Archives For Book Reviews

The Wedding Chapel

Renee Ann Smith —  December 13, 2015 — 9 Comments

Rachel Hauck Wedding Chapel

Rachel Hauck’s The Wedding Chapel is one of those stories that has all the stuff I love—a connection to the past, a second chance at love, family drama, romance, heartache and healing, reconciliations—and lots of heart.

It’s about a young couple navigating the troubled waters of their marriage and an older couple who never gave their love a chance.

It’s about the games people play when they don’t trust their hearts to those they should be closest to,

How they build barriers to protect themselves,

Or manipulate to get what they want—even if they must rip it out of the hands of someone they’re supposed to cherish—

And after all that, how God can smooth over the pain that has been festering and leave peace and healing in its place.

It’s also about a chapel that takes its place as a special character in the novel . . .

“Majestic with her stone walls and weather-worn beam trim, the chapel drank in the sunlight through the cupola, then reflected it back out through the windows. The canopying beech and cottonwood trees stretched leafy branches over the slanted slate roof, creating a thicket of serenity.”

Coach Jimmy Westbrook had build the chapel for the love of his life . . .

“She was part of him, this place. He’d deposited his sweat, his tears, and his heart here. And buried them with time.”

But somehow Jimmy hadn’t ended up living happily ever after with the girl of his dreams . . .

Too late . . . The truth branded his brain. The twist in his back intensified. Of course it was too late. He was an old man.

Too late to do anything about unfulfilled dreams.

Too late to win a love that was lost.

Too late for everything the chapel represented.

He, a hall-of-fame football coach, had ridden the bench in the game of life, waiting to be called in for a play that never came.”

Wedding Chapel Rachel HauckI think that’s all I can share here without giving too much of this wonderful novel away. You’ll just have to read it for yourself. Grab a copy today & tuck it away to enjoy when you have time.

This sweet story plus a cup of your favorite hot beverage will help you carve out an oasis of calm in the midst of hectic holidays. 

My students & I love Rachel’s books. They’re so looking forward to the day I bring my copy to school & add it to our bookshelves.

The Wedding Chapel is a Romantic Times Top Pick and one of Booklist’s Top Inspirational Novels of 2015.

It makes a great gift for teens on up. Follow this link to order the copies you need.

Follow this link to enter Rachel’s $100 GIVEAWAY & you might also win a copy of the book!

Thanks for stopping by today, story lovers! Blessings, friends!

Wedding Chapel Rachel Hauck

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In Perfect Time

Renee Ann Smith —  August 19, 2014 — 4 Comments

Sarah Sundin’s novels always remind me why we call the men & women of World War II,
“The Greatest Generation.”

Her most recent book, In Perfect Time, tells the story of flight nurse Kay Jobson and C-47 pilot Roger Cooper, who work together in Italy and southern France to evacuate the wounded and deliver paratroopers and supplies. They are hard-working, courageous, and quick-thinking. In their down-time, Roger entertains the local kids by playing the drums on any available surface, dreams of auditioning for a Glen Miller type big band, and stays far away from girls. And beautiful, high-spirited Kay, who can’t seem to break through Roger’s quiet reserve, appreciates him from afar.

Of course, we readers can see that Roger and Kay would be perfect for each other, but these characters have personal issues to work through before they can become a real team. Both Kay and Roger are damaged by families who did not cherish them—and even deemed them worthless. After years of being told they would never measure up, they are haunted by their parents’ hateful words.

Kay and Roger help each other wage powerful inner battles to overcome the negative messages of their youth and see themselves as God sees them. Their personal struggles and growth—set against the backdrop of the fierce fighting around them—make this a riveting, romantic story.

What I liked best . . .

  • How Sarah brings the World War II settings to life
  • The great dynamic between Roger & Kay
  • Roger’s marked up old Bible
  • Catching up with Georgie and Mellie (from previous books in this series)
  • A beautiful scene where an old hymn works truth & healing in Kay’s heart
  • The action—an especially harrowing capture
  • The USO war bonds tour
  • The Nightingale Sisters
  • The sweetly satisfying ending
  • How much my students love these books, as well!

My favorite quotes . . .

Sarah Sundin In Perfect Time“I think the heartbeat itself is a drum message from God. With every beat, He sends His message. His life, His love. His life, His love.”
~Lt. Roger Cooper, In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin~

In Perfect Time Sarah Sundin

“Something warm and light stirred in her soul. Her earthly father scorned her, but her heavenly Father—oh, what He had done for her. He loved her, forgave her sins, and gave her gifts too numerous to count.”
~Lt. Kay Cooper, In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin~

What you should do next . . .

BUY THE BOOK: Take “A Sentimental Journey” today! All you have to do is follow this link to purchase In Perfect Time for yourself. ***Thanks to Litfuse and Sarah Sundin for providing a copy for me to review.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY: Click on the graphic below to enter Sarah Sundin’s contest to win a Kindle HDX!

Sarah Sundin Litfuse Kindle contest

READ: Follow this link to check out Sarah Sundin’s previous novels.

WATCH: Follow this link to check out some great World War II movies.

So has this put you “In the Mood” to re-visit the heroes & heroines of the Greatest Generation through books or movies?
Then my job here is done!

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made these graphics with photos from my account at RGB Stock Photos. Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking the pic & adding the quote!

Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. (Follow this link for more Free Graphics.) Continue Reading…

Old People

My sweet mom, who went to be with the Lord nine months ago

I recently fell hard for a fictional character: Ruby Redding, the star of Adam Thomas’s novel, Letters from Ruby. Ruby is a feisty octogenarian who ministers to others with her pep talks, her prayers, her piano playing . . . and her pen.
Ruby reminds me of some of the older folks I’ve treasured in my life.
I love how her legacy of wise words influences all those around her.
Here’s how her story goes . . .

When Calvin Harper arrives at Victory, West Virginia’s St. John’s Episcopal Church—St. Jacks-across-the-tracks—he’s a scared 25-year-old with a bad haircut and a brand new seminary degree. He knows little of life. And most of what he knows about God comes from his books. Fortunately, God sends an expert to take Calvin under her wing—80-something Ruby Redding.

In her pearls and cardigan sweater, Ruby may look like she just stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting, but there’s nothing posed about her joyful nature and her deep love for God. Ruby’s faith sort of rubs off on people. All who meet her find themselves changed, including Calvin. 

This novel begins with an older Calvin being prompted to reminisce about his time at St. John’s when he discovers a stash of Ruby’s letters in the midst of moving into a new home . .  .

“Calvin traced the loops and lines of Ruby’s signature. It was graceful and beautiful without being ostentatious. Like its owner, thought Calvin. He ran his finger along the signature a second time. Wishing you all good things, too. He looked at the stacks of letters in his lap and then looked at the living room where all the pictures still needed hanging. ‘They can wait.’

As Calvin pulled out Ruby’s letter, he thought back to those days in Victory. ‘Dear, dear, Ruby,’ he said again. ‘All of them dear to me.’

He took the last sip of lemonade, rocked the chair back on two legs, and waded out into the depths of memory.”

As Calvin recalls his past—his first day when he was almost arrested for breaking into the church, meeting Ruby and her quirky cronies, baptizing babies, sitting by the hospital beds of the folks he’d come to love, filling his plate at church picnics—each chapter of his experiences ends with a letter from Ruby.

What I Liked Best . . .
  • Being treated to Ruby’s story in her own words.
  • Reading about her World War II romances. (Love that time period!)
  • Ruby’s relationship with her husband Whit, a beautiful love story that spans sixty years.
My Life Lesson Takeaway & Favorite Quote . . .

Ruby letter 3abc1a

You think you have all the time in the world to know someone but there’s always something you never said.
(Click to Tweet)

What a blessing when we take the time to share those special words with the people we love before it’s too late.

Since dementia stole so many of my mom’s memories, I often wish she had left a journal or letters behind. And I can’t help but regret the things we left unsaid in our years together. But it comforts me to remember Paul’s words in Corinthians about how we can leave a living legacy in each life we touch. I treasure the legacy my mom implanted in my heart.

You are our letter, written in our hearts, known & read by all. ~II Cor. 3:2~
(Click to Tweet)

letter in our hearts

I recommend this simple, charming story. If you’d like to “meet” Ruby or introduce her to a friend, you can purchase your copy of Letters from Ruby here. ***Many thanks to Adam Thomas and Abingdon Press for providing a copy for me to review.

Thanks for stopping by today, sweet friends!

ruby letters 1About the Author: Adam Thomas was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in 2008 at the age of 25, making him one of the first priests from the millennial generation. His unique voice in the faith community emanates from a combination of his youth, honesty, humor, and tech-savvy nature. A self-described nerd, Adam is the author of Digital Disciple. He also writes the blog, belongs to the Christian Century Blogging Community and, and knows everything about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Adam lives in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

You can connect with Adam on his Facebook page, through Twitter, and on YouTube. Continue Reading…

Right Where I Belong

Renee Ann Smith —  August 26, 2013 — 3 Comments

Some of my students are voracious readers and have worked their way through almost all the books I kept in my classroom last school year. So I took advantage of my summer break to pick up some new-to-me Young Adult books. Today I want to share one that I found particularly charming: Right Where I Belong by Krista McGee.

Right Where I Belong tells the story of Natalia Lopez, whose rich, divorced parents don’t have time for her. The book begins right after Natalia’s father has divorced his third wife, Maureen. Maureen is a Christian and has been the most nurturing person in Natalia’s life. She’s heartbroken at the thought of losing her stepmom. 

A few weeks back I wrote about a heroine who brought to mind the Bible character Naomi (here.) In this story, the heroine is a modern-day Ruth—because when her stepmom leaves Spain to return to her hometown in Florida, Natalia goes with her.

In Florida, Natalia experiences several firsts. She spends her senior year in a Christian school, makes friends with a group of Christian teens, goes on a mission trip, and sees God’s plan for her future start taking shape.

Of course, there’s a boy. In this story, he’s a spiritually mature, goodnatured pastor’s son, who has a heart for people. No matter how appealing he is, Natalia keeps him at arm’s length. She’s determined to avoid her father’s mistakes. But Brian is such a charmer, everyone except Natalia can see they’re meant to be together.

Krista McGee shares a world where Christian friends hold each other accountable, help each other maintain purity, and use their gifts to evangelize the lost.

Too much a fantasy? This is the world my students inhabit. And trust me, the characters in Right Where I Belong have realistic flaws and strengths—just like they do.

I’ve read lots of articles about why young people leave the church. But this book brought to mind what those who stick around after they “grow up” seem to have in common. They’re the ones who have experienced God’s power working in and through their own lives.

I know kids like that. They’ve challenged me and given me hope and ministered to my heart during tough times. So these characters seemed very real to me.

My prediction: My students are going to love Natalia and Brian!
I bet you and your teens will, too.

Right where I belong quote 2I picked up Right Where I Belong from Amazon. You can purchase a copy for your family at this link.

right where I belong 43About the author: Krista McGee lives in Florida with her husband and three kids. She’s been a missionary and now teaches English in a Christian school.

Why does Krista write books for teens?

She says, “I know how hard it is to be a teen, trying to live for God and make wise choices while being flooded with hormones that make you want to scream and cry and hug people—sometimes all within the same hour. I want to help teens find God and cling to Him during those years, to know that there are people wanting and willing to help them do that. And I want them to know that serving God is fun and exciting and incredibly rewarding. There’s nothing like it!”

Krista writes a blog for teens, which you can find at this link.

Or you can connect with her on her Facebook author page or on Twitter.

This weekend I purchased Krista’s most recent book, Anomaly. Someday soon I’ll let you know what my students and I think of this intriguing dystopian story. 

I’m linking up with Inspire Me Monday, Miscellany Monday, Monday Musings, Hear It on Sunday, Unite @Rich Faith Rising, The Better Mom, Modest Mondays, GraceLaced Mondays,right where I belong anomaly Teach Me Tuesdays, Gratituesdays, Just Write, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Teaching What Is Good, What I Learned This Week, Heart and Home, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Tuesday Muse, Raising Homemakers, Deep Roots at Home, Wise Woman Builds Her House, Tell His Story, Wholehearted Home Wednesdays, Winsome Wednesday, Wise Woman Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Wednesday Hop @Adorned from Above, Hope in Every Season Homemaking Party, Thursday Favorite Things, Thriving Thursday, Hearts for Home, Thoughtful Thursday, Raising Mighty Arrows, Share the Joy Thursday, Time Travel Thursday, Desire to Inspire,Thrive @Home Link Up, Grace at Home, Faithful Friday Blog Hop, Faith-filled Friday, Fellowship Friday, Friendship Friday, Freedom Friday, Aloha Friday Blog Hop, Womanhood w/ Purpose Friday Link Up, TGIF, Friday Company Girl Coffee Link Up, Essential Friday Link-up, Sunday Collective, and Heart Reflected.