“Trust My Heart” by Carol J. Post

Carol J. Post

Grant McAllister arrives in Murphy, North Carolina, with one aim: to sell his inherited property and leave as quickly as possible.

The big-city lawyer has no interest in his late, estranged grandparents or the dilapidated mansion he just acquired. After his high-profile divorce, he should be avoiding perky reporters, too. But Jami Carlisle is honest, funny, and undeniably appealing.

After breaking up with her safe-but-smothering boyfriend, Jami is determined to ace her first big assignment. A story about the McAllister estate is too intriguing to ignore—much like its handsome, commitment-phobic heir. Thanks to her digging, the pieces of Grant’s fraught family history are gradually fitting into place, but also upending all his old beliefs.

The two draw closer as they share their dreams, until misread signals and misunderstandings begin to test their trust. But in the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains, there’s healing and forgiveness to be found. And for Grant, this unplanned detour may be just what’s needed to finally guide him home…

Post puts North Carolina’s best foot forward in this new, fairytale romance.  With the North Carolina mountains creating both a vivid and exciting backdrop for Trust My Heart, there’s always a new adventure around the corner.  I love the way that Post exploited the natural beauty of the mountains and pulled the setting so strongly into the story.

Jami was an exciting character, too.  Her friendliness and courage in face of adversity make her my favorite kind of leading lady.  Grant’s not such a bad leading man, though, either.  With a few glaring flaws but the sincerity and drive to overcome them, I appreciate his willingness to make major life changes.

The supporting cast of characters really made the story.  Bernie’s antics were just hilarious, and Jami’s friends made great back-up people.  I’d love to read their stories, too.  With such colorful characters in the background and a strong setting, Trust My Heart puts me in mind of the Mitford books.  If you love Jan Karon’s work, definitely give Trust My Heart a try.

Click here to read other reviews in this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.


 

From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special-events decorating company, Carol J. Post’s résumé reads as if she hasn’t yet decided what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love of writing. She started as a child composing poetry for family and friends, then graduated to articles for religious and children’s publications. Now she pens fun, fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book award and selected as an RT Top Pick. When Carol isn’t writing, she enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. She also plays the piano and sings with her music-minister husband. Their two grown daughters and their grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all her nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

 
 

Join Carol in celebrating the release of Trust My Heart by entering to win her $75 Cozy Cash Giveaway.

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One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of Trust My Heart
  • A $75 Visa cash card
  • A basket full of goodies made in North Carolina to keep you cozy in the cooler fall weather

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Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on November 23. The winner will be announced November 28 on Carol’s blog.

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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

The Father Christmas Books by Robin Jones Gunn

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Recently I had the chance to read not one, but three books by a favorite author.  How excited was I?  I got to read these three books:

In FINDING FATHER CHRISTMAS, Miranda Carson’s search for her father leads her unexpectedly to London with only a few feeble clues as to who he might be. Immediately welcomed into a family that doesn’t recognize her, and whom she’s quickly coming to love, she faces a terrible decision. Should she reveal her true identity and destroy their idyllic image of her father? Or should she carry the truth home with her to San Francisco and remain alone in this world? Whatever choice she makes during this London Christmas will forever change the future for both herself and the family she can’t bear to leave.

In ENGAGING FATHER CHRISTMAS Miranda Carson can’t wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she’s sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation. But Miranda’s high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian’s father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda’s mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost. And yet . . . maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.

A year-and-a-half ago, Anna flew from Minnesota to Carlton Heath to attend the wedding of her cousin, Ian, to an American woman named Miranda. The beautiful event ended with Anna receiving an unexpected, unforgettable kiss from groomsman Peter. Now Anna is delighted to be invited back for Christmas with her family, dreams of romance dancing in her head. But when she finally sees him again, Peter insists his only interest in Anna is as a friend. Anna is hurt, and becomes even more confused when Peter takes her on a romantic tour of London. Is Anna’s heart misleading her, or is there a reason Peter is denying what he feels?

Robin Jones Gunn knocked it out of the park with the Father Christmas stories.  They’ll fill the most Bah, humbug reader with hope of love this Christmas season.  The three stories are connected by setting and a few background characters, and they provide a delightful backdrop that will keep the reader coming back for that alone.  I fell in love with the town of Carlton Heath and would love to see such a place myself – and I’ve never really wished to visit England. 

Miranda and Anna, the American female leads, are sweet.  While their personalities aren’t alike, the way that they’re welcomed by the residents of Carlton Heath and the way that they respond are somehow both sweet and innocent, even when the circumstances of the story aren’t.  I love the wisdom that Gunn imbues into every element of the story and the faith journey that she sends her characters on.

If you step back and think about it, the odds of any part of these stories coming true is extremely unlikely, but Gunn writes with such sweet conviction that they are completely believable.  I loved the impending, suspenseful romance of each story and the life lessons that are contained in each. 

The Father Christmas books are moving to the top of my favorite Christmas stories list.   I love the serious view of love with the lighthearted touches scattered throughout the story and will reread these over and over.  The biggest downfall is that I don’t have cable, because I would have loved to watch the Father Christmas movie that debuted recently.  If you have the chance, check it out!

I received a free copy of these books from FaithWords.  The opinions expressed are my own.

“The Cottage” by Michael Phillips

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Michael Phillips Continues His Sweeping Shetland Islands Saga with The Cottage

When Loni Ford is informed that she has inherited property in the Shetland Islands, she laughs. She wants nothing more than to sell it and be done with it. But when she arrives in the North Sea enclave, she is stunned to find that “the Cottage” is not at all what she expected, nor is David Tulloch, the man most of the islanders believe to be the rightful heir.

The locals could hardly be more surprised that the heir is a woman–and an American. Loni, in turn, finds the islanders quaint and a bit behind the times. Expecting David to be as provincial as the rest of his clan, she discovers that there is far more to the man than meets the eye. And there is something about the peaceful atmosphere of the place–and the character of its most prominent citizen–that soon gets under her skin.

Beneath the peaceful surface, however, change is threatening the island of Whale’s Reef. David’s cousin Hardy Tulloch, whose claim to the inheritance now in Loni’s hands was backed by oil investors, has not been deterred in his aim to control the island. But his co-conspirators have plans of their own, plans that put Loni’s very life in danger.

 

I enjoyed Michael Phillips’ first Secrets of the Shetlands novel, but he knocked it out of the park with The Cottage!  I couldn’t put this sequel down.  With the cast established and the location well painted, Phillips jumps right in with the suspense and intrigue.

I loved the faith journey that Loni went on in this story.  She learns and grows a great deal, not only about herself, but also about what she believes.  I like her take on friendships, on relationships, and her willingness to do the right thing even when it’s hard.  She’s a loveable main character and I was fascinated with her persona.

While the island itself was beautiful, it was the culture that caught my attention in this story.  I loved the history of the island, the way that the interactions between various people affected people’s attitudes and circumstances.  The flipping between the old stories and the new ones are some of my favorite vehicles for sharing that kind of history, and Phillips did an excellent job of using it here.

I couldn’t put The Cottage down.  I read it as fast as possible, in a single sitting, in a single day.  I couldn’t wait to find out the outcome of the island’s economy, Loni’s inheritance, and the love that blooms throughout its pages.  If you’re a fan of deep and meaningful stories with real people and exciting cultures, you should definitely read The Cottage.

I received a free copy of this book.  The opinions are my own.

“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Ace Collins

Ace Collins

For Christians worldwide, the month of December is filled with joy and wonder as we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s birth. There is no other time of the year that can compare to the Christmas season for both the young and young at heart.

From December to New Year’s Eve, reawaken the wonder, joy, and magic that is Christmas with daily scripture and inspirational readings of stories behind popular Christmas traditions, carols, and movies. Enjoy a wealth of fun activities to help make the most of the season, including heartwarming holiday recipes and homemade gift ideas.

With this soon-to-be-cherished holiday devotional, best-selling author Ace Collins will capture your imagination and help to make each day of December more memorable and meaningful to you, and those you love, by shining a light on the real spirit of the season.
 
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is the perfect devotional for our family for this Advent season!  Each year we choose a plan for working our way through Advent.  One year we made our own Jesse tree and studied references to Jesus in his Old Testament family tree.  Another year we divided up the New Testament story and journaled it with words and drawings.
 
This year, though, we’ll be working our way through with Ace Collins’ new book, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.  I love the format of this book:  each day concludes a devotional reading with scripture, song lyrics and their backstory, and something to do, usually a recipe or crafty idea.  I love how a theme is woven through each day’s story, making a strong point and forcing the reader to consider some aspect of this Christmas season in a new way.  Collins makes a strong case for joy and for remembering the reason for the season – but he goes deeper than that.
 
I love the way that Collins explains the story behind so many of our favorite traditions.  By bringing to the forefront the reason why we sing certain songs, decorate with red and green, and so much more, it refreshes the spirit and makes the seasonal work lighter.  Honestly, over the past few years I’ve come to dread certain aspects of my former-favorite traditions, only because they create so much work in such a short period of time; but knowing the reason behind so many of them makes me look forward to them again.  Many things I’ve heard before, of course, but somehow Collins puts a unique spin on them that makes the ideas seem fresh and new. 
 
While The Most Wonderful Time of the Year isn’t specifically marketed for kids or for families, I think it will be perfect for mine.  The combination of history, scripture, and activity will be a great way for us to start our day during the Advent season.  I know that we won’t be making all of the cookies that he shares, but the specialty recipes will be fun to read nonetheless, and it might inspire us to try some new ones, too.  With our kids now ages nine and eleven, they’re old enough to understand the historical context and the scripture and to participate in the projects, too; in fact, they could do most of them independently.
 
If you, too, like to change up your devotional reading during Advent or just want to know more about the historical traditions connected with our faith, be sure to check out The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
 
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“An Amish Family Christmas” by Shelley Shepard Gray

Shelley Shepard Gray

In Shelley Shepard Gray’s fourth book in her Charmed Amish Life series, an unlikely Amish romance reveals that Christmas is a time for family, miracles—and love.

Ever since his father died in a tragic fire, Levi Kinsinger has felt adrift. Newly returned to Charm, Ohio, Levi is trying to fit into his old life, only to discover he seems to have outgrown it.

But when Julia, his young widowed neighbor, asks for his help with a Christmas project, Levi finds a sense of purpose for the first time in months. She and her daughter are new to Charm and could use a friend, a job Levi takes personally. Soon enough, friendship grows into attraction, but Levi can’t help having doubts. There’s something about Julia that doesn’t ring quite true . . .

Like Levi, Julia Kemps has survived her fair share of hardships—but only by hiding the truth of her past. Being an unmarried mother in an Amish community was unthinkable. Feeling hopeless, Julia did the only thing she could do: she moved to a new town and pretended to be a widow. But meeting Levi, she’s hopeful for the first time. Little by little, she begins to imagine telling him her darkest secret, and eventually . . . perhaps even sharing her life with him.

Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together . . . in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.

Shelley Shepard Gray couldn’t have written a better ending for the Charmed Amish Life series if she tried.  It’s the perfect blend of resolution and sweet love, while staying true to the tone of the other books.  Gray’s written a fantastic, realistic series about Amish people dealing with difficult personal issues – it’s unlike any other I’ve read.  I appreciate that perspective and have enjoyed reading all four, but this final one might be my favorite.

I’ve probably felt that way about each book in turn, but loved the main characters of this one.  Julia is sweet but somewhat jaded from past hurts, and Levi is trying hard to stand strong and alone.  They’re my very favorite kind of people:  survivors. 

I hate that the series is coming to an end.  The Charmed Amish Life series is made up of the best Amish books I’ve read in a long time, and An Amish Family Christmas is the perfect ending to it.  While I wish the Kinsinger stories would continue, at least it’s ending on a sugary sweet, snowy Christmas note.

Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

 
 
I received a free copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.

“Christian’s Hope” by Ervin R. Stutzman

Stutzman

When Christian Hochstetler returns to the Amish after seven years in captivity, he finds that many things have shifted.

Captured as a child during the French and Indian War, Christian has spent much of his life among Native Americans, who cared for him and taught him their ways. Now that Christian is home, his father wants him to settle back into their predictable Amish life of farming, and Christian‘s budding friendship with Orpha Rupp beckons him to stay as well.

Yet Christian feels restless, and he misses his adoptive Native American family—who raised him as their own son. When faced with a life-altering decision, will Christian choose the Amish identity that his father desires for him? Or will he depart from his family and faith community yet again?

Christian‘s Hope tells the story of the younger brother of Joseph and son of Jacob, whom readers have come to love in the first two books in the Return to Northkill series. Based on actual events and written by a descendant of the Hochstetler family, Christian‘s Hope brings the sweeping epic of the Return to Northkill series to a soul-stirring end.

Christian’s Hope is the most fascinating Amish coming-of-age book I’ve ever read!  Setting an Amish story in the past is rare, and this one, happening just after the French and Indian War, is even more unusual.  I loved the time period, the clear descriptions of life, gender roles, and household tools.  Stutzman excels at bringing the setting to life.

That’s not all, though.  The time of the French and Indian War was a hotbed of drama for many, and for others, stereotypes abounded.  While others were focused more solely on survival, those on the frontier often bore the brunt of isolated attacks.  This position comes through loud and clear in Christian’s Hope, as does the mix of attitudes and reactions to during the war’s aftermath.  Stutzman does a fantastic job of detailing each position while keeping the story realistic and interesting.  This was my favorite part – the way that Stutzman depicts the gradual change in Christian’s attitude to one of growth and maturity.

This book stands alone, but it’s so interesting that I can’t wait to go back to read the first two in the series.  Based on a true story and written by a descendant, I definitely want to know more about this event in history.  I think you will, too.

Click here to read other reviews in this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

Ervin R. Stutzman is author of Jacob’s Choice, Joseph’s Dilemma, Tobias of the Amish, and Emma, A Widow Among the Amish. Born into an Amish home in Kalona, Iowa, Stutzman based the Return to Northkill series on the life of his ancestor, Jacob Hochstetler. He has been featured on TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are?

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“Cold Case Christianity for Kids” by J. Warner Wallace & Susie Wallace

J. Warner Wallace

Summary:

Between the ages of 8 and 12, kids often start to wonder if Christianity is true. In Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, detective J. Warner Wallace draws readers into the thrill of high-stakes investigation by showing them how to think rather than telling them what to think. In this children’s companion to the bestselling Cold-Case Christianity, detective Wallace gets kids excited about testing witnesses, examining the evidence, and investigating the case for Christianity. Includes author illustrations and links to a website (coldcasechristianityforkids.com) where kids can download activities, fill in case notes, and earn a certificate of merit.

Detective Wallace gets kids excited about testing witnesses, examining the evidence, and investigating the case for Christianity.

 
My thoughts:
 
Cold Case Christianity for Kids is a fantastic way to help kids find their own faith in logical, realistic ways.  The book’s step-by-step analysis is the perfect way to help young ones evaluate the Gospels and understand details for themselves.  Written by a real-life detective, the book teaches how detectives evaluate evidence and look for clues so that children can approach the Bible the same way. 
 
I was most impressed with this approach.  The book takes an unusual perspective:  that of a fictional detective teaching a detective academy for kids, in which the reader participates.  With an inquisitive kid in the group, opportunities abound for discussion about evidence and investigative techniques. 
 
Cold Case Christianity for Kids isn’t just a fictional story, though.  The techniques taught are real and  are excellent ways to analyze information.  The authors extended the learning with a website featuring videos for each chapter, printables, notebooking pages, and a leader’s guide.  There are pictures scattered throughout the book to add visual interest to each chapter, and the comic-book style will appeal to boys and girls alike.
 
These extras will make it easy for any parent or ministry leader to implement this book as an ongoing study for their kids’ club or youth group.  It’s the simple writing style and solid steps, however, that I admire most.  The book is perfect for helping kids make the transition from learning about the faith of others to understanding it well enough to make it their own.  The authors also help kids understand why there are discrepancies in the Gospel stories and how to explain faith to others.
 
I can’t wait to work through this study with my kids.  I hope you’ll investigate it for use with yours, too!
 
Read other reviews on this bloggy hop here or purchase your own copy now.
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions in this review are my own.

“40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood” by Sarah Humphrey

40 Days Devotional

Nourishment for a mother’s soul through 40 days of devotion and . . . doodling!

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if mothering came with a concrete set of instructions—an easy recipe we could follow? Instead, motherhood challenges women to find their faith, their true selves, and their family through daily doses of trial and error. It is a brilliant and healing time of life that is full of joy, pain, and beauty with a small side of crisis (and humor). What mothers do not know, they learn. And through this lifelong process of learning, they nurture and care for the most precious gifts on earth: children. In a modern society where moms often have a full and busy plate, these 10 minute daily devotions focus on six key topics of motherhood:

-Self-acceptance
-Self-care
-Reconciling with grief, hope and expectations
-Generosity
-Presence
-Forgiveness

In addition to the devotions, these beautiful pages are adorned with handmade illustrations to help you refresh from long days or even occasional sleepless nights. So, grab your colors and a little quiet time for yourself while doodling at the kitchen table. You will be grateful you did!
 
I was super excited to open this book and begin reading – and the foreword was amazing!  It left me super excited to keep reading and dig deeper into the book – and the scripture behind it.
 
I was a little less excited after a week or so in, though.  While each devotion is based on scripture and there are prayers included, the devotions sound very new age-y.  There isn’t anything that is contradictory to scripture, but some of the wording reads like a self-help book to me. 
 
On the flip side, I love the doodles.  With wide black lines, fun lettering, and creative doodles, they’re fun to color.  They’re detailed enough to take some time to complete but simple enough that I’m not coloring all day.  Since I want to finish my picture while thinking about and praying through the scripture, that works out well for me.
 
The majority of the devos seem to focus on young motherhood – the emotions and difficulties of being a mother to young children.  While I can certainly relate to them, my season of motherhood is changing as we’re solidly in the tween years, the issues are a bit different.
 
I am thoroughly enjoying the scripture that Humphrey pulls out, though, in addition to the doodles.  If you have young children and enjoy the adult coloring craze, this book is definitely worth a look.
 
Click here to read other reviews in this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.
 
 

Often considered a dreamer and silly heart, Sarah Humphrey uses inspiration from her most beloved career, motherhood, to fuel her passion for writing, creative movement and teaching. She has and is authoring several books and children’s books. Sarah currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and three beautiful, bouncy kids.

 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  The included opinions are my own.

“A Sister’s Wish” by Shelley Shepard Gray

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In Shelley Shepard Gray’s third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.

Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman—at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she’s also harboring a secret: She’s been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he’s about as far from “perfect” as an Amish man could get… but that’s exactly why she’s so drawn to him.

Life hasn’t been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he’s determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past…unless it pertains to Amelia.

He’s loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas—who just happens to be Simon’s best friend—has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he’s the only one who can truly make her happy.

But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together—and face their past mistakes. There’s a chance for love… but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.

 

The third installment of Gray’s Charmed Life series has released, and it’s another hard-hitting page-turner!  I love the opposite characters of Amelia and Simon.  Amelia is trusting and innocent; Simon is jaded and loving, and somehow the two of them are perfect for each other.

I loved Simon’s story.  The crux of his relationship with Amelia is his wild past – is it really in the past, or is it still relevant to Simon today?  Should it be allowed to affect his relationship with Amelia?  How much of one’s past should one share with a potential suitor?  These issues are relevant to many people, not just Amish or those in Simon’s situation, and Amelia’s take on it was refreshing. 

Many Amish stories are happy, romantic stories, where the biggest problems involve money or whether or not to stay within the faith community.  Gray’s Charmed Life series is quite different, though:  it’s much deeper and quite edgy.  While I’m sorry that even fictional characters have the abusive background that Simon did, the questions it raises about how we of faith treat those in such situations are important.  So, too, are those about how we interact with people who have rough histories. 

These questions are important, and that’s why Gray’s books are so fantastic.  Not only is the story compelling and the characters friendly, but the book inspires quiet introspection that will evolve into personal growth.

Keep writing, Mrs. Gray.

I received a free copy of this book.

“Waves of Mercy” by Lynn Austin

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Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she’s asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions hidden all these years, including the story of her one true love.

At the nearby Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of a broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after a violent storm aboard a steamship stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.

Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.

Waves of Mercy completely enthralled me – I couldn’t put it down until I’d turned the last page!  Author Lynn Austin excels at sweeping the reader right along with the main characters in her story, and the same is true for Waves of Mercy

Austin makes use of  my favorite writing technique in this new story – parallel stories that happen at different points in history. I love the way that she builds the theme of mercy and God’s goodness by layering it as details are revealed with each story.  The final twist at the end was not unexpected, but the details were gratifying to read, and I couldn’t stop reading until I got there – I had to know what would happen to the characters I’d fallen in love with.

That’s not to say that I love the ending – because I don’t.  Austin leaves the ending somewhat open, without clear resolution for one of the major issues relating to the main characters, and I prefer to have those details all wrapped up with neat bows.  Real life rarely works like that, however, and perhaps she’ll write a sequel that will answer those open questions?  I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Waves of Mercy is based on real history – the settlement of Holland, Michigan, by a group of Dutch immigrants searching for religious freedom in the early 1800s.  Their story closely mirrors that of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts, though later, and makes for a fascinating backdrop to this story.  I loved learning about what these people endured.

It might sound as if reading about persecution and strife would be depressing, and that angle isn’t exactly a tea party – but the best aspect of the story is the quiet, steady faith that runs through each page.  While the main characters are often struggling, there’s always someone who’s helping them along.  Those people act both as mentors to the characters and examples to us all, even though some of the situations are fictional.  I appreciated both the scripture references used for teaching and the wisdom and advice scattered throughout the pages.  The messages of hope and God’s enduring goodness are inspirational and resonate in one’s mind long after the last page is turned.

Waves of Mercy is the kind of book that you put on your shelf and reread over and over.  If fiction with a strong message of ‘hope’ is the kind of book you like, you’ll definitely want to read this one.

Want to know more?  See what Lynn Austin has to say about Waves of Mercy:

 What inspired you to write this particular story?

I grew up in the area of New York State that was originally owned and settled by the Dutch, and I visited Holland, MI for the first time when I attended Hope College. I was immediately impressed by how proud the community was of their faith and their Dutch heritage. My husband grew up in Holland, so when we decided to move back here two years ago, I began researching Holland’s history to see if it would make a good novel. It intrigued me to learn that the first Dutch settlers came here in 1846 for religious freedom after suffering persecution in the Netherlands. Since that’s true of so many other immigrant peoples over the years, I knew the story would resonate with many readers. I was very surprised to learn how much hardship these early settlers suffered in the process of founding this community. If nothing else, their story taught me not to take our religious freedom or the American Dream for granted.

What is your favorite quote from the book?

It’s actually a promise from Jesus that the characters often refer to: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them . . . I give them eternal life . . . and no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28)

What do you hope readers will come away with after finishing Waves?

I hope they see what a close relationship with God is really like, and will learn to trust Him through the hard times and praise Him in all circumstances.

Is it possible to get a small clue, say, the year of the setting on your current work in progress?

It’s about two wealthy sisters who live in Chicago in the late 1800s. They love to travel the world and seek adventure.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.