Tag Archives: women’s fiction

Top Ten Tuesday — Favorites from The Early Years

12 Sep

I have been blogging for almost 8 years now. And while hopefully I have improved (I cringe at some of my early reviews), one thing remains the same. I have read and am continuing to read great Christian fiction. The folks at The Broke And The Bookish are challenging bloggers to come up with lists of favorites from the early years of our blogs. What a great theme! I still think about all the books on my list. They really made an impact. If you haven’t read them, I encourage you to take a closer look. They really are special.

Nine Favorites from The Early Years of By The Book

 

 

Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry

Billy Allman is a hillbilly genius. People in Dogwood, West Virginia, say he was born with a second helping of brains and a gift for playing the mandolin but was cut short on social skills. Though he’d gladly give you the shirt off his back, they were right. Billy longs to use his life as an ode to God, a lyrical, beautiful bluegrass song played with a finely tuned heart. So with spare parts from a lifetime of collecting, he builds a radio station in his own home. People in town laugh. But Billy carries a brutal secret that keeps him from significance and purpose. Things always seem to go wrong for him.

However small his life seems, from a different perspective Billy’s song reaches far beyond the hills and hollers he calls home. Malachi is an angel sent to observe Billy. Though it is not his dream assignment, Malachi follows the man and begins to see the bigger picture of how each painful step Billy takes is a note added to a beautiful symphony that will forever change the lives of those who hear it.

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell

Will Kiehn is seemingly destined for life as a humble farmer in the Midwest when, having felt a call from God, he travels to the vast North China Plain in the early twentieth-century. There he is surprised by love and weds a strong and determined fellow missionary, Katherine. They soon find themselves witnesses to the crumbling of a more than two-thousand-year-old dynasty that plunges the country into decades of civil war. As the couple works to improve the lives of the people of Kuang P’ing Ch’eng― City of Tranquil Light, a place they come to love―and face incredible hardship, will their faith and relationship be enough to sustain them?

Told through Will and Katherine’s alternating viewpoints―and inspired by the lives of the author’s maternal grandparents ― City of Tranquil Light is a tender and elegiac portrait of a young marriage set against the backdrop of the shifting face of a beautiful but torn nation.

Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen

In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir sees Phillip Sharp as a charming, magnetic artist, unlike any man she has known. A young lawyer herself, raised in a small town and on the brink of a career with a large firm, she is strong and successful, yet sometimes too trusting and whimsical. Ama’s rash decision to marry Phillip proves to be a mistake as he becomes overly possessive, drawing his wife away from family, friends, and her faith. His insidious, dangerous behavior becomes her dark, inescapable secret.

For Time And Eternity by Allison Pittman

All Camilla Deardon knows of the Mormons camping nearby is the songs she hears floating on the breeze. Then she meets one of them―a young man named Nathan Fox. Never did she imagine he would be so handsome, so charming, especially after Mama and Papa’s warnings to stay away. Though she knows she should obey her parents, Camilla can’t refuse her heart. But even Nathan’s promises cannot prepare her for what she will face in Utah.

 

The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan

Mercy Land has made some unexpected choices for a young woman in the 1930s. The sheltered daughter of a traveling preacher, she chooses to leave her rural community to move to nearby Bay City on the warm, gulf-waters of southern Alabama. There she finds a job at the local paper and spends seven years making herself indispensible to old Doc Philips, the publisher and editor. Then she gets a frantic call at dawn—it’s the biggest news story of her life, and she can’t print a word of it.
           
Doc has come into possession of a curious book that maps the lives of everyone in Bay City—decisions they’ve made in the past, and how those choices affect the future. Mercy and Doc are consumed by the mystery locked between the pages — Doc because he hopes to right a very old wrong, and Mercy because she wants to fulfill the book’s strange purpose. But when a mystery from Mercy’s past arrives by train, she begins to understand that she will have to make choices that will deeply affect everyone she loves — forever.

The Rhythm of Secrets by Patti Lacy

Sheila Franklin has lived three separate lives. Now a conservative pastor’s wife in Chicago, she is skilled at hiding secrets–a talent birthed during childhood romps through the music-filled streets of New Orleans. But when the son she bore at the age of eighteen comes back looking for answers and desperate for help, her greatest secret–and greatest regret — is revealed.

Eager to right past wrongs, Sheila’s heart floods with memories of lyrical jazz music and a worn-out Bible. But when her husband learns of her shady history, Sheila is suddenly faced with an impossible decision: embrace the dream–and son–she abandoned against her will or give in to the demands of her safe but stifled life. As she struggles to reclaim both her son and her identity, Sheila soon realizes that God’s grace spans both seas and secrets and that He is all she really needs.

With dynamic writing that makes the reader feel the heartache of a teenage mother, struggle with the disillusionment of an abandoned boy, and revel in the idea of grace despite flaws, rising star Patti Lacy takes her fans on a journey they won’t want to end — and won’t soon forget.

A Thousand Sleepless Nights by Michael King

In the 1970s, escaping a home where he knew nothing but violence and hate, Jim Harding found work, and love, on the largest horse ranch in Virginia. The object of his affections, Nena St. Claire, is the daughter of the owner, a man who ruled his ranch with an iron fist and would do whatever it took to keep Nena and Jim apart.
 
Against the wishes of her family, Nena marries Jim, and after her father dies, she sacrifices everything — including her family — to keep the ranch alive. Now their three grown children have lives of their own and want nothing to do with Nena. She was never the mother they needed.
 
When cancer strikes and Nena is given a devastating diagnosis, can Jim reconcile the family before it is too late?

The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new―shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and  timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.”

Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history―and its new bride―begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

Words by Ginny Yttrup

“I collect words. I keep them in a box in my mind. I’d like to keep them in a real box, something pretty, maybe a shoe box covered with flowered wrapping paper. Whenever I wanted, I’d open the box and pick up the papers, reading and feeling the words all at once. Then I could hide the box. But the words are safer in my mind. There, he can’t take them.”

Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn’t speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in a remote cabin nestled in the towering redwoods-in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary.

Sierra Dawn is thirty-four, an artist, and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes and chooses to bury her pain by trying to control her circumstances. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter’s death, Sierra’s control begins to crumble as the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself.

Brought together by Divine design, Kaylee and Sierra will discover together the healing mercy of the Word — Jesus Christ.

 

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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?

Book Review: Ascension of Larks

31 Jul

When globetrotting photographer Magdalena Henry loses the only man she’s ever loved, she risks her stellar career to care for his widow and young children on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest.

Free-spirited and fiercely independent, Maggie adores her life of travel and adventure. But she has a secret. She can’t let go of her first and only love, renowned architect Marco Firelli, now married to her best friend Lena.

When Marco drowns in a kayaking accident, Maggie rushes to the Firelli family’s summer home on San Juan Island. Once there she discovers that Marco was hiding something that could destroy his family. As fragile, perfectionistic Lena slowly falls apart, Maggie tries to provide stability for Marco and Lena’s three young children.

When Maggie is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete in the world’s most prestigious photography competition, she thinks she’s found the answer to their problems. Then Lena makes a choice with unexpected and devastating consequences, forcing Maggie to grapple with an agonizing decision. Does she sacrifice the golden opportunity of her career or abandon the Firellis just when they need her the most?

Gradually the island begins to work its magic. A century-old ritual to beckon loved ones home offers hope in the midst of sorrow. And a guilt-ridden yet compelling stranger hiding on the island may offer Maggie a second chance at love, but only if she can relinquish the past and move forward to find joy in unexpected places.

Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker whose adventures living and traveling in over fifty countries around the world provide excellent grist for her writing. She enjoys creating stories about hope and courage with a hint of romance and a touch of whimsy.

Rachel holds an MA in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College, a BA in Literature from Huntington University, and studied creative writing at Oxford University during college. Currently she splits her time between Seattle, Washington and Budapest, Hungary where she lives with her husband and two children on the banks of the Danube River.

When she’s not writing books, Rachel loves exploring the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the art and architecture of Europe. To learn more about Rachel Linden, visit her at http://www.rachellinden.com.

My Impressions:

Ascension of Larks by author Rachel Linden is a beautifully constructed novel. Complex characters and plotting kept me interested and engaged. The setting of San Juan Island in Washington brought a richness and perhaps a bit of magic to the narrative. The themes of loss and aloneness will speak to most readers. This is a novel I loved, and I recommend it. The only drawback is the mix of spiritual elements that, while pointing to restoration and healing, for me, only presented a confusing message.

Maggie Henry travels to the only home she knows — the summer getaway of best friends Lena and Marco. But it is tragedy that brings her there. In the depths of grief, Maggie must navigate more and more loss as she attempts to help a hurting family. As the weeks go on, Maggie is confronted with the truth of her life and the road to healing she must take.

Ascension of Larks can be termed women’s fiction. The point of view is from main character Maggie. The story is told in a series of present day events interspersed with memories. All of the characters are well-developed and believable in their actions, motives, emotions, and flaws. No one is perfect, but all are perfectly human. Healing for photographer Maggie comes in the realization that she has been living life looking through the viewfinder of her camera. “It made her feel better to have her camera in her hands. Life made more sense when she could see it through a viewfinder.” (page 101) Maggie has unconsciously kept herself away from pain and messiness, choosing to document life rather than feel it. But life is messy and it does hurt, and aloofness from the world only isolates. Linden is a very talented writer and has created a book that is a joy to read.

Because of all the above, I would normally have given Ascension of Larks a highly recommended rating. But . . . the spiritual messages of the book are a mix of Christianity and manmade ritual seeking to make sense of the world. As a child, Maggie was hurt by rigid and legalistic church practices and attitudes that are definitely not Christ-like, so she is at once a sceptic and a seeker. The one character in the book that articulates God’s grace, does so in a round about fashion. I think this, combined with the other mystical elements, obscures the real truth. All of that would be okay if this book was marketed to a general market audience, but this is Christian fiction. As such, I think that it should have had a more definitive message. Obviously, these are just my subjective thoughts (make sure to visit other blogs on the tour for more thoughts and insights). The novel certainly made me think, and would make for great discussion for a book club.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Great for Book Clubs.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to TLC Book Tours for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Tuesday, August 1stBook by Book
Wednesday, August 2ndReviews from the Heart
Thursday, August 3rdSteph the Bookworm
Monday, August 7thBooks a la Mode – author guest post
Tuesday, August 8thSuzy Approved
Wednesday, August 9thFrom the TBR Pile
Thursday, August 10thReading is My SuperPower
Monday, August 14thCheryl’s Book Nook
Tuesday, August 15thCafinated Reads – author guest post
Thursday, August 17thFiction Aficionado
Monday, August 21stDiary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, August 24thJust Commonly
Monday, August 28thJathan & Heather – author guest post

Book Review (+ Giveaway): Sailing out of Darkness

5 Jun


Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Young woman walking on water

Book: Sailing out of Darkness

Author: Normandie Fischer

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: February 25, 2017 (2nd Edition)

Love conquers all? Maybe for some people.

When Samantha flies to Italy to gain distance from a disastrous affair with her childhood best friend, the last thing on her mind is romance. But Teo Anderson is nothing like her philandering ex-husband or her sailing buddy, Jack, who, despite his live-in girlfriend, caught her off guard with his flashing black eyes.

Teo has his own scars, both physical and emotional, that he represses by writing mysteries — until one strange and compelling vision comes to life in the person of Sam. Seeking answers, he offers friendship to this obviously hurting woman, a friendship that threatens to upend his fragile peace of mind.

But not even sailing the cobalt waters of the Mediterranean can assuage Sam’s guilt for destroying Jack’s relationship and hurting another woman. Soon the consequences of her behavior escalate, and the fallout threatens them all.

Sailing out of Darkness is the haunting story of mistakes and loss . . . and the grace that abounds through forgiveness.

Awarded: Aspen Gold, Selah, and Maggie Finalist 2014 (1st edition).

About the Author

Normandie Fischer is a sailor who writes and a writer who sails. After studying sculpture in Italy, she returned to the States, graduated suma cum laude, and went to work in the publishing field as an editor. She and her husband retired from cruising Pacific Mexico on their 50-foot ketch, Sea Venture, to care of her aging mother and enjoy her two grown children and her grandchildren. She is the author of six books: Becalmed (2013), Heavy Weather (2015), Twilight Christmas (2016), Two from Isaac’s House (2015), From Fire into Fire (2016), and Sailing out of Darkness (2013 and 2017).

Guest Post from Normandie Fischer

In Sailing out of Darkness, the female protagonist longs for something, anything that will validate her after her husband leaves. She’s propelled into such an emotional wasteland that she becomes vulnerable to what seems a safe friendship.

It isn’t. And so she flees to Italy, but the repercussions of her actions continue to affect her and others—as consequences are wont to do.

After my divorce, hurting women seemed to flock to my vicinity. (Either that, or suddenly husbands in the church were leaving in droves.) These were abandoned women, angry women, women searching for love in the wrong places. I wasn’t in any shape to minister to them as I too was struggling at the cross, but that period helped me understand how woefully ignorant and unprepared many church goers are when it comes to hearing the cries of the hurting. I know of two women (to whom I dedicated the book) who actually killed themselves because no one listened or reached out a hand when they needed it.

The process of divorce and healing taught me about grace in a way that I’d never fully internalized. I’d ministered and counseled for years about the Love of God. I’d preached and written about it, but part of me, the part that needed healing, still held on to the idea that I had to be perfect to be loved by God and by man. I knew better, but the heart and the head weren’t working well together, especially during my years of living with an alcoholic husband and during divorce recovery after he left. As I wrote about Sam’s guilt and helped her find peace, I think new pieces slid into place for me as well. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God. And that’s probably the most powerful message we have to share with this hurting world.

My Impressions:

When a book just doesn’t resonate with a reader, it is often hard to describe why. That’s my dilemma with Sailing out of Darkness by Normandie Fischer. While the book is very well-written — the author is adept at setting a scene, and the characters are fully-developed, I just never could get it to click. This is partly due to my not liking main character Sam Ransom. While I really liked Teo, the mystery writer who befriends her, I was never drawn to Sam and didn’t really see why he was either. There are parts of the book that seem like add-ons, and because of their dark nature and complexity I felt that they really should not have been a part of an already full story. I know this seems vague, but I don’t want to include any spoilers. Let’s just say that the guilt and self-doubt that Sam feels could have been resolved without the added trauma that comes at the end of the book. The book is billed as Christian Fiction, and while the main characters are believers, there is little lived out in their lives. The promise of spiritual growth for Sam and Teo never rang true to me.

Please note that this is certainly my subjective opinion. There are lots of reviewers that would disagree with me. Please visit the bloggers listed below to view other opinions.

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

 

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Normandie is giving away a Kindle! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b630

Top 10 Tuesday — Summer Reading!

23 May

Summer is upon us, although here in the sunny South, we have had temps in the 90s for a few weeks now! When the weather is hot do you prefer a sizzling romance, a suspense-filled mystery, a riveting historical, or thoughtful literary fiction? All of the above? Me too! I love to read across all genres, and summer is a great time to abandon yourself in a good book. The folks at The Broke And The Bookish are hosting Summer Reads this week in their Top 10 Tuesday. Find out what other bloggers are packing in their weekender and beach totes HERE.

 

This week’s list is a mixture of books I’ve read that would be good take-alongs on your summer adventures and books that I will be reading this summer. More than 10? Maybe! LOL! But it’s summer. Indulge!

Top 10 Books for Summer Reading

 

What I’ve Read

If I Run/If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock (suspense)

Long Way Gone by Charles Martin (literary fiction)

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry (literary fiction)

Vendetta/Missing/Pursued by Lisa Harris (suspense)

The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton (historical)

What I’ll Be Reading

Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason (romantic suspense)

Deep Extraction by DiAnn Mills (romantic suspense)

Driver Confessional by David L. Winters (political thriller)

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson (historical romance)

Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett (historical fiction)

The Runaway by Claire Wong (mystery)

Sailing out of Darkness by Normandie Fischer (women’s fiction)

True to You by Becky Wade (contemporary romance)

With You Always by Jody Hedlund (historical romance)

What will you read this summer?

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.)