Tag Archives: Valerie Fraser Luesse

Book Review: Almost Home

21 Mar

With America’s entrance into the Second World War, the town of Blackberry Springs, Alabama, has exploded virtually overnight. Workers from all over are coming south for jobs in Uncle Sam’s munitions plants — and they’re bringing their pasts with them, right into Dolly Chandler’s grand but fading family home turned boardinghouse.

An estranged young couple from the Midwest, unemployed professors from Chicago, a widower from Mississippi, a shattered young veteran struggling to heal from the war — they’re all hoping Dolly’s house will help them find their way back to the lives they left behind. But the house has a past of its own.

When tragedy strikes, Dolly’s only hope will be the circle of friends under her roof and their ability to discover the truth about what happened to a young bride who lived there a century before.

Award-winning and bestselling author Valerie Fraser Luesse breathes life into a cast of unforgettable characters in this complex and compassionate story of hurt and healing.

 

Valerie Fraser Luesse is the bestselling author of Missing Isaac and is an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently a senior travel editor. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse has published major pieces on the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana’s Acadian Prairie, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana won the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

 

My Impressions:

Oh. My. Goodness! I loved, loved Almost Home by Valerie Fraser Luesse! My book club read her debut novel, Missing Isaac, last year and were bowled over by the wonderful new voice of this author. We are set to discuss Almost Home in a few months, and I cannot wait to hear everyone’s reactions. This novel made me smile from start to finish (with a few tears sprinkled throughout). This one is a highly recommended read!

The “loop”, a road off a highway in middle of nowhere Alabama, is the setting for Almost Home. More specifically, Dolly’s 100 year old home that has been lovingly opened to boarders to pay the taxes as well as offer respite to hurting souls. WWII is still being fought across the ocean, and the people residing in the home come from across the country to work at the munitions plant. Their stories are varied and the same — life has dealt them a blow that leaves them in despair. The cast of characters is strong, and Luesse gives each one a distinctive voice. I came to love them as old friends and was reluctant to leave them when the last page was turned. The author did oblige my curiosity of where there lives will lead with a wonderful epilogue. The novel has a faith foundation that is consistent, but never preachy. And there is a sense of wonder and even magic in the turn of events that kept this reader looking for what would happen next. The novel is set in 1944 in rural Alabama, but the characters struggles are relevant today. I loved how the author captured the era so well, yet the stories and the people are consistent with our present-day world. A century-old legend captures the boarders’ (and the reader’s) imagination adding a sense of adventure and mystery to the novel.

Full of love, hope, and magic, Almost Home is perfect for those looking for a story that will whisk them away and bring them back feeling good!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

Top 10 Tuesday — Please, Can I Have Some More?!

12 Mar

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge is to list standalone books that need a sequel. Yes!! I definitely want more from some of the books I read; books that ended much too soon. The authors don’t have to write full-length sequels to satisfy my longings, though. Just a very thorough prologue with pertinent details, like where the characters are (including kids and grandkids), say, 50 years later. 😉

Some of the books on my list fit the criteria, but I have tweaked it a bit to add books that were part of a series that I was sorry ended. To find out which books that other bloggers want more of, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.


Top Books I Want More Of

Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

Chosen People by Robert Whitlow

Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof

How The Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim

Lead Me Home by Amy Sorrells

Miles from Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

Water from My Heart by Charles Martin

 

Top 10 Tuesday — 2018 New-To-Me Authors

15 Jan

I read a number of new-to-me and debut authors in 2018. Great books all! And a promise of more great books to come! Because I am an eclectic reader, you will find romance, women’s fiction, dual-time stories, mystery, and suspense in the mix — something for just about everyone. I hope you find a new-to-you author to enjoy.

Head over to That Artsy Reader Girl for other bloggers’ new-to-them authors.

Top New-To-Me Authors

 

Lynn Blackburn — Beneath The Surface

 

Lindsey Brackett — Still Waters

 

Lisa Carter — A Vast and Gracious Tide

 

Lauren K. Denton — Hurricane Season

 

Lindsay Harrel — The Heart Between Us

 

Carla Laureano — The Saturday Night Supper Club

 

Valerie Fraser Luesse — Missing Isaac

 

Lisa McKay — My Hands Came Away Red

 

Sarah Monzon — Freedom’s Kiss

 

Jaime Jo Wright — The House on Foster Hill

 

Reading Roadtrip — Alabama

3 Jan

For a while now I have been contemplating adding a new feature to the old blog — a sort of reading road trip featuring books set in each state. This is the inaugural post, and I hope you find it interesting and find a new book or author to read. Every month I will travel to a new state, including several genres — a little something for everyone! For the kick-off, I am heading to Alabama. Hope you enjoy the ride!

 

Alabama, known as The Heart of Dixie, has over 4 million residents. Its capital is Montgomery, the state flower is the camellia, and the state bird is the northern flicker. It is also the setting of a number of great Christian novels. You can begin with colonial Alabama (part of Louisiana) with The Pelican Bride by Beth White. Visit the state during the Civil Rights movement with Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse. A couple of novels — How Sweet The Sound by Amy K. Sorrells and Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton —  involve family drama. Then finish off with thriller Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa.

The Pelican Bride by Beth White

It is 1704 when Genevieve Gaillain and her sister board a French ship headed for the Louisiana colony as mail-order brides. Both have promised to marry one of the rough-and-tumble Canadian men in this New World in order to escape religious persecution in the Old World. Genevieve knows life won’t be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of beheading. But when she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer whose courageous stand for fair treatment of native peoples has made him decidedly unpopular in the young colony, Genevieve realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. And a secret she harbors could mean the undoing of the colony itself. (This is the first of a 3-book series, all set in Mobile, Alabama.)

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.

How Sweet The Sound by Amy K. Sorrells

Wealth and etiquette can hide a lot of things in the South, as the esteemed Harlan family of sleepy Bay Spring, Alabama, knows. But behind the gentle facade of white pillared porches and acres of cultivated pecan orchards, family secrets smolder.

Young Anniston Harlan cares little for high society and the rigid rules and expectations of her grandmother, Princella. She finds solace working the orchards alongside her father and grandfather, and relief in the cool waters of Mobile Bay.

Anniston’s aunt, Comfort Harlan, has never quite lived up to the family name, or so her mother Princella’s ever-apparent scowl implies. When she gleefully accepts the proposal of her longtime boyfriend, Solly, a flood tide of tragedy ensues that strips Comfort of her innocence and unleashes generations of family secrets, changing the Harlan family forever.

While Comfort struggles to recover, Anniston discovers an unlikely new friend from the seedy part of town who helps her try to make sense of the chaos. Together, they and the whole town of Bay Spring discover how true love is a risk, but one worth taking.

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

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

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

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

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

Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa

Fourteen miles east of Peachtree, Alabama, a secret is hidden. That secret’s name is Annabel Lee Truckson, and even she doesn’t know why her mysterious uncle has stowed her deep underground in a military-style bunker. He’s left her with a few German words, a barely-controlled guard dog, and a single command: “Don’t open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me.”

Above ground, a former Army sniper called The Mute and an enigmatic “Dr. Smith” know about the girl. As the race begins to find her, the tension builds. Who wants to set her free? Why does the other want to keep her captive forever? Who will reach her first?

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill need to piece together the clues and stay alive long enough to retrieve the girl – before it’s too late.

 

 

 

By The Book’s 2019 Selections

1 Jan

Happy New Year! On the first of the month I usually share my book club’s selection. But since today is the first day of a brand new year, I thought it fitting to share all the books we are reading in 2019. There is a mix of genres — romance, suspense, Biblical, historical — something for everyone. We would love for you to join us. Check out our FB page.

 

January — Chosen People by Robert Whitlow
February — Five Brides by Eva Marie Everson 
March — Delayed Justice by Cara Putman
April — The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin
May — Mind Games by Nancy Mehl
June — Almost Home by Valerie Fraser Luesse
July — The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright
August — The Memory House by Rachel Hauck
September — The Cost of Betrayal by Dee Henderson/Lynette Eason/Dani Pettrey
October — Judah’s Wife by Angela Hunt 
November — Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore
December — Christmas book

 

 

 

 

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 — Christmas Edition

25 Dec

Merry Christmas! Did Santa treat you right with a pile of books under the tree? I rarely get books for Christmas. My family and friends operate under the false assumption that I already own all the books there are. LOL! But that’s okay, because Santa and I have a deal — I am good all year and get to order the books I want from Amazon! 😉 This week Top 10 Tuesday lists feature books found under the tree, or in my case on the Wishlist. All of the books on my list have not released yet, but that’s okay because pre-order!

Check out That Artsy Reader Girl for all the wonderful bookish goodness that arrived in Santa’s sleigh.

 

Top Books on My Christmas Wishlist

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

Almost Home by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Daughters of Northern Shores by Joanne Bischof

Driftwood Bay by Irene Hannon

The Heart of A King by Jill Eileen Smith

The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

Sweet on You by Becky Wade

Then Sings My Soul by Amy K. Sorrells