In this moving, witty novel, author Maureen Leurck explores the intricacies and joys of renovation and rediscovery—as one woman’s improvement project promises to transform much more than a home . . .
People keep a house alive, not the other way around. Alex Proctor has seen the truth of this in every empty, rundown property she’s bought and renovated since her divorce almost three years ago. She’s also experienced the thrill of making each one into a home. Her newest project is a dilapidated,
century-old house just a few blocks from Geneva Lake, Wisconsin. Time and neglect, along with rats and raccoons, have ravaged it inside and out. Only Alex can see the beauty of what it once was and might become again. In just a few weeks—by the time the cicadas make their scheduled reappearance after seventeen years underground—the house should be ready to sell. In the meantime, there are construction disasters, and surprises, to contend with.
Amid overgrown grounds and rooms brimming with debris, Alex finds treasures—pocket doors, hardwood floors hidden beneath layers of linoleum and grime—and carved initials that reveal a long-ago love story involving Alex’s elderly neighbor, Elsie, and another cicada summer. At the same time, Alex finds herself searching for a way to reconcile her new life with lingering feelings for her ex-husband. For so long she felt sure that moving on was the only option, but maybe this house, and everything she’s learning in it, could give Alex room for a second chance . . .
My Review of Cicada Summer
Beautiful and emotionally rewarding, Cicada Summer by Maureen Leurck’s is a story of renewal and the power of perseverance in life and all matters of the heart.
Since Abby Proctor’s divorce renovating old houses has become her passion. Her latest project near Lake Geneva, a century old home, is proving to be more of a challenge than she bargained for. Regaled by stories of the old house and its former occupants by Elsie, an elderly neighbor, Abby is determined to restore it to its former glory for a new family to enjoy. With limited funds and setbacks too numerous to count Abby tackles this newest renovation with a grit and resolve she has never shown on previous projects. But Abby’s challenges involve more than her latest restoration. As the walls of the house and the woodwork come alive under her gentle touch, old feelings begin to surface for Matt, her ex-husband. As time goes by Abby finds that care and time not only restores the beauty of an aged home, but also heals the wounds of a broken heart.
Cicada Summer was a delightful read. Maureen Leurck’s creates characters that are real and easy to enjoy. Abby was warm, loving and tenacious in her personal and professional life. Her love for her family and friends was moving and uplifting especially when it came to her daughter, her cousin’s son and sweet Elsie an elderly neighbor. Her tough dealings with Jack a competitor showed she could hold her own in a fight and then there was Matt. The air between Abby and her ex-husband was palpable as there was so much emotion and unfinished business between the both of them. And if the characters are not enough, Maureen Leurck masterfully weaves into this emotional book the story of the returning cicadas to Lake Geneva. Just as the cicadas return from a seventeen year hiatus, Abby begins to feel like she has returned to life too. As the old house becomes new, Abby finds the strength and courage to restore her life and to live and love again.
Cicada Summer by Maureen Leurck is a charming and heartwarming story that needs to make your summer reading list. Packed with great characters and an emotional storyline Cicada Summer is sure to please long after the last page is turned.
I want to thank Kensington Books via NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of Cicada Summer by Maureen Leurck for a fair and honest review.
One of the activities I look forward to every year is our vacation to the beach. For many years North Carolina has been our family’s favorite destination. Most of my family love the water, the sun, the lazy days and great food that everyone prepares. I in particular love the carefree timelessness I get to spend with my spouse and loved ones especially my grandchildren. But one of my favorite things back then and still is today is taking a book I’ve been longing to read and spending the day immersing myself in it. Getting lost in the pages of one of my favorite authors is sheer delight. For years it was a long standing tradition that my girls and I would save a Mary Higgins Clark classic and read it there. Then as time went by we would try to select one of the latest best sellers and start it before we traveled so we could save the best parts for the beach. (We take our reading serious in our family).
So needless to say one of my second favorite things to do is to walk the beach nosily and peek at what other people are reading. The vast majority of people who are not monitoring little children’s safety usually have a book in their hands. I often wonder are people regular readers or are they taking the time to read that one book a year. In any case I love to see what people are reading. In years past the trends were the vampire books, then the many shades of grey books, the Harry Potter books sprinkled with the usual spy and mystery novels. When I see someone reading something I read and loved I usually try to start up a conversation about the book. (I know, I’m one of those annoying people that interrupt reading to discuss a book), but I love to talk about a favorite author or book. It keeps a good story alive a little while longer and it’s similar to networking. Usually someone who is open to discussing a book will tell you about other novels they have read and enjoyed and vice versa. That’s the beauty of summer or vacation reading and why I enjoy it so much.
So where am I going with this. I wanted to give a few suggestion for summer reading in case you have not read these authors or the following books. Oh, and just for the record, you don’t need a beach, a community pool or a yearly vacation to get away from it all. A porch, a yard, a balcony or a community park is all you need to enjoy a good book. With a great read, a nice glass of wine or beverage of your choice a mini vacation is just moments away. That being said, I hope you enjoy some of these suggestions and take the time to get away from it all, even if it’s just for a moment. All the following suggestion are a mix of old and new and can be found on Amazon, B&N and your local library.
Winter Garden or The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Defiance – A.L. Sowards
A Cry in the Night or Remember Me by Mary Higgins Clark
Before We Were Yours or A Month of Summer by Lisa Wingate
The Beach House or The Book Club by Mary Alice Monroe
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
The One Man by Andrew Gross
The Witnesses by Robert Whitlow
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Where The Heart Is by Billie Letts
These words express, so to speak, the wonder of heaven and earth; they could be said to give a glimpse of God’s own wonderment as he contemplates his ‘masterpiece’—the Incarnation of the Son in the womb of the Virgin Mary.” —Saint John Paul II
Do you have two and a half minutes in your day that you can give to God? This is the beauty of the rosary. You don’t have to pray the rosary all at once and you can pray it anywhere!
Do you struggle with praying the rosary: finding time, fighting distractions, worrying about your mind wandering? In Praying the Rosary Like Never Before, Edward Sri offers practical suggestions that come from the rosary’s tradition and, most especially, St. John Paul II. These helpful tips will make the rosary a constant companions through the different seasons, moments, and challenges we all face. These tips serve as easy on-ramps for those who don’t pray the rosary regularly motivate avid devotees of the rosary to go deeper with the Lord.
“Offering God a decade or two in the midst of my daily life gives him something beautiful, even if I give it without my full, relaxed, undivided attention,” says Sri. “I’m giving God some space in my day and filling it with words of praise for him.”
You will find answers to common questions such as the significance of the Hail Mary, whether the attention given to Mary distracts us from God, the meaning of all the repetition, where the rosary came from, what to think about for each of the mysteries, and whether one should focus on the prayers or the mysteries.
You will also find biblical reflections on the twenty mysteries of the rosary that provide practical insights to help you not only understand the twenty mysteries but also live them.
Review of Praying The Rosary Like Never Before
Praying The Rosary Like Never Before by Edward Sri is a beautifully written book on the importance and relevance of the rosary. It is designed to encourage and enlighten those who find it arduous or quaint and to energize and bring new meaning to those who are faithful to this timeless devotion. Edward Sri encourages Christians and Catholics alike to encounter Our Lord through these biblical mysteries with the person who knows him best, His Mother. No matter where you are in your faith journey, Christ can be met in the holy mysteries of the rosary.
The beauty of this book is its simplicity. It addresses all the concerns for those want to use this devotion, but feel they don’t have the time or are easily distracted. He explains how to pray it during your busy day by breaking it up into decades. With one decade taking only two to three minutes each, a decade can easily be accomplished while doing housework, cooking or riding in a car. Even on those hectic days when you can’t unwind and give it your full attention a rosary can always be said as the words that are being raised in prayer are biblical and holy.
Edward Sri explains the importance of the rosary in history, especially in the life of St. John Paul II and the spiritual influence and joy it brought to his life and papacy. He explains how Mary helps us encounter Christ more profoundly than on our own. It also helps us honor Mary’s place in salvation history. The rhythm and cadence of the rosary is calming and allows your mind to contemplate Christ’s life and reach a deeper level of prayer and commitment of faith. In addition, this book takes the time to give a profound and beautiful account of each mystery (Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious) taking the rosary into a deeper level of contemplation for those who pray this devotion daily and want to go delve deeper into the life of Christ. Whether you are a novice or a loyal patron of the rosary, Praying The Rosary Like Never Before is a book that will benefit everyone in their faith journey.
I really loved and appreciated this little gem of a book. Its beauty and simplicity helped me realize on my worst of days I can still lift my heart and mind to prayer and on those days I have the luxury of time I can take this devotion deeper and open my heart and soul to the wonders of Christ’s life and his amazing Mother who journeyed with him along the way. I can honestly say this book has something for everyone and is different from other books I have read on the rosary. Each chapter addressed a concern or gave relevant information to help me take this devotion to a higher level. I really enjoyed the study questions at the end of each chapter too. I could take as long or as little time contemplating them and they helped review and address any thoughts I had on this prayer. It delved deeply, but uniquely into each of the mysteries and at the end of the book Edward Sri provides a Scriptural Rosary for deeper meditation that can be said at home, in church or at Adoration perhaps. All in all it was a wealth of beautiful information that did nor overwhelm, but enhanced my knowledge and desire to continue this practice.
Praying The Rosary Like Never Before is worth the time and effort for every person who has an occasional devotion or a daily devotion in order to enhance and encourage knowledge of this beautiful prayer. It is meant to bring those who say the rosary to a higher and more consistent level of prayer and contemplation. It gives advice on how to fit a daily rosary into a hectic schedule and how to maximize the beauty of this prayer for those who are seasoned veterans. It is a book that will be cherished and savored and referred to again and again. It would make a great gift for a friend or family member who wants to learn more about the rosary or increase their knowledge and love for this beautiful devotion to Mary and her Son. You can’t help but be better for it.
I want to thank Franciscan Media via NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of Praying The Rosary Like Never Before by Edward Sri for a fair and honest review.
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.
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