Join us for Book Club Day!

Renee Ann Smith —  February 24, 2011 — 43 Comments

Yay! It’s Book Club Day! The February Free-for-all and Friday are both finally here! I hope you’re ready to tell us all about the book you read. If you’re a blogger, you know what to do–enter your blog post in the linky list at the end of this post. If you’re not a blogger and want to share, just write about your book in the comments section. Then lets all hop around and comment on each others’ reviews.

I’ll leave this post up for the weekend. And just for fun, if we have enough participation, I have a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate Giveaway to share with one fortunate reviewer.

This month I chose to read Nicole Baart’s beautiful coming-of-age novel, After the Leaves Fall, which focuses on the life of a young girl named Julia. Here’s how the story begins . . .

“Waiting is a complicated longing. I lost my father when I was fifteen, and I’ve been waiting ever since . . .

I began to exist in a tension between wanting and not wanting—waiting for something I couldn’t even pin down in my most naked and honest moments. Waiting for a balance where I neither ached nor forgot, regretted nor accepted. Waiting for my heart to be light again yet fearing the implications of that same lightness. I suppose I waited for peace—an end to my own personal warfare . . .”

Then Julia’s grandmother shares the words of wisdom from which the novel takes its title: “‘You know what my favorite time of year is?’

I blinked for the first time in minutes and looked up at her. ‘Huh?’

She continued without looking down at me, ‘I love it best when the leaves fall.’

I didn’t know what to say.

‘Lots of people like autumn because the leaves turn such pretty colors.’ Grandma smiled at this as if she had a secret, something sweet and unforeseen that she was going to share with me. I watched the familiar, wrinkled profile soften. ‘I like it when all those leaves fall because it’s such a small thing that means so very much.’ Pulling her hand out of mine, she turned to me and tilted my face toward her own. ‘Do you know what I mean?’

I didn’t.

She searched my face. ‘There’s this subtle sadness—winter is coming, and it’s going to be hard and cold. And there’s a feeling of good-bye. But there’s also . . .’ She searched for the right word. ‘Suspense? Maybe hope? Because it’s not over, everything is just waiting for spring. Do you know what I mean?’

Grandma sounded expectant, and I smiled at her because I loved her better than anyone else in the world now that Dad was gone. ‘I think so,’ I said quietly.

‘You can see more clearly when it’s all stripped bare. You can see that everything gets to be new.’ Grandma smiled at me with every hope for our future shining in her eyes. ‘That’s the good part.’

A gust of wind from the southwest shot through the trees and showered us with cold water and soggy leaves that were anything but hopeful.

I’ve been waiting a long time for the good part . . .”

My take on the story: This young heroine crept into my heart. At times her words reminded me of things I have felt and struggled with. Other times, I simply wanted to be the mother she was longing for. As I read, I kept thinking of the verse, “When my mother and father forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” (Psalm 27:10)

I hurt with Julia as she struggled to become a new creation without the power of the Savior. I wished she hadn’t chosen to learn so much the hard way. However, though some of her missteps were painful, the end of the book brought hope and healing.

BTW, I would welcome her wonderful grandmother into my home any day! When I was a teen, I would’ve loved to know someone like Julia’s Grandma–just to sit at her feet and soak in all she’d learned about God and His ways . . . As you can tell, these characters seemed very real to me!

Here’s what Publisher’s Weekly wrote about the book: In her promising debut novel, Nicole Baart writes compellingly about a young girl’s struggle with loss, love, identity and faith. Julia knows what loss is. Her mother abandoned her, her beloved father died, and her childhood love has gone to college and found another. As a teen, she lives with her saintly grandmother. Julia decides it is up to her, not anyone else—even some impossible, far-flung God—to reinvent herself. After chronicling her early years, the story follows Julia as she enrolls in college . . . Soon, Julia is repeating her mother’s mistakes. The love of her rock-solid Christian grandmother and a new-found reliance on God help fortify her for the difficult path ahead. Sparkling prose makes this new novel a welcome addition to inspirational fiction.

Would you like to read this poignant story? You can download it free or purchase it from Amazon.com at this link. (If you don’t have a Kindle, simply download the app for PC onto your computer. Then download this story and dig in!)

Follow this link to Nicole Baart’s Amazon Author Page and read about parts two and three of Julia’s story: Summer Snow and Beneath the Night Tree.

Interested in hosting the book club? Joy at Edgy Inspirational Romance began this online book club, but she’d like to give others a chance to host if they wish. So if you’d like to host the March Christian Fiction Book Club, please let us know.

Also, please check out the poll in my sidebar (once I get it up and running) to vote on next month’s book choice!

I hope some of you will share about your favorite books in the comments or through the linky list below. And try to send some of your readers over to enjoy your friends’ reviews. Thanks for stopping in today! Many blessings and happy weekend!

Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

43 responses to Join us for Book Club Day!

  1. Returning the Blog love. Thanks for stopping by!

    -Becca
    Becca’s Perspective

  2. Hi Renee Ann!

    After the Leaves Fall sounds like a powerful book, and I love that selection you share with us! I love the symbolism of seasons, as evidenced by my blog title. 😉 Thank you for sharing your great review with us!

    My link goes to a review I posted this past Sunday of Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes. (I hope that’s OK!) It was an enjoyable read. :)

    Oh, and if you’re interested, I’m hosting a book discussion on Courting Morrow Little today on my blog! Here’s the link:

    http://seasonsofhumility.blogspot.com/2011/02/book-discussion-courting-morrow-little.html

    Talk to you soon!

    ~Amber

    • Of course it’s okay, Amber! I think we should link up our best reviews one day a month. Maybe it would be easier for the blog readers to keep up with all of us :) Thanks for letting me know about the discussion and for leaving the link for anyone else. I’ll be over!

  3. I LOVE your blog Renee Ann~! I just makes me ITCH to read more. I HAVE to reschedule my day so I can do just that! Thanks for all the fantastic reviews and suggestions!

  4. Terrific review! Thanks so very much.

    I grabbed the ebook a while ago but haven’t thought it was interesting, but your review has changed my mind.

    I should have mine up by tomorrow… hopefully!

    FYI — the link you have for the book takes you to a non-free format. Just have them make sure they click the link for the Kindle format to get it for free.

    • Thanks, Gina, for your encouraging words and the heads up about my link! I always enjoy reading your reviews, even when I don’t have time to comment. So I appreciate all the good books you’ve shared. Looking forward to whatever you link here!

  5. Awesome discussion Renee Ann! I’m gonna link mine up tomorrow too. I didn’t realize I had a blog tour that was supposed to go up today. But first thing tomorrow, I’ll be up.

    I am off now to go download this freebie. Thanks for the heads up!

  6. I popped over from Amanda’s Weekend Bloggy Reading party to say hi! So glad I did so now I can check out some new things to read! Happy Weekend!

  7. I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you, but one of my favorite books of all times is Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. It’s a lime-vanilla ice flavored coming of age tale about making the common things in life uncommon and about enjoying again with childlike wonder the world around us. (I wrote a bit about Dandelion Wine on my blog.)

    And just behind that would have to be The Essays of E.B. White. While Bradbury appeals to my imagination, White appeals to my sensibility. The simplicity with which he describes the complicated world around him is incredibly stirring. This is a glimpse of the world through the eyes of a man who could make you fall in love with a pig (Charlotte’s Web).

    Great reads if you’ve never seen them before.

    • I love both of those stories, Jesse! I remember the first time I read about the boy in DW and his running shoes. Love that beautiful prose! And that’s a great way to describe White–he stirs us with “the simplicity with which he describes the complicated world around him.” What a heart he must have had to create a character like Charlotte . . . I hope others who visit this weekend will take the time to read your posts!

  8. Nadir@StitchSense February 25, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Hi, I’m visiting from Amanda’s weekend bloggy reading party. This book seems like a great one! I’ve been looking to add to my summer reading list & I’m definitely going to look this one up. Take care!

  9. I’ll have to check some of these links out. I love to read, and I think book clubs (even online ones!) are so much fun. :) Great recommendation!

    Thank you so much for joining my Weekend Bloggy Ready party. :) Have fun finding some new reads, and I hope you’ll visit Serenity Now again soon! :)

  10. Just popping over to say hello. And to affirm all you said about Gilbert & Anne. I think the way their relationship developed over such a long period of time, and through so many highs and lows, endeared them even more to me. I adore those two. Also adore this blog. This review is so well-written. I’ve never read Nicole Baart but I definitely need to see what she’s all about. Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. Hope you have a great weekend!

  11. wow! sweet! thanks for the link!
    I’m glad I stopped by Renee!

  12. That’s a riveting excerpt. And you know I love the name Julia!

  13. Hi Renee Ann!

    Thank you for stopping by my blog! I LOVE yours! It’s always wonderful to meet a kindred spirit…another woman who loves the Lord. Thank you for your blogging-friendship! I have bookmarked your page as well and will stop by OFTEN!

    Have a God-filled weekend!
    Lana

  14. I found you on the Spotlight Saturday Blog Hop. I am your newest GFC follower. If you could check out my blog and follow me back I would appreciate it. Thanks Amber
    http://dragonflysweetnest.blogspot.com/

  15. this has really become quite the blessing, Renee Ann,
    to my readers who’ve been inspirited and to myself!
    i’ve now chosen several interesting book challenges that intrigue me enough
    to read to meet the requirements or movies that tell the story
    {as the various jane austen bicentennary celebrations},
    and jane eyre’s newest release.
    so i’m well into reigniting an old flame “)
    a great connxn to you with greater results…
    thanks! you’ve blessed me!

    • I’m so glad! Though I write about other things also, I think discussing books we love and blogging just naturally go together. Love the Jane Eyre challenge you found! I hope the movie lives up to those clips!

  16. This sounds like a great book and I just finish the one I had been reading so I am going to be looking into this one. I love to read but not so great with doing book reviews but I love your reviews my book list is getting longer and longer since I found your blog:)

    • I love enticing folks to read. It’s what I’ve been doing in my classroom for 25 years, so I guess it’s a habit now! I especially enjoy finding these freebies of great authors. Hope you like this one, Anna-Marie!

  17. I review children’s book from various publishers and I am also an author. Feel free to come over and check out the various books that I have reviewed and have written. Thanks everyone!
    Renee
    http://thecryptoapersseries.blogspot.com
    http://www.reneeahand.com

  18. This looks like another fantastic story! Oh, if only I could stop everything and read to my heart’s content! I wish I had the time to read all your great book recommendations, but I know where to find your blog if I ever need ideas on a good read! Thanks Renee Ann for your great link up with NOBH!

  19. I haven’t read any fiction that I’ve loved lately…but I have T.L. Higley, Ronie Kendig, and Mary DeMuth waiting (Have you read her, Renee? I have a feeling you would enjoy Daisy Chain, if you haven’t. Not an easy read, but a beautiful & grace-filled one).

    I’ve heard great reviews of Nicole’s books. Just today I saw a recommend on Mary DeMuth’s goodreads page. I have a feeling she is joining my list very soon.

    • I think when I read about The Daisy Chain, I was in a season of my life where I was avoiding all difficult reads. But I have heard good things about it. And I just downloaded a Ronie Kendig book from Netgalley. So I’m looking forward to having some time for that soon. Thanks for stopping in today, Julia! I’m always glad when you carve some time out of your schedule to visit :)

  20. what an excellent inspiring post. I am a new GFC follower, hope you follow me back (:

  21. Has the next book been selected yet? I would like to participate in the next book club.

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