Eight years after immigrating to the United States, German-born Lukas Ley embodies the American dream: successful athlete, gorgeous girlfriend, loving family. But beneath the surface, eighteen-year-old Lukas is driven by ambition, resolved to avenge the murder of his father at the hands of the Nazi regime. Unfortunately, a failed physical throws his plans for flight school off course. Unlike his war-hero older brother, Lukas’s purpose is unclear. He can’t fly, and in the eyes of the military, he’s good for only one thing—the front lines.
From the foxholes of war-ravaged Luxembourg to the devastation of an enormous German offensive, Lukas’s journey is fraught with peril. But when he’s taken as a prisoner of war, he realizes life is about to get much worse. In the enemy camp, Lukas is viewed as a German fighting for the wrong side. Ripped from the innocence of an idealistic youth, he becomes a man beaten by the horrors of war. Now his only hope of survival is to hold tightly to his faith in God and his love of family and home. But even if he manages to make it out alive, can he ever be whole again
My Review of DEFIANCE
Gripping and powerful, A.L. Sowards latest novel Defiance packs a one two punch among those who love stories surrounding WWII. Defiance takes the reader along the journey of a young soldier Lukas Ley and the battles he has to fight both on and off the field.
Lukas Ley has been anxious to join the fight against Germany ever since his father was taken prisoner and died at the hands of the Nazi’s. Now in America and a high school graduate Lukas is ready, willing and able to do his part. Hoping to join the air corps Lukas’ hopes are dashed when it’s discovered he does not have perfect vision. When Lukas finally receives his draft notice and reports to duty he finds he will be joining countless others in the US Army’s Infantry. Disappointed but ready to serve in any capacity Lukas readies to depart. Saying goodbye to those he loves is bittersweet as he leaves behind his mother, an injured elder brother back from the war and his sweetheart Belle, the girl next door.
When Lukas arrives in Europe he is immediately assigned to a company in Luxembourg. Unfortunately, there is no getting his feet warm as he is thrown into action immediately. Lukas’ ideas of war before he left home is nothing compared to what he encounters. His convictions and his courage is tested again and again. As the fighting grows more intense, Lukas finds he has to rely on his new found brothers and a valor he doesn’t know he has. His faith and desire to survive will be challenged like never before. As time wears on and he is eventually taken prisoner Lukas finds he is becoming a different person, one that he does not recognize. As his innocence fades in the wake of the many atrocities he witnesses he begins to lose sight of the young man he once was. With the help of his band of brothers and the love of his family, Lukas must dig deep to find his way back to his faith in God and in himself.
I loved this book. I have always been a fan of WWII novels and have read many, but this is the first from a perspective of a soldier. Lukas Ley’s character was brilliant. He was a mature eighteen year old with life and all possibilities ahead of him. He was anxious more than most his age to serve his country especially in light of what had happened to his father. He was a former native of Germany, but he did not feel conflicted. He wanted to fight for the US to stop the Nazi’s and avenge his father. The author captured his personality cleverly as he was innocent, but not naïve. The gradual changes in his character as the story progressed were visual and believable and I felt everything as a reader as if I was there. His moments of fear and apprehension as a soldier, his sorrow and anger as his brothers were taken from him and his hunger and desperation as a prisoner all realistically and beautifully written. I also loved his band of brothers that fought alongside of him. The supporting characters were unique and added credence to the story. My favorites were Higham, Samson, Martinez and Winterton. I especially shed a few tears over Winterton. The comradery these young men shared was courageous and beautiful to behold. I held my breath as I turned each page hopeful that these young men would be rescued, find peace and finally be home safe.
Defiance by A.L. Sowards is a beautifully written novel about one soldier’s journey on the battlefront in WWII. It’s a story of faith and hope when all seems lost. It’s a story of survival, forgiveness and the power of love. Do yourself a favor and buy this book. It will sweep you away to the battlefront in Europe with a young man named Lukas Ley who will linger in your thoughts long after the last page is turned.
I want to thank Covenant Communications via NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of Defiance by A.L. Sowards for a fair and honest review.
As he did in UNSAID, Neil Abramson explores the interconnectedness of humans and the animals we share our homes and lives with, in a timely novel that will resonate long after you've turned the last page.
An unidentified virus is spreading through the New York City neighborhood of Riverside, near Central Park. Despite the desperate need for answers, the medical community can only determine the cause is zoonotic, suggesting birds one day and dogs the next as the possible source. Despite the lack of information, the politically ambitious governor orders the National Guard to enforce a quarantine of all dogs. At the heart of this conflict, veterinarian Samantha Lewis is struggling to keep her no-kill shelter open. She finds support in a motley crew of friends that range from a local priest, to a troubled nineteen-year-old emancipated foster child, to a former psychologist whose life was destroyed by addiction. But the one person that Sam needs is the last one she'd ever want to call on--and contacting him will mean confronting every painful memory of her past.
My Review of Just Life
Just Life by Neil Abramson is not just a story about humans and their relationships with their four legged friends but also their relationships with each other.
Dr. Sam Lewis works tirelessly with a small motley crew at Finally Home Animal Shelter, a no kill shelter in N.Y. where animals are given love, care and a safe haven from the streets. Alongside Sam her crew of workers and volunteers try to find forever homes for these animals where puppy mills and pet shops often take first place when choosing pets. But Sam’s days are filled with more concerns than finding homes and giving care. A mysterious virus has hit the community of Riverside and children have become seriously ill. The CDC and local governments are convinced it’s zoonotic and they are looking for answers in the local animal population. Added to Sam’s ever growing concern for the children and her dogs is the threat to vacate. Sam has been given 30 days to relocate and find homes for all her animals. She is sitting on prime real estate and the city is anxious to develop. With the city and a political candidate for governor looking for answers for the mysterious virus a quarantine has been put in place for the community of Riverside. With growing unrest within the community Sam has been asked to locate her father, a renowned veterinarian and expert in zoonotic research. Sam at first refuses as she and her father have not spoken in years. But as fingers begin to point at dogs as the possible virus carriers Sam readily agrees to locate him to save the children and give more time to her dogs. The clock is ticking and pressure mounts on all sides. Everyone must work together to save the ailing children and the large population of dogs in Riverside.
This book will bring all kinds of emotions to the reader. I found myself frustrated for the parents of the sick children and the panic they must have felt. I also sympathized with Sam and her fear that the city in its attempt to find answers quickly would destroy the local dog population. I also felt sympathy for the pets. The author’s description of stray and abandoned dogs broke my heart. I could picture them all in shelters wanting a forever home. It certainly brought home the importance of paying a visit to your local shelter first before paying for a high priced puppy mill dog. Another fascinating feature of the book was the characters Neil Abramson created. All the characters were strong and beautifully written. Sam was driven and denied herself human affection finding trust only in her animal relationships. Greg and Luke were great coworkers and friends both loyal to Sam and the care of the dogs. Beth was funny and cynical, but when the chips were down could be counted on to help in any way. Daniel Lewis I am thankful was contrite and finally on the right side of justice. Andy, a friend and tortured teen broke my heart. His loyalty to the dogs was heartbreaking. Kendall was a tough N.Y. cop, but with a heart of gold. However, my favorite character overall was Father Gabriel. Tough and determined with a loving and compassionate heart for everyone and everything, Father Gabriel stood out for me. This character haunted me even after I turned the last page.
For those who are worried about raw descriptions of animal abuse in this story please don’t. The writer tells this story with prudence and discretion. There is some language, but otherwise no uncomfortable scenes to worry about.
Just Life by Neil Abramson is a moving account of what people and animals can do when they work together even in the worst of circumstances. It’s about loyalty and love among the most unlikely of human characters and the bond between animals and their humans.
I want to thank FaithWorks/Center Street for an advanced copy of Just Life by Neil Abramson via NetGalley for a fair and honest review.
From the author of Daughter of Australia comes a sweeping, heartfelt historical novel that follows a family of German immigrants who trade city living for the harsh realities of Pennsylvania farm life.
In 1914, Andrew Houghton’s family is one of hundreds eking out an existence in the coal mines of southwestern Pennsylvania. Though he longs to be a veterinarian, he’s fated for a life underground, picking rock alongside his father.
That destiny changes when his aunt, Eveline Kiser, arranges for her husband to secure Andrew an apprenticeship on the railroad. Wilhelm Kiser, a German immigrant, has found his American dream in Pittsburgh, with a well-paying job as a brakeman, and a secure pension. But on Andrew’s first week, an incident goes tragically wrong, leaving him severely injured, his dreams shattered. Wracked with guilt, Wilhelm finally agrees to his wife’s pleas to leave Pittsburgh’s smog behind. With Andrew in tow, they swap their three-story row house for a rough-and-tumble farm.
Life in rural Pennsylvania is not as idyllic as Eveline imagined. The soil is slow to yield and their farmhouse is in disrepair. But there is one piece of beauty in this rugged land. Lily Morton is quick-witted and tough on the outside, but bears her own secret scars inside. Andrew’s bond with her will help steer them through all the challenges to come, even as anti-German sentiment spreads across America with the outbreak of World War I.
Beneath the Apple Leaves is a vivid, deeply moving portrait of family—its hardships, triumphs, and passions—and a powerfully authentic evocation of life on the land and the hearts that sustain it.
My Review of Beneath The Apple Leaves
Harmony Verna weaves a raw and emotional tale of love and loss in her latest novel Beneath The Apple Leaves.
After losing his father in the mines, Andrew Houghton leaves his dreams behind and resigns himself to a life underground to provide for his mother and his self. Andrew’s mother, dismayed and disillusioned from her loss, is determined to save her son from a life of misery and back breaking work. Without Andrew’s knowledge she secures a position for her son as a railroad trainee under the supervision of her sister’s husband Wilhelm Kiser. Out of time and options Andrew accepts and is determined to make the best of his new job and a family he has never met. Leaving the coal patches behind Andrew heads to a new job and a new life in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Beginning this new existence is hard at first. The city is different from the coal community he left behind and Wilhelm is nothing like his father. Determined to learn fast and work hard Andrew is just starting to get comfortable when a catastrophic train accident severely injures his left arm leaving him an amputee. Guilt, distraction and anti-German sentiment due to the WW I leave Wilhelm unable to perform his job competently. When Wilhelm is fired he buys a farm and packs up Andrew and family and heads to the country in hopes of a new life.
Unfortunately difficulties abound on the farm in rustic Pa. The house has seen its better days as well as the land they hope to farm. Supplies are low and Wilhelm is forced to spend most of his reserves to buy animals, equipment and supplies. Andrew is frustrated with his body once strong and must learn to change and adapt in order to pull his weight and accomplish tasks. However, despite the fears and predicted failures not all is pain and drudgery. As the Kiser’s settle in Andrew meets and is immediately smitten with his neighbor Lily Morton. As time goes by Lily proves to be an asset to the Kiser family and a balm to Andrew’s heart. But Lily harbors secrets of her own. Secrets she fears could destroy any chance she and Andrew have of finding love.
Harmony Verna has created a novel full of raw emotion in Beneath The Apple Leaves with memorable characters the reader won’t soon forget. Andrew, whose heart was easily given was by far my favorite character. Sensitive, strong and caring Andrew gave all that he had to everyone holding nothing back. His love and devotion to Lily was pure and strong. It was a joy to watch their relationship grow and develop. Lily was my second favorite character with a heart as big as Andrew’s. The secrets she carried may have bent her, but they never broke her. Her love for Andrew and her sister Claire was sweet and delicate leaving me privileged to see it develop and unfold. And through the good times and bad, the Kiser family grew and developed into the people they needed to be in order to survive all the challenges rural life threw at them. Last, but not least is Frank Morton, my least favorite character. If ever a despicable character was created, it lived in the likes of Frank Morton. From the moment he appeared in the book I knew there was going to be heartbreak and trouble. Aside from memorable characters and a strong storyline the book did contain some cursing and some sexual content. Something to note for the reader.
Beneath The Apple Leaves by Harmony Verna is a powerful and impassioned story of love and loss with memorable characters that will stay with you long after you turn the last page
I would like to thank Kensington Books via NetGalley for an advanced copy of Beneath The Apple Leaves for a fair and honest review.
In bestselling author Holly Chamberlin’s poignant new novel, a mother and daughter escape to a beautiful coastal town in Maine to find healing in the wake of heartbreaking loss.
The journey to Yorktide, Maine, was always a happy one for Frieda and Aaron Braithwaite and their two daughters. Frieda loves her mother’s old farmhouse, and the girls have grown closer there, sharing a bedroom and spinning stories into the night. But that was before—when tragedy was something that happened to other families.
Since the car crash that claimed the lives of her husband, and their younger daughter, Frieda has struggled emotionally and financially. Bella, now seventeen, is withdrawn and wary, and Frieda fears losing her too.
At her mother’s urging, Frieda decides to return to Yorktide with Bella for the summer. Bella gets a job in a local shop, and little by little edges her way back into the world. But it’s the unexpected connections they make—with a former schoolmate, a troubled teenage girl, and Frieda’s estranged father—that will spur them to find healing amid bittersweet memories, and discover if their bond is strong enough to guide them back to hope once more.
My Review of Home for the Summer
Home for the Summer by Holly Chamberlin is a moving story of love and loss and the importance of friends and family. An idyllic vacation in Jamaica to celebrate Aaron and Freida Braithwaite’s eldest daughter Bella’s birthday turns to unexpected tragedy when an automobile accident takes the lives of Aaron and their youngest daughter Ariel. Returning home to Massachusetts Freida and Bella are left to deal with the devastating loss of their loved ones with very limited success. After making small strides with a grief counselor, Bella at the anniversary of the accident becomes sullen and withdrawn. Desperate for a change in scenery and a way to help her daughter, Freida accepts her mother’s invitation to spend the summer in Yorktide, Maine.
As the summer progresses events take shape that begin to change everyone’s lives. Freida is once again reunited with her father and Jack, an old school friend that opens her eyes and heart to the possibility of finding love. Ruby, Freida’s compassionate and gregarious mother determined to assist her small family to heal, finds a way to let go of the broken marriage of her past to trust again. And Bella, through the pain of a new friendship with a girl named Clara and her grandmother’s best friend Phil, discovers how much she is blessed despite the tragedy she endured. With a new found love for her family and a determination to live fully, Bella once again sees the value of her life and all that it has to offer.
Holly Chamberlin always writes about the beauty of family and relationships and Home for the Summer doesn’t fail. I really liked the compassion shown to each other in this novel even in the worst and the most painful of circumstances. Freida and Ruby both learn they need to let go and trust. The male characters are all different, but caring and patient which I found particularly found endearing. Bella, was the most complex of the characters and showed the most change throughout the novel. It took the patience of her loved ones and the dysfunctional friendship with Clara to show her what she had in her life was worth living and fighting for. The changes in Bella were gradual and believable and I love a happy, realistic ending.
Home for the Summer by Holly Chamberlin is a heartfelt and moving story of family and love and finding your way home. Pack it up with your sunscreen and beach towels and settle in for a tender and ardent read.
I want to thank Kensington Books for an advanced copy of Home for the Summer by Holly Chamberlin for a fair and honest review.
When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.
Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.
Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.
But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.
As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?
My Review of Sweetbriar Cottage
Sweetbriar Cottage is a delightful Christian romance by Denise Hunter sure to lighten your heart and leave you with a smile. Noah Hunter, a handsome local contractor in need of a haircut enters a new barber shop in Copper Creek, Georgia where he meets owner and operator, Josephine DuPree, and his life is never the same. Completely smitten and wanting to spend more time with her, Noah offers to help Josie expand her new shop in order to add stylists and encourage more clientele. As time goes on, their work relationship takes a personal turn as each begin to fall in love with the other. Noah wears his heart on his sleeve and is completely head over hills despite his family and friends’ reservations. Against their advice Noah asks Josie to marry and plans to live happily ever after. But Josie is harboring a dark secret of her own and in time it ruins her marriage.
No longer wed, Noah begins to settle into a life without Josie. His failed marriage and his unresolved feelings still haunt him and Josie who is unable to deal emotionally with her past. And if things weren’t complicated enough an unexpected letter arrives from the IRS where the couple discovers the divorce was never finalized. Seeking to resolve the matter and make amends Josie files new paperwork and takes it to Sweetbriar Cottage to rectify the error and free Noah. But Providence seems to have another plan as Josie’s car will not start and a snowstorm bears down on the area leaving them alone and stranded. With only each other to rely on, Josie and Noah are forced to battle the elements together, but battling their feelings proves much more difficult.
I really liked this book. It was lighthearted, but sincere enough to tackle serious issues. I liked the way Denise Hunter wrote her characters, major and supporting. My favorite character was Noah. He was sweet and sensitive, but conflicted. I especially liked his ability to change and adapt to any given situation. Because of Noah, I wasn’t sure I was going to like Josie. Noah appeared genuine and forthright while Josie remained hidden, a little too saccharin. However, as time went on, I love the way the author began to expose her vulnerabilities. It allowed me to understand her false bravado and the loneliness Josie harbored all through her life. It made me cheer to heal their broken relationship and hope for a brighter future.
Sweetbriar Cottage is an easy and lighthearted read perfect for a warm summer day. If you are headed for the beach or pool, pack this along with your sunscreen. The characters are engaging, the storyline compelling and the ending sure to please.
I want to thank Thomas Nelson-Fiction via NetGalley for an advanced copy of Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter for a fair and honest review.
A LITTLE ENCOURAGEMENT CAN BE A BIG HELP.
Jesus never promised that we would be free of difficulties in this life, that neither suffering nor hardship would cause us pain. What he did promise was to be with us no matter the situation—“even to the end of the age.”
Sacred Space: A Little Book of Encouragement offers seventy short chapters to comfort us with God’s presence in the midst of life’s challenges and to remind us that Jesus journeys with us step-by-step. Each entry—which includes a Gospel reading, a short reflection, and a prayer—is given a descriptive title so that readers can easily find the encouragement they need depending on their situation at the time.
Lovingly compiled by Vinita Hampton Wright using select material from Sacred Space (the online prayer site that serves millions of spiritual pilgrims), this inviting and reassuring little book gently reminds us of the compassion, care, and calm that God provides in our moments of need.
My Review of Sacred Space:A Little Book Of Encouragement
What a beautiful book of prayer and contemplation to be had in Sacred Space: A Little Book Of Encouragement by The Irish Jesuits. Vinita Hampton Wright has selected material from the Sacred Space website and has given us seventy abbreviated chapters of wisdom, love, confidence and hope in each and every section of this little book. Each chapter speaks to the heart to give comfort and support no matter where you are in your personal life’s journey. Each chapter contains Scripture, a reflection and a prayer. You are encouraged to look at the table of contents and select a reading that pertains to your situation at any given moment. There is nothing that is not covered in this book. From happiness, confusion, fear and suffering, this little book has it all.
What I really liked about this book is the ease in which material can be read and accessed. I was able to look through the chapters and select any section that pertained to how I was feeling that day. Once I selected what I wanted to read and contemplate, I was able to spend as much or as little time as I wanted. It’s a beautiful way to pray. It’s also a wonderful way to practice Lectio Divina, (contemplating and praying through the Scriptures). It’s impossible to go wrong with this book. I found it a comforting way to start and finish my day.
In addition, this little treasure also negates the excuse of “I’m too busy to pray” or “If I only had more time”. Each chapter is short taking only minutes to read, meditate and pray leaving one with a clearer and more favorable perspective for the day. Give this little book of prayer and Scripture serious consideration. You will not be sorry you did.
I want to thank Loyola Press via NetGalley for an advanced copy of Sacred Space: A Little Book Of Encouragement by The Irish Jesuits for a fair and honest review.
The New York Times bestselling author of Falling presents a warm, wise, and wonderfully vivid novel about a mother who asks her three estranged daughters to come home to help her end her life.
Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.
As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother’s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London—and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.
But now the Sunshine Sisters are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy have never been close, their mother’s illness draws them together to confront the old jealousies and secret fears that have threatened to tear these sisters apart. As they face the loss of their mother, they will discover if blood might be thicker than water after all...
My Review of The Sunshine Sisters
Jane Green’s, The Sunshine Sisters is the emotional story of a three estranged sisters coming home to be with their mother during her final days. Ronni Sunshine, a movie actress has had some limited success in her career. Recognized and adored by many, Ronni loves the spotlight and the adulation of her adoring fans, but all of this self-absorption and egotism comes at a cost. Her marriage eventually dissolves due to countless affairs and her daughters become adept with coping with her mood swings but not without a price. Nell, the eldest has learned to hide her feelings and cuts herself off to others emotionally, Meredith learns to swallow her feelings with excess food and Lizzy, a wild young version of her mother, practically raises herself. Trying to please their mother while avoiding her wrath, the girls eventually grow up, grow apart and in due course leave home.
As time goes by the sisters live successful lives, but remain distant from one another. Nell manages a large farm while raising her son solo, Meredith becomes an accountant while engaged to a man she doesn’t love, and Lizzy now a mom, becomes a famous chef, but is unfaithful to a spouse she claims to love. Soon the sisters’ world comes crashing down with a phone call from their mother asking them to return home. Once reunited she reveals she has ALS and is dying, but plans to hurry the process and desires her girls by her side. In the time she has left Ronni hopes to make amends to her daughters for all the years of neglect and hopes with all her heart the Sunshine sisters can become reacquainted and learn to love each other again. With time running out for their mother, the sisters are forced to confront the past in order to forgive their mother and embrace a bright new future together.
What I liked about Jane Green’s The Sunshine Sisters is her strong female characters. Ronni is a formidable woman that made me scream one minute and cry the next. Nell made me want to shake her to elicit emotion while Meredith made me weep with her lack of self-worth and untapped potential. Lizzy though beautiful and talented made me want to shake some sense and sensitivity into her because she was too much like her mother. I was pleased that despite their regrettable upbringing the sisters forgave their mother and accepted her shortcomings and found their way back to each other and connected like they couldn’t growing up. What I didn’t like about The Sunshine Sisters was the excessive coarse language and occasional racy scene. I don’t feel it added anything to the storyline and at times was excessive and took away from the characters and the emotional drama of the story which stood on its own.
The Sunshine Sisters is a story of love and forgiveness in the most difficult of circumstances. It’s a story of what it means to be family during good times as well as bad.
I want to thank Berkley Publishing Group via NetGalley for an advanced copy of Jane Green’s The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green for a fair and honest review.
In this gripping conclusion to The Alliance, nearly six months have passed since Leora Ebersole’s Old Order Mennonite community fled to the mountains for refuge after an attack destroyed the power grid and altered life as they knew it. Since then, Leora has watched and waited for news of Moses Hughes, the young Englischer pilot who held off invading looters long enough for everyone to escape. Unsure Moses even survived, Leora has begun to warm to the affections of Jabil Snyder, who has courted her patiently. But she struggles to see herself as the bishop’s wife, especially when she learns that Moses is alive and has now joined a local militia.
An unexpected encounter in the woods deepens Leora’s crisis, as does a terrifying new threat that brings Moses’ militia into the community’s shaky alliance with the few Englischers left among them. When long-held beliefs are once again put to the test, Leora wrestles with the divide between having faith and taking action. Just how much will her shifting landscape change her?
My Review of The Divide
The Divide, a dystopian novel by Jolina Petersheim, is the stunning sequel and conclusion to The Alliance, a story about a Mennonite Community living a peaceful life in Mt. Hebron, Montana when an EMP destroys everything they have ever known. Leaving Moses Huges behind to defend the last of their community, Leora Ebersole flees with longtime admirer, Jabil Synder and her family into the mountains to build a new life that will hopefully sustain this small but devoted Mennonite community.
With love and devotion to one another, the Mt. Hebron Mennonite’s begin to build a new life for themselves, but all is not easy. Hunger and cold test the best of spirits and sickness begins to take its toll, especially on the young and elderly. Leora is persistently wooed by Jabil, but her heart remains with Moses, who she believes she may never see again. As time goes by, Leora has almost given up hope when Moses returns and reignites her lonely heart. But all is not as it seems and a growing evil menace threatens this new found community and all that they have built with their blood, sweat and tears. With lives at stake, this peaceful Mennonite community must now decide to maintain their peaceful ways or defend all they have strived to build.
I absolutely loved The Divide. After reading The Alliance, I wanted so many of my questions answered and Jolina Petersheim has delivered on every one of them. The characters she created in The Alliance remain true in The Divide. Leora remained brave, resolute and loving, Moses, my hero found the courage to trust his heart and Jabil remained stoic and unyielding even in the face of losing everything he loved. I loved her new characters, (there are good guys and bad guys a plenty), in particular Josh who lent credence to an already great storyline that kept me guessing and surprised to the very end.
If you have read The Alliance, The Divide is a must read. It will keep you turning the pages as there is never a dull moment. If you have not read The Alliance, do yourself a favor and purchase this book and its sequel The Divide. You will not be able to put it down and the characters will stay with you long after you turn the last page.
I want to thank Tyndale House Publishers via NetGalley for an advanced copy of The Divide by Jolina Petersheim for a fair and honest review.
Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize that the truth is much darker. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together—in a world of danger and uncertainty.
Aitken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions—and compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation . . . or redemption.
Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.
Review of Before We Were Yours
Powerful and gripping, Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, is the heart wrenching story of love, loss and the unbreakable bonds of family. When Avery Stafford comes home to assist her dad Senator Wells with political and social appearances while he recovers from cancer treatments, she never imagines a chance encounter with an elderly woman will change the course of her life. While assisting her father with the media at a local nursing home, Avery inadvertently meets May Crandall, a new resident having difficulty adjusting to her new life. As May reaches out to Avery, she grabs her wrist and accidentally removes Avery’s dragonfly bracelet. When Avery returns to the nursing home to retrieve her bracelet she discovers a picture in May’s room that bears an uncanny resemblance to her grandmother Judy suffering from dementia. Unable to let the picture and the strange encounter go, Avery returns to talk with May about the picture and embarks on a journey of discovery that will uncover a personal connection to each other and the scandalous history of an orphanage known as the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.
As the story of May and her grandmother come to light, everything Avery has been groomed for no longer seems relevant. Now she must decide on a different course as she is armed with information that could change her family’s life. Avery must decide how she will bring the past into the present for the sake of her grandmother, May and herself.
I LOVED this book. I have read other novels written by Lisa Wingate, but this is my favorite by far. Her characters in Before We Were Yours made me cry, cheer and cringe. Avery was tenacious in her ability to discover the truth. Rill was tender, gritty and heartbreaking in her attempt to keep her siblings together. May was mysterious, determined and full of spirit. Mrs. Tann and Riggs literally made my skin crawl. Once I started this novel I had great difficulty putting it down. From the moment May mistakenly called Avery Fern I was hooked. Along with wonderful, gritty characters this book also had tenderness, suspense, mystery and a little romance. A great read for the summer Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate will not be disappointing. It will be a story that stays with you long after the last page is turned.
I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine for an advanced copy of Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate via NetGalley for a fair and honest review.
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