Monthly Archives: September 2017

Audiobook Review: The Sky Beneath My Feet by Lisa Samson

Title: The Sky Beneath My Feet
Author: Lisa Samson
Print Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Rebecca Gallagher
Published: March 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Literary
Length: 9 hours, 48 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Being married to a saint isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Beth’s husband won’t be joining the family on vacation at the beach this year. He’s not even joining them in the house. Instead, Rick has holed up alone in the backyard shed. Nobody knows exactly what he’s up to. Maybe he’s immersing himself in prayer. Maybe he’s lost his mind. Maybe he’s even the modern-day prophet or the saint the neighborhood artist imagines him to be. But while “St. Rick” waits for an epiphany, Beth will have to figure out what to do with herself and their teenage sons, possibly for the rest of her life.

What happens next is both uproarious and bittersweet: a peace march turns violent, her son is caught with drugs, and she embarks on an ambitious road trip that turns into something nearly surreal. Will Beth rediscover the idealistic woman she used to be, once upon a time? Can her marriage survive Rick’s backyard vigil? Will anything ever be the same? And should it be?

Truthful, comic, heartbreaking, and magical in the very best sense of the word, The Sky Beneath My Feet gently tears the veil off our egos and expectations to reveal the throbbing, redemptive, and achingly beautiful life beyond and within us.

My Thoughts on the Book:

I have great admiration for the skill and literary techniques that went into the writing of this story. The subtlety of storytelling and the beautiful use of language on display are truly impressive. At the same time, certain aspects of the main character’s beliefs and attitudes rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn’t stop reading, and yet, at times I really wanted to.

The thing that bugged me most was the story’s internal symbolism surrounding the “Jesus fish” and Beth’s attitude toward it and, by extension, all things conservatively Christian. At times it felt like the characters and plot were poking fun of people with beliefs different and more traditionally conservative than their own. As if sincere expressions of conservative religious conviction somehow equate with being dogmatic, judgmental, and out of touch with reality. It’s entirely possible that I misread the story’s intent with this use of symbolism, but that was the vibe I got from it, and I didn’t much like it.

Regardless, I can’t deny that this story touched me emotionally and made me think long and hard. I particularly enjoyed the symbolism centered on the sky, and how that played out in the end. There’s also some good bits about connecting with God on an individual level. As for the parts I didn’t like, sometimes it seems that the books we don’t necessarily “get” or completely agree with can lead to some of the best discussions. I’ve got to say, at this point, I’d love to hear what others thought of this book and compare notes on what was its intended message.

I’ll confess, I almost didn’t review this book. It’s been a while since it was published, so it wasn’t really a timely thing to review and I had such mixed feelings about it I wasn’t sure what to say at first. But in the end, I found that like it or not, I couldn’t just ignore it. Know what I mean?

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Rebecca Gallagher does a good job reading this first-person present tense story. She infuses appropriate levels of emotion (including wit and sarcasm) naturally into the text, and varies the voices enough to keep different characters distinct in their dialogue. I encourage interested readers to give the audio edition a try.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library via Hoopla, and I was not expected to write a review.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | Audio Sample | Author’s Site

A Dozen New Christian Fiction Audiobooks, Coming This Fall 2017

I’m always on the lookout for a good audiobook to pass the time on my commute to and from work. I’ve tracked down a dozen new releases, coming this fall that sound like they could be just what I’m looking for.

September Releases

Justice Buried by Patricia Bradley
Read by Joell Jacob
Memphis Cold Case, Book 2
Romantic Suspense from Tantor Media
Also available in print from Revell

Crisis Shot by Janice Cantore
Read by Alice Anne English
The Line of Duty, Book 1
Suspense from Blackstone Audio
Also available in print from Tyndale House

With You Always by Jody Hedlund
Read by Susan Hanfield
Orphan Train, Book 1
Historical Romance from Tantor Media
Also available in print from Bethany House

Rule of Law by Randy Singer
Read by Carol Mercer-Meyers
Suspense from Blackstone Audio
Also available in print from Tyndale House

Hometown Girl by Courntey Walsh
Read by Teri Clark Linden
Contemporary Romance from Brilliance Audio
Also available in print from Waterfall Press

November Releases

A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden
Read by Morgan Hallett
An Empire State Novel, Book 1
Historical Romance from Recorded Books
Also available in print from Bethany House

Perennials by Julie Cantrell
Read by Brittany Pressley
General Fiction from Blackstone Audio
Also available in print from Thomas Nelson

Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter
Read by Julie Lyles Carr
Blue Ridge Romance, Book 1
Contemporary Romance from Brilliance Audio
Also available in print from Thomas Nelson

In This Moment by Karen Kingsbury
Narrator to be announced
The Baxter Family, Book 2
Contemporary Romance from Simon & Schuster Audio
Also available in print from Howard Books

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay
Read by Emily Sutton-Smith
Contemporary Romance from Brilliance Audio
Also available in print from Thomas Nelson

A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren
Read by Cynthia Farrell
Montana Rescue, Book 3
Romantic Suspense from Recorded Books
Also available in print from Revell

Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer
Read by Stephanie Cozart
Ladies of Harper’s Station, Book 2
Historical Romance from Recorded Books
Also available in print from Bethany House

So, which titles look good to you?

Book Review: Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund

Title: Undaunted Hope
Author: Jody Hedlund
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: January 2016
Series: Beacons of Hope, Book 3
Genre: Historical Romance

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

1871, Eagle Harbor, Michigan. In a Town Mired in Darkness, She May Shine the Light They Need.

Running from the mistakes of her past, Tessa Taylor heads to the uppermost reaches of Michigan, planning to serve as the new teacher to the children of miners. She quickly learns the town had requested a male teacher, but Percival Updegraff, superintendent and chief mine clerk, says she can stay through winter since it’s too late to replace her. Tessa can’t help but thank him and say she is in his debt.

Determined to make herself irreplaceable once spring thaw arrives, Tessa throws herself into her work, and soon two students have decided Miss Taylor is the right match for their grieving father. At the same time, charming assistant lightkeeper Alex Bjorklund makes his interest known, surprising Tessa, who has never had men fight for her hand before. But not all is well as she feels that someone is tracking her every move, and she may not be able to escape the trap that has been laid for her.

My Thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed all the titles I’ve read in this romantic series centered around lighthouses and their keepers. This one is no exception. In fact, this one features particularly great banter between Tessa and Alex. And yet, I’ve got some catching up to do. Somehow, I’ve fallen 2 books behind in the series! Which means all the more fun still ahead for me. :)

Tessa and Alex’s story took me a bit longer to get through than some of the earlier ones in this series that I simply couldn’t put down. In part, I blame my busier schedule with a full time job, kids, and commute. But, even in the time I had with the book, I don’t think I got quite as drawn into the story as I did the earlier ones. I think it may have had to do with the love triangle, and the immature behavior it brought out in the hero and his brother. That aspect annoyed me and detracted from what I thought was an otherwise excellent story.

Tessa’s challenge to bring education to the kids and to the miners despite numerous obstacles, the need to set things right in the coal mining town with the cruel and controlling boss, as well as the main characters’ past hurts and fears to be overcome contribute to the story’s appeal and keep it interesting. But the relationship between Tessa and Alex is the crowning jewel of the story. They seem so well matched, and I love their witty repartee.

Fans of historical romance with suspense interwoven will want to read this story for sure. And yes, I’m looking forward to checking out the next two books in this series… when time allows.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Series | Author’s Site

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, September 2017

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the September 2017 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by! Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place. Please consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Today I’m providing information on Christian fiction discussions scheduled to take place around the web this month. I’m also featuring a handful of recently released Christian fiction titles for which a discussion guide is available, either included in the book itself or on the author’s or publisher’s web site.

Online Discussions Coming Up This Month

The ACFW Book Club‘s September selection is The Long Journey to Jake Palmer by James L. Rubart. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

By the Book is an in-person book discussion club that has introduced an online Facebook-based discussion option. To join in online, like the By the Book Facebook page, and be sure to check back there periodically for any discussion that may not have made it into your news feed. September’s selection is Child of the River by Irma Joubert.

For September, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing Engaged in Trouble by Jenny B. Jones AND The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The Fans of Amish Fiction Goodreads group discusses one Amish fiction title per month. The selection for September is Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer. To join in, visit the group’s online discussion board.

Jamie of the Books and Beverages blog hosts a monthly Inklings discussion series for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, the current title is An Anthology: 365 Readings by George MacDonald.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar (Tyndale House, June 2017, Historical Fiction)

A Hopeful Heart by Amy Clipston (Zondervan, June 2017, Amish Romance)

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge (WaterBrook, June 2017, Contemporary Romance)

So, friends, what have you been reading lately? Any titles you’d recommend for book club discussions?