Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Far and Near by Amanda G Stevens

Title: Far and Near
Author: Amanda G Stevens
Publisher: David C Cook
Published: February 2016
Series: Haven Seekers, Book 4
Genre: Christian fiction, Speculative

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

Marcus, Lee, Austin, and Violet are starting over. Texas is supposed to be their sanctuary. But the Constabulary isn’t ready to relinquish their worst offenders, legal jurisdiction or not. They’ve sent agents in undercover, and Marcus is the assigned target of one who has personal reasons to bring him back dead or alive.

Marcus and Lee are ready to be whole again, to secure a home here—together. But wholeness and home might not mean what they thought. Stopping the Constabulary hunters will require more than Marcus knows how to give, and God is about to use him again in a way he doesn’t expect.

Enemies, emotions, the past, the future—everything must be faced in the quest for a true haven.

My Thoughts:

I’ve loved this series from the start, so it’s somewhat bittersweet to reach the end of this final book. I’ll miss Marcus, Lee, Violet, and Austen, and yet I’m happy to see them find some resolution and healing, even as a few things are left realistically open-ended.

If you haven’t been following this series, you really do need to read it in order, so check out my reviews of Books 1, 2, and 3. And suffice it to say that this series really is worth the time investment to read it. Seriously. What are you waiting for? You’ve got some catching up to do! 😉

This installment rejoins our characters in the newly sovereign state of Texas, trying to build a new life for themselves in relative safety, away from the constabulary. Except that the constabulary may not be as far away as our heroes and heroines would like. And wow, have they got a lot of issues to work through. But can you blame them after all they’ve faced up to this point?

Our (already beloved) characters take center stage in this book, as they continue to grow and mature in their faith. And in the process, they have to confront their worst fears and do things they never thought they could, before they can reach the happy ending they so desperately want. There’s more romance in this book than in the earlier ones, but it’s subtle and understated, in just the way you’d expect from Marcus and Lee if you’ve been following this series and getting to know them. Sigh. Let’s just say that the ending is all I could have hoped for them, and leave it at that for now, shall we?

Book clubs will find a lot to discuss here on issues like religious freedom, trust, and building relationships. And readers who enjoy a meaty story with thought-provoking what if scenarios, and relatably flawed characters need to read this series. It’s easily among my favorites.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a complimentary electronic copy of the book for review purposes.

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

Audiobook Review: Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Title: Sea Rose Lane
Author: Irene Hannon
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Therese Plummer
Published: June 2016
Series: Hope Harbor, Book 2
Genre: Christian fiction, Contemporary Romance
Length: 10 hours, 20 minutes. Unabridged.

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

Two people starting over . . . in a town known for second chances

After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to Hope Harbor–only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed and breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he’s constantly distracted by noise, chaos–and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect who’s invaded the house with her motley crew. As for BJ, her client’s son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn’t high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to help Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?

Come home to Hope Harbor–where hearts heal . . . and love blooms

My Thoughts on the Book:

Fans of Irene Hannon’s Hope Harbor (see my review of the first book in this series) will be delighted to return to this small seaside town for another fun contemporary romance with emotional and spiritual depth. The romance between Eric and BJ is sweet, with some whimsical interruptions by local wildlife – namely harbor seal Casper and seagulls Floyd and Gladys. The lead characters are sympathetic and relatable, as they work through past hurts and challenging decisions. And I appreciate the roles faith and community play in both the main plot and several subplots.

Sea Rose Lane could easily be read as a stand-alone, but those who have read Hope Harbor will enjoy spotting a number of striking parallels in plot and theme between the two stories, as well as familiar people and locations. The lead characters (and seagulls) from the last book make cameo appearances in this one. And Charley, with his seaside taco stand and incredible intuition, takes on an even bigger role than last time.

Speaking of which, after reading Hope Harbor, I made a point of trying fish tacos the next time I found the opportunity, and discovered I really like them! Reading this book brought them back to mind, so writing this review is making me hungry. LOL! Too bad Charley’s taco stand isn’t right around the corner, or I know what I’d be doing for lunch.

This book touches on some thought-provoking issues in a gentle manner that could make for a natural conversation starter. So if anyone’s looking for a book for their discussion group, this one could be a great pick. There’s even a pre-made discussion guide available on the publisher’s Web site.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

After listening to two full-length audiobooks read by Therese Plummer, her vocal inflections are becoming very familiar. I have a feeling that even if I read the upcoming Book 3 (Sandpiper Cove) in print format, I’d still “hear” it in her voice… but I plan to seek out the audiobook edition anyway. Her voice feels very natural to the series. Perhaps it’s the laid-back, casual quality that fits the small-town vibe of the book? Either way, the emotion and the characterization reflected in her reading results in a satisfying listening experience – one I would highly recommend.

Thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of the audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Series | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site | Publisher’s Site

Book Review: Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

Title: Through Waters Deep
Author: Sarah Sundin
Publisher: Revell
Published: August 2015
Series: Waves of Freedom, Book 1
Genre: Historical Romance

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

War is coming. Can love carry them through the rough waters that lie ahead?

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Handsome and outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. On shore, Jim encounters Mary Stirling, a childhood friend who is now an astute and beautiful Boston Navy Yard secretary.

When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is discovered, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them.

My Thoughts:

I read Through Waters Deep in order to participate in the ACFW Book Club’s monthly discussion, and the story and characters captured my imagination. There’s a lot to this book, including sweet romance, a mystery to keep both reader and heroine guessing, a glimpse into U.S. Naval history and shipbuilding around the time of WWII, and a riveting conclusion complete with danger and heroics.

Jim and Mary are easy characters to like. They moved in the same social circle for a long time, though they were eclipsed by more extroverted people in their circle and didn’t know each other well until they wound up in a different time and place, surrounded by different people. There are romantic sparks, but each leading character believes them to be one-sided. Sigh. They both have a lot to learn about pride, humility, and acting boldly for the glory of God, when the situation calls for it. And it was a pleasure to watch them learn and grow, and embrace change.

The mystery thread was an interesting one, in which Mary attempts to help the FBI identify a saboteur. There are plenty of clues and competing theories to consider over the course of the book. I did correctly guess the saboteur by about the halfway point in the book, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment at all. As I got closer to the end, I devoured the book with an urgency to see how it would all end up.

There were a few mix-ups important to the plot that could have been cleared up if characters had just talked honestly with each other. While this sort of thing can come across as contrived, in this case I felt the characters’ motivations for their actions (or inactions) were plausible (if a bit frustrating).

The first kiss scene has some unique and entertaining elements to it (that I won’t spoil, as much as I might want to), and the book ends on a fabulously romantic note, that has the perfect resonance for wrapping up the book. Overall, very well written and engaging. And I’ve begun to grow attached to some of the secondary characters to the point where I’m looking forward to seeing them get their own happily-ever-afters in future books within the series.

Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book. I was not expected to write a review, but am happy to do so.

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

Audiobook Review: Always Watching by Lynette Eason

Title: Always Watching
Author: Lynette Eason
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Tantor Audio
Narrator: Rachel Dulude
Published: February 2016
Series: Elite Guardians, Book 1
Genre: Christian fiction, Romantic Suspense
Length: 8 hours, 31 minutes. Unabridged.

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

Intensity. Skill. Tenacity. The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have it all.

When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians to protect his son. But when Wade’s bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap.

Olivia’s skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade’s stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him–including Olivia. But in her mind, even more dangerous than the threats to her life is the hold her handsome client has on her heart.

My Thoughts on the Book:

Always Watching by Lynette Eason is among the best romantic suspense novels I’ve read in a while. I particularly enjoyed the premise of this series based around a group of female bodyguards. And I’m happy to report that Olivia and the other bodyguards in her agency are in fact pretty awesome people, both professionally and personally. The romance between Olivia and Wade was fun and believably done. But I think my favorite part is seeing Olivia and Amy (Wade’s preteen daughter) face down their fears to do what needs to be done. The stalker’s attacks keep the level of suspense significant, and the author does a good job keeping readers guessing at who the culprit could be. I guessed some aspects of the ending and was completely surprised by others. I also appreciated the inspirational message. I’m definitely looking forward to reading future installments in the Elite Guardians series.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Rachel Dulude’s reading of this audiobook is excellent. The character voices, both male and female, are believable and unique. I was particularly impressed by the narrator’s rendition of the voices of a couple of preteen girls, and of one of the bodyguards who had an accent. The bulk of the story is told in a crisp matter-of-fact way, but when characters are talking and when things get emotional, the narrator puts you right there in the characters’ heads. Very well done. If audiobooks are your thing, this is definitely one worth listening to.

Thank you to Tantor Audio for providing a complimentary copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

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

Book Review: Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

Title: Thief of Glory
Author: Sigmund Brouwer
Published: August 2014 by WaterBrook Press
Genre: Historical Fiction

About the Book (publisher’s description):

A boy coming of age in a time of war…the love that inspires him to survive.

For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows—his frail, troubled mother.

Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.

When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all.

My Thoughts on the Book:

This book made quite an impression on me. There were tears. Lots of them, at several different points. In fact, at one point, my comment to my husband about the book (because of those tears) was something like, “Enough already!” But the truth was, I couldn’t stop reading and didn’t want to, because the storytelling was just so good.

This story has a very literary vibe to it, and a writing style that had me smiling again and again at little details, perfectly placed. For example, who would’ve thought an explanation of the properties of rebar and concrete belonged at the start of a schoolyard brawl, but I couldn’t help but admire how well the incongruity worked. And certain scenes have really stuck with me in vivid detail.

As much as I enjoyed reading the book, I did have my reservations about how the story ended, specifically the twist revealed late in the book (which I won’t spoil for you). I’ll just say that a certain decision by the main character really bothered me, and leave it at that.

The faith element in this one felt pretty minimalist. I really only recall explicitly Christian elements in a handful of scenes, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this book would appeal to general market readers as well.

Thief of Glory gets my recommendation, particularly for discussion groups and those looking for a literary read with a distinctive voice. However, anyone particularly squeamish, may find some scenes… challenging. I am glad I read this book, and feel like I learned a lot from it, both about the history of that time and place, and about memorable storytelling.

Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah for providing a paperback copy of this book free of charge.

Audiobook Review: Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke

Title: Secrets She Kept
Author: Cathy Gohlke
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrators: Morgan Hallett and Suzy Jackson
Published: September 2015
Genre: Historical Romance, Christian Fiction
Length: 13 hours, 34 minutes. Unabridged.

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

All her life, Hannah Sterling longed for a close relationship with her estranged mother. Following Lieselotte’s death, Hannah determines to unlock the secrets of her mother’s mysterious past and is shocked to discover a grandfather living in Germany.

Thirty years earlier, Lieselotte’s father is quickly ascending the ranks of the Nazi party, and a proper marriage for his daughter could help advance his career. Lieselotte is in love—but her beloved Lukas is far from an ideal match, as he secretly works against the Reich. Yet Lieselotte never imagined how far her father would go to ensure her cooperation.

Both Hannah’s and Lieselotte’s stories unfold as Hannah travels to Germany to meet her grandfather, who is hiding wartimes secrets of his own. Longing for connection, yet shaken by all she uncovers, Hannah must decide if she can atone for her family’s tragic past and how their legacy will shape her future.

My Thoughts on the Book:

I had the pleasure recently of listening to the audiobook edition of Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke. This book has won a Christy Award and an INSPY Award, and this audio edition was a finalist for an Audie Award. Some impressive accolades, yes?

My impression? There’s vivid storytelling here, alongside close attention to historical detail, and the overall emotional impact is powerful. I loved the dual first person storylines and timelines, particularly the way the stories meshed and played off of each other. Hannah’s quest to understand her family’s past made an interesting modern-day frame for the story of her mother Lieselotte’s experiences during World War II. Questions are asked and secrets are gradually revealed to both Hannah and the reader throughout the course of the book in such a way as to deepen the emotional impact. Thematically, characters wrestle with issues surrounding forgiveness, and I thought the appearances by Corrie Ten Boom within the plot were a lovely touch, helping to drive home the book’s message in memorable terms.

Much as I admired and enjoyed reading this book, there was one aspect of the ending that bugged me. [Will try to be vague here so as not to spoil anything…] When all the secrets were revealed, I found myself skeptical that one character’s perceptions of another could have been so skewed in the way they were… despite the explanations given… and I didn’t really get why those misconceptions couldn’t have been corrected earlier. [Anyone else who’s read it feel the same way? Or am I maybe overthinking this?]

Anyway, while I can’t say this was my number one ranked read of the year, or my favorite title from this author (loved Saving Amelie so much!), I can say that this is an excellent book, well worth the read, particularly for anyone with an interest in World War II era stories.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The narrators for the audio edition did a great job conveying the story in an engaging and dynamic way. And yes, I did say “narrators” plural. There are two narrators for this story, one for each time period and its first person viewpoint character. That is to say, Suzy Jackson tells Lieselotte’s portions of the story set during World War II, while Morgan Hallett relates Hannah Sterling’s more modern-day rediscovery of the past. I felt this arrangement worked fabulously for this story. The two narrators have distinctly different voices and styles, which seemed well matched with the personality of the main character they each portrayed. As an added benefit, when returning to the audiobook after a break in listening, it was easy to tell within a brief soundbyte which time period and which character’s world we’re visiting, simply by recognizing the voice of the narrator. Overall, a great listening experience, and highly recommended.

Thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of the audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | On Goodreads | Author’s Site | Discussion Guide

Book Review: Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

Title: Saving Amelie
Author: Cathy Gohlke
Published: May 2014 by Tyndale House
Genre: Historical Fiction

About the Book (publisher’s description):

Increasingly wary of her father’s genetic research, Rachel Kramer has determined that this trip with him to Germany—in the summer of 1939—will be her last. But a cryptic letter from her estranged friend, begging Rachel for help, changes everything. Married to SS officer Gerhardt Schlick, Kristine sees the dark tides turning and fears her husband views their daughter, Amelie, deaf since birth, as a blight on his Aryan bloodline.

Once courted by Schlick, Rachel knows he’s as dangerous as the swastikas that hang like ebony spiders from every government building in Berlin. She fears her father’s files may hold answers about Hitler’s plans for others, like Amelie, whom the regime deems “unworthy of life.” She risks searching his classified documents only to uncover shocking secrets about her own history and a family she’s never known.

Now hunted by the SS, Rachel turns to Jason Young—a driven, disarming American journalist and unlikely ally—who connects her to the resistance and to controversial theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Forced into hiding, Rachel’s every ideal is challenged as she and Jason walk a knife’s edge, risking their lives—and asking others to do the same—for those they barely know but come to love.

My Thoughts on the Book:

Saving Amelie is a powerful look at how individuals are impacted and their characters are shaped by the circumstances they face and the people they encounter. It also explores God’s grace, and His provision through people willing to serve Him by helping others, even at risk to themselves.

This book takes place in Germany against the backdrop of World War II, and brings to light details of the eugenics movement of the time period, as well as the plight of the physically handicapped under that regime.

The Amelie of the title is a young girl, deaf since birth, whose need to escape the country propels the story forward. But it’s Rachel, a privileged American woman visiting Germany with her father, whose life and whose character changes most dramatically over the course of the story.

“She did not believe in God – had been raised to view such belief as a crutch for the weak. And she, a member of the elite, was not weak. But for the first time in her life she wished she did believe. She knew she was weak, and she needed help.” (page 96)

And that’s just the beginning of Rachel’s faith journey. I was impressed with the gradual and subtle way such deeply meaningful changes could be presented. But it’s not just about Amelie and Rachel. Over the course of the story, Rachel, Jason, Lea, Amelie, and a whole cast of other complex and interesting characters lend their points of view to the telling of this emotionally moving tale.

I was particularly impressed by the historical details included throughout this story, some of which I was previously unfamiliar with. I have to say that after “meeting” the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer through his fictionalized appearances in this story, I am curious to learn more about his life and writings.

I highly recommend this book to book discussion clubs and individuals looking for a thought-provoking, faith based story. The characters and historical detail in this one make for a fascinating read.

Thank you to Tyndale House for providing a paperback copy free of charge.

Audiobook Review: Miranda Warning by Heather Day Gilbert

Title: Miranda Warning
Author: Heather Day Gilbert
Narrator: Becky Doughty
Publisher: Self Published
Published: Audio – December 2015, Print – May 2014
Series: A Murder in the Mountains
Genre: Mystery
Length: 8 hours, 33 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Audiobook: (from the author’s Web site)

Child of the Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of heartache. The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive whatever life throws at her.

But when an anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox—a note written in a dead woman’s handwriting—Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Hot on a cold trail, she must use limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to unmask the killer…or the next victim might be Tess herself.

Tinged with the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains’ lush, protective presence, this twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains series.

My Thoughts on the Audiobook:

I first reviewed this book back in August 2014 and loved its setting, its characters, and the way the story unfolds with glimpses into multiple viewpoints and time periods revealing key pieces of the mystery a bit at a time. But that was back before there was an audio edition. The more recent release of the audiobook through Audible, combined with the offer of a review copy, provided just the excuse I needed to re-read this lovely mystery.

Since I’ve already gushed about the contents of the book, I’ll refer you back to my earlier review for my thoughts on plot and characters, and focus here on my reaction to the narration. (That kind of seems like a fitting focus for today anyway, since June is audiobook month!)

The narrator, Becky Doughty, did a fabulous job with this audiobook. She tells the story in a casual and relaxed manner, just as I imagine Tess (the first-person narrator) would, with just the right amount of humor, sarcasm, emotion, and excitement coming through in her voice at any given moment. Each character has his or her own voice in dialogue with careful attention paid to gender, age, accent, and emotion. I was particularly impressed by the scene segments shared from Rose’s perspective. The inflections, tone, and accent used give these scenes a feel all their own, making it easy to follow whose story is being told even without the visible scene breaks you’d have as a guide in the written book.

I tend not to re-read very many books, since there are so many out there yet to be read a first time, but I’m glad I took the time to try this one in audiobook format. The story was just as good the second time around, and Becky Doughty’s performance is not to be missed!

Thank you to the author for providing a complimentary copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

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

Audiobook Review: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

Title: Against the Tide
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Narrator: Barbara Rosenblat
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Print Publisher: Bethany House
Audio Length: 11 hours, 29 minutes; Unabridged
Publication Date: October 2012
Genre(s): Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction

About the Book (from print publisher, Bethany House):

After a childhood rampant with uncertainty, Lydia Pallas has carved out a perfect life for herself. She spends her days within sight of the bustling Boston Harbor, where her skill with languages has landed her an enviable position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

Lydia’s talents bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a mysterious man in need of a translator. Driven by a campaign to end the opium trade, Bane is coolly analytical and relentless in his quest. He cannot afford to fall for Lydia and must fight the bittersweet love growing between them.

When Bane’s enemies gain the upper hand, he is forced to turn to Lydia for help. Determined to prove her worth, Lydia soon discovers that carrying out Bane’s mission will test her wits and her courage to the very limits.

When forces conspire against them from without and within, can their love survive?

Thoughts on the Story:

Against the Tide initially caught my attention because of all the recognition and awards it received. This book won a RITA Award, a Christy Award, AND a Daphne de Maurier Award. Talk about some impressive credentials! Then I saw that the audio edition was narrated by an incredibly popular multi-award-winning narrator, and I knew this was an audiobook I couldn’t pass up.

So, now that I’ve read it, do I think the story lives up to its reputation? Yes, most definitely.

Both lead characters are wonderfully complex, and the storyline is compelling and thought provoking. Plus, if I can borrow what Lydia says of Bane (page 173):

“Everyone ought to have a brilliant, glorious rascal in their life just once, right?”

At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Bane. Could this “rascal” be trusted? Why did the admiral call him dangerous? Was he really a worthy hero? I’m guessing if I’d read The Lady of Bolton Hill first, in which Bane also appears, I might have understood him better from the outset. (At this point, I have not yet read The Lady of Bolton Hill and only recently learned of the connection. Anyone who has read it want to weigh in here?) As it was, I got to know him, and like him, a little at a time, just as Lydia does. Which was a lot of fun. J

The romance is sweet, the suspense page-turning, and the historical aspects engaging. There’s an Author’s Note at the end detailing some of the factual historical information included, and I’ve got to say, the history surrounding medications like Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup was pretty shocking. It makes me appreciate some of the regulations in place now all the more.

Possibly one of the most interesting aspects of this book was the discussion on law vs morals. I’ll let Bane and Lydia speak for themselves in this quoted passage (from Chapter 10, page 97):

Lydia’s jaw dropped. “Is this kind of thing legal?”

“Cleaning offices? Of course it is.”

“But you are suggesting looking at records on people’s desks, in their files.”

He pierced her with that blue gaze, assessing her. “Lydia, sometimes there is a difference between things that are legal and things that are moral. I’m looking for smugglers, that’s all. Most of the opium in the market is being brought in by a smuggler working in the Boston Custom House. Trying to find him is a worthy goal.”

I think this book would be an excellent choice for a book discussion group. It comes complete with an eight question discussion guide, covering this and other thought provoking topics that could make for a fascinating group discussion. Whether you’re looking for a book to discuss or just a good read, if you enjoy history, romance, and suspense in a thought-provoking book with complex characters, then this book would be a great choice. Highly recommended.

Thoughts on the Audio Edition:

I consider myself a fan of Barbara Rosenblat’s work, and I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only one. This prolific and popular narrator has been recognized with 6 Audie Awards and 40 Earphone Awards, among other honors which include being named one of AudioFile’s “Golden Voices” and a “Voice of the 20th Century.” Her skill with accents and her impressive vocal range made the voices of individual characters realistic and immediately recognizable. And her portrayal of the characters’ emotions brought them to life in a vivid and compelling way. It was a pleasure to hear this award winning Inspirational story paired with a narrator of Barbara Rosenblat’s caliber. Whether you already love audiobooks or are interested in giving them a try, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Audiobook Review: The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

Title: The Prayer Box
Author: Lisa Wingate
Narrator: Xe Sands
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Genre: Christian Women’s Fiction

Book Description (from the Tyndale House Web site):

When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper—the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.

My Thoughts:

The Prayer Box is a lovely novel, delving into the lives of two women, one recently deceased, and another struggling to pick up the pieces of her own life and make a fresh start. As those two women’s lives intersect through the prayer boxes Tandi discovers when cleaning out Iola’s house after her death, Tandi learns some valuable lessons about life and love, and how significantly one life focused on service can impact others.

I found this to be an unusually introspective novel, delving deeply into the thoughts and feelings of Iola (through her letters) and Tandi (the main viewpoint character). It set a leisurely, sometimes meandering pace that allowed the reader time to get to know the characters well and care about them.

I enjoyed the beautifully crafted, often poetic language of this story, as well as the metaphors employed. My favorites were Iola as a lighthouse helping to “point the way” and “guide many ships” (page 174) and Jesus as “the white berry that removes the stain” (page 368).

Overall, a great choice for those who enjoy Women’s fiction.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

I thoroughly enjoyed the audio edition and would highly recommend it. The narrator, Xe Sands gave a wistful and emotional performance that was well suited to the introspective nature of the story. There was a soothing musical quality to her voice that was a perfect complement to some of the more poetic passages in particular. Lisa Wingate is quite a wordsmith and Xe Sands’ narration was the icing on the cake.