books

Book Review: Porch Swing Girl

Olive Galloway’s life has been turned upside down and she has been dumped at her Gramma’s house in Hawaii, along with her little sister. Her mother just lost her fight with cancer and her dad has deposited them with their grandmother so he can go deal with things at home in Boston. “Deal with things” being something which has Olive in a complete panic that her dad will deconstruct what is left of her world by getting rid of her mothers things and selling their house.

Full disclosure- Olive annoyed the ever living daylights out of me for the beginning of the book. Her behavior toward her sister, her gramma, her dad, the people who were trying to be her friends was so petty that any sympathy I would have had for her plight never had time to take root. She is dead set on getting back to Boston to make sure her dad doesn’t do something she would regret. And she will let everyone know who will listen.

But the book doesn’t end there, and neither does this review. Taylor Bennett shows the skills of a true storyteller and if this is the talent she is showing in her first book and as a teenager? I look forward to seeing what comes from her in the years to come. It is revealed that Olive’s new friend Jazz is also going through a severe trial, and we see that intensity that Olive portrayed at the beginning of the book being all about her redirected into her new friend. Olive has to process the death of her mother, and shows that she is a true friend by giving up what she wanted most for her new friend.

There is clear growth from the characters and showing how home can mean more than one place and mean people more than a place.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

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Book Review and Blog Tour: Cheyenne Sunrise

This is something new and I’m super excited about it. Instead of a normal review, today I get to be part of the 2018 Romantic Reads Blog Tour.  What is a blog tour you ask? It’s like a progressive dinner, except with books and you don’t have to find parking for each stop. Now onto the introduction. (Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom for the giveaway)

Hello Reader! Thank you for joining Homemade Mythology on Mountain Brook Ink’s “Romantic Reads Blog Tour.” Follow the tour schedule below from February 23 – March 2 for opportunities to win free e-books, Amazon gift cards, and the grand prize, a Kindle Fire HD.

Comment on this post and join the conversation for an opportunity to win a free e-book from Janalyn Voigt.

To enter for the Kindle Fire or a giftcard, enter the rafflecopter form below. We hope you’ll discover a new favorite author and make some new friends!

Review:

I turned on my Kindle and settled into reading this book and about five pages in I went, “oh…this book isn’t messing around.” And that assessment carried through until the end of the book. Each time I thought I had it figured that I knew where Janalyn Voigt was going with the story, that thread was resolved and I’m looking at the bottom of my Kindle and seeing I still have over half a book left. With about 100 pages left I finally just acknowledged to myself I wasn’t going to figure it out and went along for the story.

Bry Brennan’s life so far has been marked by trials. Escaping the slums only to enter an abusive marriage, when her brother suddenly appears in her life and asks her to join him out west, it can only mean things go up from there, right? Nick Laramie is also no stranger to trials, being of two worlds and not really belonging to either of them. The wagon train to the Montana Territory brings their stories together, but the world isn’t going to make it easy for them.

This is what I expected. They get thrown together and grow closer due to both experiencing racism against them (her Irish and him half-Cheyenne) and have to convince their loved ones of the merit of the other. There is so much more going on in this book.

Historical fiction is not my go to genre because often times it feels to me like it is romanticizing a “simpler time”. I’m sorry but I’m really fond of running water, women’s rights, and I don’t care how husky the guys voice is your life would have been very hard and you both probably would have died young. This book does not make light of the hardships of that time but it also shows the beauty. I loved how steeped in history it felt, it seemed like a window into another time, not making a declaration of value, simply look at what people did in a different time of history.

I loved this book, I would recommend it in heartbeat. Janalyn addresses loss, abuse, racism, and love with a masterful hand and is an excellent storyteller. I learned more about that time in history and look forward to reading the last book in the series.

Back Cover Blurb:

Can a woman with no faith in men learn to trust the half-Cheyenne trail guide determined to protect her?

Young Irish widow Bry Brennan doesn’t want another husband to break her spirit. When she and her brother Con join a wagon train headed to Montana Territory, Bry ignores her fascination with Nick Laramie, the handsome trail guide.

Nick lives in an uneasy truce between the settlers and his mother’s tribe without fully fitting in among either. With no intention of dragging a woman into his troubles, he stifles his attraction for Bry.

The perilous journey throws the two together, leaving Bry no choice but to trust Nick with her life. Can she also trust him with her heart? Answering that riddle forces Bry to confront her unresolved questions about God’s love.

Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America, Cheyenne Sunrise explores faith, love, and courage in the wild west.

About Janalyn Voigt:

Janalyn Voigt’s lifelong love of storytelling began in childhood when she dreamed up her own bedtime stories. She grew into a precocious reader, a pastime she credits with teaching her to write. Janalyn trained formally with Christian Writers Guild. Today she is a multi-genre author and literary judge. Janalyn is represented by Wordserve Literary.

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Blog Tour Schedule:

Book Review: Finding Love in Eureka, California

There is so much going on in this book. I kinda wonder if the author went, “I want to take all the controversial issues that are important to me and make a story from them, yes, I’ll do that!”

Genevieve Wilson is happily living her life. She enjoys her job, she’s building her photography business and daydreaming about the pilot from work. She is a happy person who just…sorta ignores the bad in her life. It’s so much better to make up her own narrative right?

Matt Lake is one of those guys who has crafted the “perfect life”. He has everything he wanted, he is on a path to have a pretty #blessed life. But, life has a habit of shaking things up.

This is a very good book, and handles topics which could have gone very, very poorly with grace. Again, there is so much going on. Both Genevieve and Matt have complicated lives, and both have to overcome ways they protect themselves from reality or risk. Matt wants to be the hero in the story. To his girlfriend, to Gen. He doesn’t know what to do when he can’t be the hero, and when it’s possible his actions could have hurt someone instead of saving them? He doesn’t even know what to do. The people in Genevieve’s life keep leaving, try as she might to get them to stay. It’s just easier to assume people will leave, because that’s what people do. Better to live in a daydream than to take a risk on reality.

I really enjoyed this book and would love to see a continuation with a story about Genevieve’s sister Rosie! And more aerial and goat yoga please.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

 

2017 Reading List

  • The One Thing by Gary Keller
  • Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson
  • Blowing on Dandelions by Miralee Ferrell
  • The Genesis Tree by Heather LL Fitzgerald
  • If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski
  • Forget Me Not by Miralee Ferrell
  • Wishing on Buttercups by Miralee Ferrell
  • Dreaming on Daisies by Miralee Ferrell
  • Fields of Gold by Shelley Adina
  • Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
  • Hills of Nevermore by Janalyn Voigt
  • Presumed Dead by Angela Ruth Strong
  • An Anchor on Her Heart by Patricia Lee
  • The Princess and the PI by Angela Ruth Strong
  • I Thought it Was Just Me (But it’s Not) by Brene Brown
  • —-
  • Financially Fearless by Alexa von Tobel
  • Adopted by Kelley Nikondeha
  • At the Crossroads by Christa MacDonald
  • Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan
  • Runaway Romance by Miralee Ferrell
  • Make Haste Slowly by Amy Rognlie
  • Find Love in Eureka, CA by Angela Ruth Strong
  • Turtles All The Way Down by John Green
  • Lift Like a Girl by Nia Shanks

Book Review: Make Haste Slowly

I sat down to read this book and really didn’t know what to make of it. I read it in relatively few sittings and I never really knew where the story was going, and it ended in a way I didn’t expect. In short- Make Haste Slowly does good work of being a mystery.

Callie Erickson has started a new life in small town Texas, content to live life with her friends, her pugs, and her new flower/knitting/book shop. She is settling in nicely to routine and the author made me laugh out loud a few times at the antics of Callie’s pugs. This new calm life is not meant to be when Callie discovers a mystery bag and a dead body on her doorstep.

In feel? This reminded me of watching Murder She Wrote with my mom. I liked how it told a solid story, but definitely left room open explore more about these characters. My only criticism is while I generally really like references to other stories and books, these references were so ingrained into the story that if I wasn’t familiar with the book the characters were talking about, I couldn’t follow that part of the story. It seemed to assume the audience had read all the same books.

I look forward to reading where this series goes next.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Book Review: At The Crossroads

I loved this book. I was having trouble figuring out what I’d say in this review because normally I do a small summary, the stuff I liked, the stuff I didn’t like and then my concluding thoughts. But I can’t think of anything that wasn’t done well. It was that good.

At the Crossroads has a widowed mother with two kids who is making do and getting by, and lives in a manner that she is always expecting the other shoe to drop. And unfortunately? You don’t blame her, she has had a rough go of it. The last thing she needed was a crush on the pastor who may or may not be staying because his heart really is in the mission field overseas.

Christa MacDonald expertly portrays both small towns and private Christian schools, in that she shows the good, and the bad that come with those environments without feeling like she’s trying to make a point to the merit of either of these things. Private Christian schools can be great, but they can also be legalistic and condemning. As a single mother the heroine Erin, gets both ends of that. In the previous book her daughter was pregnant out of wedlock, and now she gets nastygrams from parents saying she should resign from her position as the physical education teacher. And she is clearly treated as a “lower class” than the other moms.

Dan Cooper is the pastor of the small town church, but he always meant this to be a temporary gig while he waited for his mom to recover from a stroke. Then the years rolled on and his mom didn’t improve, and he was still pastor. At the same time that he really notices Erin is when he reaches a crossroads. Is he going to lay down roots, or still aim for far off lands.

Yes, this is a romance novel, but that isn’t what I got out of being the point of the novel. Whether you get on a plane to serve in a mission field with a brand new language and culture, or you preach to a small town, or are a single mom to your two kids- that is your mission field and an equal calling to any.

What pushed me over the edge from “this is a really good book” to “ah I’d love to meet this author and tell her how good she is” is this one scene where you have this character who is in full time ministry and she’s preparing to go overseas and she is on fire. And while she’s in the small town she offers to help this newly divorced woman move. Now this divorced lady not only had her husband cheat on her, leave her, she’s having to majorly downsize her life. Our on fire ministry lady has zero compassion for her because she’s “an educated white woman. she’ll be fine. She’s better off than so many woman in the world.” Just because she’s not wrong about the facts, doesn’t mean she hasn’t missed the point. How are we to show love to people if we’re always comparing their sorrows to “well it could be worse”.

As I said, I think this is a great book, and I think especially people who have been in ministry will love it and probably be convicted by it as well.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.

Book Review: An Anchor on Heart

McKenna Nichols is a situation she never could have imagined. After having an autistic daughter, her husband can’t handle this difficulty thrown into their “happily ever after” and goes away for work indefinitely. The checks still come and they are still married, but she hasn’t seen or heard from her husband is two years. Enter Rudy Taylor, who naturally has the ability to love her daughter like she had always hoped her husband would.

An Anchor on her Heart pulls no punches and asks difficult questions. McKenna is married, a fact that both her and Rudy are honoring. And Rudy is in the unique situation to have the opportunity to try to convince her husband to come home to his wife and daughter. And that all does not play out how you would imagine.

What do we anchor our lives on? When everything else is swept away you are forced to ask that question and ask it honestly of yourself and this book focuses on that theme.

Note: I received this book as an advance pre-reader copy.