Tag Archives: literary fiction

Book Review: Lead Me Home

29 Mar

Amid open fields and empty pews, small towns can crush big dreams.

Abandoned by his no-good father and forced to grow up too soon, Noble Burden has set his dreams aside to run the family farm. Meanwhile, James Horton, the pastor of the local church, questions his own calling as he prepares to close the doors for good.

As a severe storm rolls through, threatening their community and very livelihood, both men fear losing what they care about most . . . and reconsider where they truly belong.

 

 

Amy K. Sorrells is a long-time believer in the power of story to change lives. Her diverse writing career includes more than two decades of freelance writing, including medical journal publications and a popular op-ed newspaper column. The driving mission behind all her writing is to bring words of hope to a hurting world. Praised by reviewers for the way they both poetically and accurately portray real-life hardship and hope, Amy’s novels are inspired by social issues that break her heart and the Bible stories that reflect God’s response to those issues. Her first novel, How Sweet the Sound, was a response to her personal questions about how God redeems the pain of sexual abuse. How Sweet the Sound won the 2011 Women of Faith Writing Contest. Since then, she has published two more novels, Then Sings My Soul and Lead Me Home. Amy’s novels have been short-listed for various fiction awards. In addition to being a writer, Amy is also grateful to be a practicing registered nurse at a busy suburban hospital. She loves doting on her husband, three young-adult sons, and their golden retrievers at their home in central Indiana. If there’s leftover time after that, she enjoys up-cycling, gardening, binge reading, exercising, and Bible journaling.

Connect with Amy at amyksorrells.com, or find her on Facebook (@amyksorrells), Twitter (@amysorrells), and Instagram (@amyksorrells).

My Impressions:

The first book I read by Amy K. Sorrells, How Sweet The Sound, made a big impression on me. I knew that after reading it, I would have to get busy and dig into her other books. So on my recent spring break trip I decided to take Lead Me Home along. I am so very glad I did! Lead Me Home is a complex novel full of wonderful characters that grab and sometimes break your heart. Set in a small Indiana farming town, this book examines things we lose — people, purpose, dreams. While it could easily have been a depressing book, it was instead a story of the hope and the possibilities of wonderful futures. Just like How Sweet The Sound, Lead Me Home is a book to savor, think about, and discuss with others. A great book club book, this novel is a highly recommended read.

Sycamore, Indiana is a town on the verge — small family farms are disappearing, people are moving on to bigger cities, and those that stay are afraid that life is leaving them behind. Main characters James Horton and Noble Burden know what its like to live with loss. Widowed and left to raise a teenage daughter alone, James is the pastor of a dying church. An aspiring musician, Noble is forced to run the family dairy farm after his father leaves him with responsibilities too great for a 19 year old. Both question their decisions, their futures, and the seeming silence of a God that promises rest.

I loved all the characters, flawed as they are, that Sorrells has created in Lead Me Home. Their main attraction is how real they are — real in their doubts, fears, and struggles. Like me, they often try to go it alone, forgetting that God has them in the palm of His hand. The community in which the novel is set is rich in its American-ness — self-sufficient and proud, seeking to survive and flourish. Sorrels’s examination of the church is spot on as well. The ridiculous reasons someone leaves a church are juxtaposed against the real picture of Christ’s church that comes together in the end. The struggle to trust God is portrayed realistically too. At one point Noble thinks about the relationship he has had with God — It was in the wrestling and holding tight and trying to pin him down that Noble had come to know God as true, though he still had a hard time trusting him. Those words mirror an active faith; one that isn’t afraid to question God.

Lead Me Home is a novel meant to be savored — don’t rush through this one. You will want to spend time with James, Noble, Shelby, Eustace, and the rest of those that inhabit the pages. It’s full of simple wisdom and deep thoughts that will continue to speak to you long after you close the covers.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE. (It is currently only 99 cents on Kindle!)

(Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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First Line Friday — Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells

23 Mar

Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells has been on my TBR shelf for way too long. I intend to remedy while I am at my mountain cabin for some R&MR — reading and more reading! There’s a storm in this book, so it meets the in like a lion, out like a lamb prompt for this week, too. How about you? What is your first line?

Leave a comment with the first sentence in the book closest to you, then head over to Hoarding Books to check out all the First Line fun!

 

Amid open fields and empty pews, small towns can crush big dreams.

Abandoned by his no-good father and forced to grow up too soon, Noble Burden has set his dreams aside to run the family farm. Meanwhile, James Horton, the pastor of the local church, questions his own calling as he prepares to close the doors for good.

As a severe storm rolls through, threatening their community and very livelihood, both men fear losing what they care about most . . . and reconsider where they truly belong.

 

Amy K. Sorrells is a long-time believer in the power of story to change lives. Her diverse writing career includes more than two decades of freelance writing, including medical journal publications and a popular op-ed newspaper column. The driving mission behind all her writing is to bring words of hope to a hurting world. Praised by reviewers for the way they both poetically and accurately portray real-life hardship and hope, Amy’s novels are inspired by social issues that break her heart and the Bible stories that reflect God’s response to those issues. Her first novel, How Sweet the Sound, was a response to her personal questions about how God redeems the pain of sexual abuse. How Sweet the Sound won the 2011 Women of Faith Writing Contest. Since then, she has published two more novels, Then Sings My Soul and Lead Me Home. Amy’s novels have been short-listed for various fiction awards. In addition to being a writer, Amy is also grateful to be a practicing registered nurse at a busy suburban hospital. She loves doting on her husband, three young-adult sons, and their golden retrievers at their home in central Indiana. If there’s leftover time after that, she enjoys up-cycling, gardening, binge reading, exercising, and Bible journaling.

Connect with Amy at amyksorrells.com, or find her on Facebook (@amyksorrells), Twitter (@amysorrells), and Instagram (@amyksorrells).

Top 10 Tuesday — Surprise Endings

13 Mar

This week That Artsy Reader Girl is challenging bloggers to list books that surprised them. There are so many options for this theme, but I chose a few books that had endings I never saw coming. Those that changed my perspective on all that went before. These were endings that prompt the reader to go back and explore the book again. If you are looking for a wonderful novel, then I highly recommend all of these.

Find out what surprised other bloggers HERE.

 

Top Books That Surprised Me

 

The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey

Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she’s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Alvaretta swore at her husband’s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta’s cabin, incurring her curse. Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain, but the darkness that lives within themselves.

Dogwood by Chris Fabry

In the small town of Dogwood, West Virginia, Karin has buried her shattered dreams by settling for a faithful husband whose emotional distance from her deep passions and conflicts leaves her isolated. Loaded with guilt, she tries to raise three small children and “do life” the best she can. Will returns to Dogwood intent on pursuing the only woman he has ever loved―only to find there is far more standing in his way than lost years in prison. The secrets of Will and Karin’s past begin to emerge through Danny Boyd, a young boy who wishes he hadn’t survived the tragedy that knit those two together as well as tore them apart. The trigger that will lay their pain bare and force them to face it rather than flee is the unlikely figure of Ruthie Bowles, a withered, wiry old woman who leads Karin so deep into her anger against God that it forces unexpected consequences.

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

When a blizzard strands them in Salt Lake City, two strangers agree to charter a plane together, hoping to return home; Ben Payne is a gifted surgeon returning from a conference, and Ashley Knox, a magazine writer, is en route to her wedding. But when unthinkable tragedy strikes, the pair find themselves stranded in Utah’s most remote wilderness in the dead of winter, badly injured and miles from civilization. Without food or shelter, and only Ben’s mountain climbing gear to protect themselves, Ashley and Ben’s chances for survival look bleak, but their reliance on each other sparks an immediate connection, which soon evolves into something more.

Days in the mountains become weeks, as their hope for rescue dwindles. How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever? Heart-wrenching and unputdownable, The Mountain Between Us will reaffirm your belief in the power of love to sustain us.

Not in The Heart by Chris Fabry

Truman Wiley used to report news stories from around the world, but now the most troubling headlines are his own. He’s out of work, out of touch with his family, out of his home. But nothing dogs him more than his son’s failing heart.

With mounting hospital bills and Truman’s penchant for gambling his savings, the situation seems hopeless . . . until his estranged wife throws him a lifeline—the chance to write the story of a death row inmate, a man convicted of murder who wants to donate his heart to Truman’s son.

As the execution clock ticks down, Truman uncovers disturbing evidence that points to a different killer. For his son to live, must an innocent man die? Truman’s investigation draws him down a path that will change his life, his family, and the destinies of two men forever.

Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, a life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942. When the Japanese Imperialist army invades the Southeast Pacific, and his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings. But he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about his frail, troubled mother—a woman he barely knows.

Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap his father and brothers left behind. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.

When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all.

Velma Stil Cooks in Leeway by Vinita Hampton Wright

As the town’s chief cook and part-time janitor for Jerusalem Baptist church, Velma Brendle has never done anything more outstanding than putting on a good meal at Velma’s Place, the one restaurant in Leeway, Kansas, but she takes good care of her customers, neighbors, and friends. However, in the midst of these two jobs, Velma’s husband stops talking, Cousin Albert comes to live with her, and she finds herself dealing with the town’s problems. As memories of past troubles plague her, she grows weary from even the tasks she loves the most. Old Sunday School lessons take on new meanings, and new problems illuminate trials Velma thought were long over. In sudden leaps of faith and moments of tragedy, Velma and all those she loves journey toward facing their sins and finding forgiveness.

 

What book surprised you?

 

Top 10 Tuesday: First Lines

6 Mar

Today I am recycling because that is what busy bloggers do when they are short on time and inspiration! 😉 This week That Artsy Reader Girl is challenging bloggers to list their Top 10 Favorite Book Quotes. I’m a slacker when it comes to keeping a journal filled with the wonderful nuggets I find in the pages of a book. But as I thought about the topic, I couldn’t help but think how it is the first lines that I almost always remember. I haven’t read (or rather re-read) Rebecca in a long while, but I can still quote that memorable first line — Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Another wonderful weekly meme I participate in is First Line Friday hosted by Hoarding Books (their tagline is it’s not HOARDING if it’s BOOKS — great, huh?). It has been lots of fun discovering new books and authors through first lines. So today, I will share some first lines from books that were fabulous reads. I hope that you find your next great book today!

 

Top First Lines

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

Christy by Catherine Marshall 

Melody of The Soul by Liz Tolsma

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

Rule of Law by Randy Singer

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

Stars in The Grass by Ann Marie Stewart 

 

What’s your favorite book quote?

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Do You Re-Read?

27 Feb

Once upon a time I re-read books. You know those books that speak to the heart, that make their way deep inside a reader. But once I became a book blogger, I rarely had time for anything other than the latest shiny book that made its way into my mailbox or Kindle. I can’t say no to the new books, so I have no time to savor yet again the old. But that doesn’t mean I don’t take them out and look at them. So here is a short list of Books That Should Be Re-read (this list is not exhaustive; we are limited to 10, don’t you know). Do you agree? If you haven’t read them yet, put them on top of your TBR List. That way they’ll make their way to your Re-Read List quicker. 😉

To find out what books other bloggers re-read, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 10 Books That Should Be Re-Read

(or read as the case may be)

Burning Sky by Lori Benton

Christy by Catherine Marshall

The City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey

Dogwood by Chris Fabry

The Girl from The Train by Irma Joubert

Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Watching The Tree Limbs by Mary DeMuth

Water From My Heart by Charles Martin

What books do you re-read?

February’s Book Club Selections

1 Feb

I have already read (and reviewed) both of my book clubs’ selections this month. They are both wonderful! If you haven’r read them yet, I highly recommend you do! If you have read them, we would love to know your thoughts.

By The Book — 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.

 

Page Turners — On This Foundation by Lynn Austin.

When news that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire, Nehemiah, Jewish cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in Persia, seeks God’s guidance. After fasting and prayer, he’s given leave to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the city wall, not anticipating all the dangers that await him on his arrival.

The leaders of the surrounding nations become his fierce enemies, plotting to assassinate him and halt the work. A drought, meanwhile, has left the country impoverished, many families resorting to selling their children as bondservants just to keep from starving.

Capturing the rebuilding of the wall through the eyes of a number of characters, On This Foundation is a powerful exploration of faith in the midst of oppression, and hope that, in spite of appearances, the gracious hand of God is upon those who believe.

 

Won’t you join us?

 

Top 10 Tuesday — How Could I Forget?!

23 Jan

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is books I liked, but can’t remember what they are about. When I saw this title I smugly thought, I can remember all the books I’ve read! Yeah, right! I began by looking at my book club’s list of past selections. Over the past 15 years we have read some excellent books, all I thought still held a special place in my memory. That would be a no. Given a bit of prompting, I remember the gist. But character names, plot essentials? Well, I’ll credit my lapse to the hundreds of books I have read in between now and then. That’s my story and I am sticking with it!

On a side note, back in the day we read a lot of women’s and Southern fiction. A lot of our time now is spent with high-octane suspense. Not sure what that says about my book club. Hmm.

For other bloggers’ forgettable books, click HERE.

 

Books I Forgot I Liked! 😉

 

Coffee Rings by Yvonne Lehman

They met in college, three young women with unstoppable dreams-until one tragic event pulled them in separate directions. Nineteen years later, they each find themselves living back in Laurel Ridge, North Carolina,and covering their deeply held pain with genteel social behavior. Annette is widowed and running a coffee shop. Ruby is married to a minister and raising three children. Lara is divorced and managing a women’s boutique. When their long-held secrets surface, how will they hold the fragile pieces of their lives together? Are the stains of the past too deeply imbedded for true forgiveness to occur?

Fallen Angels by Patricia Hickman

The award-winning author of Sandpebbles presents the first installment in the Millwood Hollow series about an unlikely hero and a trio of abandoned siblings struggling for survival in the South during the Great Depression.

Grace at Bender Springs by Vinita Hampton Wright

This critically-acclaimed literary novel set in the small, worn-out town of Bender Springs, Kansas boasts an intricately detailed plot with a variety of character types that give every reader someone with which to identify.

 

 

Hot Flashes And Cold Cream by DiAnn Hunt

An eccentric best friend, a leaky Chihuahua, a teenager in trouble, and a workaholic husband with a gorgeous new colleague. Those are the ingredients for Diann Hunt’s wise and funny story about growing . . . well, older . . . with grace.

Jamaican Me Crazy by Debbie DiGiovanni

When putting together another “perfect” Christmas is just too much, the women of Lakeside Baptist Church rebel (as much as Baptists can) and buy six tickets to Jamaica. Trading their to-dos and grocery lists for sunscreen and flip-flops, the ladies think they’re going to have the time of their lives. Only their sunny holiday turns out to be more than they bargained for and they get cold reality, sans sugarplums, for Christmas. A great escape for those snowy, gray December days, Jamaican Me Crazy is just what the doctor ordered. Christian women who dig friendship fiction like The Potluck Club will love this exciting tale of a Caribbean Christmas gone crazy.

Like a Watered Garden by Patti Hill

Mibby Garrett walks through grief as if feeling her way through an unfamiliar room on a moonless night. She’s been unable to get her life back on track after losing her husband in a bicycle accident. Owner and operator of Perennially Yours Garden Design and mother to twelve-year-old Ky, Mibby struggles to keep her “boat tied to the dock” as she avoids reminders of her husband and their former life. A new garden design project, the puzzling case of dying rosebushes, and a mysterious young stranger bring Mibby out of her fog. Has God answered her prayers in the most unexpected way?

Love The Sinner by Lynn Bulock

When her philandering, con-artist husband is murdered, full-figured Gracie Lee Harris, with the help of God and some newfound friends, wades through a wealth of suspects — all women he scorned and cheated — to catch a killer.

 

Mercy Me by Margaret Graham

Down-to-earth, feisty southern widow Esmeralda counsels her best friend and the women’s Sunday School class while rallying the petty Apostolic Bible Church women to assist an impoverished mother with AIDS.

Passing by Samaria by Sharon Ewell Foster

The date is 1919 — a time of unrest and drastic change. For Alena, though, life in Mississippi is perfect, and she prays she will never leave her home. That prayer is shattered when she makes a horrible discovery – -a discovery that leads her to challenge all she believes. Against the backdrop of the Great Migration, from a quiet, country setting, Alena is catapulted to Chicago, the “city of broad shoulders.” There, amidst riots, misplaced love, and post-war confusion, the outspoken young woman struggles to find herself and the one true thing that will save her. 

The Town That Came A-Courtin’ by Rhonda Rich

Leaving behind the disappointments and romantic upheaval that marked her life in her hometown of Dexter, Georgia, Abby Houston finds success as a best-selling author and warm-hearted acceptance from the residents of Bliss, Mississippi.

 

 

Have you read any of these books?

If not, have I peaked your interest?