About the Book
When Kate Mallory’s mother is killed in a tragic car accident, she’s left with nothing but dead-end jobs, an on-again, off-again boyfriend, and a craving for something… more.
Despondent, she clears out her mom’s apartment and discovers an old love letter from a William Wheaton of Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Could this be the father her mom refused to discuss? With nothing left to lose, she decides to find out.
Noah Wheaton honed the gift of discernment the hard way—through a twenty-year military career and an unfaithful ex-fiancé. So, when gutsy Kate Mallory shows up at the family restaurant and applies for a waitressing job, his internal lie-detector flies off the charts. Why would a native New Yorker seek out a job in small-town Tennessee? Whatever she’s up to, messing with his family is not an option.
Kate could never have imagined that a spontaneous journey to search out an absentee dad was not spontaneous after all. A force bigger than both Kate and Noah is at work, and they may get more than they bargained for.
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A Sojourner’s Solace is a novella by Jennifer Sienes that is a quick, easy read. This is also the first book I’ve read by Ms. Sienes and I’m not sure I would read another one. This novella is fine and written well, but there was nothing memorable about it.
Kate Mallory is one of the main characters. In the first chapter, she is cleaning out her mother’s apartment after she passed away and comes across a picture of a man with her mother, and deduces it must be the father she’s never known. Luckily, there is a name on the back that leads her to a small town in Tennesse.
Noah Wheaton is the other main character. He lives in the small town and is the son of the man in the photo. Noah recently retired from the military and moved back home to teach, and has an ex-fiancee who lied and betrayed his trust.
Can you see where this is going?
First off, despite some lip service from the characters regarding the potential sibling situation, Noah is set up as Kate’s love interest, and I was never concerned that Noah’s dad would also be Kate’s dad. Kate gets help from Noah’s family (a job, and a place to stay), and feels guilty that she might break up the family if she’s his daughter. Noah finds out she came there purposefully under false pretenses, and gets upset about it. Cue drama.
Because this is a novella, this all happens very quickly, and I’m not convinced that these two will work it out, despite the grand gesture at the end. The themes of family and forgiveness abound.
This book is written in first person, and Ms. Sienes does manage to differentiate the voices of each of the main characters, something that is not easy to do. The atmosphere of the book is great, and the side characters are a lot of fun.
I give this book 3/5 stars. It’s written well, the Tennessee small-town setting is nicely described and detailed, and the first person point of view works. However, two days after reading it I could barely remember the character’s names. This book did not resonate with me at all.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book through CelebrateLit. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
She has two grown children and one very spoiled Maltese. California born and raised, she recently took a step of faith with her real-life hero and relocated to Tennessee.
More from Jennifer
I grew up with three sisters and a brother, and although life could be chaotic and a little crowded, I can’t imagine any other childhood. We spent summers camping with my grandparents and great uncles, and holidays with lots of cousins, aunts, and uncles. Being part of a large family was central to my life. I thought about this as I created the Wheaton family for my Bedford County summer novella. Four siblings—two sons and two daughters—who often rub each other the wrong way, but at the same time, would lay down their lives for one another.
Noah is the oldest sibling in the Wheaton clan—retired military who’s been badly burned by a woman in the past. Trust doesn’t come easy, and he’s as loyal to his family as they come. Born and raised in the small Middle Tennessee town of Bell Buckle, he’s not a fan of the big city—or of people from the big city. His family owns and operates a restaurant in a nearby town where everybody knows everybody. He’s suspicious of outsiders, especially those of the female persuasion.
And that’s where our heroine, Kate Mallory, comes in. A native New Yorker, raised by a single mother, she never knew who her father was. She arrives in Bell Buckle on a quest to find what she’s missed all her life—family. What she discovers is far more than she bargained for, and her mother’s words come back to haunt her—“Be careful what you wish for.”
You may wonder why I chose New York City for Kate’s upbringing. My son lived in Tokyo for five years—a city of almost 14 million people. He told me on several occasions that living there, he never felt more alone or isolated. I wanted Kate in A Sojourner’s Solace to experience the same thing. Plopped into Middle Tennessee, she discovers a world as foreign to her as Tokyo was to my son—just in the opposite way.
Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 24
Christina’s Corner, August 24
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 25
Texas Book-aholic, August 26
Books, Books, and More Books., August 26
Inklings and notions, August 27
For Him and My Family, August 28
Genesis 5020, August 29
Book Looks by Lisa, August 29
deb’s Book Review, August 30
lakesidelivingsite, August 31
Sylvan Musings, August 31
Locks, Hooks and Books, September 1
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 2
Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 3
Back Porch Reads, September 3
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 4
Splashes of Joy, September 5
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 6
To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card & a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
About the Book
But danger lurks where one never expects it.
Can her passion for cooking help Gina survive and thrive in this world of privilege, pleasure and menace?
Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies is the first book I’ve read by Evy Journey, and I’m not sure if I will read another one.
Ms. Journey has written a book that begins with a bang in a prologue where the main character is on a hospital gurney in danger, but the rest of the book doesn’t live up to the excitement of that first scene.
Gina is the main character, and the story is entirely told through first person point of view. This book is written in the present tense, which is difficult for a novel, and Ms. Journey doesn’t always manage the POV well. Gina is an interesting character. She grew up poor, and worked hard for where she is now, as a chef at a fancy restaurant.
She meets Leon at the restaurant. Leon is a rich businessman, though what type of business is never mentioned. His family is wealthy and he’s expected to take over the entire business once his father decides to retire. He’s also creepy. He sends flowers to Gina at her home (she hadn’t given him the address) and almost immediately declares himself in love with her.
The third part of the love triangle is Brent, a police detective. In comparison to Leon, he is completely normal. He’s nice and works hard. However, he, like Leon, also falls quickly in love with Gina. It felt a little unrealistic!
Ms. Journey has filled this book with a ton of dialogue and introspection, and very little scene setting. This book could really take place anywhere! This book also includes non-explicit sex scenes, so if you do not enjoy that in a story, I would avoid this one!
Themes that are hinted at are classism, snobbery, family expectations/loyalty, but this story could’ve delved deeper into all those themes.
These characters read more like teenagers/college students than grown adults. I probably would’ve liked this book more if it was Young Adult/New Adult fiction. There is also a mystery plot involving Gina that happens quite late and appears out of nowhere, and I was blindsided by it.
I give Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies 3/5 stars. The themes that Ms. Journey touches on, especially classism, family duty, and love, have the potential to form into an interesting story but it is not executed well.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through Loving the Book. All opinions are my own.**
I’m alive. I’m dead. I’m in-between. In that limbo where my vital signs hover just above death. I rise above my body and look down on it, lying on a gurney. Hospital staff are rushing me along the brightly-lit hallway to the operating room. One of them holds an oxygen mask on my face. Another, a bag of intravenous fluid connected to my veins by a tube.
I’m not ready to die yet. These good people anxious to rescue me don’t know that my resolve is the only thing that is keeping me alive. No, I’m not ready to die—I’ve only just begun to live. I have yet to prove to myself, to the world, that I have what it takes to prevail.
My family—now on their way to the hospital—doesn’t know yet exactly what happened to me. And except for one detective, neither do the police. I see him now by the foot of the gurney, keeping pace with the nurses. He’s scowling, his lips pressed into a grim line.
A tall, taut, and solitary man, he has deep-set gray eyes clouded by too many images of violent death and a lower lip that hangs perpetually open in disgust or despair. So much darkness he has already seen in his thirty odd years in this world. He needs to piece together the facts that constitute the attempt on my life, events that may have led to it, and various fragments of my past to understand what brought me to this point.
The first time I met him, I fell in love with him. There was something primal about him, some paternal, animalistic instinct to save hurt or fallen victims. Like me, maybe. It gave him power and it made him irresistible to me.
But fate is fickle. It teases. It entices. One day, something quite ordinary happens to you. Yet, you sense that that ordinary something can change your life. Not necessarily for something better, but for something new. Fate is dangling before you the promise of a world that, before then, was totally out of your reach. How can you not seize it?
Now, of course, I see the end of that promise. And it’s not where I want to be.
It’s tragic, don’t you think, that the end of that promise should be right here on a gurney, with me fighting for my life? It certainly is not what I hoped for.
How could it end this way? I embraced life, took chances, but half-dead on this gurney, I wonder: Am I paying with my life? But, like I said. I’m not ready to die yet
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About the Book
As these women join forces to search for Joey’s father–a Rockland area pastor, no less– Emily learns compassion for a woman who just wants the best for her son and can’t quite imagine that Jesus wants anything to do with her.
Each day, Davia weakens until Emily isn’t confident she’ll find the boy’s father in time–if at all. Doubts form. Should she look? Is it right to risk destroying a family like this–an entire church? The weight of that responsibility crushes her as Davia wastes away before her eyes.
A mother’s love. A boy’s confidence. A family’s faith. A preacher’s failure. Is redemption even possible anymore?
Christmas Embers: a story of love, failure, and redemption.
Christmas Embers by Chautona Havig is a difficult book to get through and for me, a difficult book to rate. I settled on the higher rating because of the writing and the handling of the tough subject matter despite slight dissatisfaction with the end of the book.
This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Havig. She is an excellent writer, and both main characters are well-rounded, flawed individuals. Christmas Embers is also what I like to call an “internal” book—one that consists of character’s thoughts and interactions, so there are no long descriptions of the setting.
Emily and Sean, a married couple, are our main characters. Infidelity and adultery is rarely addressed in Christian fiction, and Ms. Having handles it well. She doesn’t shy away from the impact it has on the adulterer, the spouse, family members, the church, and friends. The themes of sin, love, hate, temptation, and forgiveness permeate the book and make it rich and rewarding.
One of the aspects of the story that didn’t work for me was the flashback to the actual adultery—it’s not explicit. However, by that time in the story I knew the information the flashback conveyed and felt it interrupted the flow of the story.
I couldn’t put Christmas Embers down. One reason is I was never a hundred percent certain which way the relationship between the adulterer and the cheated-on spouse would go. Ms. Havig writes this broken relationship so well I didn’t know if they would stay together or divorce. And I think I would have been able to accept either decision because of the way Ms. Havig presented the relationship.
However, I would have appreciated a few chapters detailing what happened between Emily and Sean after the decision (I won’t spoil) instead of skipping to the epilogue.
I give Christmas Embers 4/5 stars and recommend it for those looking for a read that will make you think about sin and forgiveness. I thought it dealt with a tough topic well and appropriately, and despite the excellent writing and the deftly handled subject matter, the lack of story after the decision about their relationship struck me as odd.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through CelebrateLit. All opinions are my own.**
About the Author
Guest Post from Chautona Havig
Infidelity to the Tune of Adeste Fideles
“I think my husband is having an affair.”
An explanation followed. Look, I tend to be one who assumes the best of others—to a fault even. I read the “evidence” and frankly could see it going either way. It’s hard to tell across thousands of miles. While others on the message board saw red flag after red flag—and frankly, I did, too—I also saw perfectly innocent explanations for things. It’s a curse sometimes—that ability to see both sides of an issue. I cautioned against assumptions no one would want other people to make of themselves. And I prayed she was wrong.
It wasn’t the first time I’d come face to face with infidelity. As a child, there was an extended family member. As a newlywed, one of my wedding party—then another. Then another. The excuses, the justifications. Friends and I went to confront a sister in Christ on her affair with her husband’s best friend. We foolishly asked “what happened?” regarding her marriage. Her words: “We drifted apart.”
I wanted to scream the words that battered my brain and heart. “Then row back together!”
But over the years, it just grew worse. One by one, wives and husbands tossed aside vows made to a brother or sister in Christ—vows made before the Lord—in favor of what sometimes were serial affairs. Abuse. Horror.
I’ve prayed women I love through court cases, medical visits, and disclosures from children no mother should ever have to hear. I’ve prayed for men I didn’t even like because of the pain their wives inflicted each time she left them alone with the kids. He knew. He always knew.
Adultery is real. It’s ugly. And there’s absolutely a cure for it. Jesus. 100% surrender to Jesus. But as long as we rely on those little loops on the back of our boots instead of the saving, healing, strengthening power of Jesus, we’re just as vulnerable as the next person.
And that’s why I wrote Christmas Embers. I took every heartbreaking story I’d observed over the years and put in each character for a reason. Every scene, every plot point, every twist—I put them exactly how and where they are for a reason.
They’re there as a warning.
This isn’t your lighthearted Christmas novel. Some have suggested I shouldn’t have set it at Christmastime. But you know what? Over half the disclosures I’ve ever heard of happened between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I couldn’t get the idea of Joey’s story out of my head. And to write his story, it had to be at Christmas.
Let me say it again. While Christmas may not seem like the optimal time for a hard-hitting book like this, I had to do it. Adultery is reaching epidemic proportions in the church. There’s a solution. His name is Jesus.
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Fiction Aficionado, December 7
A Simply Enchanted Life, December 7
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Reading Is My SuperPower, December 9
A Greater Yes, December 9
Radiant Light, December 9
Just Jo’Anne, December 10
For The Love of Books, December 10
Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 10
Aryn the Libraryan, December 11
A Reader’s Brain, December 11
The Fizzy Pop Collection, December 12
Books, Books, and More Books., December 12
Quiet Quilter, December 13
Seasons of Opportunities, December 13
Christian Book Devourer, December 13
Allofakindmom, December 14
Texas Book-aholic, December 14
Pursuing Stacie, December 14
Pause for Tales, December 15
Reader’s cozy corner, December 15
margaret kazmierczak, December 15
Red Headed Book Lady, December 16
Purposeful Learning, December 16
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 16
Janices book reviews, December 17
Christian Bookaholic, December 17
Karen Sue Hadley, December 18
Remembrancy, December 18
Blossoms and Blessings, December 18
To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize of a 6 month Kindle Unlimited Subscription!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c512
Writer/Editor. Voracious Book Reader. World Traveler. Veteran.