Tag Archives: contemporary fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — Married Couples

12 Feb

Today is the Valentine’s edition of Top 10 Tuesday — favorite couples. While there are plenty of books that feature the romantic beginnings for couples, there are fewer that detail the good and the bad of marriage relationships. So instead of featuring my favorite young lovers, I am sharing books with old married couples. Old is in italics because that’s how many see a couple who has settled in, but the books I share today show the trials and victories of married life no matter how long the couple has been blissfully wed. A variety of genres are shared to appeal to all reading preferences. I’ve even included a Christmas novella.

For more favorite couples, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Books Featuring Married Couples

The Breath of Peace by Penelope Wilcock

Dressed for Death by Julianna Deering

Emergency Case by Richard Mabry

Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti

Miles from Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti

No One to Trust by Lynette Eason

The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson

When Sings The Heart by Liz Tolsma

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Top 10 Tuesday — New to The TBR

29 Jan

Only a month into the new year, and I have already added lots of books to my TBR list. (You can read my Winter TBR HERE.) There are so many shiny new books out there it is hard not to be tempted to add thousands hundreds a few to the unending list. What about you, what books have you added so far this year?

Head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to discover other bloggers’ wish lists.

 

Top Books Recently Added to The Unending TBR List

 

Atoning for Ashes by Kaitlin Covel

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

Convergence by Ginny Yttrup

Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischoff

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck

Never Let Go by Elizabeth Goddard

The Seamstress by Allison Pitman

The Secret of Willow Inn by Pat Nichols

The Watch on The Fencepost by Kay DiBianca

The White City by Grace Hitchcock

Book Review: How The Light Get In

24 Jan

From the highly acclaimed author of The Outcast and The Alliance comes an engrossing novel about marriage and motherhood, loss and moving on.

When Ruth Neufeld’s husband and father-in-law are killed working for a relief organization overseas, she travels to Wisconsin with her young daughters and mother-in-law Mabel to bury her husband. She hopes the Mennonite community will be a quiet place to grieve and piece together next steps.

Ruth and her family are welcomed by Elam, her husband’s cousin, who invites them to stay at his cranberry farm through the harvest. Sifting through fields of berries and memories of a marriage that was broken long before her husband died, Ruth finds solace in the beauty of the land and healing through hard work and budding friendship. She also encounters the possibility of new love with Elam, whose gentle encouragement awakens hopes and dreams she thought she’d lost forever.

But an unexpected twist threatens to unseat the happy ending Ruth is about to write for herself. On the precipice of a fresh start and a new marriage, Ruth must make an impossible decision: which path to choose if her husband isn’t dead after all.

Jolina Petersheim is the highly acclaimed author of The Divide, The Alliance, The Midwife, and The Outcast, which Library Journal called “outstanding . . . fresh and inspirational” in a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. That book also became an ECPA, CBA, and Amazon bestseller and was featured in Huffington Post’s Fall Picks, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and the Tennessean. CBA Retailers + Resources called her second book, The Midwife, “an excellent read [that] will be hard to put down,” and Booklist selected The Alliance as one of their Top 10 Inspirational Fiction Titles for 2016. The Alliance was also a finalist for the 2017 Christy Award in the Visionary category. The sequel to The Alliance, The Divide, won the 2018 INSPY Award for Speculative Fiction. Jolina’s non-fiction writing has been featured in Reader’s Digest, Writer’s Digest, Today’s Christian Woman, and Proverbs 31 Ministries. She and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but they now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their three young daughters. Jolina’s fifth novel, How the Light Gets In, a modern retelling of Ruth set in a cranberry bog in Wisconsin, releases March 2019.

 

My Impressions:

At first glance, How The Light Gets In is merely a contemporary retelling of the story of Ruth and Naomi, two women struggling to make sense of loss and begin a new life. And while that is how the book starts, Petersheim quickly brings the reader into a deeper story of lost dreams. This novel takes the reader on a twisting journey that leaves the characters (and perhaps the reader) shocked, dismayed, and finally resolved that their lives will be new and whole. I don’t usually read what others think of books before writing down my own thoughts. But because of the mixed feelings I had about How The Light Gets In, I looked at a few of the early reviews. That pursuit really didn’t help. I have decided that readers will want to come to their own conclusions based on their own reactions to this complex story. That’s why it will make a great book club selection — everyone is going to have an opinion! And that is just one reason why I am giving it a recommended rating.

How The Light Gets In is a story of a family, a marriage, and individuals. That’s really how life is — one is not merely a daughter, or a wife, or a mom, but all mixed together in a slightly discordant mosaic, whole, but with pieces not always fitting together snugly. Ruth Nuefeld finds herself a single mom and virtually homeless after the death of her husband Chandler. She packs up her two girls and moves with her mother-in-law to a foreign land — a Mennonite community in Wisconsin. As grief consumes her, she struggles to raise her young daughters. This part of the story, resembles the Ruth story of the Bible fairly well. It helped me look at the loss that Ruth and Naomi felt as they left their lives in Moab to finish out their days in Bethlehem. But as the book progresses, How The Light Gets In is all Ruth. Of course there are other strong characters such as Chandler and Elam, but to me they serve to further Ruth’s progress. Loss, grief, and forgiveness are intertwined. Anger at her dead spouse and her loss of identity beyond wife and mother are at the forefront of Ruth’s character development. She has a lot to work through! And so does the reader. There are lots of surprises along the way in this novel. Some will be welcomed by the reader, others not so much. At one point in the book, I had to reconsider all I had read before. It was a daunting task, but made me go back and re-read passages with a new eye. So, my advice to you is to take your time reading this book. Keep an eye out for subtleties of behavior and attitudes. How The Light Gets In is also not a light read. Emotions are raw and the circumstances often a bit close to home. Don’t expect this book to be your weekend read. 😉

You may be asking yourself after reading my thoughts, should I really read this book? I say yes. It is an intriguing novel of loss and forgiveness that is perhaps best read with the anticipation of discussing it later or along the way. Get a couple of friends to join you on the journey — you will want to talk about this book.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to TLC and Tyndale for a complimentary ARC. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

First Line Friday — How The Light Gets In

18 Jan

It seemed like I waited a long time to get my hands on How The Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim. But my mail carrier finally came through earlier this week, and it will be my weekend read. The first line hits you in the gut, so I am bracing myself for an emotional read. What about you? What are you reading this weekend. Please share your first line.

There are more fabulous first lines to discover over at Hoarding Books. Be sure to visit!

 

From the highly acclaimed author of The Outcast and The Alliance comes an engrossing novel about marriage and motherhood, loss and moving on.

When Ruth Neufeld’s husband and father-in-law are killed working for a relief organization overseas, she travels to Wisconsin with her young daughters and mother-in-law Mabel to bury her husband. She hopes the Mennonite community will be a quiet place to grieve and piece together next steps.

Ruth and her family are welcomed by Elam, her husband’s cousin, who invites them to stay at his cranberry farm through the harvest. Sifting through fields of berries and memories of a marriage that was broken long before her husband died, Ruth finds solace in the beauty of the land and healing through hard work and budding friendship. She also encounters the possibility of new love with Elam, whose gentle encouragement awakens hopes and dreams she thought she’d lost forever.

But an unexpected twist threatens to unseat the happy ending Ruth is about to write for herself. On the precipice of a fresh start and a new marriage, Ruth must make an impossible decision: which path to choose if her husband isn’t dead after all.

Jolina Petersheim is the highly acclaimed author of The Divide, The Alliance, The Midwife, and The Outcast, which Library Journal called “outstanding . . . fresh and inspirational” in a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. That book also became an ECPA, CBA, and Amazon bestseller and was featured in Huffington Post’s Fall Picks, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and the Tennessean. CBA Retailers + Resources called her second book, The Midwife, “an excellent read [that] will be hard to put down,” and Booklist selected The Alliance as one of their Top 10 Inspirational Fiction Titles for 2016. The Alliance was also a finalist for the 2017 Christy Award in the Visionary category. The sequel to The Alliance, The Divide, won the 2018 INSPY Award for Speculative Fiction. Jolina’s non-fiction writing has been featured in Reader’s Digest, Writer’s Digest, Today’s Christian Woman, and Proverbs 31 Ministries. She and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but they now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their three young daughters. Jolina’s fifth novel, How the Light Gets In, a modern retelling of Ruth set in a cranberry bog in Wisconsin, releases March 2019.

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Best of 2018

1 Jan

I am bowled over by the number of excellent books I read in 2018! It was very, very, very hard to come up with a list of the best, let alone trying to limit it to just 10! So I cheated (of course) and made two Top 10 Lists — one contemporary and one historical. And before you say but, but . . . I know that three of the books on the historical list are dual timelines, but without the historical component, the book would not have existed. There is also plenty of suspense and romance — really something for everyone on this list. Those with an asterisk were book club books that got unanimous thumbs up! I hope you find one or two (or all) that will pique your interest.

Head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to discover other bloggers’ best of the best lists.

 

Top 10 Contemporary Novels of 2018

Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells

Chosen People by Robert Whitlow

Falling for You by Becky Wade

Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells

*The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Miles from Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti

Mind Games by Nancy Mehl

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay

Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

 

Top 10 Historical Novels of 2018

Hidden Among The Stars by Melanie Dobson

*The House of Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Lady of A Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd

*Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright

A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green

A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano 

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

Shelter of The Most High by Connilyn Cossette

When The Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma

 

What book was your favorite in 2018?

Top 10 Tuesday — Siblings

27 Nov

Our Top Ten Tuesday prompt is platonic relationships, including siblings. I thought it would be fun to revisit books that involve sibling relationships — all the best and worst aspects with plenty of dysfunction! The books are a mix of contemporary and historical — something for everyone.

Make sure to check out other bloggers’ lists at That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Sibling Relationships — The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

(for series, the link is for book 1)

 

Cousins of The Dove series by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

 

Heart Between Us by Lindsey Harrel

 

How Sweet The Sound by Amy Sorrells

 

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

 

The Memory of You by Catherine West

 

Orphan Train series by Jody Hedlund

 

Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

 

What books with sibling relationships are your favorites?

 

 

Congrats to The 2018 Christy Award Winners!

8 Nov

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Christy Award! I have read several on the list and concur that they are indeed award-winning. The list includes a variety of genres, so there is something for everyone. They are all good read guaranteed!

 

Contemporary Romance

True to You by Becky Wade

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

First Novel

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse’s stunning debut, Missing Isaac.

It is 1965 when black field hand Isaac Reynolds goes missing from the tiny, unassuming town of Glory, Alabama. The townspeople’s reactions range from concern to indifference, but one boy will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his unlikely friend. White, wealthy, and fatherless, young Pete McLean has nothing to gain and everything to lose in his relentless search for Isaac. In the process, he will discover much more than he bargained for. Before it’s all over, Pete — and the people he loves most — will have to blur the hard lines of race, class, and religion. And what they discover about themselves may change some of them forever.

General Fiction 

Life After by Katie Ganshert

Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.
 
A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest. 
 
Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake. 
 
In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.

Historical

Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

In this epic Biblical narrative, ideal for fans of The Bible miniseries, a young woman taken into the prophet Isaiah’s household rises to capture the heart of the future king.
 
Isaiah adopts Ishma, giving her a new name–Zibah, delight of the Lord–thereby ensuring her royal pedigree. Ishma came to the prophet’s home, devastated after watching her family destroyed and living as a captive. But as the years pass, Zibah’s lively spirit wins Prince Hezekiah’s favor, a boy determined to rebuild the kingdom his father has nearly destroyed. But loving this man will awake in her all the fears and pain of her past and she must turn to the only One who can give life, calm her fears, and deliver a nation.

Historical Romance

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson is abandoned by her fiancé and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?

Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story.

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives — including her own — are lost?

Short Form

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Visionary 

The Man He Never Was by James Rubart

Toren Daniels vanished eight months back, and his wife and kids have moved on—with more than a little relief. Toren was a good man but carried a raging temper that often exploded without warning. So when he shows up on their doorstep out of the blue, they’re shocked to see him alive. But more shocked to see he’s changed. Radically.

His anger is gone. He’s oddly patient. Kind. Fun. The man he always wanted to be. Toren has no clue where he’s been but knows he’s been utterly transformed. He focuses on three things: Finding out where he’s been. Finding out how it happened. And winning back his family.

But then shards of his old self start to rise from deep inside—like the man kicked out of the NFL for his fury—and Toren must face the supreme battle of his life.

In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us—and one man’s only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul.

Young Adult

The Delusion by Laura Gallier

By March of Owen Edmonds’s senior year, eleven students at Masonville High School have committed suicide. Amid the media frenzy and chaos, Owen tries to remain levelheaded―until he endures his own near-death experience and wakes to a distressing new reality.

The people around him suddenly appear to be shackled and enslaved.

Owen frantically seeks a cure for what he thinks are crazed hallucinations, but his delusions become even more sinister. An army of hideous, towering beings, unseen by anyone but Owen, are preying on his girlfriend and classmates, provoking them to self-destruction.

Owen eventually arrives at a mind-bending conclusion: he’s not imagining the evil―everyone else is blind to its reality. He must warn and rescue those he loves . . . but this proves to be no simple mission. Will he be able to convince anyone to believe him before it’s too late?

Owen’s heart-pounding journey through truth and delusion will force him to reconsider everything he believes. He both longs for and fears the answers to questions that are quickly becoming too dangerous to ignore.

Book of The Year

True to You by Becky Wade