RSS

Author Archives: tara

High as the Heavens, by Kate Breslin 

The tension of living in war-torn Belgium and France is very well-captured in this book. A World War 1 story, it covers an era that I don’t know nearly as well as WW2. 

High as the Heavens tells us of Eve, a young woman who finds herself in Brussels, caught up in more levels of intrigue and deceit than she even realizes. Due to guilt she carries around with her through each moment of her present life, Eve believes herself unlovable and unforgivable.

Eve unexpectedly recognizes a victim in a plane crash, and the resulting danger in which she finds herself carries Eve and those close to her into some very dark places. This book is a beautiful picture of the hope that can only be found in Jesus. I love how Eve’s heart battle for hope and faith is so very real on these pages. It’s something that’s been difficult for me to read over the course of this summer (resulting in this book taking me much longer to read than it normally would) but so so necessary because of the beautiful hope that is reinforced. 

I honestly can’t speak highly enough of Kate Breslin’s work – she may only have three novels in print thus far, but each of these three books is truly a story that will draw you in and make you forget that you’re not right there, going about everyday life with these beloved characters. 

I would classify this book as a spicy chai, because of the deeply rich layers of flavor. Please read this book.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Sticky Notes, by Sherri Schoenborn Murray 

Sherri Schoenborn Murray’s Sticky Notes is creative and original. Her characters are real, with quirks that make me smile and little annoying habits that just make it that much easier to forget that they are actually fictitious… and not people I know in real life.

This story centers around the adorable Ethel King, who lives near the university in Idaho where her granddaughter Katherine (who lives with her and is also a star within these pages) is pursuing her master’s degree. It opens with Katherine contesting a grade she received from her handsome, young professor, Quinn Benton. When Ethel finds out about Katherine’s less-than-gracious behavior, Mr Benton becomes the recipient of a surprise visit from Ethel.. and a box of her special cinnamon rolls. Soon an unlikely friendship has sprouted between Ethel and Quinn, much to Katherine’s dismay.

Even though I had suspicions about where the story was going to end up, it kept me surprised and wanting to hear “just one more chapter”. I’m happy with Sticky Notes. Well, except that I wanted more! 🙂

I believe this book takes place in approximately 1999, although it was published in 2014. So take that however you’d like… I wouldn’t classify it as historical fiction, although it’s really not quite modern either. 🙂 It works very well logistically for this story, as there are a lot of communication aspects that would change the story details if it took place at another time — either earlier or later.

Well this book has to be a cinnamon roll. No question. And I think it fits because it’s sweet and has substance. 

(As I listened to this book via Audible, I didn’t see the characters’ names printed out… I apologize for any misspellings I may have included here.)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 14, 2017 in Fiction, Romance, Sherri Schoenborn Murray

 

Tags: , ,

The Princess Spy, by Melanie Dickerson 

The Princess Spy… what a great book!! Technically the fifth installment of Melanie Dickerson’s Hagenheim fairy tale romance series, it chronologically parallels The Golden Braid (book #6) and is told from another character’s perspective, focusing the story in an entirely different direction. 

Full of castles and princesses, adventure and just enough romance, this book makes me smile. Prior to reading Melanie Dickerson’s imaginative books, I typically steered away from this era (I’m not really sure why)… but since discovering these, I jump at the chance to pretend I’m in medieval Europe alongside these characters. It feels like we’re friends. 

This story is a creative retelling of The Frog Prince. I really love that these stories include more than only the most commonly told fairy tales. 

I’d liken The Princess Spy to a cup of tea. Something comfortable that makes you feel right at home. Because that’s what these books do for me.

 

Tags: , , ,

Canteen Dreams, by Cara Putman

This Pearl Harbor era story by Cara Putman captured the fear and uncertainty that came with news of the attack. It painted a good picture of the patriotism, enthusiasm, courage, and even jealousy of those on the home front. I found myself contemplating aspects of the war that I hadn’t thought as much about prior to listening to this book… so I felt like I learned from it. 

Canteen Dreams was a sweet romance amid the turmoil of the war. While I found it predictable, this story was still enjoyable… although honestly, through most of the book I found myself wanting to slap Willard. He was kind of jerkish and self-absorbed. 

If you want a war time story but still want a light book, this would be a good option. I’d compare it with whipped cream in a can… airy and sweet, and you know what you’re getting. 

Laural Merlington did a good job with the recording – she struck me as sounding like a woman looking back at the war, telling the story.

 

Tags: , , ,

The Lady and the Lionheart, by Joanne Bischof 

Where to even begin… 

Although I had heard others raving about it, I was not prepared for how deeply The Lady and the Lionheart was going to affect my heart. That’s an understatement. Majorly.

You know the kind of book that leaves lasting marks after you close the cover? The kind that you can’t stop thinking about? The kind that you find yourself pondering into small hours? 

That’s this book by Joanne Bischof. 

It’s about Ella, a nurse with a torn heart and a broken past. She sees herself as small, not whole, unworthy. Though she is kind, she doesn’t know real joy. 

It’s about Charlie. Charlie the lion tamer. Oh my. Charlie is the epitome of a picture of God’s love. Of giving oneself for another. He’s open and often blunt. He’s vulnerable. And compassionate. 

And it’s about an orphaned gypsy baby named Holland who is more enveloped in a fight between good and evil than she likely will ever fully understand. 

Taking place in Virginia in 1890, this is quite possibly one of the most unique and imaginative storylines I’ve ever read. When Ella and Charlie’s worlds collide, quite literally, their lives become intertwined in ways neither of them anticipate. This tender story of sacrifice and redemption is one I can’t recommend highly enough. There is much raw emotion within these pages, but even more, there is an enormous depth, honesty, and a faith that is almost tangible. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that for a book to truly be Joanne Bischof’s it must evoke tears at some point. This is my third by her, and so far this theory holds true.

Because of its deeply rich story, I’m likening this book to dark chocolate cake with thick peanut butter frosting. There is so much going on in my mind with the sweet taste of this beautiful story lingering on. 

Please read this story. Please let it speak to your heart. Let it change you forever.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Summer Reading Love ~ Guest Post by Jordan

Everything is made better with a good friend, right? I decided to do something different… I invited a friend to guest post on here! She always has such fun ideas and insights, and I know that my bookish browsing is brightened by her joy and love of books. Ever thankful for this sweet girl, I’d like to introduce you to Jordan! 

~ . ~ . ~. ~

​Hello my fellow book lovers! I am so excited and honored that Tara invited me to post – my friendship with her is thanks to our mutual appreciation of Christian fiction and I am grateful that God led our virtual paths cross and gave me such an encouraging, Jesus-loving, book-reading friend. She is a true kindred spirit!   There are few things I love more than reading and writing, so writing about reading = my happy place. As a college student, another thing I L.O.V.E. is summer vacation. No tests, no papers, no problem! Even better, more daylight and more downtime means more reading! So, to celebrate the end of homework and the beginning of my vacation into Fiction Land, here are the first five books on my summer reading list: 

#1: Twilight at Blueberry Barrens by Colleen Coble 

“Kate Mason has devoted herself to caring for her family’s blueberry barrens. But after her fields stop producing fruit, she’s forced to come up with alternative ways to make a living.

Renting out the small cottage on her property seems an obvious choice, but it won’t be enough. When entrepreneur Drake Newham shows up looking not only for a place to rent but also for a nanny for his two nieces, it’s almost too good to be true. And maybe it is—because Drake brings with him dangerous questions about who might be out to kill his family.

The more time Kate spends with Drake and the girls, the more difficult it becomes to hide her attraction to him. But a family crisis isn’t exactly the ideal time to pursue a romance.

Meanwhile, Kate learns that her uncle—in prison for murder—has escaped. Add to that a local stalker who won’t leave her alone, and Kate is looking over her shoulder at every turn. With threats swirling from multiple directions, she wonders if her blueberry fields will ever flourish again . . . or if this twilight is her last.”

~

I have been a fan of her writing for years and throughout the last semester, I have been on a Colleen Coble “kick”. When I wasn’t reading a textbook, I was devouring every one of her books that I have been collecting on my shelf. With incredible settings and exquisite imagery, they never fail to whisk me to another place – mostly recently to the breathtaking coast of Maine. I have been making my way through the Sunset Cove series and I am halfway through Mermaid Moon right now, so the most logical first book of summer vacation will be the conclusion, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens. It will follow the story of one of the characters introduced in the first book, so be sure to read them all! In keeping with the food theme of my friend’s charming blog, I suspect that this book is aptly named and will be like a warm piece of blueberry pie with a tangy-sweet center, crispy edges and those little sugar crystals on top. I am both dreading the thought of this series ending and itching to dive in! 

#2: Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh 

“Abigail Pressman would never have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could restore her belief in love. As a business owner in a quaint town at the base of the Rockies, she’s poured everything into dreams of expansion . . . and resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park’s tradition of stamping mail with the city’s romantic postmark.

When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the paper hearts, a distraction that couldn’t come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail’s new landlord, and he’s threatening to end her lease to expand his practice.

As she fights a growing attraction to this handsome man crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts reaches the Volunteers, it appears something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail’s doubts about love, or could it rescue her dreams . . . and her heart?”
~
Just as Tara and I became friends through our mutual love of Christian fiction, books have and continue to connect me with people. I didn’t meet her this way, but I first bonded with my best friend over our mutual love of a particular author. To this day, some of our favorite things to do is swap books, hold miniature “book clubs” and just spend time together reading. #BestFriendsGoals, right? Anyway…a while back, I gifted her with Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh. It was a book that I owned and tried to read, but I couldn’t get into it. It may have just been the wrong time or the wrong mood, you know how it is. My best friend read it, loved it and handed it right back, saying it was “so me” and that I had to give it another shot! I’m excited to try it again and, based on the cover (which first tempted me into buying it), I think it’ll be like one of those grocery store bakery cookies with an inch of frosting that are crazy-sweet but totally worth it. 

#3: Wishing on Willows by Katie Ganshert 

“A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa,  she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides.

So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.

As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own.

With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances.” 
~
You know when you read something that hits you so hard, you have to go out and buy every other book that the author has released? (Tell me I’m not alone!). For me, that was Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert. That book, y’all. It reached the deepest, darkest crevices of my heart and showed me things that I didn’t necessarily enjoy seeing in myself, but that desperately needed to be brought to light. I walked away feeling comforted and convicted and hungry for more. With the help of a perfectly timed gift card, I literally went on Amazon the moment I closed the book and bought three more. That was at least two years ago and I have yet to read the next one. Crazy, I know. Life, school and other books have grabbed my attention, but I feel like now is THE time. I’m ready for more soul-tilling truth wrapped up in a satisfying story with real, relatable characters. If it’s anything like the first, it will feel like a firm hug straight from Jesus. Or a cup of strong coffee with the perfect amount of cream. 

#4: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay 

“Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.
Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.

But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.

Reminding us all that our own true character is not meant to be hidden, Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.”

~

Sometimes when your soul has been tilled by a book, you need to follow it up with something soft and soothing. Something that makes you smile. I imagine that’s what Dear Mr. Knightley will do. Just reading the description makes my heart feel happy and light. Warm fuzzies all around. A book about loving books, how could you go wrong? It’s been on my list to read for quite a while and I’m grateful to have won it in a recent giveaway. (Free just adds to a book’s sweetness, don’t you think? 🙂 ). I’m looking forward to seeing if this book is the flaky pastry with a raspberry filling that I expect it will be. 

#5 Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter 

“Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job and settled 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, 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 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?”

~

Denise Hunter is the only author whose books I will preorder. I have been absolutely addicted to her writing for years now and the idea of waiting even a day to find it in the store is unthinkable! One of my very favorite things in life is getting my hands on her newest release and devouring it in a single sitting. Every other book (or chore or homework assignment) is put on hold until I reach The End. I have had Sweetbriar Cottage preordered since the beginning of March and I cannot wait for it to land in my mailbox on June 13th! I realized as I wrote this that I didn’t even know what it was about – with Denise’s books it doesn’t matter, I know I will love it! – so I had to read the synopsis. It gives me a very Sweet Home Alabama vibe, which just happens to be one of my favorite rom-coms. It also makes me think of one of my favorite treats – a tall, cold glass of chocolate milk. A sweet comfort that I consume too quickly and that leaves me wanting more! 

~
There ya go! I would write a better conclusion, but I hear a few books calling my name. Happy reading! 

~ . ~ . ~. ~

Thank you tons to Jordan for sharing!! 🙂 

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

To Get to You, by Joanne Bischof 

SUCH a sweet story. Oh my goodness. 

To Get to You is a story of forgiveness and second chances.. of starting new and giving others that opportunity as well. It’s about seeing the best in others and embracing who they are deep down rather than judging who they might appear to be at a glance.

At a glance, this story is stereotypical mohawk-wearing, skateboard-riding, former troublemaker kid-from-a-broken-home meets stereotypical sheltered, mom-reads-her-texts, Christian homeschool girl. But truly, it goes so much deeper than this. These characters are so very alive and developed… and they are their own people. Not cast from a mold. Not stereotypical. At all

Riley’s bitterness toward his long-absent dad is understandable but really tugs at the heart. When he ends up having no other option but to call his dad for help after major car trouble, Riley must confront the lack of history they have together.

An adventurous road trip story, it incorporates themes of reconciliation and sweet love. And it brought tears. Joanne Bischof gives new meaning to the word heartfelt

This book kept me wanting to keep listening to just one more chapter, it left me continually wanting to know what comes next. I’m so looking forward to finding out when the next book is coming. 

Nick Powers did an excellent job with the audio book, as he brought out the many emotions found within these pages. 

This book, for me, is reminiscent of a freshly-baked batch of homemade cookies. The kind that aren’t yet cool, the kind that you find yourself reaching for another without even looking up. Because it’s natural. This story is natural too, it’s real. 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 29, 2017 in Fiction, Joanne Bischof, YA

 

Tags: , ,