Tag Archives: women’s fiction

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.)

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Home

7 Apr

Melanie runs away. From conflict. From pain. From reality. 
 
When novelist Melanie Vander faces a looming deadline, she decides it’s time for an escape to an inspiring, novel-worthy locale. She’s not running away. Really. She just needs time to focus. But as she disappears into her writing, she encounters a man whose tenderness leaves her reeling. Engaging and wise, psychologist Elliot Hammond tempts Melanie to question everything, including her marriage.

But that’s ridiculous. Dr. Hammond isn’t even…real.

Melanie’s husband, Craig, has his own problems, including a recession that’s threatening his business. Waning finances, a looming home foreclosure, and a wife who’s checked out emotionally, has Craig feeling as though he’s carrying his burdens alone. When his client, the beautiful and single Serena Buchanan, offers him a solution to his financial woes, he’s tempted by more than her offer of a business solution. 

At a crossroads, Melanie and Craig seem headed in opposite directions.

As Melanie runs away from her problems by escaping into her own fictional world, Craig dives into his struggles, seeking God for strength and healing for his marriage. Ultimately, Melanie must choose whether she’ll check out completely, or allow her characters to lead her home.

 

Ginny Ytrrup is the award-winning author of Words, Lost and Found, Invisible, Flames, and her most recent novel, Home, which releases April 1, 2017. She writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys exploring the issues everyday women face. Publishers Weekly dubbed Ginny’s work “as inspiring as it is entertaining.” When not writing, Ginny coaches writers, critiques manuscripts, and makes vintage-style jewelry for her Esty shop, Storied Jewelry. She loves dining with friends, hanging out with her adult sons, or spending a day in her pajamas reading a great novel. Ginny lives in northern California with Bear, her entitled Pomeranian. To learn more about Ginny and her work, visit http://www.ginnyyttrup.com.

 

My Impressions:

Whenever I have the opportunity to read a novel by Ginny Yttrup, I jump on the chance. Her books are beautifully written with powerful messages. As I began reading Home, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it. The style is a bit quirky and the characters were, quite frankly, not likable at first. But this is Ytrrup, I reasoned. I need to persevere. Thankfully my compulsion to read every book I start kicked in, because I really liked this one and can recommend it.

Three first person points of view (married couple Melanie and Craig and neighbor Jill) are used in Home. I did say it was quirky right? First person/present tense. This style can be a bit jarring, and with three voices, well, you can get confused. But I got into the flow of the narrative and learned more about what the characters thought, including their insights into each other. The result is a complete picture of two families dealing with trauma and grief. There is also the fact that one of the characters, Melanie, is an author. The result is a story inside a story, but that was okay too, because Melanie puts so much of herself and her husband in her books. So, quirky style, with a bit of humor added, helped lighten the themes of grief and mental illness. Whew! This one is emotional, but I never felt weighed down by the topics. I really wanted the three characters, Melanie, Craig and Jill, to grow and heal.

My favorite part of Home is Yttrup’s creation of two very strong male characters — in women’s fiction! Craig, who has his own voice, and Jill’s husband Marcos are loving, caring, encouraging, very male characters. Bravo to Yttrup! Despite the flaws and temptations of all the characters, these two men remain rocks upon which their wives can depend.

While it took me a bit to get into this book, I was soon turning the pages as fast I could. Home is a recommended read from me!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Great for book clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Barbour for a complimentary copy. 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?

Book Review: The Name I Call Myself

4 Nov

51sody6wfl-_sx325_bo1204203200_All Faith Harp wants is a quiet life—to take care of her troubled brother, Sam, earn enough money to stop the poverty wolves snapping at her heels, and to keep her past buried as deep as possible. And after years of upheaval, she might have just about managed it: Sam’s latest treatment seems to actually be working, Faith is holding down a job, and she’s engaged to the gorgeous and successful Perry.
But, for Faith, things never seem to stay simple for long. Her domineering mother-in-law-to-be is planning a nightmare wedding, including the wedding dress from hell. And the man who killed her mother is released from prison, sending her brother tumbling back into mental illness.

When secretly planning the wedding she really wants, Faith stumbles across a church choir that challenges far more than her ability to hold a tune. She ends up joining the choir, led by the fierce choir-mistress Hester, who is determined to do whatever it takes to turn the group of ragtag women into something spectacular. She also meets Dylan, the church’s vicar, who is different than any man she has ever met before . . .

 

beth-new-cropped-w179Beth Moran lives in Nottingham with her husband, and three children. When she’s not writing, Beth helps lead a national women’s network.

 

My Impressions:

Beth Moran knows how to write characters that are real — real in their attitudes, struggles, and emotions. Characters that make you want to climb into the book and become their best friends. I have now read three novels by Moran and can honestly say that each successive book is my favorite. The Name I Call Myself was such a satisfying read. I laughed, I cried, and I loved every minute of it. The best book I have read by Moran . . . until the next one is out!

Faith Harp is a survivor. From violent childhood trauma through abuse by a menacing boyfriend on to the struggle of keeping her mentally ill and drug-addicted brother alive, Faith adapts to her surroundings and settles for good enough. But with the help of an odd assortment of other surviving women, Faith learns to take control and live.

Written from the first person perspective of Faith, The Name I Call Myself has great moments of wit and humor. It also examines tough issues like mental illness and abuse. Although Faith is the main character and it is her story that is central, there is an ensemble cast of characters that give the novel an added depth; a feeling of fellowship and community between women who love each other. The choir that becomes Faith’s outlet and therapy was the highlight of the book for me. I couldn’t wait for the next team-building exercise that director Hester had in store for them — truly laugh out loud funny! But the lessons learned by the choir (and the reader) made all of the mud, scrapes, and self-examination worth it. As Faith puts it after recognizing the importance of shouldering each other’s burdens:

I made a decision not to keep trying to carry my load alone. It wants heroic. It was stupid. And prideful. And bordering on obsessive. (p. 204)

Faith had many names throughout her life, but she and the others soon could call themselves courageous, capable and worthy.

An added bonus to the hilarity and the soul-searching was the romantic thread that Moran includes. It’s not a major part of the story, but it does add some sweetness and spice.

Another winner from Beth Moran, The Name I Call Myself is a book I will be recommending to all my friends. It gets a highly recommended rating from me.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)