☕ Book Break ☕ |~A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy~

 ~A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy~

“She was still vaguely hopeful that there was love out there somewhere—just a little less sure that she might actually find it.”

“Her life was like her house—a colorful fantasy where anything was possible if you wanted it badly enough.”

Chicky Starr revamps an old mansion, turning it into a holiday resort for those wanting to spend time in an out-of-the-way place. Stone House is in a remote area on the cliffs of Ireland, part of a small village. The novel follows a varied cast of characters. A warm read. Humorous. Relatable.

Maeve Binchy was one of a kind. I’m not sure how she did it. The stories she wrote are rich with characters in situations that we often find ourselves. I find myself becoming attached to her characters, and remembering them long after the last page has been read. This was her last novel.

While this is not my favorite novel of hers, it was a joy to revisit for this fan.

This one may be a bit slow in parts, and does seem to meander a bit, but I think it’s well worth the time. It leaves me with a warm, cozy feeling.

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☕ Book Break ☕ | Like A Watered Garden by Patti Hill

~Like A Watered Garden by Patti Hill~⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I know I say this too often, but this book really is one of my favorites. This is an inspirational Christian read. It was published in 2005, but remains at the top of my personal list of best loved Christian inspirational novels. Mibby has lost her husband and is trying to find her footing. This isn’t an easy thing to do, especially with the twists and turns in her story. She’s working to get her small business of designing gardens going while at the same time raising her 13-year-old son on her own. Mibby’s a real woman. She has a pear shaped figure and uncooperative hair. She has a next-door neighbor who dispenses comfort with words of wisdom and sugary home-baked goods. She kind of reminds me of some people I know. It makes me wish for the company of a good friend. I love all the characters in this book.
I don’t generally like characters that cry, but Mibby gets a pass because the scenes are so well done. Her crying fits are honest. None of that fake stuff here. I love a character who finds comfort in prayer, sugar laden snacks, and in the occasional indulgence of a good ugly cry.
It isn’t a fast, action-packed book, but I liked the flow. The pacing seems perfect to me for this kind of book. Is it strange that I find a story about grief comforting even from the beginning? This is the first book in a three-part series and I would like it very much if Patti Hill would write some more of Mibby’s story.🙂

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Book Review|Watch Over Me by Christa Parrish

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What is Watch Over Me about?

Deputy Benjamin Patil is  called to a scene and finds a an infant abandoned, left in a plastic grocery bag. The mother is nowhere to be found. A door to door search yields no result. By the time the infant is ready to leave the hospital, the investigation has not led to the mother or any information. Benjamin and his wife Abbi are registered as foster parents and take the baby girl in. The stress of caring for a newborn adds to their already troubled marriage.

Abbi and Benjamin are a case of opposites. Benjamin is a war vet recently returned from Afghanistan, while Abbi is a vocal pacifist.

Reactions and Thoughts (contains spoilers)

The wars we fight keep us apart, pushing into the relationships that once sustained us. Separating bone and marrow, some wars we walk into, some we are dragged into, and then there are the private wars we carry around within ourselves. Watch Over Me is an account of what conflicts can do to relationships and the picture of what finding our way back looks like for some of us. Christa Parrish is skilled at creating real life characters. I was quickly drawn into the story and felt an affinity for the couple as they walked through difficulties. Benjamin has returned from war and has PTSD, while Abbi fights her own inner war with bulimia.

In my opinion, Parrish has drawn a quite believable picture of the struggle for control with an eating disorder.

“She did it for the same reason she’s binge used, some bizarre paradox of simultaneous self soothing and self-loathing that not even coming face-to-face with the living Christ at 19 could end. He died so bulimia wouldn’t overcome her.”

I didn’t always like Abbi, but I could relate to her and feel her pain.

Benjamin fights his own demons, riddled with guilt from his inability to save his best friend during the war. He talks of praying for his own spiritual awakening, his “dark night of the soul”.

“Well, he had what he asked for. What a fool. He wondered if he would make it out at all.”

Benjamin’s predicament resonated with me. I think all of us who have prayed this type of prayer have had those moments when we wished we could snatch those petitions back. Asking God to do whatever it takes from a comfortable place of ignorance does not prepare us for the challenge. We find ourselves saying, but I didn’t mean this, not this. And this is where we decide. Will we submit to the change that we previously desired? Will we be strong enough to submit to the molding of our soul? Faith growing is not for the faint of heart. It is not an easy thing.

“Nothing had prepared him for the upheaval that true pain could wreak on the soul. His faith had no calluses.”

The character of Matthew, a young man high school student who also happens to be the cousin of the baby’s birth mother, has his own struggles. He is living with his aunt in a less than desirable situation. When Matthew realizes that Silvia, the baby that has now become part of Abbi and Benjamin’s family, is his cousin Sky’s baby, he is conflicted about revealing what he knows. He does not want to betray his cousin, nor does he want to cause upheaval in Abbi and Benjamin’s lives.

“…deciding if two families will be torn apart, wondering if secrets like this ever lose their teeth.”

In the end Matthew cannot keep the secret.

“He knew he did the right thing. But was the right thing ever the wrong thing?”

A big question we all wrestle with sooner or later. All we can do is pray for guidance and do our best.

I like thought provoking stories, and this one is worth rereading.

Watch Over Me received the 2010  ECPA Fiction Book of the Year and the ForeWord Reviews Bronze Medal for Religious Fiction

Issues of Concern

Topics include: teenage pregnancy, neglect, abandonment of infant, life-threatening illness, eating disorders, crisis of faith, PTSD

Christa Parrish’s Author Website

Linked up at

Cozy Reading Spot, Literacy Musing Mondays

 

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