A Piece of the Moon

Author: Chris Fabry

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: April 6, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fabry never fails to give readers a story that will be enjoyable with flawed characters that readers are easily able to bond with.

Gideon Quidley has achieved great wealth throughout his life and when he receives a divine vision telling him to hide his treasure based on bible verses, he sets out to do just that.  When people find out what he has done, treasure hunters search high and low based on the clues.  It becomes an obsession for some people.  For others, it’s become more of a joking matter.  In the small town of Emmaus, West Virginia, mooring radio talk show hosts Waite Evers and TD Lovett, tend to joke about the matter weekly.  But when one of TD’s estranged friends goes missing, he is suddenly pulled into the hunt for his friend over the treasure.  As TD dives into the clues, he begins to discover his own real treasure that isn’t just of this earth.

Leave it to Chris Fabry to set up an incredibly interesting tale that takes readers back to 1981.  I’ve never been disappointed in one of Fabry’s novels and this one kept me intrigued all the way through.  His characters are all incredibly flawed, just like real life, and have the ability to easily connect with readers.  Waite was just one of many, but he saw the good in everybody but himself.  TD felt he could never be more than he was and didn’t know what the point of trying was.  With plenty of supporting characters, readers will easily find someone to resonate with and cheer for throughout the book.  Fabry’s years of experience on the radio show with the technical knowledge included in this book!

The story centers around an earthly treasure of riches, but has a theme of discovering the treasure of ourselves with our heavenly father.  I love the way that this book ended.  I’m not going to say more than that, but I think all readers will enjoy the final wrap up!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Miriam’s Song

Author: Jill Eileen Smith

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 2, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fans of Smith will likely enjoy her adaption of the story of Miriam.

Miriam and her family have been living during the Israelite oppression in Egypt.  While they have been praying for deliverance, it has been quiet.  When the Pharaoh becomes threatened and decrees that all male Hebrew babies shall be killed, she knows that her mother’s new baby is likely to die soon.  Fortunately, Pharaoh’s daughter finds him and raises him as her own.  Miriam’s little brother, Moses, will change the world for the Israelite people.

I have always enjoyed Smith’s ability to tell a well-known biblical story from a different perspective.  I enjoyed her previous book with the story of King Herod told from his sister’s perspective and felt that this one would be interesting as well.  I was able to get into the story pretty easily having well known characters, but it took a little while for me to get through it.  I’ve done a lot of research on the books of law and had to go back to double check some events based on this book.  I know that fiction is subjective and can be interpreted differently.  I’ve read past authors that have even moved actual events to different timelines to support their stories. With this story, there were some things that didn’t seem to sit correctly, which took time to research and understand her point of view.  Fans of hers will likely still enjoy this book, but I’m hoping the next one turns out to her usual standards.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Orchard House

Author: Heidi Chiavaroli

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: February 9, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Two great stories that crossover in ways you won’t expect!

Taylor has had a rough go at life.  Abandoned by her mother at a young age and left with her uncle.  The uncle ends up going to prison and Taylor is placed in the foster care system.  Then in 1995, she is adopted by her best friend’s parents and she now has not only a sister, but a family.  Even so, she still feels like she is outside of their love and is more of a hindrance than a gift.  But she and her new sister, Victoria, share a common interest: writing.  Living in Concord, Massachusetts right down the street from Louisa May Alcott’s home, The Orchard House, makes many a young girl dream of writing.  They have their ups and downs over the next few years, but one evening Victoria betrays Taylor in one of the worst ways she can imagine and there is no going back.

Just after the civil war, Johanna Suhre has become acquainted through letters with Louise May Alcott after Louisa used Johanna’s late brother John as the basis of her publication Hospital Sketches.  When Louisa decides to go abroad to Europe for a time, she offers an adventure to Johanna to come stay at Orchard House in her absence to help take care of the house.  While there, Johanna becomes smitten with the neighbor Nathan Bancroft who Louisa does not hold in high regard.  Could this romance be the end of their friendship? 

This is the first book that I’ve read by Heidi Chiavaroli, but WOW!  I was hooked at the beginning and couldn’t stop reading until I found out what happened in both stories!  It’s easy to get lost in one of the stories of a time-slip novel but it takes a very talented author to get readers to lose themselves in both stories.  I loved how much detail she paid to each time period, not only the 1800s but even 1995 and early 2000s.  It was fun to have the main character my own age for a change and reminisce about how things were back when I was in high school and college.  A walk down memory lane for sure.

I related most to Taylor.  I’ve haven’t had the rough beginning that she did, but it was so easy to cheer for her when she was wronged that you didn’t want her family to pull her back.  In the end, it worked out for the best, but the process was a little messy, which made it real.  I’ve known women like Victoria and those in her situation and it is really tough to deal with.  It takes a lot of time and emotional withdraws to get someone through those times.  I loved how the author was able to use those two stories to draw similarities, but it might be in such a way that readers won’t notice until is right upon them.  She also managed to show the importance of faith and a relationship with God in a subtle yet very real way!  Great story!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Trial and Error

Author: Robert Whitlow

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: February 2, 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Suspenseful, intriguing, and makes readers cheer for the protagonist!

Eighteen years ago, Buddy Smith’s girlfriend skipped town with their newborn daughter and he hasn’t found them since.  Now a defense lawyer back in his hometown, he often takes cases where one of the parents has fled with a child. 

Gracie Blaylock is the county clerk and coach of the local girls’ softball team.  She and Buddy have been friends for years, but never had a romantic aspect to their relationship.  When one of the girls on the softball team abruptly stops attending practice, the other teammates know that something is wrong and confirm that she has runaway.  She knows it’s not the same as an abduction case but feels that Buddy would be best to pursue it.

As Buddy and Gracie work together to find out what happened to the missing girl, clues start to show up that could lead Buddy to find his own estranged daughter. 

Robert Whitlow has such a great ability to blend faith, suspense, and legality into his stories.  It’s easy to get lost in the story, even when there is not much of a legal thriller aspect.  With cases of parents abducting their own child on the rise, this book fits right in for current times.  I love the rural small-town Georgia setting to this book.  It made me to want to have porch conversations with some of the main characters.  I also loved all the characters throughout this book.  Everyone contained some sort of flaw that was able to improve through the course of the book.  Gracie is such a role model for me, similar to other characters he has written.  No one took a step backwards and it worked out for the better by the end.  We need more books like this in our library today!  I’ve always loved his writing and will continue to read his books!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Key to Everything

The Key to EverythingAuthor: Valerie Fraser Luesse

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: June 2, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

With fun characters and a theme of restoration, this coming of age tale is perfect to kick off the summer.

Fifteen-year-old, Peyton Cabot, isn’t sure what to make of the life before him: stuck in a wealthy family, feeling like he doesn’t belong, and in love with a beautiful red headed girl. After losing his father in a tragic accident, Peyton decides to follow in his father’s footprints and take a life changing bicycle trip down the coast of Florida to Key West. Using his father’s map, he seeks answers to unknown questions and a connection to his father. Along the way, he meets many people who invest in him and change him. Some even become family. Arriving in Key West and reuniting with his love, he finds many answers and finds the peace he’s been seeking.

Set after the end of World War II, you can see a difference in the way people live. I can’t imagine letting my fifteen-year-old son go on an adventure like Peyton did. His character reads much older than fifteen. The relationships portrayed between Peyton and Lisa is often unbelievable when you think about their ages. Realizing that times were different is imperative when reading this book.

I loved many of the characters Peyton met along the way. His adventures were interesting and fun to read.

Peyton’s journey is best summed up in his own words, “You can’t follow anyone else’s path, like I tried to do with Daddy- like Daddy thought he had to do with Grandaddy. Somewhere along the way, you gotta draw your own map.”

I give this book 4 stars. It is well written and creative. The characters are well written and easy to connect to. Overall, an excellent book.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

On a Coastal Breeze

on a coastal breezeAuthor: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Series: Three Sisters Island #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A great story to show that anyone can change!

Maddie Grayson is finally starting up her own counseling practice on Three Sisters Island. She leases space in a building that shares space for the local church office. The island has been looking for a new pastor for quite some time and one finally agreed to come parish the small island off the coast of Maine. On the opening day of her practice, Maddie hears a commotion and discovers that the new pastor is parachuting into town. This doesn’t surprise her as much as when she learns that the new pastor is someone who she went to school with from kindergarten to graduation named Ricky O’Shea. Ricky tormented Maddie throughout her entire school life and she thought she was rid of him for good. But what is he doing as a pastor now? Can Maddie accept him to be the man he is today instead of the boy he was?

The second book in the Three Sisters Island picks up pretty much where the first left off. Cam and Seth are engaged, but a project to get the island on reliable renewable energy has taken Cam’s attention away and causing some problems. Blaine is back home from culinary school and facing challenges in her life and with her palette. Maddie is getting her practice going and having sessions with some of the islands characters.

The story is mostly centered on Maddie, although all three sisters experience growth of some sort. Maddie had to overcome past hard feelings about Rick and many of the experiences she had at his hands are relived at the end of several chapters. But what made Rick decide to join the marines and become the man he is today just might surprise some of the readers. I also enjoyed Maddie’s therapy sessions with her sisters and her clients. It made each of the characters come to life. The next book is set to be Blaine’s story as she travels across Europe and I can’t wait to help her find herself.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Best We’ve Been

Best weve beenAuthor: Beth K. Vogt

Series: Thatcher Sisters #3

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Friction between family members is all too real! Readers will easily fall in love with this family!

After discovering her fiancé cheated on her, Johanna Thatcher has decided to protect her heart at all costs. Things get more complicated when she finds out she is pregnant. Over the years, friction between her and her sisters, Jillian and Payton, has gone up and down leaving their fragile friendship hanging in the balance. When the family finds out about Johanna’s pregnancy, it causes extra tension between the sisters as this is something Jillian has wanted and may not ever be able to have. To make matters worse, Johanna doesn’t even know if she wants to keep the baby. Each sister has her own life troubles to deal with along with the others and through it all they have to decide what their definition of family is and what they are willing to keep the family together.

When I started this I didn’t realize it was the third in a series; had I read the others I might have understood a little more of the backstory, but since I didn’t realize that until after finished the book, I’m happy to say it didn’t take anything away from the story for me and reads easily as a standalone. There was enough about each character that I felt like I knew them and had a feel for what they were going through. Johanna had a big character development throughout the story and I enjoyed watching her grow and change. Several of the milestone moments the Thatcher sisters go through can be heart wrenching, but in such a good way. I loved the way the story shaped each story of the sisters to bring the whole family together. There is a strong faith element with several characters but nothing that was too pushy and might turn a reader away from the story if that wasn’t what they were looking for. The target audience is going to find this a fast, enjoyable and touching read. With the little glimpses of Jillian and Payton’s lives, I want to go get the others in the series so I can fully know and understand the Thatcher sisters and all they have gone through the be who they are at this point in their stories. Even though this is the third in the series and can be read as a standalone, I do feel I would have gotten even more out of it if I had read the first two. Throughout the novel, Beth Vogt brings a sense of hope and encouragement for readers to cling to. I would recommend this to readers that enjoy a heart touching story with hope, laughter, love and so much more they can relate to.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Star of Persia

Star of PersiaAuthor: Jill Eileen Smith

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 3, 2020

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another great annotation of the story of Ester, told a little differently than I’ve always imagined!

Prior to his departure for war against Greece, King Xerxes decides to throw a months long banquet for all the nobles from the Persian provinces at his palace in Susa. Once the banquet was over, he threw another weeklong banquet for the people of Susa for having to deal with the previous few months. On the final night of the banquet after a generous portion of wine, King Xerxes is convinced to show off his queen to all the nobleman of the city. He calls for Queen Vashti to be presented in all her splendor, but she refuses him. Such an insult cannot go ignored and the King puts a decree in place to banish Vashti from the palace. After these events, the King is at a loss without his true queen and is convinced by his servants that he should perform a kingdom wide search of virgins until he finds a suitable replacement queen.

Esther is but a young Jewish girl living in the throngs of Susa. Orphaned after her parents died when she was young, she was raised by her cousin Mordecai. He has always protected her and has delayed arranging a marriage for her. When the King’s decree come out, he hopes to get Esther out of the city before she is discovered, but to no avail. She is taken to the palace where she quickly gains favor with all around her and becomes the King’s chosen queen within the year. But her troubles won’t end at being queen. She soon becomes caught in a battle between her adoptive father and the King’s highest advisor. She will have to risk her life to save her people.

It is no secret that Esther is my favorite book of the Bible. I love getting to read different adaptations of it and this one was very enjoyable. One of the different aspects of this adaption was the character of Queen Vashti. I had always pictured her as a self-absorbed person in my head who simply denied her husband what he wanted when he was drunk. I loved that the author did her research on the laws of Persians and Medes that gave more clarity to her choice. She wasn’t denying him, she was trying to help protect him by not breaking the law. This book brought her into a whole other light.

This book was separated into four parts. The first being that of Queen Vashti’s denial. The second part consisted of the search for the virgins. The third part was Queen Esther’s early reign as queen. The final part was of the battle between Haman and Mordecai. Each was well known but enjoyable being told from different points of view. If you enjoy biblical fiction, then this will no doubt be a delight.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

More Than We Remember

more than we rememberAuthor: Christina Suzann Nelson

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: February 18, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Nelson’s work continues to shine!

One moment changes everything in the lives of three women.

Deputy Emilia Cruz is the first responder to the scene of an accident in the early hours of the morning. She discovers a two-vehicle head on collision which claims the life of a single mother to three boys. The other car contained the high school basketball coach who survived but is believed to have been drinking. This infuriates Deputy Cruz as her husband was a first responder fire fighter to an accident caused by an alcoholic the left his physically disabled. She’s more determined than ever to fight for justice regardless of who the victim is.

Addison Kilbourn is woken up in the night to find that her husband still hasn’t returned home from meeting someone in a neighboring town. She answers the door to find a deputy sheriff with news that her husband was in an accident and has been taken to the hospital. Life has been difficult enough moving to her husband’s hometown and living with her mother-in-law while they build their house, but she soon learns public opinion about her husband accident brands her family.

Brianne Demanno is trying to hide from her past and present. She always wanted to be a counselor and she got her wish, but after one of her patients committed suicide, she doubts her abilities and decides to delve into the solitude of artwork. When a deputy accidentally knocks on her door instead of the Kilbourn’s, she decides to go over and help the family by staying with the children so that the mom can go to the hospital. Brianne begins to connect with the kids and with their mom Addison, who may be the first real friend that she has had. Will this family be enough to pull her out of seclusion and help her start to live again?

One of the greatest aspects of Nelson’s writing is that she is able to connect her characters in ways that mimic real life. In every book that I’ve read by her, she brings multiple broken families together and connects them in a healing process. This book was no exception. Each woman’s story showed the immense struggle they were going through. Addison was insecure dealing with her husband’s accident, mother-in-law’s memory loss, and her oldest daughter that was now a teenage. Emilia struggled with her job, husband’s disability, and daughter’s friends. Brianne struggled internally with feeling inadequate. Each woman on their own would have faltered, but together they made bonds that helped them move forward. In some cases, it wasn’t even the relationship between the women, but between their kids. Nelson is becoming one of my favorite authors for this genre and I hope that others find her work encouraging too.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Solid Grounds Coffee Company

Supper clubAuthor: Carla Laureano

Series: Supper Club Novel #3

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: February 4, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another terrific installment to the Saturday Night Supper Club series!

Bryan Shaw is one of the best rock climbers in the world. After a climbing incident in Colombia involving his past flame, Bryan loses his sponsor, turning him into an unemployed hobbyist. The night before he plans to return to the States, Bryan is approached by a man who is in need on an interpreter to help with a ministry that converts farms used to grow drug products into coffee beans. This chance encounter leads to Bryan purchasing the coffee farm to see if he can put that BA degree he has to good use.

Ana Sanchez is a high-profile public relations specialist in Denver. She makes her living cleaning up other people’s messes and she is one of the best. When a high maintenance client puts her in the position of trying to cover up the drug overdose of an underage girl, Ana makes a judgement call, which saves the girls life but lands Ana on a paid suspension. Now with loads of time on her hands, she is not sure what to focus her time on.

When Bryan returns to Denver to start up a roastery business, he visits and old group of friends who run the Bittersweet Café. Ana is there too and while the two are polar opposites, Bryan offers Ana a business proposition to help get the roastery off the ground. She accepts the challenge and the two begin to work closely together. While neither is looking for a relationship, they become closer. Could this match bring fulfillment to their lives?

This series is such fun to read. Each installment has become like a member of the family or at least of the supper club on family and friends night. Even though this is the third in the series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone. I loved the story between Bryan and Ana. They both had to overcome their demons, Bryan in the early stages of the book and Ana in the later part, but they were still able to do it. Ana’s story spoke volumes to me. She had been through so much and always took failure as a personal blame and built walls up around herself so that even her most personal friends could not get through. Once those walls finally came down, she was a different person. I feel as though she could easily be one of my closest friends.

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I learned a lot about the process. It was very interesting to see what all goes into making a cup of coffee. Laureano did a lot of research into this process and if you love cover art, there is a story behind it that you can read about. If you haven’t picked up a supper club novel yet, then you need to grab a copy of one today!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.