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.

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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.

 

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/

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher’s Summary

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

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

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

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

 

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher’s Summary

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

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

Charisse by Fay Lamb

My Review

I started reading Fay Lamb’s books in The Tie that Binds series, and was unable to put them down!! I read Charisse, and immediately went to Libby, then Hope.

Charisse is recently widowed and trying to stay above water not only for her sake but also for her young son, Vance, Jr. (V. J.) Her only hope is to go to work as the clerk for Judge Gideon Tabor, the man that releases the monster who killed her husband.

I ran the gamut of emotions reading Charisse’s story. I could understand her anger and feelings of wanting to avenge her husband’s death by remaining cold and distant toward Gideon, even though she had a crush on him in high school. I could also understand how his kindness could throw her off and make her vulnerable. I fell in love with her son, V. J., and wished I could take on his pain. I alternated between righteous indignation and cheering for Gideon. I also wanted to shake some sense into another judge, Delilah James, more than a few times!

Fay Lamb has a real, rare gift for placing you right smack in the middle of the action and making you feel as if you, too, are one of the key players.

Her portrayal of the Christian faith displayed by the characters in the book is authentic and uplifting. It is written in a natural, relatable way, woven expertly and seamlessly throughout, giving us a feeling of optimism and promise.

I honestly would love to have Charisse and V. J. as neighbors and friends. I’m also very excited that there are two more stories!! I am dreading the end of the series, as I love the characters.

Fay Lamb’s story Charisse is well-written, relatable and endearing.

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

Publisher’s Review

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

Charisse Wellman’s husband has been gone a year, and she’s about to lose the only home her son, V.J., has ever known. She’s quit law school, but the money just isn’t there. Her only option is to work as a law clerk for her ex-friend, Gideon Tabor. The only problem: Gideon is the judge who let her husband’s killer go free, and Gideon doesn’t know the connection.

Gideon Tabor can’t believe that the woman interviewing for the job is the girl he loved in high school. Charisse is hesitant about accepting his job offer, and when she does, Gideon makes every attempt to apologize for his relationship-ending blunder in high school. Charisse accepts his apology, but she keeps him at a distance. When Gideon learns that Charisse’s anger actually stems from his release of the man who ran down her husband, he tries to explain, but Charisse doesn’t want Gideon’s excuses or the love he has to offer. She wants her husband’s killer to pay.

You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher’s Summary

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

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

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

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

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

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

My Review

Lane Kelly is a driven, ambitious and determined woman. She’s also bitter, angry and angst filled. She can’t seem to let go of the past, and it clouds every aspect of her adult life.

The message of Just Look Up is a great one and has a triple meaning. First, the need to take our eyes off our problems and look up to see our blessings. Lane needs to take her eyes off her phone and look up at all that is her life. Finally, we need to look up to God to find our way.

Just Look Up is a good story and has a good message, but I could never really get into it. The idea of the novel is inspirational, and there are times in the story when its meaning comes to life. However, the largest part of the book conveys the relentless anger and angst of Lane, which gets old fast. I quickly began to skip over the parts of the book where she kept replaying her childhood in her mind.

Although I didn’t enjoy Lane’s storyline and couldn’t really connect with her, I did like the other characters and the story itself. Someone else reading the story may very well connect with her and her feelings.

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

Don’t forget, follow this link for the giveaway

Publisher’s Summary

After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home―a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work―something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.

Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along―if only she’d just look up.

The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin And a GIVEAWAY!

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher’s Summary

Heartwarming and Touching New Contemporary Romance from Victoria Bylin

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

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

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

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

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

Leave a comment to enter the drawing.

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

One name will be randomly drawn as winner.

Check back on Monday, August 28th, to see if you won!

GOOD LUCK!

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

Blessings to everyone~

This giveaway has ended.