☕ Book Break ☕ |~The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson~

~The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson~

“It’s as if heaven has grown closer somehow. It used to feel so far away and otherworldly. But knowing that my loved ones are already there makes it seem more real.”

“Sometimes we have to let our dreams go in order to allow God to bring them back to us –in his way and his timing.”

Anytime I need to get into the holiday spirit, I pull out a Melody Carlson book.

Abby has been known as an “Earth Angel” for her many good deeds, and when she passes away, her book club members are devastated at the loss. In preparation for Christmas, Abby had made an angel ornament for each of the four women. When her husband delivers the angels, the friends make a pact to carry on her tradition of doing good.

This short Christmas novel follows four friends as they attempt to follow in Abby’s footsteps. New beginnings and lessons learned enrich the lives of the friends as they purpose to honor their friend’s memory.

A feel good, heartwarming read. Inspirational. Touch of romance. A story in the tradition of her past Christmas books. Enjoyable, easy read.

Do you have a favorite Christmas author?

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish~

~Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish~

What a lovely read. Christa Parrish is one of my favorite contemporary Christian fiction writers. Her prose always touches me. It feeds my soul.

Liesl McNamara spends her days making bread. She learned this talent from her mother and her grandmother. Her days are busy with her bread making business, and life is simple until people and event complicate it. The delivery man, a single father, begins to win her affection, and one of her employees enters Liesl as a contestant for a cooking show. Secrets her parents kept from her are revealed and she must deal with them.

The novel has flashbacks scattered throughout, but I had no difficulty following any of the storylines. .
Another cast of true to life characters who are less than perfect and uniquely human. The novel is not preachy, but the message is there. I like Christa Parrish’s voice, her style. Excellent writing. Parrish is one of those authors whose books I pick up without even bothering to read the description because I know I will enjoy the read.

This one didn’t seem as complex plot wise as some of her others, but I still loved it. I will reread it again and again. Sweet story.

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Book Review| A Window to the World by Susan Meissner

 

Megan and Jen are best friends, enjoying a typical childhood. Then one day Jen is snatched when the girls are out riding their bikes.

The novel, A Window to the World by Susan Meissner, follows Megan from young girlhood as she grows into an adult, showing how this one terrible event impacts every decision she makes from the moment of the kidnapping. Nightmares haunt her and fear colors her world.

I expected the story to focus on Jen, or her parents, but instead, Meissner told the story of the child left behind. This was a different angle for an abduction story.  I was interested in the story told from the perspective of Megan, although the kidnapping and my desire to know What happened to Jen! was always in the back of my mind. Just about the time I was starting to worry maybe I would never find out, the question was answered. Good storytelling.

This is an inspirational read with Biblical truths at its core. I liked Meissner’s writing style and my attention never flagged throughout the book. This was an easy to read, high interest novel. I listened to the audio book on CDs narrated by Tavia Gilbert. The recording and reading was well done and easy to listen to. It was a good weekend novel.

 Find out more about Susan Meissner’s books at her website here. 

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Book Review|Doesn’t She Look Natural by Angela Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doesn’t She Look Natural is one of my favorite Angela Hunt books. I first read this novel several years ago, and it was one worth rereading. I am drawn the emotional journey of the main character. Imagine having your husband divorce you, life turned upside down, only to find that an unknown uncle has died and bequeathed his estate to you. Unfortunately, this windfall turns out to be a broken down funeral home. This is now life for Jennifer Graham, former chief of staff for a Virginia senator.

I enjoyed the humor sprinkled throughout this inspirational novel. The characters stuck with me long after I read the book, fairly seeming to come to life in the pages of this story. I felt myself commiserating with her tragedies and, at times, wishing I could speak directly to her to tell her stop dreaming and face her issues head-on. I suppose this is a good sign, a character who seems real!

This is a lady who has issues with her mom, issues with her ex-husband, and issues with her children as well. Yikes. The setting is perfect for telling the story of the death of Jennifer’s former life and her need to build a new one. The story was an enjoyable read, one I am glad I revisited.

There are some odd POV shifts I found difficult to follow at times when I was listening to it on my Kindle, although I do not recall having any issues with that when I read the print book. Perhaps there was some indication of who was speaking in the print book that did not make it into the Kindle formatting.

Doesn’t She Look Natural is also written in present tense, which seemed a bit awkward. Even so, these two small issues were not enough to distract me from the story.

I absolutely love the title. I’m not sure how much that played into me remembering this book so well. I love stories that tell about a woman’s empowerment and emotional journey, especially if they are flavored with humor and told through the eyes of a true to life, relatable character.

This is inspirational fiction and the Christian element is strong throughout. All in all, aa enjoyable and encouraging feel-good read.

I have to mention I love that the main character’s mother is a red hatter and is active in the Red Hat Society.

This book is free for kindle right now on Amazon here.

Subject Matter:

Mentions of divorce, mentions of infidelity, one incident of the main character slapping her son, mentions of death, funerals, death of ex-husband, mother/daughter issues

Doesn’t She Look Natural is the first in the Fairlawn series.

Author Website 

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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

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