The Naomi Chronicles Book 3: Beginning Anew (Inspirational Christian Romance) by Paula Rose Michelson ~ Review

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The Naomi Chronicles Book 3: Beginning Anew by Paula Rose Michelson

Beginning Anew is the third book of the Naomi Chronicles series. The entire series has close bearing on all the books as a whole, so my recommendation is for you to begin with the first book and proceed from there in order. These books are very much chronically ordered and reading the third book will make much more sense if you read the previous two books first.

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As I read this third story, I could see it is a transitional volume. First, Naomi and Chaz (also known as Chaim) are back together after a very rough beginning in their marriage. They have new complications to face both personally and as a couple. Chaz needs to become more comfortable in his new identity. Naomi also has to adjust to the new perception of her identity within the barrio she has lived in for 15 years. And, unfortunately, the Barrio itself undergoes a bit of a transition when the Church Father tries to make peace in the neighborhood. There are a few nail-biting moments when it doesn’t appear this effort is going to work.

Second, while we were introduced to Tia Vida in the first book, and became acquainted with her amazing work among immigrants, we never fully came to understand her as a person. This was true for Naomi, as well, in spite of being adopted by the woman and living with her. So in this third book, Naomi is introduced to the work of the Tia’s in a more personal manner, although Tia Vida passed on long ago, through a new found journal. This adds some new twists to a wonderfully developing plot as well as a hint of mystery.

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I love the new twists; there is also some tension as the newlyweds become more comfortable with each other and among their friends, new and old. While this is a historical piece of fiction, the issues addressed in this story are very relevant, even today. This is an exciting way to learn more of our country’s amazing history as it deals with immigrant life in developing neighborhoods. Even though this is a transition time for the newly married couple, the way it is written, there is not a dull moment in the entire book.

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I read several books a month. Some of them I write reviews for. Most of them do not stick with me over the course of time. I put them down and they are forgotten. That’s not true of any of the books in this series so far. Every single one of them has stayed with me weeks after I’ve read them. I believe it’s a sign of the relevance of the books’ contents. It’s a topic that interests me. It also has historical significance, which I enjoy. But it also reflects how well the books are written. Like most authors, the writing style is not perfect; but it is memorable. This is not just another feel good romance. There is nothing fluffy about this series. There is relevance and purpose behind the fiction. I’m drawn to that type of writing.

Of course, there is another book in the series. Not all of the issues brought up in this book are resolved. So I am looking forward to reading the next piece in this adventure. There are mysteries to be settled.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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Book Blast! More Than This by Staci Stallings

More Than ThisMore Than This
By Staci Stallings

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About the Book:

Liz Savoy has no plans to date anyone—least of all the dark handsome mystery man who sometimes inhabits the corner table at the coffee shop where she’s working to get through school. But plans change, sometimes in ways no one expected.

Jake McCoy is the next mega-millionaire author, or at least he would be if he could get the stories in his head down on the ether. With no good place to write, he resorts to dark corners in Wi-Fi hotspots, knowing no one in the world cares about him or his comings and goings one way or the other. However, there is one waitress at The Grind coffee shop with a cute smile and kind eyes who doesn’t seem to think he is as invisible as he likes to think he is. Can reality with her ever hope to match the fantasy world where his imagination has him living?

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Now a #1 Best Selling Christian and Inspirational Romance author, Staci Stallings, a stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading. Although she lives in Amarillo, Texas and her main career right now is her family, Staci touches the lives of people across the globe with her various Internet and writing endeavors.

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An April Bride: A Year of Weddings Novellas by Lenora Worth ~ Review

An April Bride: A Year of Weddings Novellas by Lenora Worth

[This book will be released March 25, 2014]

An April Bride

Stella Carson has planned the perfect wedding with her high school sweetheart. Her fiance was finally coming home from his second deployment in Afghanistan. This time was different, however. When an IED had gone off near his humvee the explosion left him with serious injuries. Blows to his head contributed to severe memory loss and post traumatic stress. He suffered from nightmares and flashbacks. When he had awakened from a coma in a German hospital, he hadn’t even recognized his own parents.

Months later, when Marshall Henderson stepped off the plane on the final leg of his journey home, he was met by his fiance and their families. She could tell by the look in his eyes that he didn’t remember her. She was filled with despair. She wondered how long it would take him to fully recover. Will she have to postpone the wedding or cancel it altogether? What will this mean for their future?

With only a few weeks left before the wedding date, Marshall was determined to honor his word and marry Stella. He was placing a lot of faith in the temporary nature of his medical conditions, hoping eventually his memories would return. But what kind of life would that be for them if his memories do not return?

Stella and Marshall struggled along through doubts and misgivings, hurt feelings and lost dreams. Stella was steadfast in her belief in their relationship in spite of the current awkwardness. She began methodically exposing him to stimuli that she hoped would stir in him the hidden memories. The process was slow and frustrating, because sometimes Marsh would experience horrible flashbacks to the bombing where he’d lost so many of his buddies. But friends and family surrounded the two with their support, love and prayers. After three more weeks without much progress, however, they had to decide whether or not to marry.

What I liked most about this drama was the natural way the characters’ relationship with the Lord was portrayed. It wasn’t tacked on the end as if in afterthought. It was not a religion of platitudes or meaningless gestures of goodwill. It felt as if God was an integral and dynamic part of their every day lives. It felt real. People prayed and cared for each other in the small community in which this story takes place. To me, their heartfelt discussions weren’t preachy because He was a living and breathing part of their lives. People in this story honored Him in everything they said and did, and it spilled out into the way they faced hardships. Even when that hardship was a son/fiance/friend who had lost a large chunk of his life’s story with them. As a reader, I could feel the pain with those characters.

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This well-written novella takes the reader along on the roller coaster ride of Marshall’s recovery. We experience the triumphs of the moments when a memory fragment comes floating back, and the frustrations the couple feels when they wonder if they would ever re-capture the magic moments of their past. If you enjoy character-driven stories where life is not all a bed of roses, but where God walks along side them, then I recommend this novella for you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from NetGalley on behalf of Zondervan Fiction. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Button Legacy by Ginger Marcinkowski – A Review

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The Button Legacy by Ginger Marcinkowski

“When the weather was bad and we couldn’t work, Mother would make a batch of chocolate walnut cookies and we’d all gather ’round that old box. Every time Mother pulled a button out, she’d have a story to go along with it. Dad said the button box contained a secret, but I never found it.” [told by young John early in his marriage to Ellen]

This story focuses on an item that in and of itself was not very remarkable. At first glance, it was only a brass colored metal box with a squeaky hinge. Inside were just buttons. Today, we don’t think about saving buttons, because plastic has made this item disposable and ordinary. But in the early 20th century, and hundreds of years earlier when buttons were works of craftsmanship, they were necessary, expensive and saved for future use. As far as legacies go, buttons don’t rate very high on the scale, but in John Polk’s family, the buttons had memories associated with them. Memories, even sad or tragic ones, are potent stories. In John’s family storytellers wove vibrant tales worth retelling because of the life lessons they carried. They moved the legacy forward from one generation to the next.

John’s great grandmother handed down this button box to his grandmother, who handed it down to his mother, who handed it down him (he had no sisters). While he didn’t appreciate the significance of this inheritance at the time, his new wife did. She began adding buttons (and memorable stories) to the box long before he learned to love the tradition himself. Some of the stories were told to his two daughters. But the true legacy wasn’t just the reminiscences of the “good old days.” It was in the intangible element found in those stories.

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When John’s girls had children of their own, he continued to collect buttons and tell stories from the special box when his grandchildren visited. He hoped the lessons learned would stay with them the rest of their lives. But more importantly, he prayed for his girls, and he prayed for his grandchildren and their children. When he passed away, the box was given to his daughter Carol. In time her sister Moreen visited, and when she reached into the box and pulled out a button late one night, she finally understood the desire in her father’s heart that he tried so hard to impress on her through those family stories. Even after his death his legacy, tucked in among the buttons and tales became important to her. Before she died, she asked her sister to give the box to her rebellious daughter, Emily. Would the legacy continue?

Reading this book was like experiencing warm honey on a freshly baked biscuit hot out of the oven. I loved this short story! It is a work of fiction but had special meaning for me since I had a grandmother with a button collection I used to play with as a little girl. My grandparents had a pantry/closet in the big kitchen where they kept theirs. It wasn’t in a box, it was a large jar of buttons. On rainy days when I was little, my grandmother allowed me to take down the container and play with the buttons.

Cross Focused Reviews

Cross Focused Reviews

Unlike today’s buttons–the usual plastic round buttons–these buttons came in all shapes and sizes and materials. I remember some very heavy coat buttons, metal buttons, pearl-like buttons, ones that looked like jewels, oval ones and square ones, wood buttons, some were covered in fabric, some belonged to furniture, and every other type you could possibly imagine. They didn’t always come with a story, but often taking out the buttons triggered some memories of family members I would never have heard about if it weren’t for these reminders. I think I came about my love of history through those interesting family stories.

What good stories like these encourage are bridges among the different generations within a family. All families need connectedness to help us gain a sense of belonging, our roots, where we come from. Sometimes we don’t see the necessity of that connectedness until we are older. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I have. Perhaps it will stir up some memories of your own to share with your family.

A complimentary review copy was provided to me by the author and Cross Focused Reviews (A Service of Cross Focused Media, LLC). I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.