~When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen~
A tragic accident after a high school football game one night results in the death of three cheerleaders. Rumors fly and the folks in town blame the boy driving the other car.
When We Were Worthy is set in the small town of Worthy, Georgia, but it could be any small, football crazy, southern town. I felt as if I were reading about real people I might bump into on the street. Events happen that cause the characters lives to spin out of control. Lives are devastated and restored.
This is a story about guilt and innocence, tragedy and overcoming. Marybeth Whalen keeps several storylines going, fitting them together perfectly. I could not put this novel down until the last page was read. I think I have found a new favorite author.
“But is was rare that anyone got what he or she deserved in the life, for better or for worse.”
“Maybe that’s what everyone in the world was searching for–someone who, when they felt vulnerable and exposed and afraid, would meet them in the doorway with a look of love so pure it made all that other stuff fall away.”
~ The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner~
Warm, witty, and utterly charming, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, tells the story of Sarah’s conversion and subsequent falling for the pastor, Ben. And he reciprocates. A bunch. Problem: Sarah writes ultra steamy romance. Ultra. Steamy. Her new found faith is at direct odds with her former lifestyle and persona. Did I mention she has made a ton of money and is famous for those steamy romances?
I laughed out loud more than once. I love Bethany Turner’s writing style. I loved the characters. I love the story idea and the portrayal that, yes, christians do deal with sexual attraction. It’s refreshing to see a novel addressing that reality.
It is a bit heavy on the sexual attraction angle and does not explore the other aspects of Ben and Sarah’s relationship in the way I expected, but I enjoyed the read and will look for more by Bethany Turner. Cute read. Love the cover.
~The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy~
Hanna Casey is the local librarian in the village of Finfarrin. After a bad end to a marriage, with teen daughter in tow, she is forced to stay with her mother, who is a bit of a grump. Hanna drives a book mobile to serve the community along the coast. Now that daughter Jazz is grown and on her own, Hanna wants to reassert her independence and move out, but that plan is threatened by the impending closure of the library.
This novel is a delightful read with relatable characters who remind me of people I know. It is an appealing picture of community village life in Ireland. As it states on the front cover, it did remind me of Maeve Binchy with its rich characters and descriptions of village life on the coast of Ireland. I hardly put it down from start to finish. Not action packed, but completely engaging and absorbing. Down to earth and charming.
~The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson~
Kitty/Katharyn has two lives. One of them is a dream. Lately, every time she falls to sleep, she wakes up in another world.
Kitty is a bookstore owner in 1960s Denver, Colorado. At first, Kitty believes that she is only having vivid dreams, but as the story unfolds she must decide which world is the real one.
Kitty/Katharyn learns that there is no perfect world and she must come to terms with the sadness in her life. I finished this book in a few days. I’ve always kind of liked the stories about switching places with someone or a character finding themselves in a different time. The storyline provokes one to think about the “what if’s” in our lives.
This novel brings up quite a few interesting topics and I think it would be a good book club selection. The Kindle version includes author’s notes and discussion questions, so the print one may as well.
A couple of times I stumbled over tense, because there are quite a few flashbacks. I don’t think you will have this problem if you are reading it rather than listening to it. The takeaway message of this book truly resonated with me. I would categorize this one as a satisfying read.
I liked this book. I will be watching to see what Cynthia Swanson comes out with next.
The Bookseller was slated to be made into a movie starring Julia Roberts, but I couldn’t find a release date for the movie. If you have any information on that, please post in the comments. I want to watch that movie!
~The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See~
Li-yan is from a remote village in China where her family makes a meager living by cultivating tea trees and picking the leaves to sell. When Li-yan has a baby out of wedlock, she takes her newborn to a nearby city and leaves the baby outside an orphanage. A cake of tea, wrapped in a paper with writing on it, is tucked in the baby’s blankets.
The infant girl is then adopted by an American couple and taken to America. This epic story spans from 1988-2016 is is told in alternating points of view, switching between mother and daughter. The history and customs of the Akha people, the cultural minority that Li-yan belongs to, is fascinating, and I was hooked from page one. In reading, I could tell that a great deal of research went into this novel and was impressed by how well See melded facts and story.
This is my first Lisa See novel and I was completely intrigued.
~A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake~
Kate Drayton is a grad student studying the 1800 time period under the guise of research for school in an attempt to uncover a family mystery. The story is set in Charleston, South Carolina, and movies in time, alternating chapters from present day to 1822 during the events surrounding the Charleston slave revolt. I had a hard time relating to Kate in the beginning, but quickly became interested in the story. The supporting characters in both timelines are well done, and I immediately became engrossed by the 1822 storyline.
I enjoyed reading this book, although I have to admit I liked her novel, Blue Hole Back Home, more and marked it as one to reread. Still, this one a great book and I will be on the lookout for new books by Joy Jordan-Lake in the future. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction. If you liked The Invention of Wings, or other fiction about 1822 Charleston, you may like this one. Good read with interesting characters.
~Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber~ I think this will be my last Christmas book post for the year. I have piles more to read, but I am running out of December.
Ashley Davison gets a holiday bonus at the last minute and decides to head to Seattle for Christmas to surprise her mother. Kevin Tyler needs to get to Seattle for an important job interview. Neither can get a plane ticket and there is only one rental car left. At first, they are at odds, but then decide to share the car trip.Unbeknownst to either of them, Ashley was mistakenly placed on the no fly list. Now the couple is being tracked across the country by an over zealous FBI agent as they make their way to Seattle. The story has plenty of laughs and romantic sparks. This is a cute holiday book, a feel-good romantic comedy. This novel has been made into a Hallmark movie, so if you like Hallmark Christmas movies, you will probably enjoy this short read by Debbie Macomber. A funny, light-hearted, Christmas romance.
~A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg~
Fifty-two-year-old Oswald T. Campbell gets the bad news that he is dying and he won’t be long for this world if he doesn’t get himself to warmer climes immediately. Through a series of events, he finds himself moving to the small town of Lost River, Alabama which is chock full of friendly, if eccentric, people.
A local shop keeper, Roy, keeps a bird in his store, and has done so since he rescued it as a small wounded fledgling. Patsy, a little crippled girl, takes to hanging around the store and the redbird, named Jack, becomes her best friend.
No one tells a story like Fannie Flagg. It doesn’t matter how many characters her stories have, she writes them so well I never get them mixed up. Her characters seem to come to life on the page, and I always find them interesting and funny. I love to listen to her read her own books because she know exactly how to tell the story. I wish she would publish more books. I am charmed by her writing style. This novel is a feel good, humorous, happily ever after story. A sweet southern Christmas read.
~The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson~ I love this book! If you’re feeling down in the dumps or grumpy this Christmas season, grab a copy of this beloved Christmas tale. The Herdsman children, all six of them, are not the most well-behaved children. In fact, they are the town juvenile delinquents, and when they show up to church after being told the church has snacks, they take over the children’s Christmas play. Having never been to church before, or hearing the Christmas story, they have a unique and unconventional take on the story. This is sure to be a disaster, until the worst Christmas pageant ever turns into the best. This endearing book always puts a smile on my face and joy in my heart. You don’t have to be a kid or have kids to enjoy this children’s book.
~Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson~
This is a fun little Christmas story. Joy Jorgensen, an 85-year-old blogger, is being moved into an assisted living facility near her sons, but before she goes she plans a trip to spread Christmas joy. Instead of taking the scheduled flight Chicago to Phoenix, she decides to travel in her motorhome down route 66. Taking along her neighbor Miranda as a sidekick, Joy follows her detailed plan, stopping off along the way to spread Christmas cheer to contest winners chosen through her blog, Christmas Joy.
This is a sweet, short book about spreading holiday cheer and love. A light, feel-good read. In one part of the book, a character plays Santa to try to convince a disbelieving child. Being blessed with children who happen to be black and white, literal thinkers, we never tried to convince our children that Santa was real. If that idea bothers you, be forewarned. I enjoyed this little novella, and look forward to reading more of Melody Carlson’s Christmas books.