Tag Archives: women’s fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — Illustrated Covers

15 Sep

Illustrated covers are a bit of an exception in Christian Fiction. Mostly you get women in beautiful dresses (historical romance), women in bonnets (Amish), lovely women with sometimes hunky men (contemporary romance), or landscapes (general or literary). I find illustrated covers refreshing. For this week’s Top 10 Tuesday Cover Freebie, I have chosen some books that I have already read and some that are in the TBR pile. Let me know how you like them.

For more cover fun, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Illustrated Covers

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett

A Gift to Cherish by Victoria Bylin

 

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel

Perennials by Julie Cantrell

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

 

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin

Where The Fire Falls by Karen Barnett

First Line Friday — Quaker Summer

21 Aug

This week’s first line comes again from my TBR shelf. Quaker Summer, written by one of my all time favorite authors Lisa Samson, was the 2007 Women of Faith Novel of The Year. Its intriguing opening sentence makes me want to sit and read and read. In fact, I am taking it on a little road trip this weekend. Have you read it? I would love to know what you thought.

 

 

Five months ago I raised Gary and Mary Andrews from the dead.

 

 

Sometimes you have to go a little bit crazy to discover the life you were meant to live.

Heather Curridge is coming unhinged. And people are starting to notice. What’s wrong with a woman who has everything — a mansion on a lake, a loving son, a heart-surgeon husband — yet still feels miserable inside?

When Heather spends the summer with two ancient Quaker sisters and a crusty nun running a downtown homeless shelter, she finds herself at a crossroads.

Lisa Samson was born in Baltimore, MD. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband Will. Lisa is the mother to three kids, has a cat named Miles, and three chickens: Violet, Camille, and Charlotte.

Lisa’s been writing for almost two decades now and doesn’t plan on quitting anytime soon. She also runs Luminary, a creative support service for novelists.

Grapefruit juice, potato chips, art, eating good food, watching AMC shows on Netflix, and good conversation with friends and family make her extremely happy. Tomato juice, blue tortilla chips, math, running, watching news tv, and silly conversations about whose kids are better . . . not so much. She loves to paint and read and watch good movies.

 

For more fabulous first lines, head over to Hoarding Books.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Colorful Book Titles

4 Aug

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge is to list books with colors in their titles. There are a lot more than I expected! I limited my list to books I have read or that reside on my TBR shelf (Kindle or actual), but the list is still really long 😉 .

Have you read any of these colorful titles?

 

For more Top 10 Tuesday fun, visit That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Colorful Titles

 

Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Colins

 

The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear

Blue Moon Bay by Lisa Wingate

Why The Sky Is Blue by Susan Meissner

 

Under A Turquoise Sky by Lisa Carter

 

Always Green by Patti Hill

Downtown Green by Judy Christie

The Woman in The Green Dress by Tea Cooper

 

The Yellow Packard by Ace Collins

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Coral Moon by Brandilyn Collins

 

The Crimson Cord by Jill Eileen Smith

Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay

The Red Ribbon by Pepper Basham

 

The Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma

 

Chasing The White Lion by James R. Hannibal

The White City by Grace Hitchcock

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner

The White Rose Resists by Amanda Barratt

 

The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock

 

The Black Madonna By Davis Bunn

The Black Midnight by Kathleen Y’Barbo

The Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday — Women of A Certain Age

28 Jul

I had a tough time coming up with this week’s Top Ten Tuesday Freebie topic. There were so many things to choose from — exotic locales, TBR pile, fun titles, etc. Truly unlimited list options. So, I began thinking about the main characters of the books I have recently read, and discovered that almost all were in their 20s or 30s. It has been a while since I saw those numbers, having entered my golden years. Ouch! Where are the characters that are closer to my age that aren’t the cookie-baking, supportive, and supporting grandma characters? If you are like me and need a few more relatable mature characters, my list includes books that feature one main character that is a woman of a certain age. Hope you find one to love!

 

For more great bookish lists, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Top 10 Books Featuring Women of A Certain Age

 

Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet by Charlene Baumbich

On the outskirts of the pastoral Illinois town of Partonville, Illinois, eighty-seven-year-old Dorothy Wetstra lives on her farm, venturing out to drive around in her 1976 Lincoln Continental — affectionately dubbed “The Tank”—play bunco with her pals, or grab a stool at Harry’s counter, where she can stay on top of the town’s latest shenanigans (most of which she is responsible for).
 
But when a visitor comes to town with a proposition, Dorothy finds herself faced with a decision that could change her beloved town, and her life. Before long, her gift for shaking things up may come in handy . . .

Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin

Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she’s getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia … until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they’re right. Four x-rays later, Harriet’s ankle ― and her heart ― are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She’s doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it’s time for her to be put out to pasture ― God has a different plan.

Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney

Audrey Whitman’s dreams are coming true. Now that their five kids are grown, she and her husband Grant are turning their beloved family home into a cozy bed and breakfast, just a mile outside of Langhorne, Missouri. Opening weekend makes Audrey anxious, with family and friends coming from all over to help celebrate the occasion. But when Audrey’s daughter, Landyn, arrives, the U-Haul she’s pulling makes it clear she’s not just here for a few days. Audrey immediately has questions. What happened in New York that sent Landyn running home? Where was Landyn’s husband, Chase? And what else was her daughter not telling her? One thing was for sure, the Chicory Inn was off to a rocky start. Can Audrey still realize her dream and at the same time provide the comfort of home her daughter so desperately needs?

Invisible by Lorena McCourtney

She’s not your average crime fighter! Ivy Malone has a curiosity that sometimes gets her into trouble, and it’s only aggravated by her discovery that she can easily escape the public eye. So when vandals romp through the local cemetery, she takes advantage of her newfound anonymity and its unforeseen advantages as she launches her own unofficial investigation. Despite her oddball humor and unconventional snooping, Ivy soon becomes discouraged by her failure to turn up any solid clues. And after Ivy witnesses something ominous and unexplained, she can’t resist putting her investigative powers to work again. Even the authorities’ attempts to keep Ivy out of danger and her nosy neighbor’s match-making schemes can’t slow her down. But will the determination that fuels this persistent, quirky sleuth threaten her very safety?

Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh

For the first time since their children were born, empty nesters Judith and Stan Winters spent Thanksgiving without the kids and grandkids. It’s looking like Christmas will be the same. Judith can’t bring herself to even start decorating for the holiday; her children always hung the first ornaments on the tree, ornaments they’d made each year when they were kids. Stan had nicknamed them the “ugly ornaments” but Judith adored them. Now she can barely look at them. Can this box of ugly ornaments be the key to saving their family Christmas this year?

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross

Miss Julia, a recently bereaved and newly wealthy widow, is only slightly bemused when one Hazel Marie Puckett appears at her door with a youngster in tow and unceremoniously announces that the child is the bastard son of Miss Julia’s late husband. Suddenly, this longtime church member and pillar of her small Southern community finds herself in the center of an unseemly scandal — and the guardian of a wan nine-year-old whose mere presence turns her life upside down.

With razor-sharp wit and perfect “Steel Magnolia” poise, Miss Julia speaks her mind indeed — about a robbery, a kidnapping, and the other disgraceful events precipitated by her husband’s death. Fast-paced and charming, with a sure sense of comic drama, a cast of crazy characters, and a strong Southern cadence, Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind will delight readers from first page to last.

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.

Seeing Things is a story about family, reconciliation, and hearing from God in unexpected ways.

Song of Silence by Cynthia Ruchti

Charlie and Lucy Tuttle are committed to each other for life, but that life isn’t turning out quite like they expected. Charlie retired early, but Lucy planned to continue in her position as a music educator in a small Midwestern K-8 school indefinitely. And then the day came when she was forced to retire. Lucy was devoted to the program her father started years ago and now she can only watch as it disintegrates before her eyes. The longer she is separated from the passion of her heart, the more the music fades from her life and she wonders if her faith’s song is fading too. When a simple misstep threatens to silence Lucy forever, a young boy and his soundless mother change the way she sees — and hears — everything.

The Summer House by Lauren K. Denton

Lily Bishop wakes up one morning to find a good-bye note and divorce papers from her husband on the kitchen counter. Having moved to Alabama for his job only weeks before, Lily is devastated, but a flyer at the grocery store for a hair stylist position in a local retirement community provides a refuge while she contemplates her next steps.

Rose Carrigan built the small retirement village of Safe Harbor years ago — just before her husband ran off with his assistant. Now she runs a tight ship, making sure the residents follow her strict rules. Rose keeps everyone at arm’s length, including her own family. But when Lily shows up asking for a job and a place to live, Rose’s cold exterior begins to thaw.

Lily and Rose form an unlikely friendship, and Lily’s salon soon becomes the place where residents share town gossip, as well as a few secrets. Lily soon finds herself drawn to Rose’s nephew, Rawlins — a single dad and shrimper who’s had some practice at starting over — and one of the residents may be carrying a torch for Rose as well.

Neither Lily nor Rose is where she expected to be, but the summer makes them both wonder if there’s more to life and love than what they’ve experienced so far.

Your Chariot Awaits by Lorena McCourtney

Downsized from her job.
Dumped by her boyfriend.
Depressed about that upcoming 6-0 birthday.
Not a good week for Andi McConnell.

But now there’s good news: She’s just inherited a limousine, a long, sleek, black limousine, from an eccentric uncle.

There’s also bad news: The dead body that soon turns up in the trunk. And Andi is the top suspect in the murder.

Enter Keegan “Fitz” Fitzpatrick, former TV detective, very interested in the case — and in Andi. As they work together to solve the crime, a big question looms: when the bullets start flying, are the windows in Andi’s limo really bullet proof?

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Book Titles That Make Me Smile, Chuckle, Snicker . . .

14 Jul

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is Books That Make Me Smile. I am going with book titles that caused me to smile, a smirk, or LOL! Cute titles always catch my eye and make me want to know more. My list seems to be heavy on mysteries, southern, and women’s fiction, so if you like those genres you are all set! 😉

What about a book makes you smile?

 

For more Top Ten Tuesday fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Titles That Made Me Smile, Smirk, Snicker . . .

 

The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

Charlotte Figg Takes over Paradise by Joyce Magnin

The Fine Art of Insincerity by Angela Hunt

Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt

A Fool And His Monet by Sandra Orchard

For Whom The Wedding Bell Tolls by Nancy Mehl

Murder, Mayhem, And A Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney

Pretty Is As Pretty Does by Debby Mayne

Secrets over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones

Truelove And Homegrown Tomatoes by Julie Cannon

Audiobook Mini-Review: The Summer House

6 Jul

Sometimes it takes losing everything to find yourself again.

Lily Bishop wakes up one morning to find a good-bye note and divorce papers from her husband on the kitchen counter. Having moved to Alabama for his job only weeks before, Lily is devastated, but a flyer at the grocery store for a hair stylist position in a local retirement community provides a refuge while she contemplates her next steps.

Rose Carrigan built the small retirement village of Safe Harbor years ago — just before her husband ran off with his assistant. Now she runs a tight ship, making sure the residents follow her strict rules. Rose keeps everyone at arm’s length, including her own family. But when Lily shows up asking for a job and a place to live, Rose’s cold exterior begins to thaw.

Lily and Rose form an unlikely friendship, and Lily’s salon soon becomes the place where residents share town gossip, as well as a few secrets. Lily soon finds herself drawn to Rose’s nephew, Rawlins — a single dad and shrimper who’s had some practice at starting over — and one of the residents may be carrying a torch for Rose as well.

Neither Lily nor Rose is where she expected to be, but the summer makes them both wonder if there’s more to life and love than what they’ve experienced so far. The Summer House weaves Lauren K. Denton’s inviting Southern charm around a woman’s journey to find herself.

 

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren K. Denton now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books.

Find her at LaurenKDenton.com or on Facebook (LaurenKDentonAuthor), Instagram (LaurenKDentonBooks), or Twitter (@laurenkdenton).

 

My Impressions:

I was looking for a perfect beach read and found it in Lauren K. Denton’s latest novel, The Summer House. So what made this one a winner for me? The setting is all Southern goodness in a small coastal Alabama community. The senior adult village of Safe Harbor is filled with engaging and often quirky supporting characters. The two mains — Lily and Rose — have stories that touched my heart. Second chances at life and love predominate the narrative giving this book a hopeful feel. And I laughed and laughed. 🙂 The narrator was excellent and captured the rhythm of the book perfectly.

The Summer House is recommended for those needing some warm summer breezes, a little water therapy, and a feel-good, down-home reading experience, even if your beach this year is your backyard. 😉

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

If You Liked . . . Magnolia Storms

30 Jun

Magnolia Storms by Janet Ferguson has a lot going for it — great setting, characters with chemistry, a bit of humor, and a strong faith message. If you liked it, I have a three book recommendations for you. The three novels share all of the above qualities while putting their own unique spin on things. I hope you enjoy these too!

Importance of Family

Practically Married by Karin Beery

Ashley Johnson moved to northern Michigan to finally meet her fiancé face-to-face, but she arrived in time to attend his funeral. With no home back in Ohio, she decides to stay in what would have been their house, except his cousin Russ lives there too, and Russ has never heard of Ashley. To complicate matters, her fiancé accidentally willed her the family farm house. Eager to please everyone and desperate to disappoint no one, she proposes a marriage of convenience that could solve her and Russ’ problems, if they can get past her aunt, his sisters, and an ex-girlfriend.

 

Overcoming Fears

When You Look at Me by Pepper Basham

When Julia Jenkins’ great aunt dies and leaves her a Victorian mansion with decades of secrets, Julia never expects to unearth a World War 2 espionage mystery. Struggling with her own past since an assault left her pregnant, her future as a solo parent leaves her dreams uncertain. The inheritance from her great aunt gives Julia the ability to take a step back into her future, but also sends her into the discovery of a love story she’d never anticipated. As she goes through her aunt’s treasured possessions, Julia uncovers some oddly written piano music with a musical code she can’t decipher on her own. Not to worry, introverted Englishman and composer, Henry Wright, is thrust on the scene by a pair of homespun matchmakers who know the ‘right’ man for Julia’s wounded heart.

Henry arrives in Pleasant Gap with the task of composing the soundtrack for his best mate’s newest film. The Jenkins’ family’s southern welcome and gregarious personalities set his reticent nature on edge, but he’s inexplicably drawn to his gentle and music-loving hostess, Julia. Uncertain how to build a friendship with the wounded woman, and rather hopeless in communicating well through words, the bond of music becomes a bridge between her uncertainty and his awkwardness.

But her broken past and his families’ expectations build a wall much greater than the cultures that separate them. As they work together to solve a musical mystery from the grave, will an unlikely romance from the past inspire their hearts to trust in a God who’s written the perfect melody for their lives?

Past Impacts Present

Hometown Girl by Courtney Walsh

Beth Whitaker isn’t supposed to be a small-town girl. She’s always dreamed of leaving Willow Grove, Illinois, for the big city, but she feels trapped, struggling to make up for a mistake that’s haunted her for years. Just when Beth is finally ready to break free, her sister impulsively buys a beloved but run-down farm on the outskirts of town, and she begs Beth to help with the restoration. Reluctantly, Beth agrees to help — and puts her own dreams on hold once again.

Drew Barlow hasn’t been back to Fairwind Farm since he was a boy, and he’s spent all these years trying to outrun the pain of a past he thought he buried long ago. When he learns that the owner has passed away, his heart knows it’s finally time to do the right thing. Returning to Willow Grove, Drew revisits the old farm, where he attempts to piece together his memories and the puzzle of the crime he witnessed so long ago.

Both on a journey to find peace, Beth and Drew are surprised when they begin to experience a restoration of their own. But when long-buried secrets break through the soil and the truth unfurls, will it threaten their budding relationship — and the very future of the farm?

 

Reading Road Trip — Actual Road Trips

23 Jun

I know a lot of you are itching to go somewhere — anywhere! That’s why this week’s Reading Road Trip features actual road trips! Whether for fun, for pilgrimage, for the Grand Tour, or to find safety, all of these books feature some type of travel. Characters and genre are varied, so there is something for all reading tastes. I hope you find a book that will take you on an exciting journey!

 

Actual Road Trips!

 

The Pilgrim by Davis Bunn

In his latest historical epic, worldwide bestselling author Davis Bunn takes readers on a journey through an ancient landscape. Travel with Empress Helena from Caesarea to Judea. Abandoned by her husband, in danger because of her faith, but with an implacable will to do what God calls her to, she takes a perilous pilgrimage. Along the way she meets those who would help her (the wizened and wise bishop Macarius; the rough-edged but kind-hearted sergeant Cratus; the young soldier Anthony, a man who has lost everything, including his faith) and those who would harm her (the menacing and murderous Roman assassin Severus). Miracles seem to follow this humble but determined woman as she wins many over to the faith, and changes lives forever—including her own.

This unforgettable story of the discovery of the True Cross will thrill readers with its adventure, and with its vivid portrait of one of Christian history’s most

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren

It was the summer of 1913, and Cora Kensington’s life on the family farm has taken a dark turn. Not only are the crops failing, so is her father’s health. Cora is carrying on, helping her mother run their Montana farm until a stranger comes to call, and everything changes. Cora then learns a secret that will radically change her future: she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king who has come to claim her.Cora is invited to take the “Grand Tour” of Europe, a journey intended to finish a person’s education, to solidify an understanding of ancient culture and contemporary refinement. As she travels from England to France with half-siblings she’s never known, Cora encounters the blessings of the Kensington family name, as well as the curses. But when an unbidden love begins to form, she realizes the journey is only beginning.

Faced with the challenge of accepting her father, new family, and the identity that comes with it, Cora also struggles to accept that she is also the daughter of the one true King – a Father who is the only One who can truly heal.

Elvis Takes A Back Seat by Leanna Ellis

Determined to fulfill her husband’s last request, Claudia McIntosh is hauling a three-foot bust of Elvis Presley in the back seat of a vintage Cadillac from Dallas to Memphis, hoping to locate the kitschy sculpture’s rightful owner.

Along for the ride are her eccentric aunt who knew the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and a temperamental teen with a suspicious mind of her own.

When the road trip hits the Heartbreak Hotel, these three women uncover pieces of their past along with the bust’s mysterious history, discoveries that will leave them all shook up and change their lives forever in Elvis Takes a Back Seat.

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life — or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal — complete with an unfulfilled bucket list — Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb — a friend from her years in and out of the hospital — reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin

Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she’s getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia … until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they’re right. Four x-rays later, Harriet’s ankle — and her heart — are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She’s doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it’s time for her to be put out to pasture — God has a different plan.

The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser

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.

Miles from Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti

Weeks away from their one-year wedding anniversary, Mallory and Connor Duncan can’t even agree on how to end their marriage. But when a last-minute crisis lands them on a three-thousand-mile road trip together, Mallory wonders if their story may not be over after all.

The trip begins to unravel before the key is even in the ignition, and an at-risk, trouble-seeking missile of an eleven-year-old is unexpectedly launched into their travel plans. Close quarters get even tighter, and the couple believes this whole experience will spell disaster.

Their first year of marriage hasn’t been the arm-in-arm togetherness they expected. How can they find a new beginning when the road ends?

The Mother Road by Jennifer AlLee

Within the course of a week, marriage expert Natalie Marino is dumped by her husband, receives an urgent call home from her father, and discovers her estranged sister, Lindsay, is pregnant.

A road trip on Route 66 may not help, but it sure couldn’t hurt. Or so Natalie thinks, until Lindsay’s boyfriend starts stalking them. Will their trip down the Mother Road bring the two sisters closer, or turn out to be the biggest wrong turn of their lives?

 

Book Review: Magnolia Storms

18 Jun

Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except . . . she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south — into the storm.

The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting — even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.

Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?

Janet W. Ferguson is a Grace Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a cat that allows them to share the space.

 

My Impressions:

I am excited to introduce my book club to Janet Ferguson. I have read a couple of her books, and knew that Magnolia Storms, the first book in her Coastal Hearts series would be perfect for our summer reading. Okay, the book is not set during the summer, but it is set in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and has numerous references to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Mississippi coast. Hurricanes and beach communities say beach read to me, just sayin’ 😉 . Main character Magnolia Maggie Marovich’s life was impacted by Katrina leading to her choices of career (meteorologist), residence (safely inland), and even her preferred vacation location (the mountains). She avoids the coast at all costs, except when her family needs her. She tucks her emergency pack in the trunk of her car and her fears in her back pocket, and heads down to her hometown to rescue her sister, niece, and aunt. What Maggie does not know, is that she needs rescuing most of all.

I loved the interactions, and let’s face it, the great chemistry between Maggie and her childhood sweetheart Josh. Magnolia Storms is after all a romance. But really it is so much more as Maggie not only faces her extreme anxiety but tries to overcome it. I have friends in Ocean Springs, and have visited from time to time. Ferguson’s descriptions brought back memories of a quaint coastal town. She captured the essence of the place and people well. The overarching theme of trying to control the uncontrollable was developed in ways that I could relate to. God is always in control, even when we won’t acknowledge that or feel we know better than Him. Maggie learned a lot, and I anticipate some great discussion from my book club on the subject.

Part romance, part women’s fiction, and all Southern, Magnolia Storms is a winner! It is book one in the series, but it can be read as a standalone. I have already read books 3 and 4 — now I need to go back and finish up with book 2!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased a copy of Magnolia Storms. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top Ten Tuesday — Summer TBR

16 Jun

This summer I am going to play catch-up with my reading. I have some new releases I have scheduled to read, but there are some books that I have missed. My reading will be a mix of physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks — I read just about anything in all formats!

What are you reading this summer?

For more bloggers’ summer reading lists, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Books on My Summer TBR

The Crushing Depths by Dani Pettrey

When an accident claims the life of an oil-rig worker on the first drilling platform off the North Carolina coast, Coast Guard investigators Rissi Dawson and Mason Rogers are sent to take the case. Tensions surrounding the oil rig are high and the death has everyone on edge. Environmental activists are threatening to do whatever it takes to stop the structure from being completed, while rumors are being whispered about ancient curses surrounding this part of the ocean.

Mounting evidence shows the death may not have been an accident at all. Was he killed by one of the activists or, perhaps more frighteningly, a member of his own crew? Rissi and Mason have to sort through not only a plethora of suspects, but also their own past and attraction to each other.

Just as the case seems like it’ll break open, worse news arrives. A tropical storm has turned their way and soon they’re cut off from any rescue–and right where the killer wants them. It’s a race to discover his identity before he eliminates the threat they pose.

A Dream within A Dream by Mike Nappa and Melissa Kosci

Trudi Coffey only realizes that she hasn’t seen Samuel Hill in weeks when the FBI shows up asking questions about him. After a strange encounter with an armed man demanding her help and an attack by a member of the Boston mob looking for someone named Dream, Trudi manages to find Samuel–or rather, he finds her. He’s made some pretty powerful enemies, but right now his full attention is on protecting Dream from the mob. Because Dream has something they want–the map to the location of artwork stolen from the Gardener Museum during the infamous 1990 heist.

With danger closing in from all sides, Trudi and Samuel will have to call on all of their allies to keep Dream safe and discover the identity of the people who have been hunting down Samuel. The real questions are whom can they trust? And who will make it out of this thing alive?

The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Peyton Cabot’s fifteenth year will be a painful and transformative one. His father, the heroic but reluctant head of a moneyed Savannah family, has come home from WWII a troubled vet, drowning his demons in bourbon and distancing himself from his son. A tragic accident shows Peyton the depths of his parents’ devotion to each other but interrupts his own budding romance with the girl of his dreams, Lisa Wallace.

Struggling to cope with a young life upended, Peyton makes a daring decision: He will retrace a journey his father took at fifteen, riding his bicycle all the way to Key West, Florida. Part declaration of independence, part search for self, Peyton’s journey will bring him more than he ever could have imagined–namely, the key to his unknowable father, a reunion with Lisa, and a calling that will shape the rest of his life.

Through poignant prose and characters so real you’ll be sure you know them, Valerie Fraser Luesse transports you to the storied Atlantic coast for a unique coming-of-age story you won’t soon forget.

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson is abandoned by her fiancé and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?

Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story.

Life After by Katie Ganshert

Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.

A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.

Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake.

In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.

Not by Sight by Kate Breslin

With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover.

Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country’s cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she’ll set off when she hands a feather to Jack.

And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them — or the faith they’ll need to maintain hope.

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

Betty Sweet never expected to be a widow at 40. With so much life still in front of her, she tries to figure out what’s next. She couldn’t have imagined what God had in mind. When her estranged sister is committed to a sanitarium, Betty finds herself taking on the care of a 5-year-old nephew she never knew she had.

In 1960s LaFontaine, Michigan, they make an odd pair. Betty with her pink button nose and bouffant hair. Hugo with his light brown skin and large brown eyes. But more powerful than what makes them different is what they share: the heartache of an empty space in their lives. Slowly, they will learn to trust one another as they discover common ground and healing through the magic of storytelling.

Award-winning author Susie Finkbeiner offers fans a novel that invites us to rediscover the power of story to open the doors of our hearts.

The Summer House by Lauren K. Denton

Lily Bishop wakes up one morning to find a good-bye note and divorce papers from her husband on the kitchen counter. Having moved to Alabama for his job only weeks before, Lily is devastated, but a flyer at the grocery store for a hair stylist position in a local retirement community provides a refuge while she contemplates her next steps.

Rose Carrigan built the small retirement village of Safe Harbor years ago — just before her husband ran off with his assistant. Now she runs a tight ship, making sure the residents follow her strict rules. Rose keeps everyone at arm’s length, including her own family. But when Lily shows up asking for a job and a place to live, Rose’s cold exterior begins to thaw.

Lily and Rose form an unlikely friendship, and Lily’s salon soon becomes the place where residents share town gossip, as well as a few secrets. Lily soon finds herself drawn to Rose’s nephew, Rawlins—a single dad and shrimper who’s had some practice at starting over — and one of the residents may be carrying a torch for Rose as well.

Neither Lily nor Rose is where she expected to be, but the summer makes them both wonder if there’s more to life and love than what they’ve experienced so far. The Summer House weaves Lauren K. Denton’s inviting Southern charm around a woman’s journey to find herself.

Then Sings My Soul by Amy K. Sorrells

1904, Chudniv, Ukraine. Playing hide-and-seek in bucolic fields of sunflowers, young Jakob never imagines the horrific secrets he will carry as he and his brother escape through genocide-ridden Eastern Europe.

1994, South Haven, Michigan. At age 94, time is running out for any hope that Jakob can be free from his burden of guilt.

When Jakob’s wife dies, he and his daughter, Nel, are forced to face the realities of his worsening dementia―including a near-naked, midnight jaunt down the middle of main street―as well as emerging shadows Nel had no idea lay beneath her father’s beloved, curmudgeonly ways.

While Nel navigates the restoration and sale of Jakob’s dilapidated lake house, her high school sweetheart shows up in town, along with unexpected correspondence from Ukraine. And when she discovers a mysterious gemstone in Jakob’s old lapidary room, Jakob’s condition worsens as he begins having flashbacks about his baby sister from nearly a century past.

As father and daughter race against time to discover the truth behind Jackob’s fragmented memories, the God they have both been running from shows that he redeems not only broken years, but also the future.

The White Rose Resists by Amanda Barratt

The ideal of a new Germany swept up Sophie Scholl in a maelstrom of patriotic fervor — that is, until she realized the truth behind Hitler’s machinations for the fatherland. Now she and other students in Munich, the cradle of the Nazi government, have banded together to form a group to fight for the truth: the White Rose. Risking everything to print and distribute leaflets calling for Germans to rise up against the evil permeating their country, the White Rose treads a knife’s edge of discovery by the Gestapo.

Annalise Brandt came to the University of Munich to study art, not get involved with conspiracy. The daughter of an SS officer, she’s been brought up to believe in the Führer’s divinely appointed leadership. But the more she comes to know Sophie and her friends, the more she questions the Nazi propaganda.

Soon Annalise joins their double life — students by day, resisters by night. And as the stakes increase, they’re all forced to confront the deadly consequences meted out to any who dare to oppose the Reich.

A gripping testament to courage, The White Rose Resists illuminates the sacrifice and conviction of an unlikely group of revolutionaries who refused to remain silent-no matter the cost.