Tag Archives: women’s fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — Journeys to A New Life

12 Jun

My husband and I seem to have caught the travel bug. After 33 years of marriage in which we raised 3 kids and grew a business, we are now in the position to do a little traveling. An empty nest and a wonderful staff have made it doable. But our travels are short-lived and, except for the occasional blip, very routine. Not so for those who left everything to travel to a new place and a new life. I cannot imagine the anxiety people had in stepping out into the unknown. Whether by choice, or necessity, or through force, the characters in the following books stepped out in faith in their travels. These books are both historical and contemporary, but all of them share the desire for new beginnings.

For more traveling books, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Journeys to A New Life

 

By Boat

Anna’s Crossing by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Keturah by Lisa T. Bergren

The Mayflower Bride by Kimberly Woodhouse

The Pelican Bride by Beth White

 

By Train 

The Journey of Josephine Cain by Nancy Moser

Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Together Forever by Jody Hedlund

 

 

By Wagon

All Together in One Place by Jane Kirkpatrick

The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers

 

On Foot

The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser

 

Taxis, Buses, Planes, Boats, You Name It!

Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin

The Heart Between Us by Lindsey Harrel

 

Have you ever taken a journey of faith?

 

 

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Book Review: Where Hope Begins

28 May

Sometimes we’re allowed to glimpse the beauty within the brokenness . . .

Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love.

But soon Savannah is given a challenge she can’t run away from: Forgiving the unforgivable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all.

Where Hope Begins is the story of grace in the midst of brokenness, pointing us to the miracles that await when we look beyond our own expectations.

 

Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or reading books by her favorite authors. She and her husband have two grown children and one beautiful granddaughter. Catherine is the winner of the 2015 Grace Award (Bridge of Faith) and the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award (The Things We Knew). Her most recent novel, The Memory of You, released March 2017 and Where Hope Begins releases in May 2018. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com.

 

My Impressions:

As it always seems to happen with books that blow me away, I have difficulty expressing how deeply they move me. Where Hope Begins is another excellent novel by Catherine West. Her previous novels touched my heart, but Where Hope Begins grabbed me where I’ve been and where I am certain to go in the future. The book is about loss — loss of a child, loss of a marriage, loss of dreams — and the hope of a second chance extended by those we love and the God that loves above all others. This one was a difficult read emotionally (make sure tissues are close at hand), but so worth it. Highly Recommended.

Savannah Barrington thought her life was okay. Not great because of the difficulties of the past and the uncertainties that face anyone’s future, but okay nonetheless. But that changes when her husband of 20+ years decides to leave. Devastated, she escapes to her family’s lake house in the Berkshires to right herself. Her journey is hard and painful, but God is faithful to bring beauty again where none exists.

I need to first mention the writing style of Where Hope Begins. The book is told in the first person voice of Savannah, her recollections of the past, and the third person point of view of other characters. It is a complex framework, but works so well to tell Savannah’s story and to show her impact, intended and unintended, on events in others’ lives. Without the additional 3rd person POV, the reader would never have the whole truth of the situations past and present. Characterization is strong. I identified with Savannah, fell in love with Maysie and Clarice, cried for Zoe and Adam, and Brock and Kevin, well, I’ll let you decide which one is the best man. As stated above, one predominant theme is loss. You don’t have to have experienced what Savannah has to know how she feels. Unfortunately loss is common to all in varying degrees. West knows how to make it real. But second chances are what this novel is all about. Our God is the Master at offering second (sometimes third . . .) chances, and Where Hope Begins shows it in fresh and sometimes startling ways. My favorite quote from the book appears towards the end. The characters have to learn to push aside what the world would deem impossible and hold out for the miracle. 

I loved Where Hope Begins — an emotionally packed reading experience you won’t soon forget.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

First Line Friday — Where Hope Begins

18 May

Happy Friday! Today I am featuring the upcoming release (5/22/18) from Catherine West, Where Hope Begins. Have you read anything by this talented author? If not, make sure to check out this book. It promises to be great! And it’s available for pre-order on Amazon. Just sayin’ 😉 .

Please let me know your first line by sharing in the comments. Then head over to Hoarding Books for more fun!

Sometimes we’re allowed to glimpse the beauty within the brokenness . . .

Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love.

But soon Savannah is given a challenge she can’t run away from: Forgiving the unforgivable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all.

Where Hope Begins is the story of grace in the midst of brokenness, pointing us to the miracles that await when we look beyond our own expectations.

Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or reading books by her favorite authors. She and her husband have two grown children and one beautiful granddaughter. Catherine is the winner of the 2015 Grace Award (Bridge of Faith) and the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award (The Things We Knew). Her most recent novel, The Memory of You, released March 2017 and Where Hope Begins releases in May 2018. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com.

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Series I Really Love, but Hate That I Haven’t Finished!

15 May

Because we always want to keep it positive here at By The Book, I chose to tweak the theme of this week’s Top 10 Tuesday (yet again, LOL!). So instead of highlighting books I hated, I am featuring the series I loved, but haven’t finished yet. In most cases I lack only 1 book to check the completed box. How in the world can I NOT finish a series, especially when the last book waits impatiently on my shelf? Here’s my rationalization: books in a series are usually released once a year. There are so many shiny books that come out between the installments that I just can’t resist, hence leaving very deserving books languishing. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Update: This post shamed me into action! I am currently reading A Will, A Way, And A Wedding by Melody Carlson. I’ll be able to check this one off in a few days.

What about you? Have you ever left a series you absolutely love unfinished? What’s your reason?

Be sure to head over to That Artsy Reader Girl where, hopefully, other bloggers are sharing the love not the hate! 😉

 

Top Series I Have Not Finished

 

The Bowers Files by Steven James

 

Crisis Team by Candace Calvert

 

Dear Daphne by Melody Carlson

 

Elite Guardians by Lynette Eason 

 

Inn At Shining Waters by Melody Carlson

 

Kanner Lake by Brandilyn Collins

 

Secrets of Roux River Bayou by Kathy Herman

 

What series do you need to finish?

Top 10 Tuesday — Favorites of 2018 (So Far)

17 Apr

This week That Artsy Reader Girl of Top 10 Tuesday is letting bloggers have a Freebie. After much thought, I finally settled on sharing the Best Books I’ve Read So Far This Year. The books on this list all were given a Highly Recommended rating by me. Covering a variety of genres, these books offer realistic and endearing characters, are beautifully written, and share messages of hope, healing, and grace. I loved them, and I think you will too. If you have read any of them, let me know if you agree with my assessment.

 

 

 

 Best Books I’ve Read in 2018 (So Far)

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

Lead Me Home by Amy K. Sorrells

The Melody of The Soul by Liz Tolsma

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

On This Foundation by Lynn Austin 

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

A Song of Home by Susie Finkbeiner

Steal Away Home by Billy Coffey

What book is your favorite this year?

Top 10 Tuesday — To Re-Read Or Not To Re-Read

10 Apr

In February TTT explored books that can be re-read over and over. Because I hardly ever re-read anymore (too many books, too little time and all), I listed books that deserve a re-read. Well here we are with a challenge to name books that we loved but will not re-read — my list could go on for pages! So I have again limited myself to 10 stellar books that not only deserve a first read, but a re-read over and over again. If you haven’t read any on the list at all, be sure to check them out. They are great. And don’t forget to head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to find out more books that bloggers love.

 

Top 10 Books That Won’t Be Re-Read by Me, But Should Be Read by You!

 


Bad Ground
by Dale Cramer

Poignant and thought provoking, this is a down-to-earth, sometimes humorous novel filled with suspense, action, redemption, and even romance. Seventeen-year-old Jeremy Prine decides to honor his mother’s dying wish and seek out his estranged uncle who was badly burned in the accident that killed Jeremy’s father. He finds the man working as a hard-rock miner in the south, an extremely dangerous occupation. His uncle seems a bitter and lonely man, but Jeremy senses more beneath the surface. Against his uncle’s wishes, Jeremy takes a job as a miner and soon his young faith is tested by his rough and gritty co-workers, the threat of danger … and the possibility of love.

Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.

Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen

In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir meets Phillip Sharp, 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. In this lawyer’s unraveling world, can grace survive Ama’s fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?

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.

 

 

Invisible by Ginny Yttrup

Cafe owner Ellyn DeMoss seeks protection from pain behind extra pounds. So why is a handsome widower attracted to her? Abandoning her family, Sabina Jackson comes to Northern California to heal. But is she doing more hiding than healing? And Twila Boaz once wanted to disappear. Now she wants to conquer her eating disorder. Will she succeed?

 

 

 

 

Iscariot by Tosca Lee

Judas Iscariot…the name of Judas conjures up the ultimate betrayer. What could possibly bring him to such a vile decision to betray Jesus? Tosca Lee brilliantly captures Judas’ life; why he chose to follow Jesus when he was a respected scholar, what he witnesses day after day being near and speaking with Jesus. You will be captivated by every nuance of Judas’ story as he walked with Jesus and Judas’ history that led him to that point. Why did Jesus choose the path that he chose, from angering those in esteemed positions by not just allowing those who were “unclean” near him, but encouraging their presence? Judas struggled to understand Jesus’ motives and questioned them all along the way. The places where you question how and what Jesus did are brilliantly speculated by Tosca Lee in the amazing story of Iscariot.

The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser

Anne “Perri” Singleton’s world is defined by the security of family, the camaraderie of friends at an exclusive Atlanta girls’ school, and an enviable social life. She isn’t looking for new friends when Mary Dobbs Dillard arrives from Chicago. Besides, “Dobbs,” the passionate and fiercely individualistic daughter of an itinerant minister, is her opposite in every way.

But just as the Great Depression collides disastrously with Perri’s well-ordered life, friendship blossoms—a friendship that will be tested by jealousy, betrayal, and family secrets..

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.

 

 
Wings of Glass by Gina Holmes From the best-selling author of Crossing Oceans comes a heartrending yet uplifting story of friendship and redemption. On the cusp of adulthood, eighteen-year-old Penny Carson is swept off her feet by a handsome farmhand with a confident swagger. Though Trent Taylor seems like Prince Charming and offers an escape from her one-stop-sign town, Penny’s happily-ever-after lasts no longer than their breakneck courtship. Before the ink even dries on their marriage certificate, he hits her for the first time. It isn’t the last, yet the bruises that can’t be seen are the most painful of all.When Trent is injured in a welding accident and his paycheck stops, he has no choice but to finally allow Penny to take a job cleaning houses. Here she meets two women from very different worlds who will teach her to live and laugh again, and lend her their backbones just long enough for her to find her own.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow by Catherine West

She’s after the story that might get her the Pulitzer. He’s determined to keep his secrets to himself.

Vietnam 1967.

Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father’s memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent, and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother’s wishes.
Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he’s hiding something.

Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they’re forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

What Book Would You Recommend?

Book Review: Hurricane Season

10 Apr

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

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

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

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

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren K. Denton now lives with her husband and two young 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. The Hideaway was released in April of 2017 and has since become a USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon Charts bestseller. Her second novel, Hurricane Season, released April 3, 2018, and has been listed on BookPage’s 2018 list of Most Anticipated Fiction.

 

My Impressions:

So what makes a book get a highly recommended rating from me? It must have something special that distinguishes it from the rest. Hurricane Season, the sophomore offering from Lauren K. Denton, is just such a novel. Great characterization, a wonderful sense of place, beautifully written prose, and a story line that is unique and fresh — those are the things that make this book stand out. Certainly it is one of the best books I have read this year.

Two sisters are the focus of Hurricane Season. They once shared so much, but have grown apart due to life and . . . neglect. Both are wrapped up in their own lives for sure, but it is the perceptions of what the other has, that has kept the two apart. When younger sister Jenna has the opportunity to find her creative center once again, Betsy, the protector of the two, agrees to keep Jenna’s children for the two week retreat session. But as days stretch into weeks and then months, the two sisters have to confront not only what their futures will look like, but what their pasts have created.

Hurricane Season is told in the third person point of view with the emphasis on sisters Jenna and Betsy and Betsy’s husband Ty. This format gives the reader a view of what makes each of these characters act and react. I loved how real each of the characters became to me. The dairy farm on which Ty and Betsy live and the primitive nature preserve that serves as the setting of the artist’s retreat are brought to life in simple, yet elegant descriptions. I felt I was really there experiencing the daily life of the dairy farm and the wonder of an untouched wilderness. Difficult issues that are part and parcel of the human experience — infertility and single motherhood — are uniquely explored. There are no stereotypes here. But it is the relationships between Jenna and Betsy and Betsy and Ty that form the nucleus of the story. And I loved how the author brought about growth and healing for them all. The book does not end in a neat and tidy fashion. There are still lots of questions as to the future of this family. But that is okay with me. I have certain expectations for Jenna, Betsy, and Ty, and I am happy that the author has let me create my own happily-ever-after for the three. 😉

As stated above, Hurricane Season has it all to provide a thought-provoking and immersive reading experience. This novel lends itself to discussion, so if your book club is looking for a great book, Hurricane Season should top your list.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE

(Thanks to TLC and Thomas Nelson for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)