Tag Archives: Susan Meissner

Top 10 Tuesday — Thankfulness Edition

21 Nov

I have been a nag, bully, proponent of Christian fiction for some time now. Not only can you be sure of a clean read, but you get a book that encourages, enlightens, or just plain entertains. It’s no surprise — God is the master storyteller! And when you have an author who wants to bring glory to Him, then you are sure to have a winner. So when the folks at The Broke And The Bookish set this week’s theme as Books I Am Thankful For, I knew I would have a hard time sticking to just 10. I decided to pick the books I have read in 2017 that made me think, taught me something, or were a joy to read. I kept the list to an even dozen. To find out what books other bloggers are thankful for, click HERE.

A Dozen Books I Am Thankful For

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti

Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

Home at Last by Deborah Raney

How Sweet The Sound by Amy Sorrells

The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser

Long Way Gone by Charles Martin

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

A Trail of Crumbs by Susie Finkbeiner

A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow

True to You by Becky Wade

Why The Sky Is Blue by Susan Meissner

Yankee in Atlanta by Jocelyn Green

 

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Top 10 Tuesday: Hidden Gems in Women’s Fiction

29 Aug

This week The Broke And The Bookish have challenged bloggers to come up with hidden gems in the genre of their choice. I’ve posted so much lately about mystery/suspense, that I though it was time to choose another genre. 😉 I’m not sure that the books on my list can really be categorized as hidden, but they are books that have either been out for a while and may not be on the top of most TBR piles or have not gotten the recognition they really deserve. All on my list are books that I have continued to think about long after I read them. Check them out. You will love them!

For other bloggers participating today, click HERE.

Top 10 Hidden Gems in Women’s Fiction

 

The Church Ladies by Lisa Samson

Competition for church members in Mount Oak has reached a furious peak. When tragedy strikes one of their hometown sons, the church women are drawn together through compassion. The Church Ladies is a contemporary tale illustrating how women can have a major impact on the church. Through friendships that reach beneath surface level — and trials more severe than simple — they unite with common purpose: to pray, share, and comfort. Slowly, the community of believers learns that the church grows when it is rooted in love. Characters you’ll laugh and cry with, in situations every woman will instantly relate to, light up this page-turner about a miracle that could happen anywhere.

Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt

Darlene Caldwell has spent a lifetime tending Sycamores, an estate located five miles south of a small town called Peculiar. She raised a family in the spacious home that was her grandfather’s legacy, and she enjoys being a pillar of the community. Sycamores is the kingdom where she reigns as queen . . . until her limelight-stealing twin sister unexpectedly returns.

Carlene Caldwell, veteran of the Broadway stage, is devastated when she realizes that an unsuccessful throat surgery has spelled the end of her musical career. Searching for a new purpose in life, she retreats to Sycamores, her childhood home. She may not be able to sing, but she hopes to use her knowledge and experience to fashion a new life in Peculiar, the little town she left behind.

Haunted by a tragic romance, Magnolia Caldwell is the youngest of the Caldwell girls. Nolie has never wanted to live anywhere but Sycamores. She spends her days caring for her dogs and the magnificent gardens she’s created on the estate, but when she meets a man haunted by his own tragedy, she must find the courage to either deny her heart or cut the apron strings that tie her to a dear and familiar place.

Can these sisters discover who they are meant to be when life takes an unforeseen detour? In a season of destiny, three unique women reunite and take unexpected journeys of the heart.

Invisible by Ginny Yttrup

Ellyn DeMoss — chef, café owner, and lover of butter — is hiding behind her extra weight. But what is she hiding? While Ellyn sees the good in others, she has only condemnation for herself. So when a handsome widower claims he’s attracted to Ellyn, she’s certain there’s something wrong with him

Sabina Jackson — tall, slender, and exotic — left her husband, young adult daughters, and a thriving counseling practice to spend a year in Northern California where she says she’s come to heal. But it seems to Ellyn that Sabina’s doing more hiding than healing. What’s she hiding from? Is it God?

Twila Boaz has come out of hiding and is working to gain back the pounds she lost when her only goal was to disappear. When her eating disorder is triggered again, though she longs to hide, she instead follows God and fights for her own survival. But will she succeed?

As these women’s lives intertwine, their eyes open to the glory within each of them as they begin to recognize themselves as being created in God’s image.

The Pirate Queen by Patricia Hickman 

The envy of all her friends, wife and mother Saphora Warren is the model of southern gentility and accomplishment. She lives in a beautiful Lake Norman home, and has raised three capable adult children. Her husband is a successful plastic surgeon–and a philanderer. It is for that reason that, after hosting a garden party for Southern Living magazine, Saphora packs her bags to escape the trappings of the picturesque-but-vacant life. 

Saphora’s departure is interrupted by her husband Bender’s early arrival home, and his words that change her life forever: I’m dying.
 
Against her desires, Saphora agrees to take care of Bender as he fights his illness. They relocate, at his insistance, to their coastal home in Oriental—the same house she had chosen for her private getaway. When her idyllic retreat is overrun by her grown children, grandchildren, townspeople, relatives, and a precocious neighbor child, Saphora’s escape to paradise is anything but the life she had imagined. As she gropes for evidence of God’s presence amid the turmoil, can she discover that the richest treasures come in surprising packages?

The Road to Home by Vanessa Del Fabbro 

South African journalist Monica Brunetti had it all — promising career, loving family, marriage-minded boyfriend. Then a life-changing encounter landed her in a hospital bed next to gregarious Ella Nkhoma, whose wit and caring challenged Monica’s worldview. Their remarkable friendship would lead Monica far from the gated white suburbs, and toward a parting that left both women transformed — and Monica the mother of two sons.

 

 

Secrets over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones

Secrets can be funny things. We think they keep us safe, but more often than not, they spill out when we least expect and make a mess out of everything. It’s a truth Scarlett Jo Newberry knows all too well―a truth Grace Shepherd and Zach Craig are about to learn the hard way. As the lives of this boisterous pastor’s wife, polished news anchor, and beleaguered divorce attorney intersect in the tree-lined streets of Franklin, Tennessee, scandal threatens to topple their carefully constructed worlds. Grasping at survival, they embark on a journey of friendship and courage, desperate to find a way back to laughter, love, and life.

Seeing Things by Patti Hill 

Birdie Wainwright, 72, isn’t concerned about seeing things that others can’t. For a woman who still climbs mountains with her dog (Miss Bee Haven) and likes to tango, the impractical visions brought on by macular degeneration are just another gift from God, adding more adventure to life. But when a tumble down the stairs breaks her ankle and leads back to her son’s home in Denver where she must convalesce, Birdie’s imagination really takes flight. Following a conversation with her grandson about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, she begins to see and speak with the unkempt literary character himself on a regular basis. As the line between reality and whimsy turns brittle, faith is tested among friends and loved ones, and hope is reborn.

Velma Still 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 The Bayou Saw by Patti Lacy

The past can’t stay buried forever.

Rising author Patti Lacy’s second novel exposes the life of Sally, set amid the shadows of prejudice in Louisiana. Since leaving her home in the South, Sally Stevens has held the secrets of her past at bay, smothering them in a sunny disposition and sugar-coated lies. No one, not even her husband, has heard the truth about her childhood. But when one of her students is violently raped, Sally’s memories quickly bubble to the surface unbidden, like a dead body in a bayou. As Sally’s story comes to light, the lies she’s told begin to catch up with her. And as her web of deceit unravels, she resolves to face the truth at last, whatever the consequences.

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 book do you consider a hidden gem?

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 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.)

 

 

 

 

April Book Club Selections

2 Apr

It’s April in the South — budding and blooming trees and warm temps. Perfect weather to sit on the porch and read a book. My book clubs are reading women’s fiction this month — Why The Sky Is Blue by Susan Meissner and The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser. Have you read either of these books? We’d love to know what you thought.

 

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.

 

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.

Top 10 Tuesday — Book Club Reads

7 Mar

While the folks at The Broke And The Bookish are taking a well-deserved rest, bloggers are sharing Freebie Top 10 Lists. This week I am sharing the books my two book clubs (By The Book and Page Turners) are reading this year. What is your book club reading?

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Top 10 Book Club Selections for 2017

(alphabetically)

Gathering The Threads by Cindy Woodsmall

If I Run by Terri Blackstock

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley

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The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser

Luther And Katharina by Jody Hedlund

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

Still Life by Dani Pettrey

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Why The Sky Is Blue by Susan Meissner

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton

A Yankee in Atlanta by Jocelyn Green

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What is your book club reading this year?

Top 10 Tuesday — Christian Worldview

7 Feb

The folks at The Broke And The Bookish always have challenging prompts for their Top 10 Tuesday posts. This week they are challenging bloggers to explore what they would like to see more of in books. For what other bloggers are discussing, click HERE.

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So, what do I want more of in books? My book clubs have challenged and stretched my reading habits, and for this I am thankful. I think everyone should venture out of their comfort zones to read different genres or to discover new authors. Because of this I have read some books I never would have chosen on my own. And while I really enjoyed the books I am about to discuss, they seemed to lack something. As I pondered just what was missing, I came up with one common thing — lack of a Christian worldview.

Christian Worldview (also called Biblical worldview) refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which a Christian individual, group or culture interprets the world and interacts with it. — from Wikipedia.

Now, I am not judging the authors, but I don’t think I am going out on a limb saying that they did not begin writing saying WWJD! The books are well-written and award-winning — truly exceptional books, but left me feeling unsatisfied. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need a book to be blatant or preachy, but I do appreciate when there is a subtly woven message of hope or redemption or forgiveness.

So today, I am presenting 4 books that I liked a lot, but would have loved if they had been based on Biblical concepts, and 4 books that I think are great examples of Christian Worldview. As always, these are my own opinions and not a judgment of the authors personally.

4 Books I Liked, But Would Have Loved If They Had Included A Christian Worldview

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Home Front by Kristin Hannah

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

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3 Books I Loved That Include A Christian Worldview

Secrets of A Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Unwritten by Charles Martin

Water from My Heart by Charles Martin

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What do you want more of in books?