The Beauty of Community Done Well

Do you long for friendships that last longer than life itself? Friends you can count on for anything. Friends who show up no matter how hard or busy your lives are, no matter what kind of suffering any of you are going through?

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During her lifetime, Kara Tippetts cultivated her community carefully.She and another member of that community, Jill Lynn Buteyn, teamed up to write about what sharing life with someone going through suffering looks like in the flesh. Kara Tippetts’ suffering was not an easy road. Not for her, her family, or those friends who love her. Her journey with cancer was chronicled on her blog, Mundane Faithfulness, and the blog only expanded her community.

In the book, Buteyn carries the burden of explaining what showing up in suffering looks like and Tippetts offers her own insights at the end of the chapter.

This book was hard to read. There is sadness and sorrow in sharing, as Tippetts calls it, the hard in someone’s life. We want to be able to fix the problem, to offer answers. But that’s not always what God calls us to. Sometimes all our loved one needs is someone to run to the store for them, to do a load or two of laundry for her family, or to simply sit and be still.

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After reading this book, I long for a community like this, and now I have a blueprint as how to make it happen. Kara Tippetts loved those around her with a big love. A love that will touch lives well into eternity in heaven as her community rejoicing in seeing her whole and healthy again.

If you know someone who is suffering, if you’re suffering yourself, or if you just long for lasting and meaningful friendships, this book is a resource filled with practical and specific insights, observations, and suggestions. Just be sure and leave the tissue box near!

Just show up is available at your local Family Christian or online

***David C. Cook and Family Christian provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love

This month’s book theme for me seems to be historical fiction with widowers who had less than happy marriages to their first wives. Considering the context and the time period, this probably happened often. I’m just amused how some months my reading seems to have a theme. But really, when you enjoy the books, there’s really nothing to complain about, right?

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Famed actress India Hartley is in Savannah, GA to begin a tour of theaters in the southern US. On her second night on stage, a tragedy occurs, and India is accused of murdering her co-star. She so stunned by the accusations and the events, she hardly notices the man who a benefactor hired as her lawyer.

Philip Sinclair’s law practice must succeed so he can restore his plantation home on St. Simon’s Island. In order to escape the public outcry, Philip convinces the judge to let him take India to his home, Indigo Point, until the trial date. Many parts and people of Georgia are struggling after the war, and St. Simon’s is no exception. The people of the island are surviving but Philip wants to create something to bring jobs and money to his island’s economy.

Once ensconced at Indigo Point, India tries to settle in. But mystery seems to follow her. There seems to be a shrine to someone in Philip’s home that India is kept out of, the people of the town have their own opinions of her, and, while she feels comforted in the presence of her lawyer, she’s quickly falling in love with him and fears what the future may bring (whether that be death by gallows or a life without theater or Philip).

Dorothy Love’s tale is told from only India’s perspective so the reader is left guessing at Philip’s thoughts and feelings right along with India. As they mystery weaves together, it’s a little convoluted but in the end, all of the moving parts come together for a satisfying conclusion. And reading about the theater during this time period was interesting and educational. It was enjoyable reading the story from the actress’s eyes.

***The Fiction Guild provided them with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Two Worlds Collide

Oil and water. Toothpaste and orange juice. Just like some combinations, some people just don’t go together…or do they?

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Sophie van Riijn’s deepest desire in life is to be a wife and mother but after three failed engagements, she isn’t sure God is going to grant her that dream. Instead, she finds purpose in the simple task of her volunteer position taking weather measurements for the Weather Bureau in Washington D.C. in her little town of New Holland on the Hudson River. Despite the fact her weather station has been set up on private property (without the owners’ permission), she faithfully records her statistics and reports them every day. But when the Vandermarks suddenly return home without warning, she can’t hide the fact she’s been using the rooftop of the Dierenpark mansion.

Quentin Vandermark is furious when he learns the staff at his ancestral home has been exploiting the place for profit. And Sophie van Riijn is the worst of the lot with her illegal weather station and her incessant cheer. But the young woman has somehow managed to relate to his son—something few people are able to do.

Reluctantly, he hires Sophie to tutor his son as well as cook for the household. Without much effort, she manages to draw each member to her side. Quentin pokes and prods at her, trying to prove her kindheartedness and cheer aren’t real but no matter what he does, she seems to remain constant. And soon he finds himself wanting to know why. His life and his beliefs are firmly rooted in science, in what can be explained but Sophie’s belief in God is drawing him to something he’s been missing in life.

While Sophie has grown up at Dierenpark and loves it with all of her heart, Quentin has never been there. But he can see they appeal that draws people to the lands. Too bad his grandfather has commissioned him to destroy it.

I love the character of Sophie. Despite what Quentin believes, life has knocked her down a few times but her faith remains firm. No matter what Quentin Vandermark’s mood, she always rises above it. Sure, she gets angry and hurt—she’s human, after all—but she apologizes when necessary and is determined to love the people around her no matter how they treat her.

Quentin is brooding, moody, brusque, and to-the-point, but when push comes to shove, he’ll do anything for his son. His one goal is for the boy to grow up and become a good man, not an entitled rich child but one who knows the value and rewards of hard work. While he and Sophie are at odds most of the time, he sees the value in what she can teach the boy. And as he gets to know Sophie better, he begins to past her attractive appearance to her even more attractive heart and soul.

This one was hard to put down and I raced through it in two days. Definitely worth the time to read it. Elizabeth Camden is quickly becoming one of my favorite Historical fiction authors.

***Bethany House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Healing and Hope in the Midst of Stife

Do you ever feel like life has beaten you down to the point you just want to hide from the world? Do you want to run away from your past and forget everything?

In Reviving Jules by Peggy Trotter, one woman does exactly that.

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Jules Summers has fled from everything and everyone familiar. Determined not to be found and to just survive, she settles in a small town in Indiana. Needing something to keep her mind busy, she searches for ways to fill her free time. And then one day, a little girl shows up in her yard to look at the fish.

Andi Carsen and her father, Rhett strike up an unlikely friendship with Julie. As Rhett continues to come to the rescue, Jules fights for her independence. Why, oh why, can’t she do anything on her own? And will she ever wake up without tears?

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Can two people, with the help of an entertaining, energetic, and observant little girl, heal and obtain a life full of hope?

Trotter creates a world that draws the reader in. One where you will want to hug Jules one minute and shake her to tell her to wake up and look around her the next. The addition of Andi Carsen brings many laughs and smiles to a story that is sometimes filled with the hard truths of life.

This one is definitely one to add to your TBR pile!!

Available online.

Fantasy, Suspence, and a lot of Action

I have two nieces and a nephew who enjoy reading. While I have no problem finding good, clean reads for the girls, the books my nephew might like are a little harder to come by. So I’m always happy when I read a book that I know right away he’d enjoy.

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As the king’s reeve (detective or sheriff), Willett Dura’s mission in life consists of seeking out truth and dispensing justice. The king bestowed him with a noble title, and though Dura is the least in the court, he just may be the most loyal to King Laidir.

But Willet’s fascination with death, his desire to know what lies on the other side, also drives him to the place of passing, a place where people go to leave their earthly existence. While investigating a double murder, he visits the place where the second victim is housed. There, the man grabs hold of Willett and says one word.

One word that will change lives. Willett Dura has been given a gift that should not exist, one its other owners strive to keep hidden and secret from everyone. The gift is to see into the mind (and heart) of others. But the gift is a double edged sword. How to you consume so many memories from others and still remain yourself?

As Willett struggles with the gift, the evasiveness of the other members of the vigil with the gift, the contempt of the other nobles, he learns more about his past and the kind of man he is.

There is a lot going on in this book but if you’re a fan of fantasy, suspense, or both, it’s a good read. One that will keep you guessing until the very end and leave you ready for the next book in The Dark Water Saga.

The Shock of Night is available now from book retailers and online.

***Bethany House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.