A new favorite (Softly & Tenderly – Sara Evans & Rachel Hauck)

There are few books that keep me up reading until after midnight, and even fewer that keep me up until 2am thinking about the characters!  I loved Softly & Tenderly, the latest novel by Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck.  I hadn’t read the first in the series, The Sweet By & By, that shared the first part of Jade’s story, but it didn’t matter.  I was able to quickly get into the story and figure out who everyone was as I began the novel.

Jade is overwhelmed and feels as if her life is just falling apart as some really hard stuff happens.  I felt the pain as Jade’s heart broke and her world shattered.  How does one recover from the pain of an affair?  Especially when that affair has produced a tangible being, and that tangible being is what you’ve been dreaming of and waiting for since you married?

I appreciated the supporting cast of characters and felt connected to Beryl and June as they both hurt and grieved and loved and felt.  I felt righteous anger at Max and Reb and was disappointed as I continued to invest in their lives.  I was torn as Jade was torn between her first love and her commitment.  And mostly, I was affirmed in the importance of our maintaining our integrity in our commitments.

The characters were so real and so, at 2am, when I was finally drifting off, my last thoughts were of Jade, Max, Asa, Beryl, and June.  Thank you, Thomas Nelson, for providing this e-book to review.  I truly enjoyed the story and look forward to (hopefully) another collaboration between Sara Evans and the talented Rachel Hauck!

Heartbreaking but amazing novel (The First Gardener – Denise Hildreth Jones)

How do you deal with incredible loss?  Denise Hildreth Jones’ latest novel, The First Gardener, is the story of Mack and Gray London, governor of Tennessee.  They question God, life, love, everything as they grieve and live their lives.  They are helped along by their friends and family (a hilarious cast of characters…mainly Eugenia’s buddies) including the gardener for the governor’s mansion, Jeremiah.  Jeremiah’s heart is expressed through flowers and their meanings, something not always well received by Mack.

As I read this novel, I was amazed by the depth of the characters and their pain.  I cried as I was blown away by the hurt and the emotions.  Jones is a beautiful writer, and her portrayal of Mack and Gray as they struggled through the pain that filled their lives.  While reading, I had to stop and just take in the pain and, before I knew it, I found myself praying for Mack.  Then I realized that she was a fictional character.  Oops.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this novel, just like all of Denise Hildreth’s books (especially The Will of Wisteria) and would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good (but hard) story of redemption and love and life.

Thank you, Tyndale, for the complimentary review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!

How I love summer!

I am currently enjoying summer. As I slave away all year grading poorly written essays by 12 year olds, I feel entitled to relaxing all I want and doing whatever I want (I do what I want!). So, what do I like to do most during the summer?

READ!

And the best part about this is that I get a lot of free books. It’s a great perk of being a book reviewer. Way to go, publishing companies. I am oh so thankful. With that said, I’ve read a lot recently. I’m getting into the whole e-book thing and have not hated reading a few ARCs on our iPad. Not a bad gig.

Anyway, with all of that said, I have lots of reviews to write. Which means I need to actually do that instead of just writing aimlessly since I can’t sleep.

Maybe tomorrow?

New top 5 favorite book (Resurrection in May -Lisa Samson)

>I was so intrigued when I first saw Resurrection in May posted as one of the review books on Thomas Nelson’s BookSneeze. I waited anxiously for the book to arrive, thinking back on other books by Samson I’ve enjoyed. When it finally came, I was nervous to get started as I knew May, the main character, lives through the Rwanda genocide (something I am interested in, but also struggling with) and then cannot bear to live life as a typical American. I was amazed as I read this book, though, how real May was; how her struggles with PTSD and the American life were understandable. I rejoiced as she grew, cried as she lost battles against God and herself, grieved as her heart broke, winced as her pain washed over the pages.

Samson is a gifted storyteller, as evidenced in her past novels, but reinforced in this stunning novel of redemption and freedom. I would consider this book to be a new favorite, one I don’t think is going to drop off my list anytime soon. Thank you, Thomas Nelson for the review copy. These views are my own, and I’m so thankful to have received such an incredible book free!

Cheesy, but good historical fiction (Love on a Dime – Cara Lynn James)

>What a good pick for my first book of the summer! I just finished reading Love on a Dime by new author, Cara Lynn James. The last day of school, while amazing, is always a long day and requires extra patience. While most definitely given that supernaturally, it also came from the excitement that I had a new book waiting for me when I got home. I was not disappointed!


Lilly, author of (horror!) dime novels, is torn between her allegiance to her family, her long lost love, and her “obligations” to society. I enjoyed the realistic emotions Lilly felt and the ways she interacted with the people around her; I felt it was true to life when so many novels lose that reality. I did not like the portrayal of Lilly’s sister-in-law, Irene, or what felt like a sudden shift in Irene’s character. I was also shocked by the number of typos I found, come on, Thomas Nelson! Overall, this was an enjoyable, quick read — nothing too heavy or thought-provoking, but a fun story to get lost in for a few hours.

This book was provided to me free of charge in exchange for a review. These views are my own. Thomas Nelson, thank you for the book!

summer is coming…

>It is with great joy that I write the following…there are only 18 SCHOOL DAYS until summer!!! I love to teach and I love the students I have this year, but man, I’m ready for it to be summer! I cannot believe all of the stuff I need to do within the next 18 days (well, that they have to do and I have to grade :)) but I am so thankful summer is almost here! I’ve been getting more and more excited to have a chance to finally relax and read and sleep in…joy!