Jack (Ballads from the Hearth – Book 1)

One of the perks to having a friend who is an author is the sneak peeks and never having to be without a little something to read. Chautona Havig, author of favorites such as Everard and For Keeps, has a new book that was released TODAY!! (Make sure you don’t miss the Release Party!)

Jack (Ballads from the Hearth) is a bit of a unique tale inspired by a ballad, “Cowboy Jack” and Shakespeare’s, Much Ado About Nothing. Yes. Lonely cowboy meets Shakespeare.

Jack Clausen has faced difficult and harsh circumstances in his life. Circumstances that have driven him to a hard, lonely, quiet life of a cowboy. Jack is content with a life of working hard alongside his horse, Sadie, and the Lord. However, when Jack least expects it, life takes a sharp turn and forces this lonely cowboy to question his life….and his heart.

Hazel Meissner is young woman who finds herself drawn to the quiet cowboy. Jack and Hazel soon find themselves with strong feelings toward one another and are looking toward a future together. Life does not always go as planned and love is not without its challenges. Jack and Hazel find themselves faced with lies, deceit, broken trust, and devastating hurt. Is there any future with Hazel for this lonely cowboy?

While Jack’s and Hazel’s story appears to take center stage in this tale, it doesn’t take the reader long to find another couple that demands attention: Deborah and Dirk. Friends of Jack and Hazel, the duo’s dynamic discourse in insults and bickering is a constant theme through the book. They are quiet the contrast to Jack and Hazel and definitely provide plenty of comic relief.

I must confess that I struggled “liking” the characters in Jack. In different situations, they did not respond as I expected or wanted them to. At times I found myself frustrated. Isn’t that life, though? We see others’ lives playing out before us and we think we know exactly what they should do next or how a certain situation should be handled. Thankfully, I am not in control of those lives before me because I would most definitely miss the beauty of forgiveness, grace, and strength. Thanks for the reminder, Jack.

If you are looking for a light-hearted read with a message of forgiveness flowing underneath, consider adding Jack to your To Read list. It is perfect for a rainy afternoon or a chilly evening by the fire.

Disclaimers: I received a copy of this book, Jack (Ballads from the Hearth, Book 1) in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. Any opinions I have expressed are fully my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Regulations.

When Crickets Cry

Several weeks ago a friend recommended two books that she thought I would enjoy. I jotted them down on my to read list and tackled my current reads. When I was ready to start a new book or two, I discovered that the libraries I frequent did not have either book. Thankfully Inter-Library Loan came to the rescue. One of the books, When Crickets Cry (Charles Martin), arrived a week or so ago.

I generally bump ILL books to the top of my reading list so they can be quickly returned to their home library systems. Pushing the other books aside, I dived right into When Crickets Cry. In hindsight, I should have prepared myself better. My reading selections consists of a variety of styles and genres. It was a trusted friend who recommended the book so I was not concerned over offensive content.So after a casual glance at the book  synopsis,I began reading. What I wasn’t prepared for was how this book was going to touch my heart and yes, make me cry. It might have even brought out the ugly cry once or twice.

A man with a painful past. A child with a doubtful future. And a shared journey toward healing for both their hearts.

When Crickets Cry shares the story of Reese, Emma, Charlie, Annie, and  Cindy. One afternoon in a small town in Georgia, lives are forever changed when the unexpected happens. There is so much more I could share but I really don’t want to give away the beauty of this story. I will say that it is a beautiful, bittersweet story of love, friendship, loss, grief, forgiveness, and redemption. While the story does share much about the technical workings of the heart, it serves only to highlight the capacity of our hearts to love and heal.  And hope that God so graciously gives to us. There is always a thread of hope woven throughout When Crickets Cry.

This is a story of lives changed, sacrifices made, gifts used, and joy restored. From the first pages, I knew that the characters and their stories were going to be powerful.

What books make you cry?

‘Tis the Season…to be reading

Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving in a lovely but simple way. A feast around the table with joyful fellowship and thankful hearts. With only dishes to wash, I am sure there will be hours devoted to games and the great outdoors. In our family, there will also be reading going on.

Is it not the perfect time for an evening of reading? Everyone is well fed, leftovers are saved for another day, energy has been spent, and all is quiet. You grab a good read, find a comfy spot and a cozy blanket. Sounds perfect, right? Why, yes, it does. What could be better but a little holiday reading? I have the just the book for you!

Chautona Havig has long been a favorite author in our home. The Annals of Wynnewood and the Not-So-Fairy Tales are well loved by my children. My older girls and I have enjoyed many of her books written for adults. When I had the opportunity to read Chautona’s newest book while she was in the process of writing it, I was thrilled. Carol and the Belles is being released Thanksgiving evening and is a perfect way to end the day.

Carol and Michal have been lifelong pen pals. Through the years, letters have crossed the ocean and formed an amazing friendship. After all these years, Carol finally has the opportunity to come and visit Michal. From the moment Carol steps off the plane, plans take an unexpected turn for Carol and for Michal. With help from the “belles”, Michal tries to make Carol’s visit fun and memorable. There are just some things that can’t be planned.

Intrigued? I hope. There is a delicate balance in sharing about a book without giving it away! Carol and the Belles can perhaps be categorized as a romantic comedy. You will likely find yourself laughing, hoping the right person gets the girl, and maybe even shed a tear or two. A perfect light-hearted read but not fluff! There is depth gently woven into this story. How we see people, how they present themselves…what is real and true? Do we trust in the comfortable or are we willing to take a step of faith? Are we willing to sacrifice our happiness for what is true and right? We also find out the perfect traveling attire. Ha!

Guess what? There is a bonus! If you grab the book this weekend (November 26 – 30), you get a FREE short story that contains letters from over the years between Michal and Carol.  So fun to take a peak into how their friendship developed over time.

Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving! Eat, drink, and be reading!