Tag Archives: women’s fiction

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?

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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.)

 

Book Review: High Cotton

5 Apr

Some families are filled with so much love they can’t help but drive each other crazy.

Shay Henke has mixed feelings about going to her family’s next reunion. On the one hand, she’ll get to see everyone in her mama’s family–folks she loves unconditionally. On the other hand, she knows there’ll be more drama than you can shake a stick at.

The days leading up to the event bring one surprise after another. First Shay must deal with her sister-in-law’s deep, dark secret. Then she has to contend with the childish ways of her business-mogul twin cousins. And when her high school crush wants to be her date to the reunions . . . well, it may have been a dream come true for Shay’s teen self, but the woman she’s become doesn’t know what to make of this.

Shay’s contentment is challenged, and she’s determined to shake things up a bit. But will she find the excitement she’s looking for, or will Shay realize she prefers her quiet predictable life? One thing is certain: Life in the Bucklin family is never boring.

Debby Mayne is the author of more than 40 novels and novellas that have received the “Top Pick” award from Romantic Times Magazine and been among the “Top 10 Favorites” in the Heartsong Presents book club. She writes family and faith-based romances, cozy mysteries, and women’s fiction. She has also written more than 1,000 short stories and articles as well as dozens of devotions for busy women. She has worked as managing editor of a national health publication, product information writer for a TV retailer, creative writing instructor, and copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. She is currently an etiquette writer for The Spruce, one of the DotDash (formerly About.com) companies.

Debby grew up in a military family, which meant moving every few years throughout her childhood. Debby was born in Alaska, and she has lived in Mississippi, Tennessee, Oregon, Florida, Hawaii, and Japan. Her parents were both from the Deep South, so she enjoys featuring characters with southern drawls, plenty of down-home cooking, and folks with quirky mannerisms.

She and her husband currently live in the Charleston, South Carolina, area.

To learn more about Debby:
Website – debbymayne.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/DebbyMayneAuthor
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/@debbymayne

My Impressions:

Get ready for some southern sass in Debby Mayne’s novel, High Cotton, the first book in the Bucklin Family Reunion Series. Four women of various ages and life experiences tell their stories and reveal that life in small town Pinewood, Mississippi isn’t that much different than your town or mine. Sure, there may be a different twang in their voice, but women are women all over. If you like women’s fiction with wit and wisdom, then this novel is for you.

High Cotton is told in the first person voice of four Bucklin women — Shay, Puddin’, Missy, and Sally. Alternating chapters follow the days leading up to yet another family reunion. The women have little in common except their family connections. Shay is a successful and single career woman, Puddin’ is a stay at home mom with an oops baby still in the nest, Missy is a discontented housewife, and Sally is a twenty-something with a thriving Etsy business. The women struggle with a variety of issues, but rely on each other and their family for support.

There really is something for everyone in High Cotton, and I wager that you’ll see yourself somewhere in the pages. These women are part sweet, part sassy, and pure Southern in their views. But . . . as they look for independence, love, fulfillment, and connection, they will resonate with those who have never set foot across the Mason-Dixon line. They are also part of a huge and quirky family, a family of definite opinions. I bet you have run across those characters too! 😉 Faith is a big part of the women’s lives and is woven naturally throughout the story.

You’ll laugh (sometimes out loud) at the antics of the Bucklin family as you journey with Shay, Puddin’, Missy, and Sally. And you’ll enjoy every minute!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

Mini-Review: The Secret to Hummingbird Cake

1 Mar

When all else fails, turn to the divine taste of hummingbird cake.

In the South you always say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” You know everybody’s business. Football is a lifestyle not a pastime. Food — especially dessert — is almost a religious experience. And you protect your friends as fiercely as you protect your family —  even if the threat is something you cannot see.

In this spot-on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you’ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws . . . from devastating pain to absolute joy. And if you’re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way.

Celeste Fletcher McHale is a writer from Central Louisiana. Her first novel, Save Us a Seat, released September, 2013. It as since been re-released as The Secret to Hummingbird Cake. Fletcher earned a history degree and currently lives on her century-old family farm in central Louisiana. She enjoys family, writing, football, baseball, and raising a variety of animals.

My Impressions: 

I had wanted to read The Secret to Hummingbird Cake since I saw its yummy cover and read its intriguing blurb. Oh yeah, this was a book I knew I would love. And I really did. I laughed out loud and ugly cried, sometimes within the span of just minutes. This small-town novel is filled with wonderfully drawn characters that are as close as family and just as exasperating! The book’s charm lies in the small town of Bon Dieu Falls, Louisiana and the three women who have been close since childhood. Carrigan, Ella Rae, and Laine have always stood by each other through indiscretions, melees, and life in general. But their friendship and faith are sorely tested as they all have to face life with their big girl pants on. If you are a fan of Southern fiction, women’s fiction, or both, then this book is for you. I have just one caveat though. Although this book is published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian imprint of Harper Collins, there are some things that readers of Christian fiction may not want to read — alcohol, some mild language, and sex outside of marriage viewed as okay under the right circumstances. (This book would have earned 5-stars if not for the above-mentioned.) But if you can overlook those shortcomings, then I think you will really enjoy The Secret to Hummingbird Cake.

Recommended (with some reservations, see review).

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

Top Ten Tuesday — The Neglected TBR Pile

6 Feb

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme should be titled the Shame Pile, at least for me. Bloggers were charged to search their shelves (and other places hoarders collectors stash their books) for the books that have been waiting the longest to be read. Oh dear! I have to close my ears as I walk past the shelves that fill the rooms of my house because the books whisper, whine, and sometimes shout Pick Me! I’d like to say that the books I chose this week have been on my shelves the longest, but the task was so overwhelming that I settled for random selections. I had such high hopes when I bought these books (and the other fifty gazillion that await). I just knew I would love them because I had loved their sisters and brothers — the books written and read by their fabulous authors. And I am sure I will love them . . . someday. *sigh*  As I lovingly returned them to their places of honor, I promised that one day, they too would join the ranks of the read.

To find out what books other bloggers have waiting, please visit the Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Neglected Books from My TBR Mountain

The Beach House by Sally John

Hope Springs by Lynne Hinton

June Bug by Chris Fabry

Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman

‘Mater Biscuit by Julie Cannon

The Passion of Mary Margaret by Lisa Samson

River’s End by Melody Carlson

Ruby’s Slippers by Leanna Ellis

Sandpiper Drift by Vanessa Del Fabbro

White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner

What book do you have on your shelf that needs to be read?

Book Review: Beauty from Ashes

25 Jan

A baby was never part of Tiff’s plans. Especially not a sick baby in a NICU, struggling for life on a ventilator. 

As days in the hospital turn to weeks, Tiff grows more and more convinced that God is punishing her for turning her back on him so many years ago. Or is it possible he’s working in the midst of her daughter’s bleak prognosis to draw Tiff back to himself once more? 

The Orchard Grove Christian Women’s Fiction books are standalone literary novels about real-life believers facing real-life struggles. You won’t meet perfect saints whose lives are faultless models of the Christian faith. Instead, you’ll meet a perfect God whose plans of redemption are far more glorious than what the mortal mind could ever imagine. 

 

Alana Terry is a pastor’s wife, homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second.

 

My Impressions: 

Beauty from Ashes is standalone women’s fiction from Alana Terry. Terry never shies away from focusing on difficult issues. She has a series that is set in North Korea that exposes the desperate plight of the people, especially Christians. Told in the first person voice of a young mother, this novel looks at the depression, anxiety, and guilt involved in the care of a seriously ill child.

Tiffany “Tiff” Franklin is a self-described foster-brat. Shuffled around the system, her childhood was less than ideal. However, as a young teen she was placed with Carl and Sandy, a pastor and his wife, who instill love and discipline in Tiff’s life. But Tiff wanted independence, and when she aged-out of the system she moved on from Sandy, from Boston, from God. Utterly alone in Washington State, Tiff’s struggles become even more than she anticipated. Newly married, struggling financially and emotionally, and with a child who may never be normal, Tiff reaches out for hope.

With the first person point of view and almost all of the narrative taking place in Tiff’s thoughts, I had a hard time liking or connecting with her. One minute I felt sympathy, the next disgust. Of course, anyone listening in on my thoughts would probably have a similar reaction. 😉 And I was never sure if the other characters were accurately portrayed, or if they were tainted by Tiff’s own prejudices and opinions. I got what the author was trying to achieve with the writing style, but it went on a little longer than I would have liked. If I hadn’t agreed to review the book, I probably would have given up on it. But . . . the last of the book showed a great deal of growth in Tiff as she began to focus on Sandy’s wisdom, Grandma Lucy’s prayers and testimony, and the words God had put in her heart years before when she gave her life to Him. Relying on God didn’t really change Tiff’s circumstances — her marriage is still fragile, her child is still ill, her life is still hard — but God changed how she would react and act.

There is hope in Tiff’s life at the end and that was a good thing. Tough issues and raw emotions were handled well, but this book just didn’t do it for me. However others have really liked it. Make sure to check out the Amazon reviews. 64% are 5-stars.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

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