Book Review – The Callaghan & McFadden Series

I re-discovered an author last week. Turns out I’d read the prequel, A Handful of Flowers, a few years ago but for some reason I never moved into the series. I can tell you I’ve certainly fixed that error now!

candm

Blurb Book 1: This Christian romance novel of 80,000 words is the second book in The Callaghans & McFaddens series from author Kimberly Rae Jordan. A HANDFUL OF FLOWERS (ASIN: B01APAIXM6) is the prequel to this series.

Makayla McFadden has been part of her family’s business since it started. At sixteen, she’d helped her dad by answering phones and doing the filing when she wasn’t in school, and now she’s the office manager for C&M Builders. As the company has grown, they’ve had to hire new people, but the core of the company has always stayed the same. When her father announces his plan to retire, Makayla knows change is coming. Hiring from outside the family will disrupt the way they’ve run their business, and she’s not happy about it.

Upon learning that his father and step-mother plan to move to a new city with his younger sister, Ethan Collins knows he needs to move there as well. The day he gets a call from his first choice for a job, he figures God has answered his prayers. But then he meets Makayla McFadden and realizes that she doesn’t want him there. After they offer him a job on a three month probationary basis, Ethan knows he not only has to convince them he can do the job, he has to somehow convince Makayla that he is a good fit for her family’s company.

When he finds himself falling for Makayla, Ethan tries to fight it since he refuses to do anything that might jeopardize his job and his sister’s future. But when the heart can’t be denied, will Ethan take the risk for love? Or will Makayla be reluctant to embrace change on a personal level and leave him without love or a job?

My thoughts: There’s little risk in trying these books – they are available on Kindle Unlimited (and from memory, book one was free on a lot of platforms). I enjoyed getting to know the characters in depth, from children to adults, and the way the books overlap opens up a realism that often isn’t in a saga. If you like interconnecting books, I can recommend you give this series a try.

Books in The Callaghans & McFaddens series by Kimberly Rae Jordan:

  • A Handful of Flowers
  • A Change of Heart
  • For the Love of Grace
  • The Love of Her Life
  • Believing in Tomorrow
  • Crossing Center Ice
  • A Touch of Romance
  • A Little Ray of Sunshine

Philippians 1 6

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Book Review – A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette

Long-time readers might remember I raved about a book waaaay back in November 2016. Today’s title is connected to this series and is just as good! It released state-side today, so pop into your local retailer and buy it.

alothSYNOPSIS: Though Israel has found relative peace, Moriyah has yet to find her own. Attempting to avoid the scorn of her community, she’s spent the last seven years hiding behind the veil she wears. Underneath her covering, her face is branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods, a shameful reminder of her past captivity in Jericho and an assurance that no man will ever want to marry her.

When her father finds a widower who needs a mother for his two sons, her hopes rise. But when their introduction goes horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee for her life. Seeking safety at one of the newly established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face and the enemies–and unexpected allies–she will encounter on her way.

MY THOUGHTS: It’s no wonder RT Book Reviews have given this 4 ½ stars – it’s detailed, well-written, empathetic and good. I devoured most of this while at the A&E with my eldest son, & it was hard to put down.

Moriyah as a character is well rounded but as we met her, cloistered within her own shame and closed off to the voice of Yahweh, even tho she heard Him as a child. Her scarring means she is the focus of mean comments and she does allow this to influence her daily actions. Things change when her friend urges her to dance; then she meets someone who will influence the remainder of her life.

At one point so much happened to Moriyah that it was a bit rollercoaster, but on a re-read this might well smooth out.

I am in awe of the amount of research that went into this book. The background is so rich and colourful and seamlessly enhances the story. The theme of redemption thru sacrifice resonates.

I received an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review – but I’m buying it anyway! Book 2 is scheduled for this year; book 3 for 2019.

Book Review – The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

InnkeeperofIvyHill_mck.inddSYNOPSIS: The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant landlady. Jane has no idea how to manage a business. But with the town’s livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must quickly find a way to save the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to overcome her losses and find purpose for the future. As she works with Jane, two men from her past vie for her attention, but Thora has promised herself never to marry again. Will one of them convince her to embrace a second chance at love?

As pressure mounts from the bank, Jane employs new methods, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place, including a mysterious newcomer with secret plans of his own. With the help of friends old and new, can Jane restore life to the inn, and to her empty heart as well?

 

I have a book recommend (well, two now as she published the second in Dec 2017) – Julie Klassen’s The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill & follow-up, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage. Set in the same era as Jane Austen’s writing, and very, very well done.

I recognised characterisations & phrasing from the more popular Austen Pride & Prejudice but rather than thinking “plagiarism” I felt like I was re-reading an old friend. There’s nothing blatant, but there is definitely a Lady Catherine character! Plus, easy to recommend to secular people who like a good regency, as the romance and Christian themes are subtle, and it’s all about how the characters grow and develop. Even secondary characters are rich in detail and the way she describes the customs & environment of the village are spot on. I loved it.

My copies were purchased on Amazon Kindle; the second volume is on sale as I write this.

http://julieklassen.com/books/

Book Review: Things We Set on Fire by Deborah Reed

things we set on fireBLURB: A series of tragedies brings Vivvie’s young grandchildren into her custody, and her two estranged daughters back under one roof. Jackson, Vivvie’s husband, was shot and killed thirty years ago, and the ramifications have splintered the family into their own isolated remembrances and recriminations.

Sisters Elin and Kate fought mercilessly in childhood and have avoided each other for years. Elin seems like the last person to watch her sister convalesce after an attempted suicide. But Elin has her own reasons for coming to Kate’s side and will soon discover Kate’s own staggering needs.

This deeply personal, hauntingly melancholy look at the damages families inflict on each other—and the healing that only they can provide—is filled with flinty, flawed, and complex people stumbling toward some kind of peace. Like Elizabeth Strout and Kazuo Ishiguro, Deborah Reed understands a story, and its inhabitants reveal themselves in the subtleties: the space between the thoughts, the sigh behind the smile, and the unreliable lies people tell themselves that ultimately reveal the deepest truths.

 

MY THOUGHTS: This is my first Reed read (ha!) but not likely to be my last. I’ve enjoyed the way the author can weave past & present very, very smoothly and the way that life is portrayed as a cycle.

I actually found part of that cycle woke memories that I try hard to keep buried. Being raised primarily by a (at times) mentally unstable parent is not easy. Not to put down the character of Vivvie, but I saw similarities between her and Kaye, especially when Vivvie was at the end of her coping times. I know why Vivvie took the actions she did; & I strive to be the opposite in my life. Perhaps I’m trying too hard, but that’s not an open conversation for a blog!

I guess everyone carries a burden of some kind.

 

Four stars, easy to grade, harder to read.

 

I read this book as part of my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Let’s Catch Up, Shall We?

It’s fair to say that it’s been an awfully heavy month. I have done little else but work, cry, look after mum, try to keep the family sane, stitch & attend bootcamp. I can report that of all those, only work & Mum is the bit where I can consider it a pass.

If you don’t want to read on, you can take a pass here too. Thank you for your kind thoughts & prayers & comments over the last month. They are very much appreciated.

Let’s divide these up into sections:

WORK: I am up-to-date thanks to Jille taking care of one of my in-boxes for a week. I am currently starting at 6am, finishing just after 2, & picking Mase up from school, & into “normal” stuff after. I have run out of leave, as the rest of the adult family didn’t step up (yes, I am a little resentful here). I have another 4-6 weeks of this routine. It’s hard not having a proper lunch break/walk/escape from the office time. One of the buyers is also not speaking to me, the weirdo, as her work crush has been speaking to me! Umm – he has to, we work together?!! I have little patience for child-like, bitchy actions from people in their 50’s! I am treating this like a game & currently we are at day 12. I wonder if this can last until her retirement? Cross fingers!

 

BBM: I tried going to 2-3 of these a week. Unfortunately I’ve re-injured my wrist last Sat at the Strength HQ morning so can’t do half the stuff. I can’t STITCH either! Slowly going insane…cue the CRY. And the migraine, which is completely stress related. The GP yesterday put me onto Rizamelt, which dissolves in the mouth. So I’m more likely to gain a benefit, as the fast-acting migraine the other day left me vomiting.

 

MUM: So the 4 hour hospital appt turned into 5 days. The surgeon taking the lung biopsy cut thru her lung, & so she needed a chest drain. This gave rise to further complications. She doesn’t remember much, as she was pretty out-of-it, but at one point I honestly thought that she was going to die. Lung illnesses are scary stuff. The funniest point was when (high on morphine) she was glaring at one of the nurses, totally convinced the poor woman had kicked a squirrel! Yeah. We don’t have squirrels down here. Not even close.

The upshot is that we don’t yet have a comprehensive diagnosis. This is making Mum giddy, & it took a lot of talking to get her to understand that YES SHE IS STILL SICK and NO YOU CAN NOT GO BACK TO YOUR NORMAL. She likes to bury her head in the sand and ignore what she doesn’t like, which is one reason she got so ill, because she wouldn’t go to the GP until we forced her.

Her ANA tests are sky-high, which indicates an auto-immune disease. Her body is attacking her lungs. Usefully she tested negative for the more common strains, like rheumatoid arthritis etc. Her lung specialist has referred her to the RA clinic, as they deal with the auto-immune complications more than the respiratory clinic, then we go back to respiratory in 3 months time.

In the meantime, she has to eat regularly (at least 3 times a day, one meal fibre cereal & only 2 pc bread a day, which unknown to us was all she was having a lot of the time). Poop every day (instead of once a week). Take vitamins. Walk daily (cue a multitude of complaints). But she has lost 9kg since starting to see the specialist, so that’s good (it took 6 of us to move her in the hospital, as she was in so much pain she couldn’t help us). In another couple of weeks she can go back to the GP & see about clearance to drive & “work” at playgroup & school reading recovery again.

She will have to keep a healthy routine now for the rest of her life, and avoid people with respiratory illnesses themselves. I know this will be super-hard, as she needs to feel useful, but that should be a worry for another day.

If you got to the end of this, thank you! Well done! It was like a mini-marathon to run, & I guess you can tell that my personal stress level is super-high. I’m thinking I should probably take advantage of the work Employee Assistance Programme & the free counselling. Especially as I can’t stab things…