THE CORNER BOOK BLOG

Saturday, October 11, 2014

When Mercy Rains by Kim Vogel Sawyer






She left, heavily weighted with secrets.
But God reveals all things, in His timing.
And He redeems them.

Suzanne Zimmerman was only seventeen and pregnant when her shamed mother quietly sent her away from their Old Order Mennonite community in Kansas. With her old home, family, and first love firmly behind her, Suzanne moved to Indiana, became a nurse, and raised a daughter, Alexa, on her own.

Now, nearly twenty years later, an unexpected letter arrives from Kansas. Her brother asks her to bring her nursing abilities home and care for their ailing mother. His request requires that Suzanne face a family that may not have forgiven her and a strict faith community. It also means seeing Paul Aldrich, her first love.   

Paul, widowed with an eight-year-old son, is relieved to see Suzanne again, giving him the chance to beg her forgiveness for his past indiscretion. But when he meets Alexa, his guilt flickers in the glare of Suzanne’s prolonged secret—one that changes everything.

Suzanne had let go of any expectation for forgiveness long ago. Does she dare hope in mercy–and how will her uncovered past affect the people she loves the most?

What do you do when you make a mistake that takes you away from your family and then you make a choice that means you can't go back again?

Suzanne Zimmerman was to give up her baby for adoption and then come back home - but she stays in Indiana and raises her daughter. Until the fateful day that a letter comes from her brother asking her to come home to take care of their mother, who has become paralyzed in an accident.

But what will happen when Suzanne shows up with a daughter but no husband? Can she break through her mother's bitterness? Can she face the man who fathered her child? And what about the secret that she's tried desperately to hide?

Such a wonderful story of redemption and reconciliation - and with a surprise twist at the end!

For more information on this book click here

Highly recommended.

Jody

 I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten





The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime
 
Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories,
filled with the wonder of Christmas


Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In Cara Putman’s White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and His plan for a future?

I absolutely loved these three stories. While each story focused on a different member of the Turner family, they were all tied to get because they were from the same family. Each story had the same theme of the love that a family has for each other and the way they are open to helping and learning to love others.

We first meet Abigail, who is trying to help Jackson solve a problem that she doesn't really know about. It's a legal issue and her father is an attorney. Of course they can't discuss the problem which makes it even more touching how Abigail was so willing to help when she didn't even know what was going on.

Next we meet Pete. He also wants to help. But, as it turns out, the little girl he wants to help is the daughter of one of the last women on earth who would be willing at accept his help. Can he break through her old memories and make her see that he is a different person now?

And finally we meet Merry. Well, actually now she is going by her given name of Meredith - because she doesn't think she has reason to be Merry any more. Her heart was broken - but are things really what she thought they were? Did David leave her for the reason she assumes or was there something else that drew him away?

Loved the epilogue at the end because I really didn't want the stories to end. All the characters were likeable and each was in a totally believable situation.

If you are like me and like to read Christmas stories in the weeks and months leading up to the holiday be sure to pick up a copy of this book.

Jody

 "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson







Rare Bird



On the other side of heartbreak, a story of hope rises.
 
On an ordinary September day, twelve-year-old Jack is swept away in a freak neighborhood flood. His parents and younger sister are left to wrestle with the awful questions: How could God let this happen? And, Can we ever be happy again? They each fall into the abyss of grief in different ways. And in the days and months to come, they each find their faltering way toward peace.

In Rare Bird, Anna Whiston-Donaldson unfolds a mother’s story of loss that leads, in time, to enduring hope. “Anna’s storytelling,” says Glennon Doyle Melton, “is raw and real and intense and funny.”

With this unforgettable account of a family’s love and longing, Anna will draw you deeper into a divine goodness that keeps us—beyond all earthly circumstances—safe.

This is a book about facing impossible circumstances and wanting to turn back the clock. It is about the flicker of hope in realizing that in times of heartbreak, God is closer than your own skin. It is about discovering that you’re braver than you think.

I have to admit when I first looked at this book I thought "I don't want to read this - too sad." There's so much sadness in the world right now that I just didn't want to give myself anymore reason to feel down. But the opportunity kept presenting itself so I figured God meant me to read it.

And it was sad. How can a book about a child dying not be sad? But it was real, it was raw and it was important to read. Anna opened herself to us and laid herself bare. Haven't every one of us as mothers second guessed a decision? Haven't we all played the "what if" game?

Jack was a fun loving - but not perfect child. Anna shared his idiosyncrasies with us. There were things even Jack questioned about his personality. But in the end, he was a good brother, son and friend and he was tragically lost.

Anna's struggle to make sense of it all and to keep her faith in the midst of it all is a story that needs to be read. 

Don't miss this one.

Jody

My copy was graciously provided by Blogging for Books.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Blue Ribbon Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen





National pie champion, mom, homemaker, and self-proclaimed redneck, Francine Bryson won the hearts of bakers everywhere when she appeared on CBS’s The American Baking Competition and went on to become a finalist on the show. Known for her down-home Southern charm and sass (and for successfully pairing chocolate and peanut butter with bacon), Francine now shares her sought-after recipes and tips in her very first baking book.

I am one of the many whose heart was won by this wonderfully genuine lady. I loved watching Francine compete on The American Baking Competition and was thrilled when this cookbook was released.

And I simply love this book. From the delicious recipes to the stories behind the recipes to the beautifully decorated pages of the book.

Chock full of recipes to satisfy any sweet tooth it's hard to decide which one to make first. Many of these recipes will seem familiar but Francine has added some wonderful twists to the familiar recipes and made them brand new.

Highly recommended. Don't miss this one.

More wonderful information can be found here.

Jody

I received this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas





Fourteen-year-old Daniel Kelly is special. Despite his upbringing in working-class Melbourne, he knows that his astonishing ability in the swimming pool has the potential to transform his life, silence the rich boys at the private school to which he has won a sports scholarship, and take him far beyond his neighborhood, possibly to international stardom and an Olympic medal. Everything Danny has ever done, every sacrifice his family has ever made, has been in pursuit of this dream. But what happens when the talent that makes you special fails you? When the goal that you’ve been pursuing for as long as you can remember ends in humiliation and loss?

Twenty years later, Dan is in Scotland, terrified to tell his partner about his past, afraid that revealing what he has done will make him unlovable. When he is called upon to return home to his family, the moment of violence in the wake of his defeat that changed his life forever comes back to him in terrifying detail, and he struggles to believe that he’ll be able to make amends. Haunted by shame, Dan relives the intervening years he spent in prison, where the optimism of his childhood was completely foreign.

Tender, savage, and blazingly brilliant, Barracuda is a novel about dreams and disillusionment, friendship and family, class, identity, and the cost of success. As Daniel loses everything, he learns what it means to be a good person—and what it takes to become one.

This is not my normal style book - but something about the reviews I read made me want to give it a try.

The language is horrendous. The sex is crass, vulgar and frankly there was at least one part that made my skin crawl.

But, if you look past that, the book was wonderful. It was not a page turner - and I can't pin point the exact place in the book where the author "had me" but he did. It was compelling and well written and it made me want to pick up another of Mr. Tsiolkas' books.

Dan was a perfect example of a young, talented child who dreamed of a future using his gift - until the gift failed him.His family was a perfect mixture - the mother who would sacrifice anything for her son, the father who was a bit wary of where this was all leading, the younger brother who idolized him and the younger sister who felt left out and alone.

Then there were the friends - Demet, who he grew up with but left behind when he went to school on a scholarship, Luke, the younger student who adores him and would do anything for him, and the other members of the swim team - but were they his friends? And of course the coach who was sure he had finally found his Olympian. Will he let them down - or will they let him down?

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book - just remember, there's lots of bad language and quite a bit of sex.

You can go here for more information.

Jody

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Repurposed & Upcycled Life by Michelle Rayburn





Have you ever wished you could...

  • Unpack emotional baggage and deal with the past
  • Confront perfectionism and negative attitudes
  • Change your perspective on your circumstances
  • Let go of regret and shame
  • Build positive healthy relationships
  • Dream big and live with purpose
Discover the repurposed and upcycled life. With her laugh-out-loud Erma Bombeck way of looking at life, Michelle will help you see how some of your greatest disappointments, mistakes, and hurts can be beautiful treasures from God. Part memoir, part inspiration and self-help, this book will help you: Through inspiration from God's Word and examples from everyday life, you'll discover the joy-filled, hope-rich way of viewing your past, present, and future.

What a fun book this is! Michelle offers tips for addressing real life issueswith a generous dose of humor. She's not afraid to let us see the real Michelle and give us comfort in knowing that the trials we are dealing with are not ours alone.

There are great ideas and if you like crafty things, there are some suggestions at the end of each chapter to make something to remind you of what you've learned.

I did the book as sort of a Bible study - a chapter a week - and really enjoyed having the week to think on what I had read before moving on to the next chapter.

Click here for a wonder Q&A with Michelle to get some insight to her life.

I highly recommend this book.

Jody

Many thanks to Michelle and KCW Communications for my free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe





An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband, inspired by the letters of a remarkable female soldier who fought in the Civil War.   Rosetta doesn't want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they'll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she's always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she's told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.
   With the army desperate for recruits, Rosetta has no trouble volunteering, although she faces an incredulous husband. She drills with the men, proves she can be as good a soldier as anyone, and deals with the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Rosetta's strong will clashes with Jeremiah's while their marriage is tested by broken conventions, constant danger, and war, and she fears discovery of her secret even as they fight for their future, and for their lives. Inspired by more than 250 documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.

When I first read the description of this book I was simply fascinated. I love all things Civil War but I had never heard anything at all about women disguising themselves as men and fighting alongside their husband, fathers and brothers.

When the lists of casualties start being posted, Jeremiah and his friends decide they need to join up. Rosetta doesn't want Jeremiah to go without them being married, so in just a few short weeks time, they get married and he goes off to fight. Once he leaves, Rosetta decides she can't stay behind and be a wife without a husband so she cuts her hair, puts on a pair of pants and heads off to join him. These actions are tied to the Bible in a couple of different ways - a husband and wife leaving their parents and cleaving to each other and the story of Ruth and Naomi (wither thou goest, I will go). It's a beautiful action of a woman who can't bear to be separated from her husband - and a husband who can't bear to be separated from his wife, because when Rosetta finally reaches Jeremiah, even though he fears for her safety, he can't bring himself to insist she go home.

This book was very compelling. The descriptions make you feel like you are there. The courage of all these people - men and women - is simply amazing. The raw fear combined with the need and desire to fight for what they believed in is inspirational.

I laughed, I cried, I loved it all.

Be sure to read the author's notes at the end of the book - some really interesting information - and I was, quite frankly, shocked by some of it.

This is a not to be missed book.

More information can be found here: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/228490/i-shall-be-near-to-you-by-erin-lindsay-mccabe

Jody

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.