Tag Archives: contemporary fiction

Top 10 Tuesday: Best of 2017 (So Far)

27 Jun

The folks at The Broke And The Bookish have charged bloggers with a hard task this week — pick 10 Best Books of 2017. Even though 2017 is just 6 month old, this has a been a great year of books for me and picking just 10 was a challenge. So of course, I narrowed the list to an even dozen! Six historical and six contemporary (post-1960) gems filled with wonderful characters, beautiful writing, and themes of grace, mercy and faith. I am sure you will love these books too. (Click on the links for my reviews.) For other bloggers’ lists, be sure to visit HERE.

 

Top 12 Books I Have Read in 2017 

Historical

A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd

Redeeming Grace by Jill Eileen Smith

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

A Trail of Crumbs by Susie Finkbeiner

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton

 

Contemporary (post-1960)

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti

The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser

Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

True to You by Becky Wade

Why The Sky Is Blue by Susan Meissner

 

What are some of your fav reads from 2017?

 

 

Book Spotlight + Giveaway! None So Blind

16 Jun

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

nonesoblindcover

Book title: None So Blind

Author: Chautona Havig

Release date: September 29, 2013

Genre: Contemporary

Dani and Ella Weeks–two women who share one thing in common. The same life, the same family, and the same body.

When Dani wakes with no knowledge of who or where she is–no memories of her life at all–David and Dani Weeks discover that “til death do us part” takes on an entirely unexpected meaning. Practically speaking, Dani died. But she didn’t.

What’s a gal to do?

In a desperate attempt to separate the old life from the new, Dani insists on a new name, a twist of her old one–Ella.

Ella’s doctors can’t explain what happened. Her children can’t understand why she doesn’t know them. David, her husband, finds himself torn between admiration for the “new” version of his wife and missing the woman he’s known for over fifteen years.

Will Ella ever regain her memory? Why does their pastor suspect it’s one great hoax?

 

About the Author

media-headshot-smChautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert with her husbnd and five of her nine children. Through her novels, she hopes to encourage Christians in their walk with Jesus.

Guest post from Chautona Havig

“Who are you, again?”

“I’m Joe’s, daughter. Vyonie.” My sister pointed to me. “This is Chautona.”

For some odd reason, the niece she spent the least amount of time with, Aunt Doris remembered—somewhat. But she didn’t remember Vyonie from what I could tell. She smiled at me, that amazing, sweet smile I’d never forget. She asked how I was. I always thought that Mrs. Sanderson—mother of John, Alicia, and Carl on the TV show, Little House on the Prairie—looked and sounded like Aunt Doris. Of course, that memory of me didn’t last. A minute or two later, she gave me a big smile and asked if she knew me.

It gave me a picture of what it must have been like for my character, Ella Weeks—to wake up every day with these children there—children who knew her, but she didn’t remember. The hurt she caused every time she had to struggle to admit she didn’t know something she probably should—again. So, I thought I’d ask her to tell us about it.

Ella: People often assume that the worst part of losing my memory are the memories that disappeared, too. But it’s not. A much as I’d love to remember my wedding day, my daughter’s first steps, my son’s first words, or that moment I realized I was pregnant with my third, those are blessings that I don’t think about often. No, what hurts most is seeing the pain in my children’s eyes when they need me to remember something and I can’t. For me, not remembering their first day of kindergarten is an inconvenience. For them, it’s a further reminder that if they didn’t tell me, I wouldn’t know them. That without them pushing themselves into my life, I wouldn’t care about them any more than any other human in my path. I do now, of course, but not at first. I hate that they heard David say once, “…she doesn’t know me. She doesn’t trust me. She doesn’t know our children. She tries, but she could walk out of our lives tomorrow and never miss us.”

Living so close to it every day, I missed those little bits of pain that I inflicted without meaning to, but when I went with our Bible study to a nursing home and visited with the residents, then I saw it. Women with tears running down their cheeks as loved ones patted their hands and tried to comfort. I heard one man offer to find a woman’s father. She squeezed him close and whispered, “It’s okay, Daddy. I love you. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

The man promised to try to find her father in the meantime.

Those people there—most of them didn’t realize they didn’t remember someone important. They didn’t struggle to remember this or that. Their dementia had gotten bad enough that their lives had gone from constant frustration to, by comparison, blissful oblivion.

And their families withered with each forgotten face, name, moment.

That’s what my “episode” did for my family. It caused them pain that just resurfaced every time something new happened. Pain that I didn’t know I inflicted. And since that visit, I have a greater compassion and awareness of just how amazing and powerful memories are.

I also have a greater appreciation for those beautiful words in Isaiah when the Lord promised… “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”

You see, there’s a lifetime of the sins that Jesus died for buried somewhere in my brain—or, at least at one time there was. I know that those sins were in there, because the ones I committed yesterday are there today. The ones I’ve already confessed and been forgiven for—I beat myself up for the next morning. A week later. A month. But the Lord has wiped them clean. I just keep smearing them back out there again as if to say, “But You don’t get how BAD I was.” Yeah. The arrogance, right? Because an almighty, holy God can’t possibly understand how sinful a sinner that He had to DIE to save from those sins… is. The arrogance? That’s an understatement.

But all those years before that horrible morning… gone. Maybe I stole something. I don’t know. It was forgiven, wiped clean, and then wiped from my memory. I can’t rehash it with the Lord over and over. I can’t drag it back up like a wife who won’t let her husband forget the one time he forgot her birthday. I can’t use it as a whip to beat myself up with. And I think there’s something beautiful in that.

Do I wish I could stop hurting my family with my blank past? Of course. But am I also grateful for a living picture of the fresh start the Lord gives His people at salvation? Definitely. I hope I never take it for granted again.

Blog Stops

June 15: Blogging With Carol

June 15: Genesis 5020

June 15: Lane Hill House

June 16: Red Headed Book Lady

June 16: The Scribbler

June 16: Moments Dipped in Ink

June 17: Back Porch Reads

June 17: The Power of Words

June 17: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

June 18: Carpe Diem

June 18: A Baker’s Perspective

June 19: Christian Bookaholic

June 19: Quiet Quilter

June 20: The Fizzy Pop Collection

June 20: Mommynificent

June 21: Seasons of Opportunities

June 21: Truth and Grace Writing and Life Coaching

June 22: Pursuing Stacie

June 22: Remembrancy

June 23: Pause for Tales

June 23: Avid Reader Book Reviews

June 23: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

June 24: Bigreadersite

June 24: CAFINATED READS

June 25: Lots of Helpers

June 25: Ashley’s Bookshelf

June 26: Blossoms and Blessings

June 26: A Reader’s Brain

June 27: God1meover

June 27: His Grace is Sufficient

June 28: Just Jo’Anne

June 28: Henry Happens

June 28: Reader’s Cozy Corner

Giveaway

bf3041c3-aba6-432d-bade-2a2bc46cd775To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize that includes:

1 $25 Amazon Gift Card
1 Paperback Copy of None So Blind
1 Paperback Copy of Will Not See
1 Lampwork Necklace
1 Cool denim mini-backpack (to hold your stuff!)
1 Custom Travel Mug (with quote from book)
1 FREE eBook code to share with a friend!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/ba35 

Top Ten Tuesday — All About Moms!

16 May

I’m back to blogging after a week+ hiatus. The hubs and I spent a wonderful week in Germany visiting friends. In addition to our travels in Deutschland, we spent time in Switzerland and even tiny Liechtenstein. The only glitch to the trip was the virus my husband took with him returned with me. 😦  This is the first day since returning to the US that I have felt well enough to participate in life. That means I missed Mother’s Day and my birthday (also on Mother’s Day). So I am doubly grateful to be a part of this week’s Top Ten Tuesday — All About Moms. Check out the other bloggers’ choices for great books featuring moms HERE.

 

I went way back to find books featuring strong moms. I went over the proscribed 10, but that’s ok. You can never have too many great stories.

Top Fiction Featuring Strong Moms

As I Have Loved You by Nikki Arana 

Leigh Scott is a single mom who just wants the best for her only son, Jeff: a college degree and a good job. But when he starts seeing Jessica, a young woman with a troubled past and a questionable future, Leigh envisions all her best-laid plans going up in smoke. As Jeff spends more and more time with Jessica, Leigh sees her fears realized in Jeff’s dropping grades and bad choices. To top it off, Leigh finds her relationships with her parents, her brother, and a long-lost old flame getting more complicated. Will Leigh get through to her son in time? Or is there more to Jessica than meets the eye? This many-layered, emotional family saga will captivate readers as it shows them the peril of judgment, the need for forgiveness, and the gift of love.

Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers

The first in an epic two-book saga by beloved author Francine Rivers, this New York Times best-selling story explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over several generations.

Near the turn of the twentieth century, fiery Marta Schneider leaves Switzerland for a better life, determined to fulfill her mother’s hope. Her formative journey takes her through Europe and eventually to Canada, where she meets handsome Niclas Waltert. But nothing has prepared her for the sacrifices she must make for marriage and motherhood as she travels to the Canadian wilderness and then to the dusty Central Valley of California to raise her family.

Marta’s hope is to give her children a better life, but experience has taught her that only the strong survive. Her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, who craves her mother’s acceptance. Amid the drama of World War II, Hildie falls in love and begins a family of her own. But unexpected and tragic events force mother and daughter to face their own shortcomings and the ever-widening chasm that threatens to separate them forever.

Intervention by Terri Blackstock

Barbara Covington has one more chance to save her daughter from a devastating addiction, by staging an intervention. But when eighteen-year-old Emily disappears on the way to drug treatment—and her interventionist is found dead at the airport—Barbara enters her darkest nightmare of all. Barbara and her son set out to find Emily before Detective Kent Harlan arrests her for a crime he is sure she committed. Fearing for Emily’s life, Barbara maintains her daughter’s innocence. But does she really know her anymore? Meanwhile, Kent has questions of his own. His gut tells him that this is a case of an addict killing for drugs, but as he gets to know Barbara, he begins to hope he’s wrong about Emily. The panic level rises as the mysteries intensify: Did Emily’s obsession with drugs lead her to commit murder—or is she another victim of a cold-blooded killer?

 

Missing Max by Karen Young

When baby Max is kidnapped during Mardi Gras, Jane and Kyle Madison’s life falls apart. What their daughter, Melanie, does next is unthinkable.

Max vanished into thin air while in the care of his teenage sister, Melanie. Six months later, the family is a shadow of its former self: Melanie blames herself and is acting out and rebellious; Jane is obsessed with finding Max; and Kyle, a lawyer, struggles to cope with his own grief—and a persistent suspicion that one of his cases is connected to Max’s disappearance.

With her family in turmoil and her marriage on the rocks, Jane thinks things can’t get any worse. Then when an affair and an unexpected pregnancy threaten to tear the Madisons’ lives apart, an anonymous caller leads to a break in the case. Can a second kidnapping bring their family back together?

Mother of Pearl by Kellie Coates Gilbert 

Barrie Graeber has two great kids, a loving husband, and a respected job as a high school counselor in her close-knit community. Without warning, everything unravels when her teenage daughter, Pearl, is betrayed by friends and lashes out.

Nothing prepares this mother for the helplessness that follows when her attempts to steer her daughter back on course fail and Pearl shuts her out . . . or when she discovers the unthinkable about her nemesis, the football coach.
Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, MOTHER OF PEARL brings us into the heart of a mother bound by an incredible burden, who ultimately finds she must recognize her own vulnerability and learn to trust in something much bigger.

 

Of Stillness And Storm by Michele Phoenix

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing. 

At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

The Offering by Angela Hunt

After growing up an only child, Amanda Lisandra wants a big family. But since she and her soldier husband can’t afford to have more children right away, Mandy decides to earn money as a gestational carrier for a childless couple. She loves being pregnant, and while carrying the child, she dreams of having her own son and maybe another daughter. . . .

Just when the nearly perfect pregnancy is about to conclude, unexpected tragedy enters Mandy’s world and leaves her reeling. Devastated by grief, she surrenders the child she was carrying and struggles to regain her emotional equilibrium.

Two years later she studies a photograph of the baby she bore and wonders if the unthinkable has happened—could she have inadvertently given away her own biological child? Over the next few months Mandy struggles to decide between the desires of her grief-stricken heart and what’s best for the little boy she has never known.

The Pharaoh’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt’s good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment. She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment which awakens in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child. Now she is to be become the bride of Sebak, a kind but quick-tempered Captain of Pharaoh Tut’s army. In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives—women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile.

When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt’s gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.

As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king. Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan—for them all?

Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy

A storm the size of Texas brews when Gloria Powell and Kai Chang meet in a Dallas hotel. They have come to discuss the future of Lily, the daughter Gloria adopted from China and the sister Kai hopes to reclaim. Kai is a doctor who had to give up her little sister during the Cultural Revolution and has since discovered that an inherited genetic defect may be waiting to fatally strike Lily. Gloria’s relationship with her daughter is tattered and strained, and the arrival of Kai, despite the woman’s apparent good intentions, makes Gloria fearful. Gloria longs to restore her relationship with Lily, but in the wake of this potentially devastating diagnosis, is Kai an answer to prayer. . .or will her arrival force Gloria to sacrifice more than she ever imagined?

River’s Song by Melody Carlson

Following her mother’s funeral, and on the verge of her own midlife crisis, widow Anna Larson returns to the home of her youth to sort out her parents’ belongings, as well as her own turbulent life. For the first time since childhood, Anna embraces her native heritage, despite the disdain of her vicious mother-in-law. By transforming her old family home on the banks of the Siuslaw River into The Inn at Shining Waters, Anna hopes to create a place of healing―a place where guests experience peace, grace, and new beginnings. Starting with her own family . . .

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Why The Sky Is Blue by Susan Meissner

What options does a Christian woman have after she’s brutally assaulted by a stranger…and becomes pregnant? That’s the heartrending situation Claire Holland faces. Happily married and the mother of two when she is attacked, Claire begins an incredible journey on the painful pathway to trusting God “in all things.”

When Claire’s husband, Dan, confesses he can’t be a father to the expected child, Claire’s decision to put the baby up for adoption creates a sense of tremendous loss for Claire. Later, unexpected circumstances turn this seeming loss into victory.

This wonderful first novel isn’t a love story….but a life story, presenting the twin themes trusting God in tragic circumstances and reaping the rewards that eventually come with sacrificial loving.

 

What’s your favorite book featuring a strong mom?

Book Review: Why The Sky Is Blue

5 May

What options does a Christian woman have after she’s brutally assaulted by a stranger . . . and becomes pregnant? That’s the heartrending situation Claire Holland faces. Happily married and the mother of two when she is attacked, Claire begins an incredible journey on the painful pathway to trusting God “in all things”.

When Claire’s husband, Dan, confesses he can’t be a father to the expected child, Claire’s decision to put the baby up for adoption creates a sense of tremendous loss for Claire. Later, unexpected circumstances turn this seeming loss into victory.

This wonderful first novel isn’t a love story . . . but a life story, presenting the twin themes trusting God in tragic circumstances and reaping the rewards that eventually come with sacrificial loving.

 

Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include A Fall of Marigolds, named to Booklist’s Top Ten Women’s Fiction titles for 2014, and The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008. A California native, she attended Point Loma Nazarene University. Susan is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When she’s not working on a novel, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. Visit Susan at her website: http://susanlmeissner.com on Twitter at @SusanMeissner or at www.facebook.com/susan.meissner.

 

My Impressions:

My book club has read books by Susan Meissner in the past. I think one of our members had gotten Why The Sky Is Blue at a discounted price from BookBub, or some such site, and suggested we read it. The name Meissner was enough for us all to give a unanimous assent. I didn’t know this book was her debut novel until after I had read it. I never would have guessed. It is a well-written story that touches a nerve in a reader. I could not put it down, and I think you may have the same experience.

Claire Holland is faced with a nightmare scenario. With no memory of the vicious attack that left her broken, she must face the reality of a pregnancy. It is not an unwanted pregnancy, at least for her. But the child is not her husband’s, and that reality alone puts a strain on her marriage and family. Faced with no other choice but to have the baby and then give it away, Claire struggles to do the right thing. Sixteen years later, Claire is faced with another decision that threatens to turn her carefully constructed life upside down.

Why The Sky Is Blue created more discussion in our group than we have seen in recent months. We actually spent most of our time talking about the book! That is quite an achievement for us. 😉 Our conversation centered mostly on the complexities of the characters’ reactions to the situations in which they found themselves and their motivations in attempting to control the uncontrollable. We found most of the characters to be believable and relatable. Meissner’s handling of the difficult subject matter showed a great deal of insight and sensitivity.

This book is definitely great for book club discussions, and we highly recommend it.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Great for book clubs.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

 

 

 

 

Book Review (+ Giveaway): A Fragile Hope

24 Apr

Hope grows when seeds are planted—even in the muddy middle of life.

Josiah Chamberlain’s life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife’s unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she’s unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.

Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?

 

 

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope. She’s the award-winning author of 17 books and a frequent speaker for women’s ministry events. She serves as the Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, where she helps retailers, libraries, and book clubs connect with the authors and books they love. She lives with her husband in Central Wisconsin.

Find out more about Cynthia at http://www.cynthiaruchti.com.

 

My Impressions:

Cynthia Ruchti’s novels always make the reader think . . . and perhaps squirm. In her latest novel, A Fragile Hope, that’s just what I found myself doing — thinking and squirming. Why? Because this novel examines what it means to love, and to love deeply one must sacrifice and hope when all seems lost, and that is just plain hard! But squirming aside, I really loved this book. It gets a highly recommended rating from me.

A Fragile Hope is unusual in its point of view, characterization, and setting. Told in a third person voice, the perspective is almost exclusively from main character Josiah Chamberlain, a renowned marriage guru who doesn’t have a clue. Faced with the devastating accident that has plunged his wife into a coma and him into a world of questions without answers, Josiah begins a journey that exposes his false perceptions of his wife and himself. And Josiah is a very unsympathetic character, at first. Ruchti takes a man who is in his own estimation oblivious, and changes him one painful step at a time. The novel’s action takes place in hospital, and the sterility and isolation comes through loud and clear. Am I making you want to read the book yet? 😉 Really, this book is not an easy or even a pleasant read at times. Life can be ugly and oh so hard, and that is what Josiah faces. But . . . love and hope redeem that life. Josiah has numerous choices to make, and despite his own weaknesses, he makes the choices that matter the most to his wife and their marriage. Twists and turns abound as Josiah learns more about himself and the situation he finds himself in. At the end hope, though fragile, survives.

Josiah (and the reader) learn a lot as the book progresses. In thinking about the activities of caring for his wife he makes this observation — Who knew so much of the battle to get her well again would be waged in his attitude, his memories and his mind? (page 190). This is true in any aspect of a relationship and spoke volumes to me. Really the whole book spoke to me. Jesus is at the center of this book, although Josiah spends much of it keeping Him at the periphery. Truth about Jesus’ love and sacrifice seeps into Josiah’s (and the reader’s) heart. This book really does make you think, think, feel and think again.

A Fragile Hope is not a light or a quick read, but rather one that saturates a reader in its emotion and its truth. Ruchti’s novel is sometimes hard, sometimes painful, and yes, squirm-inducing, but always meaningful and relevant, and, for me, a must-read.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Abingdon and LitFuse for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Giveaway

Celebrate the release of A Fragile Hope by entering to win Cynthia’s Sign of Hope Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking HERE, but hurry! The giveaway ends on May 3. The winner will be announced May 4 on the Litfuse blog.

Book Review: The Long Highway Home

21 Apr

Sometimes going home means leaving everything you have ever known. When the doctor pronounces “incurable cancer” and gives Bobbie Blake one year to live, she agrees to accompany her niece, Tracie, on a trip back to Austria, back to The Oasis, a ministry center for refugees that Bobbie helped start twenty years earlier. Back to where there are so many memories of love and loss. Bobbie and Tracie are moved by the plight of the refugees and in particular, the story of the Iranian Hamid, whose young daughter was caught with a New Testament in her possession back in Iran, causing Hamid to flee along the refugee Highway and putting the whole family in danger. Can a network of helpers bring the family to safety in time? And at what cost? Filled with action, danger, heartache and romance, The Long Highway Home is a hymn to freedom in life’s darkest moments.

 

 

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years (Georgia Backroads, 2009). All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages.

For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with International Teams. The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at http://www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

 

My Impressions:

Elizabeth Musser has long been a favorite with my book club. We began our journey with her in The Swan House and have since read many of her novels. With her being an Atlanta native and setting many of her books there, we have enjoyed a couple of field trips as well, visiting places she mentions in her books. When I heard she had a new book out, I had to include it as a surprise selection. The Long Highway Home was an excellent choice for our group, and I believe will be for yours as well. We love, love, loved it!

The Long Highway Home is a very complex novel involving multiple characters and story lines. But it is not a difficult book to read. Once you get into the flow of the shifting points of view, the stories take off and you find yourself immersed in the characters’ journeys. Each has a unique viewpoint and story that adds depth and insight. And I loved how all the threads intersected with each other in miraculous, yet very believable ways. In fact, Musser has a sentence that describes that (and real life) well — But every now and then the Lord pulls back a curtain-slice of sky and we get to see the bringing together of all the plot lines in real time!

The subject matter is refugees, specifically Muslim refugees making their way to Europe. The time is 2005, and the majority of the refugees are men. We felt the issue was handled with truth and grace. The hardships they faced — from the distrust and animosity of locals to the suspicions and threats from fellow refugees — were not sugar-coated, but handled in an honest manner. The Oasis, the refugee mission in the book, is a real place and the Mussers work with those who lead the ministry there. Her passion is obvious throughout the book.

The power of the gospel to transform lives is beautifully illustrated in The Long Highway Home, as is the means God uses to draw people to Himself. Although it is a work of fiction, many of the ministries and people were drawn from real life, giving it a greater authenticity. Because of this, the novel is perfect for book clubs or missions groups.

Beautifully written, authentic characters, a meaningful message — The Long Highway Home has it all. It is also a suspenseful read with a dash of romance that you will not want to put down. It gets a highly recommended rating from my group.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Great for book clubs.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Home

7 Apr

Melanie runs away. From conflict. From pain. From reality. 
 
When novelist Melanie Vander faces a looming deadline, she decides it’s time for an escape to an inspiring, novel-worthy locale. She’s not running away. Really. She just needs time to focus. But as she disappears into her writing, she encounters a man whose tenderness leaves her reeling. Engaging and wise, psychologist Elliot Hammond tempts Melanie to question everything, including her marriage.

But that’s ridiculous. Dr. Hammond isn’t even…real.

Melanie’s husband, Craig, has his own problems, including a recession that’s threatening his business. Waning finances, a looming home foreclosure, and a wife who’s checked out emotionally, has Craig feeling as though he’s carrying his burdens alone. When his client, the beautiful and single Serena Buchanan, offers him a solution to his financial woes, he’s tempted by more than her offer of a business solution. 

At a crossroads, Melanie and Craig seem headed in opposite directions.

As Melanie runs away from her problems by escaping into her own fictional world, Craig dives into his struggles, seeking God for strength and healing for his marriage. Ultimately, Melanie must choose whether she’ll check out completely, or allow her characters to lead her home.

 

Ginny Ytrrup is the award-winning author of Words, Lost and Found, Invisible, Flames, and her most recent novel, Home, which releases April 1, 2017. She writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys exploring the issues everyday women face. Publishers Weekly dubbed Ginny’s work “as inspiring as it is entertaining.” When not writing, Ginny coaches writers, critiques manuscripts, and makes vintage-style jewelry for her Esty shop, Storied Jewelry. She loves dining with friends, hanging out with her adult sons, or spending a day in her pajamas reading a great novel. Ginny lives in northern California with Bear, her entitled Pomeranian. To learn more about Ginny and her work, visit http://www.ginnyyttrup.com.

 

My Impressions:

Whenever I have the opportunity to read a novel by Ginny Yttrup, I jump on the chance. Her books are beautifully written with powerful messages. As I began reading Home, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it. The style is a bit quirky and the characters were, quite frankly, not likable at first. But this is Ytrrup, I reasoned. I need to persevere. Thankfully my compulsion to read every book I start kicked in, because I really liked this one and can recommend it.

Three first person points of view (married couple Melanie and Craig and neighbor Jill) are used in Home. I did say it was quirky right? First person/present tense. This style can be a bit jarring, and with three voices, well, you can get confused. But I got into the flow of the narrative and learned more about what the characters thought, including their insights into each other. The result is a complete picture of two families dealing with trauma and grief. There is also the fact that one of the characters, Melanie, is an author. The result is a story inside a story, but that was okay too, because Melanie puts so much of herself and her husband in her books. So, quirky style, with a bit of humor added, helped lighten the themes of grief and mental illness. Whew! This one is emotional, but I never felt weighed down by the topics. I really wanted the three characters, Melanie, Craig and Jill, to grow and heal.

My favorite part of Home is Yttrup’s creation of two very strong male characters — in women’s fiction! Craig, who has his own voice, and Jill’s husband Marcos are loving, caring, encouraging, very male characters. Bravo to Yttrup! Despite the flaws and temptations of all the characters, these two men remain rocks upon which their wives can depend.

While it took me a bit to get into this book, I was soon turning the pages as fast I could. Home is a recommended read from me!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Great for book clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Barbour for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)