To Follow Her Heart (Southold Chronicles #3) by Rebecca DeMarino | Historical Romance Review

To Follow Her Heart (Southold Chronicles #3) by Rebecca DeMarino

Book review disclosure.

The Southold Chronicles #3
Historical Romance

Duty and love are powerful forces. 
Only one has the power to make 
her life complete.

It is 1664 and Patience Terry is devastated to learn that Captain Jeremy Horton's ship has been shipwrecked off the coast of Barbados. There were no survivors. She had hoped that Jeremy would someday give up the sea and settle down with her in Southold, Long Island.

Unaware his memorial service is being planned, Jeremy sails aboard a British warship with secret orders to attack New Amsterdam and claim it for the British Crown. When he makes his surprise return to Southold--and to an overjoyed Patience--it's not quite the happily-ever-after his beloved had hoped for.

With a finely tuned sense for authentic historical characters and settings, Rebecca DeMarino plunges you into a world of tall ships, daring journeys, and yearning hearts.

Read an excerpt.

My Thoughts

Have you ever watched a two hour movie and thought it would have been much better if they had condensed it to half the time? That's how I felt after reading To Follow Her Heart. It wasn't a bad story it just seemed to drone on and on. I know that seems to be a bit harsh but it's my honest opinion. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the series and I really like portions of this book but overall it was a let down for the final book in the series.

I enjoyed seeing where Mary, Lizzie, and Heather Flower were since we left them in book two. But the main storyline which involved Patience and Jeremy left me scanning paragraphs and skipping ahead. I totally get what DeMarino was trying to put forth but for me it just seemed to be the same song over and over and over and it got old. 

Now would I recommend this book to others . . . that depends. If you've read the first two books in the series then I say an emphatic YES! Even with the redundant main story it is worth reading to get another peek into the lives of Mary, Lizzie, and Heather Flower. If you are reading this book as a stand-alone then my recommendation isn't as hearty. DeMarino is a talented storyteller and she has an eye for detail that fascinates rather than bores. So if you are a fan of Historical Romance I say give it a try but I would really recommend reading the entire series. 

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Rebecca DeMarino
Photo Credit: © Something Blue Photography

A Husband's Christmas Prayer by Kathi Macias | Christmas Book Review

A Husband's Christmas Prayer by Kathi Macias

Book review disclosure.

Christian Fiction / Christmas


Pastor Paul has been handed the promotion of his dreams, but his formerly supportive wife doesn't share his sentiment about moving. She liked where she was--her home, church family, and coffee with friends while the kids were at day care. Why did they have to move? For the first time in their seven-year marriage Paul feels distance growing between them. As he struggles to minister to difficult people in his congregation, he also finds he has to minister to his own family. Will it be enough in time to create a united home for Christmas?

My Thoughts

A Husband's Christmas Prayer is my first Christmas book of the season and I am so excited. Granted it's still in the upper 80s around here and October may seem too soon to dive in but for me it's just perfect. 

Each year I look forward to Kathi Macias' Christmas book. I think I've read all of her past seasonal novellas and thoroughly enjoyed them. This year's edition was another delight. The main characters are Paul and Diana Michaelson. When we first meet them Paul has just accepted a Senior Pastor position in the tiny community of Desert Sands. Unfortunately Paul got all caught up in the "we are one" aspect of marriage and forgot to include Diana in the discussion. Diana is a wonderful wife and she set aside her reticence to follow her husband. But the hurt ran deep and eventually it just had to be dealt with.

I particularly enjoyed the use of Ephesians 5:21-33 in the storyline. Pastor Paul preached a sermon on it that was meant to encourage his flock. But God is so gracious that he used Paul's own message to speak to his heart. 

Another of my favorite things about this novel was the supporting characters. Virginia and Mitchell are beautiful examples to each of us as we get older. Until you breath your last God has a plan for you. The McDonald family reminds us to be aware of those around us that aren't in our usual circles. After all the Bible instructs us that we are blessed to be a blessing.

Now for all of you that are still saying that it's too early for a Christmas book, let me say that the majority of this book has nothing to do with Christmas. The culmination of the story is on Christmas but the heart of the narrative takes place in the months leading up to it. You literally can read this book at any time of year and be moved by it. I heartily recommend it to all.

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Kathi Macias

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God's Little Lambs Bible Stories by Julie Stiegemeyer | Children's Book Review

God's Little Lambs Bible Stories by Julie Stiegemeyer

Book review disclaimer.

Illustrated by Qin Leng
Juvenile Nonfiction (ages 4-8)

God's Little Lambs Bible Stories is a storybook Bible written just for little ones. Children will learn about God's love through 35 beloved Bible stories such as "Noah's Are", "Jonah and the Big Fish", and "Jesus Welcomes the Children." Readers will love to cuddle up with this book at bedtime or any time of the day.

Inside God's Little Lambs Bible Stories

My Thoughts

God's Little Lambs Bible Stories is a delightful new storybook Bible designed for the preschool set. We do a daily Bible story with the little ones in our family so we are always on the look out for a new addition to our reading library. 

There are 35 different stories that are spread equally over the Old and New Testaments. All the stories focus on God's love and provision for His people. I enjoy Julie Stiegemeyer's words as she simplifies the story for a young audience but still remains true to the original Scripture passage. Qin Leng's illustrations are just beautiful. She uses vibrant colors and simple illustrations that pair well with Julie's words.

One of the things that I like most about this particular book is that each story also includes the Scripture reference for where the story is located. This is especially helpful for our new approach to Family Bible Study. We read the book portion to the little ones but the older ones can look up and read the passages in their own Bibles. 

If you're looking for a new storybook Bible for your little one I would recommend checking this one out. I think your family will enjoy it again and again.

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Julie Stiegemeyer

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The Domino Effect By Davis Bunn | Suspense Book Review

The Domino Effect By Davis Bunn

Book review disclosure.


Esther Larsen, a top risk analyst at one of the country's largest banking institutions, is becoming more and more convinced that she has uncovered a ticking bomb with the potential to make the 2008 market crash look minor by comparison. And as her own employer pursues "investment" strategies with ever-increasing levels of risk, she becomes convinced she must do something. But Esther is only one person; can she stand up to an international conspiracy of greed? And if she does, will anyone take her seriously?

Every moment of indecision edges the markets closer to a tipping point--the teetering first domino in a standing row that circles the globe. And when Esther finds her voice, those she seeks to expose will not sit idly by. With global markets on the brink, and her own life in danger, Esther is locked in a race against the clock to avert a financial tsunami that threatens worldwide devastation.

Read an excerpt.

My Thoughts

If you are like me and came through the 2008 financial crisis bruised, battered, and barely standing then you may very well look at Davis Bunn's latest suspense novel as a work of horror. Could that nightmare really happen again? Could it be even worse this time around?

That is the scary yet all too plausible premise of The Domino Effect. Esther Larsen is a risk analyst at one of the largest banks in the United States. To say that she's unpopular with the upper management is an understatement. In fact they don't want to hear her assessments of their risky schemes. Esther is torn because not only is this her dream job but there are other factors that depend on her continuing with this path. But what if God has an even bigger and better plan?

There really is no one better suited to write this novel than Davis Bunn. He not only has the writing skills to bring us a fast-paced believable story but he also has the background to make it feel like it is ripped from today's headlines. And that my friends is what makes it so scary. 

Davis Bunn uses the framework of the biblical Esther's story "for such a time as this" in a modern day format. Both Esthers have internal conflict and aren't sure they are up for the task before them. But once they stiffen their spine and choose to proceed with the course set before them they are filled with inner strength that can only come from God Himself. 

Lest you worry that this is only a doom and gloom novel, let me assure you that there is much beauty among the growing ashes. There are multiple love stories mixed in and not all of them are romantic in nature but each one is very moving and inspiring.

If your book club likes to do suspense with a plausible and modern theme then this would be a perfect fit. I'm personally dying for my book club peeps to finish the book so we can discuss it!

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Davis Bunn
Photo Credit: © Paul Wheeler

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NKJV Reader's Bible from B&H Publishing | Bible Review

NKJV Reader's Bible from B&H Publishing

Book review disclosure.

Bible / Nonfiction



The NKJV Reader's Bible includes the full text of Scripture in the format of a novel. This unique format provides an opportunity to experience the Bible as a story uninterrupted by verse numbers or cross references, allowing a fresh experience with the text. This edition features the bestselling New King James Version in single-column text.

My Thoughts

Many women collect shoes and handbags. I tend to collect Bibles. (Okay so I have my fair share of shoes and handbags too!) I have a Bible that I like to study from, I have one that I do Bible Art Journaling in, I have one I keep in my car and I have one I carry to church with me. (I also have electronic ones on my phone, Kindle and tablet.) Each one is dear to me and just the right one for the situation.

Last week I received a copy of the new NKJV Reader's Bible. It's pretty and feels great in my hands but why in the world would I need another Bible? Well every other year I like to read the Bible through cover to cover. When I saw that this is a Bible that includes the full text of Scripture but in a novel format I couldn't resist giving it a try as a reading Bible.

I know this may just be psychological but I think it reads faster than a normal Bible. I tend to get caught up in footnotes and references when I am reading so it takes me longer than I always anticipate to cover the daily reading. With this Bible it's not like that I just read to my heart's content and find that I am reading more and enjoying the story itself more than I have previously. 

This particular Bible isn't marked like a normal Bible with chapters and verses. Instead it is marked with the beginning of each book (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, etc.). You are able to tell when you've gone into a new chapter because the beginning of each chapter has the first letter of the first word in a different and larger font. It really is like reading a novel.

If you are one that likes to read the Bible through on a regular basis this would be a great addition to your library. I also think that it would make a nice gift for the avid reader on your list.

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All Summer Long (Follow Your Heart #2) by Melody Carlson | Contemporary Fiction Review

All Summer Long (Follow Your Heart #2) by Melody Carlson

Book review disclosure.

Follow Your Heart #2
Contemporary Fiction

She's ready to take on a new challenge. 
What she doesn't expect is an old flame.

Tia D'Amico is thrilled to move to San Francisco to help her aunt transform an old luxury yacht into an upscale floating restaurant. What's not to love? Sunset dinner cruises, posh wedding receptions--the possibilities are endless and far more appetizing than staying in a monotonous job in her Podunk hometown. Besides, some of her best memories are tied to San Francisco--especially the memory of Leo Parker, her crush from a long-ago sailing camp.

When Leo Parker himself turns out to be the yacht's captain, Tia is floating on air. But will it all come crashing down around her when she discovers his heart belongs to someone else?

Get ready for a romantic summer in San Francisco, where the future glistens brighter than the Bay at sunset.

Read an excerpt.

My Thoughts

You can always count on Melody Carlson taking you to unusual places and circumstances in her novels. And that's what I love about them! When I get one of her books in my hands I instantly think where are we going and what will we be doing?

This time around we travel to San Francisco with Tia D'Amico. Tia has been working in her family restaurant for years and is dying to break out of her shell. She loves her family but after culinary school she is wanting to spread her wings and fly. As it turns out her aunt has purchased a luxury yacht and wants to turn it into a very upscale floating restaurant. She needs a chef and Tia is thrilled to join her from the ground floor up.

Of course it wouldn't be a Melody Carlson novel without a bit of romance thrown in. Many years ago Tia had come out to San Francisco to attend a sailing camp. She was shy and awkward as many teens are. But she met a boy at this camp named Leo who was kind and seemed to look beyond her awkwardness. Tia had wondered what happened to him over the years but the two had just gone their separate ways. 

Imagine Tia's delight when she finds out that the Leo of her young dreams is to be the captain of the ship. This is shaping up to be a wonderful new adventure, that is until Tia meets the other woman in Leo's life. In other stories it would be over and time to move on. But Melody's stories not only contain romance they also tend to incorporate a bit of intrigue as well. And that's the part that makes the story come alive. 

If you enjoy houseboats and yacht and lots of delicious food you need to pick this book up. It is a nice little escape from the ordinary (unless you live on a houseboat). I think you'll find the characters to be authentic and likable and the setting is one we all dream about.

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NIrV Love Letters from God Holy Bible from Glenys Nellist and Zonderkidz | Children's Bible Review

NIrV Love Letters from God Holy Bible from Glenys Nellist and Zonderkidz

Book review disclosure.

Letters written by Glenys Nellist
Juvenile Nonfiction

The perfect Bible to
introduce your children
to God's great love.

What if your child could read personal mail from God?

With 80 love letters from God written especially for young readers, they can! Cherish the time alongside your children as Bible stories come to life while they learn just how much they are loved by their Creator.

Each carefully chosen love letter, Bible verse, and promise show God's special words of encouragement and hope, culminating in an invitation for your children to write their own RSVP to God.

  • 80 personal love letters from God
  • 80 prompts encouraging children to write their own letters to God
  • Highlighted Wonderful Words--special verses to remember and cherish
  • 8 full-color inserts with additional content
  • Content written by Glenys Nellist, author of the Love Letters from God picture book
  • Presentation page for gift giving
  • Ribbon marker
  • The complete text of the New International Reader's Version (NIrV), written at a third grade reading level perfect for developing readers.
Inside the NIrV Love Letters from God Holy Bible

My Thoughts

What's better than getting a sweet letter from a beloved family member? Not much if you ask me. It is such a gift that you can savor over and over again. That's exactly what the Bible should be to us, a sweet letter from our Father. Each time you open its covers words of wisdom just pour out begging you to take them to heart and live your life accordingly.

The NIrV Love Letters from God has 80 love letters from God that are designed to point to important attributes of God and get the reader to respond back. We've enjoyed Glenys Nellist's books that have taken this same theme and are thrilled with this brilliant way to get children to not only learn more about what the Bible contains but also to interact with it. 

This Bible just begs to be given as a gift to that special child in your life. I know who I have in mind and I intend to systematically go through and write that child's name into each of the 80 blanks so that she will feel that the letters were meant especially for her. 

The holidays are fast approaching and I think this would make a wonderful gift for the developing reader on your list. Remember that the NIrV is written at a third grade reading level so it is easily understood and gives confidence to the young reader. By the way if you're looking for something just a little nicer than the hardcover edition there is a darling imitation leather version in the color of magenta!

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Glenys Nellist

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She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That's Passing Away by Raechel Myers & Amanda Bible Williams | Christian Life Review

She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That's Passing Away by Raechel Myers & Amanda Bible Williams

Book review disclosure.

Christian Life / Women's Issues

She wants faith, hope, and love.
She wants help and healing.
She wants to hear and be heard, to see and be seen.
She wants things set right.

She wants to know what is true—not partly true, or sometimes true, or almost true. She wants to see Truth itself, face-to-face. But here, now, these things are all cloudy. Hope is tinged with hurt. Faith is shaded by doubt. Lesser, broken things masquerade as love.

How does she find something permanent when the world around her is always changing, when not even she can stay the same? And if she finds it, how does she hold on?

She Reads Truth tells the stories of two women who discovered, through very different lives and circumstances, that only God and His Word remain unchanged as the world around them shifted and slipped away. Infused with biblical application and Scripture, this book is not just about two characters in two stories, but about one Hero and one Story. Every image points to the bigger picture—that God and His Word are true. Not because of anything we do, but because of who He is. Not once, not occasionally, but right now and all the time.

Sometimes it takes everything moving to notice the thing that doesn’t move. Sometimes it takes telling two very different stories to notice how the Truth was exactly the same in both of them.

For anyone searching for a solid foundation to cling to, She Reads Truth is a rich and honest Bible-filled journey to finally find permanent in a world that’s passing away.

My Thoughts

I've never written a book but I can imagine that it takes a great deal of courage to put your thoughts on paper and then send it out to the masses where it will be judged. That's probably incredibly hard when you are doing a work of fiction but to write something very personal where you stand virtually naked before the world must take not only courage but conviction.

Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams have both in abundance. She Reads Truth is open and honest while at the same time compelling and convicting. Both women take us through some very tough and defining times in their lives where loss seems to be at the center of the story. And maybe for a lot of people loss would be the center. But in their stories the consistent and permanent part of the unfolding drama is Jesus. Neither one of them were spared deep soul shattering grief but in every single scenario Jesus held them and allowed them to continue on.

The hashtags for this book and movement are #SheReadsTruth and #SheIsMe. After reading the book I am even more convinced that it is appropriate. While the stories contained in the book belong to Raechel and Amanda they also have pieces of my story and probably yours too. And just as Jesus was at the center of their redemption stories He's at the center of mine and can be the center of yours too. 

If everything is falling apart around you or if everything is going along fine this book is for you! Through their circumstances you will begin to recognize just how central Jesus is to each of our stories. He hears, He sees, and He loves you. There is not a moment that you are out of His reach. I'm so grateful that Raechel and Amanda were willing to heed the call of the Lord to write these words because they were a wonderful reminder that all of this, the good, the bad, and the ugly, are just passing away. But there is One that is permanent that is worthy of everything.

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Raechel Myers & Amanda Bible Williams

Amanda Bible Williams

Raechel Myers

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What Matters Most (Texas Gold #4) by Kellie Coates Gilbert | Contemporary Fiction Review

What Matters Most by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Book review disclosure.

Texas Gold #4
Contemporary Fiction


Finding her dream job went right out the window when Leta Breckenridge had to quit school to help care for her mother suffering from dementia. When a delinquent account may force her mother into a less desirable facility, Leta is thrilled to land a high-paying job at an Austin public relations firm. But her seemingly ideal job turns into a nightmare when she learns the firm is a front for a political opposition organization--and that the research she's been collecting will be used against Nathan Emerson, the handsome senator she's swiftly falling in love with.

Nathan is a rising political star being pressured to run a bid to unseat the current governor of Texas. He's already in a relationship with a woman much better suited to be a politician's wife, but he's never met anyone like Leta. Could this feisty woman hold the key to his heart--and his future?

With emotional depth and keen insight into what drives us, Kellie Coates Gilbert offers a salient story that calls us to consider what we value most in this life.

Read an excerpt.
Read an excerpt.

My Thoughts

I have thoroughly been enjoying Kellie Coates Gilbert's Texas Gold series. It is like getting to peak into the lives of the rich and famous. Something about each of the stories has centered around a wealthy character and allows the reader to see situations through the lens of affluence.

What Matters Most is book four and it centers on Leta Breckenridge and Nathan Emerson. Leta is a devoted daughter struggling to keep her momma in a care facility that focuses on Alzheimer's patients. When she winds up getting what appears to be a dream job with a salary to match she thinks life is finally going to be easy. Nate is a senator who also is a researcher for Alzheimer's and other degenerative brain diseases. He's from a wealthy family that expects him to continue his career in politics with the next step being governor of Texas. 

The differences between the two are vast but in spite of that they find themselves drawn to each other. There's just a slight problem. Nate has a steady girlfriend that is assumed will soon become his fiance. And that new job of Leta's? Well she is quickly finding herself being required to dig up dirt on Nate for the opposition in the governor's race. 

What I liked the most about this book was that it reminded me that some things about the human condition are the same no matter the balance of your checkbook. Your heart will love who it is going to love. You will be driven to do things no matter the amount of fallout for the ones you hold dear. And money is a nice asset but it can't always buy you what you need or want.

If you're looking for a contemporary romance that seems especially appropriate for this election season you can't go wrong with this one. The behind the scenes manipulations and motivations found in the story seem to be playing out on our nightly news. I enjoyed What Matters Most just as much as the rest of the series. Each of these four books are stand-alone stories so you can pick them up and read them in any order. I'm eagerly anticipating Kellie's next book. She is a storyteller worth her weight in gold!

 Other Reviews For This Author

Mother of Pearl
A Woman of Fortune
Where Rivers Part

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Saving The Marquise's Granddaughter by Carrie Fancett Pagels | Historical Fiction Review

Saving The Marquise's Granddaughter by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Book review disclosure.

Historical Fiction / Christian Fiction

In a land fraught with religious strife, they must break the barriers between status and faith to forge a fresh future in a new world . . .

After her Huguenot father is arrested, aristocrat Suzanne Richelieu escapes Versailles. Handsome German peasant, Johan Rousch, risks his life to bring her to the safety of his family's farm in the Palatinate duchy, but when Suzanne's brother and the French army arrive with a warning that they plan to burn the area, she and Johan are forced to flee. With no money or options, both become indentured servants in exchange for safe passage to Philadelphia.

Suzanne falls gravely ill aboard ship and marries Johan, only to survive with no memory of the wedding--a reality made worse when Johan spots the "priest" who married them working as a surveyor and later in Quaker cleric garb. Are their wedding vows valid?

When Suzanne's former fiance arrives in port, planning to abduct her, Johan must save her again--but can he do so before Suzanne is lost to him forever?

My Thoughts

Saving The Marquise's Granddaughter is the first novel I have read by Carrie Fancett Pagels but it most definitely won't be the last. She is not a new novelist, in fact after looking up her works I would have to say she is quite prolific. I'm not sure how I have missed reading her books up to this point.

The story takes place in France during the mid 1700s. During this time-period it was not a good thing to be a Huguenot. In fact it could get you arrested and possibly put to death. Suzanne Richelieu's family are Huguenots and as such have put into place an escape plan but they are hopeful that it will never have to be used. 

But inevitably the plan had to be enacted. Suzanne's harrowing escape through the help of the handsome German Johan Rousch takes up the majority of the novel which makes the novel proceed rapidly. At several points it looks like all is lost. But Providence has more in store for the two. 

I really enjoyed this story of two strong families from completely different backgrounds, one of privilege and the other of meager means. While their circumstances were different they each loved their families deeply. And as a die-hard romantic the budding romance between Suzanne and Johan is just beautiful. At the end I just wanted to cheer, "Love wins!"

If you enjoy a lovely romantic story set in an historic time period you really should check this one out. Carrie Fancett Pagels has done her research so even the little details will educate you as you are enjoying the overall story. I know I came away from it both entertained and feeling like I learned more about Huguenots and their plight. 

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Carrie Fancett Pagels

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The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling | Contemporary Fiction Review

The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling

Book review disclosure.

Contemporary Fiction

Mona and Kenneth Sorenson are approaching the best years of their lives. Ken is days away from retiring after a successful career as the dean of students at Stone University, and Mona's biggest concern is keeping him from finding out about his surprise party. While she is building a business of her own, they're looking forward to traveling, occasional fishing trips with the grandchildren, and limitless hours in the garden. It's what they deserve after years of careful planning.

But life changes in an instant when they get the call from their son, a special forces officer in the Army, who is being deployed immediately to an unknown destination. Since his wife walked out on him and their two young children, his only option is to ask his parents to assume guardianship. Stepping back into a role they thought was behind them, Mona and Ken will need to find a way to embrace a second half that they never anticipated.

My Thoughts

As an empty-nester this novel resonated deeply with me. As much as we hate to admit it time moves along and with it our plans for the future. So much of our early married years seem to revolve around the kids, but as they begin to leave home our plans inevitably turn towards our future as a couple. That's where Mona and Kenneth Sorenson find themselves when we meet up with them.

Kenneth is on the verge of retirement and in his mind it is the perfect time to begin traveling and seeing all those places they've dreamed about. Mona on the other hand is eager to expand her business and travel with her husband in between clients. Of course even the best laid plans change in the face of Providence. In this case it came in the form of a phone call from their son. 

Before they know it Mona and Ken find themselves in the midst of raising children again. My favorite thing about this novel is that it explored all the elements of the situation. Ken and Mona dearly loved their grandkids but they were also disappointed that their plans needed to be laid aside. The story showed the joys of being a grandparent but also the deep sorrows of young children feeling abandoned. It is a very moving storyline and in my opinion one of Lauraine Snelling's best.

I of course think this book will appeal to empty-nesters but it will also resonate with anyone that has had to lay aside their hopes and dreams to do what is right. We've all had moments of disappointment but those of us with faith have also seen how God can use those times to grow and bless us. 

I would encourage anyone with a book club to consider this book as a selection. The subject matter is deep and complicated and will most definitely provoke good discussions. As a bonus there are questions in the back of the book that could get you started.

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Lauraine Snelling
Photo courtesy of Ginger Murray Photography

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