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 Bella, now seventeen, is withdrawn and wary, and Frieda fears losing her too.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 After making small strides with a grief counselor, Bella at the anniversary of the accident becomes sullen and withdrawn.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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