Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton – Wonderful, lovely, I didn’t want the story to end!

Can I say that an author is one of my favorites after reading only one of her books, Hurricane Season?  Maybe not, but I was excited at the opportunity to read Lauren K. Denton’s newest book Glory Road.

I absolutely loved this book!  Lauren has a way of writing and helping you to see the beauty in the everyday ordinary life.  From the people to the places and the beauty of creation.

Glory Road takes place in Alabama and tells the story of Jessie who is a single mom, her 14-year-old daughter Evan and her Mom Gus.  Following her divorce, Jessie moved back home to Perry where she grew up.  Her home is next door to her Mother’s house and right next door to her garden shop the Twig on an old dirt road.  It’s summertime and Evan will be starting in high school come September.  Gus seems to be having some episodes of confusion and forgetfulness and Jessie is worried that it may be something serious.  Jessie is content with her life the way it is and she’s not looking to make changes or room for romance.  But sometimes God brings people and changes into our lives when we don’t feel ready.

What did I love about Glory Road?  I loved the characters, especially Jessie and her relationship with her daughter Evan and Mom Gus and their love, kindness and caring for one another.  I loved the relationships between Jessie and Ben and Jessie and Sumner.  I loved the relationship between Evan and Nick who takes after his father Ben.  Lauren has a way of writing that is almost poetic or lyrical.  She captures the character’s thoughts and feelings in a thought-provoking way that caused me to reflect on my own life.  She also paints lovely word pictures of the places, indoors and outdoors, that helps the reader to imagine what it looks like.  She does that without being too wordy or letting words get in the way of the reader’s imagination.  I really enjoyed the quotes on gardening at the beginning of each chapter.

On a more serious note, as someone whose parent had Alzheimer’s I appreciated the way Gus’ life and experiences were handled.  It helped me to see how scary it must be for the person experiencing forgetfulness and for the family who sees it and are unsure on how to handle it.  That part of the story rang a little too close to home.

There’s only one mention of God in the book, other than two phrases that use the name of God.  Even though God, Christianity, and faith were not specifically mentioned I had the feeling that faith undergirded the character’s lives.  I would like to have seen elements of faith as part of the storyline but greatly appreciated a clean novel.

I absolutely loved Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton.  It’s a wonderful, lovely book that leaves you wanting the story to continue on.  Lauren is on my short list of writers that when they write a new book, I want to be sure to read it.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and BookLook for the opportunity the read Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

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On a Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher – A Great Read for Summer

After reading the description of Suzanne Woods Fisher’s newest book On a Summer Tide, I wanted to read it.  It seemed like just the right book to read for summer.

When father Paul Grayson calls his daughters Cam, Maddie, and Blaine together for a family meeting he throws them for a loop when he announces that he sold the family’s home and bought an island.  Not just any island, but the one where he met and fell in love with his wife Corinna while working at Camp Kicking Moose many years ago.  While his daughters try to figure out if he’s going through a mid-life crisis or has premature dementia, Paul tells them his plans to breathe new life into the camp and island with their help.

I absolutely loved reading On a Summer Tide.  There was an interesting mix of characters with the sisters, very different from one another, and each family member is still dealing with the tragic death of their mother several years before.  The girls are not close, but Paul and his wife had longed for a day when their daughters would enjoy one another and be a close-knit family.

I could relate the Cam as the career driven woman that didn’t want anything to get in her way.  But her son, 7-year-old Cooper, made that a little difficult at times.  I struggled the most with Maddie because as a trained counselor, she acted she knew everything and was constantly diagnosing everyone in her path, but she didn’t seem to look within too much.  Blaine seemed a bit flaky, but it was neat seeing her come into her own as she discovered where her talents and passions lay.

It was fun and interesting to get to know the island’s local people.  My favorite was Peg!  She had a lot of wisdom and treated people with honesty, kindness, and fairness.  Of course, I loved the school teacher Seth Walker.  Who wouldn’t have loved to have had someone like Seth as their teacher growing up?  He was kind and patient, not only with his students but also the Grayson girls and Cooper.

Though their mother Corinna had died a few years before, her influence on her daughters and husband were profound and still impacting them today.  I loved how little bits of Corrina’s wisdom and sayings were shared by each of the family members.  There were profound thoughts from the characters and I underlined and starred a number things throughout the book.  I don’t think you can read On a Summer Tide without doing some self-reflection or thinking about your own family.

Faith was part of the storyline, but not so much the Gospel of Christ.  But there is a beautiful redemption theme in the story.

I loved reading On a Summer Tide by Suzanne Woods Fisher.  Not only did I like the characters, I learned from them.  The small island setting gave the novel a relaxed feel, so different than life in the big city.  Three Sister Island was a place I’d like to visit.  I’ve only read a few of Suzanne Woods Fisher’s novels, but I look forward to reading more of them.  I highly recommend On a Summer Tide for your summertime (or anytime) reading!

I would like to thank Revell Books for the opportunity to read On a Summer Tide in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett – A Real Gem

I love finding books by authors whose work is new to me.  I found a real gem in Karen Barnett’s new book Ever Faithful, which is the third book in the Vintage National Parks Novel series.

Reading Ever Faithful was like a breath of fresh air.  Obviously, the setting of the novel in Yellowstone National Park in the 1930s brings a whole different feel to the book.  The pace of the story is relaxed and enjoyable and I feel like the characters were unveiled slowly and over time the reader gets to know them.  I enjoyed the characters, even though there was a mystery and someone made bad choices, characters weren’t vilified.  Faith was a part of the storyline, especially forgiveness.

Karen does a great job in her descriptions of nature and the surroundings.  She does so without being too wordy and lets the readers imagine the beauty of the Yellowstone National Park.  It was interesting learning what the park was like 90 years ago and what it would have been like to work at the park.  I had never heard of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but it sounded like an excellent program to help young men during a very hard time in our Nation.  It was also a great way to introduce people from different walks of life and bring them together for the storyline and watch them grow and learn.  You can’t help but know all the research and time Karen must have put in to write this book and make the characters and setting come alive.

I loved reading Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett.  I took my time reading the book because every time I opened the book, I felt like I was taking a break and going somewhere beautiful with people I enjoyed.  I could set aside the demands of the moment and get away to a different place and time.  After reading Ever Faithful, I want to go back and Karen’s other books and look forward to her future novels.

I would like to thank NetGalley and WaterBrook Publishers for the opportunity to read Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Ever Faithful will be available on June 18, 2019.

 

 

Over the Line by Kelly Irvin – Mixed Reaction

Over the Line is Kelly Irvin’s newest book in the romantic suspense genre.  I recently discovered Kelly’s writing when I read two of her recent Amish themed books and fell in love with her writing.  That’s why I was excited to read her newest book.

Over the Line is an action-packed novel that seems like it could have been taken from today’s headline news.  Chef and restaurateur, Gabriella Benoit is locking up her restaurant late at night and is met by a stranger who was carrying a gun and calling her name.  As he clutches his chest and falls to the ground he says “Jake” but dies before he can say anything more about Gabby’s brother.  She’d never imagined she’d need help from her former fiancé Eli Cavazos to find her missing brother or find herself in the middle of an illegal gun smuggling ring at the border.  How is she going to protect her sister and family from some very desperate and dangerous men?  Just who are the good guys and who are the bad ones?

I had a mixed reaction to Over the Line.  I appreciate that it’s clean and not filled with sexual immorality or filthy language.  There is some Christian faith included in the book and I thought it was better and more genuine towards the end of the book.  I liked Eli’s mother and her openness and transparency and how different characters dealt with the issue of forgiveness.  I especially liked the character Deacon, he was a nice surprise.  As you get to know him you can see he’s a decent sincere person and Natalie was very likeable too.

But over-all, I feel like the action was center stage and eclipsed the characters.  Some of the prayers or mentions of God and faith seemed like they were out of place or just thrown in, instead of a natural overflow of the character’s thinking or feelings.  Some of the character’s actions didn’t make a lot of sense, like Deacon trespassing or Gabby confronting a police officer she suspected was corrupt because she was overcome with emotion instead of using reason and logic.  That didn’t make sense coming from a person who was a former district attorney.  The scene where Gabriella and Natalie crashed the van doesn’t seem realistic because the dialogue goes on and on when the bad guys are coming their way with big guns.  I wasn’t overly fond of the main character Gabriella.

As I was reading this book, I kept thinking this must be the second book in a series because there was a lot of back-story between Gabriella and Eli and what had happened in Natalie’s life previously.  I was surprised to find out that this wasn’t the second book.  Some of the background information and questions I had were answered later in the book.

I would recommend Over the Line to someone who likes Kelly Irvin’s writing, with a note that it’s much different than her Amish themed books.  Also, for those who enjoy Christian suspense novels.  Over the Line will be available June 11, 2019.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Over the Line by Kelly Irvin in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck – Makes characters and their world come to life

I love finding authors whose work is new to me and when they are good it’s like finding a treasure trove.  The Memory House is the first book I’ve read by Rachel Hauck and I very much enjoyed it.

What does NYPD Sergeant, Beck Holiday, have in common with the lovely bride, Everleigh Applegate, from Waco Texas in the 1950’s?  How will their lives intersect?  Can wounds that were suffered and emotional scars be healed?  Or is life as they know it over?  Will hope one day return?  Will there be another chance for happiness?  Can you rebuild a friendship with a friend who doesn’t remember the past?  Will the men in their lives, Bruno Endicott and Don Callahan, persevere in winning their hearts?  Will they find what it takes to overcome their career challenges?

What I liked best about this book were the characters, and though their lives were very different from one another, their lives shared some common themes.  I found the characters and their struggles very relatable.  It was interesting learning about the career of a sports agent.  I also enjoyed learning a little bit of Texas history.

I confess at first, I found Beck Holiday kind of hard to understand and like.  She rubbed me the wrong way with her crummy attitude and lack of communication.  But over time, as more about her character’s background was revealed I came to understand and even like her.  I found myself frustrated with Everleigh and her inability or unwillingness to make changes and get her life back.  I almost felt suffocated by the grief she wallowed in, but then I realized that perhaps the character felt suffocated too.

I wish that some of the main characters had a strong Christian faith and that it had been woven into the storyline.  Some of the background characters were Christians and I especially appreciated Gaynor and her display of grace and forgiveness.

Overall, I liked The Memory House and recommend it.  Author Rachel Hauck has a way of drawing a reader into the lives of her characters and making their world come alive.  I think it must be challenging for an author to write about two timelines and two sets of characters.  But Rachel did a wonderful job and it was easy to switch back and forth between the timelines.  The Memory House is a place I would like to visit.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and Audra Jennings for the opportunity to read The Memory House in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Here’s some information about author Rachel Hauck:

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award Winner.

Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie.

Rachel has been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.

A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.

At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.

A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.

She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

For more information, visit www.rachelhauck.com, Facebook (@rachelhauck), Twitter (@RachelHauck) and Instagram (@rachelhauck)

 

If you would like to read The Memory House by Rachel Hauck enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway:

 

 

With Winter’s First Frost – Kelly Irvin –Relatable, Insightful and Memorable

Kelly Irvin is an author whose work is relatively new to me.  With Winter’s First Frost is the fourth book in the Every Amish Season Novels and I absolutely loved this book.

Laura Kauffman was one of my favorite characters, the kind of woman you would love to have as a mother or grandmother.  I could relate to her physical aches and pains that come with getting older, understood the grief she felt even after being a widow for so many years and appreciated her willing, loving and helpful spirit to so many of her family and friends.  I came to appreciate, understand and care about Zechariah Stutzman through Laura’s eyes.  He wasn’t just a difficult cranky old man.  He was funny and intelligent and a man who grieved the loss of his beloved wife.  Because of Parkinson’s his body wasn’t cooperating with him and it made daily life difficult, so much so that this family tried to protect him and even seemed to treat him like a child.  Was he just a burden to his family now or was he still useful?  Dare these older people think about or ever hope to find love again so late in life?

A part of the story I found interesting was Laura’s two great-granddaughters, Tamara and Hannah.  Both were facing critical decisions in their young lives that would impact their futures.  Not to get off track, but I wondered how the Amish could biblically justify banning a member of their community when the person genuinely repented of their sin and sought forgiveness.  I found the way that the older parents were treated somewhat bothersome.  I appreciate that the Amish care for their elderly family members, but in this story, it seemed as if they were treated in a manner like you would a child, instead of respected intelligent adult.

Kelly is gifted writer and is able to weave a story and capture, in a very relatable way, what characters are thinking and feeling in their season of life.  I could understand the memories, fears, sorrow, hopes and desires that these characters expressed.  Kelly is very insightful in bringing these characters to life and they are very memorable, I found myself thinking about them even when I wasn’t reading the book.  She paints a picture of the Amish community with her words that is beautiful, interesting and intriguing.

I’ve not read too many Amish themed books, but I love Kelly Irvin’s writing and I highly recommend With Winter’s First Frost.  It’s a beautiful story with rich, loveable and relatable characters in a season of life that many of us may face.

I would like to thank BookLook and Zondervan for the opportunity to read With Winter’s First Frost by Kelly Irvin in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin – Memorable…A Real Gem!

When I find an author whose books I like, I want to read all of them.  That’s why I was excited to find author Sarah Sundin’s newest book The Sky Above Us, which is the second book in her Sunrise at Normandy Series.

The story of the Paxton family continues in The Sky Above Us as we are introduced to the middle brother, Lt. Alder Paxton.  He is making his way to England where he will be stationed with American Air Force in 1943, as they join the battle to prepare for D-Day.  Though he is trying to leave his past behind him, it has a way of catching up.  What are the chances that 5,000 miles from home Alder will see his estranged brothers Wyatt and Clay?  Onboard ship, Alder will meet the lovely Violet Lindstrom who is with the American Red Cross.  She has her sights set on serving as a missionary one day, in a faraway land.  Little did she know that the Lord would open her eyes to a different mission field that would resonate with her heart’s longing and desires.

I absolutely loved, loved, loved this book.  Not only did I like the setting, WWII in England as D-Day approached, but also the characters and how they fit into a pivotal time in our history.  Sarah must have done a lot of research to make the dogfights and battles seem so realistic and easy to visualize.  In reading The Sky Above Us, I got a taste of what the people who lived through that era may have experienced.

Prior to reading this book, I didn’t know much about the history of the American Red Cross and their roll in helping servicemen as they served abroad.  Those women who served were hardworking and brave and they too put their lives on the line.

As much as I was intrigued and fascinated with the setting and characters, I loved and learned from some of the themes in the book.  Forgiveness was looked at from many different angles.  Compassion, mercy, humility, obedience, friendship, self-righteousness, repentance and God’s calling were some of the other themes.

I very much liked Adler and Violet, but my favorite character was Nick Westin.  He was a wonderful friend, mentor, brother in Christ, father and husband.  I’d love to see a book about this character.  He was memorable and very dear.

Not only did I love The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin, but I learned from it.  It gave me a deeper appreciation for the greatest generation and what they did to save our Country and the Western world from Nazism.  This is a book I will read again and would definitely give it as a gift.  I took my time reading this book and I didn’t want it to end.  It was so enjoyable to read it at the end of each day.  Though it’s part of a series, it works well as a stand-alone book.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell Publishing Group for the opportunity to read The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.