Voted #1 Reader’s Favorite Christian Romance Author of 2019 by Family Fiction Magazine, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes.
Monthly Archives: October 2021
Gone to Dallas by Laurie Moore-Moore surprised me in all the right ways. I was expecting a lighthearted, romantic Texan tale of a young widow who opens a cute shop and finds love among the quirky townspeople of a newly established Dallas. Instead, it was an often heart-wrenching journey of a young woman who persevered despite many setbacks.
The book begins much like the old computer game, Oregon Trail. Sara and her new husband have to buy supplies and balance them carefully in a covered wagon so that they can ford streams and rivers safely as they make their way to Dallas. Life lessons are learned and several lives are lost, but Sara keeps her head up with the aim to make her dreams into reality. The author goes into great detail about the conditions of the town, the particulars of claiming land, and what is needed in order to set up a new business. Those were things that I wished to know more about when reading similar novels, so I absorbed all of the information eagerly.
Moore-Moore has a knack for breathing life into characters, endearing them to you instantly. But while you are able to identify who can be trusted and who should be avoided rather quickly, the author is quite skilled at taking a sharp turn into a totally unexpected, yet completely plausible, series of events. I appreciated the thought put into including important pieces of history, even the unsavory bits, in order to serve the reader with a story that is quite robust.
I, too, married a man who didn’t turn out to be who he said he was. As a result, I am turning a new chapter in my life, much like Sara did. This book was exactly what I needed to read at this moment. If you love historical fiction or romance, you will enjoy this book. If you’re someone like me who is looking for hope and inspiration, you will love this book. I can’t wait to read the next installment of the series.
Helicopter parents. Control freaks. Perfectionists. Intolerants. Over-consumers. Social media junkies. We all fit in there somewhere. Read one woman’s stories of clinging, turning loose, and becoming free.
We are overly busy helicopter parents, control freaks, perfectionists, intolerants, over-consumers and social media junkies–who worry, fear, laugh less, and always want more. In the midst of it, we wonder what it would feel like to open our hands and turn loose of all of it.
In HOLDING ON LOOSELY: Opening My Hands, Lightening My Load, and Seeing Something Else, author Dana Knox Wright tells stories of one who is hardwired to cling. To her children when they asked for a blessing to go. To someone else’s ideas, when she didn’t trust her own. She held on to prejudice when she would tell you she didn’t. She shut down for days while clinging to fear. She clung to youthfulness as if what would come next couldn’t be her life’s cherry on top.
In a particular season of her life, she recognized her bent to possess, to keep, to hold tightly, and to control was completely contrary to Jesus’ example. This is one woman’s history of holding on and her stories of turning loose–stories of the gentle and firm, humorous and heartbreaking ways God led her to turn loose. It is living minimally from the inside out.
Holding on Loosely by Dana Knox Wright couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. A whole book filled with meaningful stories about letting go. Letting go of material things, old beliefs and behaviors, and even people. Ironically, I am clinging so tightly to those stories about losing people because of the place I am in currently. In the wake of a divorce, I’ve lost my last grandparent and the best friend that I ever had. I chose to let go of my husband, I had no choice about losing my grandmother, and by acting childish, I lost a dear friend.
Wright’s words are a balm to my wounds, knowing that maybe years from now, I can reflect on these losses with sage-like clarity. Because I can tell you that at this moment, I am hurting so badly and it often feels like I can’t catch my breath. The optimism in these pages gives me hope that time will ease the pain and that I can learn to open my hands and let things and people go. Let that butterfly rise into the sun, hold more sand in my open hands, that sort of thing.
Perhaps if I wasn’t disillusioned with Christianity at the moment, I could feel something other than bitterness with the occasional dash of sadness. Wright is frank about the times that fellow Christians have wounded her or others, and I wish that I was that secure in my beliefs to act the same. If she says it in the book, I missed it, but I think that the key to letting go is often forgiveness. Not always, but I think it often is the answer. Forgiving someone for their wrongdoing, even if that person is yourself. Maybe especially if that person is yourself.
This book is for anyone who is struggling with change. While Wright does include stories from her childhood and adolescence, I think that this book is really aimed at more seasoned readers.
Publisher: Atheneum / Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Pub Date: September 7, 2021
Pages: 336 pages
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Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt is a heartfelt story with beautiful illustrations by Eric Rohmann. It is a delightful mix of prose and adorable puns, as well as a tale of adventure and true-blue friendship. What could have easily just been the journey of a camel traversing a Texas desert with two baby birds on her head, Appelt has painted a lush tale of immigration from Turkey to West Texas. She envelopes the reader’s every sense in her description of the sights, sounds, and smells of each location.
Appelt also deftly slips in educational tidbits quite effortlessly (i.e., historical facts, the evolution of a species, etc.) without being distracting. There are even links in the back of the book for anyone who wants to learn more about camels and West Texas. While I didn’t need it personally, I appreciate that she also placed a glossary in the back of the book to define the Turkish, Latin, and French phrases used throughout. I feel that Appelt does an excellent job of providing context clues so that young readers can surmise the definition of an unfamiliar word or phrase. She provides a fun way for children to practice the various reading skills that are taught in school.
This book is targeted towards children in grades 3-7, but I think that it could even be used in the upper grade levels because of how much substance resides within the pages. I hope that I don’t ruin the story for anyone, but I feel like it is a commentary on issues such as identity, gender roles, prejudice, self-esteem, class systems, and I’m sure that I’m missing many more. I would also definitely recommend that this book be included in children’s literature courses at the college level.
Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award Finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows and Mogie, the Heart of the House. She lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband and five gifted and talented cats.
(US only. Ends midnight, CDT, 10/9/21)