Category Archives: Books

Book review: Making It Home by Emily T. Wierenga

I often hear about or see women who inspire me, and I’m tempted to think they always have it all together.  But they’re human, so I know they must have their own struggles, that their lives are not perfect.

Making it Home by Emily T. Wierenga

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In her memoir, “Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity, and Purpose,” author Emily T. Wierenga is a woman who both inspires and candidly shows the realities of life.

When I first started reading her book, I felt a bit uncomfortable with how forthright it is.  She writes very openly about her relationships with her parents, her husband, her kids, about body image, and Christian living, and miscarrying, and foster parenting, and being a writer, and more.

At some points, this memoir was perhaps more honest and real than I had expected.  Some of it was heavy to read, but it is ultimately an uplifting story of faith and healing and overcoming.

Although I’m glad I read this book, it wasn’t what I was expecting based on the back cover.  The back cover asks:

Growing up in the murky space between Gloria Steinem and Martha Stewart has left a whole generation of women struggling to define and embrace the meaning of home.  There is constant pressure to do things a certain way and often intense criticism from those who think you’re doing it wrong.  But what if home isn’t really about whether or not you homeschool or have a career or make your own artisan bread?  What if home is more about who you are than what you do?

Much of the book centers around Wierenga’s home life, both as a child and an adult, but she didn’t really focus on the general nature of home or outside pressure and criticism about how one does things at home.

It’s more of an exploration of the relationships that make up her life story, as indicated by the five sections of the book: child, wife, mother, woman, daughter.  These topics are explored in vignettes from her life as they lead to Wierenga feeling at home in the life she has built for herself with the people who surround her.

At the end of her memoir, Emily Wierenga is still a young wife and mom.  I wish her the best as she walks through the years to come – to “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13), as she quotes in her book.

Making It Home” by Emily T. Wierenga is available at Amazon (affiliate link).

Thank you to Baker Books, the publisher of “Making It Home” by Emily T. Wierenga, for a free copy of the book to facilitate my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this site.  Please refer to my
disclosure statement for more information about affiliate links.

Book review: The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

I’ve been doing some genealogical research recently and found an ancestor who fought in the American Revolution.

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With that in mind, I was ready to read a historical novel about the Revolutionary War period.  I was happy to have the opportunity to read “The Mistress of Tall Acre,” a new novel by Laura Frantz. Thank you to the Revell Reads program for providing a free copy of this novel for my honest review.

I have to admit, I typically don’t read historical fiction, aside from some favorite classics such as Jane Austen novels.  This book showed me that I’ve been missing out on a wider variety of books.  I mean, I like learning about history and I like reading, so why have I been avoiding historical fiction?

In this novel, General Seamus Ogilvy has returned from the Revolutionary War and brought his young daughter Lily Cate back to his Virginia plantation to raise her alone, since his wife died while he was fighting the war.  Lily Cate soon becomes attached to Sophie Menzies, their nearest neighbor who is in dire circumstances at her family home after her mother died and her father returned to Scotland as a Tory loyalist.

The general kindly provides necessities for Sophie while she provides care and friendship for his little girl.  Their friendship is turbulent since Sophie doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind to the general, but eventually it becomes clear that the best path for both of them during this time period is marriage.

Their marriage takes place about halfway through this novel.  The groundwork of friendship between the general and Sophie in the first part of the book is charming and nicely paced.   After their marriage, the storyline continues to unfold for the third quarter of the book until some major plot twists take over during the final chapters.

One thing I did not like about this book is that I thought the back cover gave away too much of the plot.  I would have preferred to be surprised by some of the developments in the storyline.

In general, I didn’t care for the last part of the book as much as I liked the earlier chapters.  The pace of the story changed and seemed to rush along during the final quarter of the novel, and some aspects of the plot were a bit melodramatic at the end.

Overall, “The Mistress of Tall Acre” was a good Christian book.  The characters of Sophie, Seamus, and Lily Cate were well rounded and likeable.  The historical details about their lives seemed to be well researched.  It was interesting to read about characters during this time period, and the book gave me a better understanding about what life may have been like in the tumultuous times following the American Revolution.

The Mistress of Tall Acre (affiliate link) is available from Revell at Amazon.com and other retailers.

Thank you to the Revell Reads program for providing “The Mistress of Tall Acre”
to me for free to facilitate my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

This post contains affiliate links, which help support this site.
Please refer to my disclosure statement for more information about affiliate links.

Book review: Last Chance Hero by Cathleen Armstrong

One thing that I’ve learned from my husband and sons is that fall is for football!

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It was very fitting, then, to read the novel “Last Chance Hero” by Cathleen Armstrong to kick off fall!  Thank you to the Revell Reads program for providing a free copy of this novel for my honest review.

“Last Chance Hero” is centered in small town in New Mexico named Last Chance.  The local football legend has returned from the NFL to coach his high school’s football team.  Meanwhile, a new doctor who doesn’t like football has opened her office in town.  If you suspect that sparks will fly, you’re right!

The storyline centers around Andy Ryan working to turn around the high school football program while Dr. Jessica MacLeod is trying to get her new medical practice established in a small town that doesn’t like change.  Both face some ups and downs along the way.

Characters is this book are multi-dimensional, and some are more likable than others.  The good doctor rubs some people in the town the wrong way at first with her big-city outlook.  Her character is a bit prickly through much of the book, but she learns to mellow some in the small-town setting. The coach is more congenial throughout the story.

Before receiving this book, I didn’t realized that this is the fourth in a series of novels about folks in Last Chance.  Ordinarily I don’t like to start reading in the middle of a series, but Cathleen Armstrong made sure that new readers would have no problem getting to know the town in this book.  I felt welcomed into the town, even without reading any of the preceeding books, and got to know the townspeople from the lens of Jessica, the newcomer to Last Chance.

While I generally liked the story, I felt that some areas could have been developed more.  The romance between Andy and Jessica develops very casually, and we don’t see much of the inner workings of their thoughts about the relationship, except when there is some conflict between them.

Overall, “Last Chance Hero” was a good, clean Christian book.  The book addressed real-world issues from a Christian viewpoint without feeling overly whitewashed like some Christian novels.

“Last Chance Hero” (Amazon affiliate link) is available from Revell at Amazon.com and other retailers.

Have you read any of the Last Chance novels by Cathleen Armstrong?

Thank you to the Revell Reads program for providing a free copy
of “Last Chance Hero” for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.