Behind the Scenes

51anjap8qvl-_sx327_bo1204203200_Behind the Scenes (Apart From the Crowd) is Jen Turano’s newest release, and it’s completely delightful. I actually found myself giggling out loud as the story went on.

Permilia Griswold is absolutely quirky and unconventional. It took me a few pages to warm up to her, but the more I read, the more I loved her character. Same with Mr. Asher Rutherford and all the other characters we meet throughout the pages.

Turano has woven an endearing, whimsical story. Her characters have surprising depth and the story has twists and turns that were really fun and unexpected.

I’m definitely a fan of this book, and I think you will be, too. I’d love to meet these characters in real life – which I think means I’d love to sit and have coffee with Jen Turano because she must be somewhat quirky and whimsical herself to have woven such an enchanting novel!

Sandpiper Cove

51fuyab-gwl-_sx319_bo1204203200_Sandpiper Cove is book 3 in Irene Hannon’s Hope Harbor series. It’s good! I’m still a newer reader of Hannon’s books, and I’m excited to remember that I love her style and voice.

Sandpiper Cove is both love story and suspense with a modern day setting in Oregon. Lexi Graham, police chief, and Adam Stone, town resident, are both dealing with their own pasts, and their character development is well done. Other town residents bring hints of wisdom and a sense of community that makes me smile.

There’s a sense of reality throughout this story that is refreshing. The entire book kept my attention, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next one in the series!

Trusting Grace

5149yapr7cl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Trusting Grace – Book 3 in the Virtues and Vices of the Old West series – is Maggie Brendan’s latest release.

It’s a quick, sweet read about small town life in 1860’s Montana. Grace Bidwell, a widow with a sweet spirit who cares for her father while taking care of her farm, gives us a glimpse of longing for family and living with not-yet-answered prayers. Robert Frasier is a bit harder to read as a character, but he, too, is a widower, and his journey shows us life with unexpected twists and what it’s like to adjust to a new normal. Together, we follow their journey toward restoration and healing from life’s wounds.

Most of the delightfulness in the story comes through three orphaned children. Their antics made me somewhat nostalgic for the old Boxcar Children books. There’s a sweetness and innocence woven through their characters that reminds me of the fragility of life and how hard it is at times for children to understand the brokenness of this world.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. It’s a great springtime read.

A Stolen Heart

51-nnhtl54l-_sx322_bo1204203200_A Stolen Heart is book one of Amanda Cabot’s newest series, the Cimarron Creek Trilogy. Featuring the lovely state of Texas in the late 1800s, it opens the door to a whole town of people we’ll enjoy for at least two more books.

I seem to be binge-reading books about strong women. Or maybe I’m drawn to all these inspirational fiction books because they feature stories of strength and redemption for women who could let life walk all over them or rise to the occasion and follow their dreams.

That’s one thing I love about this story. Lydia Crawford is faced with life’s unexpected twists – those that can devastate and those that breathe redemption. She of course doesn’t face them alone – life is much better when there’s a handsome sheriff along for the ride – but I find her inspirational. And I think we all deserve a little reminder that we’re stronger than we think.

So get the book, grab a cup of coffee, and curl up for an enjoyable journey that will strengthen your soul and encourage you to make the most of life.

 

Treasured Grace

41wwk-rldil-_sx329_bo1204203200_Book one of Tracie Peterson’s Heart of the Frontier series, Treasured Grace, takes us westward in the 1840s. We follow the difficult journey of Grace Martindale and her two younger sisters as they seek a fresh start in Oregon.

The reality of frontier life was harsh. I’m reminded that people faced illness and obstacles and even death as they settled a country I now take for granted. Cholera outbreaks plagued the settlements of both missionaries and natives. Animosity and fear, loneliness and isolation were daily realities. There was nothing easy or glamorous about it.

Thankfully, the story has some light through the healing gifts of Grace and her friendship with fur trapper Alex Armistead. But the Whitman mission and the natives face growing tensions that cannot be dismissed. There is, again, a reality to the harshness of mid-1800s life in what we now call Oregon.

Treasured Grace is not an easy read and it’s not a feel-good read. But it is a worthy read. Because we all need to be reminded that the America we enjoy today came with great sacrifice and a steep price. And maybe, just maybe, that will make our days a little more grateful and our hearts a bit more merciful with the people around us.

A Note Yet Unsung

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A Note Yet Unsung. Tamera Alexander. New release with your name written all over it.

Especially if you love music and love stories and believe women are tremendously valuable in a world where they are frequently passed over.

A Note Yet Unsung has all the beauty of a historical fiction novel at its best. The story of Rebekah Carrington and Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is lovely and infuriating and compelling. Historically, it’s truly an inside look at the world of music in a day when women were denied the freedom to publicly play. And I loved the character of Adelicia Acklen Cheatham – I want to know her in real life! She’s a perfect example of a woman who leads fiercely in a world of men.

I think what I love most about this book is that it’s all about music … a unique topic for the traditional inspirational fiction genre. It’s a great novel and even better because I learned a bit about the history of the musical world. You’ll be glad to read this one!

Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story

redeeming_grace_cover_photoJill Eileen Smith’s new release, Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story, is amazing. I loved every part of it. As I read, Ruth came alive. Naomi became a real woman. Boaz became even more of a hero. And the love of God became more merciful, more true, more present.

Ruth is one of my favorite people in the Bible. Maybe cuz my middle name is Ruth and it makes me feel special. And I’ve read her story since I was young and felt connected to her journey. But more because she was drawn out of a pagan culture into the holiness of life with God.

Ancient stories frame our modern lives, our mindsets, our faith, if we allow them to soak deep into the fibers of our souls. The Lord showed Himself faithful to Naomi and Ruth, to Israel, to each of us, when He opened His Kingdom to Ruth the Moabite. As I read about the Jewish people and their struggle to remain faithful to the laws of God, and the redemption plan God gave them when they failed … about the transformation of Ruth from a lost woman questioning her false gods to a strong, committed woman who trusted in the One true God … it encouraged me, really, to know that God’s people have always been imperfect. There is no hope without His plan because we’re incapable of not sinning. And there’s no shame in that – only hope and joy because God covered us, even in the days of Ruth, and we’re all incredibly blessed because of Him.

Even a fictional retelling of a true historical account can open our minds to truth. I’m so thankful for authors like Jill Eileen Smith who see in between the words of the Biblical text. Who think deeply about how it all went down, how people interacted and how culture informed faith.

It’s absolutely refreshing to read a compelling, vivid, well-told account of a courageous, faithful woman in the lineage of Christ. Get it and read it because it will bless you. For sure.