The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady [Book Review] #BlogTour

October 4, 2021

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady by Sharon J. Mondragón

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady by Sharon Mondragon (cover) a ball of yarn and two silver knitting needles

Genre/Categories: Christian Comtemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Friendship, Prayer, Ministry

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Out of your comfort zone and into the mall!

Thanks #NetGalley @KregelBooks and the I Read With Audra Blog Tour for a complimentary eARC of #TheUnlikelyYarnOfTheDragonLady upon my request. All opinions are my own.

The Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry consists of four women (Controlling Margaret, Positive Rose, Hurting Jane, and Lonely Fran) who meet weekly in the lovely and quiet Prayer Chapel of their church to knit shawls for the prayer shawls ministry. When the pastor announces that the prayer chapel is being painted and they will need to find another place to sit and knit, he suggests they knit out in public somewhere like the local mall. Grumpy and difficult-to-love Margaret vehemently resists the idea of knitting in the mall with all its distractions. However, the others are open to the idea. After they get kicked out of the bookstore cafe (for never ordering anything), they find a satisfactory place to knit using the comfortable seating display in front of Macy’s department store. And, yes, there are distractions and encounters with the people they meet taking them out of their comfort zones in many ways.

My Thoughts:

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The Dearly Beloved [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

September 16, 2021

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
#throwbackthursday

Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall (cover) Image: white text over the graphic image of a tree with long reaching limbs....all against a blue background

Genre/Categories/Setting: Literary Fiction, Marriage, Friendship, Faith, 1960s Manhattan

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a compelling drama of marriage, friendship, and faith, The Dearly Beloved: A Review. My best read of the year in 2019.

Recently, I reviewed Gilead and explained why I think it is literary fiction; The Dearly Beloved is another example of literary fiction.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“Four very different individuals (two couples) navigate relationships, marriage, children, faith, career, ministry, crisis, joy, friendship, forgiveness, uncertainty, understanding, and heartbreak. The couples meet in the 1960s when the men, Charles and James, accept positions as co-pastors of the Third Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. The relationship between the couples is strained because the wives are polar opposites: Lily is a loner and an atheist and Nan values connection and is a devout Christian. In this tender character-driven story that covers decades of life, we also learn the backstory of each individual.”

One Favorite quote: “While she was away, they had been able to forget the accident. When she returned, they had been forced to pick up their rakes of grief and drag them along the ground.”

A thoughtful story of faith and doubt, hope and disappointment, friendship and marriage, career and family….

Continue here for 10 reasons why I loved The Dearly Beloved…



QOTD:

Have you read The Dearly Beloved or is it on your TBR?

Promises to Keep [Book Review]

April 30, 2021

Promises to Keep by Nan Rossiter

Promises to Keep by Nan Rossiter (cover) Image: a man, woman, and dog sit on a pier overlooking a lake

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Southern Fiction, Family Life, Romance

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks #NetGalley @HarperPerennial for a complimentary eARC of #PromisesToKeep upon my request. All opinions are my own. Promises to Keep is a sequel to Promises of the Heart in the Savannah Skies series. It can be read as a stand-alone (although it’s always a richer reading experience to have read the first in the series).

Set in the South (Georgia), this story finds thirty-something Maeve working in a private nursing home and enjoying a relationship with her handsome boyfriend, Gage, who works construction and adores his dog, Gus. Complications arise when they realize that they’ve been keeping secrets from each other about their past. Can they save their relationship?

My Thoughts:

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A Place For Us [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

November 4, 2020

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
#throwbackthursday

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (cover) Image: black text over a white moon behind a house in silhouette

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m thrilled to share my review of A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza…a thoughtful and complicated family drama.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links

My Summary:

A Place For Us shares the story of an Indian-American Muslim family whom we meet as they gather to celebrate a family wedding. Through flashbacks, readers are filled in on the family dynamics, family history, and become acquainted with the parents, Rafiq and Layla, and their three children, Hadia, Huda, and Amar. Told mostly from the perspectives of Layla, Hadia, and Amar, readers begin to appreciate the complexity of family relationships, understand the bonds that draw the family together, and become acquainted with the personalities along with the insecurities and rivalries that cause conflict. In light of the parents’ conservative Muslim faith and living in California, the children must find their way in reconciling the faith of their parents and their traditional ways with the reality of day-to-day lives, and individual hopes and dreams. At the wedding of the oldest daughter, which breaks with tradition and is a union of love and not arranged by parents, Amar, the prodigal son, reunites with his family for the first time in three years. The last part of the story is told from the father’s heartfelt perspective. This is a story of love, identity, parenting, coming of age, faith, and belonging.”

“Of all my mistakes the greatest, the most dangerous, was not emphasizing the mercy of God.”  ~Rafiq

A Place For Us is my favorite read of 2018, and you can find my full review here….



QOTD:

Have you read A Place For Us or is it on your TBR?

Transcendent Kingdom [Book Review]

September 18, 2020

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (cover) Image: gold text over a light pink (top) and black (bottom) background

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Faith and Science, Drug Addiction, Ghana-American, Immigrant

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

While Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is the multi-generational big picture of a family over three hundred years, Transcendent Kingdom is a microscopic look at one Ghanaian family in Alabama. Their son, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died from a heroin overdose as a result of being addicted to pain meds after an accident. Dad returns to Ghana and Mom becomes severely depressed. The beginning of the story finds the daughter, Gifty, at Standford Medical School studying depression and addiction as she desperately hopes to find answers that will help others in similar situations. At the same time Gifty studies the hard sciences she also questions her faith and the religious experiences of her childhood. This is a story of immigration, faith, science, questions, and family devotion.

My Thoughts:

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From Sand and Ash [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

September 3, 2020

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
#throwbackthursday

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon (cover) Image: a young woman in profile looking reflectively over a city

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11, Jewish, Catholic, Love Story

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon, a thoughtful story of love, survival, life, death, faith, and sacrifice…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

…faith, sacrifice, and survival…

My Summary:

“In 1943, Italy’s Jewish population is in imminent danger from the forces of hatred and prejudice. Raised like brother and sister, Eva and Angelo enjoy childhood best friend closeness which later blooms into a romance. Although they are devoted to each other, Eva, an accomplished violinist, is Jewish and Angelo chooses to follow a calling to become a Catholic priest. As the Gestapo arrests Jewish residents of Florence, Angelo convinces Eva to follow him to Rome to hide in a convent under his watchful eye while he serves nearby at the Vatican. Eva discovers that the Catholic Church is hiding hundreds of Jews and facilitating their escape when possible. Angelo has made a promise to Eva’s family and feels a duty to keep her safe, which is complicated by romantic feelings. This page turning story follows Eva and Angelo as they face trials, take risks, and make agonizing choices.”

Continue here for my review of From Sand and Ash

QOTD: Have you read From Sand and Ash or is it on your TBR?

Ordinary Grace [Book Review]

August 28, 2020

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (cover) Image: a wooden railroad trellis over a river underneath a partially cloudy sky

Genre/Categories: Adult Literary Fiction, Coming of Age, Faith

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The summer of 1961 should have been another ordinary summer for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum, but it was a summer of hardships, tragedy, grief, adult problems, and questions of faith. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years later, Ordinary Grace is a poignant coming-of-age story with elements of mystery and suspense.

My Thoughts:

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The Amish Newcomer [Book Review]

August 20, 2020

The Amish Newcomer by Patrice Lewis

The Amish Newcomer by Parice Lewis (cover) Image: a young womens kneels in a fielf to pick carrots and potatoes from a garden putting them in a brown wicker basket

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Amish/Mennonite, Family Life

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks #netgalley @harlequinbooks for a complimentary e ARC of #theamishnewcomer upon my request. All opinions in this review are my own.

Because of dire circumstances, an English city girl finds herself living in an Amish community with an Amish family. A former television reporter whose career is suddenly jeopardized when she inadvertently witnesses a murder, Leah is living in witness protection without a phone (and its access to 24 hour news) and adjusting to a different culture. Even though Leah is an outsider and is lonely for her friends, routines, and lifestyle, she is warmly welcomed in the Amish community. As she begins to adapt and feel useful, she also develops a friendship and fondness for an Amish bachelor, Isaac.

My Thoughts:

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Bookish Themed Hanukkah: Fourth Candle: Foregone Conclusion #eightcandlebooktag

December 25, 2019

 Celebrating a Bookish Hanukkah With Our Jewish Friends: Fourth Candle–Foregone Conclusion

#eightcandlebooktag

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today and for the next few days with Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog (information on the meme link up here) to celebrate a bookish Hanukkah with our Jewish friends.  #eightcandlebooktag  Join us! (find my first candle here, find my second candle here, third candle here)

Happy Hanukkah to my friends, followers, and book buddies who are celebrating!

8th-candle

 

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

Fourth Candle: Foregone Conclusion

A book that you read that you knew you’d like or dislike before you began reading.

Are you drawn to certain genres or authors? If you’ve followed my reviews for a while, you know that Fredrik Backman is an auto-buy/auto-read author for me and it’s a foregone conclusion that I will like his work. However, what about other books by lesser-known or debut authors? How can I know I will like it before I’ve read it?

The first time I heard about The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall, I knew I had to read it! The synopsis and early reviews sounded exactly like the type of book I love: an interesting premise, real-life family drama, complicated relationships, thought-provoking themes, and well written.

On the other hand, are there books I know I’ll dislike before I read them? The short answer is “yes” and I usually avoid reading them. I dislike dark, scary, horror, most magical realism and fantasy, paranormal, occult, witchcraft, most romcom (don’t @ me!), science fiction, time travel, unlikable characters behaving badly, and erotica. Because FOMO is real, I will give certain titles a chance (usually because of reviewers with similar tastes). Even though I might read a book from these genres, they are usually not among my favorite reads. One recent example is Recursion by Blake Crouch. I read it because of FOMO but I didn’t like it as much as others who love the science fiction genre. If there were a sequel, I wouldn’t read it, but I’m not unhappy I gave it a chance.

As I deliberately track genres and themes I like or dislike, I significantly raise the chances of my next read being satisfactory or even great.

For today’s prompt, I’m choosing to highlight a book that I knew I would like before I started reading it: The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall. 

The Dearly Beloved

The following is my review of The Dearly Beloved that was published earlier on this blog:

Summary:

Four very different individuals (two couples) navigate relationships, marriage, children, faith, career, ministry, crisis, joy, friendship, forgiveness, uncertainty, understanding, and heartbreak. The couples meet in the 1960s when the men, Charles and James, accept positions as co-pastors of the Third Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. The relationship between the couples is strained because the wives are polar opposites: Lily is a loner and an atheist and Nan values connection and is a devout Christian. In this tender character-driven story that covers decades of life, we also learn the backstory of each individual.

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The Dearly Beloved [Book Review]

September 19, 2019

A thoughtful story of faith and doubt, hope and disappointment, friendship and marriage, career and family….

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

The Dearly Beloved Review

Genre/Categories/Setting: Literary Fiction, Faith, Marriage and Family, 1960s Manhattan

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Four very different individuals (two couples) navigate relationships, marriage, children, faith, career, ministry, crisis, joy, friendship, forgiveness, uncertainty, understanding, and heartbreak. The couples meet in the 1960s when the men, Charles and James, accept positions as co-pastors of the Third Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. The relationship between the couples is strained because the wives are polar opposites: Lily is a loner and an atheist and Nan values connection and is a devout Christian. In this tender character-driven story that covers decades of life, we also learn the backstory of each individual.

My Thoughts:

(more…)