Tag Archives: Celeste Fletcher McHale

Reading Road Trip — A Cancer Journey

26 Feb

Hearing the words you have cancer is truly devastating. Gut-punched is really the only way to describe it. Even when you think you have prepared yourself, the reality is much worse. As I shared last week, I have breast cancer. Being such a book nerd, I immediately thought about the novels I have read that seem to faithfully capture the emotions and truths of this fearsome journey. So I decided to compile a Cancer Reading Road Trip.

Please note: these ARE NOT books you run out and purchase for your loved one who has just received their diagnosis. While I loved these insightful books and am glad I read them, they may be too close to home for those with the tender and wounded hearts of the recently diagnosed. Instead, I recommend these stories to those wanting to understand a bit more what their loved ones are facing. If you feel the need to get a book for someone facing their own cancer journey, stick to laugh-out-loud books that don’t include a character with cancer. Laughter may not be the best medicine, but it surely helps!

Reading Road Trip — A Cancer Journey or Cancer Sucks!

 

Grace in Strange Disguise by Christine Dillon

Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her. After all, her father has always said, “Follow Jesus and be blessed.” But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when he doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small? So many conflicting explanations. Will finding the truth cost her the people closest to her heart?

Moments We Forget by Beth Vogt

Jillian Thatcher has spent most of her life playing the family peacemaker, caught in the middle between her driven, talented older sister and her younger, spotlight-stealing twin sisters. Then on the night of her engagement party, a cancer diagnosis threatens to once again steal her chance to shine.

Now, Jillian’s on the road to recovery after finally finishing chemo and radiation, but residual effects of the treatment keep her from reclaiming her life as she’d hoped. And just when her dreams might be falling into place, a life-altering revelation from her husband sends her reeling again.

Will Jillian ever achieve her own dreams, or will she always be “just Jillian,” the less-than Thatcher sister? Can she count on her sisters as she tries to step into a stronger place, or are they stuck in their childhood roles forever?

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale

When all else fails, turn to the divine taste of hummingbird cake.

In the South you always say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” You know everybody’s business. Football is a lifestyle not a pastime. Food — especially dessert — is almost a religious experience. And you protect your friends as fiercely as you protect your family —  even if the threat is something you cannot see.

In this spot-on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you’ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws . . . from devastating pain to absolute joy. And if you’re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way.

A Thousand Sleepless Nights by Michael King

A family torn apart by neglect and hurt . . . and brought together again by a most unlikely force

In the 1970s, escaping a home where he knew nothing but violence and hate, Jim Harding found work, and love, on the largest horse ranch in Virginia. The object of his affections, Nena St. Claire, is the daughter of the owner, a man who ruled his ranch with an iron fist and would do whatever it took to keep Nena and Jim apart. Against the wishes of her family, Nena marries Jim, and after her father dies, she sacrifices everything — including her family — to keep the ranch alive.

Now their three grown children have lives of their own and want nothing to do with Nena. She was never the mother they needed. When cancer strikes and Nena is given a devastating diagnosis, can Jim reconcile the family before it is too late?

When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin

Once a strong Christian, third baseman Shane Riley lost his faith the night he injured his knee in a freak car accident. Determined to return to professional baseball and to find the sister he treated badly, Shane retreats to Refuge, Wyoming. There he meets Melissa June “MJ” Townsend, a single mom battling the virus that causes cervical cancer.

MJ wants nothing to do with the handsome athlete—no doubt a womanizer considering the stories in the news. But when a mistake results in Shane renting her garage apartment, they become friends. That friendship blossoms into something deep and pure, leaving MJ with a painful secret to tell. Even more complicated, she discovers an unexpected tie to Shane’s missing sister — a wounded woman who wants nothing to do with the perfect brother who scorned her.

 

If You Liked The Hideaway . . .

31 Jul

By The Book was unanimous in our approval of The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton. This well-written novel focused on relationships that shape our lives. If you liked it too, here are a few suggestions for more great reading.

 

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have long since buried their desire for children of their own. While Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget her dream of motherhood. But when her free-spirited sister, Jenna, drops off her two young daughters for “just two weeks,” Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

As the two weeks stretch deeper into the Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world—and revel in the laughter that now fills their home. Meanwhile, record temperatures promise to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

Attending an art retreat four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She finally has time and energy to focus on her photography, a lifelong ambition. But she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home as a single mom.

When Hurricane Ingrid aims a steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that will change her family’s future, even as Betsy and Ty try to protect their beloved farm and their hearts. Hurricane Season is the story of one family’s unconventional journey to healing — and the relationships that must be mended along the way.

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper – the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale

In the South you always say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” You know everybody’s business. Football is a lifestyle not a pastime. Food — especially dessert — is almost a religious experience. And you protect your friends as fiercely as you protect your family —  even if the threat is something you cannot see.

In this spot-on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you’ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws . . . from devastating pain to absolute joy. And if you’re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way.

Test of Faith by Christa Allan

Elle Butler has managed to hold on to her politically-driven husband and her secrets until the unexpected happens. When one phone call rips her world apart, Elle will have to decide if the truth is worth the consequences. Especially when it threatens to destroy the world she’s so carefully built around her life and her marriage.

Mini-Review: The Secret to Hummingbird Cake

1 Mar

When all else fails, turn to the divine taste of hummingbird cake.

In the South you always say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” You know everybody’s business. Football is a lifestyle not a pastime. Food — especially dessert — is almost a religious experience. And you protect your friends as fiercely as you protect your family —  even if the threat is something you cannot see.

In this spot-on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you’ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws . . . from devastating pain to absolute joy. And if you’re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way.

Celeste Fletcher McHale is a writer from Central Louisiana. Her first novel, Save Us a Seat, released September, 2013. It as since been re-released as The Secret to Hummingbird Cake. Fletcher earned a history degree and currently lives on her century-old family farm in central Louisiana. She enjoys family, writing, football, baseball, and raising a variety of animals.

My Impressions: 

I had wanted to read The Secret to Hummingbird Cake since I saw its yummy cover and read its intriguing blurb. Oh yeah, this was a book I knew I would love. And I really did. I laughed out loud and ugly cried, sometimes within the span of just minutes. This small-town novel is filled with wonderfully drawn characters that are as close as family and just as exasperating! The book’s charm lies in the small town of Bon Dieu Falls, Louisiana and the three women who have been close since childhood. Carrigan, Ella Rae, and Laine have always stood by each other through indiscretions, melees, and life in general. But their friendship and faith are sorely tested as they all have to face life with their big girl pants on. If you are a fan of Southern fiction, women’s fiction, or both, then this book is for you. I have just one caveat though. Although this book is published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian imprint of Harper Collins, there are some things that readers of Christian fiction may not want to read — alcohol, some mild language, and sex outside of marriage viewed as okay under the right circumstances. (This book would have earned 5-stars if not for the above-mentioned.) But if you can overlook those shortcomings, then I think you will really enjoy The Secret to Hummingbird Cake.

Recommended (with some reservations, see review).

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)