About the Book

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?

Professional Reviews:

“Hatcher creates a joyous, faith-infused tale of recovery and reconciliation … The bright spot is Hatcher’s believable portrayal of Nick’s faith evolution as he learns to let go of unhealthy ambitions and desires.” ⏤ Publishers Weekly

“Hatcher pens a tender novel about second chances and love that readers will enjoy. Engaging and humorous, Hatcher’s storytelling will warm readers’ hearts as she draws them into Samantha and Nick’s story. Both characters are authentic, endearing and vulnerable, and their rekindled romance is sweet. Readers will find it easy to go along with them on their journey as they rediscover romance in the midst of God’s plan for them. A wonderfully delightful read.”  ⏤ RT Book Reviews

“A heartwarming story about love, faith, regret, and second chances.” ⏤ CBAOnline Reviews

Author of Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers says, “Whenever I want to fall in love again, I pick up a Robin Lee Hatcher novel!” Read Nick and Samantha’s story in You’re Gonna Love Me, a “heartwarming story about love, faith, regret, and second chances.”

Link to my review:

https://captivedreamswindow.wordpress.com/2017/10/25/youre-gonna-love-me-by-robin-lee-hatcher/

Link to Robin Lee Hatcher’s website:

https://robinleehatcher.com/books/youre-gonna-love-me/